Cardinal Kasper: Rome’s recognition of Anglican orders is ‘definitively blocked’
If Anglican orders were null and void in 1896, they must still be so today, so Cranmer is a little puzzled as to why the Cardinal mentioned this at all. Indeed, the ‘absolutely’ and ‘utterly’ did not even leave room for much ARCIC debate on the matter.
But, unlike the abruptness of Pope Leo XIII, or the downright rudeness of Cardinal Dias, Cardinal Kasper assured the Anglican bishops that he was addressing them ‘as a friend’, and he wished to speak with ‘the frankness which friendship allows’.
And so, in the spirit of Lumen Gentium, he praised ‘the great and wonderful Anglican cathedrals and churches the world over’, along with ‘the old and famous Colleges in Oxford and Cambridge’; and he spoke in admiration of the ‘marvellous Evensongs’ and ‘the beauty and eloquence of Anglican prayers’; and then he turned to Cranmer (though he did not mention him by name), and expressed his deepest appreciation of the ‘fine scholarship of Anglican historians and theologians’.
Or perhaps he was referring to Newman, for he expressed the hope that there might emerge in the Anglicanism of today a new Oxford Movement - the movement of return to the tradition of the Apostolic Church inspired by Cardinal Newman.
And he expressed this hope along with his exhortation for the Anglican Communion to remain united – each province in communion with the other. Yet the two aspirations may now be absolutely and utterly mutually exclusive, and one wonders why the Cardinal does not see this. He said: “...the ordination of women to the episcopate effectively and definitively blocks a possible recognition of Anglican Orders by the Catholic Church.” And since there are so many traditionalists within the Anglican Communion who accord with this, it is difficult to ignore the subtle but evident allusion to the call of Pope Leo XIII that they should return to Rome where they would find ‘the true aids for salvation’.
Let us not forget that the Cardinal is the head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. For him, all ecumenical roads lead to Rome. So Cranmer wonders if he may address His Eminence also as a friend, for he wishes to speak also with the frankness which friendship allows.
His Eminence referred to ‘anthropological and biblical hermeneutical questions which need to be addressed’, but chose to focus on the relatively peripheral issues of gender and sexuality.
Cranmer would like to graciously and humbly bring to his attention the recent (though by no means revelatory) observations of the Bishop of South Sydney, Robert Forsyth, during the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Australia. While the principal differences between the Roman Church and the Anglican Church have seemingly been reduced to the possession of a penis in the pulpit, or what two consenting men do with their penises behind the pulpit, Bishop Robert Forsyth went on the offensive. He said to the Pope that there indeed remained ‘very great and significant differences’ between the Anglican and Catholic churches, ‘including, if I may say so, even your very office.’
The bishop said he had been inspired by the Pope's exhortation for Christians to see one another as brothers. And he was joined in this protest by the Dean of Sydney Cathedral, the Reverend Phillip Jensen, brother of Sydney Archbishop Peter Jensen, who refused to meet the Pope during his visit because ‘there is nothing in modern Roman Catholicism that reduces our need to protest’.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald , he objected to ‘Roman Catholic claims to authority’ and ‘the enormity of the claims of the Roman Catholic Church’, referring specifically to Papal infallibility and the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. He wrote: ‘We object to the Pope claiming to be the Vicar of Christ. We reject all claims to authority that imply the insufficiency of Scripture. We reject any implication that Jesus’ work on the cross was insufficient, or requires some other mediator.’
In answer to these claims and more, the Dean of Sydney Cathedral quotes from the 39 Articles: ‘The Church of Rome hath erred, not only in their living and manner of ceremonies, but also in matters of faith’.
It is heartening indeed to hear that there are still Protestants in the Anglican Communion. And, in a true spirit of ecumenism and friendship, Cranmer hopes that Cardinal Kasper or Pope Benedict will extend an invitation to the Dean to address their next gathering (should they occasion to hold one) when he might be able put an ‘Anglican position’ on their deliberations, with all the frankness which friendship, of course, allows.