Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Queen sends 'supportive' letters to the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans

The Supreme Governor of the Church of England has spoken.

At least to the extent to which she is able within the confines of her constitutional limitations. She sent a letter of support to the group, or at least a letter which the organisers were able to interpret as support, and that is sufficient. She told the group, which was formed in response to the ‘liberal’ direction of some sections of the Anglican Communion, that she ‘understood their concerns’.

It is comforting to be understood, especially by one’s monarch.

For some reason, The Daily Telegraph terms the FCA as a ‘controversial church movement’.


For defending orthodox Anglicanism? For maintaining the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law? For being faithful to the teaching of Scripture and church tradition? For confronting sexual immorality? For refusing to bow to the idols of relativism, secularism and human rights?

It appears that to be a non-conformist is to be controversial; to confront the spirit of the age is unacceptable; to question the values of the world is insupportable.

For the Christian, thus it ever was.

The moment one chooses to put away the old man and clothe oneself in the new – the incomparable Jesus – there will be a new way of thinking, a new way of doing, a new way believing and renewing. And we were promised the world would not like it.

But what is this alliance between the Evangelical and the Anglo-Catholic?

It appears to be based upon two connected beliefs – that homosexuality is a sin of which one must repent, and that marriage is heterosexual.

Considering their far greater and infinitely more significant theological differences, it is a curiously insecure foundation. Indeed, one might even call it a 'trend'.

The Bishop of Rochester Dr Michael Nazir-Ali has said: “We want to hold on to the traditional teaching of the Church. We don’t want to be rolled over by culture and trends in the Church.”

While the Evangelicals may accord wholeheartedly with this, there will be one or two Anglo-Catholics who are aware that they are in a church which was forged by ‘rolling over to culture’; it had its genesis in a ‘trend’, and continues to be influenced by one or two.

Yet it is a moot question the extent to which one should be counter-cultural and discern which trends are to be rejected and which absorbed. If one gives way to feminism and ordains female priests, how can one sustain the injustice of an all-male episcopate? And if the church has ‘rolled over’ to this ‘trend’, why not do so for the homo-feminist movement? Laws on abortion, obscenity, blasphemy, marriage and divorce have all correlated with a set of cultural, political and social trends that have seen religion pushed from the public sphere to that of the private.

The ‘gay rights’ campaigner Peter Tatchell has again declaimed from the rooftops that the Church of England is discriminatory. He said: “Homophobia is a social and moral evil, just like racism. Bigotry, even in the guise of religion, has no place in a compassionate, caring society. I call on the Bishop to repent his homophobia. His prejudice goes against Christ’s gospel of love and compassion.”

One rather wishes someone would tell Peter Tatchell to walk into his local mosque and take his argument to some of those who might be as persuaded and as convicted of their views as he is of his. Or does he pick on the Church of England because of its accommodation?

And one also wishes, indeed prays for Anglicans to rediscover their foundations – which lie in the theology of Richard Hooker just as much as they do the works of His Grace. There is a reasonableness, tolerance and inclusivity in Hooker’s theology which mediated effectively between the Puritans and the High Church adherents in an age of intolerance and unreason. He stood on the shoulders of Aquinas when he wrote his Of the Lawes of Ecclesiastical Politie, in which he argued that reason and tradition are important when interpreting Scripture, and that it is important to understand that the Bible is contextual – it was written in a particular historical context and in response to specific situations: ‘So our own words also when we extol the complete sufficiency of the whole entire body of the scripture, must in like sort be understood with this caution, that the benefit of nature's light be not thought excluded as unnecessary, because the necessity of a diviner light is magnified’ (Book I:14:4). And later: ‘Words must be taken according to the matter whereof they are uttered’ (Book IV.11.7).

He practised form criticism before the term was invented. He pointed the Church of England in its via media direction which became its foundation.

And if the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?


Blogger John Doe said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7 July 2009 at 10:33  
Anonymous no nonny said...

Her Majesty is one of my favourite people ever in the entire world!! May God bless her for everything she does, or would like to do, for us. Thank you, Your Grace, for helping us to see this instance of her grace.

7 July 2009 at 10:51  
Blogger ultramontane grumpy old catholic said...

It's quite astonishing that Her Majesty felt able to write such a letter - but good for her!

We will probably see the Left and the Gays now pushing for a republic.

7 July 2009 at 10:52  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace,

‘If one gives way to feminism and ordains female priests, how can one sustain the injustice of an all-male episcopate? And if the church has ‘rolled over’ to this ‘trend’, why not do so for the homo-feminist movement?’

Whilst I believe that to have female priests is wrong; a female heterosexual priest cannot be equated with a practising homosexual priest. They are not morally equivalent.

7 July 2009 at 11:02  
Blogger Peter Carrell said...

Was Hooker a bishop?

7 July 2009 at 11:09  
Blogger John Doe said...

The Church of England has managed to repel the entire British nation from its doors, this is hardly any great Christian achievement. I am sure Jesus is ecstatic.

7 July 2009 at 11:30  
Anonymous Hank Petram said...

Even if it's only "a letter which the organisers were able to interpret as support", rather than an explicit letter of support, do you suppose, Your Grace, that Prince Charles, if he were now king, would have written such a letter to FOCA? I suspect his woollymindedness where religion is concerned would have proved an insuperable obstacle.

7 July 2009 at 11:34  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

The Telegraph story ends with this sentence: ‘Royal sources said the Queen was not endorsing the FCA...’

The FCA and Your Grace say the Queen’s letter is ‘supportive’; the Palace says it isn’t. Small wonder that Christians can make the Bible say anything they want it to say.

7 July 2009 at 11:38  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace,

“Homophobia is a social and moral evil, just like racism. Bigotry, even in the guise of religion, has no place in a compassionate, caring society. I call on the Bishop to repent his homophobia. His prejudice goes against Christ’s gospel of love and compassion.”

The rejection of the practice of homosexuality is not a social and moral evil (it is quite the reverse) nor can it be the moral equivalent of racism. Race is not a practice; homosexuality is. You do not practise being white.

‘The innovators are really implying that sex is something superficial, irrelevant to the spiritual life. To say that men and women are equally eligible for a certain profession is to say that for the purposes of that profession their sex is irrelevant… in our Christian life we must return to reality. There we are not homogenous units, but different and complementary organs of a mystical body. Lady Nunburnholme has claimed that the equality of men and women is a Christian principle. I do not remember the text in Scripture nor the Fathers, nor Hooker, nor the Prayer Book which asserts it; … The point is that unless ‘equal’ means ‘interchangeable’, equality makes nothing for the priesthood of women. And the kind of equality which implies that the equals are interchangeable… is among humans, a legal fiction. It may be a useful legal fiction, but in church we can turn our backs on fictions. One of the ends for which sex was created was to symbolise to us the hidden things of God. One of the functions of human marriage [heterosexual] is to express the nature of the union between Christ and the Church. We have no authority to take the living and seminal figures which God has painted on the canvas of our nature and shift them about as if they were mere geometrical figures.
This is what common sense will call ‘mystical’. Exactly. The Church claims to be the bearer of a revelation. If that claim is false then we want not to make priestesses but to abolish priests. If it is true, then we would expect to find in the Church an element which unbelievers will call irrational and which believers will call suprarational. There ought to be something in it opaque to our reason though not contrary to it – as the facts of sex and sense on the natural level are opaque. And that is the real issue. The Church of England can remain a church only if she retains this opaque element. If we abandon that, if we retain only what can be justified by standards of prudence and convenience at the bar of enlightened common sense, then we exchange revelation for that old wraith Natural Religion.’

