Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 20 December 2023

Kelvin Holdsworth What’s in Kelvin’s Head Coupled Together

Jonathan Clatworthy The point of it all Fear, emptiness and hope

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FrDavid H
FrDavid H
2 months ago

It must be rather embarrassing for some Anglo -Catholic bishops to have nailed their colours to the mast over same-sex blessings, following the ban by the Universal Church, only for the Holy Father to leave them with egg on their face. Will they now rescind their opposition to gay blessings, or accuse the Pope of being an heretical liberal?

Mark
Reply to  FrDavid H
2 months ago

Quite: the kind of traditionalism espoused by the SSWSH is a very odd mix of, on the one hand, adoring things that no traditionalist RC would have anything to do with (concelebrations, for example), together with, on the other hand, taking a stand against others (relaxing formerly harsh rules about people’s lifestyle choices) that the current Pope and the rest of the Church Catholic, at least in Western countries, are clearly in favour of. I just hope that we all remember that the SSWSH is not all there is to Anglo-Catholicism. To be a 1960s trendy on liturgy and yet… Read more »

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  Mark
2 months ago

Actually a lot of traditionalist anglo- Catholics have turned their backs ( literally) on Vatican 2 ” modern’ liturgy. In many places it’s now eastward celebration, birettas, Latin vestments , maniples and lacey albs. Following a conservative trend among a certain sort of “right wing’ younger Roman Catholic priests keen on Benedict, unhappy with Francis.

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
Reply to  Perry Butler
2 months ago

The growth of ad orientem and its attendant trappings is an interesting trend among trad ACs. I’ve put it down to the tendency to romanticism that Anglo-Catholicism has often found seductive. A trad friend calls it ‘reform of the reform’; +Philip North is less kind, calling it ‘recidivism’.

Last edited 2 months ago by Allan Sheath
Rob Hall
Rob Hall
Reply to  Allan Sheath
2 months ago

In my previous parish I moved both altars back to ‘ad orientem’ celebration. It was seven steps up from the nave through chancel and sanctuary to a high altar and it felt wrong for it to be gloriously climaxing in……me. So Christ crucified whose table it is stood behind and I stood in front speaking with and for the people of God. That’s not romanticism or recidivism, it’s my intense distrust of sacerdotalism, a plague found in all levels of churchmanship wherever the person or personality of the priest is inflated above its importance. In my present situation, one step… Read more »

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
Reply to  Rob Hall
2 months ago

The layout of liturgical space – with its often powerfully subliminal messages – is something many of us should pay more attention to. But in good Anglican fashion we fuss over liturgical texts while ignoring the space where God, man and the world meet. Wishing all on TA a joyful Christmas as we celebrate the Word made flesh tonight.

AH Ronald
AH Ronald
Reply to  FrDavid H
2 months ago

Anglo-papalist sedevacantism would be quite the thing, would it not?

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  AH Ronald
2 months ago

Pardon?

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  John Davies
2 months ago

Sedevacantism is a traditionalist Catholic movement which holds that since the death of Pius XII the alleged occupiers of the Holy See are not valid popes due to their espousal of one or more heresies and that, for lack of a valid pope, the See of Rome is thus vacant.

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  Pat ONeill
2 months ago

Thank you, Pat. You may have guessed I’ve never even heard the term before! We live and learn

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  John Davies
2 months ago

Think of the ghost’s prediction to Scrooge: “I see an empty seat,” replied the ghost, “and a crozier without an owner. ” Lol. My apologies to Mr. Dickens.

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  Rod Gillis
2 months ago

Thank you, Rod. You probably guessed I’m a rather low church Anglican, unfamiliar with more specialised theological terms. (Actually, I think you and I may share a lot of ideas in common, but just express them differently.)

