Hans Kung: The Vatican thirst for power divides Christianity and damages Catholicism

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After Pope Benedict XVI's offences against the Jews and the Muslims, Protestants and reform-oriented Catholics, it is now the turn of the Anglican communion, which encompasses some 77 million members and is the third largest Christian confession after the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox churches. Having brought back the extreme anti-reformist faction of the Pius X fraternity into the fold, Pope Benedict now hopes to fill up the dwindling ranks of the Catholic church with Anglicans sympathetic to Rome. Their conversion to the Catholic church is supposed to be made easier: Anglican priests and bishops shall be allowed to retain their standing, even when married. Traditionalists of the churches, unite! Under the cupola of St Peter's! The Fisher of Men is angling in waters of the extreme religious right.

This Roman action is a dramatic change of course: steering away from the well-proven ecumenical strategy of eye-level dialogue and honest understanding; steering towards an un-ecumenical luring away of Anglican priests, even dispensing with medieval celibacy law to enable them to come back to Rome under the lordship of the pope.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury Anglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Benedict XVI

43 Comments
Posted October 29, 2009 at 5:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Ian+ wrote:

But he’s not bitter.

October 29, 7:15 am | [comment link]
2. Br_er Rabbit wrote:

There is a tremendous amount of hate and discontent displayed in this article. Who is this guy?

October 29, 7:24 am | [comment link]
3. Dan Crawford wrote:

His influence as a theologian waned about 25 years ago - like so many of his like-minded friends in the Roman Church, he has begun sounding like a damaged CD. It wasn’t all that long ago that the Pope invited his former colleague to a private dinner in the Vatican. I guess Hans is ticked the Pope didn’t apologize. Mr. Kung doesn’t seem to provide a definition of the “well-proven ecumenical strategy” or what it is supposed to end in. Does it have an relationship to Christianity?

October 29, 7:29 am | [comment link]
4. David Fischler wrote:

A powerless little child, banging his spoon on his high chair and bawling at the top of his lungs, demanding that the household be run HIS way or else he’ll toddle into the living room and urinate on the carpet.

Sounds like Mr. Kung could use some time out.

October 29, 7:39 am | [comment link]
5. rugbyplayingpriest wrote:

For a great response check out Fr. Ivhttp://sevenoaks.blogspot.com/2009/10/fr-hans-kung.htmlan at Sevenoaks

He says it all and better than i could!

October 29, 7:42 am | [comment link]
6. rugbyplayingpriest wrote:

let me try again
http://sevenoaks.blogspot.com/2009/10/fr-hans-kung.html

October 29, 7:43 am | [comment link]
7. Rev. Patti Hale wrote:

This is astoundingly vicious.  Once again, it needs to be clarified, this latest move by the Vatican comes in RESPONSE to some Anglicans who have requested full communion.  This article presents this development as an “aggression” which is not true at all.  What a bitter and sad individual.

October 29, 7:43 am | [comment link]
8. Chris Molter wrote:

He’s our version of Spong.  Not QUITE as extreme, but just as bitter and twisted.

October 29, 8:22 am | [comment link]
9. evan miller wrote:

This Kung fellow has obviously not taken his rabies shot.

October 29, 9:18 am | [comment link]
10. Archer_of_the_Forest wrote:

For those who do not know who Hans Kung is, he is a Catholic priest in good standing but has been banned by the Vatican from teaching Catholic theology at any Catholic university or institution due to some of his more radical theological ideas. This is what, I assume, is the root of his bitterness towards the Catholic church. I believe he stayed on at the University of Tubingen as the professor emeritus of “Ecumenical Theology” without the blessing of the Vatican.

I understand his work, he got into trouble with the teaching arm of the Magisterium because he questioned the Infallibility of the Pope and also did some interesting work comparing the points of theology on Justification that Rome and Karl Barth (of all people) actually agreed on. I think what ultimately got his teaching license revoked by the Vatican was his work regarding both the full embrace of science and evolution over the traditional teachings of the Magisterium and his later work on trying to synthesize the commonalities of all world religions, in which he comes off almost as a “all paths lead to God” theology. (Though in fairness, I don’t think that was what he was trying to get at; that is just how he comes off.)

October 29, 10:09 am | [comment link]
11. Randy Muller wrote:

I have to say that I am really enjoying the (bad) reactions so many revisionists are having against the Pope’s invitation to anglo-catholics to join with Rome.

