Quincentenary

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To ecumenists converts are an inconvenience. To those – both Catholic and Protestant – preparing to celebrate the five hundredth anniversary of the Reformation with declarations of forgiveness, amity and corporate amnesia, the very existence of the Ordinariates is acutely so.

Ordinariate Catholics will find it hard to join in the junketing. The wounds are still very sore.

Attempting to live as Catholics trapped in a Protestant body, we lived out the irony at the heart of Anglo-Catholicism: – the irony of asserting that the church within which we functioned was something most of its members passionately believed it was not.

We asked –  from a ‘broad’ church with a chequered history and made up of those with diverse and conflicting opinions – for a safe space. But it was Benedict XVI, not Rowan Williams, who delivered the goods.  Paradoxically what Anglo-Catholics had sought in the Church of England – diversity of practice in the unity of Faith – only the Roman monolith could supply.

To ecumenists converts are an embarrassment. Whilst they are celebrating what is held in common, we have a lively sense of the gulf between us.  Dissembling will not do. We have come, perhaps too late, to acknowledge the wisdom of Cardinal Manning’s uncompromising words:

Ritualism is private judgement in gorgeous raiment, wrought about with divers colours…every fringe in an elaborate cope worn without authority is only a distinct and separate act of private judgement; the more elaborate, the less Catholic; the nearer the imitation, the further from the submission of faith.

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