Yesterday, I went to the Sacred Synod called by some Anglo-Catholic Bishops following the decision by General Synod to proceed with the Consecration of Women to the Episcopate. I went with expectations of an interesting and fulfilling day and returned home feeling disappointed. I enjoyed the speeches by the Bishops of Ebbsfleet and Richborough explaining the Ordinariate but found much of the rest totally depressing. The day seemed to me to be chosen as the means to introduce the new Society of St. Wilfrid and St. Hilda, a society for Anglo-Catholics as an alternative to the Ordinariate. Read the statement here: http://www.forwardinfaith.com/artman/publish/article_520.shtml
My first question is do we really need another Catholic Society and why couldn’t one of the existing Societies undertake this such as FinF, SSC et al. If the new society is designed to prepare for the Ordinariate for those who through force of circumstances are unable to take up the offer in the immediate future then it could become a useful tool. But, if as I think, it is to bring comfort to those who reject the Ordination of women either as bishops or priests and nothing else then, for a while it will act as a haven but, eventually, it will fade into oblivion. Talk about “mission” and “Christian Unity” are meaningless unless there is some action. Could it be that some of the Anglo-Catholic Bishops want to be seen as doing something (anything?) whilst retaining the status quo. If unity is really part and parcel of the Society it should be helping and encouraging priests and people to accept the offer of Pope Benedict.
Secondly, this Society is designed to exist within the Church of England. Do the organisers believe that if it ever becomes successful it would be allowed to continue? I don’t think so! What happens then – a continuing “church” perhaps? Please, not another schism forming another continuing church.
Thirdly, what about the frequently stated aim of FinF to provide a Catholic future for “our children and grandchildren” Once the CofE go down the path of Consecrating Women there is no future for Catholics – one wonders why the Bishops who are setting up this Society don’t understand this. Once the protection afforded by the Act of Synod is rescinded by this new legislation there is no Sacramental Assurance and therefore no future within the Church of England for Catholics.
The other day I read of a parish where a woman is now the incumbent who wears vestments and at each service there are clouds of incense; clouds of incense and vestments do not make a Catholic. It is the teaching that matters. In the short term the Society may, I stress may, be helpful but in the long term the only way ensure a Catholic future for our children and grandchildren is RITA (Rome is the Answer) via the Ordinariate.