Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Bishop Andrew Burnham and Personal Apostolic Administrations.

Areas Fernando Rifan, Bishop of Campos, the worlds only 'old rite' Bishop in the RC Church.

Andrew Burnham, Bishop of Ebbsfleet.

The worlds only old rite Bishop being forced to concelebrate a 'new Mass'.
In 'New Directions' (the Forward In Faith Monthly), Bishop Andrew Burnham headlines this months issue by suggesting that we Anglo Catholics in the Church of England seek some sort of 'personal apostolic administration' within the Anglican Communion to retain our charism. He uses the personal apostolic administration (PAA) of Campos, Brazil, in his argument.
Let us go back to the end of the Second Vatican Council and see how all this started and , indeed, see how it has very little in common with us. It was commonly assumed, although us Vaticanistas have always known otherwise, that the Second Vatican Council banned the use of the Old Rite of Mass (often incorrectly called the Tridentine Rite, now commonly known as the 'extraordinary rite') and replaced it with the Novus Ordo, or the new Mass, in the Sacramentary which so many of us are familiar with. Cardinal Ottavianni and one or two others despaired and many of the faithful were unhappy. Indeed, so were many members of the heirarchy (see the letters between Evelyn Waugh and Cardinal Heenan to gauge the trepidation with which the changes were viewed) and Parish Priests. The only Bishop to actively disagree with Rome was Marcel Lefebvre, the Superior of the Holy Ghost Fathers. Soon, his order reformed leaving him high and dry. Quickly after, he was talked into training priests in the old rite as he always had, and he formed, with the Vaticans permission, the Society of Pius X (SSPX), to use this rite alone. He was summoned to the Vatican after a few years and told that he must accept the new Mass, indeed concelebrate it privately with the Pope and also accept the doctrinal changes wrought by VaticanII. He refused and later, in failing health, concecrated four bishops for his society without the approval of the Vatican. This put him and the four under a decree of excommunication which is possibly to be soon lifted.
Consecrating Bishops requires two Bishops and Lefebvre was able to recruit Antonio De Castro Meyer, Bishop of Campos to be co-consecrator. With him, came Fr Rifan as his chaplain. The SSPX and the Traditionalists from Campos formed an alliance from this time, both growing steadily. Campos retained a 'Diocese within a Diocese' for the schismatic traditionalists until 2000, when certain SSPX priests and the Campos clergy made a pilgrimage to Rome, who had made overtures to them , to ask for a solution for their uncanonical situation.
John Paul II assented and at the end of 2001 brought the Society of St John Mary Vianney (and a few SSPX priests) back into the see of Peter, as a Personal Apostolic Administration, the current Bishop, Rangel, died soon after and Rifan was appointed head, and consecrated Bishop, thus making him the only Bishop in the Roman Catholic Church Consecrated in the Old Rite after Vatican II. At this time, it also seems that the SSPX may itself split and half of their people and Bishops may rejoin Rome.
Bishop Rifan now heads his 'worldwide diocese' of Traditionalists and there are many other groups which have Canonical permission to use only the Extraordinary Rite.
What has this got to do with us? The aftermath of Vatican II and the subsequent evolution of the Mass, as well as the evolution of the groups who fought for the Old Mass was based on a great lack of clarity and understanding. The Old Rite was never abrogated, which we saw in the UK with the 'Agatha Christie' Indult, a permission for priests in this country to celebrate the Old Rite openly, on occasion. (It is said that the Pope was not going to sign the document until he saw Agatha Christies name on the list of petitioners). The college of Bishops, worldwide, had simply implemented Vatican II as they wished, that is, there was a MISTAKE, which the present Pope is trying to rectify.
Roman Ecclesiology is such that the mistake had, eventually to be cleared up, Roman politics, though, is such that it had to be done in a round about way, with dozens of exceptions and groups, gathered under the body called Ecclesia Dei, which administers to traditionalists.
Now, imagine if you will, that you are a traditional Roman Catholic in Manchester. There is one Mass a week which you can attend. Your Ordinary is deeply unsympathetic to your cause and you exist spiritually on the kindness of a handul of Priests who are likely to move at the whim of the Diocese. Now imagine you are in Cornwall, or Skye.....you may decide, when Bishop Rifan comes the the UK (once every 5 years), that everything is so splendid that you put yourself under his protection, in his Diocese....how does this work? How close to the Body of Christ does this make you feel? How does it affect your view of the Church when you know that you are in a tiny minority in your own church?
I would suggest that it creates an insular, closed society of traditionalists which does not reflect the Body as it has been given to us. Now we Anglican Traditionalists, well, some of us are evangelical, most are 'modern Catholic', some are Charismatic, some hold to the English Missal, some the BCP, some wear maniples, some come over all frustrated at those who do. The only unifying band we have is (our own version) of orthodoxy. Of a male Priesthood (not by choice, but by Divine command) who believe in doing things in such a way as to lead people to God in the way which we believe to be best. We have lost no great patrimony and the Anglican Communion is not going to turn around on the Women Priests issue. No future Canterbury will admit it was all a mistake, and then turn things around. The Campos administration came out of choice, choice between two valid forms of worship. Our situation is quite different.
We stand for something far more deep rooted than Orders of Mass, cut of vestments and for something which can not be boxed into a personal prelature or administered from arms length. We , indeed, stand for Truth and Christ, for His teachings and His values in the midst of confusion and distress. We may not feel that we stand in the middle of the Communion at the moment. We may feel sidelined and distressed ourselves, but I believe that any branding or Society we form must go no further away than we may ourselves seem from the centre now. I believe that we ARE the Church, and I believe, furthermore, that it is only be holding our ground and teaching the Faith that the rest of the Church will, eventually, start to learn from us again, as they have done in the past. It has been worse before.
We have nothing in common with RC traditionalists, for unless they are sedevaticanists or schismatics, they hold, have to hold, that both Masses are valid, both are equally efficent conduits of Grace. Bishop Rifan was, indeed, forced, against the promises made to him by the Pope, to concelebrate a new mass. 'Anglican Use' Roman Catholics in the USA are feeling short changed as they can send no more ordinands and the priests I know who have gone to Rome regret going (with the exception of one, whom Rome regrets coming!).
We are apt, us lot, to be against modernity. Well, lets make a stand against the dominant modern factor of our time, which is a careless, easy attitude. To walk out when things are not going our way. To say ' nothing to do with me, I'm off' is the new way, the new Mass of a secular society. Let's stay at the heart of the Church, through the prayers of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and stop saying 'have you seen what they are doing now', and start saying 'have you seen what we are capable of doing!'. Putting the walls around us is not the answer, we are all too different to get on together, and like the SSPX we will split and split again until we are small enough to neuter. The Church needs us, I believe, at her heart, let us not fail Her. We have something of great value which our Christian mission teaches us to share, not to hide away or to leave others without.