Saturday, August 19, 2017

A Brief Historical Detour

I've been reading Jungle of Stone: The Extraordinary Journey of John L. Stephens and Frederick Catherwood, and the Discovery of the Lost Civilization of the Maya. Stephens, an American, and Catherwood, an Englishman, traveled to Yucatan and Guatemala in the 1830s and 40s to explore and document the rediscovered Mayan ruins there.

In a minor footnote, Catherwood left his wife behind, and in a foreseeable development, his wife had an affair with his cousin, a member of the Caslon printing family. The result was a legal case that began in 1841, Catherwood v Caslon, in which Catherwood sued Caslon for adultery with Catherwood’s wife. Caslon’s attorneys argued, among other things, that Catherwood married his wife in Beirut in a ceremony conducted by an American Baptist missionary, not CofE clegy (Catherwood was a great traveler), and thus the marriage was invalid, although Catherwood’s attorneys argued it was done according to CofE rites.

The trial court awarded Catherwood damages. Caslon appealed, and several years later the judgment was reversed on the basis that a marriage outside the CofE was invalid. This set a legal precedent that apparently lasted some years.

I thought this would seem to go against received opinion that the Reform Act of 1832 awarded civil rights to non-Anglicans and thus led to the Oxford Movement 1833-41. It seems to me that the legal situation here indicates changes were much slower, and even if non-Anglicans could vote, their marriages don’t seem to have been valid before the English courts.

I referred this question to a well-informed visitor, who in turn referred the matter to an English barrister. That gentleman replied that after the Marriage Act 1753, only marriages celebrated before the clergy of the established church were valid (Quakers and Jews were specifically exempted from its provisions); it was not until the Marriage Act 1836‎ that Catholic and Dissenting clergymen were able to act as registrars. The particular circumstances of Catherwood v. Caslon would have been reversed by the Foreign Marriage Act 1892.

Further research by that gentleman brought to light that the Marriage Act 1753 came about because clandestine marriages were seen to be a problem in the mid-18th century, and presumably the requirement that banns be published as part of solemnization via the Church of England would solve it. One thing that puzzles me mildly is that, as a former literary scholar, I'm not aware of any English novels in the major canon that deal with any circumstances that might have arisen from this requirement, although clearly there was a juicy legal case that did arise from it.

Is anyone aware of any novels that cover circumstances arising from a marriage solemnized outside the Church of England between 1753 and 1892 -- coincidentally, the golden age of the English novel?

Interestingly, our diocesan Catholic parish does publish banns. In fact, multiple banns seem to be published weekly. No banns were published in our former diocesan parish, possibly because no marriages took place there, which wouldn't be a surprise. In my 30 years as an Episcopalian, I saw banns published only once, and it was clearly meant as a quaint archaism.

Friday, August 18, 2017

More On The Protestant Job Market

My regular correspondent sent me a link to a piece in the well-respected UK Catholic Herald entitled "Why Anglo-Catholics don’t join the Ordinariate":
[D]espite the best efforts of Pope Benedict, it is an open secret that the Catholic hierarchy in England and Wales has never been keen on the Ordinariate. It has become something of a disfavoured ghetto. Even if a priest or parish has a dubious relationship with the CofE hierarchy, crossing the Tiber is unlikely to improve matters.
The author suggests that the Church of England has been somewhat more flexible in allowing variations in practice among high- and low-church parishes as well and notes that Anglo-Papalist parishes use the full OF Roman rite, as my correspondent has frequently pointed out. My correspondent also says,
Of course the majority of those ordained in the OOLW have no connection with an Ordinariate group, so perhaps they escape the stigma while cutting the preparation time.
But regarding the situation in Canada, my correspondent makes some additional observations:
I have seen a few articles posted around the net on [the TEC clergy surplus], and the plight of younger Episcopalian clergy unable to find "a call." In the ACC, ordinations are limited to the number required to fill full-time positions. This may account, at least partly, for the lack of new recruits to the Canadian Deanery. As I have mentioned, there are only two Canadian OCSP priests below secular retirement age, one of whom was never an Anglican clergyman. The "continuing" church has all but disappeared as the generation of opponents of the ordination of women in the 1970s dies off. Apart from the Bros I know of no former Anglican clergy in the pipeline; indeed I cannot determine whether they are both there, or just Br Shane. No word on a replacement for Fr Hodgins, who has not managed in five years to grow St Thomas More, Toronto to parish status in an area with 5 million people that supports 189 ACC parishes.
The situation in the US, as far as I can see, is a variation on the "tragedy of the commons" that's poisoned all graduate programs, including those in the hard sciences. Overproduction of graduate degrees, including MDivs from seminaries, is a byproduct of how full-time university faculties are funded, with low-cost graduate assistants and contingent faculty teaching high-profit mass-enrollment undergraduate courses. The high margins from these courses then fund the full-time faculty, who have every incentive to inflate enrollment in the graduate programs that justify their tenured positions.

