Erection of the personal ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter and naming of the first ordinary

The ordinariate is for Episcopalians/Anglicans in the U.S. coming into the Roman Catholic Church. Read about it here.


  1. Happy New Year to all readers.
    Let us offer a warm welcome to those in the Ordinariate. They will have risked friends and financial security in making the change. They deserve our support.

      1. Mary Burke –
        Many thanks for the warm welcome. But a word or two about that word, ‘uniates’. It applies only to Eastern Rite Catholics and the fact that they are distinct rites. The Anglican Ordinariates are not distinct rites, but ‘usages’ of the Roman rite… hence the signifer, ‘Anglican Use’. Also, I have heard it on authority from several real ‘uniates’ that that term is not an official one and is considered pejorative by our Eastern rite cousins, who would prefer that we not use it.
        Still, many thanks again for your warm welcome.

        And, to Mr Luscombe – you are very proabably right about the improbability that large numbers of Episcopalians will be crossing the Tiber. The really protestant minded ones would never consider it, and the Anglo-Catholic ones would shudder at the thought of what passes for liturgy in the Catholic Church. Still, many of them will seriously consider the Ordinariate because Rome (to paraphrase St Paul) ‘sounds a sure trumpet’ whereas Canterbury does not. We do have at present 100 or so priests who are coming over, plus several thousand people and several entire parishes. This is not, of course, a flood, but it is a distinct tremour. Just in the last several years we have grown by half-a-dozen or more parishes, plus an entire convent of Benedictine nuns.

        This news was not supposed to be announced until 1 January, but somehow got leaked early. I said to Fr Steenson after mass at Our Lady of Walsingham, Houston, this morning that I hoped he would be named our ordinary. He responded that my intuitions were correct and told me all about the news. The parish sang a solemn Te Deum after mass.

    1. The “welcome” is actually more of a “farewell”; Anglican Use Catholics until now have been full-fledged members of their geographical dioceses; I have head that some of them would have preferred that. The formation of the Ordinariate isn’t welcoming them to the Catholic Church; that’s already been done. I am tangentially acquainted with Our Lady of Walsingham in Houston which, I have heard, is the “preferred parish” of the Ordinariate.

  2. My own feeling is that there will be few folks, outside of some clergy, swimming across the Tiber. Having been music director, in a fairly substantial Episcopal Church, in New England, I can safely say that in that particular parish, maybe a half dozen families might consider a move, the clergy? Not a chance. And after visiting the local Catholic parish literally down the street, I would bet that most of that half dozen wouldn’t leave either. In my opinion, the people we are talking about are those who have already left the Episcopal Church.

  3. Perhaps if we put more focus and funding on both hospitality and quality music ministry, they’d like to join us.

    1. HOW can we better fund both hospitality and music when there remains SO MANY rectories to redecorate and refurnish? We must get our priorities in order dear friend.

  4. @M Jackson, I find it interesting that Rome “sounds a sure trumpet” to your ears “whereas Canterbury does not.” I’ve been wondering how many– if any– Anglican-Use priests there will be a generation or two down the line. When the last married Ex-Episcopalian, now-Catholic priest dies or his wife dies, the celibacy rule will apply to all the ordinariate’s priests, will it not? If there is a 20-year-old male in Our Lady of Walsingham or Chair of Peter Ordinariate who is considering a call to the priesthood, will he answer where he is, or is he equally likely to go home to the Anglicans/ Episcopalians, who have a long tradition of offering the marriage option to priests? To be in accord with papal teaching, married priests of the Ordinariates must renounce the married state for clergy, for their own successors, even while they continue to live it themselves. How does one manage that? Haven’t they hearkened to the sound of a “sure trumpet” while building their own house on shifting sands? (Matt: 7:24-27).

  5. Mary Coogan –
    Your questions are founded upon the assumption that, at least for the priests, the married state is of greater concern than the fulness of the magisterial Faith. For Anglican Ordinariate Catholics, it is the later which is the object of their allegiance and the motivating force in their lives, whether in holy orders or not. In fact, there are a number of young ordinariate men who are now in seminary. You should not underestimate the pain and angst which accompanied each of our journeys from Canterbury to Rome; nor our devotion to the entirety of the Faith on which Rome is uncompromising. One of histories great sadnesses is the Anglican Church’s general lapse into the shifting sands of culture-dominated polity in preference to sounding a certain trumpet concerning apostolic faith and practice. Many of us grew up hoping to see the day on which Canterbury, together with all her children, and Rome would be re-united. Tearfully, they chose to become further separated. The ordinariates are the fulfillment of the oecumenism of Vatican II. Peter’s rock is hardly shifting sands!

  6. You missed my point, M. Jackson. I’ll try an analogy. One of the grievances of the civil rights movement in the USA and supported by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s argument from natural law, is that it is unjust for one group to impose upon another group constraints that do not bind the group that imposes them. (The King reference was to the white majority imposing ‘Jim Crow’ laws on African Americans in the South). Current priests of the ordinariates have embraced a set of rules, including celibacy, that apply only to the next generation of priests and not to the priests who will bequeath them to others. I think this is a moral problem for the Church as well as for married priests of the Ordinariate.

