Monday, 11 April 2011

Fr William Wright, Bishop-elect of Newcastle: Anglicans are welcome, but as for certain catholics...!

Some more less than encouraging developments in relation to Fr Bill Wright, announced last week as the Bishop-Elect of Maitland-Newcastle.

Ecumenism with Anglicans as a priority?

Most of the orthodox Catholic world is focused on the Pope's attempt to redirect ecumencial efforts towards the proper end of the promotion of Christian unity through conversion and reintegration of separated and de facto separated communities back into the Church.  I'm talking of course about moves such as the establishment of the new Anglican Ordinariate, and dialogues with the SSPX inter alia.

Fr Wright however has told the Catholic Weekly that his priority is continuing the ecumenism promoted by the diocese's former bishop, which was subject to Vatican intervention (including to stop a proposed joint confirmation service):

"The bishop-elect is also eager to build on the ecumenical relationship between the Catholic and Anglican Churches in the region. [OK so just why is ecumenism such a key priority here?  I would have thought getting one's own house in order might be just a little higher up the bishop-elect's to do list, especially if relations are already good!]

“Newcastle has an interesting history, too, which I welcome, of the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Anglic­ans there,” Fr Bill said. [Yes well, interesting is one way to describe it.  False ecumenism would be a better one.  Ecumenism cannot be based on pretending that ecclesial communities are Churches, or that their sacraments are valid when the Church has clearly stated that (other than baptism) they are not.]

“The relationship that Bishop Malone has had with Bishop Brian Farran, the Anglican bishop there, I think is valuable [fair enough.  Perhaps even more important as the Ordinariate gets going] and I certainly want to maintain some impetus in ecumenism.[Let's hope it is new, Benedictine style ecumenism rather than old school Maloneism.  But sadly there is no hint of any change in direction here!]”

Separate masses on Sundays - no special groups thanks

I've also now seen some of the correspondence relating to Fr Wright's opposition to a Latin Mass being held in his parish.  It's the same old story it seems - traddies can may be have the occasional mass at some inconvenient time during the week.  But not a regular mass on a Sunday!

But here is the real kicker - in rejecting a Latin Mass Fr Wright also suggested that it is not generally appropriate to hold separate masses for any special group, even in the Ordinary Form.

First it is hard to understand why the Mass in a rite used by the Church for centuries can be viewed, as Fr Wright evidently views it, as not 'for and of the whole community' (particularly in view of the explicit wording to the contrary on this point in Summorum Pontificum).

Secondly though, Fr Wright's reference to special groups using the Ordinary Form is even more curious.

Does that mean he generally opposes Sunday masses in migrant languages, charismatic masses, neo-cat services and other such variants?  And what about children's masses?  Or, for that matter, Eastern Rite Catholics - should they too be forced to come to 'mainstream' English masses?

It will certainly be interesting to see how that works out on a diocesan level!

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