If the ACC has been able to limit this, so much the better. TEC doesn't -- the best it can do is for bishops periodically to release seminarians from their vows while in their seminary programs, which still doesn't equalize the market, but the postulants and candidates have already wasted years of their lives training for non-existent jobs.

Even so, it's a mistake for the Catholic Church to assume that anyone in this position, even among the straight males, is automatically a good candidate for the Catholic priesthood. Someone who's spent years in a US academic environment is probably going to be a misfit just about anywhere.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Anglican Ordinariates And Ethnic Parishes

My regular correspondent comments,
The idea that ex-Anglicans need a protected environment has nothing to do with the Church's practice in regard to ethnic parishes. The primary reason for establishing German, Hungarian, Vietnamese etc parishes is/was that the relevant group didn't speak English. Even when the Mass was in Latin pastoral ministry required a German etc speaker, and mass in the vernacular added another motivation for having ethnic parishes. I think this was a matter of necessity, not a mere welcoming gesture.

As successive groups have been assimilated and immigration from various countries declines, their ethnic parishes are closed or repurposed unless the group in question has the numbers and the resources to maintain them. As you point out, once everyone can communicate there is a lot of benefit to having a congregation made up of people from many backgrounds.

The lack of consensus as to what the Anglican Patrimony consists of adds a further difference. Contrast the guitar and electric keyboatd music at St Timothy's, Catonsville, versus populum celebration and modern Gothic chasuble, with the lace, fiddleback, ad orientem, and Renaissance musical repertory of BJHN. I could multiply examples.

I think a conclusion we might draw from the question my correspondent raises is that, if "Anglican patrimony" is hard to illustrate consistently from what we see in the OCSP, we have to look elsewhere for the problem we're trying to solve. I keep coming back to the employment problem I've seen from the start: TEC parishes, a shrinking job market overall, have still fewer opportunities for straight males. "Continuing" parishes are disappearing rapidly, probably at a greater rate than TEC.

But the other main line denominations are in the same place -- a Lutheran pastor acquaintance recently gave up his position to become a house-husband so that his wife could replace him as pastor of the parish.

So the Catholic options for married clergy look progressively better. The problem I see is that the best cis male candidates in any Protestant denomination are still finding jobs without going to a Catholic second or third choice. The OCSP is getting a lot of men whose careers as Protestants stalled in middle age, or who couldn't even start a Protestant career after seminary.

I have a hard time getting away from the impression that the OCSP is a full-employment program for Protestant mediocrities. I wonder what would happen if members of the smaller OCSP communities were to try mass at several diocesan parishes in their area and then come back to see the thin gruel that's available back in the OCSP.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

More On Yesterday's Questions

Regarding yesterday's post, my regular correspondent commented,
On the other hand, the Australian Ordinariate has a mere eleven congregations, all worshipping in diocesan churches. When the priest in Sydney, Australia's largest city, died in February 2015 it took over two years to replace him. There are currently 14 clergy. The current Ordinary is 77 [years old]. I suppose the moment of decision will come when he retires, but at the moment the OOLSC is being allowed to limp along. I have of course noticed the gradual withering away of its publications: "Australia Wide," and the Ordinary's "Musings." It will be interesting to see how many turn out for the fifth anniversary celebrations later this month. I cannot imagine that membership is more than a few hundred. The OCSP looks comparatively good.
But my correspondent also reports that Philip Mayer, whose attempt to start up an Ordinariate group in the Tampa Bay area was torpedoed, now describes himself on Facebook as a Pastoral Provision candidate of the Diocese of St Petersburg. This suggests that the previously mooted effort to relocate him and find some way to link him with a new gathered OCSP group would not be productive.