    The relative importance of the two sacraments, matrimony and Holy Orders, is not in question. The point is that for ensuing generations but not for the current generation, reception of either sacrament precludes reception of the other. Yet you claim that “Rome is uncompromising” on “the entirety of the faith.” That seems to me a patently untenable position for an Anglicanorum Coetibus priest. If Rome were uncompromising, Rome would have excluded non-celibate priests, along with female and gay priests.

    The exemption from the celibacy requirement for married priests of the ordinariates is clearly a compromise. It’s a political expedient that, I suspect, Vatican officials would not have allowed if they thought it could extend beyond first-generation priests. By contrast, the Anglican Church’s position on who may receive the two sacraments has been consistent from its beginning. While you view the needed reforms in that church as a “lapse into culture-dominated polity,” an Anglican/Episcopalian is likely to view them as progress toward “all the sacraments for all the faithful,” a working out in time of the fullness of Christ’s gifts of grace.

    1. One *might* make the argument that the restriction of Holy Orders to males, and the denial of matrimony to those in Holy Orders, are themselves “lapses” into the dominant culture of the day when those customs took root. Was that the workings of divine providence for an unchanging practice? Or a form of inculturation that need not be binding for all times and all places?

    2. MC – Thanks for the clarification. Your argument and its underpinnings are cogent. However, I am not hopelessly cornered. Your points are very well taken; however, the Roman discipline of celibacy is just that: a discipline, and not a matter ‘de fide’, about which Rome remains an unwavering and certain trumpet. So, you are correct only so far as the fabric of your assertions will take you.

      As for imposing a (purely [or merely] disciplinary) rule on future generations? You are right in that this represents an ultimate abrogation of a matter of Anglican discipline. However, future ordinariate postulants will be as free to choose as non-ordinariate ones: there is no extra-ordinary imposition. In fact, a goodly number of currently celibate Anglican priests are coming to Rome and choosing not to be a part of the ordinariate, but to be strictly Roman rite priests. This is always a choice which an individual makes; but Rome has made a calculated and pastoral ‘compromise’ only in a disciplinary rule, not a matter of faith.

      Personally, while not being an active partisan of the non-celibate party, I do not believe that there is anything sui generis to forbid it. It works well enough for the Eastern Churches and the Eastern rites, as well as our Anglican brethren. But it has been an expected discipline of the Roman Church since late mediaeval times, when it was a measure which had a positive effect on the eradication of a number of abuses in the Church. And, I think, those who agitate against it do not fully appreciate some of the negative consequences, both economically and socially, that would ensue from clergy families, and priests who were not married first, foremost and only to Christ and his flock. I wonder, too, if there really would be a magical flood of vocations: it is quite conceivable that this is a hollow panacea, pie in the sky, to many who agitate for it. It may be that they are rather like those who complain that the parish choir should be larger – but they themselves do not choose to contribute to that end by joining it.

      Thanks for your observations – I shall continue to mull them over, aware that you may have yet another rejoinder!

  7. M Jackson, yes, the celibacy requirement is a discipline and thus not unchangable. As Ann Riggs suggests, the restriction of holy orders to males is likewise changeable, if we are to credit the list of early church ministers given by Paul in the opening of Romans16, a list that includes several women. The roles of presbyter, deacon, bishop have developed and changed with time and culture. Reform, as the Renaissance humanists insisted, looks always to the foundations, for clarity on the purposes of the institution and its resources for meeting challenges and solving problems.

    I’m concerned that other Anglican resources may be lost over the course of a generation or two, along with married priests. I would not like to see the beautiful and enduring language of the Book of Common Prayer, with its revisions in part inspired by Second Vatican Council, sidelined within a Church whose more recent efforts at liturgical renewal have alienated many. Nor would I like to see the Anglican relationship between presbyters and bishops succumb to recent Roman modes of decision-making. When I search for an enduring purpose of the ordinariates, I find it in the possibility of Catholicism’s mining the wealth of Anglican liturgy, its understanding of mission as God-given and inclusive, its contributions to reading scripture, and the humility of its relationships among priests, prelates, and people. I cannot think of these as ephemeral.

    Can Chair of Peter priests achieve the influence they would need for a true sharing of resources? Having only one member on the USCCB and so many who view “the signs of the times” only as threats to be resisted does not inspire confidence that the Anglican wealth of liturgy and tradition will find a permanent home in Roman Catholicism.

  8. MC –
    I am deeply touched by your concerns for all the positive aspects of the Anglican patrimony which could fall by the wayside in future years. I think of our Eastern rite communities as exemplars for us in this matter. We are, in fact, quite aware of the need to preserve our cultural, literary, spiritual and liturgical heritage and to communicate these to future generations of AO Catholics, as well as to share them with the whole Church which has blessed them and accepted them.

