Friday, September 24, 2010

The Pope in Westminster Abbey – the finest ecclesiastical gag ever?

The liturgy of the Church is replete with historic symbolism. The choice of ritual and antiphon, the positions of the altar and pulpit, the placement of the Bible and candles, cross or crucifix, the handling of the bread and wine, the bewildering array of vestments: they can all speak a sermon to those who have ears and eyes.

So the Pope’s decision (or Mgr Marini’s suggestion) to wear what he did in Westminster Abbey was unlikely to have been without serious consideration.

He is, after all, the Pope who has restored to use the red velvet mozzetta trimmed with ermine, the camauro, the traditional red papal shoes, and one or two other Prada accessories.

And now it turns out that the stole he chose to wear on the occasion of the first ever visit of a pope to Westminster Abbey was that first worn by Pope Leo XIII.

Pope Leo XIII, for those who do not know, not only cardinalised John Henry Newman, he was the author of the 1896 encyclical Apostolicæ Curæ on the Nullity of Anglican Orders.

This is not a minor matter of obscure ecclesio-theological history. In 1998, the then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith), issued a commentary which listed Leo XIII’s declaration in Apostolicæ Curæ that Anglican orders are ‘absolutely null and utterly void’ as one of the teachings to which Catholics must give ‘firm and definitive assent’ (#11). It is not, he averred, ‘divinely revealed’, but one of the ‘truths connected to revelation by historical necessity’.


And the penalty for those who refuse to give this ‘firm and definitive assent’ is quite clear:

Whoever denies these truths would be in a position of rejecting a truth of Catholic doctrine and would therefore no longer be in full communion with the Catholic Church (#6).

The continuing authority of Apostolicæ Curæ is not diminished or compromised in Pope Benedict’s Anglicanorum Coetibus, which introduced an apparent via media canonical structure that provides for groups of Anglican clergy and faithful to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church ‘while preserving elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony’. The ordination of ministers coming from Anglicanism will be wholly in accordance with Apostolicæ Curæ, ie, a (re-)ordination because their entire ministry within the Church of England has been fraudulently perpetrated on the basis of holy orders which are, in fact, ‘absolutely null and utterly void’.

This encyclical Apostolicæ Curæ was promulgated on the 18th September 1896.

But interestingly, Pope Leo XIII signed it:

Given at Rome, at St. Peter's, in the year of the Incarnation of Our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and ninety-six, on the Ides of September, in the nineteenth year of our pontificate.

The Ides of September is the 13th day.

So, in this period between 13-18 September, exactly 114 years later, Pope Benedict set foot in the symbolic ecclesiastical heart of Protestantism which has seen the coronation of every English and British monarch since the Norman conquest. Over recent centuries, its cloisters have reverberated to successive kings and queens renouncing popery, repudiating transubstantiation and swearing to uphold the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law.

Benedict came to reclaim the Abbey for the Benectine monks ejected by Elizabeth I. While twice verbally reminding the congregation that he is the successor to St Peter, he symbolically reminded us that only Roman orders have validity.

So not only has Pope Benedict driven the ecumenical coach into the ditch of history by declaring the feast day of the Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman (whom Anglicans already commemorate on the day of his death) to be the day of his conversion (ie, the day that he was re-ordained into ‘true orders’ [even before Anglican orders were declared ‘absolutely null and utterly void]). But he has seemed graciously to participate in a celebration of Anglican-Roman relations while actually slapping the Church of England in the face.

Or was it on the back?

Not knowing His Holiness, it is difficult for His Grace to tell.

But His Holiness does not strike His Grace as the sort of prelate who would make light of such a significant event. Certainly, there were pleasantries with the Supreme Governor and platitudes with the Archbishop of Canterbury, but in the symbolism of the stole was the assertion that Pope Leo XIII was right and that Anglican orders remain ‘utterly null and absolutely void’.

And yet His Holiness was content to participate in ecumenical Vespers presided over by the mitred heretic separated brethren whose episcopal orders Leo XIII declared invalid.

Was this the finest ecclesiastical gag ever?


Blogger Botogol said...

very Dan Brown.

as someone on R4 the other day remarked that ecumenicism works well in practice but not in theory.