October 29, 10:13 am | [comment link]
12. Sherri2 wrote:

Randy, me too. The reaction has been almost universally bad among revisionists - whether Catholic or Protestant. Which says a lot, I suppose, about what unites *them*.

October 29, 11:58 am | [comment link]
13. bluenarrative wrote:

The guy who actually “lowered the boom” on Kung was none other than current Bishop of Rome, who was—at that time—a Cardinal of the Church, charged by John Paul II with the task of rooting-out the genuine mischief-makers (revisionist “theologians”) within the Church.

The two men (Kung and Ratzinger) knew each other personally—they were both prominent German theologians. There was a time when they would have viewed each other as friendly colleagues, if not quite friends. At the time of the First Vatican Council, they had seen themselves as being, more or less, on the same page, in their understanding of foundational Catholic theology.

Over a very short period of time (late 60’s, early 70’s), Kung began giving voice to ideas that were explicitly un-Catholic and flagrantly sub-Christian.

During this same period, Ratzinger began formulating ideas that would delineate clear boundaries for Catholic theologians.

Kung’s bitterness here is quite personal—here he is lashing out at the man who, literally, handed him his pink slip; Kung was told by Ratzinger, in a face-to-face meeting, that his license had been revoked.

Of course, Kung is acutely aware of all the very important work that Ratzinger, as an academic, did on the subject of ecumenical relations between the Catholic Church and the various Lutheran Churches. He also knows that the theological premises which underly Rome’s recent offer to Anglicans were firmly thrashed-out and established by Ratzinger DECADES AGO in his work with the Lutheran Churches of Europe. If Kung finds systemic fault with Rome’s offer to Anglicans NOW, then it would be good for us to remember that Hans Kung never felt the need to criticize those same premises and principles, when he and Joe Ratzinger were both academics and Ratzinger was first articulating some of these ideas.

It is only NOW—now that the guy who actually FIRED him has finally got the top job; now that he (Kung) has been consigned to obscurity and irrelevance as a relic of the 60’s—that he suddenly discerns grave problems with Ratzinger’s ideas…

October 29, 2:23 pm | [comment link]
14. Br_er Rabbit wrote:

Ah, but leave it to the Guardian to give this has-been a forum to spout off from. Does anyone know where the article appears in the print edition? Above the fold?  Perhaps this will give them a bump up in street sales. And besides that, it must be fun making the Church look ridiculous.

October 29, 2:37 pm | [comment link]
15. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

I especially loved David Fischler’s #4, that says it all.  Yes, this rant sounds just like a childish tantrum.  Well put, David!

But I’m afraid I must disagree with Chis Molter’s #8.  As much as I vehemently dislike Hans Kung, he’s not in the same class with the infamous John Shelby Spong.  And the big difference is that Kung is a genuine scholar, a real theologian, whereas Spong is a mere progagandist who hasn’t a clue what real scholarship is and has probably never had an original theological idea of any validity in his whole life.

I’ve always thought of Kung as all too much like King Saul of old.  So much initital promise all gone terribly wrong, and ending horribly.  “How are the mighty fallen!”

Back in the late 1950s and early to mid 1960s Hans Kung did some really fine, path-breaking work.  His dissertation that attempted to reconcile one interpretation of Trent decree on justification (a Thomist instead of Fransciscan one) with some aspects of Karl Barth’s view of the same core doctrine was indeed a pioneering work that opened new vistas for ecumenical progress, as the Archer alluded to above (#10).  But my favorite work of his was his early masterpiece, the magnificent tome called simply The Church, which is still one of the finest treatments of ecclesiology that I know.  But Archer is right, he went downhill very rapidly in the 1970s, buying into the relativism that is the great temptation for so many intellectuals (and others) in our time.

Like Saruman in Tolkien’s LoTR, he became corrupted, and all his wisdom turned to foolishness.  Kung accuses the pope of being corrupted by a lust for power.  My guess is that Kung was corrupted by a lust for fame.

In that way, at least, he resembles Spong all too much.

What a terrible waste!

David Handy+

October 29, 3:31 pm | [comment link]
16. Ad Orientem wrote:

Hans Kung?  He is still alive?  Ratzinger may not have burned the old heretic at the stake, but he reduced his standing and opinions within the Roman Church to ashes.  The man is a relic of the 1960’s and 70’s.  I almost feel badly for him.  He has lived to see everything he stood for repudiated by the Catholic Church.

