Someone should compile a brief anthology of the reasons which catholic-minded Anglicans have given for not joining the Ordinariate. Many of them, of course, would be ‘good’ reasons:

My children are away at school, how could I afford it? I have no financial provision until I receive my full pension. But I am not sure how ‘good’ many of these reasons are or how many of them stand up to closer scrutiny.

Some reasons given are aesthetic or cultural:

I just would not fit in. I couldn’t stand the liturgical dyslexia and the awful guitars. I cannot leave behind the camaraderie (and its opposite – the downright bitchery) which I have enjoyed in the CofE. (We all know clergy who have turned themselves, over the years, into a walking Crockfords of friends who have  – or who have not –   received preferment.)  But I suspect that most of those are excuses rather than arguments. The give away is the phrase ‘Really, I could never become a Catholic’.


The truth is that most are probably paying the Catholic Church a rather back-handed compliment.

No one, after all, says why they could ‘never’ become a Methodist or a Unitarian. Such a change would not result in the alienation from the ambient culture which membership of the Catholic Church is rightly seen to entail: a radical change in mores and a fidelity to the Magisterium. Erastianism is a beguiling version of Christianity, which having given up the hope of changing the world, decides to baptize it, warts and all.

This line of least resistance (‘I don’t think you understand, Michael, just how much the Church needs to learn from the world’) becomes ever more persuasive the more it is deployed.

Those who will not, or who ‘cannot’, become Catholics see this more clearly than we do, I think. They grasp that the Catholic Church is the only contemporary Christian institution which seeks to combat the increasing self-obsession of a radically secularist society. They see that there is a titanic struggle going on. They have no stomach for the fight – and in any case they believe that the Church is bound to lose.

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