NEWS:  January 26, 2011

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Bird’s Eye View of the News

Atila Sinke Guimarães

ANGLICAN CONVERSIONS: A CLOUD OF DUST & A RAY OF LIGHT - British news reports tell us that three Anglican bishops converted to the Catholic Church on New Year’s Day at Westminster Cathedral. They were ordained Catholic deacons on January 13, and then were ordained priests on January 15. They are Keith Newton (ex-bishop of Richborough), Andrew Burnham (ex-bishop of Ebbsfleet), and John Broadhurst (ex-bishop of Fulham).

In the last years they have been acting as “flying bishops,” which in Anglican jargon means bishops who administrate the many Anglican parishes that did not accept the ordination of women and broke away from their local bishops. Along with the conversion of these three men, five women - the wives of two of them plus three nuns - also converted.

Anglicans become Catholics at Westminster

The three Anglican men, two of their wives and three nuns received as Catholics on January 1
Here are the main excerpts of news reports that I read on the Internet while searching for details about what happened and how it happened:

1. The first of the converts, including three former Anglican bishops, two of their wives, and three former Anglican nuns, were applauded after they received Holy Communion before a packed congregation at Westminster Cathedral at New Years Day Mass. It was not the first time Anglican clergy had received Holy Communion in the Catholic church, but the occasion was unusual because all three bishops officially resigned from their duties with the Anglican church yesterday. It is expected the former Anglican bishops will be ordained to the Catholic diaconate and priesthood before Lent. Daily Mail Reporter, January 1, 2011.

2. Three ex-Church of England bishops have been ordained as Roman Catholic priests at Westminster Cathedral, converting after a dispute over the ordination of women. Keith Newton, Andrew Burnham and John Broadhurst have joined a new special section of the Catholic Church called the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, which will be headed by Newton. BBC - Bloomberg.com, January 15. 2011.

3. Archbishop Vincent Nichols, leader of Catholics in England and Wales, carried out the ordination ceremony. Forum Nation States, January 15, 2011.

4. I commend the three Anglican bishops who converted to Catholicism on Saturday. Their act marks the historical beginning of what promises to be a mass exodus of Anglicans over to the Catholic Church. The movement is being spurred on by the growing acceptance within the Anglican communion of female bishops, practicing homosexual clergy, and disagreements over the primacy of Sacred Scripture within the Church. The Guardian - Freeport News, January 19, 2011.


First the Anglican bishops were ordained deacons

On January 13 they were ordained deacons
These media reports are confusing and not always consistent regarding those ceremonies. The Tablet (January 8, 2011, p. 31) puts some order to these fragmentary data and gives us a few more details about what took place. I list them:
  • The eight mentioned persons actually “were received” into the Catholic Church on New Year’s Day;

  • The event took place during a Mass celebrated by Bishop Alan Hopes, the delegate of the Catholic Conference of Bishops of England and Wales for the implementation of the Ordinariate, the name given by Anglicanorum coetibus to the Catholic organ that will host converted Anglicans;

  • The Mass was said at 12:30 p.m. without previous warning to keep it a “low key ceremony not to offend the Church of England;”

  • On January 13 the three men were ordained as deacons;

  • On January 15 they were ordained as priests.
It seems that most of the news (in blue) indiscriminately jumbled together the “reception” of these eight Anglicans into the Catholic Church, the ordination of the three men to the diaconate and their ordination to the priesthood, raising a cloud of dust over the three events.

Doubts not clarified

After reading the description in The Tablet, what still needs to be clarified is how the first event, the “reception” of the eight Anglicans in the Church took place. Either because of the general ignorance of these journalists about Catholic ceremonies or because of data omitted on purpose to not harm ecumenism with the Anglicans, none of the above sources explains exactly what happened.

For any conversion to Catholicism, the first requirement is to profess the Catholic Faith in its integrity. In the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus (I §5), Benedict XVI establishes that the expression of the Catholic Faith to be accepted by those who convert from Anglicanism is the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1).

It is not specified, however, how this acceptation should be made. I believe that the only serious way to duly perform a conversion is to summarize the principal Catholic dogmas to be accepted, have the convert make a public profession of them and then sign a prepared document declaring himself to be in full agreement with them.

Once Anglican bishops, now Catholic priests

They were ordained priests on January 15
In addition, the traditional conditions regarding the conversion of Anglicans, as far as I know, are regulated by the Decree of the Holy Office of March 10, 1824. This decree considered the baptism of Anglicans valid – some exceptions were mentioned and for them a secret baptism was required. Nonetheless, a formal abjuration of the professed errors and an absolution of censures were demanded (Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique, Vacant-Mangenot vol II, col. 339).

So, for the Anglican conversions that took place early this month in Westminster Cathedral, as well as for all the conversions that will come in their wake, the following three elements are indispensable:
  • Abjuration of the heresies and errors professed by the Anglican sect;

  • Formal profession of the Catholic Faith;

  • Absolution by the competent Catholic authority of all the doctrinal, moral and canonical censures under which the converted member of Anglicanism fell.
I hope these requirements were fulfilled and we are dealing with true conversions to the Catholic Faith. If this is the case, it is interesting to observe that when heretics look to our ecclesiastical structure – which is unfortunately completely infiltrated by Progressivism – they still see the physiognomy of Holy Mother Church, even when she is in a state of passion like that which Our Lord Jesus Christ suffered.

A ray of light

Two facts regarding these conversions are worthy of all our consideration and attention. First, we must remember that the Conciliar Church as well as the Anglican sect made every possible effort and employed all possible delays to prevent and discourage the conversion of these Anglicans. For more than a decade they have been knocking at the door of the Holy See, always getting denials of their requests. The Vatican finally agreed to receive them probably to prevent a greater problem, such as their adhesion en masse to some traditionalist branch of Catholicism… So, these converts are fighting and partially winning the battle against the same forces that we counter-revolutionary Catholics are facing.

Second, these conversions may start a snowball process that grows indefinitely, saving whatever can be saved from the putrid Anglicanism. Even progressivist sources already admit that about 50 parishes - priests with their entire congregations - are expected to enter the Catholic Church as soon as permitted.

This perspective makes me wonder whether we are witnessing the beginning of that conversion of England predicted by a prophecy attributed to St. Dominic Savio. It allegedly associates this conversion with the onslaught of God’s celestial army to chastise this revolutionary world.
1. Even though I am convinced that the Catechism of the Catholic Church is not a full expression of the Catholic Faith but only of Vatican II’s doctrine, here I suppose it as correct for the sake of the argument.

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