Thank God.

In ICXC
John

October 29, 3:32 pm | [comment link]
17. TridentineVirginian wrote:

NRA - that is a good view on Küng, I think that captures the tragedy of the man very well. Also, he and the Pope go way back. IIRC, they were both young theologians who knew at each other prior to V2 and were friendly to each other. Küng was one of the key figures at that time who, as his views developed, made Ratzinger believe that something had gone to terribly wrong that needed putting right. The rest was history… I suspect some of Küng’s bitterness is from seeing his former associate part ways with him, then revoking his license to teach theology while at the CDF, and onward to the Papacy. A real repudiation of everything Küng stands for mixed with decades-old personal animosity?

October 29, 5:43 pm | [comment link]
18. TridentineVirginian wrote:

Pity I can’t edit my post, #13 described the relationship better than I, sorry to overlook that, bluenarrative.

October 29, 5:44 pm | [comment link]
19. tgd wrote:

I have been more impressed by past writings of Hans Kung than by past writings of Joseph Ratzinger, although I have read nowhere near all that either has written.  In the current article by Kung, there is discussion of the validity of Anglican ordinations, not just a strange rant about a power grab.  To get the true flavor, look past the fact that Ratzinger is responding to requests from upset Anglicans, to the details of how he chose to respond.  Why this response?  And why now?  It’s unexpected, and there are layers beneath the surface.

October 29, 7:29 pm | [comment link]
20. TridentineVirginian wrote:

What kind of layers, #19?

October 29, 7:53 pm | [comment link]
21. advocate wrote:

TGD - Why this response? Because the knocks at the door were getting increasingly louder and more persistent. Also because he has been saying he would, that folks just needed to be patient. And because TAC ASKED him to come up with some way to let them corporately reunite. Why now? Because they finally got the details ironed out, and because (I think) that the Anglican Church in England just approved woman bishops with no provision made for those who disagreed. There are probably other layers, but it seems to me that those ones that are obvious are pretty compelling.

October 29, 8:31 pm | [comment link]
22. Br_er Rabbit wrote:

#21 add to this that B16 found a way through his old digs in the CDF to bypass 1) a hierarchy jealous of its geographical privilege and 2) a decades-long procedural hurdle of entrusting a solution to the ecumenical process.
Ya think?

October 29, 9:23 pm | [comment link]
23. dwstroudmd+ wrote:

Vell, at least little Hans reveals the real reason for his expressed displeasure - “too much Kung”! - und, for once, he is right! As were his discipliners.

October 29, 10:09 pm | [comment link]
24. Ross wrote:

You do realize that if a reasserting theologian’s comments inspired this type and degree of reaction on a reappraising blog, then y’all would take it as proof positive that he had struck a nerve.

October 29, 10:30 pm | [comment link]
25. TridentineVirginian wrote:

Thanks for today’s dose of relativism, Ross. I can’t find any equivalency there, though, because the re-appraisers are simply wrong.

October 29, 10:40 pm | [comment link]
26. Br_er Rabbit wrote:

Actually, Ross, the substance of his comments are germane to the issue at hand, contribute to the discussion, and have received little negative comment here. It is the tenor of his comments for which we are raking him over the coals. His reaction is just over the top. I don’t think he struck a nerve at all.

And yes, we do have reasserting commenters who go over the top. If one such was raked over the coals for doing such on a reappraising blog, I for one would be embarassed on the part of reasserters like myself.

It is extraordinarily rare for a world-class theologian, as Hans Kung apparently had been, to rant like this. Such an action by one of our own would be embarrasing.

October 29, 10:48 pm | [comment link]
27. bluenarrative wrote:

In my humble opinion, Ross Douthat, writing for the NY Times (maybe a week or so ago—his article can be linked from National Review Online), did a wonderful job of summarizing Rome’s offer to Anglicans.

An awful lot of people,  representing a multiplicity of factions in both the Anglican world and in the Roman Catholic Church, seem to have seriously misunderstood what this latest (and, in my opinion, very gracious) move by Rome really means. I think Ross has written a short and simple—but, nonetheless, incisive—analysis of what is REALLY going on.

