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Storm in a Chalice

2011 July 8
by Gordon Reid

The Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament used to be a quiet, pious little society for Anglo-Catholics. Its aims were (and are) to promote devotion to the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar in the Anglican Communion. To this end, it made small grants to parishes all over the world to help them buy vestments, chalices, ciboria,  monstrances etc.

The peace and quiet of the CBS has recently been rudely shattered. The Trustees voted to give one million pounds to the new RC body called the Ordinariate. This represents more than half the funds of CBS, and was done stealthily by five of the six trustees who had left the Church of England and become Roman Catholics and who changed the constitution to allow RCs to be members.

The membership of CBS was never consulted; in fact, meetings were cancelled so that they might not be consulted.

I’m glad to say that a veritable fire-storm has broken out in England. Large numbers of members have written to the Charities Commission, who regulate and investigate any illegal or dubious goings-on by trustees of charities. Similar letters are speeding their way to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the (RC) Archbishop of Westminster, the RC Bishop who is head of the new ordinariate, and even to members of Parliament. Various newspapers have taken up the scent (of the sewer, not the cologne!) and are homing in on the individuals who have perpetrated this underhand trick.

My own bet is that the normal RC Church will be so embarrassed by these deceitful Anglicans-turned-Roman, that they will pressurize them to return the money. If not, the CBS membership will certainly take the matter to the courts. Little old ladies who have given their widows’ mites so that Kenyans priests could have chalices are not going to watch meekly as the money goes to pay ex-Anglican priests on Anglican pensions – not to mention the ones with wives (part of their Anglican patrimony!) who earn considerably more than their husbands.

45 Responses leave one →
  1. July 8, 2011

    What terrible business! Well said, Father.

  2. Peter Bolton permalink
    July 8, 2011

    I agree with most of what you say, Father but I do have to correct one detail: They are not all on CofE pensions nor do they all have working wives. In my own parish the Ordinariate priest has a young family and a wife who is only able to work when family commitments permit.

    Part of the sadness of the situation is that priests like him were allowed to make drastic changes in their lives with no real security.

    I weep for the CBS but I weep too for these folk who have been taken down the proverbial Swanee.

  3. Jim Hicks permalink
    July 8, 2011

    What a stunt to pull. That action will need to be reversed.

  4. Father Andrew Crosbie permalink
    July 8, 2011

    It would have been reasonable to have held a general meeting of the membership and to have divided the asstes of the charity so that those leaving for Rome could have taken an amount of cash reflecting their percentage of the membership with them. What has happened is dishonest and unacceptable.

  5. Ethan Alexander Jewett permalink
    July 8, 2011

    That’s just ghastly! What an underhanded move.

  6. John Ridgeway-Wood permalink
    July 8, 2011

    Cash for Conversions!!!

    • Peter Bolton permalink
      July 8, 2011

      Is that a daytime TV programme, John?

    • David permalink
      October 29, 2012

      A silly comment from someone who isnt even a member of the CofE now ….

  7. Canon Dirk van Leeuwen permalink
    July 8, 2011

    Bravo!

  8. Chris Bates permalink
    July 8, 2011

    And who would have thought Simony is dead?

  9. Charles permalink
    July 8, 2011

    This is a matter soley for the Ordinariate. and th CBS. There is no “RC Bishop as head of the new ordinariate”. Bishop Alan Hopes (former Anglican Vicar of some years ago) is the English and Welsh Bishops’ delegate to the ordinariate. Monsignor Keith Newton (former Anglican Bishop of Richborough) is the Ordinary but not Bishop . An Ordinary does not have to be a Bishop.

    No trustee of the CBS who has become a catholic priest will benefit from these funds.

    • Father Andrew Crosbie permalink
      July 9, 2011

      Not accurate. Alan Hopes is in charge of the Ordinariate for the time being. Keith Newton is not. This has been made very clear several times in public statements. Newton isnt even capable of selecting those who get to join the Ordinariate. Chris Pearson, Keith Newton and the others will not benefit from funds ? Exactly how do you get to that point ?

      • Charles permalink
        July 9, 2011

        I disagree. Bishop Alan Hopes is the Episcopal Delegate and he makes clear to the Editor of the Tablet in his letter dated 15th April 2011: -

        “The establishment of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham and the implementation of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus is the responsibility of the Personal Ordinary, Mgr Keith Newton, working in collaboration with the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.”

