The Tablet’s Anglican Provision: No Popery!

The attacks on the Holy Father and his provisions for Christian Anglicans are getting worse… right on schedule.

The liberals are having a grand mal twit.

England’s ultra-dissenter fishwrap RU-486 (aka The Bitter Pill aka The Tablet) has this with my emphases and comments:

The other path to Rome

The apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus has now been published by the Holy See, and no one will read it more avidly than members of the Anglo-Catholic wing of the Church of England and Anglicans of similar mind abroad. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome has devised it, with Pope Benedict XVI’s blessing, [so… to attack it, is to attack the Pope… but read on…] to meet the needs of Anglicans who wish to preserve some of their traditions and heritage while moving into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church. Anglo-Catholics will have to ask themselves whether this is a good proposal or not[And there it is.  Remember: liberals want to define ecumenism.  They want to be the ones to determine who is worthy of dialogue.  They don’t want unity that involves submission… unless it is submission to their liberal agenda.  Liberal: someone with whom you are only free to agree.]

They do have an alternative – indeed two alternatives, counting staying within the Church of England. [Which is what RU-486 wants.  They want to abort this act of Christian Unity.  The Tablet is a sort of bitter morning after pill.] Or they could, as countless converts to Roman Catholicism have done before them including many former Anglo-Catholics, apply to enter into full communion through the normal processes. Nowadays that usually means enrolling in the parish-based scheme called the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, or RCIA, which includes a rite for baptised Christians who want to become Catholic.  [RCIA…. right.  As run in most parishes?  That would suit RU-486 just fine.]

After a journey of faith involving instruction from a parish catechist, [not a priest!] candidates follow a series of public steps leading to a ceremony of admission, with others who have made the same journey.  [Doesn’t that just sound… romantic?] Individual ceremonies, after a period of private instruction from a priest, [ah!  a priest] are also not ruled out. [?!?] A simple formula of doctrinal assent is required in either case, far less elaborate than adherence to every one of the Catholic catechism’s 2,865 paragraphs which the apostolic constitution envisages[And THAT, friends, is the big problem.  RU-486 and their crowd do not want people in the Church who actually believe what is in … gulp… the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  Think of it!  Believing Catholics with good liturgical taste!]

The RCIA experience is transformative, in that the person coming out of it at the end does not feel the same as the person going in[Indeed yes… that is decidedly so.  Form what I have heard from some who have gone through it in Tablet style parishes, they are never quite the same again.  They don’t at all feel the same.  Many, in fact, feel like they need delousing.  But remember… we are talking about people who are committed traditionally minded Anglicans and Anglo-Catholics.  Do they RCIA?  Would the members of the SSPX need RCIA?  These pills would probably insist on RCIA for SSPXers.  What better way to keep them from unity!] They have changed one world view for another – the term “convert”, though deemed ecumenically insensitive, is not inappropriate. [HUH?!  I am a convert.  I am a CONVERT!  That was the greatest act of ecumenism I made in my life.  I don’t mind at all being called a convert.  That is what it takes!] The CDF’s proposals seem designed to blunt that experience by reassuring those who choose that way that nothing much has changed. [You mean… aside from that whole Catechism of the Catholic Church thing.]  They will be the same community with the same leaders, the same culture and liturgy and possibly even the same buildings. Anglo-Catholics who are attracted for that reason would do better to be wary of it, precisely because it does not demand enough. [As if the writer knows what this may cost.]

Perhaps because of [wait for it] lack of consultation with both Catholic and Anglican authorities in England, [It’s the old argument: Rome doesn’t know anything!] the CDF seems to have failed to grasp what Anglo-Catholicism is really all about. Its fundamental aim was to reassert the Catholic credentials of the Church of England as the “ancient Catholic Church of these lands” identical in essence to the medieval English Church. [Is this RU-486 defending separation from the Catholic Church?] It is from this foundation that derive all those characteristics of its style that the CDF is keen to preserve – the interiors of its churches almost indistinguishable from Catholic churches, [Many of the older ones are Catholic churches.  Am I wrong?] the use of “Father” as the title for its clergy, and devotion to a Catholic type of spirituality including honouring the Virgin Mary. But unless one counts use of the Roman missal in some of their churches, there is no distinctive Anglo-Catholic liturgy. [?]