24 September 2010 at 10:35  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Roman Catholicism is not the only expression of catholic Christian faith. Arguably it is less close to a notional 'true orthodox Christian faith' than the C of E, were such a faith to be conceptualised as a continuation of the church prior to and without the first papal accretions of power. From Pope Innocent III to the current Pope the RC church smacks of arrogance. Perhaps this is one of the 'timeless truths' it seeks to promulgate ?

24 September 2010 at 10:39  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"he symbolically reminded us that only Roman orders have validity."

Not quite true your Grace. The Roman Church recognises the Greek Churches orders as valid.

However, the Pope is still fuming over your Westminster Confession of Faith.

24 September 2010 at 10:40  
Blogger graham wood said...

Without commenting on the substance of this article, I am amazed that yet again Mr Ratzinger (as Preacher has so rightly dubbed him) is the subject of yet more wall-to-wall comment.
Is anybody really interested in this ecclesiastical theatre?

Cranmer, posters to your blog must ask why it is that you refer to this man as "His Holiness" rather than Mr. Ratzinger.
Whatever distinction one draws between the ecclesiastical "office" (not a Biblical concept)
and its occupant, there can be no justification for the repeated usage of "His Holiness" nomenclature. It is a distortion of words and Scripture - for only God is holy in any full sense.

This man has presided over, and to some degree connived in, the cover- up of the very worst atrocities committed against children by professing 'Christians'. The priest's involvement over many years, and the subsequent failure of the Vatican to bring the perpetrators to open justice via the courts for their criminal activity is nothing less than outrageous.
It has only been the independent action of many victims groups. and the glare of publicity which forced these corrupt men and their Papal leader to hastily engage in crocodile tears of "deep sorrow" & etc - but like the priest Eli in the OT, no real action taken, or repentance shown.
In legal terms the Pope is clearly an 'accessory after the fact' and no less criminal than the minions which serve him.
Please, Mr Cranmer, no more of this "His Holiness" nonsense.

24 September 2010 at 10:55  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace

I am unsure whether liberals know when they have been slapped on the face or on the back: it’s all relative they say.

24 September 2010 at 11:33  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Why is it that the Pope and men in senior positions in other Christian denominations choose to wear such effeminate clothing? This is not simply a snide dig but a serious question. There is something dignified about a monk wearing a simple habit. It signifies an ascetic life of self discipline and self sacrifice and can draw respect even from an atheist.

But the ostentatious garb of the bishops and the pope seems to send the wrong message. It says “look how grand I am” and reminds me of a tin pot African dictator like Bokassa, full of self importance rather than humility that I understand is part of the Christian ethos.

24 September 2010 at 11:33  
Blogger Anabaptist said...

Mr Graham Wood, I'm glad to note you are back among us. And I notice a welcome change in style: you have previoulsy disappointed me by addressing Cranny as 'YG' (Your Grace), as if the affectations of title held by these so-called archbishops (even deceased ones) are legitimate. They are, of course, not fitting to be used by Christians who do not subscribe to the paraphernalia of clergy, as I do not, and neither, I suspect, do you. So addressing him as 'Mr Cranmer' is a big step in the right direction. Possibly it is more polite than 'Cranny'.

And it is all of a piece with your insistence that Cranny refer to His Popeship as 'Mr Ratzinger'. Good for you.

However, there are a couple of small points: first, it would probably be 'Dr Ratzinger', as he is a very high level scholar. And secondly, Cranny, of course, lives (?) in that strange world where affectations of title are adhered to, so it is possibly more consistent that he should refer to this pope with his customary deference.

As for me, well popes, archbishops, bishops, cardinals, prebendaries, rectors, vicars, curates, deans, deacons and archdeacons, etc., etc., mean nothing. Though some are fine men with fine minds -- and, indeed, fine Christians -- their titles are mere puffery and should not be indulged.

And by the way, I agree wholeheartedly with Mr Graham Davis in his enquiry about pretty frocks. They would possibly say it is a continuation of the robes of Aaron, as they call themselves priests, but their theology there would be highly suspect. I can't imagine Jesus or Peter or Paul wearing such fripperies.