        Monsignor Newton as the Ordinary is a member of the Bishop’s conference of England and Wales with the status of a Bishop Emiritus.

        I have not named names of the trustees in my post but you have. My point comes from the Catholic Herald on line. It is a very fairand good article.

        Your posts in various blogs have always been very informative. I do hope this helps

        • Father Andrew Crosbie permalink
          July 10, 2011

          Whilst you point out what Hopes is saying you ignore the fact that Newton cannot ordain anyone and so far he has relied on the agreement of Hopes or Tartaglia in this matter. In fact there is written evidence that it is Hopes and Tartaglia who are deciding who can join the Ordinariate. Until the so called gift of £1 million from CBS Newton was entirely reliant on Hopes and the RC bishops for money, even to the extent that they are paying the rent on the house, somewhat amusingly to the Church of England. The 800 lay folk are not giving enough to meet even the expenses of the Ordinary. You ignored my main question to you. Let me repeat. Exactly how do you get to the point that , Newton, Pearson and the others will not benefit from this money ?

          • Charles permalink
            July 10, 2011

            Bishop Alan Hope’s letter is an undeniable statement of fact. The good Bishop has a hefty work load as Auxiliary Bishop in Westminster with responsibility for West London Deaneries, Etnic Chaplainces to name but a few. Westminster is currently 2 Auxiliaries short at the moment. It is correct that Monsignor Newton cannot ordain priests. Only Bishops can do that. The same principle applies to Abbots (unless he is a Bishop as well). They will certainly not be ordained without his recommendation. He is not a Bishop!

            Bishop Tartaglia of Paisley Diocese is hardly ever mentioned because the numbers in Scotland are so small. Deacon Len Black (about to be ordained priest later this month) and twelve lay people in Inverness and a sprinkling of others throughout the whole of Scotland. The Scottish Episcopalians are a different culture from the Anglican church in England. You will know this better than me. I am an RC from Glasgow living in London for over 25 years.

            Monsignor Newton and his governing council are clearly organising the Ordinariate. The Ordinariate Web Site spells that out.

            As for the the CBS money. The Confraternity has taken advice from leading Counsel (legal advice). Again the article in the Catholic Herald has said that no trustee can benefit from the funds. You have mentioned Monsignor Newton. I do not see his name on the list of trustees for the Confraternity. In my original post I did say that the matter should be left between the ordinariate and the CBS. Too many people are jumping to conclusions based on hearsay. Let there be Christian Charity.

          • Little Black Sambo permalink
            July 11, 2011

            “Bishop Alan Hope’s letter is an undeniable statement of fact.”
            Saying that doesn’t make it so.

  10. Fr James Hodson permalink
    July 9, 2011

    What a sad thing to have done. But I’m seldom suprised by what some may think acceptable when stiff in the “full flush”of conversion.

  11. Fr Dougal permalink
    July 9, 2011

    Well put! This piece of chicanery will rebound badly – but no surprise given the duplicity of Burnham, Newton and Broadhurst before the ordinariate was erected. No such nonsense in Scotland where the flying Bishops never operated.

    • Little Black Sambo permalink
      July 12, 2011

      “No such nonsense in Scotland where the flying Bishops never operated. Well, that’s a novel idea! In England there was at least some resistance to the destruction of Catholicism in the C of E, and that was helped enormously by the Act of Synod and the flying bishops. It has fallen apart now, we hope not for good, but it was effective while it lasted. Compare the pathetic recent history of the Episcopal Church which we used to admire so much?

  12. Rachel permalink
    July 9, 2011

    I do love how the very few priests / bishops etc. who have converted have done so towards the end of their Anglican careers instead of when women priests came in (i.e. at the start of their careers). We have had the benefit of their ministry….which in some cases I’m sure is excellent, wives have been married and pensions earned. And, now they can be RC without the poverty, AND have all the nice vestments and music (at least that was the original plan!) Perfect what more could a bloke want!

    • July 9, 2011

      Rachel, There is some truth in what you say, but they will certainly not get nice music and vestments in the RC church. More like nuns on guitars and childish choruses.

      • Simmary permalink
        July 9, 2011

        Fr Reid, you seem to have had some bad experience! (Roman) Catholic choirs vary as much as C of E choirs do. I really think most work hard to do the best they can with music that is suitable for the priest and congregation. You cannot expect universal excellence but need not anticipate widespread triteness.

