Thursday, June 9, 2011

Per angusta in augusta

This is sad news for Anglo-Catholics, and sad news for clergy bloggers -- indeed, for all of us who blog on religious topics. Father John Hunwicke, whom I met personally last year in Oxford and whom I have been following regularly since then, has been told that his ordination into the Catholic Church, as part of the new Anglican Ordinariate, has been "deferred" -- on the ground, apparently, that what he (or commenters?) may have written on his blog needs to be reviewed first.

As many readers will know by now (he started blogging more than four years ago), there is not anyone more devoted to the Magisterium than Father Hunwicke. He alone edits and publishes the annual Ordo (Order for the Holy Eucharist) for Anglo-Catholics, which provides the Ordinariate with all the liturgical direction it could ever require. And I personally, having been privileged to attend one at his beautiful old stone church in Oxford, can attest to his devotion to the Mass in all its splendid detail, a devotion and attention which fuses vestments, altar cloths, incense, asperges, purificator, pall, corporal, veil, burse and all the other accoutrements into a liturgical experience of the highest order.

In short, there could hardly be any member of the Anglican clergy who would be (seen from the Pontiff's point of view) a more desirable addition to the Ordinariate than Father John Hunwicke.

Yet he is told that the Church must review his blog first. (It could do worse than start here, his very first post, in January 2007. The Church can learn all it needs to know about Father Hunwicke from that one post, which set a tone and a standard he consistently has maintained in the years since.) So he, ex maiore cautela (have I also told you that Fr. Hunwicke speaks, reads and writes Latin as well as he does English?), must needs close down his blog pending his acceptance into the Ordinariate, and scrub it of any and all comments which could be seen as deleterious to the Roman Catholic Church.

Is this the same standard the Church applies to all of its clergy bloggers? I had thought, with Pope John Paul II and now Benedict XVI, that a new spirit of intellectual adventure had suffused the Church, and that it was not afraid of anything the secular world might throw at it. Perhaps the diocesans charged with the review of Fr. Hunwicke's scriptura could view them with the charity intimated in this delightful graphic:


  1. This is precisely the reason why I could never swim the Tibur. For an Anglican priest becoming a priest in the Roman Church is not unlike marrying a Kennedy or entering a Black Hole. One is instantly crushed and reduced to nothingness.

  2. The Tiber is a treacherous river with many man-eating fishes. Perhaps he had too much backbone and density for their taste. Perhaps God, in His mercy, spared this good man a far greater grief.

  3. Oh good grief to the above comments. In this rather new and ambitious project there are going to be some bumps in the road and some mistrust on both sides.

    The good Father and I believe soon to be Catholic Priest wisely shut down his blog so not to further unwise comments. Misunderstandings happen. These misunderstanding will become much less once the new Structure is up and running and has it's independence.

    For the tensions in the UK in some quarters on both sides that are historic I think things have been going well. This shall work itself out

  4. Obedience is a requirement that may appear strange to those of us in TEc.

    The importance of obedience and the relative lack thereof in TEc should not be downplayed, and perhaps should be expounded upon.

    Freedom of expression vs. obedience to authority might be a subject worthy to be discussed on these pages.

    As a disobedient blogger, I am unworthy of the task. I humbly put it out as a suggestion.

  5. It seems to me that the Catholic Church has a right to review public comments by someone who wants to become a priest. You linked only a week or so ago to a blog by a nun, so there's clearly no prohibition against blogging among Catholic priests and religious, but by the same token, they're entitled to find out what they're getting into in specific cases.

    One of the issues governing such transition from The Episcopal Church to the Ordinariate that may occur is going to be anti-Catholic prejudice, which may also be a cover for the fact that the high standard of conduct for believers that's outlined in the catechism may be more than some people can handle.

    I hope you'll consider the need to be sensitive to this issue in your blog. Patience is one of the cardinal virtues, after all.

  6. Exactly, John -- thank you for commenting. The virtue of patience through suffering or anguish is the basis of the title I chose for this post. Fr. Hunwicke, of all the clergy I know, is more than equal to that task.

    What must be upsetting is to spend a vocational lifetime devoted to following and practicing the teachings of the Magisterium, only to have your bona fides questioned at the last, on account of the fact that you have kept a blog to record some of your devotional musings. While we all must stand to be judged some day, it brings one up short to realize that judgment may come sooner than anticipated -- and then not by the Judge whom one expected.

    UP, one of the themes of this blog, alas, has been the lawlessness of those heading up the Episcopal Church (USA). Come July 1, they will be a law unto themselves. But I have noted your comment, and will take it "under advisement", as we say -- thank you.

  7. My cynicism is a learned behavior from reading Catholic writers such as George Weigel, William Donohue and the late Richard John Neuhaus on the machinations and denouments of the hierarchy that operates the Roman Catholic Church.

    There is a covert tacit truce that has been in operation that has turned their priesthood into a place where homosexuality is protected...and has created and allowed increasing disunity, brazen dissent and rebellion.

    I was horrified to learn that the disgraceful sexual abuse scandal has been adopted and used as a Trojan Horse by the dissenters to foment unbiblical notions - abortion, pansexuality and women in priesthood (the lesser of the evils) as well as ideas like priesthood of believers, restructuring and transparency and accountability. No doubt there are some pagans and universalists lurking in there too.

    This week in Detroit, there will be two conventions, one the American Catholic Council and the other sponsored by 'orthodox' Catholics affiliated with Rome. Shades of The Episcopal Church and Lambeth!

    This week, the Archdiocese of Boston is sponsoring this little event:

    Why would anyone from TEC or Anglicanism feel any safer in the Roman Church than they are right now?

