Sunday, July 06, 2008

Anglican bishops in ‘secret’ Vatican summit

So says The Sunday Telegraph, without the inverted commas around ‘secret’, but it cannot be much of a secret if the media are able to broadcast it to the world. In fact, the only person who appears to be oblivious to the meeting is the Archbishop of Canterbury, but Cranmer can fully understand why Anglo-Catholic bishops might wish to keep secrets from him as they met with ‘senior advisers of the Pope in an attempt to build closer ties with the Roman Catholic Church’. It is curious that what was ‘secret’ because of its ‘explosive nature’ has now been conveniently leaked to The Telegraph on the eve of important and defining votes in the General Synod. This is posturing and scaremongering by the 1,333 clergy who are threatening to cross the Tiber unless they are awarded a ‘safe havens’ from bishops with a surfeit of oestrogen.

In ‘highly confidential discussions’ the bishops ‘expressed their dismay at the liberal direction of the Church of England and their fear for its future’. By ‘liberal’ they mean the rows over homosexuality and women bishops, and so they met with members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which The Telegraph bills as ‘the most powerful of the Vatican's departments, the successor to the medieval Inquisition, which enforces doctrine and was headed by Pope Benedict XVI before his election’.

But Cranmer is bemused.

Where did the Church of England think the ordination of women priests would lead? Female bishops are simply a logical progression: either women may be ordained or they may not. If they may, it is quite arbitrary to prevent their rising through the ranks. And the moment they decreed that homosexual priests may minister, and that they may live with their partners as long as the remain celibate, and that homosexuals may receive a church blessing on their relationships, it was only a matter of time before the celibacy rule was quietly 'no longer enforced', and the church's 'blessing’ became a formal ‘gay marriage’ liturgy, modelled on Cranmer’s magnum opus.

Yet one bishop justifies his dialogue with Rome by asserting that ‘these are the presenting issues that have made talks necessary, but our concerns go much deeper than these rows to issues of basic doctrine.’ And another refers to the fracturing Anglican Communion forcing a ‘unity’ with Rome.

Basic doctrine? Unity with Rome?

While differences over soteriology may not be as important as they once were, it is difficult to see how exchanging one churches foibles for those of another addresses issues of ‘basic doctrine’. There are divisions on grace, Thomistic ideas and the Eucharist, and let us not forget the notion of 'papal infallibility’. And those considering defecting will learn, if they do not already know, that 'Catholic' has been hijacked by Rome, that it repudiates the contention of the Church of England that it is part of the Catholic Church, and they will also learn that 'ecumenism' is a process in which the partial churches and ‘ecclesial communities’ are invited to join the Roman Catholic Church in its fullness.

And as for seeking ‘unity’ with Rome, one only has to see the gulf that exists between Pope Benedict XVI and his bishops in England and Wales to appreciate that the Church of Rome is as divided against itself as the Church of England. There is internecine conflict and poisonous invective between The Catholic Herald and The Tablet, for Rome has its ‘traditional’ and ‘liberal’ wings also. There is internal pressure for women priests (and therefore cardinals?); there are arguments over the status of Vatican II, acutely expressed by the schismatic Society of St Pius X; there is disquiet about the ‘encouragement’ of the Tridentine Rite in every parish; ordinands to the priesthood are diminishing; the ‘enforced’ celibacy of the priesthood is being questioned; the Church has its own gay happy band of homosexuals – both ordained and lay; and there remains more than a lingering whiff of child abuse with a complicit Vatican protecting at least one gross offender.

‘Frying pan’ and ‘fire’ come to mind. Those Anglican bishops and priests who wish to have ‘unity’ with Rome while maintaining their ‘Anglican identity’ may well find that while the arms of His Holiness are open wide, those of his bishops remain firmly folded. After all, either Anglican orders are 'absolutely null and totally void' or they are not. However easy the Pope may wish to make any mass defection (excuse the pun), there are more than a few Roman Catholic bishops of England and Wales who may stubbornly refuse to cooperate in the process.

It is ironic that an aide to Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor observes that the dialogue with the Anglican bishops only started after the crisis in the Anglican Communion worsened. He said: "It is obvious things are starting to fall apart and Rome wants to be able to help if it can."

