More on the “ecumenism of hate”

Michael Sean Winters has a piece at the National Catholic Reporter responding to Fr. Raymond J. de Souza’s piece at Crux responding to that La Civilta Cattolica article.

Winters writes:

Way back in 2006 Damon Linker wrote a book called The Theocons that examined the phenomenon of conservative religious leaders reducing religion to ethics and thence to politics, concentrating on such conservative, and non-crackpot, luminaries as the late Fr. Richard Neuhaus. It was Neuhaus who spearheaded the “Catholics and Evangelicals Together” effort of the 1990s. The “ecumenism of hate” that Spadaro and Figueroa identify may make de Souza uncomfortable, but it is not a figment of their imagination.

Fr. de Souza writes regularly for one of the journals, the National Catholic Register, that advances the conservative Catholic and evangelical alliance rooted in the politics of abortion and gay marriage among other items. I just went to their website yesterday and there are four articles hostile to the LGBT community on the homepage, three of them attacking Jesuit Fr. Jim Martin, for daring to suggest that Catholics should reach out to the LGBT community. One post highlights the conflation of religion and politics, if not in an explicitly theocratic state, something closer to that than the separation embedded in our Constitution: “Pray for Justice Anthony Kennedy to Retire and Repent.”

Most interesting.

I would ask Mr. Winters if he thinks sexual morality should be divorced from politics.

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Annual General Meeting coming up

Members of the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society will have received the following notice and a ballot for a prospective slate of new board directors:

Notice of Annual Meeting

Pursuant to Article IV, Section 2 of the bylaws of the corporation, and by designation of the President, the Annual Meeting of the members of the ANGLICAN USE SOCIETY, doing business as “Anglicanorum Coetibus Society”, will be held at St. Thomas More Church, 118 Theodore St, Scranton, PA 18508, USA on Sunday, September 17, 2017 at 12 noon, for the following purposes:

FIRST: To receive such reports as may be made by the President and other Officers and  members of the Society;

SECOND: To elect board members to serve for the next three years; and

THIRD: To transact such other business as may properly come before the meeting.

Your presence in person, via conference call, or by proxy is requested.

Dated: July 20, 2017                                                               (Signed:) C. David Burt, Secretary


Last AGM, I think I joined the meeting by Skype, I think.  I will keep you posted on how you might participate.

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That La Civilta Cattolica article!

I was away for the past two weeks, some of that time with only intermittent access to the Internet. I was, however, able to follow the reaction to this article in La Civilta Cattolica by Fr. Antonio Spadaro and Marcelo Figueroa.

The article is a fascinating pastiche of stereotypes one usually finds from left-wing sources, such as claims that conservative Christians—both Catholic and Protestant—are “theocrats” who want to impose some kind of fascist, church-dominated government.  But given the journal is vetted by the Vatican Secretariat of State and both men are deemed confidants of Pope Francis, one needs to pay attention, as John Allen Jr writes at Crux.

First, the authors – Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro, one of Francis’s closest collaborators, and Marcelo Figueroa, a longtime Protestant friend hand-picked by Francis to edit the Argentinian version of L’Osservatore Romano – clearly reflect the kind of views held by the pontiff. The Secretariat of State would not have signed off if the presumption wasn’t that Francis would approve.

If you want to know what Francis himself makes of the Trump phenomenon, in other words, this is probably the best place to go.

Here’s a selection from the piece that might have some kernel of truth in it to ponder about power, but ruins it with claims that those who believe Scripture (or the Catechism for that matter) about the Apocalypse are trying their darndest to bring it about through fomenting war, kind of like ISIS.

The religious element should never be confused with the political one. Confusing spiritual power with temporal power means subjecting one to the other. An evident aspect of Pope Francis’ geopolitics rests in not giving theological room to the power to impose oneself or to find an internal or external enemy to fight. There is a need to flee the temptation to project divinity on political power that then uses it for its own ends. Francis empties from within the narrative of sectarian millenarianism and dominionism that is preparing the apocalypse and the “final clash.”[2] Underlining mercy as a fundamental attribute of God expresses this radically Christian need.

Francis wants to break the organic link between culture, politics, institution and Church. Spirituality cannot tie itself to governments or military pacts for it is at the service of all men and women. Religions cannot consider some people as sworn enemies nor others as eternal friends. Religion should not become the guarantor of the dominant classes. Yet it is this very dynamic with a spurious theological flavor that tries to impose its own law and logic in the political sphere.

Having been a journalist for a long time, first as an evangelical, then as a Catholic, I have had much exposure to different types and expressions of the Christian faith in multiple communities, from mainline and more modernist to charismatic to traditional.