    You mention specifically the BCP. As you may know our current liturgical book in the US is the Book of Divine Worship, which includes both rites I and II and both psalters from the ’79 Prayer Book. We have little use (I think only one parish) for rite II, but Rome insisted on both because that was current Episcopal usage at the time. The changes or alterations to these rites are minor.
    Also, now that the ordinariates are becoming a reality, there is the expectation that a new Anglican use liturgy will be formed for the common usage of all the world’s ordinariates. Our English brethren, for instance, have made it known that they are not that keen on the American Prayer Book liturgy in use here. Some of us would like to see a restored Sarum Use, but have doubts that such would pass muster. In fact, an English professor and member of Our Lady of Walsingham in Houston, is on the commitee meeting in England to create this new liturgy drawing on Anglican paradigms. I don’t think that anyone envisions anything but the preservation of the language of the BCP.

    And, as you have noted, there is much in our tradition that could be mined by the Catholic Church (and, of course, vice versa). Chiefly, our liturgical tradition with its attendant musical diadem. But, there is also a body of profoundly Catholic spiritual literature (not least of which is that of the XVII. century Anglican Divines), art, and church furnishings which are a clear witness to the Catholic conscience.

  9. Thank you M Jackson for your explanations.
    With luck the Anglican use and the Roman use will give mutual enrichment.
    The ordinariate arrangements may also serve as a model for others, such as the SSPX, who may wish to come into full communion with the church.
    I am interested in your comment on shifting sands. Once one tries to accomodate fashion the house ceases to be built on rock. The current fashion of equality seems to have tripped up Apb. Nichols of Westminster.

    1. Greetings, Mr Haydon. You speak about trying to accommodate fashion in terms which suggest that you disapprove. And that is fair enough.

      However, it is helpful to distinguish between this and a related phenomenon which is a necessary part of Christianity. I am referring to the nature of belief, which changes and develops as knowledge expands and understanding progresses.

      A decision on whether a particular issue, such as equality is a fashion and therefore, by definition, is set to go as quickly as it came, or, on the other hand, a fundamental value and is therefore set to endure requires wisdom and discernment.

      Like Mary C, I would disagree with you on your premise that equality is a passing fad. Consequently, it makes no sense to me to think that someone is “tripping up” by embracing it. On the contrary, it seems to me that it is the one who doesn’t see its fundamental and central role in the Christian gospel who is “tripping up.”

  10. I wish the ordinariates well in preserving the Anglican liturgical via media. I am surprised that Rome insisted on having both rites even though Rite I was in use among most groups. My impression is that the more current language of Rite II is preferred by most American Episcopalian congregations. If and when a “new Anglican use liturgy” emerges, it will be highly interesting to see both how consultative the process that produces it will be and whether the principles of Liturgiam Authenticam will contribute to re-shaping the BCP prose and poetry.

    @Peter Haydon: “to accommodate fashion” in the sense discussed above—that discussion touching on traditions and disciplines rather than doctrines or core matters of faith—ought not to threaten a house built on rock. You and I would surely disagree on whether equality is “fashion” or integral to the teachings of the gospel, but since such a discussion doesn’t seem relevant to this topic, I’ll leave without further comment.

    1. Greetings Mary
      Equality may have different meanings on different sides of the Atlantic. On the European side it is a question of “rights”. Do gay couples have the right to a civil partnership ceremony in a church? In the UK the question was whether Catholic adoption agencies should be required by law to offer assessments and recommend as adopters gay couples.
      The Catholic church had a clear line on this sort of thing. At the same time the Anglican faith is being split on whether practicing gays can serve as bishops: the Africans say no and the US church says yes. In England it seems to be split. So the Catholic line is the firm rock.
      The next fashion seems to be so called “Fair trade” with ecology as another progressive line.
      Similarly the argument that Williamson of the SSPX should not have his excommunication lifted because he doubts the generally accepted view of the holocaust seems to impute one historical view into the doctrine of the church.
      My point was that the Anglican faith seems to have no defence against such ideas but rather to bend with each passing wind. These are not matters of liturgy but seem to explain why some Anglicans felt that the Catholic church seems a better bet.

      1. It would be delusional to assume that Roman Catholics have homogenous views on the issues of gay adoption and similar issues. And to describe “Fair Trade” and ecology as fashions is to trivialise both.

        The fact is RCatholics have a wide variety of views on moral issues and they are increasingly less likely to agree to be told what to think and to adopt the institutional line on anything if it conflicts with their own position. That is good as befits a mature Christian conscience.

      2. I think that, since Jefferson, American political thinking has made equality foundational to rights. And I suspect most European thinking is similar. In other words, those people whom we consider “equal” have full rights under the law. Historically, we have excluded women, the handicapped, gays, African Americans and other minorities from voting, educational institutions, professions, or various public services on the basis of their perceived inequality. “Protected categories,” people for whom we pass anti-discrimination legislation, have accordingly expanded to accommodate various groups as we recognize their equality.