Cranmer humbly suggests that His Eminence ought to focus on his own worsening situation: he is hardly in a position to pick up the pieces of the Church of England when things are falling apart rather nearer home.

24 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

A friend in High Places has told me that both Canterbury and Rome are hoping for this mass defection of priests, as it will, at a stroke, double the IQs of both bodies.

Poppy Tupper

6 July 2008 at 10:30  
Blogger Manfarang said...

Of course the Roman Catholic Church has no homosexual priests.
All those abusers-never happened!
Where are they living now?I'll give you three guesses.

6 July 2008 at 12:16  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

With respect, Your Grace, the schismatic tendency is nowhere near as strong in the Catholic Church as is appears to be in the Anglican. Of course there are disagreements, of course there are different wings - this is a communion of well over a billion people. There will continue to be fights over doctrine and liturgy, but they can be conducted safe in the knowledge that schism is not an option.

I am appalled at the hypocrisy of bishops who would cross the Tiber. To suddenly realise their belief in infallibility and transubstantiation at just the moment that the Anglican Communion recognises female bishops is duplicitous and disingenuous. They must live with their consciences for the lies they will inevitably have to tell as part of the process of crossing the Tiber.

Your Grace is right - His Eminence should be focussing a little more on the flock he has, rather than casting his beady eye on the assets of the flock he would like.

6 July 2008 at 12:23  
Blogger ultramontane grumpy old catholic said...

Your Grace:

To judge from some of the blogs I read, there are many Anglican priests who already believe in the doctrine of Transubstantiation - that when they celebrate Mass and utter the words of consecration, the bread and wine become the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ. Neither do I feel that they have a problem with papal infallibility, as they understand the restrictive conditions under which this applies.

Whether they 'cross the Tiber' or not must be an agonising and ultimately brave decision, impacting on their beliefs, their livelihoods and the people around them (family, parishioners etc) who could be troubled by such a step.

To pick up your point about frying pans and fire, this Grumpy Catholic in the pew does not recognise claims that some sort of civil war is about to break out in the Catholic Church in England and Wales between those who hanker after the traditional Mass (like me) and those who are comfortable with the modern version. There will be some disappointment that Pope Benedict's Motu Proprio of last year isn't being implemented faster, but the Church thinks in centuries not years. And what else can we do? We just continue to pray for this present Pope, who to my mind is the greatest we have had in my lifetime.

A more significant piece of news this weekend, mentioned in the Catholic press but ignored elsewhere is the proposal to the BMA that doctors should be required to approve requests by women for abortions, with no conscience get out clause. This is an outrageous proposal which will impact on other Christian, Jewish and Muslim doctors who oppose abortion.

6 July 2008 at 17:02  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Turn out the lights the party is over for the Anglican Church in England.

6 July 2008 at 18:08  
Blogger shergar said...

Thomas. The bitterness. The anger. The petty pointscoring. What has Holy Mother Church ever extended you but her arms: ever open, ever ready to reach heavenwards to rejoice at the prodigal's homecoming? Join us, Thomas, and just say no to the gayers and the madwomen that assail you.

6 July 2008 at 19:45  
Anonymous Voyager said...

I rather like Martin Luther and find his writings inspirational. Protestantism is what made England great and created a moral backbone to the English nation - and I think to the era of Dutch ascendancy and Swedish power.

I often think of which church offers a home for the Displaced Anglican; for me it is certainly not Rome. I had thought of Orthodoxy.....but i find I am temperamentally a Protestant.

It is a question of Church as in institution and the more I look at it, I see a decaying institution like so many in what was England.

After all when I heard Rowan Williams say today that if Jesus were to be in attendance at Synod I thought....religious leaders would reject him today just as they did then.

It was the Sanhedrin and the institutional "church" which wanted Jesus to conform to societal norms and be subservient to secular values...his call to spiritual purity and adherence to God's Will put him at odds with the aristocracy of Judaism - The Sanhedrin.


So I tend to see so much hypocrisy in the way Synod functions and the games of politics..it is not a church so much as a Rotary Club

6 July 2008 at 19:53  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To any who would dismiss the Catholic Church as an option, take note of St.Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, martyred 202 AD...

'Because it would take too long in such a volume as this to enumerate the successions of all the churches, we point to the tradition of that very great and very ancient and universally known Church which was founded and established at Rome by the two glorious Apostles, Peter and Paul: we point, I say, to the tradition which this Church has from the Apostles, and to her faith proclaimed to men which comes down to our time through the succession of her bishops, and so we put to shame, all who assemble in unauthorised meetings. For with this Church, because of its superior authority, every church must agree-that is the faithful everywhere-in communion with which Church the tradition of the Apostles has been always preserved by those who are everywhere.'

Those bishops and clergy threatening to leave the Church of England for the Catholic Church unless provisions are made for them
would indeed be hypocritical. Acceptance of the Catholic faith in all its fullness must be unconditional.

CP

6 July 2008 at 21:51  
Anonymous hear o israel said...

your grace
your spirit was mentioned today at service , we must never forget , that authority rests in the bible not in the pope . which is what i understand the protestant communion was about .

God bless cranmer for his words which are still worth everything

6 July 2008 at 22:39  
Anonymous Sabina said...

Defecting to Rome? What a joke. A Nazi pope whose previous job (head of Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) is just a modern whitewash for its old title: Grand Inquisitor.

7 July 2008 at 05:20  
Anonymous TomTom said...

A Nazi pope

Well Sabina....tell us when the schoolboy Ratzinger joined the NSDAP ?

You cannot because you display your ignorance by making things up

7 July 2008 at 06:19  
Anonymous fugitive ink said...

One of the sadder aspects of this story is the way in which the mainstream media (although certainly not your post, which is spot-on) cannot imagine this narrative in other than purely secular terms.

As far as they're concerned, any membership organisation that loses members is 'in crisis' and on the way out. The alternative version - that all of this unsightly mess can hardly be other than the working-out of God's marvellous providence - doesn't merit a mention.

One doesn't have to know much history to realise that the Christian faith has actually faced serious challenges before, and emerged from them all the stronger. Losing a few clergy, and a few congregations, to Rome is hardly the end of Anglicanism as we know it. And yet I don't think the media have quite grasped that progress toward's Christ's rule on earth is something rather more significant than another reality television programme, where 'victory' isn't achieved through winning the most votes in some phone-in. Sad, but weirdly inspiring all the same.

7 July 2008 at 06:28  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

tomtom, Ratzinger was a member of the Hitler Youth. Later, he was a member of the German Army, an organ of the Nazi Government. He served in an Anti-Aircraft Unit. He deserted when it was clear that the war was lost. He may never have taken out membership of the Party, but he colluded with it, to the point of fighting for it. This was at a time when other young people of his own age, most notably the Scholls and those others in the White Rose movement, gave their lives to oppose Nazism. Ratzinger's record on this is not laudable. You should not rebuke those who remember this.

7 July 2008 at 08:35  
Anonymous Voyager said...

tomtom, Ratzinger was a member of the Hitler Youth. Later, he was a member of the German Army, an organ of the Nazi Government.

Everyone was a member of the Hitler Jugend or BDM - it was compulsory. Anti-Aircraft units were NOT part of the German Army but under Luftwaffe auspices and actually he was a Flakhelfer which simply means you carry the shells.

Smear as much as you wish but it makes you look absurd

7 July 2008 at 11:16  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well actually I just feel terribly, terribly sad and confused by it all. As an Anglo-Catholic I do believe in Transubstantiation, prayers of intercession, the Marian dogmas, and everything else. I would probably have crossed to Rome before now but I have issues with infallibility and a tribal attachment to the CofE.

Quite apart from everything else, I do believe that the CofE in England is nothing if it is not the Catholic church of England- albeit reformed. I do not support women priests, but at the priestly level can of course choose not to be ministered to by them.

As far as I am concerned it comes down to Apostolic Succession. So, in the future, if I am in a parish with a male vicar, I would have to find out whether he had been ordained by a woman or not- for if he had I honestly and sadly would believe his orders to be invalid.

I can cope with flying Bishops- currently my church is overseen by the Bishop of Ebbsfleet, but feel that we anglo-catholics, who may be so out of step with the "modern" world, do nevertheless require some form of protection in law.

It is very sad that it has had to come to this- I agree with the Romans posting here that crossing the Tiber would require full acceptance of all the RC teaching. But to remain in the Anglican communion were all the stools to be kicked out from under me would leave me where precisely? Unable to accept infallibility and therefore denied access to the RC, and comprehensively unchurched by the religion of my birth.

I am praying for all sides in this because there needs to be understanding if there is to be progress. Well, actually, there clearly doesn't, and we of the anglo-catholic wing are entirely at the mercy of the Synod.

Are we really so evil that a true matter of conscience is enough to have us progressively removed from our own church? Increasingly, I fear so, and I just don't understand why the toleration can't be extended both ways.

7 July 2008 at 12:52  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Voyager. Not everyone was a member of the Hitler Youth. And I did point out the example of the Schools, who had been but repudiated it, and were executed for opposing Hitler as students. If you don't know about them, look it up.

'I wasn't shooting, governor, I was just carrying the shells.' Larf?

7 July 2008 at 18:44  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Scholls. finger habit, sorry.

7 July 2008 at 18:44  
Anonymous Voyager said...

The Geschwister Scholl were completely bananas. Just read up on Weisse Rose and wonder why they were so naive as to hand out flyers just after Stalingrad !

They were manufactured as "heroes" postwar to create a supposed German Resistance when in fact there was no such thing.

As for the Scholls - Hans was in the Hitlerjugend and Sophie was in the BDM...

7 July 2008 at 19:59  
Anonymous edward tattysyrup said...

There is internal pressure for women priests (and therefore cardinals?) sez Cranmer.

It's not an 'and theerfore'. In principle there is no reason why there couldn't be women cardinals now - cos you don't need to be a priest, let alone bishop to be a cardinal. Richlieu wasn't a priest for example.

7 July 2008 at 20:43  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

voyager - as I said, they had been in the movement, but they repudiated it. Guillotined by the nazis for resistance. Made up postwar? You disgust me. Do you perhaps think the Holocaust is a lie? It sounds like you do.

7 July 2008 at 20:46  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous who would be a Catholic,

Don't cease to pray for the gift of the Catholic faith in all its fullness. Read the Fathers, they have plenty to say about the infallibility of the Church.

The Roman Catholic church is the true Christian church of England. It is the church of Augustine, the Venerable Bede, Thomas Beckett, Thomas More, the martyrs of the Reformation etc.
Speaking of the Fathers, John Henry Newman said,'Did St.Athanasius or St.Ambrose come suddenly to life, it cannot be doubted what communion he would take to be his own.' And were these Saints 'to come more northward still, and to travel until they reached another fair city, seated among groves, green meadows, and calm streams, the holy brothers would turn aside from many a high ailse or solemn cloister which they found there, and ask the way to some small chapel where Mass was said...'

CP

7 July 2008 at 21:02  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Oh anonymous you are so funny, so pompous and so erratic. The Geschwister Scholl were fools - noone could be quite so naive as to scatter leaflets around a university straight after the devastating defeat at Stalingrad.

Even in Britain people like that would have been arrested and interned - maybe even executed for treason for aiding and abetting the enemy.

The Germans and the Allies needed the myth of German Resistance postwar when building up West Germany against the GDR.

There are quite a few of these such as George Elser but in fact there was no resistance to Hitler and the only real resistance came in 1944 with the Stauffenberg Coup.

Do you perhaps think the Holocaust is a lie? It sounds like you do.

You do jump around and cast aspersions. No doubt your GCSE history project armed you with a suitably facile understanding of events. You certainly display ignorance on a wide canvas

8 July 2008 at 08:07  
Blogger Caroline said...

Anonymous and Voyager. Stop it now about Benedict. That is not the subject of this blog. You are both Christian, so start acting Christian toward each other and everyone else, even Benedict. Here in the States, we have an old Indian saying, "When you have walked in my moccasins...." Forget the past, please. Unfortunatley as the great wit Dorothy Parker said: "The past is not dead, in fact, it's not even past.

8 July 2008 at 15:45  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

caroline. I don't think that the Pope is a nazi, but I don't think that it does truth any good to deny that he collaborated with them and took part in nazi action against the allies. It certainly dos the cause of truth no good at all to slander the brave young people of the White Rose.

8 July 2008 at 20:31  

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