US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Is being "against" stuff what Catholicism is all about?

Bryan Cones | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

As some celebrate the creation of a Roman Catholic "ordiniariate" for unhappy Episcopalians in the U.S.A., others are wondering if being Catholic is so easily reduced to a couple of hot-button issues (you know which ones). While the Houston-based "Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter" (you can read all about it courtesy of Rocco Palmo) invokes the Anglican return to Roman (papal) obedience, it's clear that true heart of the matter is not papal infallibility but the liberalization of the Western Anglicanism--notably the ordination of woman first as priests and now as bishops, as well as the acceptance of committed same-sex relationships among laity and clergy.

Lisa Fullam at dotCommonweal is asking the right questions, to my mind: "My dismay is that once again the Catholic Church is defined by negation–'Don’t like the idea of women in ecclesial leadership? Come join us! Don’t like gay people? We’re the Church for you!' . . . The fact that Episcopal priests need only take an on-line course to qualify for ordination underscores the idea that the point here isn’t educating new clergy in the fullness of Catholic tradition (which is distinct in many ways from Anglican tradition, right??) but in welcoming in people who take the 'right' position on these few issues, teach them a few things about liturgical particulars, and they’re good to go."

To me, however, the culture shock these new Catholics are going to get is on the parochial level. Rocco Palmo notes that congregations have "voted" to join the ordinariate. In the Episcopal Church in the U.S.A., most real power lies with the local congregation, including hiring their own clergy. Although the Tiber-crossers are keeping some of their canonical (legal) patrimony, I think they are in for a rude awakening when some future "ordinary" is of a less democratic bent.