This has prompted me to do more thinking about why Anglicanorum coetibus is not bearing fruit. I have several preliminary points:

  • Anglicans are Protestants. Let's keep in mind that I was told in TEC confirmation class, which I'm sure is typical, that Anglicanism was an ideal compromise, a via media, between the extremes of Catholicism and more radical Protestantism. This implies that there's something extreme about Catholicism, e.g., the authority of the Pope, the teachings on marriage and the family, the status of Mary in the Church, celibate clergy, Latin, the requirement for Confession, on and on. A few months of Evangelium aren't gong to change this for laity. A few webinars, or some seminary make-up courses, are certainly not going to change this for clergy.
  • The example of parishes for European ethnic groups in the past, Poles, Lithuanians, Italians, Germans, and so forth, aren't apt, because these groups were already Catholic and were preserving Catholic traditions in which they'd been raised. Episcopalians are long-assimilated members of mainstream Protestant culture.
  • The idea of a Catholic prelature that caters to Anglicans as a separate group minimizes the advantage to new Catholics of getting to know more fully formed Catholics from other traditions. In our area, there are many Filipino Catholics who have a great deal to say about being Catholic. Polish Catholics, here and in Poland, have been playing a greater role in forming a cultural consensus in opposition to Marxist secular tendencies. I think it's significant that the pro-Phillips faction at OLA was particularly unhappy to have been assigned a Polish administrator. But it's better for new Catholics to go outside a cultural non-Catholic uniformity.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Here's A Set Of Questions

These all center on when and how, should it be necessary, the CDF decides to pull the plug on any of the Anglican ordinariates. I did some preliminary research on the issue of closing and merging Catholic diocesan parishes and came up with some interesting questions:
  • The typical numbers given in hypothetical examples of parish mergers and suppression are much bigger than all but the largest OCSP communities. In one example, a parish's Sunday attendance falls from 100 to 35. In another, the parish has $750,000 in debt that it can't pay. Numbers that a bishop would normally think are unsustainably small are more than are typical in the OCSP.
  • Discussions distinguish between the process of suppressing or merging a parish and closing church buildings. However, fewer than a dozen OCSP parishes own their buildings, and it seems unlikely that this number will increase. In fact, of the parishes that own buildings, the status seems shaky in several.
  • The majority of OCSP communities are in fact chapel groups that have the use of small spaces in diocesan buildings. When does the OCSP decide these groups are unlikely to thrive or continue? Can any such chapel groups point to significant growth, i.e., the potential to acquire property?
  • In that connection, why is Houston unable to release reliable statistics on overall membership, participation in the bishop's appeal, or membership numbers for individual groups and parishes?

Monday, August 14, 2017

Natural Law, Social Media, And The OCSP

There's been some controversy lately in the general culture over how social-media giants like Google (which owns YouTube and Blogger), Facebook, and Twitter censor and otherwise manage content. Media of any sort, of course, is media, and it's subject to the preferences and judgment calls of whomever owns it, government, corporation, or whatever. YouTube commentators who are outside the Overton window of acceptable opinion have recently discovered they can be de-monetized or shut down completely, sometimes for innocuous remarks or irony that the censors missed. (An example of the problem is here -- language warning.)

Although I spent most of my career in the IT field, I've always been a slow adopter. I got a Facebook ID several years ago because I had to have one to sign onto something or other, but I never go there. I'm not on Twitter at all. I do this blog because, having observed the medium for nearly 20 years, I think it's an effective way to put out a focused message that's related to a single issue or set of issues. However, I don't put out personal information the way many social media users do.

