Church Times: Chartres – using Roman rite is ‘serious canonical matter’

26 11 2011

Church Times reports:

The Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Richard Chartres, warned London clergy, in an ad clerum letter published last Friday, that adopting new Roman eucharistic rites would be a “serious canonical matter”. He urged them “not to create further disunity by adopting the new rites”, which are a translation of the 2002 third edition of the Roman Missal.

Bishop Chartres wrote that he had learned “with some dismay” that some clerics in London diocese intended “to adopt the new Roman eucharistic rites at Advent”.

He said that, for Anglo-Catholic clergy who had decided not to join the Ordinariate, “there can be no logic in the claim to be offering the eucharist in communion with the Roman Church which the adoption of the new rites would imply. In these rites there is not only a prayer for the Pope but the expression of a communion with him; a communion Pope Benedict XVI would certainly repudiate.”

Bishop Chartres said that the new Roman rite, which is intended to be a more faithful translation of the Latin originals, “varies considerably from its predecessor and thus from Common Worship as well.

“Priests and parishes which do adopt the new rites . . . are making a clear statement of their disassociation not only from the Church of England but from the Roman Communion as well. This is a pastoral unkindness to the laity and a serious canonical matter. The clergy involved have sworn oaths of canonical obedience as well as making their Declaration of Assent. I urge them not to create further disunity by adopting the new rites.”

But Bishop Chartres said that there would be “no persecution and no creation of ritual martyrs”. There would, however, also “be no opportunity to claim that the Bishop’s directions have been unclear”.

Bishop Chartres said that in some churches, “the service of Holy Communion is an appendix to services of the Word and not accorded the central significance which the express command of Jesus would seem to warrant.” He reminded them that Calvin, in his Institutes, commended “weekly eucharistic practice”.

Speaking on Tuesday, the Revd Paul Bagott, Vicar of Holy Redeemer, Clerkenwell, and St Mark’s, Myddleton Square, in London, said that Holy Redeemer, which had used the old Roman rite, would start to use Common Worship on Advent Sunday. “Common Worship allows for some flexibility; so we will have a mass very similar to the usual, with only minor changes. “The Bishop has made very clear his view about the liturgy and what we should be using in the Church of England. Although there has been some licence in the past, that’s clearly not going to be the same. I am happy to be obedient to his request, and members of my congregation I have spoken to agree with me entirely.”

Mr Bagott said that the PCC had been considering how to respond to the new Roman rite, and that Bishop Chartres’s comments were “a useful guide in our thinking”.

The priest of another Anglo-Catholic parish in the London diocese, however, who asked not to be named, said that it would adopt the new Roman rite. “The PCC feel we have always done this [used the Roman rite] and it is part of the church’s tradition; in that sense we are being very Anglican. . . The Bishop occasionally has to speak ex cathedra, and there is a formality to that, but on the ground we don’t operate always within rigid protocol.”

The priest said that many Roman Catholics worshipped at his church, some of whom were from Con­tinental Europe, “and they recognise it [the Roman rite] immediately.”

The chairman of the Prayer Book Society, Prudence Dailey, said that Bishop Chartres’s comments should serve as “a wake-up call for the Church of England to stand back and look at our authentic Anglican heritage”. “Churches in general should be reconsidering using the Book of Common Prayer,” she suggested


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