Sometimes one must walk away even if it seems unjust to have to leave

The situation at St. Mary of the Angels in Los Angeles has been written up on David Virtue’s site in gory detail.  I can’t bear to read it carefully.   If you would like to read it, go to Fr. Stephen Smut’s site here.

It makes me think of our former cathedral parish in Victoria, B.C.  When conflict developed over entering the Ordinariate with the rector of the cathedral, then Bishop Peter Wilkinson and four clergy left the building behind though they did arrange to take some vestments and other articles so they could  do “church in a box” for a while.  I am glad they did not stick around and try to fight for their “rights” to the property.  I am glad they surrendered all to lead us into the Catholic Church.  I am grateful for their example.

Here in Ottawa, we had a battle for our property too, in one of the most awful meetings I have ever attended.  I had to fortify for it with a full nine day novena ahead of time so I would feel confident I could bear the hostility and bitterness that was on display from previously nice people.

In our case, we had well over the super-majority needed to keep our building that perhaps they did not have in Victoria.  

In retrospect, though it may have been hard for Wilkinson to walk away from the building and his cathedral chair, the whole works, I thank God that he quietly did so.  What an example of holy self-offering he has been through out this process.

Which is not to say I understand what is going on in Los Angeles.  It just seems there is a lot more money at stake and a much, much more valuable piece of real estate.   It is sad the Patrimony of the Primate instituted by Archbishop Hepworth to protect those wishing to enter the ordinariates was obliterated and the Anglican Church in American is trying to lay claim to the property and the priest in question.   

Sometimes when we encounter injustice, the right thing to do is to turn the other cheek.  Sometimes the right thing to do is walk away.  Sometimes the right thing to do is stand up for your rights.   I do not know the cast of characters in Los Angeles at all and therefore I cannot say what is right for them.  I am just glad our bishops led us into the Catholic Church without conditions.

 

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25 Responses to Sometimes one must walk away even if it seems unjust to have to leave

  1. Pingback: What’s Going on in Hollywood at St Mary of the Angels (ACA)? A Siege?! « Fr Stephen Smuts

  2. Andrew says:

    Yes, bishop Wilkinson did the right thing. I am reminded of Jesus saying that it is harder for the rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven than it is for the camel to pass through the eye of the needle. The same could be said of Anglicans entering the ordinariate!

    Bishop Hepworth did what he could to protect these people from the wolves currently in charge. It was not enough. Too little, too late. It was difficult to forsee the animosity and hostility this would bring out. They are determined no church will leave them with their buildings. In this way, the new TAC shows it is not so different from the episcopalians.

  3. Brian Taber says:

    I have been waiting for St. Mary of the Angels in Los Angeles to enter the Ordinariate so I could make my first pilgrimage with my family to an Anglican Catholic Mass. My prayers are with this situation. May God give them the graces they need. Los Angeles can benefit from an Ordinarate Church.

    • Rev22:17 says:

      Brian,

      I have been waiting for St. Mary of the Angels in Los Angeles to enter the Ordinariate so I could make my first pilgrimage with my family to an Anglican Catholic Mass.

      Don’t hold your breath. The legal issues surrounding the Parish of St. Mary of the Angels will take some time to untangle, and Msgr. Steenson has said, in essence, that the ordinariate will not receive that parish until those issues are resolved.

      But if you live in southern California, you won’t have to wait that long to “make [your] first pilgrimage with [your] family to an Anglican Catholic Mass.” The ordinariate’s current schedule of ordinations for this summer indicates that the ordinariate will have groups in San Diego and in Orange County as of 03 July 2012. The published schedule states that both groups will come into the full communion of the Catholic Church during the mass of Catholic ordination of their leader, Deacon Andrew Bartus, at the Mission San Juan Capistrano at 11:00 on that date.

      Norm.

  4. EPMS says:

    Former Bishops Wilkinson and Reid battled valiantly for a share of the assets of the ACCC. But they knew when to move on to more important issues. Nothing could be worth the unseemly display described on VOL.

  5. Rev22:17 says:

    Deborah,

    This whole situation is a royal mess. Ultimately, it comes down to a question of whether the parish canonically moved to the Patrimony of the Primate, under Bishop Moyer, or remains in the Diocese of the West, under Bishop Strawn. If the parish canonically moved to the Patrimony of the Primate, Bishop Strawn’s act removing the pastor was illicit and thus null and void, and those who changed the locks, etc., lacked authority to do so. If the parish remained in the Diocese of the West, Bishop Strawn’s act was licit and the pastor’s act was illicit. I’m not sure how the courts will sort this out or which side will prevail, but the situation has escalated to the threshold where those who seized control of the property for the losing side may well face criminal prosecution.

