Reflecting on the RC Document via Tobias Hallar and John Bellairs

Fr. Br. Tobias, esteemed member of the clergy, has written a fine essay on the matter of on the recent pronouncement of the Roman Catholic Church’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Go read it.

The Roman Catholic document is not new news, it is continuation of the same old news of what it looks like when one church claims to be, to the exclusion of everyone else, the TRUE CHURCH.

Today, in the midst of a heart-straining morning getting a new Passport (on which I will reflect later,) I happened to pick up a slim volume of inspired foolishness titled, "St. Fidgeta and other Parodies" by John Bellair. The "Question Box Moderator," using something of the same style of questions and answers used by Tobias, received the following and answered:

"Q. If an Anglican priest converts to Catholicism, are all the confessions he heard before his conversion invalid?

A. They are invalid even if he doesn't convert. The poor Anglican sinner that this "priest" has absolved is, sadly enough, like a man who thinks he has filed a book with enough green stamps for an Eternal Reward. When, on the Last Day, he comes to the Redemption Center, God looks at the book and hands it back, saying with a frown, "These are not my stamps. Go somewhere else." Still clutching his worthless script, the bilked penitent falls headlong down the crystal stairs, bumping his head all the way to the bottom."

Well there it is. Tobias said of the Anglican understanding of the notion of the Catholic Church,

"The Anglican position can be well summed up by a few words from Richard Hooker, not unlike the Porto Alegre definition: “As the main body of the sea being one, yet within divers precincts hath divers names; so the Catholic Church is in like sort divided into a number of distinct Societies, every of which is termed a Church within itself.” (Laws III.1.14)

These positions are obviously not congruent with the Roman Catholic position, and none of these positions is likely to change in the foreseeable future."

John Bellair gives us fair warning... either the Roman position is wrong, or the poor Anglican receiving "sacraments" from an Anglican Priest "falls headlong down the crystal stairs, bumping his head all the way to the bottom." This little book was written just before Vatican II and perhaps is to be faulted in its humor for being too stringent. Even "The Left Hand of God," supposed that the recipient of the sacrament is somehow covered when the matter of the inadequacy of the dispenser is unknown. Of course, going to an Anglican priest on purpose puts both priest and sinner in the same place.

The understanding that Anglican priests are deficent or not real is not then a matter about Anglican Orders, but about Anglican integrity. The whole Anglican "thing" becomes a sham and all its members fall together, "bumping heads all the way to the bottom."

That's why the document is business as usual, and business is bad.

"St. Fidgeta," patron of fidgeting children, is wonderfully written of in "St. Fidgeta and other Parodies." Too bad the book is out of print. I got mine at A Big Jar Bookstore in Philadelphia. As is appropriate, the fly lief suggets that the book was stolen from the public library. That doesn't bother me too much. I forever hope that people will take copies of the Book of Common Prayer home with them. We ought to take the slogan, "Steal this Book" and stamp in on every bible and prayer book in church. Maybe someone will take us up on the offer.

If the Rector of all Lewes reads this post he knows what his present is for Sunday next, on which occasion he has to preach, we hope, to a not to fidgety congregation.


  1. i'm still a little confused by why this matters so much to you. we do not recognize the ordination of Methodist or Reformed clergy for the same kinds of reasons, and that doesn't mean we lack charity, or think they are all going to hell.

    the RC position on Anglican orders is that we share a certain resemblance, but that we do not have valid orders, and therefore, an Anglican priest is just like an Anglican lay person.

    you want this to be about anglicans, despite the document saying nothing about us, and it sounds like what is really exercising you is not its implied criticism of anglicanism, but rather, something about your ordination.

    after all, confession to a lay person--even for Roman Catholics!--is a good thing; they do not think there is anything wrong with it, and while it isn't "sacramental confession", that's of no importance wrt Anglicans, since RC doctrine is perfectly clear that the forgiveness of sins is not dependent upon sacramental confession alone.

    so what does it matter, what they think of us? it's not as vicious as you want to make it out to be; it's really quite similar to how we think of the Reformed.

  2. Thanks for the kind words, Mark. As a follow-up I've just posted another essay that seeks to show how the recent RC document gives us more to do than just bemoan our "unchurchiness." I think it is directly related to the move for an Anglican Covenant. What has this to do with us?

  3. Tobias is probably right [he always seems to be -- except about which way the president of the Eucharistic assembly should face ;=)] -- goodness knows that The Rat interfered at Plano to support Episcopal dissidents when he was head of the Holy Office!

    Re: Bellairs -- another of my favorite things in St Fidgita is the picture of the synod with the bishops choking each other with their stoles & hitting each other with their crosiers -- displays the inward & spiritual grace as an outward & visible sign!


OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.