I have always had a love/hate relationship with Karl Barth… And I should probably also confess that, at various times, I have had complicated feelings about the Roman Catholic Church… Consequently, I never felt that I was in a position to judge Kung’s particular work in this area. It may well be that Kung’s work in this area was important and well-presented. But it is hard for me to take seriously ANYTHING that the man (Kung) says, in light of his later work. A lot of his ideas were, at best, half-baked and somewhat nutty; at worst, they were explicitly un-Catholic and sub-Christian. He was a kind of theological “rock star,” in his day—he made the cover of Time Magazine once—and I think that Rome did precisely the right thing when it revoked his license.

October 29, 11:37 pm | [comment link]
28. Pageantmaster [Katie bought Welby] wrote:

I know that because of some of the background, that people will dismiss anything by Hans Kung.  He is pretty much a lone voice nowadays, but sometimes just as conservative voices are not tolerated in TEC, there is something important for them to say.  I say that as a committed Anglican, not as a Catholic or Anglo-Catholic whose voices seem to dominate so many of these threads.  I also hope for closer relationship with Rome through the growing together of our churches and the breakdown of barriers such as the mutual recognition of orders and eucharistic communion, indeed the fruits of the ecumenical dialogue that has going on since Vatican II.

Having read Hans Kung’s article I read a great deal of perceptive comment and a voice for many of my concerns:
1. the by-passing of the ecumenical channels and the over-riding of the Archbishop of Canterbury rather brutally;
2. the continued policy of absorbtion of Christendom into the Roman church with the same determination and insensitivity which upset the Orthodox churches early in this Papacy;
3.

Can it be that those caught in the Roman dragnet do not see that they will never be more than second-class priests in the Roman church, that other Catholics are not meant to take part in their liturgical celebrations?

  Something to be thought about which I have not heard raised before - is there a chinese wall?
4. The move away from true ecumenical dialogue, including on the primacy of the bishop of Rome over other churches, a stumbling block both for the Orthodox and for us - submission is not inter-communion; the issue of Anglican Orders, only declared invalid late in the 19thC; the issue of Eucharistic Communion which Rome claims as the gift of that church rather than that of the Lord; the shelving of all the initiatives on these subjects.
5.

As I wrote in 1967, “a resumption of ecclesial community between the Catholic church and the Anglican church” would be possible, when “the Church of England, on the one side, shall be given the guarantee that its current autochthonous and autonomous church order under the Primate of Canterbury will be preserved fully” and when, “on the other side, the Church of England shall recognise the existence of a pastoral primacy of Petrine ministry as the supreme authority for mediation and arbitration between the churches.” “In this way,” I expressed my hopes then, “out of the Roman imperium might emerge a Catholic commonwealth.”

- perhaps still a very perceptive view of what might yet be the breakthrough which would bring the churches together.  Anglicans have gone a considerable way in the ARCIC process towards recognising the pastoral aspects of the Petrine ministry but there has been little sign of respect even or guarantee for full preservation of the Order of the Church of England under the primacy of the Archbishop of Canterbury.  Oddly the latest move demonstrates complete disrespect for the primacy of Canterbury, although some have sought to see respect for some aspects of what is termed the Anglican patrimony in the new ordinariates, although whether this is just music and some adapted liturgy remains to be seen.
6. Then Kung looks at the consequences:
[1] a further weakening of the Anglican Church - “In the Anglican church, liberals rejoice over the departure of the catholicising troublemakers” - Hans Kung is spot on - the balance of the Church of England has been disturbed, the latest moved timed as it was weakens the hand of those seeking provision within it as liberals will say “go - you have got what you wanted, leave us alone” and for the conservative witness this has been weakened.  That would of course be if many took up this offer, which seems unlikely, but it really in its timing has been disasterous.  If the conservative witness in the Church of England continues it is no thanks to Pope Benedict.
[2] the sowing of doubt in Anglicans about whether the orders of our priests are valid and we are a church with the re-ordination of departing priests - really helpful Rome - Not!
[3] the bringing of discontent to the Roman Catholic Church over the issue of a celibate priesthood - well this is raging according the press reports yesterday.
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article6895501.ece

Hans Kung has every reason to be angry and it would not necessarily have been helpful for the Roman Catholic Church to have followed his past lead, but while I do read some considerable animus in this article to the way Pope Benedict is handling things, the points he makes are thoughtful and thought provoking and from the position of the Church of England spot on with my concerns.

