As some of the news articles linked to below point out, fleeing The Episcopal Church or the Anglican Communion over women's ordination, actively gay clergy or the redefinition of marriage is not reason enough to become Catholic.
But for those of us who came from Continuing Anglican bodies, women's ordination, for example, was reason enough to flee The Episcopal Church or Anglican Church of Canada. Our authority was the Faith handed down by the Apostles, the eyewitnesses of our Lord Jesus Christ. We believed the Anglican Church could not change a God-ordained sacrament in a revealed religion by democracy or allow the latest social science fads to trump Revelation.
Some of us had to grow in our understanding that that the sign of unity for that faith is Peter and that we must be in communion with his successor, the Bishop of Rome. But that does not mean we have become loosey-goosey about women's ordination or the Church's teachings on human sexuality.
So when I see these issues getting played down in quotations in news stories, I chalk it up to having good media talking points because the mainstream media is overly interested in these issues and painting those who hold traditional views as "sexist, racist, anti-gay." You all know the chant. The focus on unity, on the positive, and away from these pesky and divisive issues is good public relations. It is also in line with the Holy Father's approach. Pope Benedict has stressed the Catholic Church is a Church of Yes!, Yes! to Life, Yes! to Marriage, Yes! to Jesus Christ above all, not a Church of No! that merely throws down a bunch of rules and enforces a strict moralism.
However, given my background in the Traditional Anglican Communion, I also get a little nervous when I see these issues glossed over as if they are not important.
Since I write for the Catholic Church and interview many theologians, academics, bishops, priests and so on, I know there are many apparently in good standing within the Church who would like to see more progressive attitudes on women's ordination, for instance. They have very complex, nuanced views of papal infallibility, for example, and can point to how various papal pronouncements on how the Church cannot change women's ordination are not in fact infallible in the strict sense of the word.
There are also many currents in the Church that buy into the world's understanding of homosexuality as a fixed, inborn characteristic like race (though some of the same people who hold this view believe our sex — male or female — is a human construct and therefore fluid, but I digress) and therefore more theological work needs to be done to bring Catholic teachings in line with this scientific view and contemporary human rights discourse, which sees homosexual acceptance as the "slavery" issue of today.
My work as a journalist puts me in touch with a wide range of opinion in the Catholic Church and sometimes I must interview representatives of various warring camps.
Though I have not disguised the fact that I am relatively conservative both theologically and liturgically, I have good, cordial relations with those with whom I might disagree. My intention is to be fair to everyone I interview so they can be comfortable with how I have presented their point of view in print. It has also been good for me in deepening my understanding of ecclesiology, of the Church as a family of God that is not based on ideology where the winner takes all.
And in various camps, I know what is said about the others, and how sometimes it would seem each side would be happy with a much smaller church that did not include those on the left or the right, etc. I am learning more and more about how wrong it is to take one paragraph of an encyclical from any time in the Church and use it as a proof-text out of context, but that like our understanding of Scripture being interpreted in the light of other Scripture and the Tradition of the Church, we must be careful about jumping to conclusions based on a limited perspective.
Within the Ordinariate, we are also likely to have some of the same tensions that I see in the wider Catholic Church. I hope we can learn to "live in tension" as one rector of a nearby university told me, esteeming each other in love and resisting the temptation to judgement or jumping to conclusions.
And on the hot button issues, I hope we learn ways of defending them in the public square that put our defense of an all-male priesthood or of chastity in a positive light. Just as we must not be ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we must not be ashamed of the Church's teachings on human sexuality, including contraception.
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