Anglo-Catholicism is going through a profound crisis precisely because it is losing faith in its central principle. [And RU-486 hopes they find it again!] Anglicanorum Coetibus is offering to let incoming Anglo-Catholics hang on to the incidental symbols of that principle, [They are terrified of the liturgical influence, folks.  Mark my word.] while relinquishing what lies behind it[The bloody repression of Catholics in England?  The social marginalization of Catholics loyal to Rome?  No Popery!] Does that make sense? Would they not be better off just becoming Roman Catholics in the normal way, and joining an existing Catholic community they can enrich and be enriched by?

This is a true mark of the liberal.  They ask you to deny the evidence of your senses. 

You are to call up, down…. front, back.  

RCIA or staying in the Anglican Church… normal.

I must ask people more knowledgable than I: Is the Bishops Conference there propping up their circulation?

That great fan of RU-486 Damian Thompson comments also on this editorial.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. LarryPGH says:

    Wait — are they really serious? Asking baptized and confirmed Christians to enter the Catholic Church through RCIA? Loony…

  2. Larry: I think they were serious.

  3. Salvatore_Giuseppe says:

    Unless I am mistaken, the “simple formula of doctrinal assent” is essentially(or is, my minds a little fuzzy) the Creed, which, last I checked is what most of the “2,865 paragraphs” of the Catechism cover, so it is implied that if the RCIA candidates give their assent to the simple formula, that they give their assent to the entire theological meaning behind those statements

  4. JoeGarcia says:

    Seems their advice to the Anglo-Catholics is along the lines of “Pot pourri, yes! Popery, no!”


  5. Fr. A.M. says:

    I wonder why the bishops of England don’t tell their faithful to stop buying The Tablet, or even censure it. The Devil, then, wouldn’t have such a good mouthpiece.

  6. Perhaps the Tablet *is* actually representing the opinion of the English Bishops? Look how many were faithful in the time of King Henry VIII when Anglicanism was “invented.”

  7. RichardT says:

    “interiors of [Anglo-Catholic] churches almost indistinguishable from Catholic churches”

    Sadly that’s not true any more – Anglo-Catholic churches still generally look like Catholic churches should do. The Tablet’s favourite Catholic churches look like school gymnasiums.

  8. ejcmartin says:

    I am one of those Anglicans that went through “proper” RCIA process at a local parish. Although my desire to convert was due mainly to marriage, my story is telling. My RCIA experience consisted of meeting in the confessional (I kid you not!)right after the Gospel to discuss the readings with the RCIA team. That was it for six months. Not a single meeting outside of Mass, not a single book to read, not a single discussion of anything near catechesis. The RCIA team were very nice people and well meaning but I frankly did not learn a single thing about what it meant to be Catholic. On my conversion I just thought it now meant I could wear blue jeans to church.

  9. Father Bartoloma says:


  10. Mrs Kate says:

    I heard of one Anglican clergyman, married to a Catholic, who approached the PP to seek entry to the Catholic Church. The PP ‘talked him out’ of doing so.This happened just before the announcement of the Apostolic Constitution…

  11. MWindsor says:

    When I got out of RCIA, I would have made a really good Kennedy. It was reading Ratzinger and the Catechism that taught me what Catholicism really was. When I got out of RCIA I assented to the teachings of the Church. The problem was, I had no clue what those teachings really were.

  12. RichR says:

    “Join RCIA or stay in the CoE”. Is that their last, desperate strategy? What’s wrong with believing that God wants all men to be Catholic?