        Cases here are similar to those in the UK. Catholic social services in the State of Illinois, for example, have challenged the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act, which prohibits discrimination against same-sex couples by agencies accepting public funds. Catholic Social Services of Southern Illinois, however, separated in Nov. 2011 from the Belleville Diocese in order to comply with the law, which the Diocese and the USCCB continue to oppose. If you read major newspaper editorials and public comments about it, you’ll notice that sentiment runs heavily against the USCCB position. Clearly, Catholic agencies do practice discrimination against same-sex couples and unmarried heterosexual couples. The fact that their motivation is religious doctrine rather than prejudice does not count as justification because the law is based on the equality of same-sex couples. Simply put, recognizing the equality of a person requires giving the person equal rights. The USCCB disagrees in the cases of gays and women; the bishops speak of these persons as equal but refuse equal treatment. What looks to them, to you and Abp Nichols like bending “with each passing wind” seems to the majority of Americans like progress toward full equality, or living up to the ethos of our founding documents.

  11. Mary makes an interesting point. Aren’t the Anglican liturgies in both Britain and America, both contemporary and Cranmerian, from the world of dynamic equivalence? How will they be aligned with the principles of Liturgiam Authenticam?

    1. I suspect LA will not apply in this case. As a document of the Latin rite it doesn’t apply to the Eastern Churches, for example.

      1. The Ordinariates are a) Latin and b) not Churches sui iuris like the eastern Churches.

        Their liturgical law clearly already derogates from general Latin usages, so it may or may not derogate in this respect as well.

  12. Still, like the non-celibate priesthood, it will out there, along side the other, for all to see.

    And think about.

    Mark MIller

  13. Quite apart from canon law issues, this seems odd to me. Doesn’t LA insist that (1) all English speaking communities should use the same text, with minor variations; (2) literal translation is essential; (3) Rome, rather than individual bishops and their flocks, should set the texts?

    I also thought that the modern Anglican rites were heavily derived from the Catholic 1973 text. I guess in this case they count as “Anglican patrimony”. Can we claim “post-conciliar patrimony”?

  14. As to various above comments that assert that large numbers of Catholics ‘…are increasingly less likely to be told what to think (and believe) if it is contrary to their own position’: I ask (sincerely and without rancour) what, then, makes these persons Catholic? Why are they not more at home in Canterbury, or Methodism, etc., or even, in fine Protestant tradition, founding their own true churches. What distinguishes them as Catholic if the bounds of their faith are their own ‘positions’? What of Catholic faith and practice is and is not regarded by them as belonging to their own ‘de fide’? Is the literal resurrection jettisonable (that’s awfully hard to believe)? The true God-head of Christ? The virgin birth (that’s really hard to believe!)? The objective presence of Christ in the Eucharistic Species? Infallibility (properly understood)? The Apostolic Succession (many impressive persons maintain that this is a fiction!)? On and on… If one’s own ‘position’, arrived at by purely temporal criteria is the measure of one’s belief, then what is Catholic about one? Again, I ask in sincerity and genuine curiosity.

    1. Because Catholics have always done this. The Anglospheric style of obeying things literally has more to do with the legal culture of the Anglosphere than it does with the actual practice of the Catholic faith. American Catholics are if anything becoming more Roman in the practice of their faith, as the Roman culture is one that is much more comfortable with a fairly large gap between notional ideals and reality.

      1. A very interesting insight, Karl. A Jesuit friend of mine spoke recently about the negative consequences of a failure to understand this way of thinking. He instanced the Roman tendency to have a high theology of ideals transported into a country, like Ireland, whose faithful in particular, clergy and religious, fell over themselves trying to implement to the letter the Roman dictats.

      2. Mary

        The one caveat: if you are doing things the Roman way, you acknowledge the notional ideal. The exceptions in practice are not worked into the notional ideal. So the indicative is not worked into the subjunctive. The legal culture of the Anglosphere abhors this, so we tend to get Anglospheric in wanting the reality made normative…if you are really Roman, you don’t push that point as hard as Americans would tend to do. Romans are much happier to shrug than we have typically been, though I sense that might be changing.

    2. As a social scientist, I see Catholicism as consisting of its members (human capital) its institutions (social capital) and its values and beliefs (cultural capital).

      How do Catholics maintain their identity?

      Probably most of them continue to see themselves as Catholics because their family members are Catholic, or their friends are Catholic, or in some cases because most of the people in the community or country in which they grew up were Catholic.

      Many Catholics maintain their identity because of parishes, or schools, or social or health care organizations, or various religious orders, or various other associations (Knights of Columbus, etc.) which they may have relationships or even just have many fond memories.

      Many Catholics maintain their identity through Catholic culture, e.g. the Mass (even though they might never register for a parish) or the rosary, or devotion to a particular saint, or because of a particular spirituality (Benedictine, Franciscan, Jesuit).

      Many researchers have remarked that Catholic identity unlike Protestant identity seems to work more like an ethnicity than membership in an organization. A lot of Protestants when they cease to go to a particular local church also report that they are no longer a member of that denomination, and when they go to a different church of a different denomination report themselves as members of that denomination. Catholics tend to say they are Catholics even when they have not been to church for years, even when they may be going to another Church with their spouse. Catholicism like ethnic identity tends to stick.

