Thursday, 10 December 2009


One of the most surprising and welcome recent items of news is Pope Benedict’s generous provision for Anglican converts seeking to escape the Noddy-land of Anglicanism. This will mean that groups of ex-Anglicans will be able to worship together free from bullying by local bishops who dislike the newcomers' conservatism, and who prefer the un-biblical "dialoguing" with heretics than saving their souls by welcoming them home into the one true Church.

The Pope appears to have done this without consulting either the Anglican or Europe’s modernist establishments. That alone is a reason for cheering: at last a post-Conciliar pope who acts as if he actually believes he has the Power of the Keys, rather than like the rather timid chairman of a board of governors. It must be good because Hans Küng doesn’t like it, and the Tablet is wailing loudly that the Pope should have consulted. There is a complete lack of integrity here of course, the only reason they want him to consult is because (had he restricted his consultation to Tablet readers) they believe he would have come to a different decision. The real reason that they are now consuming record quantities of Prozac is that they are deeply depressed at the prospect of a large influx of orthodox convert clergy.

Nevertheless, understandable traditionalist elation apart, there are good reasons for some caution. The document has not yet been published but one would be very concerned if it weakened the Church's commitment to clerical celibacy beyond the prudent limited concessions already made to earlier convert Anglican clergy. A more serious concern: given the English Church’s manifest complete lack of integrity in the reception of individual "converts" since the Council (the reception of Tony Blair, a man whose convictions are manifestly about as Catholic as my gatepost’s, illustrates my point) what honesty can we expect when receiving large numbers on mass?

There is only one reason to become a Catholic: the conviction that the Catholic Church is the one true Church founded by Christ, outside of which there is no salvation. It is not even sufficient to merely agree with the Church, one must submit one's intellect to her reality, rather in the manner that one submits without quibble to the proposition that 2+2 equals four. However, I fear that many of these Anglicans will be coming into the Church with the mindset of a man who has decided to switch to shopping at Sainsbury's rather than Morrison’s because he prefers the fish counter