    Ultimately, Bishop Marsh’s decree stating that the Patrimony of the Primate ceased to exist upon erection of the ordinariate may well be what hangs the Anglican Church in America (ACA) on this one. I doubt that it’s an honest reading of the agreement establishing the Patrimony of the Primate, and there’s no doubt in any case that those who formed the Patrimony of the Primate understood that the Patrimony of the Primate would exist in some form until all of its parishes moved into the ordinariate. Thus, I don’t see how a court could construe Bishop Marsh’s decree as anything but evidence of a lack of “good faith” (in the legal sense of that term).

    I should also point out that there’s clear evidence of serious misinformation in Fr. Stephen’s article. The article indicated a mistaken belief among the parishonners that the parish’s income from rental of parish facilities would belong to the ordinariate rather than to the parish, and that some parishonners had withdrawn their consent to join the ordinariate for this reason. Factually, this simply is NOT true. Canonically, each Catholic parish is a separate “juridic person” (corporation) that owns and maintains its own property, including real estate, and receives all income from any rental thereof.

    Norm.

  6. Rev22:17 says:

    Deborah,

    Sorry for the second reply, but I meant to answer a couple additional points.

    You wrote: It makes me think of our former cathedral parish in Victoria, B.C. When conflict developed over entering the Ordinariate with the rector of the cathedral, then Bishop Peter Wilkinson and four clergy left the building behind though they did arrange to take some vestments and other articles so they could do “church in a box” for a while. I am glad they did not stick around and try to fight for their “rights” to the property. I am glad they surrendered all to lead us into the Catholic Church. I am grateful for their example.

    Here in Ottawa, we had a battle for our property too, in one of the most awful meetings I have ever attended. I had to fortify for it with a full nine day novena ahead of time so I would feel confident I could bear the hostility and bitterness that was on display from previously nice people.

    This obviously is why Cardinal Collins took the precaution of ensuring that a Catholic place of worship would be available for each community coming into the ordinariate, even if the community intended to bring its own facilities with it.

    But in any case, I’m also thinking of the photos of the funeral at your church a few weeks ago as a foreshadowing of what will be in the future. I realize the symbolic value of coming as a parish and thus bringing your church with you, but you may well have a different perspective when — and note that I say “when” rather than “if” — your congregation outgrows your present facility and has to move to one that is larger. Painful as it may have been to walk away in this manner, the congregation in Vancouver may well be better off without the constraint of facilities that will soon be too small.

    And yes, you need to anticipate that rapid growth will follow the Catholic ordination of your former and future clergy, as it will have three sources.

    >> 1. Undoubtedly many who came into the Catholic Church from the Anglican Communion in times past still yearn for the Angican form of liturgy within the Catholic Church, and thus will come, and will join the ordinariate, when they discover your communities.

    >> 2. There is likely to be a second wave, as in England, when those who elected not to be part of the first wave based on misgivings induced by the naysayers see your reconstituted communities and realize that the misgivings were baseless.

    >> 3. And there are also many Anglicans who have misgivings about the viability of the fledgeling “Continuing Anglican” bodies as well as misgivings about the recent direction of the respective provinces of the Anglican Communion, and were reluctant to abandon their patrimony to come into the Catholic Church. The ordinariate is precisely the alternative — a community rooted in a stable body that’s theologically orthodox and liturgically Anglican.

    Now is the time to prepare!

    *****

    Incidentally, did you notice the latest news from across the pond? Earlier today, Pope Benedict XVI appointed all three former retired Anglican bishops of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham (Fr. David Silk, Fr. Edwin Barnes, and Fr. Robert Mercer) as Chaplains of His Holiness, thus conferring upon them the title of Monsignor.

    Norm.

    • EPMS says:

      I am not sure how you draw a distinction between groups 2 and 3. People in the so-called “second wave” may have delayed for any number of reasons, including both the ones you mention, In any event, since the UK second wave was about a quarter the size of the first, no group in Canada will have to find new worship space following that pattern. Group 1 seems a more likely source of attendees.

      • Rev22:17 says:

        EPMS,

        You wrote: I am not sure how you draw a distinction between groups 2 and 3.

        The distinction was between those who have already left the Anglican Communion and are currently part of various”Continuing Anglican” bodies and those who remained in the Anglican Communion until now because whichever “Continuing Anglican” bodies that might have been accessible to them did not seem to be a viable option.

        You wrote: In any event, since the UK second wave was about a quarter the size of the first,…

        I’m not sure where you are getting this, but the web site of the Personal Ordinariate of Walsingham indicates about 50% more clergy and more than a doubling of the number of parishioners.

        Norm.

  7. colin kerr says:

    Good Christian witness. Thanks.

  8. Stephen says:

    I usually shy away from proof-quoting, but the example shown by your pastors really does seem to be a modern example of Christ’s commandment to walk two miles instead of one, to offer both cheeks when struck, to give both coat and cloak.

    May God reward them richly.

