Pastoral Patrimony

After reading the pieces by Bishop Andrew Burnham, William Oddie, and others, the part of Anglican patrimony that conistently rings true for Anglo-Catholics the world over, is the possibility for intimate pastoral care to be given by the clergy to their parishioners.  Even back when Anglicans were a healthy, growing communion (before I was born!), attention was devoted to constantly planting new parishes when the older ones would get "too big."

Now, of course, with the onslaught of secularism, most Anglican parishes in the Western world have caved in to it, one by one, due largely to many bad bishops; thus, spawning many bad priests, and thus, many misled parishioners. Those that have not caved have splintered into a thousand different jurisdictions. And we wonder why most of our parishes are not growing?

Vocations, until recently in the Church of England, have been producing enough orthodox ordinands to fill many of the parishes. But just barely. The decline in attendance has produced the decline in vocations. Now with women "bishops" on the horizon, forget it. Continuuing jurisdictions are not much better. These groups have seen a decline in vocations too. I would wager that a direct correlation exists between the decline in vocations in all the groups and how many times those groups split. Also remember, that with the heritage being the Via Media, the larger groups split both because of personal squabbles, and also along the lines of churchmanship. And the older leaders are clueless as to why their excellent liturgies are not attracting a younger, more traditional generation? Do they not realize that the younger, more traditional generation, seeks substance: in doctrine, morality, authority, and unity?

Be that as it may, the practical factor of our losses has, in reality, kept our congregation sizes (for the most part) very small. I long for the day when we see our excellent liturgies thrive again in the Ordinariates, with  all the positive aspects of our patrimony (those who aren't coming in can keep their schisms, Thirty-Nine Articles, Anglican"ism"s, doctrinal and moral vaguenesses, and Branch Theories!). It is the only way in which our excellent liturgies and English spiritual heritage can exist with the full substance of doctrine, morality, authority and unity. And because of that, we can again begin to grow, and begin to grow rightly. We can again begin to plant more parishes if the existing ones get too big for the clergy to get to know most parishioners on a reasonably intimate level.

But notice that we can do this, not that we necessarily will. We must, however, be open to the fact that with the continued aggresiveness of secularism against religion, and Christianity in particular, the Ordinariates might not grow by leaps and bounds. If that is the case though, we who end up there can be assured that we have the fullness of the Catholic faith, are in the fullness of the Catholic Church, and have the fullness of the "tools" ready at our disposal--as Chesterton and Newman talked frequently about--to effectively defend and combat the ancient pagan errors that have arisen again in our time all in the supposed context of "tolerance."

Our "former Anglican" tool--now Anglican Catholic tool--of intimate pastoral care, combined with the Church's teachings, and in unity with the entirety of the Church's faithful around the world, will be the true fulfilment of the Oxford Movement.


UK Ordinariate Updates

US and AUS Ordinariate Updates