Friday, 22 October 2010

Modified Rapture

From the beginning I thought the Society of St Wilfrid and St Hilda to be a mistake. It would, I thought, provide a chimerical illusion of Anglo-Catholic normality that would hold people in the Church of England, but which would fade away into nothing as the new order increased its grip, ultimately leaving people stranded and starving on the wrong side of the fence. I considered (and still consider) that the Ordinariates are going to be the best place to preserve the historic Anglican patrimony, especially united with Peter in the vision of the Church united willed by our Lord.

But now, while I've been away in Ireland again, it seems that perhaps the Society of St Wilfrid and St Hilda may, after all, have produced something out of its Canterbury cap. Read Damian Thompson here. Forming another 'unholy alliance' with the Evangelicals, it may have enough votes to block the introduction of women bishops (for now) unless it obtains a 'safe area' wherein it can continue to operate. It has leverage, in other words.

This changes things, and, on the whole, I welcome it. It means that some Anglicans who might have considered the Ordinariates will stay in the Church of England. That is probably a good thing at least in some cases; reluctant converts are not happy converts, and this will make a more united Ordinariate that will not have to deal with quite a lot of problems caused by the presence of people who wouldn't really want to be there at all.

Better a good Anglican than a bad Catholic, in other words.

On the other hand, in the Church of England the process can continue as it has done over the last hundred and more years, and with the Ordinariates established, when people feel ready to cross over the Tiber, it will not be to a very foreign land. If there is friendly territory on either bank, this could be a good thing rather than a bad one.

Later addition:

I see that the excellent William Oddie doesn't think as I do on this matter, and is in fact highly disapproving of this initiative, regarding it almost as a deliberate insult. He comments
I can only say that I know some of these men of old [behind SWISH] and the ones I do know are about as “Catholic” in any real sense as a clockwork banana.
Well, yes; but would you really want clockwork bananas in the Ordinariates, William? 


Simon Cotton said...

I didn't think that Catholics were supposed to believe in The Rapture, Father?

Pastor in Valle said...

Only modified rapture, Simon. All good things in moderation. A good Catholic principle.

Jakian Thomist said...

"reluctant converts are not happy converts"

You've hit the nail on the head, Father! I've been an enthusiastic follower of the AC since its inception because it's such a positive development. But yet I welcomed SWISH also because there are those who are not ready for unity. It will of course also house those who will never be ready for unity.

So despite welcoming SWISH I also agree with your description of its rather bleak future. At best it will delay the inevitable (through the creation of a bitter synodical statemate it appears) while housing those in a period of discernment.

At worst it will become a protest group creating much negativity and resentment from the vast majority of synod, prolonging the agony of the last 20 years and providing much media-fodder for those who view religion and especially Christianity as something inherently negative.

Perhaps Fr. Jones has the best description of the best outcome that SWISH could achieve by quoting TS Eliot:

We fight for lost causes because we know that our defeat and dismay may be the preface to our successors' victory, though that victory itself will be temporary; we fight rather to keep something alive than in the expectation that anything will triumph.