Anglicans Using the Roman Rite

You've probably seen the letter which the Anglican Bishop of London has written to his clergy concerning the Eucharist, and especially the practice on the part of those who use the Roman Missal in their parishes. His Lordship isn't pleased that this has taken place in the past, and he is making it clear that he doesn't want it to continue. What makes this especially interesting is the fact that nearly all of those presently in the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham used the Roman Missal while they were still Anglicans — and indeed, it probably was one factor (among many) which led to them seeking full communion with Rome. You can read Bishop Chartres' letter here, or if you don't want to read the whole thing, the pertinent section is reprinted on the Ordinariate Portal.

There is a response to Bishop Chartres, written by Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith, which appears in the Catholic Herald. Fr Lucie-Smith titles his essay, "The Bishop of London is right about Anglicans using the Roman rite," and he makes several interesting and important points.

This makes for an interesting discussion. Is this, as the Bishop of London says, a "pastoral unkindness" on the part of Anglican clergy towards their people, when they use the Roman rite? It's a fascinating question, and something of a dilemma for those Anglican clergy who continue to use the Roman liturgy. Obviously, those who are in the Personal Ordinariate are now in full communion with the Catholic Church, and use it with the approval of the Holy Father, but it would be interesting to hear their thoughts about this.

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About Fr. Christopher Phillips

Fr. Christopher G. Phillips is the pastor of Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church in San Antonio, Texas, where he has served for the past twenty-eight years. He is the founding pastor of the first Anglican Use parish, erected in 1983 under the terms of the Pastoral Provision. Fr. Phillips was ordained as an Anglican for the Diocese of Bristol, England, in 1975. After serving as Curate for three years at St. Stephen Southmead, he returned to the United States and served in two Episcopal parishes in the Diocese of Rhode Island. In 1981 he left the Episcopal Church and moved with his family to Texas, where he was subsequently ordained as a Catholic priest in 1983. Fr. Phillips and his wife, JoAnn, have been married for forty years. They have five children, all grown and married, and three grandchildren.

27 thoughts on “Anglicans Using the Roman Rite

  1. Hey Father Phillips! Love your commentary. I'm a Baptist convert to Catholicism, so I don't have a lot of insight into the inner-workings of Anglicanism, but from what I gather apparently one of the main distinctives Anglicans often refer to, their common worship, is not evinced in the Church of England. That puzzles me. My understanding is that in the United States the Book of Common Prayer is the only missal permitted for use in the Episcopal Church, why doesn't the Church of England also have such a stipulation?

    1. According to the ECUSA canons, the 1979 Book of Common Prayer is the only book allowed. And indeed, in 95% of parishes, its Rite II, in modern language, is the only text used. However there are no liturgical police, and most bishops are not going to ruffle the feathers of their clergy. In the US, the BCP is used in most of the few Anglo Catholic parishes that exist. There is, simply a different tradtion than in England.

    2. It does. Our canon law allows 'Common Worship' and the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. Those who use a RC missal are being disobedient to their bishop to whom they promised obedience.

      1. The 1928 Prayer Book is authorized, isn't it? Because the Duke and the Duchess of Cambridge have been married using the 1928 wedding rite…. The 1928 BCP is also used for Evensong in the cathedrals of Chichester and Exeter.

        1. The 1928 (English) BCP was authorised by convocation, although killed in parliament. It has been argued in the past that diocesans lack authority to ban the 28 book because of its passing convocation. The real question, to my mind, is why is there no move to require evos to use BCP or CW instead of happy-crappy bands and no liturgy?

  2. Although I have great admiration for Richard Chartres (what a delightful franglais name by the way), I read more spleen than reason in his missive. I am thoroughly attached to the Prayer Book, but I see no pastoral unkindness in Roman Use parishes adopting the improved translation of the mass next Sunday. By his logic, Roman Catholic parishes (i.e. all of them in the English speaking world) would also be engaged in the same pastoral unkindness. Indeed, by returning to closer translations of the Latin, there is something — dare I say it? —almost Anglican in the new Mass translation. On the other hand, I do consider the ECUSA prayerbook of 1979 to be pastorally maladroit, if not actually unkind.

    1. If I understand the bishop correctly, the "pastoral unkindness" isn't in the rite itself, but is in the message being sent to the Anglican congregations where it is being used. It necessarily communicates a state of communion and a theology which is not Anglican, and therefore the use of this by Anglicans could be seen even to be dishonest. At least, that's what I sense in the bishop's message.