  13. I bet the Tablet had two articles prepared, one of which was “The papists are making this too easy for the Anglo-Catholics — shouldn’t conversion be transformative? Stay in the Coe!” (which we’ve just read), the other of which was “The papists are making this too hard for the Anglo-Catholics — didn’t Jesus say he would give water without price? Stay in the CoE!”

  14. robtbrown says:

    Strictly steaking, RCIA is not intended for those already Baptized.

    And Confirmation is an inherently sacerdotal Sacrament, so Anglican confirmations would not be recognized.

  15. o.h. says:

    “A simple formula of doctrinal assent is required in either case, far less elaborate than adherence to every one of the Catholic catechism’s 2,865 paragraphs…”

    This is vile and deceptive. Didn’t we converts, in that “simple formula,” promise to believe what the Church teaches? Doesn’t that incorporate all 2865 paragraphs?

  16. David2 says:

    Speaking as a convert, I would have to say that the RCIA is worse than useless in these and analagous circumstances.

    Any baptized Christian thinking of leaving his ecclesial community for the Catholic Church will no doubt have had serious doubts for some time, and serious reasons for so doing. I am not talking about “Christian and Easter” parishioners who want to marry in the Church without a dispensation, but those who have theological reasons for joining the Tiber Swim Team.

    So, put yourself in this position: you’ve had doubts about the protestant teaching (such as it is) on faith and morals for some time; you’ve managed to reconcile yourself, through reading, prayer and meditation to the correctness of the claims of the Apostolic See and the infallibility of the Roman Pontiff. What remains, is, perhaps, a few questions and doubts about indulgences, Mariology, the invocation of the Saints (the stuff prots and modernists go all grand mal twit over), or perhaps a few nagging doubts about what extra ecclesia nulla salus means in practice, or what the Church actually teaches with respect to individual conscience and the “assent of faith”, or whatever.

    Having come that far, having some idea conversion will mean for you and your family, you rock up to an RCIA class, and some clueless lay-catechist who has read far less of Catholic apologetics than you have, and certainly less theology, less natural law, and far fewer (if any) papal documents (certainly none of the documents of Vatican II – notwithstanding that said lay catechist will doubtless prattle on about that Council in blissful ignorance for minutes that seem like hours).

    You then have to go through a whole lot of the basics of the Creed, the ten commandments, and the rest, imparted at the level of a partially literate 12 year old, with the difficult bits glossed over, unless you specifically raise them. If you do specifically raise them, you will not likely receive a satisfactory response – you will most likely be fobbed off – or perhaps told to look it up yourself; or even told it’s not important – just get the basics (and I mean the very basics – “Jesus is the son of God, M’Kay?!”) down pat, and all will be hunky-dory.

    You then have to put yourself through a whole lot of ceremonies sellotaped back into the Roman Rite a mere 5 minutes ago, liturgically speaking, from what someone’s research has said the primitive Church used to put Roman pagans through when they wanted to give upoffering incense to Jupiter Maximus. Perhaps you will get to carry a felt banner at a parish “celebration” some time in Lent.

    You then go before a Bishop (or more likely, a priest deputed to serve in his place) at the Easter Vigil, tell him you believe all that the Catholic Church teaches and believes to be true – even though you’re less sure of this after the example set by the RCIA catechists (who may have implied a whole lot about women being able to recieve Holy Orders, or Humanae Vitae being an optional counsel of perfection, or ‘{insert heresy here}’).

    It’s a slow martyrdom for any Protestant Christian with a modicum of religious sensibility, let alone sophistication.

    So really, hitherto, the only option for any Anglican leaving the Anglican communion for reasons of conscience has hitherto been to seek out an orthodox priest, beg for private instruction, and hope and pray that (i) the Bishop will confirm someone who hasn’t been through RCIA and (ii) the instructing priest has the time to do the job. That was the path I took. Really, you have to choose your instructor carefully. I recently read Scott and Kimberly Hahn’s book on their conversions, and even he was told to go off and be the best Protestant he could be (or words to that effect) by a priest.