CS Lewis, Priestesses in the Church? (1948)

7 July 2009 at 11:45  
OpenID jamestheless said...

Your Grace,

"She sent a letter of support to the group, or at least a letter which the organisers were able to interpret as support"

Or perhaps a letter which the group's opponents were able to interpret as support?

"She told the group, which was formed in response to the ‘liberal’ direction of some sections of the Anglican Communion, that she ‘understood their concerns’."

If I correctly understand the Telegraph report, which as so often is frustratingly incomplete, Her Majesty's concerns are about the future of the Anglican communion, rather than any specific issues of theology or "identity politics".

The report also fails to explain the FCA's position on homosexuality, instead allowing Peter Tatchell a free platform to attack his collection of straw men.

As far as I am aware, the FCA's position is that practicising homosexuals should not be ordained, and that same-sex unions should not be blessed by the Church. There is no objection to homosexual Christians receiving communion or (if celibate) being ordained, or to their general partaking in the life of the Church along with their heterosexual fellow believers, as they have done for centuries.

Unfortunately, the FCA's website does not appear to mention homosexality at all, except for a reference to the consecration of Gene Robinson. Do any communicants have further information on the FCA's position on this issue?

7 July 2009 at 11:45  
Blogger David said...

At last HRH dares to show a sign that she still cares/exists! God bless her!

It strikes me that those who are the first to shout bigot are worse bigots than those they condemn. A typical blast from Tatchell who condemns others for lack of tolerance but is utterly intolerant of anyone that does not prostrate themselves to their view. Cultural marxism has developed a method to shut down discussion and debate by shouting 'racist' or 'homophobic'. They do not want a proper discussion and they certainly do not want tolerance for others. If heterosexuals marched with 'pride' they would be condemned as fascists, Nazis or bigots!

Brown, Harperson, Johnson and Cameron et al bend over to appease these people in order to get their votes - they probably lose as many votes as they gain.

You don’t need to be a Catholic to read:


7 July 2009 at 12:09  
OpenID jamestheless said...

Your Grace,

"And one also wishes, indeed prays for Anglicans to rediscover their foundations – which lie in the theology of Bishop Richard Hooker just as much as they do the works of His Grace."

Very well said, Your Grace! The 16th and 17th centuries left Anglicans with an astonishingly rich legacy, and yet we seem content to let it rot away unseen in the attic, while we constantly redecorate according to the dictates of the latest post-modern minimalist fashion.

How many Anglicans have read Jeremy Taylor, for example, who has much valuable advice on how to live a Christian life in the world?

Incidentally Hooker was never a Bishop, according to Wikipedia, although he was Rector of the Temple Church in London and a Subdean at Salisbury Cathedral. (He also taught Your Grace's great-nephew, George).

7 July 2009 at 12:11  
Anonymous Orwellian Prophet said...

“Homophobia is a social and moral evil, just like racism. Bigotry, even in the guise of religion, has no place in a compassionate, caring society. I call on the Bishop to repent his homophobia. His prejudice goes against Christ’s gospel of love and compassion.”

Any minority that attempts to establish its position as mainstream may be guilty of bigotry. If broadcasting Christian values into the mindset of a secular majority is bigoted then so is inculcating gay values into the minds of the heterosexual majority. But the essential difference between these two positions is that Christians invite the secular majority to accept their gospel but the Gay Lobby is seeking to impose their ideology on society.

Gay rights isn't about tolerance because it demands treatment of gay relationships as identical to heterosexual ones in every respect. Any differences in treatment over marriage and adoption are condemned as discrimination and any revulsion felt towards homosexual behaviour in public is damned as intolerance. It is a strategy to prevent heterosexuality remaining the behavioural norm.

Bigotry, even in the guise of human rights, has no place in a compassionate, caring society.

7 July 2009 at 12:20  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mr Jamestheless,

His Grace thanks you.

It is curious that those who ought to be bishops rarely are, and many of those who are ought not to be.

7 July 2009 at 12:22  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace,

I have just read The Jerusalem Declaration by the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans.

When some of the youngsters here come to write the next chapter of the history of the Church of England, I do believe that at least one of them will begin:

‘The Jerusalem Declaration was the morning gun of the Second Reformation…’

Your Grace, every now and again somebody needs to hold a Boston Tea Party.

7 July 2009 at 12:24  
Anonymous stedmancinques said...

Your Grace, Mr Carrell; Rector of St. Mary's, Bekesbourne in Kent, not far from where your humble servant practises as a 'failed again' Christian.

If we are to preach a gospel of love, we cannot preach it with hatred. 'Why', enquired the puzzled Pharisees of the disciples, 'does your master waste his time on drunkards, prostitutes and sinners?'

If homosexuality was a conscious choice, like injecting yourself with heroin, we still have no scriptural authority to condemn, only the command to love and support. The texts used by fundamentalists to support condemnation of homosexuality do not stand up to close scrutiny; we might start by reflecting on the fact that there is no Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek word for 'homosexual'.
If being an Apostle, means, a)having seen the risen Christ, and b) having been given a commission by the Lord, then Mary meets both of those criteria, when Jesus instructed her to tell the others to go ahead and return to Galilee, where he would meet them. Manifestly, in scripture, Jesus' disciples who followed him about were men, but the ministry of women was of equal importance.
I do not take much account of critics like Tatchell; his intolerance is equal and opposite to those homophobes he denounces. I can see why her Majesty 'understands their concerns', but I cannot see that as equivalent to a message of support. I think that I understand their concerns as well, just that I think that they are misplaced. What I resent about the GAFCON approach is the implication that those who do not agree with their views are in some way impaired in their communion with Christ; which is why Your Grace's evocation of Richard Hooker is timely and relevant.

7 July 2009 at 12:24  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace,

Would you Adam ‘n’ Eve it? It appears that the FCA may have already produced its own answer to the Russian people’s Solzhenitsyn:

‘In this country, the Christian foundations have been shaken. In this and the next generation there will be fought what may amount to the last battle for the soul of the nation. It will be an ideological war, a war of ideas. But great issues will hang upon the outcome: the fate of a culture and the eternal fate of souls…

With persuasive power, the culture of the West has adopted and promulgated anti-Christian belief and practice. It confronts every Christian with the choice of submission or harassment. It pretends to be the true heir of the Christian faith, that it now possesses all that was worthwhile of Christianity, and that the entire structure of Christian thought can disappear into the receding past.

It tells you that its tolerance is the choicest part of your love,
that its non-discrimination is the choicest part of your justice,
that its individualism is the choicest part of your freedom
and that its sexual athleticism is the choicest part of your marriage.

We need to imagine the next twenty years. We need to see the ideological battle being fought out in the arena of ideas with the speed of the internet and the scale of the globe. We need to see biblical churches assailed as never before by the distorted and false gospels which have captured so much of the West. The culturally captivated churches of the West are sending their gospel to the rest of the world. I tell you, this is not the time to wring hands and say ‘the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord,’ to choose institution over gospel; it is no time to say ‘peace, peace’ – for there is no peace…’

Archbishop Peter jensen

7 July 2009 at 12:59  
Anonymous len said...

Born again Christians MUST speak the truth in love.
" This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of the Light because their deeds were evil.Everyone who does evil hates the Light, and will not come into the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the Light, so that it may be plainly seen that what he has done has been done through God. (John 3: 19-21)

7 July 2009 at 13:41  
OpenID jamestheless said...

Your Grace,

It is always a pleasure to be of service. However, I must apologise for my unintentional "demotion" of Bishop Taylor (Connor and Down).