[That of course is with my usual point that with the way the Church of England has dealt with things we are in many ways the author of our own misfortunes, for which Pope Benedict and the Roman Catholic Church are not responsible.  It is sad that having stood beside us so faithfully recently that they have now turned.]

October 30, 7:31 am | [comment link]
29. Chris Molter wrote:

#15, thank you Fr. Handy, for a more erudite background of Kung.  I do think, though, that if the RCC had an actual Spong, he’d have been rapidly expelled and would have quickly found himself in TEC (Matthew Fox, anyone?).  The equivalence I intended to make was that both Spong and Kung are each communion’s most vocal and celebrated malcontents and rabble-rousers.  That Kung is in a vastly higher league than Spong was never in question.  You kind of have to be when you’re going to bat against guys like Ratzinger wink

October 30, 8:39 am | [comment link]
30. Sarah wrote:

Pageantmaster I disagree with much of what you have said above.  Can’t you see that when Kung states: “This Roman action is a dramatic change of course: steering away from the well-proven ecumenical strategy of eye-level dialogue and honest understanding; steering towards an un-ecumenical luring away of Anglican priests . . . ” that what he says is frankly laughable?

There is no “well-proven ecumenical strategy” unless you, like I, think it “well-proven” to be pointless.  Engaging in ecumenical dialogue with people who aren’t even Christians—ie, Frank Griswold, among others—and then people who aren’t at all able to make decisions to keep their own church together—ie, Rowan Williams—is not “well-proven” to do anything at all other than muddy the situation.

“Luring away” Anglican priests?  He’s got to be kidding!  They’re standing at the pasture rail baaaaaaiiing away to be taken into the other sheep fold.

That’s not “luring”—that’s the direct fault of the spiteful ugly folks in the Synod who WOULD NOT give the AngloCatholic bishops sure and certain provision for their conscience and a “leader” who WOULD NOT give a clear lead.

In specific response to your response:

RE: “the by-passing of the ecumenical channels and the over-riding of the Archbishop of Canterbury . . . “

The ecumenical channels perceive that the Anglican Communion descends every month into further chaos and fragmentation.  The channels needed to be bypassed and sure as the dickens, the ABC needed to be over-ridden, in fact, would that there were some leaders [Primates] in the Anglican Communion who would over-ride him as well!

RE: “the continued policy of absorbtion of Christendom into the Roman church . . . “

PM—they think they’re the One True Church.  It’s a delusion, but there it is.  It is a *central part of their entire theology—a linchpin*.  “Absorption” will continue—according to them they’re the One True Church. For them *not* to “absorb” they’d have to overturn one of their key tenets, indeed one of their own perceived reasons for existence.  So you’re saying that this is a bad or shocking thing is like my saying “it’s horrible how determined and insensitive the Mormons are in their persistent statement that Joseph Smith discovered those tablets of gold from the angel.”

RE: “including on the primacy of the bishop of Rome over other churches, a stumbling block both for the Orthodox and for us - submission is not inter-communion; the issue of Anglican Orders, only declared invalid late in the 19thC; the issue of Eucharistic Communion which Rome claims as the gift of that church rather than that of the Lord . . . “

Pageantmaster—that’s what their church believes.  Anglican Orders were always thought “invalid”—it was simply openly pointed out in the 19th Century because some Anglicans were themselves engaging in fond delusions about what Rome thought of their orders.  Rome had to make that crystal clear and indeed it’s good that they’re honest rather than muddled about what they believe.  And yes, Eucharistic Communion in Rome’s view is *theirs* to give, not the church universal’s to share—because they’re the One True Church, the Church Universal in their own minds.

Now—as a happy and convinced Protestant, I don’t give a flying fig that they don’t think our orders valid or that they’re the One True Church, any more than I would care about a man claiming that the moon was made of green cheese and that he himself was the man in the moon.  The people who most care about such things are the people who themselves actually come close to believing that Rome is the One True Church.

But to expect that Rome is going to surrender what it means in their own minds to be *themselves*—the things that are integral to their identity—seems incredibly naive—as if we have not been “listening” in the midst of all of this “ecumenical dialogue.” 

RE: “[1] a further weakening of the Anglican Church . . . . the balance of the Church of England has been disturbed, the latest moved timed as it was weakens the hand of those seeking provision within it . . . “

Well yes, it further weakens the Anglican Church—but that’s now an annual thing.  “Weakening the Anglican Church” cannot be laid at all at the feet of Benedict.  He’s *responded* to the weak Anglican Church.  All that I see would be under the heading of *consequences*—there are real consequences for the ABC and the rest of the hierarchy’s failures.  There is a price to pay—and there will be far far far more of the price to pay as the years move on.

RE: “If the conservative witness in the Church of England continues it is no thanks to Pope Benedict.”

Uh—if the conservative witness in the Church of England does not continue it will be thanks to the current ABC and his bishops.

RE: “the sowing of doubt in Anglicans about whether the orders of our priests are valid and we are a church . . . “

The only doubt I see are with people who accept the claims of Rome.  But then . . . they ought to be with Rome!  ; > )

Who else is doubtful that you know of?  I know of no one who is “doubtful” about such things within Anglicanism.

RE: “It is sad that having stood beside us so faithfully recently that they have now turned.”

I do not think it sad.  I welcome and am thrilled with the further clarity this brings, and further . . . I think it *strengthens* the hand of those AngloCatholics in the COE as they negotiate within the COE.  They have a backup now—and the ABC and the other bishops are well aware of it.

October 30, 8:51 am | [comment link]
31. Br_er Rabbit wrote:

Pageantmaster, In light of the article you cited it seems that Pope Benedict bypassed not only the ecumenical channels but also the conciliar episcopal process in his own front yard. With the premature release of his intentions, he has precommitted his bishops to a course to which some of them may strenuously object. He may be forced to either back down from this course, or to over-ride the concerns of his bishops. Either of these choices is potentially disastrous, at least from a public relations aspect.

I fear that the end result may be a compromise package that satisfies neither the entreaties initiated by TAC nor the worries that consume the echelons of the Roman Catholic Church.

October 30, 8:57 am | [comment link]
32. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

Chris (#29),

You’re welcome.  I agree with you.

David Handy+

October 30, 10:05 am | [comment link]
33. Dr. William Tighe wrote:

Pageantmaster wrote:

“the issue of Anglican Orders, only declared invalid late in the 19thC”

And Sarah replied:

“Pageantmaster—that’s what their church believes.  Anglican Orders were always thought ‘invalid’—it was simply openly pointed out in the 19th Century because some Anglicans were themselves engaging in fond delusions about what Rome thought of their orders.”

Sarah is absolutely correct in what she writes.  “Rome” has always held “Anglican Orders” to be “invalid”—and not just “Rome,” either.  As I recently wrote on the “Midwest Conservative Journal, on this thread:

I have to ask: is your objection that the Catholic Church does not recognize “Anglican Orders” as the equivalent to Catholic (and Orthodox) Holy Orders, or that the Catholic Church does not recognize the “Orders” of Protestant ministers generally? I ask, because there have been “high-church Presbyterians” (with a capital P) who have wished from time to time to claim that such denominational bodies as the Kirk of Scotland preserved a “succession of presbyters” a the Reformation (a claim which admits of some doubt as to its truth) and that since (so the claim goes) bishops and presbyters were originally “one office,” therefore Scottish Presbyterian “Orders” are as good as those of the Anglicans or even of the Catholics. More recently, there have arisen groups of self-styled “Evangelical Catholic” Lutherans here and there, especially in the USA, at first in the ELCA (where most of them have been doctrinally conservative, but accepting of WO) and latterly in the Missouri Synod (where they have been much more “dogmatically” Lutheran and opposed to WO): these are presbyterians (small p) also, who believe that the (Lutheran) “Holy Ministry” has been transmitted through a “succession of pastors” (pastors = presbyters = bishops) ever since the Reformation, such that there “Orders,” too, are “Catholic.”

Is your objection to Roman non-recognition a purely Anglican one, or a pan-Protestant one? I ask because, if it’s the latter, it seems to sweep aside a whole Noah’s Arkload of ecclesiological, theological and sacrmental differences that are too wide even to touch one here. But if it’s specifically Anglican, then I will point out that it goes right back to the beginning: during the Marian Restoration of Catholicism (1553-58) the English bishops refused to recognize the “Orders” of anyone ordained under Cranmer’s two successive Ordinals (1550, 1552) and required those ordained under those rites who wished to minister in the Marian church and were not married to be ordained anew according to the Pontifical. As a Church of England priest-friend of mine wrote to me some years ago:

“*A Profitable and Necessary Doctrine* (1556), written by Bishop Bonner and one of his chaplains — it was a series of homilies ordered by Pole to be read in the Diocese of Gloucester in 1555 — speaks of ‘the late made Ministers … in the new devised Ordination, having no authoritie … to offer … these late counterfeited Ministers …’ Without going through all the evidence again I feel confident that Messinger and Co win that argument conclusively.” (He alludes here to the arguments in the 1930s between the English Catholic scholar Messinger and his Anglican opponents over whether the Catholic Church had consistently and invariably rejected the validity of Anglican ordinations under Cranmer’s rites right from the beginning, which Messinger asserted and his opponents denied.)

