Andrew Petiprin—a man to watch

Every now and then, I come across a piece of writing that delights me for its craftsmanship, clarity, and insight.  That happened yesterday when I came across this article in the Catholic Herald by Andrew Petiprin, a former Episcopalian canon who came into the communion of the Catholic Church with his family on Jan. 1.  This man can write!

In  We’ve come a long way since Cranmer called the pope the antichrist , Petiprin takes a look at relations between the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church and how they’ve evolved over the years.  Please read the whole thing to enjoy how he has structured his essay.  I’m going to zero in on what he says about Anglicanorum coetibus.

 With the advent of the ordination of women in the Episcopal Church in the late 1970s, many faithful Anglicans whose spiritual forebears had remained when Newman left saw the writing on the wall. By the 1990s the same innovations were washing over the Church of England. The high-profile conversion of the Bishop of London, Graham Leonard, was further proof that the result of ecumenism would prove to be different from its original goal. In 2001, the now Mgr Graham Leonard was asked whether “concessions should be made in the ecumenical dialogue to attain unity more easily”. His reply was in the fashion of Newman: “Truth is not discovered through negotiations, but in obedience.”

And yet, Rome has not abandoned ecumenism in favour of conversions. As Unitatis Redintegratio teaches, “When individuals wish for full Catholic communion, their preparation and reconciliation is an undertaking which of its nature is distinct from ecumenical action. But there is no opposition between the two, since both proceed from the marvellous ways of God.”

So what are the goods of ecumenical action from the Catholic perspective? Present circumstances are proving that the ecumenical movement’s greatest gift to Catholics may turn out to be a more generous vocabulary for welcoming newcomers into the one fold – to help make obedience ever more appealing. And in this way, Anglican-Catholic dialogue continues to be a particularly prominent success story.

The publication of Anglicanorum Coetibus in 2009 and the establishment of the personal ordinariates by Benedict XVI have brought the seed sown in the meeting between Ramsey and Paul VI to its full flourish. Even diocesan priests outside of the ordinariates are now able to use the Anglican-influenced Divine Worship where there is a pastoral need.

Please read the whole thing.


Changing Church governance a solution?

Years ago, a Catholic friend of mine from an Anglican background told me that had he already been Catholic he doubted whether he would ever have been able to start a classical Christian school that flourishes to this day.

71orV+IBOoLSome of it had to do with the attitude towards lay initiatives.  In the Protestant world, one just takes initiative and gets one’s project up and running.   In the Catholic world, one must obtain permission and sometimes it’s hard to get access to the bishop or his delegates to obtain it.  I’m not saying this is a bad thing—-and I have seen the positive effects on lay apostolates that have successfully obtained the blessing of their bishop—but the process does seem to create a culture that can stifle initiative.  It can have the same effect on a parish level, where even holding a Bible study in one’s home might need  permission from the priest.

Interestingly, Adam DeVille is calling for a change in Church governance based on a more traditional model that is against the centralization of power in the papacy and other structures.  In Everything Hidden Shall Be Revealed: Ridding the Church of Abuses of Sex and Power DeVille, a former Anglican who is now an Eastern Catholic,  addresses the problem of clericalism.

David Clayton reviews the book over at The New Liturgical Movement.  He writes:

What he proposes is likely to challenge both traditionalists and liberals in the Church, but I think that it is worthy of consideration and discussion, at least.

He describes the problem as one of clericalism in which power is too centralized and is steadily pushed upwards from the laity onto the priests, and from there onto the hierarchy and popes. This, he says, attracts people who have a particular psychological profile characterized by a desire to exercise power over and dominate others, and are skilled political players. (He draws on his academic background in psychology for this.) So many of the problems we see today are interconnected, and in response, the Church must be reformed so that there can be new structures of local accountability. This, he says, is deeply traditional, and a return to root practices that structured much of Catholic life for centuries.

His argument is for a three-fold ordering of the Catholic Church: the laity, the clerics, and the hierarchs, all existing together, each with voice and vote in the councils of governance of the Church – from the lowly parish council through to diocesan, regional, and international synods. All three orders are necessary, he says, for the Church to flourish; each of the three acts as a check on the others, ensuring that none can run totally roughshod over the others.

