Another voice calling for “Romanorum coetibus”

I have often written that the Church of England needs to issue their document Romanorum coetibus, by which they will give a safe-haven to catholic liberals who want to keep their large puppets and pottery, 60’s music and the ordination of women, prayer to the earthmothergoddess… all without the spirit-repressing domination of masculine Rome! And they can use whatever translation they want!

In the Guardian there was this recently:

Why be a liberal Catholic when you could be an Anglican?

What’s the appeal of Roman Catholicism to a fairly liberal person? Why don’t they jump ship? They say they dislike clerical celibacy, which they largely blame for the abuse scandals. Well, there’s a church close at hand that rejects it. They say they want to see the ordination of women. Well, there’s a church close at hand that ordains women (more or less). They say they dislike the church’s intransigence on homosexuality. Well, there’s a church close at hand that has an honest, messy debate about this issue. They say they dislike the church’s legalistic approach to birth control, abortion, and various other moral issues. Well, there’s a church close at hand that rejects such an approach. They say they dislike the church’s authoritarian structure, the monarchical aura of the papacy. Well, you know what.

Why do they stay in a church that is so full of things they dislike, when there is one close at hand that is more or less free of those objectionable things? Presumably they would reply: because, despite everything, the Roman church seems to us the authentic church, and the Anglican church does not. But there is a sector of Anglicanism whose style of worship is scarcely distinguishable from that of Roman Catholicism. Yes, they might reply, but the institution lacks authenticity: it was founded by a randy monarch, and remains confined by its national character. Fair point perhaps, but does it really outweigh the benefits of Anglicanism to a liberal believer? Is this really a reason to stay in an authoritarian, illiberal church – that at least it wasn’t founded by Henry VIII? The man had his faults but he wasn’t Satan.

So what’s Rome’s appeal to these people? Is it that they want the prestige of belonging to an exotically large, old tradition? Do they feel a sort of thrill to be connected with an institution that strikes their friends as baffling, mysterious, romantically gothic? Do they like seeing eyebrows raised at dinner parties, when they state their allegiance?

This might be a factor, but it misses the central point. It seems to me that the central appeal of Roman Catholicism is its bold insistence that Christianity must be embodied in culture. For Catholics, religion is not confined to a carefully demarcated sphere, or to the realm of individual faith: it must be holistic, public, all-embracing – it demands to be known as the meaning of cultural life. By contrast, Anglicanism seems to accept the marginalisation of religion, and seems to approve of liberal culture. Religion is a wonderfully rich bit of culture, Anglicanism seems to say, but it’s just one bit of culture; it knows its place. [It’s the state religion.  Of course it does.] No, says Catholicism: the place of religion is everywhere; its role is to be everything. [Isn’t it interesting that this is the same point that the National Schismatic Reporter made in griping about Pope Francis.  HERE.]


Benedict XVI was the Pope of Christian Unity.

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  1. UncleBlobb says:

    The author of the article should read this, and find out why:

    i.e. “‘It is necessary to begin where the world is if we are going to change it to what we think it should be. That means working in the system,’ wrote Alinsky.”

    Fr. Z. has the answer.

  2. Lori Pieper says:

    The author seems to have missed the biggest distinction of all — it isn’t so much “your Church was founded by Henry VIII and ours wasn’t” as “Our Church was founded by Jesus Christ and yours wasn’t.” That’s a biggie!

  3. Supertradmum says:

    The reason why the lib-Cats do not want to be Anglicans is the same reason James Joyce noted when asked if he left the Church to become Protestant.

    “I have lost my faith, not my reason”, was his answer.

  4. People who try to change the teaching of the Church on issues like abortion or the ordination of women always remind me of young people in their 20s and 30s who rebelled against their parents (reasonably or unreasonably) but despite being of age instead of accepting an amicable state of tolerance in the relationship they keep going back compulsively and try to get their aging parents to accept wholeheartedly whatever it was that originally caused the disagreement.

    Similarly, some “catholics” are soooooo sure that Jesus would want abortion and euthanasia, the ordination of women and marriage for priests. They are soooo sure… but they would be even surer, in fact they would only be completely sure if the Catholic Church would also ratify their opinions. Which is why they cannot just leave and join a more suitable church, or even found their own. Because there is that nagging feeling that maybe, just maybe they are wrong and the Church is right. I know I am being Freudian here…

  5. cothrige says:

    I think the reason they stay is actually quite simple, and no need to look at authenticity or history. I have no doubt that these people feel that the Anglicans are just as validly Christian and “Church” as any of us are, and so that cannot be why they don’t join them. I think the real cause is precisely the fact that the Anglican communion offers exactly what they say they want. That church does not need to be changed anymore. In fact, being free from all these nasty Catholic traditions and teachings is not really what they are after at all. Rather, they are interested in making sure all the rest of us are also unable to have them. If they left then the Church would go on being the Church, but what they really want is to make sure there is no Church there for any of the rest of us.