When Christians pray “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven,” and long for Christ’s return, and for His peace to reign on earth, are they guilty of being integralists and theocrats? There is a huge difference between spiritually preparing for the Apocalypse–such as being like the wise virgins with our lamps trimmed since we are told we do not know when Jesus will return– and “preparing the Apocalypse.”   I have *never* in 30 years met a Christian who is actively preparing to bring about Armageddon.

I have also encountered the cynical partisan use of anti-Christian stereotypes in politics to demonize, discredit and dismiss politicians who are serious about their Christian faith and Christians who argue in the public square (seldom using anything but reasonable, natural law-based arguments, never Bible-thumping) on issues such as euthanasia.

Anyway, the responses to this article have been most interesting.  Here are some:

Carl Olsen at Catholic World Report 

Robert Royal at The Catholic Thing

Samuel Gregg at Catholic World Report

Fr. Raymond J. de Souza at Crux

Michael Sean Winters at National Catholic Reporter

Tim Stanley in the Catholic Herald

Fr. Dwight Longenecker at Patheos

At the same time, I’m puzzled by the fact that early in his pontificate, Pope Francis reached out to the very kinds of evangelical Christians his confidantes are disparaging in their article.

Remember this video that Pope Francis sent to a big meeting of American televangelists in 2013, brought by his friend Bishop Tony Palmer of the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches, a Anglican-style body.    You can find Pope Francis’ video made on Palmer’s iPhone at about the 32:00 mark, but you might also find Palmer’s introduction to the video most interesting.

I was possibly the last journalist to interview Palmer via Skype only three weeks before he died in a motorcycle crash.

I also had the first published story about a private lunch Pope Francis hosted that included big televangelists such as Kenneth Copeland and James Robison.

I happened to find out about the lunch because of my wide number of contacts in the evangelical world.  One of them was Canadian Brian Stiller, global ambassador for the World Evangelical Alliance.  He posted a picture of the meeting on Facebook, I asked for an interview and contact info for Palmer.

Another Canadian present was John Arnott, who pastored the former Airport Christian Fellowship in Toronto, home of the “Toronto Blessing.”

All this to say this Pope is defies easy-pigeonholing even by his alleged confidants.




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What worked and what didn’t work in drawing you into the Catholic Church?

Over at Facebook’s  Anglican Ordinariate Informal Conversation Forum, someone posted a mock poll asking what “persuasive arguments” one might use to persuade those still in the Episcopalian Church or other Anglican body to become Catholic.

Alas, many on the forum did not detect this was a tongue-in-cheek poll.  Among the multiple choice answers:  tell them none of their sacraments except baptism and maybe some marriages are valid; another that their priest is not a real priest and has never been one.

But that got me thinking:  what drew you into the Catholic Church?  What pushed you away?

I found insistence by Catholics that I must “convert to the One True Church” not only unpersuasive but off-putting.  Same thing with the “Anglican Orders are null and void” arguments.  These arguments set me against joining the Catholic Church.

What attracted me were individual Catholics who radiated holiness and love, who I knew were not “lenient” or “anything goes” in the faith—and probably agreed with the above statements—but did not say those things to me—only loved me, and, through a ministry of encouragement and without necessarily saying anything urged me to “come up higher,” to take the risk to believe, to have faith, to make the plunge.  Most of all, I yearned to be in communion with them.

This does not mean that it is not important for people to proclaim the truths of the faith.  I did hear these things—-and eventually come to accept them—but they had the reverse effect on me than they should have at the time.

All this to say is people become Catholic for different reasons, some persuaded by moral or philosophical or theological arguments; some attracted by love and beauty in Catholic community and worship; and some by quiet, intuitive leading of the Holy Spirit.

If you were to encounter a brother or a sister in an Anglican body, how would you approach them?  Because the hard-line, doctrinal approach repelled me, I would not be inclined to use it.




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God loves us with a human heart

Michael Trolly, our most gifted organist, a former deacon from our Traditional  Anglican Communion days, is also a gifted apologist. He also spent some time as a missionary with Catholic Christian Outreach, so he has much experience in reaching out to those who are searching for God.

In this month’s Annunciator, the newsletter or Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, he has a marvelous piece about how one might approach someone who believes in a pantheistic view of the universe.   Read the whole thing!