Read the whole thing.  Not sure if I agree with all of DeVille’s ideas as outlined in this review but I do believe the universal call to holiness and call for a greater role for the lay faithful of the Second Vatican Council has not been worked out enough.  We from the Anglican tradition might have some interesting perspectives to bring to the table on how to bring this about so as to encourage lay initiatives without letting it devolve to congregationalism, something we have gladly left behind.

Your thoughts?



Cardinal Eijk on gender theory


Cardinal Willem Eijk, Archbishop of Utrecht, gave a talk at the Rome Life Forum May 16 on the threat gender theory poses not only to objective moral reality, but also to the proclamation of the Christian faith.  Here he is, above, with Cardinal Raymond Burke during a question and answer session May 17.

Here’s a link to my story on the talk now published at The Catholic Register.

ROME — Exposing the errors in gender theory is “of the utmost urgency” because it poses a threat to the Church’s moral teaching and to the proclamation of the Christian faith, said the archbishop of Utrecht.

Speaking May 16 at the Rome Life Forum, Cardinal Willem Eijk said gender theory undermines the roles of mothers, fathers and married spouses. It also impairs the biological relationship between parents and children and harms the ability to share the Church’s teachings about God as a Holy Trinity.

“Removal or alteration of the meanings of father, mother, marriage, paternity and maternity, make it difficult to announce the faith in a God in three Persons,” Eijk said.

To undermine  the significance of the husband and wife is to undermine the  possibility of announcing this. In this way, damage is also inflicted on the analogy between the relationship between Christ and the Church on the one hand and the relationship between husband and wife on the other.”

Here’s a link to the entire talk, posted at Voice of the Family, organizer of the event.

Cardinal Eijk also spoke of the damage the dissociation of gender from biological sex does to an understanding of the priesthood and the necessity of the priest’s being male, because Jesus is male, and of the spousal relationship of Christ to His Church.

For many of us former Anglicans, it was the tampering with Holy Orders by various national bodies of the Anglican Communion to allow the ordination of women that revealed the necessity of coming into the Communion of the Catholic Church.

Cardinal Raymond Burke also gave an excellent talk on the virtue of Patriotism.  His answer to a question related to large-scale Muslim immigration won the headlines, but this was probably the best talk I have heard Cardinal Burke give and I learned a great deal from it.   So often patriotism and nationalism—which gets a bad reputation—are conflated, and in this talk he explained how patriotism, and the honoring of one’s homeland, is related to the fourth Commandment to honor one’s father and mother.

Voice of the Family has links to the other talks at the 6th annual Rome Life Forum here.  

Meeting our Seminarian in Rome


My visit to Rome will soon end.   Among the highlights was meeting Patrick McCain, our seminarian for the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter who is living at the Pontifical North American College and studying at the Angelicum, the Dominican university in Rome.

Patrick comes from a Southern Baptist family background, and, upon stumbling across a Book of Common Prayer, was led into the Episcopal Church.   He said he found it just Protestant enough to keep him there as he began his journey into the Catholic faith.  Eventually, as he was exposed to more and more of the Anglo-Catholic tradition, he knew he had to become Catholic.  He was catechized for entry into the Church by Fr. Dwight Longenecker, a well known Catholic priest-blogger and former Anglican.  He entered the Catholic Church in 2008.

He’s 33 and worked for four years in social services in Florida, before discerning the call to the priesthood.

Patrick expressed his enthusiasm and hope for the future of the Ordinariates.

I met him at the North American College where I was struck by the quality of the young men there.  They seemed joyful, purposeful, confident in their faith (Patrick included!).  Before attending Vespers, he took me on a tour of the college, including its view of the city of Rome.









Cardinal Sarah’s talk May 14 now available online via Magister

downloadMy French was good enough to get the gist of what Cardinal Sarah said on May 14 at the launch of his most recent book Le soir approche et déjà le jour baisse, but not good enough to try to translate it.

Thus, I am grateful to see that Sandro Magister has reported on it today.