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  John Davies
2 months ago

I grew up in a social setting where the church often presumed to judge people according to its own ideological norms, i.e. judging the poor, the marginalized, women, members of sexual minorities, non-Christians and so on. From that same context I learned that it is God who judges the church and that God does so through the lives and lens of the very people the church presumes to judge. Specialized theological terms are a kind of in-group argot most times. Outside of common rooms and church meetings such terms don’t add much to an understanding of the gospel.

Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
Reply to  FrDavid H
2 months ago

We may not have read the same document, Fr David. If read in its entirety, it is essentially saying that people in same-sex relationships who seek a blessing must acknowledge that their relationship is not morally acceptable or in any way even like a true marriage and therefore are asking for God to help them live better according to his will, which is for them to live in continence. It only envisages ‘spontaneous’ blessings, a bit like pets and cars or at the very best like a divorced and remarried straight couple being blessed instead of receiving communion (which gay… Read more »

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
2 months ago

It is unlikely the general public – and the secular media – will interpret the obscure RC semantic gobbledegook as being any other than gay blessings. If I bless my black labrador I don’t need to explain she hasn’t repented of her sins .A blessing is a blessing and therefore a small step forward

EagletP
EagletP
Reply to  FrDavid H
2 months ago

Fr, the document is unusually clear and concise for a papal communication. People who take most of their information from news headlines will of course assume Pope Francis has given the green light to services of blessing, but he is explicit in doing no such thing. The Anglo Catholic bishops I assume will read it carefully, and be reassured that their position strongly aligns with his.

William
William
Reply to  FrDavid H
2 months ago

‘If I bless my black labrador I don’t need to explain she hasn’t repented of her sins.’

As an animal lacking in a rational soul a black labrador cannot commit sins.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  William
2 months ago

Precisely. But they can still be blessed.

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  FrDavid H
2 months ago

The guidance issued by Pope Francis was anything but “obscure RC semantic gobbledegook”, and was remarkably clear, in layman’s language, about the vast gap between sacramental marriage and what was on offer to homosexual people. Much more clear than in the Church of England guidance.

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
2 months ago

“instead of receiving communion (which gay peeps also are refused)”

No one standing in line to receive communion is questioned about their alleged sins, so if GLBT people or same-sex couples are in the line to receive communion, they’ll receive it.
Whether or not the consecrated status of the wafer remains once the alleged GLBT sinner receives it is up to God, as far as I’m concerned.
But I do thank you for your interpretation of the pope’s declaration. It smacks of the condescension GLBT people receive all the time from the “morally superior” crowd.

Lorenzo
Lorenzo
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
2 months ago

Trust me, if the congregation knows that you are in a same-sex relationship, many a trad RC priest will knock on your door to tell you they will not give you communion.

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
2 months ago

That’s not how it works in a small church where everyone knows everyone, Peter. Even as an Anglican chalice assistant I have had parishioners refuse to receive the wine from my hand once they found out I was gay. There is often a vast difference between what we would like to think happens and what actually happens.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Simon Dawson
2 months ago

I’m so sorry. I’ve had it happen to me because I’m a woman, and it’s very hurtful.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Janet Fife
2 months ago

I’m astonished to hear of a Church where only men can receive Communion . Or are you talking about ordained women? If so, that is equally unbelievable.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  FrDavid H
2 months ago

Simon has had people refuse the chalice from him because he’s gay. I’ve had people refuse the chalice or the host from me because I’m an ordained female.

Jim Pratt
Jim Pratt
Reply to  Janet Fife
2 months ago

One of the wonderful stories of my current parish: the first woman ordained in the diocese served her curacy here. At the time, the Sisters of St Margaret had a house and nursing home nearby, and came some Sundays for Mass. As they came up to receive, they were on the side where the curate was giving communion. They conspicuously switched to the other line, to receive from the rector. He took notice, and said to them “I will refuse you the sacrament until such time as you are in love and charity with your sister.”