  9. EPMS says:

    Norm: An article dated May 2012 in the OOLW Portal Magazine gave the Ordinariate lay membership as “around 1200” which would represent about 20% growth from Easter 2011. Was there another article on the website which I missed? Clerical membership has gone much faster, as you indicate.

    • Rev22:17 says:

      EPMS,

      You asked: Norm: An article dated May 2012 in the OOLW Portal Magazine gave the Ordinariate lay membership as “around 1200″ which would represent about 20% growth from Easter 2011. Was there another article on the website which I missed? Clerical membership has gone much faster, as you indicate.

      I think that it depends how you count. The second wave was not moving through the formation process in lockstep toward reception during Holy Week like the groups of the first wave did. Rather, several of the exploratory groups were preparing for reception in May and June (perhaps concurrent with the Catholic ordination of their pastors, as is the case for at least a couple groups of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter), so their numbers were not officially members of the ordinariate as of the date of publication the May issue of Portal Magazine. Also, the pastors of the existing ordinariate groups can receive new members within their ordinariate communities at any time.

      Norm.

      • EPMS says:

        This doesn’t entirely answer my question, as you referred to figures available on the OLW website. I would like to look at them.

      • Rev22:17 says:

        EPMS,

        You wrote: This doesn’t entirely answer my question, as you referred to figures available on the OLW website. I would like to look at them.

        Unfortunately, I think that it was in a news item of a couple months ago. For some reason, the news button on that site seems to link to a page containing only a few most recent items.

        Norm.

  10. EPMS says:

    “Grown”, not “gone”.

    • EPMS says:

      Well, if it appeared a couple of months ago it must predate the news item in The Ordinariate Portal to which I referred. An article in the online Catholic Herald dated April 2012 gave the “second wave” figure as 250 at that time. The process of joining the Catholic church in the UK appears to be closely tied to the Rite of Election services in Lent. It seems very unlikely that 700-800 people would have been received since then, especially without any sort of press notice.

      • Rev22:17 says:

        EPMS,

        You wrote: Well, if it appeared a couple of months ago it must predate the news item in The Ordinariate Portal to which I referred. An article in the online Catholic Herald dated April 2012 gave the “second wave” figure as 250 at that time. The process of joining the Catholic church in the UK appears to be closely tied to the Rite of Election services in Lent. It seems very unlikely that 700-800 people would have been received since then, especially without any sort of press notice.

        Even if the figure so far is closer to the 250-300 range, I’ll take it.

        In any case, it’s quite clear that the number received this year is not exactly the end of the story. The general synod of the Church of England apparently is just now meeting, and there are now two major matters that are at the core of the divide — (1) ordination of women as bishops and associated accommodations for those who reject ordination of women (the proposed accommodations being deemed unsatisfactory) and (2) the latest rift over the Church of England’s official response to secular legislation to allow “marriages” in which both parties are of the same sex. The liberal wing is expected to carry at least the first of these issues, driving a very large number of conservatives to leave the Church of England.

        Norm.

  11. EPMS says:

    On another blog someone, perhaps “iohannes”, posted a link to a talk by Peter Kreeft on practices calculated to undermine the good estate of the Catholic Church. The second one mentioned was “Happy Talk”–ignoring real problems and issues in favor of spin and “analysis” based on wishful thinking. Pointing out that the Emperor has no clothes may earn one the label of caustic but I think that Happy Talk is far more deleterious.

    • Rev22:17 says:

      EPMS,

      On another blog someone, perhaps “iohannes”, posted a link to a talk by Peter Kreeft on practices calculated to undermine the good estate of the Catholic Church.

      Now that you mention it, I do recall reading an interview with Peter Kreeft. It’s certainly possible that he used the figure of a couple thousand, and that his figure was off.

      Norm.

  12. EPMS says:

    Peter Kreeft is an American professor of Philosophy and speaker on Apologetics. He would have no inside knowledge of (or more than casual interest in) OLW. That was not the point of the video, as I perhaps did not make clear.

    • Rev22:17 says:

      EPMS,

      You wrote: Peter Kreeft is an American professor of Philosophy and speaker on Apologetics. He would have no inside knowledge of (or more than casual interest in) OLW. That was not the point of the video, as I perhaps did not make clear.

      Yes, and notoriously conservative even though he teaches at a Jesuit university (Boston College) that’s notoriously liberal, and thus said to be one of the two major thorns in our archbishop’s miter.

      IIRC, Professor Kreeft also serves as a “consultor” of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In that capacity, he may know more about the ordinariates than you expect.

      Norm.

  13. EPMS says:

    If your last surmise is accurate, he could not have been the source of the misinformed comment that OofOLW membership had doubled since Easter 2011.

  14. Pingback: Sometimes one must walk away even if it seems unjust to have to leave | Catholic Canada

  15. CD Crawley says:

    Come into my parlor said the spider to the fly.

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