Cardinal Robert Sarah took everyone by surprise on the evening of May 14 in Rome, in the auditorium of the cultural center of the church of St. Louis of the French, when everyone was expecting him to present his latest book, entitled “Le soir approche et déjà le jour baisse,” on the Church’s crisis of faith and the decline of the West.

Because instead, the cardinal said right away, “this evening I will not talk about this book at all.” And the reason – he explained – is that “the fundamental ideas that I develop in it were illustrated, presented, and demonstrated brilliantly last April by Pope Benedict XVI in the ‘notes’ that he had composed in view of the summit of the presidents of the episcopal conferences on sexual abuse convened in Rome by Pope Francis from February 21 to 24.”

Cardinal Sarah continued:

“His reflection has revealed itself to be a true source of light in the night of faith that touches the whole Church. It has prompted reactions that at times have bordered on intellectual hysteria. I have felt personally struck by the wretchedness and coarseness of several comments. We must be convinced that once again the theologian Ratzinger, whose stature is that of a true father and doctor of the Church, has seen correctly and has touched the deepest heart of the Church’s crisis.

He has posted the entire text of Cardinal Sarah’s talk here in French.


Greetings from Rome–and the joy of hearing Cardinal Sarah speak

20190513_074708Greetings from Rome.

I apologize for the light blogging as in the run up to my trip I had one of the busiest weeks in my work life as a journalist covering the events around Canada’s National March for Life. 

I caught a cold even before the events got into gear, so I had to martial my energy carefully to make it through the week.

Part of the reason why I’m here is related to the Symposium 2019 in October to mark the 10th anniversary of Anglicanorum coetibus.

Today, I met Patrick McCain, a seminarian of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter who is at the North American College, (he’s holding the umbrella) and Fr. Walter Oxley, of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.  I will attend Vespers at the College tomorrow night and take Patrick out for supper.


I seem to have brought Ottawa weather with me to the Eternal City.  It’s cloudy and chilly, with rain and temperatures around 5 or 6 C predicted for tomorrow.  A highlight of my trip is that I attended an event where Cardinal Sarah presented his latest book with Nicolas Diat: Le soir approche et déjà le jour baisse.


The event was in French, but I understood everything said well enough to be riveted.  Cardinal Sarah decided not to speak about his new book, and instead about Pope-emeritus Benedict’s recent letter: The Church and the scandal of sexual abuse.  

He expounded on the letter, stressing that as Pope Benedict said, the sexual abuse crisis is a crisis of the loss of faith in God.  He said it is true that homosexuality is not the cause of the sexual abuse crisis, but is, instead, a symptom of the loss of God, as is all unchaste behavior on the part of priests.  He told me he plans to publish the text, and when he does I will provide a link.



From all false doctrine, heresy, and schism; from hardness of heart, and contempt of thy Word and Commandment, Good Lord, deliver us.

IMG_5298_3Last week there was news a group of theologians, clergy and others, including Fr. Aidan Nichols, OP and Fr. John Hunwicke, had signed a 20-page letter accusing Pope Francis of heresy and asking the bishops of the Catholic Church to act.

We have great affection for Fr. Aidan Nichols whom many of us met personally in 2011 when he addressed a conference aimed at Anglicans interested in a possible ordinariate.  He’s shown above with then Bishop Peter Wilkinson of the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada.  He is now Msgr. Peter Wilkinson and retired in Victoria, B.C.

Upon reading the news of the letter I felt like I was trying to navigate between the Scylla of heresy and the Charydis of schism.  I do not like this tension between the Catholic faith as handed down from the Apostles and loyalty to the Pope who is a sign of unity and Communion.  The Pope should be the guarantor of that Catholic and Apostolic faith, and that is the reason why he is a sign of unity.   When I became Catholic I was not required to believe the Pope is an oracle of the Holy Spirit and everything he says on a plane or in a private letter is directly the voice of God.  There are limits on the definition of papal infallibility.  In some quarters, however, you would never know that.  Seems those most dissident under Pope Benedict XVI are singing the oracle song today. Continue reading