This is an excerpt of a long piece by Joel Hodge, a lecturer in theology at the Australian Catholic University. He writes:
In the midst of these issues, the first Anglican “ordinariate” in Australia has been viewed as meaning many “traditionalists” will seek admittance to avoid recent Anglican Church decisions.
But by no means will this be the intention of everyone who joins. Moreover, we should be equally clear that to become part of the ordinariate is not and should not be about signing up to a political agenda – about women or homosexuality or another issue – or affirming unreasonable discontent.
These issues are important, but first and foremost the ordinariate is about affirming the ‘catholic’ nature of the church. The Anglican Church itself has always valued this catholic nature. This catholic nature has traditionally been defined as a universality of local churches guided by God, visibly signified by unity around the office of St Peter.
"Moreover, we should be equally clear that to become part of the ordinariate is not and should not be about signing up to a political agenda – about women or homosexuality or another issue – or affirming unreasonable discontent."
I know there was a lot of concern out there in Catholic circles that we from the Traditional Anglican Communion would be bringing our horrid Branch Theory ecclesiology with us. We have been framed as anti-women and anti-gay as if the Catholic Church's teachings on Holy Orders and human sexuality (the whole shebang, including teachings on artificial contraception) are political issues rather than the teachings of the Catholic Church from the beginning.
These principles are not political; they are foundational to the common good. Period. They are not optional beliefs, any more than our understanding of ecclesiology. But hey, you can talk about ecclesiology and since most people don't have a clue what the word means their eyes glaze over, unless you wake them up by saying "outside the Catholic Church there is no salvation" or quote Dominus Iesus about other churches being deficient.
I've been thinking these days that not only are we Catholics sometimes ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ — you know that sin part– let's skip over that because people don't want to hear they are sinners — but also we are ashamed of our teachings on human sexuality.
People see how pro-life folks are framed and say, eww, I think I'll find something warm and fuzzy and non-controversial to say so I won't be a lightning rod for the intense animosity these people experience.
This is of great concern for me. There is a kind of unity that puts unity and ecclesiology above all else. You could see attempts in the Canterbury Communion to maintain communion irrespective of huge theological differences on everything from the Eucharist to the role of actively homosexual clergy and differences over the sacrament of marriage, or of sacraments and Apostolic succession altogether.
Unity for the sake of unity — unity that is not led by the Holy Spirit and wedded to the whole of the faith as handed down by the Apostles is something to be concerned about. And if unity means shutting up about abortion or defending a male-only priesthood, well, too late, I'm Catholic now and I will not keep silent.
Be sure to follow our Moderator at Eccentric Bliss, his personal blog!