Rome has regarded Anglican churches right from the 1550s onwards as “Protestant bodies” in the same sense as it has regarded Lutheran churches and Reformed churches as the same sort of thing. From the 1960s Rome has recognized Anglican churches as having preserved an exceptional number and range of “Catholic features,” but it has not budged from its view that Anglican churches are the same type of species as other Reformation bodies — and frankly, I see no reason why Rome should do otherwise.

October 30, 11:48 am | [comment link]
34. TridentineVirginian wrote:

#19 -

“[1] a further weakening of the Anglican Church - “In the Anglican church, liberals rejoice over the departure of the catholicising troublemakers” - Hans Kung is spot on - the balance of the Church of England has been disturbed, the latest moved timed as it was weakens the hand of those seeking provision within it as liberals will say “go - you have got what you wanted, leave us alone” and for the conservative witness this has been weakened.  That would of course be if many took up this offer, which seems unlikely, but it really in its timing has been disasterous.  If the conservative witness in the Church of England continues it is no thanks to Pope Benedict.

I see his point there, however - what did the conservative witness amount to in the CofE? The liberals rolled the conservatives at every opportunity. They have women priests and soon bishops (and already do in TEC), “marry” homosexuals, have moved precipitously away from orthodox understandings of scripture, church - just about everything. The orthodox Anglo-Catholics have lost once and for all, there’s no provision left for them, and soon what little they have will be taken away from them. They’ve no hand left to play - Küng here, as in so many other things, is a few decades behind the times.
Also, I think this represents a final judgment from the seat of Peter on the CofE/ Anglican Communion that they are a lost cause to Catholicism. Despite ARCIC and all that, they’ve ordained women priests, ordained women bishops, ordain open praciticing homosexuals, “marry” homosexuals, and on and on. Really, what have we to seek with people like that? Ecumenism with the AC/ CofE is finished - this is the final form of ecumenical activity (despite airy official assurances that we’ll still talk).

#31 -

With the premature release of his intentions, he has precommitted his bishops to a course to which some of them may strenuously object.

Well this is true, but this was by no means premature. We have fellow travelers of the re-appraising crowd in Rome too - some of them bishops and even a few cardinals, and it is no secret they are opposed to the Holy Father and try to thwart his every move. There were rows over Summorum Pontificum, rows over worship ad orientem and communion on the tongue, rows over negotiations with the SSPX. This is precisely why the Holy Father took the route he did - had he tried to get everyone on board through “normal” channels, the Church Left would have killed it in the bureaucracy. They will make a row over this, and publications will be delayed, but the Holy Father will get his way and Kasper et al will just have to deal with it.

Our Lady of Akita warned that:

The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, bishops against other bishops. The priests who venerate me will be scorned and opposed by their confreres (other priests). Churches and altars will be sacked. The Church will be full of those who accept compromises and the demon will press many priests and consecrated souls to leave the service of the Lord.

This is certainly the case we have today - see the shameful performance of Cardinal Schönborn and his pals in the Austrian Bishops’ Conference over the recent matter in Linz. Pay attention to the fact that the Apostolic Constitution frees the returning Anglicans from subjection to the local ordinary - there is a good reason for this.

October 30, 12:07 pm | [comment link]
35. Br_er Rabbit wrote:

Thanks, Tridentine. You provided a tiny window into the scene which I as an outsider have suspected.

October 30, 12:24 pm | [comment link]
36. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

And thanks to Dr. Tighe (#33), for one of his typically erudite history lessons.  I think he’s right in his reference to the judgment of Cardinal Pole back in Queen Mary’s time in the mid 1550s that holy orders conferred under the two Edwardian BCP’s were null and void as illustrating the standard RC position all along.  Pope Leo XIII’s famous ruling on the subject in 1896 was no innovation.