"What I resent about the GAFCON approach is the implication that those who do not agree with their views are in some way impaired in their communion with Christ"

Homosexuality is indeed an absurd basis for a schism, even more so than the Papal indulgences which were the immediate cause of the Reformation. Indulgences were the result of an incorrect theological understanding of the Church's role in salvation, perhaps even of God's judgment (hence the rejection in the 39 articles of "the Romish doctrine of Purgatory").

Homosexuality, by contrast, is a matter of personal morality, one of many practices from which Christians have consistently been required to refrain (the earliest non-Biblical reference is the Didache of c. 100AD)

In fact, in both cases, the real question concerns the nature of the Church. The situations are actually quite similar: the Roman Church had lost its way during the Middle Ages, adding new practices derived from pagan philosophy, and had been seduced by the pursuit of riches and worldly power; the Anglican Church lost its way during the 20th century and added new practices derived from secular philosophy, and has been seduced by the pursuit of popularity.

In both cases, the question is the same; should this continue, or should the Church be returned to how it used to be, in so far as that is possible?

Obviously, it would be preferable to do this amicably, in a spirit of Christian charity, but there are some very powerful interests which wish things to continue as they are. God forbid that it should come to open schism!

7 July 2009 at 13:49  
Blogger Little Black Sambo said...

"We are not homogenous units" - "homogeneous", surely.

7 July 2009 at 13:59  
Blogger Gnostic said...

I would cheerfully drop Peter Tatchell from a great height. Not because of his sexual proclivities but because he is an odious, despotic creep.

As for the newly formed Anglican faction - good for them. They are taking a stand for what they believe in rather than bending over and taking up the tradesman's entrance like the Bearded Wonder does.

It might be interesting to see the Thought Police attempting to round up the Anglican dissenters and also Her Maj for egging them on. Somehow I doubt that will happen...

7 July 2009 at 14:07  
Anonymous the reccusant said...

This piece by Fr Longenecker comprehensively sums up the predicament of the modern Anglican Church. Her Majesty is caught between a rock and a hard place, she may be able to influence proceedings in the short term but when Charles becomes King, defender of faiths? You Grace previously said contrary to prediction of destruction the Church of England has and will endure. But is that not missing the point, the question is surely in what form will the CofE endure?


Anglicanism is tearing itself apart at the moment over two big issues: women's ordination and homosexuality. Some of the Anglican groups continue to hold out against women's ordination to the priesthood. The latest Anglican splinter group: ACNA (Anglican Church of North America) allows its members to ordain women priests, but will not have women bishops. They hold out against homosexuality.

The issues of homosexuality and women's ordination, however, are secondary to the real issue of authority, and the question of authority has two aspects: mode of argument and the source of authority in the church.

When we consider modes of argument, the progressives have really been caught up in the subjective modes of argument of our time. Their arguments are sentimental, utilitarian and political. The sentimental argument for women's ordination, for example, is "Sally is such a nice person, it would be so hurtful to deny her ordination." The utilitarian is, "Sally is such a good pastor and counsellor and preacher. She would do such a good job!" The political is, "This is a question of equal rights." The arguments from Scripture and tradition and all the other disciplines essentially attempt to support these three basic modes of argument.

It doesn't take a German theologian to figure out that these three modes of argument can also be used to support homosexual marriage, homosexual ordination and most anything you want to support. So the sentimental, "Steve and Bob are such sweet guys. Why should they not be allowed to marry?" The utilitarian, "This is a practical move to help homosexual people with legal problems." The political, "This is a question of equal rights. You are denying these men the right to marry which you give other people."

What is lacking is any idea at all that there might actually be an authority that is greater than individual sentimentality, utility or political correctness. Some Christians would cry out, "But we do have such an authority! The Bible!"

The problem, of course, is that people on both sides of both of these questions use the Bible to sincerely support their view. The reason I became a Catholic in 1995 is because I sincerely confronted the Anglican Church's decision to ordain women priests.

I was determined to be open minded and listen to both sides. It turned out that both sides had good arguments. Both sides wheeled out Biblical scholars, church historians, sociologists, psychologists, monks, nuns, theologians, bishops, etc etc. Both sides were peopled by folks who were sincere, prayerful, Bible reading, church going Christians who really, honestly did believe that they were being led by the Holy Spirit.

This made me ask the question, "Then how do we decide?" If we put it to the vote in General Synod that really doesn't decide anything because those who lose will not accept it anyway. There must be a greater authority in the church to decide such matters, and this led me home to Rome.


7 July 2009 at 14:25  
Anonymous the recusant said...

Cardinal Newman said of church unity that without an infallible authority any group had to either sacrifice unity of form for unity of doctrine to preserve unity of form or will sacrifice unity of form to save unity of doctrine. As such, they would fall into either the latitudinarian error or the sectarian error. What this means is that any non-Catholic group will either lose formal unity in order to be on the same page doctrinally--in which case they breakaway to form a sect (Confessing Anglicans, Traditional Anglicans, Anglo Catholics etc ), or they sacrifice unity of doctrine (you can believe what you like) in order to preserve unity of form or structure (Via Media). This is the classic Anglican position. "Believe whatever you like--just don't form a schism." For lovers of long words, this is called latitudinarianism.

Cardinal Newman also observed that the Anglican via media was never anything more than an idea. A via media might work in politics where utilitarianism is the rule, but it cannot work in the realm of religion. Religion demands choice. You have to take one road or the other. You can certainly be tolerant towards the other side, but it is impossible to walk a via media for very long.

You have to either choose a tradition to belong to or make up your own mixture which then becomes your tradition. That's why Cardinal Newman said that the via media is nothing more than a theological theory. Where do you actually find the via media? It doesn't exist. It's not real. What you really find are Anglicans and Anglican churches that are either a self made mix of traditions or you find Evangelical, Anglo Catholic, Charismatic or Liberal Anglicans and congregations.

Anglicans around the world are at a turning point right now. With the issues in their church they must decide. They may wish desperately to cling to the idea of a via media but it is not possible because it was never possible. They must ask themselves where such an idea of a via media comes from in the first place. It certainly doesn't come from Scripture. Scriptures are clear from Joshua who cries out, "Choose you this day whom you will serve!" to the gospels which talk of two paths--the narrow way that leads to life and the broad way that leads to destruction. There's no talk of an easy middle way of compromise, indecision and dithering. With such an image we have to ask, is the via media a middle way or just another term or the broad way?

7 July 2009 at 14:26  
Anonymous churchmouse said...

I find all this about it and about both tiresome and distasteful.

Why can't queers just live and let live? Why do they have to harrass the rest of us and try to force themselves and their 'lifestyle' on us?

Why is no one addressing the fact that choosing one's own gender necessarily discriminates against the opposite gender? There is even a case for arguing that male homosexuals are misogynists.

I've also heard that some lezz-be-friends are not only misandrists, but also hate other women...! In any case, they are aggressive about trying to push themselves onto women who are clearly rejecting them. Presumably they do realize how nasty they are - or they wouldn't behave as they do.

In other words - I suspect that, in the arguments we are having, homosexuals are aggressors; they are the haters; they are the discriminators; they often are also manipulators; and they are projecting their own reactions onto heterosexuals.

Should we perhaps consider those possibilities in dealing with them? Maybe we should we resist letting them manoeuver us into 'guilt trips' simply because we cannot and will not participate in their proclivities? We have rights also.

7 July 2009 at 15:14  
Anonymous Adrian P said...

Given present day events, one has to ask if the accusations of Peadiphilia are not part of the assault on Western Values and Christianity, and if the answer is yes, one then has to ask, are all of the accusations justified.

