WWDPD (or "What Would Dr. Pusey Do?")

Recent discussions about the post-July situation in the Church of England (something which will inevitably impact greatly on the situation just across the border in the Church in Wales) have highlighted the fact that any comments we might make now are simply speculation. We just don't know what will happen or what the fall-out will be.

However, if the recent proposals of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York are passed without amendment, and that is a long way from being even a racing certainty, those who stay and minister within the new dispensation (often trapped because of circumstances of various kinds, together with those who have no other theological place elsewhere) will be faced with a very much compromised and impoverished ecclesiology (even for us Anglicans who, the ecclesiastical world knows, don't do ecclesiology) and a future which falls far short of Forward in Faith's express aim of  providing a secure ecclesial future for our children and grandchildren, and which certainly does nothing to address the aim of promoting ecumenism with Rome and the East, save providing the Anglican establishment with a handy figleaf with which to clothe their essential indifference and even hostility towards catholic ecumenism.

We know very well, wherever we ourselves end up, that the question of any Anglican decision as to its future direction (posed starkly by Cardinal Kasper at the last Lambeth Conference) will, GAFCON notwithstanding, have been decided in favour not only of Protestantism, but liberal revisionist Protestantism. Anglican identity will have undergone as radical a shift as has occurred anywhere in its history, and the remaining rump of 'Catholic' sacramentalists committed to apostolic faith and order, will be completely powerless to change that. For as long as they (are permitted to) remain, they will be perhaps a nagging and increasingly uncomfortable reminder to the rest of the Communion of what might have been had the convergence of the ARCIC process not been sabotaged by Anglican unilateralism, but I suspect only the space of a short generation will put paid to their resistance.

So, whatever our individual decisions might be now or later this year in terms of joining the Ordinariate, we should certainly all pray for its success; because it alone is capable of guaranteeing the true spirit of the Oxford Movement and any long-term future Anglo-Catholicism may have.

Certainly one historical parallel we should strenuously resist as being applicable to our current problems is that of the situation prevailing in the Church of England following the conversion of John Henry Newman in 1845.

Here is Edward Bouverie Pusey writing perhaps more appositely to our present circumstances:

…"and we shall then see, I hope, that all which hold 'the deposit of the faith' (the Creeds, as an authority without them) will be on one side, the Eastern, the Western, our own', and those who lean on their own understanding on the other. I wish you would not let yourself be drawn off by your fears of 'Popery'. While people are drawn off to this, the enemy (heresy of all sorts, misbelief, unbelief) is taking possession of our citadel. Our real battle is with infidelity, and from this Satan is luring us off."

[from a letter of 1844 to W. F. Hook]

And again:

"I look with terror on any admission of laity into Synods. It at once invests them with an ecclesiastical office, which will develop itself sooner or later, I believe, to the destruction of the faith."

[from a letter to John Keble]

But even Dr Pusey reckoned without the Anglican trahison des clercs, always present to a greater or lesser  extent throughout our separate history, but which gathered pace from the middle of the twentieth century until the citadels indeed were captured.

So, in the present confusion, what would Dr Pusey have done?

Author: Fr. Michael Gollop

His father a churchwarden in the family’s local parish for twenty years, Fr. Michael Gollop, SSC, the parish priest of St. Arvans in Monmouthshire, was raised in the Anglican Church. He has a degree in law from Oxford University (Keble College) and a degree in theology from the University of Wales. Following his university studies, he trained for the priesthood at St. Michael’s College, Llandaff in Cardiff. He first encountered Anglo-Catholicism as a young teenager, and, despite a period where he consciously rejected it, he returned to the Faith at university, having undergone what might be described as a “conversion experience” which swept away all of his previous doubts. He was ordained a priest in the Church in Wales in 1986 and has served in various — and varied — communities in South-East Wales. For the last sixteen years, he has been the parish priest of four quite diverse rural parishes in the Wye Valley of Monmouthshire. Fr. Gollop’s wife Kate is a solo ‘cellist and together they are slowly restoring a farmhouse in the Vendee department of France which they, one day, hope to make their permanent home. Fr. Gollop has a personal blog called Let Nothing You Dismay, which he refers to, only half-jokingly, as “the confessions of a recovering liberal,” inasmuch as his experience of parish ministry, and perhaps of life itself, has been a quest for the recovery of an orthodox Catholic faith and for a true ecclesial authority which reflects that of the Lord Himself. In addition to matters ecclesiastical, his interests include classical music, gardening (in two climates), and a St. Bernard dog who is a large presence in more ways than one.

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