Warwickensis
Warwickensis
Reply to  Janet Fife
2 months ago

Janet, clearly the weaponisation of the Eucharist is far removed from the point of its institution. As you know, I cannot in conscience accept the ordination of women, but then I would not want to make a show of that refusal by some kind of deliberate, flouncy snub which I would indeed believe to be disrespectful to anyone. I do, however, genuinely want to understand the pain that you (and Simon, though his sexual orientation would not stop, in theory, me receiving the chalice from him – that would be a form of Donatism) are feeling here. Is it because… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Warwickensis
2 months ago

For my part, I would say that being on the receiving end of discrimination is always painful.

The fact that the person doing the discrimination claims a religious rationale for the action, rather than a secular one, does not magically make the pain go away.

It is just that in the Church of England many women have been conditioned into hiding their pain.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Simon Dawson
2 months ago

Absolutely. If someone refuses the chalice from you because of who you are, rather than what you’ve done, it’s always going to hurt. It is a rejection of you, as well as of the chalice. But women – and to some extent LGBT+ people – have been told we must hide our pain. The bishops have a fancy name for it, of course – ‘gracious restraint.’ Warwick, thank you for not making a show of your refusal, and for your sensitivity. Can you explain why sexual orientation is not a bar to your receiving the sacrament from someone, but sex… Read more »

Warwickensis
Warwickensis
Reply to  Janet Fife
2 months ago

I’ll try to answer your question as best I can, Janet. The question here is that of Donatism which, as I am sure you know very well (coals to Newcastle et al), is the heresy that the sinfulness of the minister is a barrier to the grace of the sacrament. Sexual orientation is not a sin – it is a personal fact. If homosexual relationships are not sinful, then there is no case to answer. If they are, then to make a show of refusing the sacraments is also a show of Donatism. For me, that means, that the sins… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Warwickensis
2 months ago

Thanks for making the time to post this, I find it very helpful.

I may come back with a longer response after further reflection, but in the meantime could you please clarify what you mean by “in my Church, the ordination of women is of the defect of recipient”. Is there some theological issue there I am unaware of?

Best wishes.

Warwickensis
Warwickensis
Reply to  Simon Dawson
2 months ago

I don’t think you are unaware of the issue, Simon, as it is entirely probable that I have not articulated myself clearly. What I mean is that oft-repeated debate on whether women can be ordained. In my Church, there is insufficient warrant, authority or evidence that God confers the grace of ordination on women. Your Church differs from us in that interpretation and has made that clear decision, though trying to hold two irreconcilable views together – not very successfully in my opinion. This is why we walk apart but, well, that’s okay. All who truly follow Christ will be… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Warwickensis
2 months ago

Thank you for that thoughtful and courteous reply. I’m sorry that you have felt rejected and diminished by the Church, and agree that we have some common ground here. It would be good if we could build on that.

In that spirit, can you tell me just what it is about being a woman that disqualifies me, in your view, for ordination? Surely sex is a ‘personal fact’, as is sexual orientation? And we are agreed that the inadequacy (if you see the female sex as inadequate for ordination) of the minister does not render the sacrament ineffective?

Warwickensis
Warwickensis
Reply to  Janet Fife
2 months ago

Ah Janet, I worry that we will be repeating old arguments and really don’t want to do that. Suffice it to say, as I just replied to Simon above, that the ordination of women was a change in the established nature of the sacrament unsupported by the phronema Christou as understood by the Church through the Catholic principles of Scripture, Tradition and Right Reason. As I said, I am no Donatist, so I believe that the *sin* of the minister is not a barrier to receiving the promised grace but, as you will agree, there are many things that are… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Warwickensis
2 months ago

That has been the Church’s stance only since the 4th century. Jesus gave women a higher status than did his culture, and took direction from them. And since Mary delivered Christ to the world, why should women not deliver the body of Christ to communicants?

Have a happy Christmas and New Year!