    Unfortunately that is still the only option for Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, and the like. We don’t yet know what the Ordinariates will look like in practice, but this is a wonderful gift to soon-to-be-ex-Anglicans, and to Christian Unity generally.

    I disagree with calling the Editors of RU-486 and NCR “liberals”. Liberalism implies the holding of opinions within the “four corners” of orthodox Catholic belief, and then applying them less stringently than would others – I cannot say with any certainty at all that these people could in all honesty make the profession of faith required of converts.

    Why do these people hate Protestants so, that they would put them through the martyrdom of RCIA? Only a true sadist would subject our separated brethren to such cruelty.

  17. Tim says:

    I am so grateful that a priest took the time to instruct me and receive me into the Church in a private ceremony. The thought of a parish RCIA process put me off doing anything earlier.

  18. medievalist says:

    From another ‘Tablet’ article this week comes this gem:

    “The Catechism is a useful if uneven compendium of Catholic teaching.” (Nicholas Lash)

  19. FranzJosf says:

    I lucked out. When I converted from the Anglican communion (notice I didn’t say ‘church’) in 1990, I got permission from the Archbishop who confimed me to have private instruction from a Catholic priest, who had been an Anglican minister. I told the Archbishop that if I had to take RCIA under liberal nun, it would be the end. Interestingly, even though he didn’t keep close watch over the RCIA shenanigans, he was sympathetic and didn’t hesitate to give me permission.

    Interestingly, there is nothing here about fully accepting Vatican II, other than what is contained in the Catechism. The same will apply to the SSPX, I hope. Frankly, I don’t know what the Catechism says about religious liberty, ecumenism, and religious liberty. I guess I’d better delve into that soon.

  20. FranzJosf says:

    Darn, I wrote religious liberty twice. I meant the third to be collegiality.

  21. irishgirl says:

    Hey, good analogy about ‘The Bitter Pill’, Fr. Z-FISH WRAP!

    Next time I hear from my priest-friend in the diocese of Salford, I’ll ask him if his parish subscribes to it. I just sent off a letter to him today.

  22. We have a good RCIA program in my parish; it seems to produce converts. It runs all year long, and while Easter is the main time people get baptized, confirmed, etc., they also have people enter the Church at other times of the year, and I think it’s often through the pastor route.

    But clearly, any kind of large scale reunification is beyond the powers of most local parishes to deal with. I mean, with the best will in the world and the participation of most families in the parish, how would you run RCIA if most of the Episcopal church down the street were entering the Church? On a strictly logistical note, is the Tablet nuts?

    There are plenty of times in the history of the Church when people have entered en masse with little or no preparation. (Like the people Peter and the disciples preached to, on the first Pentecost of the Church. Like a lot of our ancestors in Europe.) It is the Church’s business to run things however it finds it needful, in order to save souls. It’s not a legalistic matter of raising barriers and binding burdens on backs for no good reason.

    The Ordinariate has the power to accept whomever applies, and to give them whatever education they like. But seeing as how they are going to be running their own Ordinariate parishes, it’s not really the business of non-Ordinariate bishops and parishes to object.

    If the Tablet scribes don’t like it, they can just lump it. (Or apply to join the Ordinariate, obey the new UK ordinaries, and attempt to make changes from within. Since they’re so very very concerned.)

  23. William says:

    As the great Groucho Marx used to say: “Who you gonna believe?…me or your own eyes?”