I believe what is going on in the West, the Gnawing away of our values is termed by Marxists as 'Critical Theory',

IE you destroy a belief in someone by continually critiqueing it, by continually asking it's followers questions on its basic tenets until the faith becomes seeded with doubts.

That being the case, it appears to be largely state inspired or at the very least state supported.


7 July 2009 at 15:22  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace,

I am no theologian. But it appears that if one directs ‘excessive’ attention to the creation then one risks becoming a homosexual.

‘And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleaness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves.

Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.’

Romans 1 23-25

We all seem to hold some image of God in our minds, as it were, that may well become an idol that obstructs our knowledge of God.

For some odd reason it has made me think of the temptation and sin of Eve. She stared at the forbidden fruit; desire was born within her and she took.

God, if I remember correctly, also instructed us not to make any image of anything in creation. Yet many of us stare at the television for hours. It seems to me all of us are in danger and therefore we must be vigilant.

7 July 2009 at 15:49  
Anonymous Rudyard K said...

Jamestheless has pinpointed the
crux of the problem.Heterosexuality
is under attack as the predominant normal behaviour.Gays demand to be treated as normal.Probably because they would like to be normal.But they are not.All the foot stamping in the sand pit is never going to make it so!There will come a time when if you have not had homosexual experiences you will be regarded as abnormal.Ive heard about ridiculous theories that state that everyone is bisexual
and the only reason that they are not is because of religious repression.I cannot believe that the Anglican Church has ordained homosexuals as clergy.Succumbing to trends and powerful political lobbying has brought about its demise .

7 July 2009 at 15:51  
Anonymous stedmancinques said...

What 'the recusant' has to say makes more than a great deal of sense, and the temptation to follow the primrose path to Rome, rather than affirming my catholicicism within the Anglican church is one that I have indeed met with.
However, I very recently heard the Father Abbot of Bec say that there were no doctrinal objections to married clergy within the Roman Catholic church, it's just that they don't happen to have any at the moment. My thoughts were, 'like you don't have women priests- at the moment'. A single authority is just as likely to change their mind as a synod, and then you are caught like Communists in the Stalin era desperately trying to follow the latest twists and turns of the party line- God forbid! Take the case of the Tridentine Mass since Vatican II as a slight example.

I also believe, together with Adrian P, that today's determined assault on the Christian faith is part of the spiritual assault that has been continuous since the beginning . The greatest achievement of the Prince of this World in the last century was to make people no longer believe in him; only then could he destroy a faith in God, and his weapons are numerous and subtle.

7 July 2009 at 15:52  
Anonymous Orwellian Prophet said...

@D Singh 15:49 Yet many of us stare at the television for hours. It seems to me all of us are in danger and therefore we must be vigilant.

On TV yesterday was 'Torchwood' a sci-fi fantasy with a storyline infested with gratuitous in-yer-face homosexuality. BBC of course. Propaganda machine up to its usual opinion bending by repeatedly brainwashing impressionable minds into acceptance through constant exposure.

7 July 2009 at 16:28  
Anonymous sydneysider said...

@s cinques
There is no doctrinal objection to married clergy in the Catholic Church. The reason they don't encourage it is an economic one.
Anglican clergy with the wife and children have to be housed etc. It's much cheaper to lump all
the priests in together.The Church
has saved a fortune over the years because priests and nuns work for free.
As we are aware the consequences of this penny pinching has lead to
some very unfortunate practices. So before you cross the Tiber you
should investigate further.
All that glitters is not gold!

7 July 2009 at 16:41  
Anonymous sydneysider said...

I find your posts very interesting recusant re the reason someone converts to Catholicism.I find it rather chilling that you find the ordination of women clergy worse than homosexuality. I don't support the ordination of women clergy but I think homosexuality far more destructive. Well at least you must feel reassured as
the Catholic Chuch will never ordain women priests.It seems that
male homosexuals are not the only misogynists.

7 July 2009 at 17:18  
Anonymous not a machine said...

Your graces articulation is much appreciated ,Peter Tatchell is perhaps taking advantage of the CofE , perhaps the church should repent of its homophobia when he decides to accept the foundation of hetersexual marriage.

D.Singh 15:49 and orwellian prophet you may be onto more than you realise!! Although I would add that boston tea parties do not always have happy endings .

yet what is emerging out of this debate , is little more than the simple clarity of what was already there and proved beneficial.
Discrimnation is present in many walks of life one has to only look at how this government handled the lisbon treaty , to understand Discrimation . We are dealing with with differences , sexual in nature .

The gay movement is obsessed with equality to the point of national rebellion , it sees the church as an obstacle to its goals with little care to any natural good it would undermine .

I will say that it has achieved the important position of people being more understanding and perhaps less punishing , some gay people are intelligent and contribute to society , that is accepted . The derision of there choice of lifestyle has changed .

However if they believe that weakening the churchs message further will deliver there utopia , the line cannot help but be drawn, somthing I doubt that they wanted.

If they wish to form there own church of practising homosexality , pour over the ancient texts and still swear that they believe in the word of God , let there heresay commence , but not at the expense of a church who promotes heterosexual marriage and natural family as being what god has shown us as the best way.

I appreciate that I am unable to offer much of a way out for practising homosexuals and how they fit within the church "where we are asked to love our neighbour as ourself" . I would dearly love to offer more help than stern crtiscism , but they will provoke and undermine what is important and of value to the communion , without regard or respect for its achievement .

in my view it was rather foolish of them to get into to bed with socialist equality , an ideaology that is blind to its own sins .

7 July 2009 at 17:42  
Blogger ZZMike said...

"For some reason, The Daily Telegraph terms the FCA as a ‘controversial church movement’.


The answer is obvious from the Telegraph headline:

"Queen sends 'supportive' letters to leaders of church movement that has angered gay campaigners"

I you do not kneel before the altar of Pan, you're "controversial", and may be suspected of "hate thought".

Her Majesty is looking quite fine in that photo on the Telegraph. Long may she reign (for all that's worth - at least she and the Family have comfortable digs throughout the year).

Our gracious host's point about Tatchell and Islam is significant.

Titchell also said, “Homophobia is a social and moral evil, just like racism."

Not quite. He should have said, “Homosexuality is a social and moral evil, just like racism."

(I don't know why they keep using "phobia". There is no fear involved.)

jamesthelesss: "As far as I am aware, the FCA's position is that practicising homosexuals should not be ordained, and that same-sex unions should not be blessed by the Church."

That's not enough. We must all embrace homosexuality as an aspect of God's grace, and cherish it. Then they will probably be satisfied.

Little Black Sambo: "We are not homogenous units" - "homogeneous", surely."

You've chanced upon an arena where swords and cudgels are daily taken up against the opposition. However, either is acceptable. There is a subtle difference, but as the saying goes, "You say tomae-to, I say tomah-to".

Singh: "God, if I remember correctly, also instructed us not to make any image of anything in creation. Yet many of us stare at the television for hours."

That's a bit of a stretch - a stretch toward Islam. (I suddenly wonder why the mad mullahs allow TV, with its constant barrage of images of living things.)

stedmancinques: "I very recently heard the Father Abbot of Bec say that there were no doctrinal objections to married clergy within the Roman Catholic church,..."

Let's hope that Rome hasn't heard that yet. Eastern Rite churches - OK; and there are some married RC priests, but they were married before they became RC priests.

7 July 2009 at 18:13  
OpenID jamestheless said...

the recusant,

"Cardinal Newman said of church unity that without an infallible authority any group had to either sacrifice unity of form for unity of doctrine to preserve unity of form or will sacrifice unity of form to save unity of doctrine."