Warwickensis
Warwickensis
Reply to  Janet Fife
2 months ago

I’m afraid we might have to agree to disagree as your statement about women’s ordination being accepted before the fourth century is highly contested – especially since Bauer’s thesis of “multiple orthodoxies” is in dispute. I have looked at the evidence of pre-Nicene WO and I have found it unconvincing, but let’s just leave it there and assume that each side has sufficient reason for believing what he does. As for Mary presenting the Body of Christ, this doesn’t work if one holds to the Eucharist as a sacrifice. Only Our Lord presented Himself as a sacrifice for the sins… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Janet Fife
2 months ago

Warwickensis I have to say that I’m with Janet on this one. It depends where Scripture and Tradition are seen to start from. There is increasing evidence that women were in positions of leadership in the very early church communities. And arguments such as “apostolic succession”and “sacramental assurance” can be seen as ecclesiastical power grabs where bishops and priests drew authority towards themselves as the church developed in the second to fourth centuries. There is actually earlier textual evidence such as the Didache which teaches that the prayer over the bread and wine should be recited by a lay elder… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by Simon Dawson
Warwickensis
Warwickensis
Reply to  Simon Dawson
2 months ago

Thank you for this, Simon. I have to disagree with you on some points here. I’ve just checked my copy of Holmes’ Apostolic Fathers and there is nothing there to say that there was Lay presidency in chapters 9 & 10 of the Didache. Just an instruction as to how the Mass should be said. As for “power grabs”, I wonder whether that is rather an anachronistic understanding of what was going on. Certainly, by the Gamaliel principle, if there was any ordination of women, then it was not seen as orthodox hence the later canons explicitly stating that it… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Warwickensis
2 months ago

Warwickensis. Briefly, on the Didache and lay presidency, you missed chapter 15, “Therefore, appoint for yourselves bishops and deacons worthy of the Lord, men who are meek and not lovers of money, and true and approved; for to you they also perform the service of the prophets and teachers. Therefore don’t despise them; for they are your honourable men along with the prophets and teachers.” The word translated appoint is ‘cheirotonein,’which has meanings of elect by show of hands. And it is clear that this is a distinct vocation, separate from the mendicant prophets and teachers (see chapters 12-14). see… Read more »

Warwickensis
Warwickensis
Reply to  Simon Dawson
2 months ago

Chapter 15! Yes! I had missed that. Thank you. To my mind, it speaks of the Church appointing the priests via, effectively, a Diocesan Synod. My Church does just that – we all have a voice in the appointment of our bishops. Not being established, we use the synodal method to elect our bishop who is then consecrated by other bishops in the succession. I believe that the Didache 15 is the model for that form of government. Judging from some of the comments on the CNC I read here, I might cheekily suggest that the General Synod read it… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Warwickensis
2 months ago

Agreed. It reminds me of the United Reformed Church, where the Elders and ministers share the leadership, teaching and Eucharistic responsibilities. But, crucially, the ultimate authority is within the community.

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Warwickensis
2 months ago

Sorry, one more point then I will stop. We need to be wary of anachronistically projecting back current understandings about words into previous time. In this text, and other texts, a bishop was not a priest, but an overseer or elder. Only the prophets/mendicants were possibly priests, but we need to be careful about what “priest” meant in this context. Both presided at liturgy. One commentary on chapter 15 by Ben Swett said “Paul used “bishop” as equivalent to “elder” (Philippians 1:1, I Timothy 3:1-18, Titus 1:5-14). In Greek, the word translated “bishop” literally means “overseer” or “supervisor” and the… Read more »

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Simon Dawson
2 months ago

And of course, even priests were not “priests”, not in the OT and pagan sense [hiereus / ἱερεύς, plural ἱερεῖς]. They were “presbyters” or elders. But the high priesthood [ἱεράτευμα] of Christ, and the priesthood of all believers, etc, does refer to ἱερεύς. These are different concepts that are easily confused in English when the English came to use the word presbyter > prester > priest to refer to OT and pagan hiereus.

