I do hope most of you have taken the trouble to get and read Bishop Andrew Burnham’s truly excellent book, Heaven and Earth in Little Space. I took it with me on holiday, and devoured it very quickly. In my view, it does something quite important; it shows very clearly the broad picture of the Western tradition flowing into Anglicanism and also out again back into Catholicism. In that sense, it is a very ecumenical book; it is also eirenical, and shows a quite astonishing grasp of modern-day Roman Catholic belief, practice and ‘ethos’ (an over-used word, but it fits here). I have not seen this so clearly before in an Anglican writer. I think, too, that his book is quite important for the way that we have visualized the history of our respective communions. In the Catholic Church we have thought of Anglicanism as developing out of the Reformation and thenceforward entirely independently, though not going as far as, say the Calvinists. Hence its history, culture, liturgy and so forth hasn’t, to be honest, been very interesting to most of us, simply because we have thought of it as being, well, foreign, and irrelevant to our needs or situation, much as one might think of the operation of the postal service in, say, Belgium. And we have assumed that the same was true in reverse.
Of course it has not been true of Anglo-Catholics, and, indeed, there has always been an awareness of the Catholic Church throughout Anglicanism, even if only to define oneself against it; in some senses, the Catholic Church has given the Anglican Church much of its identity in both a positive and negative (reacting against, I mean) sense. That hasn’t been true this side of the Tiber. But all is now changed. For the first time Anglicanism itself is going to set up on this bank, it is going to become part of our heritage, and Bishop Burnham’s book demonstrates very clearly just how intense the gaze of Papalist Anglicanism in Britain has been and continues to be on the Church of Rome, her customs, her liturgy, her ethos. If you compare the quantity of material devoted to the Anglican tradition to the quantity concerning the Roman tradition in this book you will see for yourself the relative importance to him of each.
This gives me a certain cause for concern, however. It is, of course, flattering; one always loves to see what one loves being loved by another. Nevertheless, if the gaze is so intently focussed on the Roman ethos—on the Roman patrimony, if you like—do we not run the risk of losing the Anglican element altogether? And then what will the Ordinariate be for? Catholic worship for the upper middle classes?
What I am trying to say is that there needs to be a recognizable liturgical and cultural difference that is more than just good taste or its lack. An occasional Evensong (as some have suggested) will not be enough; this is what I mean by there needing to be more, not less, Anglicanism in the Ordinariate, and certainly a great deal more than there is currently within British Anglo-Catholicism.
This isn’t going to be a problem outside the UK, I imagine. Where there is a love of the Book of Common Prayer in its various forms, the differences are obvious from the Roman Use, and there should be few problems between the churches.
In the UK, though, the BCP will not do; I suspect that Anglo-Catholics want a Eucharist that says ‘Mass’ rather than ‘Service of Holy Communion’, which is what the BCP suggests to many. For these people, the Roman Missal (in both forms) has provided everything needed in this department, and has been, until now, the obvious solution.
This is because the Eucharistic Liturgy is the most important defining thing of any group that identifies itself as in some sense Catholic; it presents Calvary to us, not only the Last Supper.
Now let’s get to the nitty gritty. If the Anglican Ordinariate in the UK does not use Anglican rites, then it will not be Anglican and I confidently predict that in forty years it will be no more. Young families will go where there are other young families and integrate with them. In most cases, that will mean St Bernadette’s, not St Botolph’s. Neither will St Botolph's continue to be fed by members of the general population suddenly noticing the approach of death and deciding to get a bit religious; it must survive on its own present parishioners and their descendents, plus the occasional addition from St Bernadette’s who likes the music. There are Anglo-Catholic churches with flourishing families (like St Barnabas, Tunbridge Wells, I imagine), but not many, so what will happen in the future?
In the British Catholic Church we have been here before; many Polish airmen remained in Britain after the Second World War, and Polish chaplaincies, even churches, were set up for them and their families. However, before the fall of the Iron Curtain, these chaplaincies had almost died, because the next generation did not see any point in belonging to their parents’ peculiar church; they thought of themselves as ordinary Catholics and simply integrated into their local St Bernadette’s instead of travelling forty miles to St Casimir’s to be berated by Fr Unpronounceableski. The chaplaincies have, of course, been rescued and expanded now, but this is not going to happen to the Ordinariates unless hordes of devout young people should suddenly decide to immigrate from the Ordinariates in the States or Canada.
The British Ordinariate needs to set out its own stall and make it distinctive, with clear blue water between it and the Roman Use. It needs to be proud of its own tradition, and I accept that, if the BCP is not to be used, something is going to have to be cobbled together. For some time, Fr Chadwick has been urging that the Sarum Use be looked at again, and I am starting to come around to thinking that he may have a point. Sarum would suggest ‘Mass’, not ‘Communion Service’. Might not a group of people put together an ‘Ordinary Form’ of the Sarum Use?
I do hope that you don’t feel that I have been negative here. In a sense, I think that maybe it needs a Roman Catholic to tell Anglo-Catholics that it’s okay to love your own tradition. You’re going to be in communion with us very soon, please God, and then you won’t need to assert your attachment to the See of Peter by using the Roman Use.
If what you want is Roman Catholicism tout court, then it would be better simply to join your local diocese; you can, after all, bring your Missus these days, and there are lots of priests in each diocese with similar backgrounds to your own, so you won’t be lonely. However if you think that Anglicanism has something worth saving in these lands (and I really think it has) then we will need to work to save it.
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