  6. NoTambourines says:

    It drives me up the wall when people claim Catholic identity is just “cultural.” The writer has it all wrong: I’m convinced that even Catholics who are far afield ideologically know the four marks of the True Church when they see it: One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic.

    I’ve often felt that my baptism imparted a sort of “homing device” on my soul, so that even when I was far off, something was drawing me back home. And as awkward an analogy as it may be, I think that transponder is beeping, and the light is blinking, in all of the baptized. They know where home is.

  7. I love the analogy, NoTambourines!

  8. Jean Marie says:

    I work for a parish on Long Island, and I have a co-worker who voted for Obama twice, believes in contraception, gay marriage, women priests and married priests, and that the divorced and remarried should be able to receive holy communion – in fact ANYONE should be able to walk into a Catholic Church and receive the Lord, Also, she doesn’t believe in confession (yeah, I know – what a big surprise!) Her attitude is: “why should I tell my sins to a priest – does he tell me his sins? IMHO she is the embodiment of everything that is wrong within the Church. She should be a very happy Episcopalian, yet she insists on staying within the Catholic Church. We used to discuss things but it’s now at the point where it’s a waste of time. I pray and plead God’s mercy for her everyday because I know I’m in constant need of His mercy, but it does get very frustrating.

  9. Choirgirl says:

    Joyce’s response is right on the mark. Liberals are emotionally based individuals. It’s enormous work just to TRY to hack a path to their brains, let alone get close enough to actually engage one (a brain, that is). They feel they want full acceptance of “how they are,” and it just gripes the heck out of them that the Catholic Church denies them “total inclusivity.” It’s all about THEM, and thoughts concerning anything related to THE TRUTH just don’t happen on a regularly occuring basis.

  10. Choirgirl says:


    “…and thoughts concerning anything related to THE TRUTH just don’t happen on a regularly occuring basis.”

    …if at all.

  11. Christian says:

    It grieves me to think of anyone apostatizing from Holy Church, but these liberal, Modernist ‘Catholics’ are apostate already. It’s despicable.

  12. chonak says:

    “Benedict XVI was the Pope of Christian Unity.”

    That change from “is” to “was” evokes a certain sadness — sic transit gloria olivae, hm?


  13. HyacinthClare says:

    Cothridge, you put that very well. Do you remember the woman in C.S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce? “I have to have somebody to DO something to!”

  14. cwillia1 says:

    Why apostasize and stay Catholic.? Two reasons, jobs and ethnic/cultural/social ties. There are no jobs in a shrinking Anglican church. The social costs of apostasizing in place are relatively small compared to leaving.

  15. Denis Crnkovic says:

    Of course, Romanorum coetibus is only a joke, not a serious proposal. After all, wishing that our fratres would just simply up and leave is like wishing them into the jaws of sin and their immortal souls into the perils of everlasting hell fire. Those who seem good candidates for jumping ship to the Episcopal church stay in the Catholic realm precisely because of their faith as SUpertradmom said. Rather than letting them be untethered, releasing them from the side of the lifeboat – no matter how tenuously they hold on – rather than seeing them off to the dangers of the devil’s deep blue see, let’s be as tenacious as possible at keeping them. It is precisely that that I believe our mentor here would like to see. Our beloved Pontiff emeritus eschewed the media glitz to concentrate on the Faith and to concentrate on reconciling as many as he could to Rome. No one really wants to see “her musicalness”, Sister Pam, leave the fold, as much as we would like to see her quit her job as the 5-chord guitar playing song leader and liturgist and make way for the Gregorian schola and chamber choir. What we really want is to run into her one day twenty years from now at the Knights of Columbus pancake breakfast and hear her say, “I can’t believe that twenty years ago I actually thought women could be ordained priests…”.

  16. Imrahil says:

    Won’t happen.

    And, roughly, here’s why.

    First, the scary reason. They do not want to find a group that suits them; they want to propagandize for their position. They want to undermine the Church; and so does, of course, the ultimate enemy.

    Second, the more natural reason. The Catholic Church is the true Church. We have to take as a basic point that the Catholic Church is the true Church; and that this is not merely a, true, tenet of our faith we have the undeserved honor to adhere to (which is, also, true), but that it is also an at least roughly both ascertainable (here’s where reason comes in) and feelable (here’s where our emotions come in) fact.
    And they, just as us, have the baptismal character, once were part of that Body, and perhaps still are (for whatever the inner-Catholic canonical status, to be silent of state of grace, is, the visibility of the Church brings with itself that the tie can only sewered by definite, gross actions).