This seems reasonable as far as it goes, but does not automatically lead to an infallible Papacy (something that Newman was in fact opposed to, if I remember correctly).

All the Churches which claim succession from the Apostles regard themselves as infallible, in the sense that they have accurately preserved what was received from the Apostles (including the writings that were to form the New Testament).

From time to time councils were held to resolve disputes over the interpretation of these teachings. These followed the model described in Acts: all the Bishops (the successors of the Apostles) gathered and deliberated until they came to a unanimous conclusion that "seemed good to us and the Holy Spirit". Because they convened all the Bishops in the known world, these councils were called "Ecumenical".

The number of councils recognised as Ecumenical varies between denominations: 21 for Roman Catholics (so far), seven for the Eastern Orthodox, three for the Oriental Orthodox and a variable number (usually seven or four) for Anglicans.

For the Eastern Orthodox Church, the first seven Ecumenical Councils, together with the writings of the Fathers, describe the entire content of the faith (all subject to agreement with Scripture, of course).

There is no need for an individual to be an infallible authority since the entire Church, through the action of the Holy Spirit, already performs that role. Unlike the Roman church, where this authority is exercised by the Pope, it is something that is shared out among all the members of the Church. The best example is the Council of Florence in the 15th century, where the Orthodox bishops managed to agree a tentative reunion with Rome, only to repudiate their signatures once they got home and found that their flocks absolutely hated it.

I agree that there has been a serious problem with authority in the Church of England, which probably goes back before Newman's time as a young curate. Perhaps I should follow my own advice in an earlier post and read what the 16th and 17th century Anglican theologians had to say on this subject - I suspect it may not be too far from the Eastern Orthodox position.

7 July 2009 at 18:29  
Blogger John Doe said...

Everything The Recusant said. (Appart from becoming a Catholic in 1995, I still have that to look forward to, and working on it now).

7 July 2009 at 18:48  
OpenID jamestheless said...


"Let's hope that Rome hasn't heard that yet. Eastern Rite churches - OK; and there are some married RC priests, but they were married before they became RC priests."

Clerical celibacy is a very late development (12th century if I remember correctly) and as far as I know is unique to Roman Catholicism. It was introduced to prevent nepotism; priests had become more interested in amassing wealth to pass on to their offspring, or lining them up with cushy parishes, than in tending their flocks. This was of course a practical decision, not based upon any theological doctrine.

Bishops in the early Church took the one wife recommended in the Epistle to Timothy, and most of the Popes in the first few centuries were married.

In the Eastern Orthodox Church, parish priests are usually married and are expected to have large families which they support themselves. Bishops however are required to be celibate and are usually drawn from the monastic clergy (often from monks who had no expectation of becoming bishops). However, due to a drop in candidates for the highly demanding vocation of "presbytera" (priest's wife), it is becoming more common to have celibate parish priests; also, some dioceses are consecrating widowed parish priests as Bishops. As a result of these developments, clericalism and ecclesiastical politics are raising their ugly heads.

7 July 2009 at 19:13  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your Grace,

Is there something in the air or water at Rochester that nurtures courageous bishops? As an RC admirer of your blogs,I'm of course reminded of another courageous bishop of Rochester, John Fisher. I think the late Cardinal Bishop of Rochester would approve of the present occupant of the see.
E Sutherland

7 July 2009 at 20:17  
Anonymous the recusant said...

stedmancinques, Father Abbot of Bec is right there are no doctrinal objections to married clergy and indeed we do have married ex Anglicans ordained to the catholic priesthood. It is a discipline of the Church and in my view for very good reasons. However doctrine and discipline are very different issues, the former cannot changed, the latter can (but in this case I don’t think it will). Now the issues of women priests in the Catholic Church is a matter of definitive teaching (as taught by the Pope and the Magisterium) and, you’ve guessed it, cannot be changed:
In May 1994, Pope John Paul II issued his apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. It is, as far as Vatican documents go, very short. It deals with one specific issue, namely the Church’s ban on the admission of women to the ministerial priesthood, a ban first articulated in the 1976 Vatican declaration Inter Insigniores and upheld by Pope John Paul II. He clearly stated: “Wherefore, in order that all doubt be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk. 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.” With these words, the Holy Father intended to end the debate regarding women priests.
In October 1995, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, then prefect for the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, made a response to a question that was submitted to the Vatican on the doctrinal status of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. The official Vatican response, given through Ratzinger, was that the ban on women priests was “taught infallibly by the Church.”
Vatican City, May 29, 2008 The Vatican declared today that any women who attempt “ordination” or any bishops who attempt to “ordain” women are automatically excommunicated from the Church by their actions. The decree from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is said to be absolute, universal and immediately effective.
The single most important precept to note about this teaching is that it is not open to interpretation, no pressure group can gerrymander a vote to change it and no committee can overturn it. The Church has no power to alter what Christ and the Apostles revealed, the church merely obeys. That is why the Pope says, "the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful." It's out of the Church's hands; the argument is with Christ, not the Pope.
Your assertion therefore that “A single authority is just as likely to change their mind as a synod” is completely wrong, no future Pope can alter this teaching; they don’t have the authority (there’s that word again).

7 July 2009 at 20:26  
Anonymous the recusant said...

Sydneysider, perhaps I did not explain myself well enough, I do not find the ordination of women clergy worse than homosexuality, because I don’t believe that women can be validly ordained in the Catholic Church, for the Sacrament of Holy Orders you need valid matter and that is a baptized male.
On homosexuality, I believe exactly what the Church teaches; see Catechism of the Catholic Church, Chastity and homosexuality

2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,140 tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered."141 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

7 July 2009 at 20:42  
Anonymous sydneysider said...

I think the Anglican religion is
correct in allowing the clergy to marry and have families otherwise you are in the situation of having
non practising homosexual clergy struggling with celibacy which is not a desirable situation.
'There must be a greater authority in the church to decide such matters and this led me home to
There is a problem with authority in the Church of England which is not present in the Roman Catholic Church as the Pope is the ultimate decision maker.

As the General Synod doesn't accept the majority vote the catholic congregation doesn't accept the authority of the Pope.A very large percentage of regular Catholic chuchgoers do not adhere to the ruling of the Church on contraception or sex before marriage.So the authority is a sham

As the Anglican church is criticised for a mish mash of traditions, the Catholic congregation has its own cultural tradition (lip service)to the Church's rigid enforcements.It has been like this for generations .
Authentic catholics leave and some return when they are so old that all the taboos are no longer applicable when they can practise
catholicism without comitting mortal sins.A lot stay and just keep living a lie.

Anglicanism is an option for those Catholics wishing to practise Christianity.So the talk of the
primrose path,stairway to heaven
or whatever is just that..talk!


7 July 2009 at 20:51  
Blogger Nick Gulliford said...

My head is spinning, Your Grace

I expect you may need a REST too.

A wise party suggested it is a useful acronym for Reason, Experience, Scripture and Tradition.

With too much emphasis on any one of these most theological arguments are lost.

7 July 2009 at 20:53  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a little perplexed. I am entirely with those on the REST point of view; all of these elements are important in the interpretation of Scripture and discerning God's will.

However, the incorporation of the aforementioned elements have led me to conclude that God does not condemn people for being homosexual. Am I alone in this?

7 July 2009 at 21:16  
Anonymous sydneysider said...

God doesn't condemn homosexuals.
They just cant be ordained as clergy,get married in a church,or adopt children.I dont play an orchestral instrument so I will never be able to join the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. I have to live with that too!