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
2 months ago

Thanks Simon. It is always worth going back to the Greek. Out of curiosity I went back to the text, and the only example of the word “priest” is in chapter 13, where the word used is arciereiv, with connotations of primacy and holy. It has been used elsewhere to denote Pagan High Priest, Jewish Sanhedrin leader, and Jesus. Make of that what you will. Every true prophet who desires to settle among you is worthy of his food. 2 Likewise, a true teacher also is worthy, but like the craftsman, he works for his living. 3 Therefore, take the… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by Simon Dawson
Matthew Tomlinson
Matthew Tomlinson
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
2 months ago

The English word ‘priest’ is defined by the context in which it has become part of the language, whatever it’s etymology. Therefore it means primarily a Christian priest, that is, someone standing at an altar wearing a chasuble. Its use to refer to anything else is by analogy only.

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Matthew Tomlinson
2 months ago

That may be so — all words mean what they mean, and what they mean now. But the point still remains as to what the OT and NT are saying when they use the word that might be translated “priest’ in any particular place. And the priesthood of Christ, and the priesthood of all are not the same thing as the presbyterate. But many will want to conflate these two distinct meanings. The analogical use of “priest” to mean an OT priest or a pagan priest, or indeed Christ as high priest is too ingrained to call it just an… Read more »

Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  Simon Dawson
2 months ago

“Athanasius excluded the Didache when he finalized the list of 27 New Testament books in AD 367.” This is a misleading speculation (even if completely understandable; the Didache makes for pretty dreadful reading as a ‘NT book’!). It makes it sounds like (a solo, mean) Athanasius ‘excluded’ something otherwise circulating widely in the churches in the 4th century. Where is the evidence for this speculation, please (which lines up nicely with, ‘good things in earliest days got excluded by later individuals working out their prejudices’)? There are a dozen highly reputable studies of NT canon formation which would dispute this… Read more »

Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  Simon Dawson
2 months ago

Let’s hear Didache 2 read aloud followed by ‘The Word of the Lord.’

Warwickensis
Warwickensis
Reply to  Simon Dawson
2 months ago

I must confess that one thing is troubling me here. I was asked by Janet to give an account of why I believe the way I do and I believe I have though necessarily briefly. And then, the brief account that I have given has been subjected to scrutiny as if (though this may be my paranoia gained from experience) to try and convince me that I am wrong. I do have to say that I am not trying to convince anyone of anything. The CofE has made its clear decision – stet. I am no longer in the CofE… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Warwickensis
2 months ago

Warwickensis,

I am sorry you were troubled.

It is a difficult quandary. I think it is legitimate to criticise or question any aspect of church teaching or doctrine. But how do you do that without giving the impression of criticising a person who holds, and is willing to debate or explain, that doctrine?

If I appeared to do the second then that was not my intention.

Last edited 2 months ago by Simon Dawson
John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  Janet Fife
2 months ago

Can I toss a tiny two penneth in on this one? How does the statement that ‘we are all kings and priests unto God’ fit in with all this? Recalling my Fountain Trust days, this was foundational in the development of ‘every member ministry’ theology and while accepting that some are indeed called to the role of ordained ministry, each and every one of us has a role in the church’s ministry – we cover a great many different aspects of Christ’s overall ministry in doing so, far more than one individual can possibly do. It does, obviously, presuppose a… Read more »

Warwickensis
Warwickensis
Reply to  John Davies
2 months ago

“Ye are a royal priesthood”? That doesn’t say that everyone is a priest, it just says that the Church possesses a priestly ministry.

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Simon Dawson
2 months ago

You’re right, Simon. I should have distinguished between smaller and larger congregations.
I’m 70 and I will never understand why people use differences to be hateful to each other. It’s sad and appalling that you have been subjected to such treatment by your fellow parishioners.

