Friday, October 01, 2010

Romeward Bound

On Wednesday, it was reported that the vestry of our former parish of Mount Calvary, Baltimore has voted to follow All Saints Sisters of the Poor into the Roman Catholic Church, under the auspices of Benedict XVI's Anglicanorum Coetibus. This vote is to be confirmed in an all-parish meeting on October 24.

This was the parish from which my wife and I were married in 2004, a small, spiky (in the Anglo Catholic sense) congregation, with pronounced Romeward leanings and very warm hearts. In the Nineteenth Century, its ritualism earned it a reputation for defiance of episcopal authority, but it retained considerable freedom of action within the Diocese of Maryland, not least, I suspect, because its sizable endowment generated a significant slice of diocesan income.

While I am in one sense happy for them if it brings peace, I find the news revives all the uncertainty that Anglicanorum Coetibus inspired in me when it was first announced, all the more so because the Diocese of Maryland has apparently signified a willingness to negotiate a settlement. That in itself is striking, given the way in which the Presiding Bishop warned the Diocese of Virginia off settling with the CANA churches, but of course Mount Calvary has considerable resources and it won't be setting up an alternative Anglican hierarchy.

At a deeper level, though, is it wise to depart not just as a community, but as an organized parish, complete with all accouterments? As I understand it, Pope Benedict is not inclined to establish an Anglican Rite, merely a more developed form of Anglican Use. Basically, it is a recognition of the value of certain liturgical forms and in no way undermines Leo XIII's declaration in Apostolicae Curae as to the invalid character of Anglican Orders. By departing in this manner - as opposed to accepting ordinariate status as a community of souls - the impact of the change is blunted. What guarantee is there that Mount Calvary will be any less of an enclave after the transition than before, a place to which Anglican converts to Rome can resort to sustain their former identity? Of course, if an Anglican Rite were to be accepted by Rome on the same terms as the Uniate and Oriental Catholic churches this might not matter so much. If it is not, surely it would be far better to accept the costs that come with sacrifice (and which earlier generations of Anglican converts have been obliged to bear).

All that said, we wish them well!

October 25 Update:

Mount Calvary voted on two resolutions today at a special meeting following 10:00 Mass:

1) That Mt. Calvary Church separate itself from The Episcopal Church, and

2) That Mt. Calvary Church seek admission to the Roman Catholic Church as an Anglican Use parish.

Both resolutions passed by majorities of almost 85%.

The ballots were counted by two disinterested outsiders: Dr. Daniel Page (a friend of many parishioners who lives nearby) and Sister Mary Joan of the All Saints' Sisters of the Poor.

The ballots were counted in the presence of the Rev. Scott Slater, Canon to the Ordinary of the Diocese of Maryland.

Source: Stand Firm

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Although I share your concerns for Mt Calvary's future in the Roman Church, I believe it better for them, potential 815 or DioMd actions notwithstanding, to make the move as a parish than as individuals. The early reports of the diocese being amenable to a settlement are indeed encouraging.

I can't offer any help or insight on how the parish will do amongst the Romans -- you know the parish from the inside -- but I will say that having reached the end of the road with the Episcopal Church the parish is making an educated decision on its future. That the decision is being made as a parish will carry them for some time to come. Whether Rome accepts Mt Calvary as Anglican Use or Anglican Rite does indeed remain to be seen; I do believe, however, that if Rome is serious in its outreach to disaffected Anglicans it will consider the solid theology and beauty that traditional Anglicanism represents. If that hope is all they have, it is evidently better than any hope based on remaining in TEC.

Blessings to you and your betrothed for your witness from Mt Calvary and Pittsburgh. Blessings also from your Goddaughter on her eighth birthday today.

Geoffrey Peckham