7 July 2009 at 21:36  
Anonymous the recusant said...

A lot has been written on Cardinal Newman’s opinion of the doctrine of infallibility; most interpreting his arguments with Cardinal Manning to support (for want of a better term) the anti-infallibility argument. But consider for a moment, had he been opposed to the doctrine of infallibility, a doctrine that has to be held definitively by all the Church’s faithful, would he not have left the Church? After all it was (and still is) no small matter. Newman was arguably the smartest man in England at the time, a man of high principal and conscience. What sort of matter would it be to such a man to stay within a Church for which he held irreconcilable differences?
{139} "I have for these 25 years spoken in behalf of the Pope's infallibility. The other day a review (I forget what) observed with surprise that even in my article on la Mennais in 1838 I had tacitly accepted the Pope's infallibility. I think I have spoken for it in my Essay on Development of Doctrine in 1845. In 1850 I have introduced the Pope's Infallibility several times into my lectures at the Birmingham Corn Exchange. In 1852 I introduced it most emphatically and dogmatically into my lectures delivered at the Rotundo at Dublin. In 1856 I spoke of it in a new Preface I prefixed to the new Edition of my Church of the Fathers—and in 1868 I reprinted the passage from my Dublin Lectures in a collection of passages made by a Roman Jesuit Father on the dogma, in an Italian translation."
[From letter to Alfred Plummer, July 19, 1872. Letters and Diaries of John Henry Newman, C.S. Dessain and T. Gornall S.J. editors, Volume XXVI, p. 139 (1974).]
Leaving aside that we British are culturally descended from a Latinised tradition which is quite antithetical to that of the Greek, remember the Orthodox communion has issues of its own when it comes to being "one." Not all Orthodox churches are in full communion with each other. The Russian Orthodox Church outside of Russia is in communion with some Orthodox churches but not others (notably the Russian Orthodox church).
The Eastern Orthodox also have an issue in the degree to which they display catholicity. Compared to the Catholic Church, the Orthodox tend to be confined to a few ethnicities (Russian, Greek, etc.). The Catholic Church, by contrast, embraces all ethnicities.

Catholicity though is not simply measured by how many cultures a church embraces. Originally, it embraced only one. But Christ gave the Church a mandate to preach the gospel to all peoples (cf. Matt. 28:19–20), and it is worth noting that the Catholic Church has fulfilled this mandate more effectively than any other church. Over one billion Christians are Catholic, while a little over 200 million are Orthodox. Again, this is not an argument by itself, but it contributed to an overall impression that raises the question: Which of the following is easier to accept?

1. Church A is the true Church of Christ despite being a small, ethnically limited, and internally fractured communion that does not possess the admittedly divine institution of the papacy, while church B is a schismatic church despite it being far larger, having evangelized far more cultures, does not have internal full communion problems, and having the institution of the papacy.

2. Church B is the true Church of Christ, and its just-mentioned characteristics are signs of God’s providential guidance, while church A is the body in schism.

It seemed to me that it was easier to explain matters if one accepted the second possibility: The Catholic Church is the Bride of Christ and the Orthodox are, regrettably, in schism at present. It would be much harder to maintain that the Catholic Church is a false superchurch that dwarfs the true Church. Protestants might be able to argue that case by labelling it the Whore of Babylon and attributing all kinds of evil doctrine to it, but that argument would not work for the Orthodox, who are in near-total agreement with Catholic doctrine.

7 July 2009 at 21:57  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"God doesn't condemn homosexuals.
They just cant be ordained as clergy,get married in a church,or adopt children.I dont play an orchestral instrument so I will never be able to join the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. I have to live with that too!"

So, in the same way that one has to be able to play an instrument to be in an orchestra, one has to be attracted to the opposite gender to be called by God to ministry.

Logic at its best.

7 July 2009 at 22:06  
Anonymous Puritan Preacher said...

Anonymous 21:16

God does not condemn homosexual predisposition. It is one example of mankinds fallen human nature. Nevertheless, homosexual acts are contrary to biblical teaching and not a true expression of human sexuality as God intended it.

7 July 2009 at 22:36  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe one day we will cast off all these dead people and start to think for ourselves, maybe.

7 July 2009 at 22:49  
Anonymous the recusant said...

Yes sydneysider I accept what you say I am sure some catholic ignore the Church on matters of sexual morality, just as Catholics steal, murder, blaspheme etc. but many more don’t. I’m sure you will agree it is a different matter to say because Catholics lie, the Pope should abolish the sin of dishonesty (not that he could), but that is the argument you make.

Are you aware that all Protestant denominations held to exactly the same position on contraception as the Catholic Church prior to the Lambeth conference of 1930, go figure.

If you think it is OK for Anglican clergy to marry that is fine, I have no problem with that, they are not Catholic. If you think a married clergy reduces child or instances of homosexual abuse, think again. Figures from the US (the Americans are so good at statistics), show instances of child abuse are/were higher in the protestant denominations than Catholic, it just that it is not so headline grabbing. See Philip Jenkins Professor of History and Religious Studies. Pennsylvania State University - Pedophiles and Priests. Professor Jenkins is an is an Episcopalian and quotes

“the available information on clergy sexual misconduct shows that the problem is bigger among Protestant clergy”

“the most cited survey of sexual problems among the Protestant clergy shows that 10 percent have been involved in sexual misconduct and "about two or three percent" are "paedophiles." With regard to the "paedophile" problem, the figure for the Catholic clergy, drawn from the most authoritative studies, ranges between 0.2 percent to 1.7 percent. Yet we hear precious little about these comparative statistics.”

“Once the media elites focused their attention on framing the issue in terms of the "celibacy" problem, it became difficult for them to assert that the problem was larger among the non-celibate Protestant clergy”

“there are twice as many sexual indiscretions among Protestant pastors than among Catholic priests. Did you know that? If marriage is the answer to sexual problems among a very, very few priests, why does the problem double among married Protestant clergy? Does the Episcopalian feel this is solely a result of celibacy?”

Celibacy bears no causal relation to any type of deviant sexual addiction including pedophilia. In fact, married men are just as likely as celibate priests to sexually abuse children (Jenkins, Priests and Pedophilia). In the general population, the majority of abusers are regressed heterosexual men who sexually abuse girls. Women are also found to be among those sexual abusers. While it's difficult to obtain accurate statistics on childhood sexual abuse, the characteristic patterns of repeat child sex offenders have been well described. The profiles of child molesters never include normal adults who become erotically attracted to children as a result of abstinence (Fred Berlin, "Compulsive Sexual Behaviors" in Addiction and Compulsive Behaviors [Boston: NCBC, 1998]; Patrick J. Carnes, "Sexual Compulsion: Challenge for Church Leaders" in Addiction and Compulsion; Dale O'Leary, "Homosexuality and Abuse").

I have difficulty in accepting that “Catholics pay lip service” to Church teaching, I’m sure some do but most don’t, and how do you know. Likewise how can one claim the authority is a sham when it is the largest single Christian denomination in the world? It’s the fish that jump that get your attention not the millions in the shoal just beneath the surface. A catholic congregation that doesn't accept the authority of the Pope is not Catholic, schismatic, heretical or any number of other things yes, but not Catholic.

Again you must be able to see into men’s souls of to be able to say “Authentic Catholics leave and some return when they are so old that all the taboos are no longer applicable when they can practise Catholicism without committing mortal sins. A lot stay and just keep living a lie.” Where is your evidence for such assertions? Authentic (we prefer faithful) Catholics don’t leave, that’s why they are Authentic (faithful).

