(London Times) Vicar will conduct final service . . . then lead 70 parishioners to Rome

With his wife, Hayley, and two children, aged one and four, Father Ed [Tomlinson] regrets that the diocese of Rochester could not consider a church-sharing scheme. “I feel the real scandal is that the building is going to be used for one hour a week. There will be no 8 o’clock Communion or 6.30 evening service any more. A church-share would have been so easy and very compassionate.”

One woman who is going is 90 years old. She has been attending each week since the age of two. “It is an emotional wrench for her.” They could not go to the Tunbridge Wells Catholic Church because it is already full to bursting. Even in Pembury, it will be a squeeze.

“I still feel it is a tragedy. I would have wanted to say, ”˜How do we maintain the strongest Christian presence here without worrying too much about the denomination?’ ” But he has never considered staying. “For whatever reason God has given me a little Catholic heart and I cannot do anything else.”

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13 comments on “(London Times) Vicar will conduct final service . . . then lead 70 parishioners to Rome

  1. Brien says:

    Just one more time, for old times’ sake. I wrote on this subject a couple of days ago. It is logical never-never land. The priest is leading his people into believing he is a priest and they are receiving the Blessed Sacrament, when he has (or should have) accepted the premise (of the Roman Catholic Church he is soon to embrace) that he ISN”T a priest and never has been–oh well, I guess expecting more than fantasy is unrealistic even in the UK. If you just say it often enough and loudly enough, it is true isn’t it?

    When you make up your mind to go, you should do all that is required–including stopping acting like you are something you’ve decided you are not.

  2. Teatime2 says:

    I agree, Brien. I really don’t understand these people and don’t get what they’re playing at. It’s as if they expect everything to remain the same except, abracadabra, they’re RC with the same priest, congregation, and church building.

    That’s not the reality, and for them to expect it to be shows a rather stunning lack of understanding of how Rome works and what they’re embracing. I fear that the priest has led them down this road because of his own decisions and convinced them it’s the right thing, whether it truly is for all of them or not.

    These poor elderly dears want to stay together under the leadership of their current priest. What will happen if his re-ordination (or whatever they call it) drags on and takes time, they don’t find their own church building, can’t stay together, and find themselves split up among the various RC churches in the area? Will they still be so keen on becoming Catholic? Hanging on and griping that you can’t keep use of the church is just ridiculous. They made their decision and now they need to go and fully live in it.

  3. Fr. J. says:

    Such tedious and mean spirited commentary is really unbecoming of this blog where so many words were spent explaining to the world why congregations should be able to leave their denomination and take their buildings with them.

    It is human nature to become attached to things. A few years ago I advocated here that those leaving TEC should just leave their buildings behind. But that was a grossly unpopular sentiment at the time. I explained that to lay aside everything for the truth is an essentially Christian act. Certainly, the Lord has spoken of selling everything to purchase the pearl of great price. A church building is a sacramental, a visible sign of the mystical body, the Church. So, naturally anyone who would do violence to a church will likely begin with its building. And Catholics know this historically nowhere better than in England and Ireland, their churches and monasteries confiscated, desecrated, used as stables, religious images smashed, their very faith made illegal, their priests hunted down and murdered.

    Those TEC members who left collectively for other Anglican shores did suffer injustices, no doubt. And these new Catholics are now discovering for the first time what it is to be truly a Catholic in England. They will not be the first to find themselves homeless in a land replete with churches built by their own forebears yet closed to them. They will not be the first to hear the unspoken message proclaimed loudly and for all to hear: “Better that no one worship God in this place than you!” So, their first experiences as Catholics will be in communion with the Catholic generations of the last 500 years who have looked up to the great Medieval Cathedrals and sadly recalled that their Lord once resided and their ancestors in the faith once worshiped him therein.

    May they be strengthened in the Lord who teaches: “And blessed are you when they persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you for my sake for your reward will be great in Heaven.”

  4. Archer_of_the_Forest says:

    The whole tragedy of what’s going on in England is like watching two really good friends get into a nasty divorce. You love them both and wish the best for both of them, and you can even diagnose what went wrong. When the level of trust gets so shattered that neither side trusts each other, then divorce is not far behind.

    I, likewise, found the first two comments a bit uncaring. While I have personal reservations about the fates of those entering the Ordinariate (all that glitters isn’t gold, as they say), I wish them well “to go in peace to love and serve the Lord” as it says at the end of the Eucharist.

  5. Archer_of_the_Forest says:

    Likewise, I would echo Father J’s comment above. I have said for years that I think its best for departing congregations to just leave the church building if things can’t be worked out amicably out of court. The Church is not the building, it is the people of God. While it is painful and sad to leave one’s physical home, if it is God’s will for you to leave, then God will provide.

  6. Teatime2 says:

    It’s one thing to go from one expression of Anglicanism to another, even if it’s acrimonious, and quite another to completely change denominations and still expect to be able to use the church.