24 September 2010 at 11:40  
OpenID britologywatch said...

Your Grace, are you trying to imply that the pope 'stole the show' last Friday! Out of order!

24 September 2010 at 11:46  
Anonymous len said...

Mr Ratzinger undoubtedly views himself as the 'caped crusader' restoring Catholicism in the the very heart of the Reformation.

24 September 2010 at 11:53  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Dr Cranmer, please.

24 September 2010 at 11:56  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace

Now look here Messrs Davis and Anabaptist; it may be that the Pope (like Cardinal Wolsey) wears fine clothing to dignify his office and wears a hair shirt underneath.

24 September 2010 at 11:56  
Blogger Anabaptist said...

Now you look here, Mr D. Singh, I don't care what sort of underwear these people put on. The very idea of dignifying their office is foreign to the New Testament.

I defy you to show me one passage in the New Testament that can in any way suggest such a thing. There are none, which is why Newman (in the extensive paragraphs quoted by a poster on a different thread a few days ago), following the Anglican Richard Hooker, strove so hard to demonstrate that the New Testament is effectively irrelevant in ecclesiological matters, because they knew that their traditions receive no sort of support whatsoever from it.

In fact, though, the hair shirt would be an even worse abuse.

24 September 2010 at 12:06  
Blogger graham wood said...

Anabaptist. Thanks for your comments and welcome. I am indeed one with you theologically (I have great respect for the fine Anabaptist tradition, and regard them as the "real Reformers).

I agree with all your comments. My usage of 'His Grace in previous posts was more a matter of unthinking practice rather than for any conscious ideological reason. My laziness in precision probably.

Whilst I disagree with the general stance of Graham Davies, I agree with you both concerning ecclesiastical vestments.
It is all part of the wider system deliberately designed to awe and impress gullible people present with a great show of power and authority which is, like the proverbial Emperor's clothes, non existent IMO!
One is reminded of the whole charade concerning ecclesiastical ordination and "Holy Orders" of our Lord's pointed comment on what he saw coming found in Luke 22:25-26:

"The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship........ but YE SHALL NOT BE SO"
In my view this and many other NT principles completely exclude ecclesiastical hierarchical systems of precedence of any kind, with the 'pecking order' of Archbishops, Bishops & etc.
Indeed, the whole "clergy" v "laity" dichotomy is false on the basis of Christ's words.
You probably know that the word "clergy" derives from the Gk 'kleros', which means 'lot' or 'inheritance', which of course is the position of all the Lord's people without distinction.
The sooner churches dispense completely with the concept (and I include the so called "free" evangelical churches) the better!

24 September 2010 at 12:12  
Blogger graham wood said...

"Dr Cranmer, please."

Sincere apologies Dr Cranmer. No offence intended. Of course I recognise and respect secular scolarship, if not the ecclesiastical garb it sometimes comes with.

24 September 2010 at 12:16  
Blogger Anabaptist said...

Mr Graham Wood, I suspect you have been reading Jonny Zens.

24 September 2010 at 12:21  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace

Women should wear hats in church!

Well Mr Anabaptist this is the nearest thing I've found:

Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is just as though her head were shaved. If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head. A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head.

1 Corinthians 11

24 September 2010 at 12:46  
Blogger Anabaptist said...

Mr D.Singh

... ! ...

This is what I said: 'The very idea of dignifying their office is foreign to the New Testament.

I defy you to show me one passage in the New Testament that can in any way suggest such a thing.

How on earth does your reply in any way correspond to my challenge?

And, at risk of digressing on a digression, how does the passage you quoted in any way support your assertion that women should wear hats in church?

24 September 2010 at 12:57  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace

Mr Anabaptist: enough of this digression I say!

24 September 2010 at 13:02  
Blogger graham wood said...


"Mr Graham Wood, I suspect you have been reading Jonny Zens."

Too true! I have known Jon for many years, and at one time distributed his mag 'Searching Together' in the UK. IMO Jon is one of the leading biblical theologians (as opposed to the liberal order) in the USA today.
I think his writings are very insightful and powerful, particularly as he seeks to recall Christians to a proper doctrine of the church and its application in actual practice. This appears to have been abandoned by professing evangelicals, and they have retreated from the field now occupied by the consolidated institutional church.
Have you seen his 'What's With Paul & Women? - Unlocking the Cultural Background to 1 Tim.2' ?