7 July 2009 at 23:06  
Anonymous Jenny said...

I must just take issue with your assertion that the Orthodox Church tends to be confined to a few ethnicities. It absolutely is not! Its Patriarchs may be Greek, Russian etc but its congregation is overwhelmingly diverse. If you join one of our liturgies sometime, and you're most welcome, you are likely to hear Greek, Russian, English, Romanian, Arabic (yes!), Turkish (what???) and the occasional ex-Roman insisting that if we're going to have the Lord's prayer in everything else, we're having it in Latin too...

And, once a year, on Easter Sunday, we get together as many different linguists from the congregation as we can and have the Gospel of what you'd call second vespers in as many languages as possible. This year, our community managed to read the gospel in 11 languages. So there.

The Orthodox Church is increasingly becoming the refuge for those Anglicans unhappy with their lot but unwilling to carry the stigma of crossing the Tiber.

7 July 2009 at 23:24  
Blogger John Doe said...

We don't all have the time, the energy, and I certainly do not have the capacity, but I am grateful for the recusant's contributions Your Grace. If you will allow my "pale faced" "bonfire of vanities" to say so.

7 July 2009 at 23:28  
Anonymous stedmancinques said...

Yes, the recusant, you are quite correct to say that the Church has no power to alter what Christ revealed, but what Christ revealed about the spiritual authority and calling of women is not a matter of fundamental doctrine, but of interpretation. Christ was supported throughout his ministry by key people, men and women alike. Only the men did the wandering about, as far as we know. The risen Christ's first commission was to women, and he was angry and berated the male disciples for not believing His chosen messengers. Would the risen Lord have revealed himself first to women if he intended that the female sex had no part to play in proclaiming the Gospel? No, the Gospel clearly shows that women were chosen first to proclaim it. The women, who had stood loyally by at the crucifixion when all the men had fled, now were the first to encounter the risen Lord, and the first to be charged with the commission.
So whilst a single authority has no more power to change the Gospel than a synod, either can decide that their previous interpretation is incorrect, as Anglicans have done, and Romans might yet do.

7 July 2009 at 23:45  
OpenID jamestheless said...

the recusant,

First of all, thanks for clarifying Newman's position on Papal infallibility. It's been at least 15 years since I read anything by or about him, and I only remembered vaguely that he was rather uncomfortable with the "ultramontane" position.

"Leaving aside that we British are culturally descended from a Latinised tradition which is quite antithetical to that of the Greek,"

I'm not sure of the relevance of this. Surely the the merits of a form of ecclesiastical authority are not affected by the culture in which they arise?

"remember the Orthodox communion has issues of its own when it comes to being "one." Not all Orthodox churches are in full communion with each other. The Russian Orthodox Church outside of Russia is in communion with some Orthodox churches but not others (notably the Russian Orthodox church)."

No longer true - the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia has been in full communion with the rest of the Orthodox world since May 2007, when it restored relations with the Patriarch of Moscow. I am not aware of any other Orthodox churches which are not in full communion with each other.

In any case, this was the result of the political situation in Russia, not much different from the antipopes of the Middle Ages. (The Patriarch of Moscow, seeing what was about to happen, left instructions that those Bishops who had escaped from Russia during the revolution should continue as best they could in the event that anything happened to him. It did and his Communist-backed successor refused to accept the validity of the exiled Church).

"The Eastern Orthodox also have an issue in the degree to which they display catholicity. Compared to the Catholic Church, the Orthodox tend to be confined to a few ethnicities (Russian, Greek, etc.)."

You missed out the Arabs, the Egyptians, the Romanians, the Bulgarians, the Ukrainians...

Just as the Roman church has expanded outside Western Europe, the Orthodox church has expanded and has indigenous churches in Japan, Korea, Africa, Australasia, South America, Alaska. Even England!

"The Catholic Church, by contrast, embraces all ethnicities."

As does the Orthodox Church - but its missionaries are not accompanied by military conquerors and their first task is always to make the Bible and liturgy available in the native language (going back to SS Cyril and Methodius in the 9th century).

"Over one billion Christians are Catholic, while a little over 200 million are Orthodox."

This is the result of a historical accident. While Spain and Portugal were conquering the New World, Greece and Russia were fighting for their survival (and incidentally preventing the Islamic hordes from over-running Europe).

In any case, numbers prove nothing by themselves. There are probably more Muslims than there are Roman Catholics.

"the admittedly divine institution of the papacy"

Admitted by whom? Orthodoxy accepts that Rome has the highest status of the five ancient Patriarchates (Rome, Constantinople, Antioch, Alexandria, Jerusalem) but not the exaggerated claims made by the Papacy. As you may be aware, it was Nicholas I's (uncanonical) claim to jurisdiction over clergy in Constantinople that led to the schism.

"the Orthodox, who are in near-total agreement with Catholic doctrine."

Not really true - the doctrine of original sin, for example, is completely different. Also, Orthodoxy does not accept any of the novel doctrines adopted by Rome in the Middle Ages (purgatory, transubstantiation, etc.).

7 July 2009 at 23:53  
Anonymous the recusant said...

Annonymouse, your orchestral Logic is faulty.

It only takes one member of the orchestra to play his own tune out of time with the rest to spoil the whole performance for everyone else. If he wants to play only with other Obo players, don’t throw about accusations of Obophobia to the rest who want to play with the full orchestra, bugger off and find others that feel the same.

Don’t stay and demand the orchestra tolerate his prima donna outburst because he is a minority in the pit. He has every right to play with whoever he likes, just don’t demand that everyone else should listen, like it, try it, agree that it is ‘in tune’, pleasant, harmonic or written for his instrument.


I stand corrected; Orthodoxy is more diverse than I gave credit for. However my point was, as you have confirmed, that to some Anglicans (I have known) in this their hour of need, Orthodoxy is not favoured through love of the patriarchs but rather because it is not Rome. I am impressed that your congregation read the gospel in 11 languages kudos, I am so ‘So there’d’.

8 July 2009 at 00:08  
OpenID jamestheless said...

the recusant,

Sorry, one other point I meant to make. As an Anglican, I do not accept your premise that the only choice is whether Orthodoxy or Roman Catholism represents the true Body of Christ. The Body of Christ is a mystical entity that does not necessarily map neatly onto any one human organisation in this world.

8 July 2009 at 00:16  
Anonymous John Knox said...

Why not return to the Presbyterian government of the Church of England in the days of the Commonwealth?

8 July 2009 at 01:11  
Anonymous Hank Petram said...

@The Recusant

“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” I don’t think any one Church can claim exclusivity.

8 July 2009 at 02:23  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I remember correctly, they gathered in His name in Waco in Texas.

8 July 2009 at 09:19  
Anonymous sydneysider said...

Hank I think that you will find the RC church makes this claim.It
claims that it is the only true church of Christ. Recusant will confirm this i.e. if he is up to scratch with his conversion lessons
unlike poor Tony Blair who didnt understand any of his.

8 July 2009 at 09:38  
OpenID jamestheless said...


Yes, that was the point I was trying to make in my last post. Thank you for expressing it more clearly!

8 July 2009 at 09:58  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Peter Tatchell's life and being stems from female/male union.

The Church of England, amongst other Christian factions, practices Christ's teachings ... "He shall leave his mother and father and take unto himself a wife ... " The Holy Matrimony services includes - "That which God hath joined together, let no man set asunder".

I was raised in a Christian household (and school). Does any other religion support and bless homosexuality/condemnation of male/female union and the sanctity of marriage ?

Is Peter Tatchell an aetheist ?
Non-believers usually ignore religion and religeous institutes.