Many people claim that everyone believes in the same God, or even that believing in
a pantheistic universe where all is one, and we are all God, is pretty much the same as being a Christian. I think there is one question we can ask that can help provide (both them and us) with some insight, and it is this: “Does the universe love you?”
What I mean is, if you say that all is one, does this “oneness” love
you? Christianity does believe that ultimate reality is a unity, but
we believe it is a unity of three Persons — three Persons who love
perfectly, and whose love overflows throughout all of creation – a
creation which is filled with the presence of God, but is not God.
God chose freely to create something separate from Himself so
that He could love us, and it is precisely this belief in the Trinity,
this dogma, that safeguards this very practical, personal, spiritual
experience of being loved by God. During my most recent
semester at St. Paul University, I read a book by Cardinal Walter
Kasper called The God of Jesus Christ. He argued powerfully that
Christians cannot defend the concept of “God” in the abstract,
beginning with an apologetic for monotheism and then defending
the doctrine of the Trinity as a second step. He argued that a
Triune God is the only sort of God who could really be God,
because only a God who had this eternal, loving relationship as
part of His divine nature could really be the “living God” who
worked in history or entered into human hearts.

My spirituality or religion, whatever terminology the postmodern world prefers,
begins with the reality that God loves me. I know this because of
the experience of grace, because of (to use a phrase I heard Dr.
John Patrick use once) “flowers left on the doorstep of my heart”–
and this means that God must be able to love; and this makes our
doctrine of the nature of God very important indeed.
The second central thing about our faith, to skip forward
to the third feast under consideration, is that (as I heard Bp. Scott
McCaig emphasize once in a sermon) “God loves us with a human
heart.” At the core of reality–even beyond our concept of reality–
is a beating human heart. I think that this is a wonderful point to
emphasize when people are wondering what it is that Christians
believe, and wondering what makes our faith distinctive, because
I think it very efficiently makes the point, in a way that is
incredibly attractive rather than argumentative. Let me say it
again, we believe that the deepest mystery of the universe is a
beating, loving, human heart. This is so because of the
Incarnation, which again shows how a doctrine is essential to our
experience of the spiritual. I may not be able to prove to
someone’s satisfaction that God came down from heaven and took
on a human heart, (as well as the rest of human existence), and
took that heart into Eternity to become the heart of all life, but it
should be immediately obvious that this is a unique idea not found
in any other belief system, that it is central to my faith, and that it
is a supremely beautiful and compelling idea.


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Not making an idol out of Anglican patrimony

Fr. Doug Hayman, pastor of Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Ottawa, has an interesting reflection in our monthly newsletter the Annunciator about the dangers of idolatry and putting anything, even good things, ahead of our relationship with God.  This part jumped out:

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
You shall have no other gods before me. Deuteronomy 5:6-7
Back in November 2014, I wrote in the Annunciator about a word which had come to me while praying before the Blessed Sacrament. I was drawn to Joshua 13 and 24, to the words of Moses’ successor as he addressed his people Israel, as they were preparing to settle in the Promised Land. He exhorted them to make a decision about whom they would serve henceforth, warning them that committing themselves to the LORD was not something which they could do lightly. “Of course,” they responded at once, “We will serve the LORD!”

But Joshua said to the people, “You cannot serve the LORD; for He is a holy God; He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgressions or your sins. If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm, and consume you, after having done you good.”

Joshua 24:16-20. In effect, he was telling them: You cannot do this unless it’s wholehearted. If you ‘set your hand to the plow’, then turn back, the consequences will be far greater than had you never taken it up at all. You cannot play at being God’s people; you must give yourselves completely or not at all. And the people said to Joshua, “Nay; but we will serve the LORD.” Then Joshua said to the people, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the LORD, to serve Him.” Then Joshua continued by giving stern and clear direction, “Then put away the foreign gods
which are among you, and incline your heart to the LORD, the God of Israel.”v.21-23
I thought at the time that this was a word to us as a parish, and my sense is that it is becoming more clearly focused as such. Do we truly believe that our Lord has brought us to this place, into the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, into full Communion with the Catholic Church? Are we willing to let go of everything into His hands: i.e. all that we were, and are, and will become? Do we trust Him? Will we trust Him to take us where He wants us to be?
Many of us continue to struggle with questions of Anglican Patrimony in the Catholic Church, particularly regarding what we have or have not been able to bring with us into full Communion, and what might yet be part of our life and ministry in the future. Of course when, in our profession of faith, we declared, “I believe and profess all
that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God.” we acknowledged our willingness to trust the Church to judge what of our Anglican heritage may be gathered in to express full and fruitful Catholic Faith.

Still, there may well be some things which we need, in all humility, to continue to discuss—maybe even respectfully argue about—but we must be careful that they not hold first place in our hearts, else they in fact come between us and obedience to the call of our Lord.

There’s a lot more at the link.  This is a good text to keep in mind as we pursue the goals of the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society  (from our Mission Statement at our website:

Our Work and Mission

The mission of the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society is:

  • To offer independent and loyal support to the Personal Ordinariates established under the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus.

  • To foster relations among the members of the Ordinariates worldwide and encourage communion.

  • To evangelize by encouraging and supporting patrimonial communities outside the Ordinariates which may become communities in formation for the Ordinariates.