      If a Catholic has family members, and friends who are Catholic, went to a Catholic School, and College, goes regularly to Mass, and prays the rosary, the idea they should say they are not Catholics because they believe in birth control, or don’t believe in the infallibility of the Pope just does not make sense. People try to be consistent but tolerate some or even much inconsistency.

    3. Only when a Catholic publicly renounces Catholicism does one cease to be Catholic. You cannot “undo” a baptism based on one’s opinion even if you disagree w/ dogma. Even excommunication doesn’t undo a persons’ Catholicism. This from none other than canon lawyer and consultant to the Rota in Rome, the conservative Edward Peters.

    4. On this thread, we’ve criss-crossed between political values and religious identity. As if emerging from water into air, I move from one medium to the other with a small but noticeable shock. Related to this sensation and to M. Jackson Osborn’s question what makes people who already have their own positions Catholic, Andrew Yip and Michael Keenan suggest that political and religious discourses are converging. They write about Anglicans, but wouldn’t their thesis apply to Catholics as well? Anyone interested see “By Name United, By Sex Divided: A Brief Analysis of the Current Crisis Facing the Anglican Communion” (28 Feb. 04)

      1.4 Indeed Christianity is increasingly considered–albeit to varying degrees–by believers and non-believers alike, in cultural and human terms, rather than its transcendent nature. This, in turn, causes decreasing emphasis on exclusivity, uniqueness and superiority, which underline the traditional discourse of Christianity. In other words, Christianity in western society has been relegated from the centre of social life and authority to, at best, one of the myriad of options that inform life choices. The key word of the times seems to be ‘inclusivity’…. Therefore, rather than religious authority structures converting lost souls and returning them to the flock, Christianity needs to reach out and embrace people as they are, where they are…. needs to open its arms to embrace the diversity of human life. This non-traditional religious discourse is clearly informed by the broadening cultural (secular) discourse of citizenship that emphasizes human rights as well as personal liberty and happiness, reflective of significant social processes such as individualization and de-traditionalization in society at large that lead to the freeing or empowerment of agency….

  15. “what, then, makes these persons Catholic?”

    Baptiam into the Catholic church? Aquinas and Bonaventure didn’t support the concept of the immaculate conception …. are they not then Catholics? Rahner and Schillebeeckx had their own opinions on real presence … not Catholics either?

  16. Very well argued, Mary. You are not alone in recognising the incongruity and irony in the combination of both reports.

  17. Greetings Mary and Gerard
    I do not trivialise concerns such as trade and the environment. These are matters primarily for economists and scientists. Clerics who stray into territory where they are not expert risk error and bringing the faith into ridicule. They also put off those scientists and economists who believe that their comments are ill-informed.
    On the question of gay adoption the error made is to assume that the agency serves the potential adopter. The primary aim to to help children. Few children that are candidates for adoption will have identified any sexual orientation so the agency will almost certainly be unable to discriminate even if inclined to do so. Interestingly they are required to try and match the racial origins of the adopters and child which does seem to me to be a form of discrimination.
    Meanwhile the closure of the Catholic adoption agencies has aggravated the failure of the UK adoption system that has recently been highlighted. These agencies were very good at finding parents for “hard to place children” that is disabled children, older children or those in sibling groups. With over a hundred agencies willing to propose gay couples the practical disadvantage they suffered with the few Catholic agencies not considering them was trivial. The cost to the children is great.
    When interviewd about gay adoption I recall that Abp Rowan Williams merely noted that the law of the land permitted it. He was unwilling to be drawn further. The Catholic position is clearer and is based on what it believes God ordains rather than what the legislature of the land says.

    1. Peter, your post raises some interesting points. I’m afraid I cannot agree with you, when you claim that matters such as trade and the environment are primarily for economists and scientists, if by that you are implying that they are not matters for Christians, whether lay or ordained. Such a dichotomy between religion and life is false. Since the Incarnation everything that is of human interest is an appropriate subject for belief.
      In an ideal world each child would grow up in a loving home with a mother and a father. Where this is not possible, in my view it is preferable that a child would grow up in a home where (s)he is loved and cherished where guardians are of the same sex than that a child would grow up in a home where they are not loved with a parent/guardian of either sex.
      Finally you are proposing another false dichotomy when you seek to differentiate between a moral stance arrived at by human reason and one ordained by God. It is not true to claim that the latter is the Catholic position while the former is not. It is not the case that a course of action is good because God ordains it. God ordains it because it is good. Therefore the goodness or otherwise of a course of action needs to be discerned first of all by reason.

      1. Thanks Mary
        You are right that Christians should take an interest in good government. My point was that clerics should be cautious on subects they are not trained in. I would offer the consideration of the elasticity of demand for money with regard to interest rates. Economists argue about this. Any cleric who offers a view as the official church view is inviting ridicule.
        I agree with you on the best way to bring up children. But the official view of the church is that a gay couple is not the model for a child and is harmful: the fact that the alternative may be worse does not make it good.
        I am not seeking to promote a dichotomy and may have chosen my words badly. I am trying to contrast the Anglican acceptance of the law of the land with the Catholic view that the laws may be bad laws. Poor Rowan Williams has an impossible task and deserves our sympathy.