  24. Jordanes says:

    When my wife and I were convicted that we had to become Catholics, we approached a priest at the nearest church. The parish’s RCIA prcoess was already halfway over by that point, but rather than telling us to wait until the next RCIA session started next fall, after a conversation in which the priest was impressed that I knew as much as I did about the Apostolic Fathers, the priest said he would give us private instructon until the Rite of Election, at which time we would be mainstreamed in with the RCIA group. So our RCIA experience was mercifully brief. The following year I sponsored someone in RCIA, and got to see the process firsthand from start to finish. From what I’ve heard and read, I’d say our parish does a much, much better job of RCIA than usual — but then it sure helps that our bishop mandated that all RCIA programs must use the CCC as its primary textbook.

  25. Tom Ryan says:

    “meet the needs of those Anglicans…”

    That part is getting a little tiring but I’m all for sparing them from RCIA.

    We need to distinguish between wants and needs.

  26. Supertradmom says:

    Brothers and Sisters in England,

    Boycott The Tablet. Any so-called Catholic periodical which encourages not joining Rome is simply against the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church. Many years ago, in 1986, one of the ex-editors of The Tablet told me that the journal was going downhill because the staff was “mediocre”. That was an understatement.

  27. Athelstan says:

    Ah, the Tablet – up to the usual old tricks. And they are old, and they are tricks:

    Perhaps because of lack of consultation with both Catholic and Anglican authorities in England, the CDF seems to have failed to grasp what Anglo-Catholicism is really all about.

    But it’s become apparent that the progressive argument for collegiality is just a red herring. If the bishops in question are anything like full blooded orthodox, the Tabletistas are no longer interested as much in collegiality. Collegiality works only with the *right kind* of bishops. Their kind of bishops. The Tablet would drop this line of attack in a heartbeat if the English Conference looked a lot like…even the U.S. Conference does now. They would then fall back on, oh, I don’t know, “lay consultation.”

    But it would have to be the *right kind* of laity. Particularly the kind of laity with a theology degree from the right place, and a lot of gray in the hair.

    Ultimately, it’s about the kind of Church they want, not who decides it. Collegiality and democracy are only useful when they seem likely to agree with their views. And these new Anglican converts will not agree much with those views.

  28. greg the beachcomber says:

    RCIA for SSPXers? What a great idea! Only SSPXers should sign up, voluntarily, en masse as a missionary project. It’d be felt banners vs. 2,865 paragraphs of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, with the Code of Canon Law thrown in as a bonus.

    I’d pay for a seat in one of those meetings.

  29. PatrickV says:

    God Bless Good Pope Benedict!

    God Bless Pope Benedict, the Pope of Christian Unity!

    It was Saint Josaphat of Polotsk’s Feast Day on Thursday last. Saint Josaphat was the first Byzantine Rite Catholic to be canonized by Rome since the Schism of 1054. Saint Josaphat died in 1623 defending Christian unity and obedience to the Seat of Peter.
    Saint Josaphat would have welcomed what Pope Benedict is accomplishing, not denigrate it.

    Let the Tablet learn from the Martyrs, it is obviously in sore need of teaching.

  30. thereseb says:

    Sorry – can’t work the email.
    Did anyone else see from Fr Triglio’s blog that Bp Kevin Rhoades is going to Indiana?

  31. bernadette says:

    I am a former Episcopalian who went through RCIA. I attended Catholic school pre V-II and received excellent instruction. Years later, when I finally entered the Church, RCIA undid everything I had learned and left me as one very confused Catholic for almost fifteen years. What I learned in RCIA was very erroneous and a bunch of heresy.

  32. Supertradmom says:


    I am so sorry that you had a very bad experience with RCIA. I have tried to work in several parishes over the years in RCIA on purpose, as a real, informed Catholic. At one parish, I had to “retire”, as the organizer (I was only an instructor)did not believe in Humanae Vitae. However, over the years I have become stronger and manage to stay my course by proving everything I say with Catholic doctrine, encyclicals, etc. Part of the trouble is that the national groups who teach RCIA instructors are extremely liberal, as I found out by attending one of the three day workshops in the Chicago area. Those in charge were pro-homosexual lifestyle, free interpreters of the Sacred Liturgy, and feminists, or feminist sympathizers. Sadly, this conference was not a “one-off”. Now, thankfully, I am allowed a free hand to teach only the true teaching of the Catholic Church and make sure all the significant topics are covered. Rather than abandon the format, I have tried to take it back into orthodoxy. Pray for those of us who are working in RCIA who are true sons and daughters of the Church. We have many battles.

