Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Branch theory

According to the BBC news website, in a piece entitled Dissident Anglicans leave Church of England:
A first wave of about 600 Anglicans are officially leaving the Church of England in protest at the decision to ordain women as bishops.

They will be enrolled as candidates to join a new branch of the Catholic Church - the Ordinariate - which has been specially created for them.
If I have understood aright, those joining the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham are not leaving the Church of England "in protest". The prospect of women bishops in the Church of England is I expect part of their story, but the fundamental question is one of which women bishops is only a symptom. The question is one of unity with the Catholic faith, and therefore of unity with the Holy See.

More inaccurate than the report's reference to "in protest" is its reference to the Ordinariate as a "new branch of the Catholic Church"! This suggests that the Ordinariate is a kind of "Church of England" within the Catholic Church ... but it is precisely the notion of the Church of England as a "branch" of the universal Catholic Church that has now become untenable for those who are leaving. To speak of the Ordinariate in that same language is not only inaccurate but mis-represents both the intentions of those joining the Ordinariate and the reality of the juridical structure erected by Pope Benedict XVI.

No comments: