The other day, we observed the interesting fact that editors of the Baltimore Sun were not interested in the story of how a priest from here in Charm City -- Father F. Richard Spencer, to be precise -- ended up being named by the Vatican to serve as the new auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese for U.S. Military Service. His record as a military chaplain under fire is actually rather fascinating. The installation rites at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., drew zippo in terms of Sun coverage and, ever since, I've been checking to see if anything has filtered into the newspaper that lands in my front yard morning after morning. I haven't seen anything and nothing shows up in their search engine.
I still think that is rather odd. Maybe it would have drawn coverage here if he was a bishop in the giant Evangelical Lutheran Church in America? That's such a giant, historic flock in Maryland, you know.
Now we have another highly symbolic Baltimore story that is getting ink in religious publications far and wide -- but nothing so far in the Sun.
The vestry of Mount Calvary Church (Episcopal), a small but historic Anglo-Catholic parish in Baltimore, has voted unanimously in favor of two resolutions: first, to leave the Episcopal Church and second, to become an Anglican Use parish in the Holy Catholic Church under terms of Anglicanorum Coetibus, the apostolic constitution announced last year by the Vatican that provides for "personal ordinariates for Anglicans entering full communion with the Catholic Church," while allowing them to retain most elements of Anglican worship using a modified version of the Book of Common Prayer.
The rector of Mount Calvary, the Rev'd Jason Catania, has sent his parishioners a letter ... announcing a special meeting on October 24th at which the vestry's resolutions will be voted upon by the parish. Fr. Catania writes: "The result of these developments is that the Archdiocese of Baltimore now stands ready to welcome Mount Calvary as a body into full communion with the successor of St. Peter, and the process of establishing ordinariates in various countries, including the United States, has begun."
While certainly a dramatic move, the impact of Mount Calvary's departure for Rome remains to be seen. The number of Anglo-Catholics in the United States has always been relatively small and after thirty-some years of increasing heterodoxy in the Episcopal Church, many of those not having gone theologically "soft" have already left, most to breakaway Anglican churches, a few to Rome.
I don't know, maybe the story would have been more interesting if it took place in London, just before or after Pope Benedict XVI's hostile invasion of the United Kingdom?
As it turns out, there is even a second newsworthy angle to this affair that is raising Anglican eyebrows. Can this be true?
... (The) Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, while saddened by Mount Calvary's decision, has indicated, happily, its willingness to negotiate an amicable separation that will permit the parish to keep its property. It is also believed there will not be objections from 815 Second Avenue in New York in as much Mount Calvary is leaving for Rome, not another Anglican entity. Let us pray it is so.
Now, as you would imagine, there are other reports out there from commentators that are partial to the point of view of this parish, which is an isolated Anglo-Catholic flock in an overwhelming liberal local diocese. But mainstream coverage? That would be helpful, methinks.
Still, the local Episcopal bishop has certainly acted in a charitable and unusual manner in letting Mount Calvary depart without financial bloodshed. So, when will the news break here in Baltimore?
I will keep watching, but I am not holding my breath.