Page 4, 16th January 1987

16th January 1987
Page 4
Page 4, 16th January 1987 — Misnomer and skirting the issue

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Organisations: Corpus Christi Church


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Misnomer and skirting the issue

YOUR two issues (December 19, January 2) both dealt on their front pages, in high profile, with Catholic ordination of former Anglicans. The first was entitled "Oxford mover ordained". It spoke of Peter Cornwell "seeking reordination", supported by the Archbishop of Birmingham. It spoke of Fr Charles Smith as being "Reordained on Sunday" (December 14) and as having "concelebrated his first Mass" — which is a contradiction.

The second again described Fr Charles Smith as "Reordained" when narrating that Rev John Hay saw his Bishop of Birmingham to announce his conversion to Catholicism, supposedly for three negative reasons — objections to women priests, the 1980 Alternative Service Book and Bishop David

None of this faces the issue properly — are such men reordained or ordained anew? The spirit of Apostolicae Curae (1896) underwrites the latter, and Rome has never withdrawn it; the spirit of the Second Agreed Statement of ARCIC I (1973) underwrites the former, but neither Rome nor Canterbury/Lambeth have adopted it. As it stands, there is surely no reordination present.

What was understood on the evening of December 14? I was present and can offer a view. The front two rows of Corpus Christi Church (called "Christ the King" by the presiding bishop) were filled with Anglican colleagues and friends of Charles Smith from his long years of ministry with them up to his recent retirement at 70, all of them dressed in their most solemn liturgical clothes and many having travelled from London.

Neither ordainer nor ordinand properly welcomed them, nor explained the complex condition of this conferred sacrament.

At the end, in an extraliturgical speech aftrer clapping, Fr Charles Smith did refer to those "friends from my former work". I know from them how sad it sounded to Anglicans and ecumenists alike. Eirenic words are being used to side-step the subject, by journalists in ignorance, by churchmen in . . . What should be my next word?

Alberic Stacpoole OSB *RE the news item (December 19) "Oxford mover reordained".

I take issue with the word reordained, this seems to give the impression that the Anglican ordination of these men was somehow valid. The letter Apostolicae Curae has not yet been revoked and to tacitly report matters as if it no longer had any authority is merely fudging the issue.

York Peter Grey

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