    BTW - There is an inspiring and well done series on the Articles of Religion at the Anglican Continuum that is well worth reading. And there is a debate and a series on the Ordinariate which is helpful in sorting out what is Anglicanism and what is meant by Reformed from an Anglican perspective and how it differs from the PCA Calvinist definition.

    Thanks for linking to them, Mr. Haley.

  8. Regarding the high standards of the Catholic Church - remember, the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion also look pretty good on paper, but like the Obama administration, which makes a practice of violating the Constitution, it is what is done that matters.

    According to Neuhaus, Weigel, and Donohue, the Truce of 1968 was Pope Paul VI's decision not to allow a bishop to sanction 19 errant priests and theologians who rose up against his encyclical on sexuality, Humanae Vitae. It signaled all dissenters that they could sound off and dissent without reprisal. This lapse of discipline has repurcussions today, this very weekend, when two competing conventions will be held in Detroit. One the American Catholic group, espousing homosexuality (of course) abortion and women priests and the other espousing holiness (within the limits of the Truce).

    The situation in Kansas City and in Philadelphia, in California (McGuire and the Jesuits) and elsewhere are evidence of this truce still being in effect.

    The decision to embrace homosexuality as an alternate lifestyle and a legitimate identity, accepting 'gay' as an orientation and prohibiting 'homophobia' will mean that it is very likely that the Catholic Church will continue to be compromised and sullied by the sin within her leadership and the costs of their behaviors...including the loss of members, and will continue to be silenced by compromise and complicity and unable to defend herself from the assaults of the world and the law.

    I grieve for the Catholic Church. May the Lord grant repentance and light to those who are erring and lost.

  9. I wonder if "St. Nikao" ever pauses to seek information before posting her lucubrations -- for John Hunwicke has been a (Roman) Catholic since April 20 of this year.

  10. I have nothing but blessings and good wishes for Rev. Hunwicke and hope he will be very happy in the Roman Catholic church.

    And, I stand corrected as I have been many times by you, Dr. Tighe.

    However, and sadly, I do not believe Fr. Neuhaus, Mr. Weigel or William Donohue are mistaken in their assessments of the problems in the RC.

  11. After reading through much discussion of Rev. Hunwicke's predicament on a Roman Catholic blog, I return to stand by my original assertion about the man-eating fishes populating the Tiber.

    It seems the good Reverend's biblical stance in regard to sexuality may have offended the rainbow trout schools that swim in the British Tributary of the Tiber.

    There are Roman Catholic churches that have LBGT pride masses such as the one in Boston.

    A compromise of this sort has destroyed every church where it has been allowed to occur. Unless we give all to Jesus, we have divided hearts, minds, marriages, families, churches and nations, such as we see. This hidden undercurrent, is a rip tide that will carry those who are part of it deep into the sea of sin and death.

    Those who left the Church of England to join with Rome were willing to tolerate openly homosexual clergy for decades, but left because of women bishops. While I do not favor such, I still see women as needed help-meets and partners in the Gospel, as in the home. God has decreed and designed a beautiful complementarity that we should seek to understand and respect.

    There is a misogyny in operation in both men and women who opt out of God's design for sexuality. In reality, it is also self-hatred born of pain and rejection. It is both rebellion and a refusal to worship God through obedience, if you carefully follow the progression of Romans 1. The travesty is that this destructive rebellion against and re-imagining of God's Word and natural law has invaded and infested the leadership of the Anglican, Catholic and mainline churches.

    The Church has not known how to heal the wounds, fatherlessness, motherlessness, or the disorienting and devastating pain of molestation and sexual assault underlying same-sex attraction - as the early church obviously did. See I Corinthians 6:9-20. The key words there are, "such were some of you."

    The modern church has lazy minds and a misguided sense of justice and pity and has fallen for the guiles of the activists and come to believe in the straight/gay dichotomy, that having same sex desires constitutes a person's identity and orientation. The modern church has forgotten our identity must be completely forsaken in the waters of baptism, that we must learn to walk in the Holy Spirit and put on Christ's/God's unchanging holy Model of Identity and holy Humanity. Christ is our Icon.

    Only God is IAM, unchanging, all-holy, all good. He is the eternal model, icon and source of Truth, Love and Life. Conversely, our human identity changes throughout our lifetimes.

    Our priests, pastors and ministers should also be models of the Word made flesh. Not just standing before the replica of Abraham's, Aaron's altar, and Christ's altar, the Cross, but all day, every day. Persons who cling to the homosexual or 'gay' identity and cause cannot do that. They cannot be a 'Father' a healer, counselor or a model or a builder of Christ's Kingdom. They are destructive to God's people and His Church. They do not proclaim the pure truth and redemption from sin; they hem, haw, nuance, waver, pollute, distort or counterfeit the Gospel with their own thoughts, agenda and desires. They give stones, serpents and toxic dung instead of God's Holy Word. The Word, Jesus is not their first and only love - they have not surrendered to and submitted all to Jesus. They have reserved and kept back their pound of flesh like Eli's sons. They are offering strange incense and strange fire like the erring priests in Genesis 30 and Leviticus 10.

  12. And I personally, having been privileged to attend one at his beautiful old stone church in Oxford, can attest to his devotion to the Mass in all its splendid detail, a devotion and attention which fuses vestments, altar cloths, incense, asperges, purificator, pall, corporal, veil, burse and all the other accoutrements into a liturgical experience of the highest order.

    In short, there could hardly be any member of the Anglican clergy who would be (seen from the Pontiff's point of view) a more desirable addition to the Ordinariate than Father John Hunwicke.

    rofl. Is this a spoof?

  13. Just to report - the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston banned the gay Mass.