This relates to natural law and the philosophical virtues. It is simply imprudent do do things like announce vacation plans or destinations, post photos of minor children, especially in stages of undress, or broadcast daily routines when you just don't know who will see this and what use they will make if it. If I were not retired, I would not be blogging at all -- people can get to employers and find ways to get you fired. Indeed, I'm certain that people connected with the St Mary's dissident faction would have done exactly this if they could have. In any case, we have an alarm system and keep our cars in the garage with the door shut.

Rush Limbaugh frequently mentions studies showing that people get depressed when they go on social media like Facebook, because people tend to idealize their lives and put out an image of happiness, popularity, and success, when the people who visit those pages realize their own lives aren't like that and figure they've missed out on something. This is probably related to temperance and avoiding pride. In fact, I would almost think that going on the lookit-me type of social media could be a near occasion of sin, appealing to tendencies like pride and avarice.

YouTube commentators, including Catholics pushing the Overton envelope like Michael Voris, are beginning to realize they're giving hostages to big-time corporate culture, which is proving it can shut them down any time it's convenient to do so. That in turn says to me, while the parallel is inexact, that we may be dealing with something like a ouija board, there may be some fun in using it, but at the wrong time and in the wrong circumstance, it can be very dangerous. I'm very careful about my blogging, I don't get any money for advertising from this blog, and the issues I cover are going to go away fairly soon, so the hostage I surrender isn't too important. But I definitely need to maintain perspective and situational awareness.

So why do so many OCSP priests have Facebook pages? I don't visit them, but from what I'm told, they apparently reflect a very clergy-centered outlook, with the usual OCSP clerical mediocrities assiduously trying to show they're with the program and validating each other. It's hard to avoid thinking this is the lookit-me school of social media, pretty unhealthy in any case, but also just a little redolent of the ouija board. Who's been the biggest star of Anglo-Catholic social media, bar none? Fr Phillips, of course.

Just one more reason I would not go near any of these guys, especially for the sacraments -- valid and licit, sure, but why bother when there are so many better alternatives?

Sunday, August 13, 2017

An Old Post Revisited

Yesterday I had an e-mail from Ms Rayn Random, author of Cocktail Party Priest, which I discussed in a few 2013 posts, mainly this one. The book covers her experience with a Monterey, CA TEC priest who spread stories in her home parish alleging that she was a transgendered male with fake breasts who was stalking him.

It reminded me of the parish psychodrama surrounding St Mary of the Angels -- nuttiness that certainly continues. Researching Ms Random's story, I found that a parishioner at her parish was "Bishop" Owen Rhys Williams's mother, so there's something a little closer to home in the story as well. Mrs Williams was a supporter of the crazy priest, apparently because her son's one.

Ms Random said,

As I was searching through Google, I came across your blog on St. Mary's Hollywood (2013) and your comments regarding my book Cocktail Party Priest, and William Martin. It was fascinating reading for me, as you addressed the question of "why," and gave the most likely of all the explanations that other people have put forward.

Parishioners often asked me if Martin was gay. The two gay men to whom I dedicated Cocktail, claimed that he was. I was quite certain that he was either gay or sexually confused I say sexually confused because of a conversation we had in our first meeting when he invited me to dinner. I was surprised at the turn the conversation took and how almost confessional it was. He also told me that he knew several gay priests who were married to unsuspecting straight women. I later met two of them. That brings me to my reason for writing--other than to thank you for your very interesting and plausible answer to "why."

I have a novel, written over the last several years, that is now ready for publication. I've taken Martin's comment about gay, but married to unsuspecting women, priests and extended the possibilities. The protagonist is a gay, recently ordained priest with ambition to become the youngest bishop in the Episcopal Church. Of course, being gay would no longer be a problem, but a very wealthy, very anti-gay Catholic grandmother would be, when he is her principal heir. He marries for career reasons, much to his regret, and the lies. blackmail, and cover-ups to keep his secret eventually lead to a homeless man found dead in the church courtyard, and he is suspected.

At the same time that book is published, I want to re-issue Cocktail Party Priest with an updated Epilogue. With your permission, I would love to include––with full credit––your comments and remarkable answer to the question, "why?" I think you've nailed it!

Naturally I gave my permission and wish her the best.

Maybe I can rent myself out as an expert witness on Anglican craziness, if people like Ms Random find my insights worthwhile!