Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Book Review: Anglicans and the Roman Catholic Church

Subtitle: Reflections on Recent Developments. Edited by Stephen E. Cavanaugh. Book description from Ignatius Press:

The beginning of a specifically Anglican liturgy and culture within the Roman Catholic Church was established in the United States by Pope John Paul II. Since then, Anglican Use parishes have been worshipping in a distinctively Anglican style within several American dioceses. Thanks to Pope Benedict XVI, these communities are now able to form into personal ordinariates led by bishops [sic] who were previously Anglican clergy. As a result, even more Anglicans seeking full communion with Rome can find a home within the Catholic Church.

The twelve essays in this book discuss the reasons Anglicans have sought reconciliation with the Holy See, while retaining elements of their own liturgy and traditions. They explore the history and scope of Pope John Paul II's Pastoral Provision and Pope Benedict XVI's Apostolic Constitution and examine the needs of the new ordinariates if they are to flourish. Also considered are the changes to the Roman liturgy since the Second Vatican Council and the specific patrimony that Anglicans bring to Catholic worship.

Many of these essays have been written by erstwhile Anglican clergymen who have been ordained into the Catholic priesthood (and one into the episcopate). A few are by Catholic experts on this topic. There is also a contribution from a woman who had been an ordained Episcopal priest before becoming a Catholic.

Here is a wealth of information for anyone interested in the Anglican communities within the Catholic Church, the "reform of the reform" of the Roman liturgy or the testimonies of Anglicans who have become Roman Catholics.

A keen interest in traditional chant and hymnody led editor Stephen Cavanaugh to Boston's Anglican Use congregation of St. Athanasius, where he has happily remained as a worshipper. He has been the editor of Anglican Embers, journal of the Anglican Use Society, since 2007.

There were a few real gems in this collection, and as a whole the collection was multi-faceted, but I was also disappointed in the setting of those gems. The essays are gathered from articles that originally appeared in Anglican Embers, the journal Mr. Cavanaugh edits or at conferences of the Anglican Use Society. He needed to edit those articles, many of which were published in 2004 and later, to clarify what has changed with the announcement and the implementation of the Anglican Ordinariate structure. I was often confused reading many of the essays, trying to figure out what was descriptive and what was prescriptive--is this the way the Ordinariate is going to work, is supposed to work, that the writer wanted it to work?

Ignatius Insights provides the Introduction by Fr. Allan Hawkins on-line. The other authors are: Fr. Jack Barker, Fr. Christopher Phillips, Bishop Peter Elliott, Professor Hans J├╝rgen Feulner, Mr. C. David Burt, Mrs. Linda Poindexter, Rev. John Hunwicke, Fr. Aidan Nichols, O.P., Fr. Peter Geldard and Brother John-Bede Pauley.

Mrs. Linda Poindexter's essay on her experience being an Episcopalian "priest" was excellent: she comments that she always felt out of place while at the altar and was much more comfortable teaching and counseling. Poindexter highlights the functional role of ministers in the Church of England/Episcopal: it's what they DO that's important, not what they ARE. Father Aidan Nichols, like Bishop Peter Elliott, never disappoints of course. Brother John-Bede Pauley's essay on how monasticism influenced Anglican liturgy is ironic when you remember that Henry VIII destroyed the monastic order in England in the sixteenth century and the Church of England was very reluctant to restore it in the nineteenth! Mr. Cavanaugh himself provides a very enlightening essay on the experience of Polish Catholics in 19th century America, a history I did not know much about.

1 comment:

  1. The sentence that includes "these communities are now able to form into personal ordinariates led by bishops [sic]" is technically correct but it is confusing.

    The Anglican Ordinariates, like all ordinariates, can be led by bishops. However, they don't have to be led by bishops and neither of the current two ordinaries are led by Catholic bishops (though both are former Anglican bishops).

    I suspect that is why the "[sic}" is in there. The ordinariates are "able to form" under a bishop, but currently they are not.