      1. Fr. Phillips is probably correct about this. I was thinking that the unkindness came with a another changed translation. In any case we are spending more effort parsing Bishop Charters' words than he spend applying them to the page.

      2. Isn't it possible to contextualize parts of the Roman Rite, especially Eucharistic Prayer II, to connect it not to the Pope, but to +Canterbury? I don't understand his reasoning on this point. I regularily attend High Church Lutheran masses in Norway where we use Eucharistic Prayer II, and we don't mention the Pope. We do, however, mention our own Bishop.

        1. Well, then you should become Catholic: women bishop are already everywere in the Church of Norway, gay priests are starting to appear, and lutheran-catholics are persecuted… Evenmore, there's now a Norwegian (Bishop Bernt Ivar Eidsvig) on the Catholic episcopal throne of Oslo… So what are the obstacles? As a Norwegian lutheran Priest said once to me, "there is absolutely no obstacle, theological or moral for me to become Catholic, but I have been baptized in this Church (of Norway) and find difficult to leave it". Have faith!

  3. It befuddles me. For instance Bp Chartres writes that "power in the Church of England" is mercifully dispersed" but that guarantees Anglicanism's comprehensiveness and clerics from the Evangelical to the Anglo Papist continuum have disregarded their bishops on liturgical matters. This is part of the whole ethos of Anglicanism which may be good for some and not that good for some and for many, it didn't matter. Again that is at the centre of Anglican comprehensiveness.

    That comprehensiveness gave rise to Anglicans celebrating according to the Use of Rome. And this didn't mean they were inclined to board Peter's Barque. Only a few did and to this day more so in the Protestant Episcopal Church in the USA, we can still worship in rites with Tridentine panoply but not Roman. I am familiar with these issues since they were controversies in the first Anglican missions in the Philippines. In a majority Roman Catholic nation, Anglican Catholicism was misunderstood and suspect. But still the Anglo Catholics persisted even to brave martyrdom in Japanese internment just to be identified as Catholic in World War II. (the memoirs of Fr James Reuter SJ) The Catholic priests had sense. They understood Anglican comprehensiveness. They saved the Anglo Catholics by even at the peril of their lives by convincing the Japanese camp commander that the Anglicans were really Protestant! Thus the Anglicans survived the war with their Catholic brethren.

    So with Bp Chartres' letter we see that Anglicanism is losing its Anglican comprehensiveness. Anglicanism will become just any of those non Catholic groups which are defined by a single style of worship.

    But then, honestly Anglicans should worship in the rite that brings them closer to God.

    1. Regards to Ben for remembering some of the unsung saints of the Pacific Theater of WWII. The imperial forces of the Japanese army were ruthless on the battlefield and in the prison camps, but the totalitarian nature of the regime was also evident at home in Japan. My own bishop, Abraham J. Uematsu (Chubu) was deployed as a young man to China and beaten by his superior officer for attempting to aid some Anglicans there.

      However, more than anecdotal was the suffering of two bishops on the ancestral soil: Bp. Shinji (not Jiro) Sasaki of Chubu (Nagoya), and Bp. Sugai of Yokohama. The Japanese government considered Christianity to be the religion of the enemy, of course, so they force all Christian denominations into two groups: Catholic and Protestant. As one might assume, the Anglican/Episcopal Church of Japan (Nippon Seikokai) was split. These two bishops were imprisoned, deprived and tortured for their faithfulness to the catholicity of the Anglican episcopacy. They both died soon after war's end.

      Wouldn't you know it, though: a generation on, Chubu was the first diocese to purport to ordain a woman priest (1998) and now has a transvestite priest in St. Matthew's Cathedral who celebrates a therapeutic Eucharist for LGBT types!

  4. The points of the bishop’s letter aside, will this become, in effect, another “showing to the door” that drives more Anglo-Catholics to the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham? Or, was “There will be no persecution and no creation of ritual martyrs…” be enough to keep everyone happy?

      1. I was wondering specifically about those parishes already using the current Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, those that are being told they can't begin using the new missal on first of Advent. If they're already feeling like they're unwanted in the CofE, could this be a final straw?

  5. Perhaps they are hungry ?

    At that time Jesus was going through a field of grain on the sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “See, your disciples are doing what is unlawful to do on the sabbath.” He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry, how he went into the house of God and ate the bread of offering, which neither he nor his companions but only the priests could lawfully eat? Or have you not read in the law that on the sabbath the priests serving in the temple violate the sabbath and are innocent? I say to you, something greater than the temple is here. If you knew what this meant, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice, you would not have condemned these innocent men.