24 September 2010 at 13:15  
Blogger DaveF said...

Returning to the thesis of the blog: yes, I believe Dr Cranmer is correct in his perceptions. The Pope was certainly making a sly point to the Anglican establishment - much of which was probably lost on all but a few. The fact that so much of Roman Catholic liturgy is saturated with symbolism sounds occultish - rather akin to the Babylonian mystery religions and gnosticism that purportedly influenced Freemasonry.
The political side to the Papacy is one which is certainly 'on the dark side' - and is to be distrusted.

24 September 2010 at 13:20  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

An ecclesiastical gag? I doubt it. The Bishop of Rome is a German and therefore has absolutely no sense of humour

24 September 2010 at 13:55  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder what would happen if the Church actually declared Roman Orders invalid and null and void, requiring Catholic Priests who swim the Tiber in reverse to be re-ordained.

Hear the screams of protest from Rome, hear the pain of english catholics!

But that would only be reciprocal treatment for a Church, which has chosen to deliberately disrespect the Anglican Church in this way.

24 September 2010 at 14:19  
Blogger Chromatistes said...

The photo of the two prelates gripping each other invites a Caption Competition.

My entry: "In the final round of the Aki Basho, Ratzinger-San uses the yoridashi technique to propel his opponent from the dohyo."

24 September 2010 at 14:25  
Anonymous R said...

Gosh, it's been a while since I looked at Apostolicae Curae. As I think William Oddie said in 'The Roman Option', if the pope had declared Anglican orders to be entirely valid, it would rather have undermined the RC reconquista of England somewhat. How happily convenient for him that the decision turned out otherwise!

Of course, the most serious criticism of A.C. is that developments since the 19th century render Leo's original conclusion inapplicable, namely:

1. Changes to the wording of the Ordination service.

2. Growth of Anglo-Catholicism, and Catholic understanding of the priesthood and sacraments (for the crux of Leo's argument was that, since the reformers were consciously anti-RC, therefore where the Anglican ordinal uses the phrase "the work and office of a priest", it must implicitly mean "the work and office of an heretical, schismatic non-Catholic priest.")

3. Involvement of Orthodox and Old Catholic bishops in 20th century ordinations, thereby making up any possible break in succession caused by the pre-1662 Edwardine ordinal or the consecration of Archbishop Matthew Parker (who was consecrated by four bishops, one of whom was seemingly not recorded in contemporary documents as having been consecrated a bishop, and this is taken to undermine the validity of Parker's own consecration for some reason (and which seems rather unique to this case))

It was probably for the above reasons that Basil Hume introduced the practice of 'conditionally' re-ordaining Anglican clergy moving over to Rome (e.g. Graham Leonard, Bishop of London).

In this light, the CDF's reiteration of Apostolicae Curae is less "may I remind you...!" and more "we are the holy inquisition raar don't ask for our reasons, just do (or think) what we say!"

24 September 2010 at 14:56  
Blogger Laurence Boyce said...

Ah, what joy! Please never depart again, Your Grace.

But in truth, there was no need for Benny to send out this secret signal to those with eyes to see such as your good self. At no time has the nullity of Anglican orders ever been revoked, so we must assume that this is the official position until we hear to the contrary. Even less "valid" are all the non-Christian faith leaders he met at Twickenham.

You see this inter-faith malarkey is all a complete sham. The real purpose of which is for believers everywhere to club together against your common enemy - aggressive atheists!!!

By the way, I think Benny should put on the triple crown. I bet he's dying to.

24 September 2010 at 17:01  
Blogger Preacher said...

Dr Cranmer.
It would seem that Mr Ratzinger, knows exactly what game he's playing by this sly mockery of his hosts. I thank the Lord that there are many of your communicants that have not bowed the knee to this successor of the heretical deceiver Constantine. DaveF, right on target, occult, Babylonian, false untrustworthy. Never trust a snake it's nature is to bite & just as Eve found out it is always true to it's nature.

