Saturday, July 2, 2011

The CBS Affair

A (formerly) Anglican organisation called The Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament has made a donation of £1 million to the Ordinariate.

One might think that that was a generous gesture but I am given to understand that five of the six Trustees of the Confraternity have left the Church of England to join the Ordinariate and are now priests in the Ordinariate.The donation was made after a formal application by the Rt Revd Keith Newton, then Bishop of Richborough, in December last year. (Bishop Newton, now Mgr Newton was, of course, appointed Ordinary of the Ordinariate in the following month).

That the five Trustees were still in office even though they had left the Church of England is because a change had been made to the Constitution  which allowed Roman Catholics to be members. That change was made in April 2010.

As you can imagine, many members of the Confraternity are NOT happy.

For my part, I believe that this is both plain wrong and amazingly stupid.

I understand that the Trustees of the CBS took legal advice and so I am absolutely sure that they believe that they have done nothing wrong. I believe that their motive was to do good.  I am sure that they believed that they were acting wholly in accordance with the Constitution of the Confraternity and that they were doing what they did in order to advance “the catholic faith in the Anglican Tradition.”

But they are wrong.  They are wrong because many members of the Confraternity – I would guess the vast majority who remain in the Church of England – will doubt that this money is being spent on a project which is within “the Anglican Tradition”. They are wrong because they have not considered how this will appear: Whatever their motives, this will look like they raided Church of England funds before leaving. One million pounds, I understand, represents half the total assets of the Confraternity. I would very much like to know what proportion of the membership of CBS is now in the Ordinariate. I would be very surprised if it were anything like a half. They are wrong too because, as I understand it, they failed to consult the membership.

And it is very stupid because this could cause such an enormous scandal before the Ordinariate has even got off the ground. Right or wrong, the press will have a field day with this and the Catholic Church will be hugely embarrassed. That embarrassment is not worth one million pounds.

I cannot believe that the Roman Catholic authorities would knowingly allow these men to remain members – let alone Trustees - of the CBS. How could they, having accepted priestly Orders in the Roman Church, believe that the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ are made truly present on Anglican Altars? To put it very simply, how can a Roman Catholic member of CBS attend Benediction given at an Anglican Ward meeting? If that RC member is the Superior General the difficulties are multiplied. Will he have to bring the Blessed Sacrament with him?

I have held back from publishing this post until I was sure that allegations were "facts". Todays publication in the Times and on Ruth Gledhill's Blog of various documents has assured me that we are in the realm of fact.

Here is a fact: this is plain wrong! The authorities of the Catholic Church must now put every pressure on the Ordinariate to return the money and on Catholic priests to resign their membership of CBS.


I am given to understand that the change to the Constitution referred to above was made in April 2009.

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