FearandTremolo
FearandTremolo
Reply to  FrDavid H
2 months ago

To be fair, accusing the Pope of being a heretical liberal is also very popular on the other side of the Tiber, and they didn’t even have to pretend to vow to uphold Article XXXVII

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  FrDavid H
2 months ago

Given some of what I see from the extreme right wing of the American RC church, my money’s on the latter.

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Pat ONeill
2 months ago

Thank you, you beat me to it.

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
Reply to  Pat ONeill
2 months ago

Rather than plumb the rad-trad depths yourself, you can get a sense of how right-wing American Catholics are taking this news from r/SubredditDrama’s accurate summary: Surprised no one posted yet. Context: Pope Francis has recently allowed the “blessing” of unmarried and gay couples (“couples in irregular situations and same-sex couples”). The original text goes to great lengths to clarify that the Catholic teaching on marriage is not infringed by that and that those blessings are not in anyway to be construed as weddings.Of course for the fundies down at r/Catholicism the sky is falling down.There is not a single top comment that is not… Read more »

Mark
Reply to  FrDavid H
2 months ago

I think the combination of being trendy on liturgy (the SSWSH just love concelebrations, which any traditionalist RC would avoid like the plague) but hard-line on people’s personal lifestyle choices is precisely the worst mixture to have chosen: far better to be open and positive towards the good in how people choose to live their own lives, yet also be committed to maintaining the beauty and discipline of traditional Catholic liturgy and spirituality.

T Pott
T Pott
Reply to  FrDavid H
2 months ago

Anglo-Catholics are not Papists. At least, not generally. Departures from the Catholic faith by the Church of Rome are nothing new.

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  T Pott
2 months ago

But there have always been Anglo-Papalists among Anglo- Catholics and a lot of those under “flying” bishops use the Roman rite. For me (age 74) is the decline in my Lifetime of what was called “Prayer Book” Catholicism. Quiet but undergirded by sound teaching which was certainly pretty pervasive in many dioceses in the 1950’s

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
2 months ago

The problem is that the church (across denominations) tries to portray blessings as something coming exclusively from priests. When I was a tiny girl, I was taught to pray, “God bless Mummy and Daddy.” Many children are. In our innocence we don’t doubt our ability to pronounce a blessing. Only as we grow older, that innocence is taken from us and certain people, in their pride, suggest that we should turn to them for blessings. Worse, they try to attach conditions on offering that blessing. Do innocent children worry about what mummy and daddy are doing before they pray a… Read more »

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Kate Keates
2 months ago

Anyone can pronounce a blessing on people, and anyone can invoke God’s blessing on people. After all, it happens quite often even today when someone sneezes. Or more sentimentally perhaps when someone says “bless” to a cute child. Or parents might say “good night, God bless” to their children.

When a bishop or priest pronounces a liturgical blessing, however, they are speaking with the authority of the Church. Now, your theology may or may not care about the difference; but the argument would be that the Church (through its authorized people) has the authority of Christ, of binding and loosing.

Tom Kitten
Tom Kitten
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
2 months ago

I seem to remember reading that Pius IX – ‘Pio Nono’ – responded to a request by an Anglican clergyman for a blessing by pronouncing the words (in Latin) of the blessing of incense – ”May He in whose honour you are to be burnt bless you”. A blessing all the same!

Ian
Ian
Reply to  Tom Kitten
2 months ago

The good advice i was given was ‘ if it moves, bless it. If it doesn’t, polish it’

Realist
Realist
Reply to  Ian
2 months ago

An elderly clergy friend of mine, now long deceased, used to say, only half jokingly, that he used such an approach to deal with difficult people who tried to make his life hell – ‘if it moves, bless it. If it doesn’t, bless it until it does’!

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Ian
2 months ago

Our late lamented friend Stanley Monkhouse used to say “I will baptise anything that moves”.

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Tom Kitten
2 months ago

I am reminded of the following dialogue from “Fiddler on the Roof”

“Rabbi, is there a proper blessing for Czar?”