        My own parish 10 months ago said goodbye to a “middle of the road” rather colourless priest with whom we sang good music, mostly modern and scripturally sound from differing traditions. He was replaced by an ultra-retro liturgist who prefers all things Tridentine and splendiferous. He seems to have brought his own fiddleback brocaded vestments, his albs with 3′ of lace, assorted birettas – the lot. He immediately introduced Latin Masses as an available alternative to the English Ordinary Form that we have used for the past 40 years. He also asked that the choir sing the Missa de Angelis (the dullest, most hackneyed) at least once a month, but as the organist didn’t feel competent to handle this and no one in the choir knew it, he has dropped his request for the moment. Far better to sing something well and with understanding than to attempt something totally unfamiliar without adequate preparation.

      • Antony permalink
        July 9, 2011

        Come on….how sad it is to see how disillusionised ans sad you all are how are clinging to your protestant heritage! After all I had a hope that you were a little bit Catholic and not just ritualists….”father”…?!

  13. Martin Robson permalink
    July 9, 2011

    Thank you, Fr Reid, for bringing this to our attention. The blessed sacrament is one of the places where most of us would hope narrow denominationalism would be wholly (holy) absent. There are few moments when the phrase “back to basics” would naturally come to my lips, but this is one. As you put it: to promote devotion to the blessed sacrament within the anglican comunion.

  14. Simmary permalink
    July 9, 2011

    I cannot understand how the CBS Trustees could do this with a good conscience. I hope this distressing matter is cleared up soon.

    God will not abandon those who act from a straightforward desire to do his will, and “conversion” is hard. It needs great trust.

  15. Elizabeth permalink
    July 9, 2011

    I am absolutely appalled at this course of action by the Trustees.

    As the money was given for the purpose of promoting devotion to the MBS within the Anglican Communion, then the money should stay wholly within the Anglican Communion, not be “given” away to any other denomination without the approval of the majority of the members of the Society after due consultation and a properly – and legally – set up ballot.

    To do otherwise is morally reprehensible and utterly culpable.

  16. David O'Rourke permalink
    July 9, 2011

    Simmery, you sound quite bessed to have gotten a priest who is bringing back such items of beauty.

    • Simmary permalink
      July 10, 2011

      Alas, David, the introduction of an alien “style” (which in the eyes of some in this parish resembles a costume drama and is a source of quiet mirth to many) has served to divide the parish. In the important aspect of our worship we have been polarised in a way that we were not previously. This is a cause of sorrow to the 96% majority who attend the OF (English) Masses. (3 persons out of a Mass count of 89 attend the EF Mass).

      There is, of course, much more to a parish priest’s role than presiding at the Eucharist. Our “new” man is thoughtful and conscientious in his care for the sick and bereaved, and we are all properly grateful for that. He causes puzzlement with some of his sermon teaching and enthusiasm for extraneous devotions, and his “St Mary’s – c’est Moi” approach to local leadership undervalues congregational gifts, including those of the deacon.

      Knowing how demoralising a serious divergence of views can be in a parish, especially in the C of E where there is often a strong locally born base, I do pray that the developing separation(s) will be amicable and creative. And I pray very hard for the pain of a couple of Anglican clerics in my area whose hearts must be torn by the Ordinariate option but whose convictions and current responsibilities do not lead them to participate, but to continue to serve where they are at present. God be with them in blessing.

      And also with you, David!

  17. David O'Rourke permalink
    July 9, 2011

    @Chris Bates – Whatever one may think of these events, they do not seem to constitute simony which has a fairly precise definition.

    • Chris Bates permalink
      July 25, 2011

      @David O”Rourke: I stand corrected. Please forgive my my flase understanding.

  18. David O'Rourke permalink
    July 9, 2011

    Can any give an estimate of what percentage of CBS members went over to the Odinariate? How may priest members?

