Thursday, 18 February 2010

The trappings of imperialism

I think that many Australian Anglicans will be shocked by news that the Roman Catholic Church seems to be actively progressing the establishment of an Anglican Ordinariate (a sort of Anglican Church within the Roman discipline)[see an article from a Roman Catholic source here].
Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne, Peter Elliott,(pictured) would appear to be responsible for establishing such an ordinariate here in Australia, and last week Forward in Faith (AUSTRALIA) passed a generally worded motion welcoming this.
Now it seems (and needs to be said) that FIF is not an organisation of the Anglican Church. (I think some object to this assertion). While no doubt some Anglicans are members, others are former Anglicans, indeed David Robarts the National Chairman is a Bishop of the so called "Traditional Anglican Communion" -a breakaway group with issues about the ordination of women and often certain curious allegiances to the Book of Common Prayer of 1662- often they seem to have more in common with the the pre-Vatican II Catholic Church, and the pre-Reformation Anglican Church.
I have had romantic attraction like this myself to a sort of ultra-montane Catholicism which is more a figment of the imagination than a reality.
I am interested in the use of language and what it conveys. I note the FIF motions for example (here) they are conciliatory and almost weak in their intent.This is classic Anglican use of one former Primate would say "on the one hand...but then again on the other hand"
They say
( on the one hand ) That this Special General Meeting of FiFA receives with great gratitude the Apostolic Constitution “Anglicanorum Coetibus” of Pope Benedict XV1 .....(but on the other hand) we give notice as to the establishing of Friends of the Australian Ordinariate and invite members of Forward in Faith Australia and other interested persons for expressions of interest by provision of names and addresses at this meeting, or by contacting the Chairman, noting that this does not commit interested persons to joining the Ordinariate.

This is classic Anglican meeting procedure...we do something parallel which doesn't offend those who might not quite want to go that far! And always allow the way out.

I contrast that rather with the some what imperialistic tone of Bishop Elliott who refers to the Pope as "Pastor of the Nations" offering special dispensation and beneficence ("reaching out to give you a special place within the Catholic Church") to the naughty little children who have finally come home to Daddy.

This is a far cry from the language of the 70s and 80s in which Anglicans steadfastly referred to ourselves as "sister churches" rather than daughters..and occasionally the Romans agreed. But we seem to have gone back to an earlier time. White gloves and all!

At some point we Catholic Christians, Romans and Anglicans have got to realise that it is not about dressing up!

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