24 September 2010 at 17:14  
Anonymous IanCad said...

Your sartorial acuity is most impressive YG. Surely this demonstrates an utter contempt for his protestant hosts. Now that the tumult and the shouting has died let us recognize this visit for what it really was. That of a landlord surveying his next possession.

24 September 2010 at 17:59  
Anonymous not a machine said...

"and other prada accesories" that is surely the best gag ever !

Your grace understands these detailed aspects , and words are very important in godly dialogues hence the time frames we are bound to .
The papal library has been rebuilt , it isnt I feel so much that it is a matter of settling differences it has become for me, perhaps facing the curious questions of why we have been apart and if we are denying somthing that would complete both churches success.
His holiness has a record of making points in such manner and maintains his deeply held thelogical beliefs , as an anglican I have difficulty with papal rule , but no difficulty with its vast resource of what it has discerned as god from its own works and errors .
Of course faith is not just a warm feeling given by the purchase of comsumable goods , but a good faith is a source of joy/wisdom .It would seem to me that both churches making central a faith that serves , is an important challenge , this dialogue cannot help but bring into mind a further look at the apostolic meaning in which we gathered undivided into churches to seek god , as followers of christ .
The dialogue should not create dumbing down , nor a shift over to ritual or robe details , these prada things were not perhaps meant to to be ornately powerful , but sincerley powerful .
I may not live to see the fruits of this , but I somehow feel it is right , hard hearts again would be unfortuante .

24 September 2010 at 18:15  
Anonymous Paleo said...

However the Orthodox Church does not recognise the Latin heretics and their Protesting children, so it is all moot...

24 September 2010 at 19:46  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Why is it that the Pope and men in senior positions in other Christian denominations choose to wear such effeminate clothing"

Not as effeminate as the clothes worn by English Judiciary. They wear gowns, and wigs!

24 September 2010 at 20:16  
Blogger Bishop Alan Wilson said...

your grace is greatly to be commended for spotting how the simple facts undermined the mood music on this occasion. There can only be real progress towards the kind of unity everyone says they want when everyone involved recognises their share in the problem, and that Imperialism and Tribalism, however dressed up, are not enough.

24 September 2010 at 22:00  
Blogger Ruth Gledhill said...

I've always believed that Benedict has a great sense of humour. A British sense of humour really. He reminds me a lot of my dear late dad in fact. Also a priest, incidentally, although of the Anglo not Roman Catholic variety!

24 September 2010 at 22:12  
Blogger liturgy said...

Cranmer is well-known for reworking previous material into new work for which he gets credited.

Is that tradition continuing?


as highlighted by

24 September 2010 at 22:47  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mr/Miss/Mrs/Ms Liturgy,

His Grace had read none of the sites to which you link before writing this piece. His source for this story is quite clearly hyperlinked in the fourth paragraph.

If, however, you are so peeved and insecure that you wish to be uniquely credited for the originality of this story, His Grace has no qualms at all in lauding your spiritual foresight and theological insight.

24 September 2010 at 23:22  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...


His Grace has just noted that his source for this post is dated 18 September. Your article is dated 23 September, yet you do not credit that dated the 18th.

Could it be that you yourself are a plagiarist and a hypocrite?

Or is it simply that you did not read it and were not aware of it?

Or could it be that you deny the coincidental prompting of the Holy Spirit, or deny the possibity that great minds think alike?

25 September 2010 at 00:11  
Blogger liturgy said...

Your Grace,

I am not in any sense seeking to be “uniquely credited for the originality of this story” as I clearly link and credit my source.
I thought the allusion to your Grace’s marvelous liturgical skills in reworking previous material into new and improved work rather fun.
I leave it to your readers to decide which of us two is peeved and insecure.

25 September 2010 at 00:58  
Anonymous John Knox said...

Leo 13 on September 13, which is the equivalent of the Idus of March in the southern hemisphere...

Wasn't it all a big dress up with very little if any spiritual implication? If there was it probably was negative:

The event in Westminster Abbey certainly "gagged" article 22, or 33 for that matter.

But who cares? Some of the finest Unitarians, and others of questionable convictions, in English history are buried there, even a "Pope".

I vote we make room for Richard D. as well.