    My family left the RCC. How do you think the RCs would have liked it if we decided on a future date of when we would depart but we hung around the RC parish for a couple of months expecting to be accommodated and telling them repeatedly how we find their church deficient? That’s just wrong.

    I prayed about the decision for years but told no one. In fact, I took every opportunity to study and serve more in the RCC during that time, thinking that perhaps it would make my discomfiture with some of the doctrine and practice go away. It didn’t. My son and I discussed it quietly and privately and when we came to a decision, we informed our priest and left. No whining, pining, or unpleasantness on our end.

    Was it difficult? Of course it was! But we knew it was the right thing, it was a personal decision, and there should be no drama or public displays. Such behavior causes hurt and does nothing to advance the kingdom of God.

    So, I’ve been there. If my disgust at the drama is deemed “uncaring,” so be it. This group doesn’t seem to care about the pain they are causing others, especially the Anglicans who will remain. That’s simply not right, and it makes Christians look like a really unpleasant lot. Not the sort of witness we should be in the world.

    And, Fr. J., you failed to mention a whole other side to Catholicism in England. The RCC ordering that people be tormented simply for reading the Scriptures in English; swindling the people into buying fake relics and indulgences; the RCC attempting to control secular politics, breaking its own rules when it suited them in favor of monarchs who would do their bidding, and putting a price on the heads of princes they didn’t like. Speaking of which, many of those churches were built by kings and nobility — NOT the RCC — and they were built for political purposes and favor, not solely spiritual. And some churches receive money from tax dollars and historic trusts, maintained as part of the history of the nation.

    These people are not being persecuted — they are choosing to leave of their own free will. When other people throughout the centuries decided to convert, they left their churches behind and found an RC parish to join. If Rome’s goal is to woo whole groups through this new initiative, then it should accommodate them. The fact that Rome isn’t providing anything for them, and that these people don’t seem to want to join existing RC churches as individuals isn’t the C of E’s problem to solve.

  7. deaconjohn25 says:

    Separations are always difficult. And it is easy to say that those who want to be in communion with Rome should just leave their parish Anglican Church. But some are apparently members of parish churches their families have worshipped in since before the Reformation. At that time some of their ancestors may have risked their lives to keep the parish church Catholic.
    Two well-researched books by Eamon Duffy of the University of Cambridge and published by Yale University Press tell the story (unknown by many non-Catholics who are taught that the English turn from Rome and Catholicism was very popular) of how the people struggled against government power stealing their Catholic religion (and churches and their art and Catholic decor) from them.
    The first book is “The Stripping of the Altars–Traditional Religion in England 1400-1580”). It tells the story of how long it took government power to install and impose non-Catholic religion on the people.
    The second book is “The Voices of Morebath–Reformation and Rebellion In An English Village.” It tells the story of how one English village–among many–conspired together to protect its parish’s Catholic heritage by hiding government condemned religious artwork of various sorts .
    Together these books are eerily similar to a just published book: “Hidden and Trimphant”–by Irina Yazykova who tells the story of the underground struggle to save Russian Iconography from destruction by the Communist government.

  8. Paula Loughlin says:

    [Comment deleted at commenter’s request – Elf]

  9. Paula Loughlin says:

    On second thought Elves scratch my above. It serves no use.

  10. Paula Loughlin says:

    In the spirit of Lent and the call to fast and pray as we ready for Easter I am going to take a break from those things which lead me into uncharitable thoughts.

    There are so many wonderful people who though they disagree strongly and most vehemently with Catholic doctrine manage always to do so with charity and benevolence and I count the majority of who comment on this blog in that category. I never see their opinion as being attacks and I never am hurt by what they write. We disagree but are united in so much more that I have grown to love and care for them.

    Sadly I just am not willing to bear the constant attack and ill will and uncharitable opinions voiced against the faith I love and the Church I believe in with all my heart that come from some. Not during Lent when I just need to prepare for the great Feast. A time of prayer and penance is no time to be drawn into the oft repeated charges laid against my Church by those who hate her. I just don’t have the desire to fight or to even respond. So I am leaving for Lent.

    I hope you all have a blessed and hopeful Lent. May you be ever in our Lord’s grace.

  11. deaconjohn25 says:

    Teatime 2 is right==there IS another side to Catholicism. The fact its leaders are sinful, fallible human beings as administrators and policy makers in the Church. (Only doctrines of faith and morals taught “ex cathedra” in the Church are uniquely protected by the Holy Spirit through the ministry of the successor to St. Peter in Rome).
    But, the complaints Teatime has made about what he feels were mistaken policy or administrative decisions of Church leaders over the centuries, can be explained as rational under the circumstances they were decided and during the times they were made. (Too much to go into here).

  12. The_Elves says:

    [We certainly encourage Commenters to be careful how they express themselves and to keep to the topic – a number of threads are getting overheated at the moment – Thanks – Elf]

  13. phil swain says:

    “Every one then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock; …” May God continue to bless you, rugbyplayingpriest.