    They are, as the dear @CatholicCoffee said, like children who have some issue that separates them from their parents. Only, what as far as I see the same dear @CatholicCoffee did not say — these children are right in doing so. Those who loves each other cannot amicably tolerate each other. Impossible. (I simplify, but if I’d go out of my ways to say that, yes, in some circumstances people even though loving each other can, and meritoriously, agree on amicable tolerance as the least evil, I’d probably break the limits of this combox.)
    Who seriously is of the opinion that abortion is good, must by necessity be of the opinion that the Catholic Church also had better declare abortion good. And any other group in the universe; but the Catholic Church, for the said reasons, especially.

    There is exactly one flaw in their stand. It is (using my example) that abortion is, of course, not good.

    Somewhere in the void, there is this background thought that each ought to seek the denomination that suits his opinions. In the Catholic form: and we, ourselves, undeservedly etc., go to the Catholic Church and happen to be true (but can by no means expect to deduce any practical effects from the latter fact).
    But, perhaps except within the United States of America, people have never felt this way; nor do Catholics even in America feel this way, except if – excuse the frankness – they’d prefer not to be annoyed by their dissenting brothers.
    What people care for is the truth, period. And the truth brings with itself that you cannot in principle suffer anybody to think anything else. (Both because of the need to live with each other, and because if you have the power, the actual Truth says to a degree that you must not force, tolerance comes into play. But this is ephemeral to the issue at stake.)

    If we want to make Catholics believe Catholic things, we have to stick to excommunications; which are not meant as “clarifications of doctrine” but actually as penalties. They exist for precisely this reason. But we cannot count on their leaving. They will not – nor should they. The only thing they should is accept that, in my example, abortion is evil. Yet if when they don’t they are not excommunicated by the authorities existing for the purpose (which might have legitimate reasons in pondering different effects, etc.), it’s actually not their fault.

    That the ultimate enemy I mentioned in my first “scary reason” (I think I made clear that I support, in general, my own “second reason”) puts something of this to his own use, is true though.

  17. Imrahil says:

    People say that love results in peace. But it does not. Sham love, perhaps, results in peace. Real love has always resulted in bloodshed. Chesterton, from memory.

  18. Gaetano says:

    Anglicanism seems to accept the marginalisation of religion, and seems to approve of liberal culture. Religion is a wonderfully rich bit of culture, Anglicanism seems to say, but it’s just one bit of culture; it knows its place. No, says Catholicism: the place of religion is everywhere; its role is to be everything.

    Catholicism is not a tame lion. Never has been, never will be.

  19. CharlesG says:

    While those who don’t believe should leave the Church, and while discipline is sometimes in order, I still think it is better to work and pray for the conversion of dissidents than to gleefully drive them out.

  20. heway says:

    You said it, CharlesG. Put up with it …makes good offering material.

  21. boxerpaws1952 says:

    These are the 3 best insights and if anyone takes anything away from the comments these would be the 3. I would add only one. The Church should fight back since it is the ULTIMATE enemy at work here and excommunicate pro abortion/ gay ‘marriage’ politicians who are Catholic.Is there any other recourse?

    It’s all about THEM, and thoughts concerning anything related to THE TRUTH just don’t happen on a regularly occuring basis.
    It grieves me to think of anyone apostatizing from Holy Church, but these liberal, Modernist ‘Catholics’ are apostate already
    They do not want to find a group that suits them; they want to propagandize for their position. They want to undermine the Church; and so does, of course, the ultimate enemy.

  22. BLB Oregon says:

    Some Protestants started out in full rejection of the Church of Rome as an entity, but Luther didn’t. Henry VIII didn’t. They wanted the one true Church to bend and be obedient to their sense of what the Church ought to be. When that didn’t happen, they eventually had to make their choices. There are many in just that position today, even if they don’t admit it or realize it. You can’t have communion by simply refusing excommunication. It doesn’t work that way. Let us pray that they will choose to abandon the falsehoods they have embraced.

  23. Clinton R. says:

    It has taken awhile, but the branches (Protestant churches) that cut themselves off the tree (the Catholic Church) have lost their green leaves and are now withered and ready for the furnace. The Prots have lost their zeal for the Gospel and have capitulated to the ways of the world. Schisms only lead to a loss of faith. I pray our separated brethren come home to the One, Holy, Apostolic and Catholic Church.

  24. Imrahil says:

    Dear @boxerpaws1952,

    I’m greatly honored to be on your list.

    Nevertheless, I’m personally all for natural reasoning where natural reasoning holds. Unfortunately and obviously the Devil does want to use the Church’s divisions for his aims, but nevertheless… how these normally come about, I (with rather more words) described in my “second answer” which means we need not, well, suppose preternatural activity.