What about it Cranmer? We should call it "hatred's corner," or "hang-up's corner" for that matter. Have you bless him in the spirit of the Gospel; Cranmer and the Nasties in good old William's spirit; and the pope and everyone else may subsequently call him blessed.

25 September 2010 at 02:15  
Anonymous Prue said...

I don't understand what all the fuss is about.Everyone knows that the Anglican Church is regarded as a pale pastiche of the true Church by Catholics.This will never change.Is the Pope being hypocritical by attending these Anglican services?It all depends on your view. Occasionally Royalty has been required to wear unusual garb and engage in a few tribal customs to acknowledge respect for another (inferior) culture. Perhaps this is the same situation.
The problem lies in the perception of the pecking order.

25 September 2010 at 07:12  
Anonymous Bob Chapman said...

At least His Holiness didn't wear his mitre.

25 September 2010 at 07:45  
Anonymous len said...

To escape the clutches of the Roman Church has cost thousands their lives which you so lightly brush off as no consequence.
These men in dress`s and funny hats were no joke to them but headed up one of the most repressive regimes in history.
Try reading the 39 articles and you will realise what the Anglicans were doing!

25 September 2010 at 07:59  
Anonymous non mouse said...

Was this the greatest gag ever? Possibly. Especially if one views it as an addendum to that nasty bit of parchment that's hidden somewhere in Rome.

And Your Grace - "Dr Cranmer, please." Oh, well done! When people call me Dr. I start looking round for the prof. ... then I remember to be one. :)

p.s. wv: psesse --

25 September 2010 at 15:51  
Anonymous Mr Ratzinger said...

Quite correct, in particular the various Grahams who, peculiarly, infest the thread.

It is incomprehensible to many that the Pope, sorry - Dr Ratzinger, should refuse to recognise the CofE orders.
Especially so since he recognises the Orthodox orders.

Never mind that the Great Schism was a matter of language rather than doctrine (Greek versus Latin).

What we need is a proper Church leader, say Henry VIII.

Or indeed that Defender of Faiths - Prince Charles.

25 September 2010 at 17:47  
Anonymous len said...

Mr Ratzinger,
The Great Schism was more than a matter of language( Greek v Latin.)It was an attempt to unpick the errors of the Roman Church and present the truth of the Gospel.

26 September 2010 at 09:41  
Anonymous The Ancient said...

It is an occasion of some sadness that Your Grace appears to have disentangled himself from the flames for no better purpose than to give vent to a quaint and peevish form of anti-Catholicism.

Has the C of E so many left that it can afford waste the energies of its best apologists on such an antique endeavor?

(And if they are left, where are they hidden? Tunbridge Wells?)

You have better fish to fry -- even on Fridays.

27 September 2010 at 01:40  
Blogger terry said...

Pope Leo XIII was the first Pope to pray for Christian Unity

In his 1895 Brief Providae Matris, Pope Leo XIII recommended a Week of Prayer for the week preceding Pentecost.

In 1897, in his Encyclical Divinum Illud Munus, the Pope spoke of the prayer in which it was asked that the good of Christian unity be promoted.

If the Pope intended anything by his wearing of the stole, perhaps that was what he had in mind.

27 September 2010 at 22:23  
Anonymous len said...

When a pope prays for unity what exactly is he praying for?
Since anyone who rejects the pope or catholic doctrine is placed under a curse by the catholic church is this not a tad hypocritical?.

28 September 2010 at 08:47  
Blogger terry said...


"When a pope prays for unity what exactly is he praying for?"

Very good question. The answer is of course for others above my paygrade to answer

However I suppose that lesser mortals like me can look at what the Popes have said themselves about what they pray for in such Encyclicals as Ut Unum Sit. (

There appears to be a number of elements in the prayer: the end to "hostilities", collaboration between the Churches in God’s mission, and how to fulfil the prayer of Jesus before the Passion in St John`s Gospel that all those who believe will be one.

Unity operates on a number of levels.

At the parish level, there are prayers and services held jointly.Fifty years ago this was unheard of. Now it is a matter of course. For those of us who can remember the scandal of hostility and recrimination on the ground the changes have been massive and profound.

