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October 25, 2014

Sex, Sensibility and the Ordinariate

Sorry to be so derivative recently, but there’s been so much good stuff on the blogosphere, and I felt I just had to share some of it with you. Before I try to compose something original in the coming days,  here’s another bit from Fr John Hunwicke, one of the greatest masters of irony I have ever come across.

When the first wave of Anglican priests was in preparation to be admitted to the presbyterate of the Ordinariate, we all had to go, one by one, to a Church-run centre in Manchester for ‘psychometric’ evaluation.

During one of my interviews, the clergyman interviewing me asked whether there was any part of the Church’s teaching that I had difficulty with. Bishop Newton had very strongly advised us all to be totally honest, so I said `Well, there is something. I have no trouble accepting it theoretically, but I do have problems internalising it, feeling it. To tell you the truth, I feel a little embarrassed mentioning this … ”

`Out with it,` he invited, looking interested. So I explained.

`Particularly when I’m in a big, bustling crowd, I look at all those faces, all apparently with their own preoccupations, everybody pushing everybody else, and I get Big Doubts. I wonder if it really can be true that God has an individual and salvific and interlocking plan for each and every one of them. I know, intellectually, that He does … but …. well ….. particularly in the London rush hour …..`

`No no no,` he replied, perhaps a trifle impatiently. All interest had now faded from his face. `I meant Sex.`

It became clear that the process of ‘evaluation’ had little interest in grilling us to check that we were not closet Monothelites, or a bit dodgy on the question of Usury, but a great concern about our complete conformity to the Church’s official teaching on all matters sexual.

I entirely applaud this. How different things would probably have been in, say, 1974.

But I have been puzzling, during the last fortnight or so, as to why it was deemed so important to check that Ordinariate clergy are 101% orthodox on all questions sexual, while, apparently, Out There some bishops and even cardinals may not be quite so sound. (Do you think they gave Kieran Conry a Psychometrical? Keith O’Brien? Have all the Synod Fathers had one?)

I never did get an answer to my problem about the London rush hour. It is still with me.

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