      2. continued from down below… I hit reply to the wrong comment!
        When you say that “The most seriously disadvantaged, of course, are children whose heterosexual parents do not accept their children’s homosexual orientations” I suspect that you were not thinking of those parents who neglect abuse or kill their children. Would you like to clarify?

      3. Peter, it is hardly necessary for Mary Coogan to comment further in order to clarify her position vis-à-vis the scenarios you raise. It is clear from the conversation that she is referring to situations whose primary variable is the sexual orientation of the people involved. There is no doubt that she is not talking about neglect, abuse or killing.

        One wonders why you raise the question.

      4. To Gerard
        I raised the point as I thought that Mary had not chosen her words well: as written there was an unfortunate interpretation possible. This seems to have been correct.
        It seems to me that a sense of perspective is needed: it is a pretty minor disadvantage for a gay person to be unable to seek assessment for adoption by the Catholic agencies given that they are such a tiny proportion of the agencies available. There are many worse things to worry about and the “remedy” has aggravated other issues.
        It seems to me that the concern for “equality” for people with certain sexual orientations is a matter of current fashion. Mary raises the number of suicides of teenagers which seems a more important matter to worry about. Now the “occupy Wall Street” / “occupy the city” campaigns will shift the focus of attention.
        Note that I am commenting on the relative importance of issues rather than seeking to explain or justify one view. That is for another discussion. It seems to me that the Anglican churches are more open to such passing concerns than the Catholic and that is a weakness.

    2. Peter writes, “On the question of gay adoption the error made is to assume that the agency serves the potential adopter. The primary aim to to help children.” I don’t think that there is much analogy between ethnic identity and sexual orientation, but in any case, these are empirical questions. Studies have shown that children raised by same-sex couples are not more likely to develop homosexual orientation than other children, that they are not disadvantaged in achievement (school grades, social skills, etc.), and that they display greater tolerance than children raised by heterosexual parents. The most seriously disadvantaged, of course, are children whose heterosexual parents do not accept their children’s homosexual orientations. These are the children most in need of help from supportive social workers and other adults. But discrimination against adult gay couples strengthens social and familial pressures and peer-bullying pressure on gay youth. We are experiencing an appalling number of young gay suicides in the US, out of proportion to other teen suicides. And media reports like the following explain the pressures that drive some to suicide: “Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George ignited a firestorm recently when, for the third time in recent days, he compared the gay-rights movement to a Ku Klux Klan ( KKK ) protest, this time in an official statement published on the Archdiocese of Chicago Website” If the primary aim is “to help children,” then the Cardinal is on the wrong path. If Catholic Social Services cannot avoid discriminating, then they must do it without taxpayers’ support and Catholics must support it quietly, without inflammatory words against the victims of their discrimination.

      1. Mary Coogan (with two Marys on this thread there is scope to get muddled)
        The point I sought to make is that the service offered by an adoption agency is not for the benefit of the potential adopters but of the children. So in considering if the agency is discriminating you should look at the children who might benefit from its services rather than the adults considered as potential adopters.
        I made no comment on the case of parents being of different race from the children adopted. I merely noted that this was a consideration that agencies are required to have regard to and might be considered a form of discrimination. One consequence in the UK is that white couples find it harder to be considered as potential adopters than black or mixed race couples. That is because the racial mix of children considered for adoption does not match that of potential adopters. This policy contributes to lengthy delays in placing children for adoption.
        As for the qualities of gay adopters I made no comment. An adoption agency presenting potential adoptive parents is giving them an endorsement. It would be hard for such endorsement to be genuine if the people live lives contrary to the principles of the agency.
        Finally I would point out that the cost to the taxpayer of keeping a child in care is very high. The adoption agencies that help find parents and assist them with making the adoption a success do a great benefit to the taxpayer.
        I think that you do not approve of Catholic teaching about homosexuals. You are free to do so. It seems to me that closing the Catholic adoption agencies in the UK gave no benefit to homosexuals and harmed the children who have a pressing need for parents. It is possible to believe this without displaying any malice to homosexuals.
        When you say that “The most seriously disadvantaged, of course, are children whose heterosexual parents do not accept their children’s homosexual orientations” I suspect that you were not thinking of those…

    3. I wonder why the USCCB does not see the civil rights of gays as included in Pope Paul IV’s admonition that the Church “does not place her trust in the privileges offered by civil authority. She will even give up the exercise of certain rights which have been legitimately acquired, if it becomes clear that their use will cast doubt on the sincerity of her witness or that new ways of life demand new methods” (Gaudium et Spes, §75):

      29. Since all men possess a rational soul and are created in God’s likeness, since they have the same nature and origin, have been redeemed by Christ and enjoy the same divine calling and destiny, the basic equality of all must receive increasingly greater recognition.

