I'd never have to work another day of my life.
And, those are just the ones I know. There are many, many, many more. Hundreds of thousands, is my guess. We are blessed by their presence in our church.
You don't hear about the numbers because, well, for one thing, we don't keep those kinds of records. I don't ever remember sending a request for a Letter of Transfer to a Roman Catholic Church, the way we do when an Episcopalian leaves one church - for whatever reason - and joins another.
I just talk with the former Roman Catholic about the Episcopal Church, offering classes if s/he prefers, and offer Reception by the Bishop when he did his visitation or when we have diocesan/district Confirmation/Reception.
You'll certainly not see any news articles in Episcopal Life or on the Episcopal News Service about how many former RCs have become members of The Episcopal Church.
So, it's pretty much a silent, albeit massive, exodus from Rome to Canterbury - or The Episcopal Church Center at 815 Second Ave, New York.
You'll forgive me, then, as I sit here, scratching my head at this news article from NCR (National Catholic Reporter), with a headline that screams: "With a thousand Anglican converts, ordinariate gets going."
The article is written by a man who identifies himself as someone who was "an Anglican before becoming a Catholic 45 years ago".
I'm tempted to snark, "Misery loves company" but I'm trying to show some restraint here.
The article claims,
In England, the only country so far where the ordinariate is up and running, almost a thousand ex-Anglicans, composed of groups of laity with 64 of their pastors, of whom 54 have applied to become Catholic priests, have come over in the first wave. The ordination of the former Anglican clergy is being fast-tracked for Pentecost. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is calling the shots, for the local Roman Catholic bishops had wanted these clergy to undergo a year’s preparation.
Three former Anglican bishops, all of them married, all now with the title of monsignor, are the leaders. One, Keith Newton, has been appointed the ordinary, may carry a crosier and wear a miter, and participates in meetings of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales with an equal voice. In an echo of the Anglican synodical tradition, he is required to consult with a governing council of priests and laity, and future holders of his office will be appointed from a list of three candidates drawn up by this council, not by the nuncio.
I'm not exactly sure what to make of that description.
Anyway, the author goes on to say that:
"At present, he and his wife are still living in the capacious Bishop’s House at Dry Sandford just outside Oxford. They are preparing to move out, for the ordinariate in England cannot take any Anglican churches or buildings with it. We talk in his study, where there is an altar, a prie-dieu, candles burning."Capacious house, eh? Well, hopefully he'll still have room for the prie-dieu and the candles at his new digs, where he'll serve as "Monsignor".
The author also notes that
Newton . . has been appointed the ordinary, may carry a crosier and wear a miter, and participates in meetings of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales with an equal voice. In an echo of the Anglican synodical tradition, he is required to consult with a governing council of priests and laity, and future holders of his office will be appointed from a list of three candidates drawn up by this council, not by the nuncio (diplomatic representative).So, the bishop gets to keep all of his pretty dresses, use his own prayer book, preside at proper Anglican Eucharists and services of prayer, and have at least some semblance of Anglican tradition in a more democratic election.
And, and, AND.... he's protected from those nasty "women cooties" anywhere near the altar or on the councils or in the corridors of power.
Well, good for him, I say. If that's what makes him happy. I, personally, have never been happy with prejudice or bigotry, but well, in Rome, it's a "man's, man's world."
Here's the last quote from the article:
"Though still tempted to look over their shoulders at the factions in the church they have left, they have no need to worry about that anymore. They are free now, they feel, for mission to everyone, Anglican style. They are determined to make the experiment work: They know they have to mix in, while bringing their particular gifts. They come with humility, they say, and stress their gratitude for the warmth of their welcome.""Free.... now"? "for mission to everyone"?
Freedom to live with the shackles of the sin of sexism and misogyny on your soul is hardly freedom. Then again, it is they who put on those shackles willingly and, near as I can tell, happily. And, what do you do when one calls a woman into the church and she is called by the power of the Spirit to ordained leadership in the church?
Uh-oh. Better revise that "mission to everyone" statement. It needs a few disclaimers.
Gratitude for the "warmth of their welcome"?
I'll just bet they were welcomed warmly. The Roman Catholic Church sure could use some good press, right about now. Imagine! While thousands and thousands are swimming the other way on the Tiber because of the abuse of institutional power concerning the abuse of millions of children, or the archaic pre-Neanderthal attitudes and policies about the status of women, a mere thousand want to join them.
And, this is news. Big news. Imagine!
I can't. I simply can't imagine it. You'll forgive me, but I just can't get my head wrapped around that.
All that being said, what really sets my teeth on edge is the whole tone of the article. I know that poor Mother Church in Rome needs a bit of a lift these days, but, as you read the article, you can't miss the gloating.
Gloating: "To feel or express great, often malicious, pleasure or self-satisfaction: Don't gloat over your rival's misfortune".
It's so . . . um. . . well, here's a good Anglican word for it: "unseemly".
It's bad form, is what it is. Flat out. Bad form.
There's a part of me that wants to "Fight fire with fire" - even though I've learned, over the years, that this only leads to both sides getting burned.
I want to write a resolution for General Convention next year that, henceforth and furthermore, we begin keeping track of how many Roman Catholics convert to The Episcopal Church; and, furthermore, be it resolved that those statistics are reported by each and every congregation in The Episcopal Church in the Annual Parochial Report; and furthermore, be it resolved that those statistics are reported in the Episcopal Annual Report for wide distribution in the Episcopal News Service.
That's my wicked fantasy, anyway. Truth be told, it's just gloating in return for gloating, and I don't think Jesus would be at all pleased.
So, I'll do my little rant in the safety of my little blog and be done with it. At least, that's the hope.
The truth of it is that I really don't care where it is one finds one's spiritual nourishment. I'm just delighted that the institutional church in whatever shape or form continues to provide some semblance of spiritual sustenance for God's people - even if the nutrients in some of those institutions are not of the highest gospel quality.
I'm thinking about that passage in the 9th Chapter of Luke's Gospel where John tells Jesus that “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.”
Jesus responded, “Do not stop him,” Jesus said, “for whoever is not against you is for you.” (Luke 9:50).
So, fine. You want to be a Roman Catholic? Terrific. Godspeed.
Don't let the red church door hit you from behind as you walk out. And, thank you ever so much for leaving the furniture and "capacious" buildings intact. That was good of you. Then again, it was good of the CofE to allow you to live there this past year, after you had left Canterbury and were busy swimming the Tiber. Well done, boys. Well done.
Just please, don't gloat. It makes me think that you're not so much for Jesus as you are against the ordination of women.
Have you already forgotten your proper Anglican manners?
It's bad form, gentlemen. Bad form, indeed.