I have given the decision of whether or not to post another liturgy-related posting a good deal of thought. However, in our reflection, a dimension has been neglected, one that exists whether we like it or not. For the sake of completeness, I consider a tendency that homogenously developed in the Church of England and the reason why most of the English Forward in Faith clergy considering the Ordinariate, to my knowledge, use the modern Roman rite. I resolve, in writing this article, to represent that tendency as best I can with the most positive and kindly spirit. It is something I can understand having consulted Michael Yelton’s Anglican Papalism (London 2005).
This clergy-driven Romeward movement is best understood in the light of history. The term Anglo-Papalism is a neologism of uncertain origin, but the tendency it designates can be found in the very early twentieth century. We find clergy like the Revd Spencer Jones, Vicar of Moreton-in-Marsh, author of England and the Holy See, recognising the Pope as the visible head of the Church and accepting the Council of Trent and Vatican I. They accepted the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady and even the Assumption (which was not defined ex cathedra until 1950). The only thing they refused was Leo XIII’s condemnation of their Orders!
I see Anglo Papalism as the most “extreme” version and a development of the Anglo-Catholic movement. However, rather than attempt an apologia of the Reformation and how Catholicism survived in the English Church despite Protestantism and a highly repressive persecution of recusants, Anglo-Papalists consider the Anglican Church as part of the western Church that was forcibly separated by the English Monarchy. Regarding the liturgy, the Prayer Book was seen as enjoying the authority of use, but that using the Roman Missal and Breviary was also legitimate. They also used all the para-liturgical devotions in use in Catholic parishes at the time. They saw corporate reunion with the Holy See as the only logical consequence of the Catholic movement. The most prominent community representing this tendency was the Benedictine community of Nashdom, numbering the distinguished Dom Gregory Dix amongst its members. Like the parish of St Magnus the Martyr in London, they went as far as celebrating the Roman liturgy in Latin.
This movement’s heyday as a parallel to contemporary Roman Catholicism in England ran from about the beginning of the century up to the 1960’s. Less “extreme” Anglican Papalists continued the Anglican way of celebrating in English, which they did by using the English Missal, first published in 1912. They reacted against Dearmer’s Parson’s Handbook and rejected the mediaevalist tendency. Their way was resolutely Roman and Counter Reformation.
In this optic, certainly vastly simplified, the Anglo Papalists logically followed all the changes and modifications during and after Vatican II, including the adoption of Paul VI’s reformed liturgy, which they called the Missa Normativa. It was in 1979 when I found this rite used at Saint Alban’s church Holborn, with sumptuous Tridentine ceremonial and music. The most well-known Anglo-Papalist parishes in London, other than St Alban’s Holborn, are St Magnus the Martyr near London Bridge, St Mary’s Bourne Street, St Augustine’s Queens Gate, to mention only a few. Their altars and internal appointments were characteristic, and quite often in baroque French style rather than Roman, marked by very high tapering candles and tomb-shaped altars. Mass facing the people came in relatively late in the Anglican world, and the temporary altar was often brought on only for some of the Sunday Masses. Solemn Mass would continue to be celebrated on the high altar in the traditional eastward position.
Going by most recent photos (I have been away from London Anglo-Papalism since about 1980 – thirty years ago), most Masses are celebrated facing the people as in Roman Catholic parishes. It suffices to look at the Forward in Faith website.
The use of the modern Roman rite is thus logical and understandable by Anglicans who rejected Anglicanism by the very beginning of the twentieth century, and rejected only one piece of Catholic teaching, the bull Apostolicae Curae of 1896 by Leo XIII saying that Anglican orders are invalid. Anyway, I don’t want to go into that subject and will not answer comments thereupon.
I have been though much of the thought that provoked this decision by some Anglican priests to use the modern Roman rite. I would reasonably deduce that there are two categories. One would comprise those previously using the English Missal, and believed it to be their duty to change as the Catholic Church changed through the 1970’s. The other group would be those who were disillusioned with the non-Papalist Anglo-Catholic group and English Use. I could imagine this second group saying – If you’re going to use the Prayer Book, use the Prayer Book, but don’t mess about with all those bits and pieces you put into it to make it into a Catholic rite! Such a mind could only conclude the bankruptcy of Anglican liturgy and either revive Sarum or adopt contemporary Roman usage.
Personally, I find this position at its most extreme puzzling. Why did they not convert to Catholicism the way it was done before Anglicanorum Coetibus? Answer, their marriage and the requirement of celibacy in the Latin Church, though there are many celibate Anglo-Papalists too. There is also the added incentive of a fine church building and perks from being employed by the Church of England. There is also the priest’s friendship with the others of his class and in his diocese and deanery. These are not dishonourable, and are understandable in a world that has become a hard place to live in for priests.
How does an Anglo-Papalist priest using the modern Roman rite, interested in joining a future Ordinariate, define Anglican patrimony? I am precisely talking about those who wish to use the modern Roman rite in an Ordinariate context or think it would be the right thing, and not merely to serve Latin rite Catholic parishes or stand in one Sunday morning for a priest who is sick or absent.
May I make a suggestion for the comments? I suggest we refrain from all polemics against the modern Roman rite, whether coming from Roman Catholics or Anglicans. I suggest we give every opportunity to priests of this tendency to flesh out the bones of what I have written – and enlighten us who are more of the Prayer Book / Sarum “tendency”. I urge all Catholic Anglicans to adopt an attitude of tolerance and understanding, even with those we might believe to be objectively wrong.
Let’s give it a try.
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