      True, all men are not alike. . . . Nevertheless, with respect to the fundamental rights of the person, every type of discrimination, whether social or cultural, whether based on sex, race, color, social condition, language or religion, is to be overcome and eradicated as contrary to God’s intent.

    4. Peter, yes, your charitable reading of my hasty writing is right: “I suspect that you were not thinking of those parents who neglect abuse or kill their children.” I recall seeing some study that suggested that same-sex couples were less likely than others to abuse children in their homes, but I do not now have a link to it. And I recall reading that there have been few comparisons with children raised by single parents. But the plight of gay teenagers seems to dominate the news about teen bullying and suicides. Accordingly, I want the state not to support discrimination against same-sex couples, while Catholic agencies should remain free to evaluate potential adoptive parents as they wish, but without lobbying and suing (on grounds of religious freedom) for the state funding they have enjoyed in the past. Even if their claim that anti-discrimination laws impinge on their religious freedom were right, a concern for the greater good should lead us not to support discrimination with public money. Just as you say that “An adoption agency presenting potential adoptive parents is giving them an endorsement,” the state gives discrimination an endorsement by funding it, and that does harm to the social fabric. “First do no harm,” and then figure out how to do more good. According to current Pew Forum research, the USCCB spent $27 Million in 2009 on lobbying and political advocacy, a sum that could fund plenty of adoptions.

      Gerard Flynn, thank you for the support.

      1. Thank you Mary
        I know nothing about teenage suicides in the USA but doubt that closing Catholic adoption agencies will help.
        One of the advantages of freedom is that diverse charities are established each with their own purpose. Simply on adoption agencies there will be some set up by each faith and those of no faith. Other charities will work for homeless, handicapped, overseas aid, the aged and others they choose. If the homosexual people feel left out they can create their own charities.
        How any of these interact with governments is another matter and partly for politicians to decide. I would hope that Catholic charities are not at a disadvantage as against others.
        I think it was the philosopher Burke who argued that prejudice represented accumulated wisdom. I wonder how well founded each of our prejudices are.

  18. It just occurred to me that a thread on the Anglican Ordinate would be remiss without a salute Benedict XVI as “The Pope of Christian Unity” (with a tip of the hat to Father Z for this designation of our Holy Father’s wide-ranging ecumenical initiatives).

    1. Of course, Henry, not everyone would agree with you that the setting up of an ordinate is a step towards advancing Christian unity. And some would argue that such a step has in fact been retrogressive on the journey towards the unity of Christians.

      Although in the case of the uniate churches and the ordinate we are not comparing like with like, there are some similarities between them. In Orthodox-Roman Catholic dialogue the setting up of the uniate churches, from the seventeenth century onwards is one of the more sensitive and intractable difficulties impeding closer unity. It could be argued that the erection of the ordinate is set, similarly, to create more problems than it will solves.

  19. what, then, makes these persons Catholic?

    There is a quote attributed to James Joyce that says “catholic” means “here comes everyone”. If there is one key characteristic of the Catholic Church, it is that we have included illiterate peasants praying rosaries and the most erudite theologians, guitar Masses and exquisite chant. Through the ages, non-Catholics have had no problem in identifying Catholics when they see them. In response to the question “what, then, makes these persons Catholic?” I would point out that we have a Church hierarchy which increasingly is taking all decisions out of local control, which increasingly is excluding this person or that group of persons, which increasingly is saying that there is only one way to be a Catholic. So I answer this question with one of my own: is the Pope Catholic?

    1. About this question “is the Pope Catholic?” Gaudium et Spes says something prophetic about the successors of the Apostles: their mission “is based on the power of God, Who very often shows forth the strength of the Gospel on the weakness of its witnesses.” If we count the fierce debates that Benedict XVI’s dicta have ignited in many quarters, we might decide that he has been one of the weakest of witnesses and most catholic of popes. He has certainly sent me to seek the strength of the Gospel!

    2. BR – just a little observation on your contention that ‘we have a…heirarchy which is increasingly taking all decision out of local control,…increasingly excluding…’.

      Regardless of one’s position on a matter such as this, can it be said that what you have described is a new experience in church governance? Surely not! From the Fathers through today almost no decision making was ultimately left to local fashioning. We know that the Church is all of us; but we also know all too well that the Church that speaks is the Church of the heirarchy. Clericalism is alive, well and powerful, Vatican II notwithstanding, and great hosts of priests do little to disguise that their parish councils are de facto consultative bodies whose job it is to rubber-stamp the cleric’s desires. Vatican II did not change this. It is as its has always been, with or without parish councils; it is the only system in which the heirarchy are comfortable and safe. We may feel that it is increasing only because we had imagined that after VII a different paradigm would take root; but it hasn’t and it won’t: clericalism is, indeed reasserting its historical realities. There has been and always will be a de facto caste system.

      The good part of this is that Faith and Morals and Theology are safeguarded by unfettered Apostolic Authority. And, that once in a while we get an heirarch who really is a gift of God to the world. But then, we also get more sorry souls such as the archbishop who recently compared the rights and aspirations of homoerotic persons to the KKK. (How does such a pitiful little man get to be an archbishop???)
      We’ve always had those kind.

