THE Church of England’s traditional Catholics are being encouraged to take a fuller part in wider diocesan and church life, as part of "the recovery of love" after a time of disagreement and tension over women’s ordination.
The encouragement comes from the Council of Bishops of the Society under the patronage of St Wilfrid and St Hilda, which has been set up to provide continuing sacramental assurance for this constituency.
Their new statement, A Catholic Life in the Church of England, published on Tuesday, follows their recent Communion and Catholicity in the Church of England, and rebutts the notion that their theology entertains the concept of "tainted hands".
They draw on the House of Bishops’ Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests, and the thought of Tractarian leaders such as John Keble, as well as agreed statements of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission.
The Society describes itself as seeking "to be an expression of full, visible communion . . . with teaching and ministry that can be recognized as catholic and apostolic".
Because its members are "unable to recognise some of those whom the Church of England has ordained bishops and priests as standing within the historic sucession of apostolic ministry, visible communion is diminished". But it is "torn, not torn apart", they say. "We are inheritors of the same Anglican tradition and part of the same canonical structure, the same Christian family, sharing mission to the communities we seek to serve."
The "recovery of love" involves "a recollection of common identity and mutual belonging. . . We see ourselves as called to assist the Church of England in fulfilling its ecumenical commitment."
The Catholic Life statement notes that parishes are placed under the oversight of a bishop of the Society by passing a resolution. Jurisdiction continues to be held by the diocesan and/or area bishop, but "the Society bishop’s pastoral and sacramental care of oversight (episkope) will involve pastoral care of the clergy and people, presidency at the Eucharist, confirmation and ordination."
To provide sacramental assurance, the bishops of the Society have a duty to "follow the safest course where sacraments are concerned", commending only the sacramental ministry of male priests ordained by "a male bishop who stands in the historic apostolic succession of bishops at whose episcopal ordination a male bishop presided".
If someone whose episcopal orders are not recognised participates in an ordination but does not preside, this "cannot be said to make the ordination of the bishop concerned, or the orders of those whom he ordains, invalid. We reject any so-called ‘theology of taint’, so male priests ordained by a validly ordained bishop will be welcomed as Priests of The Society. . . irrespective of whether that bishop also ordained women as bishops and/or as priests." They "do not deny" that other ministries may be fruitful.
Male and female permanent deacons, and male deacons preparing for ordination, are welcomed in the Society, as are priests whose orders it recognises. It seeks to support the Religious of Orthodox Tradition (RooT) and those who are called to the Single Consecrated Life.
Bishops and priests of the Society cannot lay on hands at the ordination of bishops and priests with "those whose ministry as bishops and priests they are unable to receive. To do so would indicate a sacramental recognition that they cannot give." It is important, the bishops state, that, when a traditional Catholic is ordained to the episcopate, it is bishops with whom he is in full communion who preside over the eucharist and ordination and join in the laying-on of hands. This is not because of a "doctrine of taint", but because "ordination to the episcopate is the primary occasion when full ecclesial communion is manifested."
The "highest degree of communion that principle and conscience will allow" should be maintained with the wider C of E, in "an expression of the love (charity) that is an essential characteristic of the communion that flows from our common baptism". Highlighted are: spirituality, "taking belonging in faith and prayer seriously"; finding non-sacramental opportunities for common prayer; a serious renewal of the study of scripture together; engaging in mission together; working in partnership to serve local communities, strive for justice, and care for the poor; playing a full part in diocesan life, for example, chapter meetings, mission initiatives, and boards and committees, and in synodical government and the College of Bishops.
Catholics meet to find common ground in Salisbury
MORE than 40 people, clergy and lay, met at St Martin’s Church in Salisbury, a SSWSH parish, met on Wednesday to discuss the topic "Our Shared Future: Catholic Anglican Perspectives", an event organised as part of the diocese’s Continuing Ministerial Development programme.
The meeting was addressed by Dr Podmore and by Bishop Bill Ind, convenor of the Diocesan branch of the Society of Catholic Priests.
Both the speakers and contributors from the floor identified remaining tensions between supporters of women’s ordination and those who cannot accept the sacramental ministry of women, but found areas of common interest in areas such as the Seal of the Confessional, evangelism and catechesis.
Traditionalist and affirming Catholics are both relatively small minorities in Salisbury diocese. Bishop Bill Ind said, “We need to be moving towards some sort of way where societies like the Society of Catholic Priests can work together with the traditionalist Catholic societies."