I refrained from comment on my blog on Tuesday about the Pastoral Letter from the Society of St. Wilfrid and St. Hilda as I wanted time to reflect on what had been written. First, after a long wait, it was good that we at last heard something although I thought the content was a rather long way of saying nothing very specific. I suppose there is very little that can be said at this present time.
The task the Bishops have set themselves seems to me to be very daunting and, as they comment, there is no guarantee of success. For the society to have any chance of success it will need the support of the Diocesan Bishops and eventually members of General Synod. I believe there is some sympathy for the Traditionalist cause with some of the more enlightened of the Diocesan Bishops but more to the point, is how much support will be forthcoming from the members of General Synod. It is a newly elected body and the signs are that it will be a little more generous than the previous Synod but only time will tell.
For me, the big questions is, even if the Society achieves its aims, how long will it be before a future General Synod renegades on any promises that are made. That’s what happened at last year’s General Synod by making no provision for Anglo-Catholics. A promise was made in 1992, ratified by the Act of Synod, that there would be a guarantee of an honoured place for Catholics but this will be rescinded should the legislation for Women Bishops be accepted. If a promise can be made like that and then it can be rescinded what can prevent a future Synod acting in a similar disingenuous way.
For many people the Ordinariate will not be an option and the Society of St. Wilfrid and St. Hilda might, (I stress might), be an option. Will the Society be able to achieve the aim of Forward in Faith declared in their Mission Statement which says:-
We Affirm the Faith of the Church as revealed in Scripture and Tradition;
We Proclaim our Faith through the Creeds, the Sacraments and the apostolic ministry of bishops and priests of the Universal Church;
We seek a Guaranteed Ecclesial Structure in which we can pass the Faith on to our children and grandchildren;
We have a vision for Unity and Truth and we are going Forward in Faith.
The Society would like all who intend to stay in the Church of England, but want Sacramental Assurance, to register with them. They believe, probably correctly, that they need a volume of people who will support them and demonstrate that there are many priests and people who are not prepared to take the step into the Ordinariate at the present time.