“A blessing for the Czar, of course–[chanting] May God bless and keep the Czar–[ceases chanting] far away from us!”

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
2 months ago

You are right in terms of sanctification. Since the very beginning certain people have been authorised to sanctify altars, gifts, buildings etc. That is a reserved responsibility – and it applies to inanimate objects and animals. Blessings, however, are different. They are applied to people and are an outpouring of love. Any (baptised?) believer can bless someone because the blessing is from God through the agency of Jesus Christ. Nobody stands between us and Jesus – that’s a key difference between Anglicanism and Catholicism. Jesus extolled the innocence of children. Blessings are grounded in that innocent love, not in liturgy,… Read more »

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
2 months ago

Indeed, anyone can pronounce a blessing. This came up a lot in charismatic circles, back in the 70’s and 80’s, when the ‘authority of the church’ was deemed to lay in believing individuals, not necessarily bishops, popes or priests – part of the ‘every member ministry’ idea. I can remember various folks making a great deal of the ‘binding and loosing’ teachings – although I’m not too sure how well it worked out in practice.

Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  Kate Keates
2 months ago

I actually think your logic lines up with the pope’s. General blessings can be given by anyone. Where you differ in wanting general blessings (‘God bless Daddy and Daddy’) and what the Catholic Church (and most churches) mean by marriage.

The RCC isn’t grounding this in priesthood.

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  Anglican Priest
2 months ago

Pope Francis is an inspiration. I wish he had gone further on blessings, but at least he is trying. I follow him on X and his remarks on the awful situation in Gaza make anything coming from the leadership of the Church of England look clumsy in comparison. His compassion – and love – for others seems entirely heartfelt and genuine. For someone in such a powerful position, that’s a genuine achievement.

Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  Kate Keates
2 months ago

I confess it was an angle I had not considered. Rather than continually speaking of ‘same-sex blessings’ as something akin to marriage, the lens on ‘blessing’ is widened whilst the view of marriage is retained in full force. Marriage is constituted by the vows exchanged by man and wife, before God and the faithful. The church ‘witnesses’ to this, and then, in recognition of it, a blessing of a specific kind, given the specific context, is given. This blessing does not ‘make a marriage.’ Marriage is defined by canon law (in the Pope’s context, and for others, in their contexts).… Read more »

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  Anglican Priest
2 months ago

Yes, that’s exactly it. Marriage is defined in canon law as you say. It’s possible to argue that the definition should not change. I don’t agree, but maintaining the status quo is, as lawyers would say, arguable. On the other hand, the church is presented with the reality of same sex couples in stable relationships. Theological argument isn’t going to change that reality, so the church needs a pastoral response. That seems to be the understanding Francis has come to. Given the reality, surely the pastoral response means wanting the very best for those committed same sex couples ie blessing… Read more »

Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  Kate Keates
2 months ago

That is of course the view you hold. I was discussing what the RCC has stated, and the Pope clarified as being the case.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
2 months ago

I appreciated Jonathan Clatworthy’s characteristically thoughtful article. However, I don’t think fear of hell is the only emotion driving the Hellfire & Brimstone street preachers (or tweeters, come to that). I think the poisonous brew varies from one such damnation-preacher to another, but may include any or all of the following ingredients, in varying proportions: a strong sense of guilt which is projected onto others deep seated anger at real or perceived wrong done, which is then directed at the wrong (perhaps safer) targets feelings of inadequacy, driving a need to see others as morally inferior ‘sinners’ spiritual arrogance and… Read more »

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  Janet Fife
2 months ago

From memory, David Watson told a similar story, of God telling him to preach about divine love, and leave the convicting of sin to him. I read Jonathan’s article, too and liked it. From experience, can I add insecurity to your list of characteristics – many fundamentalists I’ve known are innately looking for security in someone / something bigger, stronger and unassailable. Unfortunately they find it in dogmas, rather than the divine, and feel very threatened by anything that shakes that misplaced trust. A while back I read that one thing many extremists recruited to Isis, Hamas and similar groups,… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  John Davies
2 months ago

That’s interesting about David Watson. I don’t recall hearing it before, but I was a curate at St Michael-le-Belfrey (after David’s time) when the realisation came to me.