    For the Son of Man is Lord of the sabbath.”

  6. Bishop Cartres writes, "There will be no persecution and no creation of ritual martyrs." In other words, this edict will be enforced about as well as any other edict strongly discouraging Anglo-Catholics from using Roman rites, ever since churchmen were put off by the excesses of the Public Worship Regulation Act. I hope stalwart Roman Rite parishes like S. Silas Kentish Town press on with the new books, and with public recitation of the office besides. They're actually using the books to their fullest extent, unlike most minimalist Roman parishes.

  7. There might not be any Ordinariates today if it were not for the Anglo-Catholic priests in England who used the Roman Missal on the altar both before and after the Vatican Council (or a hybrid "sandwich rite" or by a gloss on the ASB/Common Worship). I know both mainstream Anglicans and Catholic often looked with contempt on those Anglo-Papalists for understandable reasons (then and now), but friends of the Ordinariate should know better than to think that way.

  8. Just how widespread is this to necessitate a letter from the bishop of London? Receiving word of a few Anglo Catholics on their way to Rome anyway surely wouldn't have led to bishop Chartres' letter, would it?

    His motive in writing it may indicate his sources are telling him of a tidal wave of priests in the London diocese ready to "disassociate" themselves with the CofE. An indication of a tremendous stampede towards the Ordinariate rumbling beneath the surface.

  9. Is the Roman Missal the only option for the Our Lady of Walsingham Ordinariate at this point the Roman Missal? From what I understand, they don't have their own "Anglican Use" type Liturgy approved yet. At times it has sounded as if the Roman Missal was already common to many that have since entered the Ordinariate, and it's not clear if many might choose to continue to use the Roman Missal even after the approval of some type of revised Book of Divine Worship. If that were the case, what will be their main distinguishing features from a non-Ordinariate Catholic parish as far as preserving Anglican Patrimony?

    1. I understand, from Deacon James Bradley, that a very slightly modified version 1662 Evening Prayer is now approved. Apparently at Evensong in Oxford, prior to this approval, they used the Book of Divine Worship, which is more or less the same as ECUSA 1979 as far as Evening Prayer goes, down to maintaining the addition of Phos Hilaron. I have tried to discover the slight modification, but thus far I have not had any luck.

  10. Since the creation of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, few, if any, can fault the Bishop of London's liturgical directions. There is no justification for residual 'papalists' to use Roman rites nor to have photographs of the Holy Father hanging in their sacristies when they have tacitly rejected his invitation to enter the Church corporately.

    Anglo-Catholicism has always been a self-authenticating tradition but never more so than at the present time. The origin of the adoption of Roman practices was because there were no others to copy and they were invested with antiquity. As time passed they were seen as having an inherent authority derived from the desire to seek corporate reunion. Papalism was born.

    Frankly, the lace-bedecked ceremonialists who remain in the Church of England will probably stay there. They have never taken much notice of Anglican authority and their once tacit acceptance of the authority of Rome has been merely reduced to personal choice, and choice is the mother of heresy. Self-authenticating traditions are hard to break but these parishes will become little better that rockpools and are likely to disappear within a generation.

    It is pathetic to see these parishes adopting the revised translation of the Roman Missal of 1970 when, ecclesiologically, they are washed up. Pope Benedict has effectively destroyed Anglo-Catholicism as much as the Second Vatican Council undermined it.

    1. John Bowles, as I recall from other posts of yours, you are a former Anglican who was received into the Church well before the the Holy Father's initiative.

      A lot of your posts can be read as rather dismissive both of the Ordinariate and of the Catholic Movement within the Church of England.

      It is undeniable that in the last 150 years many Anglicans have been welcomed into the Church and it is fairly sure that their mode of worship and their studies while Anglicans made them more receptive to the call.

      The Holy Father has not "destroyed Anglo-Catholicism" as you put it. He has recognised that there is much of good and worthy of preservation within Anglicanism and put in place norms to facilitate the reception of Anglicans into Holy Mother Church. It seems to me that it behoves those within the Church to support the papal initiative.

      If you care to think about it, it is not the Catholic minority within the CofE which has led to that Church's increasing irrelevance, but rather the increasingly heretical stance of the majority.

      Might I suggest that you re-read Matthew 20, 1-16. Those who are called earlier have no cause for complaint if others who get the call later receive the same reward.

      So let's be welcoming and encouraging to Anglicans – no matter how long it takes for them to come to their decision.

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