  • To promote and where possible to provide an environment where thinking, pondering, discussing, informing, educating, creating, writing and publishing can take place with regard to the entire span of the received Anglican patrimony – liturgical, intellectual, pastoral, spiritual, theological, literary, artistic, musical, social – which the Ordinariates are called to bring into the Catholic Church as a treasure to be shared.

  • To encourage full active participation of lay members of the Ordinariates.

  • To embody the ecumenical spirit of the Ordinariates by reaching out to other Christians who are also custodians of the Anglican patrimony, encouraging them to participate fully in our activities and  become members.


Fr. Hayman concludes:

The Ordinariate was not established to be a life-raft to
rescue us from Anglo-apostasy and afford us a comfortable
corner in which to live in eccentricity, rehearsing quaint
Cranmerian prayers, quoting the KJV, intoning plainsong
and Sarum Chant, while inhaling clouds of incense.
Rather we have been appointed to share the treasure of the
Gospel as it has shaped our distinctive forms of worship
and rhythms of thought and prayer—where these
Anglican Traditions have remained rooted in the Catholic
Faith—that we may be an instrument of renewal of the
Catholic Church, for her mission to share Christ with the
world. To that we end, we are called to live faithfully and
sacrificially in the offering of all our resources—money,
time, physical presence and energy, prayer and witness—
allowing ourselves to be broken, that the glory of God may
be made manifest, shining in the face of Jesus Christ,
reflected in us, made and renewed in His image. Let us
offer ourselves, sincerely, deliberately and completely to
Him. Ask what He wills and set our hearts to do it.

We had two members leave our fold over the Anglican patrimony issue in recent months.  Very sad and a “pruning” experience.  However, thankfully, I would say those of us who remain are on the same page as our priests and willing to make that wholehearted, sacrificial offering.


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A trip around the blogosphere

Greetings everyone.  Sorry about the light blogging, but I had to make an emergency trip on a family matter to interior British Columbia last week and, where I was staying, the internet access was intermittent.

In the meantime, this excerpt from Cardinal Robert Sarah’s book  The Power of Silence was posted at Catholic World Report today and I urge you to read the whole thing.  So beautiful and inspiring.

Here’s a taste:

Their first meeting had taken place on October 25, 2014. That day left a deep impression on Cardinal Sarah. Right away he recognized an ardent soul, a hidden saint, a great friend of God. How could anyone forget Brother Vincent’s spiritual strength, his silence, the beauty of his smile, the cardinal’s emotion, the tears, the modesty, the colliding sentiments? Brother Vincent was incapable of uttering a simple sentence because the sickness deprived him of the use of speech. He could only lift his gaze toward the cardinal. He could only contemplate him, steadily, tenderly, lovingly. Brother Vincent’s bloodshot eyes already had the brightness of eternity.

That sunny autumn day, as we left the little room where the monks and the nurses ceaselessly took over from one another with extraordinary devotion, the Abbot of Lagrasse, Father Emmanuel- Marie, brought us into the monastery gardens, near the church. It was necessary to get some air in order to accept God’s silent will, this hidden plan that was inexorably carrying off a young, good religious toward unknown shores, while his body lay tormented.

The cardinal returned several times to pray with his friend, Brother Vincent. The patient’s condition kept worsening, but the quality of the silence that sealed the dialogue of a great prelate and a little monk grew in an increasingly spiritual way. When he was in Rome, the cardinal often called the Brother. The one spoke gently, and the other remained silent. Cardinal Sarah spoke again to Brother Vincent a few days before his death. He was able to hear his breathing, husky and discordant, the attacks of pain, the last efforts of his heart, and to give him his blessing.

Last week, we received news that Pope Francis was not renewing Cardinal Muller’s term as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and had appointed the CDF’s secretary Archbishop Ladario, SJ, as his replacement.

Of all the names that were bandied about as possible replacements (and Archbishop Ladario was not among them as I recall), this, I hear, is a good choice.   I also recall that not long after his appointment, those of us in the Anglican world aspiring to become Catholic, believed the new secretary would be a friend to us.

I feel bad for Cardinal Muller in that he was increasingly sidelined long before this.  For example, it was given to Cardinal Schonborn, Archbishop of Vienna, to introduce Amoris Laetitia, when it was published a little over a year ago.

A strong CDF is one of the checks and balances in the Holy See to ensure the Pope faithfully carries out his mission as the Successor of Peter and defender of the Deposit of Faith.  Perhaps Pope Francis believes he has no need any theological structuring. 

Have any of you been following the debate over this letter to the four Dubia cardinals by UK Catholic Stephen Walford that appeared at Vatican Insider?

Your thoughts?


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