  19. Fr Martin Lawrence permalink
    July 9, 2011

    Hi, Fr Gordon. Hope you’re well. Having been a trustee of various charities, I would have thought that, whatever the theological and moral aspects of this are, the payment to a body outside the Anglican Communion would be illegal, and the Trustees who authorised it personally liable for returning it, if necessary at their own expense. The terms of the charitable trust deed can not have been changed without the approval of the Charities Commission, which would only approve a change which did not violate the intention of the original deed. In short, if what you say is a fair summation of the situation, I can’t quite see how the Trustees could possibly get away with this.
    Best wishes,
    Martin

  20. Adrian permalink
    July 11, 2011

    This is a bad business and, to be quite honest, I don’t envisage it ending well. For most of its history CBS has been an exclusively Anglican organisation and the rule change to make it anything else only took place in April last year. I know so because I was denied membership of CBS and even turned away from one of its meetings in my pre-Anglican days. Giving a grant amounting to half its assets to the Ordinariate is surely an ill-judged move which will upset many of the grass roots membership – Anglicans who believed the Confraternity’s money would be used in the furtherance of Anglican objectives. The fact that five of its six trustees are now members of the Ordinariate should set alarm bells ringing if nothing else.

    • July 11, 2011

      Dear Adrian,
      I’m afraid you are right. But, to look on the bright side, this demonstrates that the clear-out into the Ordinariate will have the result of leaving societies like CBS run by and for Anglicans of goodwill and with that tolerance which is the most attractive aspect of our branch of the Catholic Church. The same may be said of the whole C of E once the Romanists have quit. And think of the lovely Anglo-Catholic parishes which will now be open for up-and-coming young priests who are unashamedly Anglican and Catholic!

      • Little Black Sambo permalink
        July 12, 2011

        “…open for up-and-coming young priests who are unashamedly Anglican and Catholic…
        Always supposing that the present management of the C of E can be compelled to leave any space at all for unashamed Anglicanism and Catholicism, which at present they show no willingness to do. If the episcopate is wholly subverted what will the Catholics be able to do? There is a big struggle ahead.

        • Robert Stevens permalink
          July 25, 2011

          I’m not sure what they’d object to most; any hint of real Anglicanism, or any true Catholicity.

      • Antony permalink
        July 12, 2011

        Dear Fr Reid,

        Where do you see these “up-and-coming young priests who are unashamedly Anglican and Catholic”? As far as I know both St Stephen’s House and (even more so) Mirfield have become affirming “catholic” with just a very very few male ordinands being traditional catholics, and with a large majority of liberal students and an increasing number of women in training.

        You seem to live in a fairyland, and I guess the “good life” in the US have had a bad effect on your judgement!!?

        Face it – the fight for “catholicism” in the CofE is lost and the future is a Scandinavian secularism!!

        • Little Black Sambo permalink
          July 12, 2011

          I don’t think you can be quite right about St Stephen’s House.

          • Antony permalink
            July 13, 2011

            Yes, I’m afraid I am – maybe there are a handful who are truly catholic and orthodox there!

          • Antony permalink
            July 13, 2011

            By that I meant a hundful that are catholic, orthodox and also “Anglican” (there are just as many that already are contemplating to go Ordinariate) and Mirfield is totally lost!! So where does Fr Reid find all these young priests??? The very sad thing is that a lot of these parish churches will be filled by affcath ritualist who will play along with a more traditional PCC and slowly changing the ethos of the parish, which has been the trend for the last twenty years!

            I have had a check up and it appears the Fr Reid trained at Cuddleston, which was the first college to become heretic, not very long after he was ordained (and it was never really a proper Anglo-Catholic college in the first place!)

        • Bromartin permalink
          July 24, 2011

          The Confraternity, along with the other Anglo-Catholic devotional societies (SoM, SKCM, Guild of All Souls, etc.) have always been marginalized within Angicanism, because of their strict rules of life, and of reparation. It’s no great surprise that the English board was dominated by Ordinariate bound clergy.

          As a life member (perhaps no more!) of the CBS in the US, I was rather shocked, when, going on two years ago now, Dr. Schori became SO CONCERNED about its leadership, that she made the case that Bishop Keith Ackerman should be relieved from his post of Secretary General, after many years. As far as I know, the membership was first informed of this in a regretful resignation statement from the Bishop.

          O well, we’re very fortunate to have the likes of “Her Grace” looking out for our welfare. Maybe she’s a closet CBS enthusiast after all.

  21. Antony permalink
    July 13, 2011

    …”a handful”… ;)

    • ambly permalink
      July 13, 2011

      Is Torquemada a hero of yours?

      • Little Black Sambo permalink
        July 14, 2011

        Is that the man who used to set crossword puzzles?

        • Joe permalink
          August 25, 2011

          Can’t be that one. Crossword setters are scrupulous fact-checkers.

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