  33. twherge says:

    I find it funny that they almost explicitly suggest that the Anglo-Catholics should not come to the Church en masse because they are too catholic. (never mind the old saying about being more catholic than the pope)

  34. Supertradmom says:

    PS as to SSPXers in RCIA: I would love it!

  35. asperges says:

    The “lack of consultation” argument is the very touchstone of modern liberal clergy at least in the UK. They really believe that if there hasn’t been consultation, they are exempt (not that it bothers them) from any form of obedience. I have come across this now for GIRM; Holy Days of Obligation changes – although I have to agree on this one – Summorum Pontificum, and now the Pope’s initiative on Anglicans.

    The Tablet is also the voice of these liberals. Its pseudo-intellectual status makes it as popular with some as it is definitely un-Catholic. It is a disgrace that the Bishops tolerate it: but I suspect they all read it too – and probably assent to many of its tenets. Unfortunately there is a lack of intellectual clout in most of the other Catholic papers here.

  36. An American Mother says:

    Yikes! I’ve seen less anti-Catholic bilge at Lewes Bonfire Night.

    Easy solution: let the editors and writers of RU-486 become Anglicans. We can trade them for all the good Anglo-Catholics remaining in the CofE, and throw in a heretic to be named later.

    Our rector recognized immediately that a couple of ultramontane Episcopalians, one a trial lawyer with an undergraduate degree in medieval and military history and the other a ‘hard’ scientist with a fondness for Chesterton, were not going to get anything out of RCIA and would probably just make trouble (our rector is a very perceptive man!) Instead, he gave us a list of books to read and had several meetings with us privately (and it was very kind of a priest with a large and busy parish and any number of administrative headaches to give such a substantial block of his valuable time).

    Quite seriously, though, our parish has a good RCIA class and no liberal nonsense. The Confirmation classes are run by the same folks and my daughter had nothing but good things to say about it, and the classes I sat in on were orthodox and scholarly. Daughter was a bit miffed when she heard she would have to go through the process, as she had just been confirmed in ECUSA 3 months earlier . . . but she enjoyed the classes very much. And she was very impressed with the solid content, compared to the silly fluff that ECUSA dishes out (which sadly sounds very much like RCIA in some places).

  37. CPKS says:

    I think Catholics should support RCIA, even if it is done badly in some places. It is right for the laity to be involved in the process of instructing new members of the church. We should strive to do it well – indeed, it is a most important obligation. (I write as someone with grey hair and a degree in (Philosophy and) Theology from a “certain place” – I don’t see how either should be taken as evidence of unsoundness.)

    Ceterum autem censeo, Tabulam esse delendam!

  38. Copernicus says:

    Every time you use the label RU-486, you should remind yourself (or be reminded) that viciousness and poison have no part in promoting the values of the Gospel. Shame on you, Fr Z. [And The Tablet should be reminded that being soft on the use of RU-486 isn’t acceptable. You might think so. I don’t. But this is off topic and you are trying to derail the discussion.]

  39. JohnE says:

    “After a journey of faith involving instruction from a parish catechist, [not a priest!] candidates follow a series of public steps leading to a ceremony of admission, with others who have made the same journey. [Doesn’t that just sound… romantic?] ”

    Break out the tambourines, guitars, and liturgical dancers….”We are companions on the journey, breaking bread and sharing life…”

  40. CPKS says:

    Courtesy of Fr Blake of Brighton, I offer you this link:

    … to a quite splendid riposte to the Tablet’s scurrilous editorial.

Comments are closed.