Ordinariate: You can’t have your cake and eat it too

Damian Thompson, The Telegraph, reports that the Bishop of London, the Rt. Rev. Richard Chartres, has told those leaving the Church of England for the Anglican Ordinariate of the Roman Catholic Church that they must leave the buildings behind. Thinking Anglicans has Bishop Chartres comments:

Another aspect of the turbulence to which I have referred is of course the Bishop of Fulham’s retirement. Bishop John has served the Diocese for more than forty years in variety of roles and many of us have reason to be grateful for his ministry. He has the gift of colourful speech and there may be some Synod members unconvinced by his suggestion that he was leaving a “fascist” institution for Liberty Hall on Tiber. All people, however, who act conscientiously deserve our understanding.

There does however seem to be a degree of confusion about whether those entering the Ordinariate like Bishop John might be able to negotiate a transfer of properties or at the least explore the possibility of sharing agreements in respect of particular churches. For the avoidance of confusion I have to say that as far as the Diocese of London is concerned there is no possibility of transferring properties. As to sharing agreements I have noted the Archbishop of Westminster’s comment that his “preference is for the simplest solutions. The simplest solutions are for those who come into Catholic communion to use Catholic churches”. I am also mindful that the late Cardinal Hume, whom I greatly revered, brought to an end the experiment of church sharing after the Synod’s decision of 1992 because far from being conducive to warmer ecumenical relations it tended to produce more rancour. ~+Chartres

Though Thompson sets this story in his usual anti-Anglican prose, but if you read the RCC document on how the ordinariate will work in the UK, there is nothing said about groups staying in Anglican facilities and a strong assumption that those who become Roman Catholic will be in every respect Roman Catholic including worshiping in RCC buildings under the directions of an RCC bishop who was not previously Anglican or faux-Anglican. It is interesting that the Church of England is now experiencing a similar story as has been experienced in The Episcopal Church. Dissenters want what they want when they want it, but wrap themselves in the language of tradition. They talk about high principal but operate on the level of feelings. They don’t want to stay but they want to have all the perks of staying. They may discover their new church is not quite so open to their desires to have it all.

This seems oh so familiar. Now we see the Church of England standing up for its property. People leave the denomination, but the property and holdings don’t. If they need a place to share worship perhaps some local RC Church will offer them space and deal with their need for special treatment. For one church’s report on leaving click here.

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