      I shant say more. There is so much good to say… and so much not good. But my point from the beginning has been that control in the Church is not being taken away from anyone – it remains right where is has always been: with the clerical caste.

    It is interesting that we are discussing these things in a conversation about the wonderful new Anglican Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter. Interesting in that the locus of authority has developed as a tangent herein. Germane is a facet of governance in the Anglican tradition which did not get carried from our old life to our new. Namely, the Vestry: that body of persons elected by the parish who had real de jure responsibilities and authority over parish matters which were not at all priestlily delegated. Much good came from parish vestries here and there, and, much that was unfortunate came from them here and there. None of us, I think, miss such powerful vestries, nor would we, neither clerk nor lay, want to import them.

    1. Yes, no doubt the Vestry has been the nemesis of many an Episcopalian cleric. But the Vestry offers the church just one benefit that can outweigh the anguish it causes: the lay members of the Vestry are personally financially liable for malpractice in their church. As a result, Vestry members are quite diligent (and generally well trained by bishops) in following up on any hints of abuse of children, mistreatment of employees, or other scandalous behavior, as well as financial irregularities and disrepair of facilities. Catholics who compare that benefit with the protracted suffering of child abuse victims and families, the money paid out by dioceses, and the bad press occasioned by decades of mishandled child sexual abuse allegations might find it a model worth imitating.

  21. MJO – that “pitiful” man is actually the cardinal of Chicago and the driving force behind making the USCCB fall in line with LA and the new translation undoing principles laid out by VII.

  22. Mary Coogan above provides a helpful link. It seems that the Cardinal was unhappy at the prospect of a march disrupting church services. Apparently the KKK had done the same. He did not attack the marchers or their cause.
    If you look at the Northern Ireland marching season this will seem pretty tame stuff.
    Perhaps there is more to the story. Any advances?

    1. The Cardinal made his KKK comparison after the marchers re-scheduled their march to follow the end of church services.

      1. Thanks Mary
        I got the impression that he made the comment before checking whether the issue had been resolved.
        This does illustrate the problems when perceived rights are in conflict.
        It shows us the need to understand the details before jumping to conclusions.

        Have a blessed Epiphany. My young daughter said that Jesus got presents from the wise men and that it would not be fair if other children got nothing. That is why he sends Fr Christmas. I wonder what gifts we will get tomorrow. Wisdom I hope.

    2. Peter, I’m afraid I can’t let you away with that false comparison. Not in the worst days of sectarian rioting in the North of Ireland did anyone, much less an overseer of a diocese descend to the level which Francis George descended to in making this comparison. To equate innocent human beings born in the image and likeness of God with those who engaged in the activities of the KKK is unconscionable. It does no service to his argument. In the light of what has been said here about suicide, the Reverend George ought to worry that he may have more on his conscience by making such irresponsible remarks.

  23. Gerard
    Thanks for your response. I relied on the article that Mary provided a link to. Perhaps that was not a fair source. My comment began with the word “Apparently” indicating that I was open to correction. I do not know what words were used.
    I suppose that the members of the KKK are also “human beings born in the image and likeness of God.” Having never met any of them I can only rely on second hand information. I have also no experience of the UDF and their members. The IRA blew up my brother’s office in London.
    As I say, one should check the facts before jumping to conclusions. If I could see the words used by the Cardinal I would know more.

    1. Yes, Peter, the members of the KKK are made in the image and likeness of God. The mistake the Reverend George made was to compare the KKK whose views of the relationship between means and ends and whose actions are morally wrong with other human beings whom he judges to be equally morally reprehensible merely on the basis of their sexual orientation.

      I presume you mean the UVF.

      1. Gerard,

        If we’re going for precision here, the Cardinal expressed the hope that the Gay Pride parade would not be conducted in such a way as to intentionally disrupt Catholic worship, saying this would be a tactic akin to those used by the KKK in the early 20th century. His remark was not a comparison of homosexual acts and racist acts.

        All things being taken into account, I think it was an extremely unfortunate comparison to make and I am glad that he apologized.

      2. All else aside, certain clergy of the Archdiocese of Chicago say that Cardinal George walks with a limp because of his propensity to shoot himself in the foot.

  24. Yes Gerard I think you are right, UVF.
    Without seeing what the Cardinal wrote I will take your word for it. You might like to draw his attention to the Vatican document on the subect that says that they are not to be discriminated against.

  25. This Lutheran (baptized and Confirmed in the Roman Church) long considered the exploration of a Personal Ordinariate for Lutheran clergy, after receiving encouragement from some high placed folks in the hierarchy. At least for the time being, I have elected not to involve myself in such a proposal.

    God placed and Called me where I am, and until He makes it clear through His Church that I should seek to move, I shall stay here.

    As a member of the Society of the Holy Trinity, a Lutheran Order for parish priests, our Rule calls for seeking reunion with the Bishop of Rome. Where the Pope to express interest in facilitating that as per Ut Unum Sint, I would be faithful in responding to his calling.

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