The tiresome path to Christian unity
The timing is said to be significant, marking, as it does, the 40th anniversary of the first meeting between an Archbishop of Canterbury and a Pope since the Reformation. When Archbishop Michael Ramsey met with Pope Paul VI in 1966, it began a process which was designed to heal the rift caused by Henry VIII when he broke with Rome in the 16th Century. Of course, yours truly was not an insignificant player in the process; His Grace and many other noble and honourable men of God were turned to ash in order establish the foundations of the Church of England, so why reverse it? And who is suing for this unity? Are Catholics prepared to compromise one iota of their dogma in order to embrace the heretic Anglicans? Not a bit of it. Are Anglicans prepared to accept the authority and infallibility of the Pope on matters of doctrine? Not remotely. So why continue the façade?
Could it be that the more the ecumenical agenda is pursued, the more likely it is that the Church of England and the worldwide Anglican Communion will split? Is this Rome’s objective - a continuation of the divide-and-rule strategy so effectively deployed across the European Union? Such a schism would leave the Rome as the unchallenged global church – the sole Christian authority – and Protestantism would be reduced to an insignificant sect like any other. It has already been observed that the Anglican Church is really two churches, and the Anglo-Catholics and traditionalists have little time for the trendy bishops dance towards gay and female bishops, and a laisser-faire (to say the least) approach to Scripture and the XXXIX Articles. The liberal and conservative factions may be irreconcilable, and the exodus of the latter to Rome would not merely be a major publicity coup for the Vatican, not least because it would constitute the death throes of the doctrine of Sola Scriptura.
The Church of England belongs to the traditional Catholic order, and it is time to find a way of exercising and exerting an authority consistent with Protestant ecclesiology. While assertions of power within the Church of England have held the communion together for five centuries, it is a serious question whether a church built on the sands of episcopal authority and provincial autonomy can continue.