Unpicking Stanford

Peter Stanford needs to be congratulated on one of the most outstanding factually incorrect pieces of journalism regarding today’s ordination to the Catholic priesthood of the three former Anglican Bishops.

He starts as he means to go on:

“…fewer stranger sights…three Anglican bishops’ wives, in matching beige coats, one with an outsized brown hat…”

Saucer of milk, table for one Peter. Considering that he critiques the Catholic Church as being “not that keen on women”,  do I note a rather hypocritical attitude in bitchily analysing the attire of the wives? I don’t quite see what the colour of the coats or the size of the hats has to do with anything. Still lets put these upstart wives in their place.

“to the pain of the demonstrators from the Catholic Women’s Ordination movement protesting outside the cathedral’s doors”

What all two of them valiently clutching their banner? To be fair though there were also apparently two demonstrators from the Society of Saint Pius X, so lets make that a grand total of four. Jeffrey Steele was spot on earlier when he wryly observed that the tiny smattering of protesters would no doubt form the basis of at least one of the major media organisations’ coverage.

“It is the Vatican’s negative attitude to women’s ministry that formed the backdrop to the whole affair.”

Unsure where on earth to begin with this, other than, as Peter Stanford will be more than well aware, this is not about the ministry of women but fidelity to the catholic teaching which formed the ordinariate. The ordination of women, is one particular presenting issue, but to try and reduce the ordinariate and the Anglo-Catholic movement to be purely about the issue of women’s ministry is ignorant baloney. As a point of fact Andrew Burnham, one of the bishops ordained today, was very supportive of womens’ ministry in general, he did much to explore the issue of ordaining women to the diaconate within the Church of England. There was nothing about wanting a “female-free haven”, this was about accepting the truth of the Catholic faith, these men would not have converted if this was simply about the ordination of women, otherwise where are the 1333 Anglican clergy who signed the letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury in 2008 threatening to resign if women were elected to the episcopate with no safeguards? Surely if the Ordinariate was all about the issue of women clergy, these clergy would be signing up in droves? The fact that they haven’t indicates that this is not about the ordination of women. To claim otherwise is reductivist.

Stanford goes on to describe the Ordinariate as a place “where the normal rules of Catholicism don’t apply”. Sorry? Which rules are they Peter? The man has gone off his rocker. All members of the Ordinariate will have to abide by the catechism, like every other faithful Catholic. The fact that they have been admitted into the Catholic Church proves that they have accepted Catholic doctrine. There is no secret “oh well I don’t really have to agree with that part” clause, or implicit understanding that they can preach their own particular version of Catholicism. Yes, the Ordinariate will consist of a married priesthood, which is unusual, but there are rites within the Catholic Church in which it is possible to be married prior to ordination, as Peter Stanford will undoubtedly be aware. Allowing the use of Anglican patrimony for a separate rite, is not breaking any implicit rules. There are many rites within Catholicism, Roman being the most populous, and each rite will use its own patrimony whilst still coming under the jurisdiction of the Pope. What the Ordinariate has done, is to create a separate rite within the Roman Catholic Church.

The inaccuracies come thick and fast.

“In the space of 14 days, they have completed a journey that usually takes other converts seven years: 12 months to go through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults to become a Catholic, and six years in a seminary.”

Yet more drivel. Priest converts are not required to undertake RCIA. Some do, for others it is not deemed necessary for example,  the case of my husband, who has a Masters in Catholic Theology from Heythrop, although he did receive some personal instruction and it was ensured that he had read and understood the Catechism. In any event RCIA was not really meant for converts from other Christian denominations. It was designed for those who have not already been baptised or had any prior Christian formation. As for six years in seminary, again more imaginings. Each candidate is different, but obviously Anglican priests already have considerable knowledge, formation and experience and thus six years is not the norm, the average seems to be about 2-3 years. Anglican priest converts are not starting at the same position as say a young man of 21.

Stanford concludes that the Ordinariate was “a takeover not a merger”. Given that the Ordinariate was established as a direct result of supplication by various groups within the Anglican Church to the Vatican to create a structure that would make it possible for many of them to come home, I can hardly see how this could be likened to an aggressive takeover. Moreover no-one is compelled to join the Ordinariate, it is a benign invitation, not a legally binding order.

“When it was first announced, Nichols assured me in an interview that the biggest take-up was likely to be among unhappy Anglicans in the US and Australia, yet here we are in London.”

This may well prove to be the case, the Ordinariate may have begun in London, but we don’t yet know what the uptake is likely to be in Australia or the US, demographically speaking it is more than likely that these countries will have more members than in the UK. Does it matter whether they do or they don’t? It’s interesting that Stanford uses the word “assured”. Clearly he is frightened by the Ordinariate and sees it as something of a threat. Dare I suggest that he is terrified of an influx of  hordes of traditional-minded  properly -catechised Catholics undermining a liberal agenda?

The only puzzling thing about yesterday is why a Catholic would not wish to whole-heartedly welcome home his brethren in Christ and to lend his support to the extension of the Catholic Church in the UK.

12 thoughts on “Unpicking Stanford

  1. Sadly I would expect no different from Mr Stanford. I never
    fail to be amazed, distressed and appalled by the arrogance of
    Catholics who think they know better than the Magisterium. The
    reality is that Mr Stanford (and others) are indeed ‘terrified of
    an influx of hoards of traditionally minded properly-catechised
    Catholics’. The experience of Fr Dwight Longenecker whilst living
    in the UK supports this conclusion.

  2. Oh, and very many congratulations to Frs Newton, Burnham
    and Broadhurst, their wives and families, and all who have helped
    to bring them to this momentous day. Ad multos annos!

  3. With you all the way. I find it difficult to believe that
    Mr Stanford actually bothered to turn up at the unforgettably
    beautiful and joyous Mass that I was privileged to attend
    yesterday. Esprcially when I read something as bizarre as this:
    ‘Confronted by the heightened expectations, Archbishop Vincent
    Nichols, leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, did
    his best to inject a certain dignity and calm into proceedings.’
    Anyone else detect signs of a riot in the making? As for the
    editorial, I’m just curious who wrote it. Peter Stanford? Polly
    Toynbee of the National Secular Society? Seumas Milne of the
    Communist Party of Britain? Hard to tell. If women had boycotted
    this supposed feast of misogyny there would have been no difficulty
    in finding a seat. But like every fanatic the writer cannot
    conceive of anyone holding a different view from him/herself unless
    actuated by the worst of motives.

  4. The Catholic Herald was so awful under Stanford’s
    editorship I stopped taking it. It is now a serious newspaper
    again, which is more than can be said for either the Guardian or
    Observer. And why does the BBC keep wheeling him out as a serious
    Catholic commentator? Ask a silly question…

    1. Completely agree. For the same reason, I also stopped
      taking it for some years, then, after reading a few copies given to
      me second hand by a friend, I came to an agreement with her because
      I cannot afford newspaper subs. She buys it,reads it, passes it on
      to me, and I drop a small offering into St.Anthony’s Poor
      box.

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