Hank Petram: " ... I am there also" - in spirit, the Holy Ghost ... amongst those worshipping Christ the Saviour. Not at all exclusive !
Christ simply taught LOVE by example "I am the way, the truth and the life".

8 July 2009 at 10:04  
Anonymous Hank Petram said...

@Sydneysider, I think the Catholic Church claims primacy rather than exclusivity. The "separated brethren" are still brethren.

8 July 2009 at 10:58  
Anonymous sydneysider said...

I've got bad news for you Hank, brethren or not you wont get the ticket for heaven unless you belong to the true church or unless you make an act of perfect contrition just before you die(which is unlikely as you probably don't know what it is) ...I'm not sure where good non catholics get sent....who cares what catholics think anyway!...I do know that hell will be populated
with an over representation of clergy and politicians.

8 July 2009 at 11:48  
Anonymous the recusant said...

Hank Petram, Jamestheless, sydneysider

This is what I particularly like about His Graces blog, we all have different viewpoints on a topic that is traditionally labelled as having caused more wars in the world than we’ve all had hot dinners and yet the debate goes on good natured, forceful and without descending into name calling and acrimony.

Me and my mate the Pope are going to burn you all as heretics yet we can continue a civilised debate, is the weekend good for you chaps, Tyburn or Spittalfields? *{;¬]

8 July 2009 at 14:56  
Anonymous sydneysider said...

So recusant what's a nice Catholic convert dong on a site like this?

8 July 2009 at 16:01  
Anonymous sydneysider said...

My apologies typo doing.

8 July 2009 at 16:04  
Anonymous Jenny said...

jamestheless said 'Also, Orthodoxy does not accept any of the novel doctrines adopted by Rome in the Middle Ages (purgatory, transubstantiation, etc.).

Almost right, and then wrong. While the Orthodox Church doesn't believe in a place called purgatory, we do believe that when we die, our souls go to heaven or hell straight away, but that this is not the final judgement. Until the final judgement, when the soul is reunited with the body, it can be 'rescued' from hell by the love and prayers of those faithful still on earth. As for your assertion about transubstantiation, that's plain wrong, with no redemption of your argument possible. We believe that the bread and wine truly become the body and blood of Christ. No exceptions.

Recusant, thank you for taking my enthusiastic boasting in such good part. Next year, I'm determined to learn the Gospel for 2nd vespers of Easter in tagalog, from some RC Filipino friends of mine. That's ecumenism for you!

8 July 2009 at 19:05  
Anonymous Hank Petram said...

We believe that the bread and wine truly become the body and blood of Christ. No exceptions.

So, I believe, do the Lutherans. There's a story that when Luther met Zwingli, who denied transubstantiation, Luther got so worked up that he pulled out a knife and carved into the table top in front of him the words from the Gospel, Hoc est corpus meum (This is my body).

8 July 2009 at 20:46  
Anonymous Hank Petram said...

@The Recusant (today at 14:56)

I would very much like to be able to say I agree with every word. But I'm not sure about the communicant from the NSW delegation. Earlier today I was going to reply to a comment of his but stopped when I read this:

who cares what catholics think anyway! (today at 11:48)

Or am I taking him too literally?

8 July 2009 at 20:57  
Anonymous the recusant said...


I'm not a convert, that was Cardinal Newman and Fr Longenecker, I'm cradle and have always had this monkey on my back and the mandatory pile of Catholic guilt that goes with it, you know the drill spectacles, testicles, wallet and watch, bells & smells all the works.

If I can pass on a tip, if you want to know what the Church teaches on any point do a quick search in the ‘Catechism of the Catholic Church’, for example

Wounds to unity

818 "However, one cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at present are born into these communities [that resulted from such separation] and in them are brought up in the faith of Christ, and the Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers . . . . All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church."272

Who belongs to the Catholic Church?

836 "All men are called to this catholic unity of the People of God. . . . And to it, in different ways, belong or are ordered: the Catholic faithful, others who believe in Christ, and finally all mankind, called by God's grace to salvation."320

In light of what the Church teaches then would you not say your advice to Hank needs some alteration? I find an awful lot of the opinion generated on what the Catholic Church is and does either mistaken, uninformed, wishful ignorance or just plain lies. I think most fall into the first category and perhaps the second but hey we have a term for that too - invincible ignorance.

There was an American Bishop Fulton J. Sheen who said:

There are not more than 100 people in the world who truly hate the Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they perceive to be the Catholic Church.

He was a cleaver man, great talker his speeches are available free to listen to, if a bit scratchy.

8 July 2009 at 21:35  
Anonymous the recusant said...


I was at The Hagia Sophia just a couple of months ago, it is in a shoddy state, such a shame, but I visited the stone slab with the inscription Enrico Dandolo the Venetian Doge, seen on the floor of the upper storey of Hagia Sophia. Bloody venetians, I’m sure the great schism would not have happened had he not been so greedy and vengeful. I was thinking about what jamestheless said, it didn’t square with my understanding, especially transubstantiation because Catholics are allowed to take communion with Greek Orthodox if no Catholic priest is available and it is valid, that is not the case with Anglicans. To be honest the different understandings between Greeks and Latins of souls in this, shall we say intermediate state, is not too far apart, in principal the effects are the same and both interpretations are rejected by protestants.

moving on now

8 July 2009 at 21:39  
Anonymous sydneysider said...

I understand that baptism is the heaven entry permit
What is sinful for Catholics eg contaception is not in the Anglican church.A good church going anglican who has been using contraception is a sinner in Catholic terms and will be denied salvation. Or do you think God will give him a dispensation for his ignorance in belonging to the wrong church?Isn't the Catholic church the only true church?

9 July 2009 at 01:02  
Anonymous sydneysider said...

Above is question for recusant

9 July 2009 at 01:08  
Anonymous sydneysider said...

Hank when it comes to Church matters Catholics dont think...its all mapped out, very clear. No need to think .It's all covered.Religious teachings are black and white. There are very few shades of grey in The Catholic Church.I cant think of any but Recusant can probably invent some.

I don't know what new age Catholic
division Recusant is following but I am not of that delegation.

9 July 2009 at 02:56  
Anonymous sydneysider said...

Well Recusant where's all the camaraderie disappeared to ? Chaps
getting together for an incineration etc.It was an extreme overreaction on your part,to my posts, to use your connections to influence the
canonisation of Sister Mary McKillop when you were fully aware that Don Bradman was the popular and most deserving candidate having already performed many cricketing miracles.

'Revenge is mine saith the Lord' and thus there'll be tears and a gnashing of teeth when the ashes go to Australia.The British fans will know where to lay the blame and you might be advised to keep a low profile until the furore dies down. Cranmer wont be pleased. You know his obsession for the game.

10 July 2009 at 07:19  
Anonymous the recusant said...

Sydneysider Answer to your questions.

Romans. 3:23 - “For all have sinned and do need the glory of God.” Isaiah 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts: nor your ways my ways, saith the Lord. – I don’t know of Catholics who say such an such is a sinner, they’re too aware of their own failings. You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God; It was never between you and them anyway. (See Mother Teresa - People Are Often Unreasonable)

The new age Catholic division Recusant is following: the one headed by Pope Benedict XVI, the One, Holy and Apostolic Catholic Church, that big one in Rome.

Not sure where Sister Mary McKillop came from, as for Don Bradman, well he was not bad for an Aussie but Jardine sorted his hash with Harold Larwood and Bill Voce. Now you have lost McGrath, Warne, Martyn and Langer this time you’re going home empty handed. Yes I predict Strauss is going to send the Taswegian Ponting home, cranky, creamed, crook and stonkered.

10 July 2009 at 13:39  

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