  25. Tradster says:

    The real reason, in my opinion, can be summed up in a single word: activism. Liberals live to be activists. Their egos crave the public spotlight of being “progressive leaders”. Activism is useless and wasted on an organization already gutted by liberalism. So, like termites, they ignore the rotted wood in favor of feeding on and destroying the good wood from within.

  26. Scott W. says:

    The stay because nothing is pulling them out. People mistakenly interpret B16’s comments about a smaller, purer Church to mean the orthodox should start forcing dissidents out. Not so. Rather, as society starts to become more pagan it will start making the personal cost of being Catholic higher and when that happens we will start seeing the seed that fell on rocky soil dry up.

  27. Johnno says:

    CharlesG –

    Certainly we should always hope and pray for their conversion. But sometimes conversion can only occur when they are allowed to go off into the wild to return as Prodigal sons. Then we shall welcome them back again.

    And as evidenced, it is perhaps better to excommunicate stubbron festering wounds when they occur, rather than wait, risking gangrene spreading to other parts of the body and then have more of the body cut itself off all on its own. That is the great risk. And if the Church doesn’t want to make formal excommunuications, then is literally nothing stopping it from publicly condemning the positions of individuals loudly, strongly and clearly. Even this the Churhc is not eager to do. We’d rather use nice language and cordiality and make peace offerings, or worse, remain quiet. We’d then also rather throw out the faithful guards who are doing that job for us. We condemn them as being uncivil. We ‘excommunicate’ them more strongly then we do the heretics. And everytime a faithful guard dog barks to warn the household we put the dog down. Soon there will be no guards left in the watchtowers, and we shall only have friendly puppies whimpering and wagging their tails when the wolves and foxes arrive.

    No one is attacking the gates of hell. Its denizens have left it open and are pouring out and burrowing under the gates of the City of God for years and demanding citizenship and fair wages and voting priveledges and a place to build a mosque and a pagan altar or two.

  28. Imrahil says:

    I agree with the dear @Charles G: we should never, absolutely never, never ever, try to drive them out.

    I also agree with the dear @Johnno: excommunications should be used, perhaps – though I claim no knowledge about these prudential issues – more so than they now happen to be. In my view, at least any excommunication latae sententiae, which has come to the knowledge of the hierarchy to have been incurred, and which does not get solved within a couple of weeks or so, should be formally imposed with all canonical effects. But that’s just me, and in all obedience.

    Does that make me contradict myself?

    The Church very wisely has instituted excommunications and the kind as punishments; and as medicine.

    The aim is, thus, not driving out, but keeping in. The excommunicate is eo ipso reminded that belonging to the Church is a great good, good enough that stripping it* (which does not directly happen in an excommunication, but you get my drift) is a punishment. And I do figure that if someone’s actually excommunicated, he’ll feel this. He’ll say, first: “But what I did does not make me un-Catholic!” Thus showing his actual (!) attachment to the Church. Which is a good thing.. People are not as bad as they’re made to be, even though the Church still suffers from their mistakes. – Then, when quitely explained that yes it does, he’ll, perhaps, abjure.

    An instrument to say: “All right, believe what you will, but not in our midst” does on the other hand not exist; nor should it.

  29. Pingback: Another voice calling for “Romanorum coetibus” | Fr. Z’s Blog olim: What Does The Prayer Really Say? | therasberrypalace

  30. veritasmeister says:

    Certainly we should speak out and oppose such liberal ideas and errors that are against the Catholic faith.

    But let’s not get too self-congratulatory. Problematic elements have already crept into the faith. When was the last time you heard a good traditional sermon about the Social Reign and Kingship of Christ? Or the feast of Christ the King truly recognized and observed grounded in the original intent of Pope Pius XI and not re-interpreted to become an essentially eschatalogical matter?

    Let’s see the writings of Fr. Denis Fahey return to our parish bookshelves, before we get too boastful with regard to the Anglicans.

  31. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Theo Hobson wrote, “Why do they stay in a church that is so full of things they dislike, when there is one close at hand that is more or less free of those objectionable things?” He was not thinking across the border, of ” the Roman church” (as he calls it) in Scotland. But might he have done so, accurately?

    If Father Matthew Despard is as honest and level-headed as he sounds, perhaps he might – in some sense, or in some respects:

    But Hobson also wrote, “there’s a church close at hand that has an honest, messy debate about this issue [” homosexuality”].” That does not seem generally to characterize the Scottish situation. Practical usurpation, with no obvious hierarchical concern for honesty would seem more accurate.

    Presumably, his “a fairly liberal person[s]” would largely be likely to rejoice at the success of the practical usurpation, but also want an explicit public celebration of it, a public, de jure, endorsement of successfully cloaked de facto reality.

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