In an article on the Catholic Herald Blog, by Father Alexander Lucie-Smith, he accuses some Anglican priests of practising deception when he writes: “Moreover the persons attempting to celebrate Mass are not recognised as priests by the Roman Catholic Church. In short, the visitor from France or Italy may see what looks like the Mass, but what is in fact not the Mass. Now, a question: they would clearly be deceived in thinking that what is going on before them is a Roman Catholic Mass. But is this because they have deceived themselves, or is it because the vicar has deceived them? Does the vicar tell them that they are in an Anglican church? Or does he leave them to assume that the church is, somehow or another, “Catholic”?
Over the years many “Roman” Catholics have worshipped where I have been the Vicar. I have never deceived them and have tried to make it very clear that we are part of the Church of England, practising the Catholic faith. We are not “Roman” Catholics but “Anglo” Catholics pointing out that whilst we are not under the jurisdiction of the Holy Father we pray for him as well as the Ecumenical Patriarch, the Archbishop of Canterbury etc. We had one family, from Italy, who whilst temporally living in the UK, regularly came to Mass. Their Italian priest, in charge of one of the leading churches in Rome, was well aware of the fact that we were an Anglican Church. He asked me to prepare one of the children for their First Confession and First Communion, which was to be made at their home church, which I willing did. In another instance an RC came to Mass, fully aware we were Anglicans, eventually deciding to go back to a local RC Church. She stayed just a few weeks before returning as she felt so unwelcome with little or no fellowship in the RC Church.
Fr. Lucie-Smith also comments: “the persons attempting to celebrate Mass are not recognised as priests by the Roman Catholic Church.” To which my answer is: am I that bothered? As far I am concerned my ordination is perfectly valid and the fact that Rome doesn’t recognise it is sad. It is one of the reasons that I am still debating the Ordinariate. As I have said many times on the Blog, it is a very generous offer from the Holy Father and one which I fully support and would like eventually to be able to take up but the question I have to resolve is, am I willing to deny that everything I have done previously is invalid and consequently of little or no value……..something I can’t believe……that the Sacraments I have celebrated, including the Blessed Sacrament, Penance, Ministry to the Sick and Dying etc. are totally valueless. If I accept the arguments advocated by Fr. Lucie-Smith that must be the case.