As for science vs the arts, my con evo father worked among students. He considered the arts and social sciences ‘dangerous’, because students studying those disciplines were more likely to become ‘unsound’. Which did happen to me! Science was safer for retaining a clear faith, in his view.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
2 months ago

Kelvin Holdsworth’s take on same sex blessings is pretty much on the money although he may be too kind with regard to the latest Roman Catholic development as outlined in Fiducia Supplicans (link). His next to last paragraph suggests the RC church may at least be moving ahead. In reality the declaration is an ‘Artful Dodger’ type political move. The document is clearly an attempt to corral movement on the issue and limit parameters. One of the ways in which The Declaration functions in that regard is to suggest pastoral accommodation to those in ‘irregular’ relationships. The dynamic mimics the… Read more »

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Rod Gillis
2 months ago

People are beginning to avail themselves of the new rules. These RC couples seem happy. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/12/19/us/catholic-gay-blessing-pope-francis.html

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  FrDavid H
2 months ago

Sure Fr. David, I think the reaction about this inside the RC church is across the spectrum. Among loyal Catholics longing for change, some are welcoming this as a small hopeful step toward doctrinal evolution. The hostility from RC conservatives in some ways validates that perspective. It will be interesting to see where the conversation goes inside the RC church in countries like Germany where there are progressive views that Fiducia Supplicans is intended to short circuit. So I’ll see your reference to the great oracle NYT and raise with this, an article from main street Catholicism. Note the teaser… Read more »

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  Rod Gillis
2 months ago

More telling, perhaps, is whether even the limited softening extends into the next papacy or is reversed.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Kate Keates
2 months ago

When one cuts through all the theological jibber jabber of Fiducia Supplicans the underlying message is pretty much the old ‘love the sinner hate the sin’ schtick. The papacy may oscillate between one of those two poles depending on the occupant of the day. Of course post Vatican II RC history remains one of disappointment for Roman Catholics longing for and advocating for a married priesthood, the ordination of women together with progress on other issues that are stymied by sexism of one sort or another. Fiducia Supplicans has pretty much set up the same sex couples issue to be… Read more »

Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  Kate Keates
2 months ago

Or, if in fact it isn’t a ‘softening’ (except at the level of a wish), it just remains the same.

Tobias Haller
Reply to  FrDavid H
2 months ago

One thing not to underestimate is the effect of others seeing couples being blessed. The niceties of the theological rationale are lost on those beholding blessing at work. The concept of receptio populi will no doubt play its part, and ultimately lead to a reversal if too many of the people “misunderstand” the intent of this movement, modest and theologically conservative as it is.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Tobias Haller
2 months ago

I can’t believe the Vatican will backtrack on blessing gay couples on the grounds gay people are too theologically illiterate to understand what is at work in them. Once this particular horse has bolted, putting it back in the stable will prove even more controversial.

Tobias Haller
Reply to  FrDavid H
2 months ago

I think you are right on that. It is one of the reasons some of the reactionaries are reacting as they do.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
2 months ago

I suggest one way for Anglicans to read Fiducia Supplicans with a critical eye is to read it along side Bishop Steven Croft’s essay (link). The moral/anthropological archaism and conjoined pastoral weakness of Fiducia Supplicans becomes immediately apparent. Croft is engaging with and living in the real world. It is his view, and not that of Fiducia Supplicans, which represents genuine aggiornamento.

https://d3hgrlq6yacptf.cloudfront.net/61f2fd86f0ee5/content/pages/documents/together-in-love-and-faith.pdf

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