Unity is no longer seen in Rome simply as the integrity of the Roman Catholic Church and of reconciliation to it through individual submissions to the see of Peter.

On unity of doctrine, there have been discussions and some Joint Statements on Matters of Faith have been issued, such as with the Lutheran Church.

As regards reconciliation of ministries, and the mutual recognition of the validity of ministries, relations between Rome and the Orthodox Churches are further along than with the non Catholic and non-Orthodox Churches.

"{A]nyone who rejects the pope or catholic doctrine is placed under a curse by the catholic church "

I am not a theologian or a canon law expert, but I wonder if this is an accurate statement of the position ? I cannot think of the last time that anathema was pronounced.

The Second Vatican Council's Decree on Ecumenism in this regard made a number of important declarations:

""All those justified by faith through Baptism are incorporated into Christ. They therefore have a right to be honoured by the title of Christian, and are properly regarded as brothers and sisters in the Lord by the sons and daughters of the Catholic Church";

""All of these, which come from Christ and lead back to him, belong by right to the one Church of Christ. The separated brethren also carry out many of the sacred actions of the Christian religion. Undoubtedly, in many ways that vary according to the condition of each Church or Community, these actions can truly engender a life of grace, and can be rightly described as capable of providing access to the community of salvation"; and

"every effort [must be made] to eliminate words, judgments, and actions which do not respond to the condition of separated brethren with truth and fairness and so make mutual relations between them more difficult"

Pope John Paul II went further in Ut Unum Sint.

28 September 2010 at 15:08  
Anonymous June said...

Archbishop Cranmer . .
I would commend to your reading and for your consideration a commentary written by by Shaun Willcock, Christian Apologist & Gospel Minister, entitled 'Antichrist in the UK 2010', from which I now share an excerpt:

“In her welcoming speech, Elizabeth addressed Benedict as “Your Holiness” and said she was “delighted” to welcome him to the UK. “I recall with great pleasure the memorable pastoral visit of the late Pope John Paul II to this country in 1982,” she said. “I also have vivid memories of my four visits to the Vatican, and of meeting some of your predecessors on other occasions.”i How disgraceful, that the woman sworn to uphold the Protestant constitution of Britain should so warmly welcome the representative of Britain’s greatest enemy to the country. Not that Elizabeth is a true Christian, of course, and nor is the “Protestantism” of the “Established Church of England” biblical; but nevertheless, as queen she has betrayed her coronation oath and is helping take the country back to Rome.
Revealing either her gross ignorance of factual history or possibly revealing a deliberate and sinister purpose behind her words, she then said, “In this country, we deeply appreciate the involvement of the Holy See in the dramatic improvement in the situation in Northern Ireland.” What a betrayal of the Irish Protestants, long known as her most loyal subjects! The Vatican’s involvement in Northern Ireland through the decades was to enthusiastically, financially, and morally support the terrorist Roman Catholic organisation, the IRA, against the Protestants of Northern Ireland.i Rome has done nothing but stir up the Papists of Northern Ireland, inflame them with hatred, and put the weapons in their hands that have caused such suffering in that province – and yet the queen praised the pope of Rome for his involvement! Her words were despicable and shocking.
She also said that Benedict’s presence “reminds us of our common Christian heritage”.ii There is no common Christian heritage between Roman Catholicism and biblical Christianity, but tragically the queen’s Anglican institution is not a Christian church, and there is much in common between it and Romanism.
She also said, “I am pleased that your visit will also provide an opportunity to deepen the relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and the Established Church of England and the Church of Scotland.” There should be no relationship between them! And if the queen was true to what she must know of her own country’s history, of its long and bloody struggle with the Papacy, she would never have said such a thing.”

May God be pleased to grant unto you discernment!

The complete transcript of Shaun Willcock's commentary can be accessed here:

3 October 2010 at 20:12  
Anonymous Mark Salmon said...

As Botogol posted...
"very Dan Brown.

as someone on R4 the other day remarked that ecumenicism works well in practice but not in theory."
Sadly I have found that Ecumenism works very well in practise, at parish/ground level, it's just when academics and Church leaders get involved that it seems to struggle!!

5 October 2010 at 09:12  

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