And I must admit, it’s hard to argue with the logic of the Catholic argument.  IF (and of course, it’s a very big if indeed) ordination rites to the priesthood are only valid if they make clear that ordinands are set apart for a “sacrificing priesthood,” then the Anglican Ordinals of 1550 and 1552, and all later ones as well, are indeed plainly and fatally flawed, for it’s abundantly clear that the Anglican reformers were determined to root out all notion of a sacerdotal priesthood, which they viewed as a fundamental theological error or grave proportions, just as much as the Lutherans and Reformed similarly did on the Continent.  That is an undeniable historical fact.  The intentions of Cranmer and the English Reformers really aren’t in doubt, at least on that particular point.

So it all seems to hang on the controversial necessity to conceive of the priesthood as a sacerdotal one, i.e., in the sense of being set aprt to offer the eucharistic sacrifice of the bread and wine.  The fact that the Caroline Divines, and later the Tractarians and their successors, revived at least some form of a sacrificing preisthood in no way obviates the fact that the English Reformation was at pains to eliminate that very thing.

Now if I were to “pope” some day, i.e., to swim the Tiber, as some who know me best have been predicting for years that I would inevitably and eventually do, then I’d have no problem with being re-ordained.  The reasoning behind Leo’s bull Apostolice Curae doesn’t offend me.  It makes perfect sense, given the historic Roman interpretation of the priesthood as a sacerdotal one.  But it also should be noted, of course, that there are many Catholic scholars today who would point out that the medieval understanding of such socerdotalsim is foreign to the earlier (and more theologically correct, IMHO) patristic concept of eucharistic sacrifice, and the kind of priesthood commensurate with it.

And on a personal note, a terribly belated thanks to Dr. Tighe, for all the books and materials he has so kindly sent me in the past.

David Handy+

October 30, 1:12 pm | [comment link]
37. Pageantmaster [Katie bought Welby] wrote:

#33 Hello Professor Tighe
You say: “I have to ask: is your objection that the Catholic Church does not recognize “Anglican Orders” as the equivalent to Catholic (and Orthodox) Holy Orders, or that the Catholic Church does not recognize the “Orders” of Protestant ministers generally?”

Well rather like Sarah, I don’t give two hoots whether the RC Church recognises our orders or us as a church.  As she says:
“Now—as a happy and convinced Protestant, I don’t give a flying fig that they don’t think our orders valid or that they’re the One True Church, any more than I would care about a man claiming that the moon was made of green cheese and that he himself was the man in the moon.”

However I do believe that as Christians we should to the extent possible be one and that is why I regard the ecumenical dialogue with Rome as important, as I do the dialogue with Moscow and Constantinople.    As you know in the CofE we recognise the baptisms of all trinitarian Christians baptised in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost and welcome them fully to share with us and that includes the Eucharist.  Similarly we have common mission with many Protestant groups who may vary from us in their idea of ministry and other doctrinal points, and some of them like Rome, seem to have problems with us [and believe me I have read and understood Rome’s claims].    My viewpoint is very much from the point of view of a happy member of the CofE but who probably sees his identity as Christian first and CofE second.

I certainly regret what has happened on the ecumenical front, indeed following the TEC debacle things are going from bad to worse, but we continue to live in hope and to place these things in God’s hands.

Pageantmaster [who has yet to receive any books and materials from Professor Tighe].

October 30, 2:38 pm | [comment link]
38. Pageantmaster [Katie bought Welby] wrote:

#34 TridentineVirginian
“The liberals rolled the conservatives at every opportunity” - In the CofE there is a more complex picture: liberals are less extreme than in America, and for that matter are not the majority.  Conservatives are a much larger part of the CofE but are probably not particularly organised.
 
“They have women priests and soon bishops (and already do in TEC), “marry” homosexuals, have moved precipitously away from orthodox understandings of scripture, church - just about everything.”
Views on women bishops divide conservatives in the CofE.  The CofE does not permit gay weddings and blessings or any sexual relations among clergy outside of marriage of a man and a woman.  The fact that some disobey our teaching does not affect the teaching of this church.  We have not “moved precipitously away from orthodox understandings of scripture, church - just about everything” which is why out of the Church of England are arising some of the largest movements for renewal and faithful witness in Christianity, for example the Alpha Course, a gift to the world and embraced by both Roman Catholics and Orthodox churches.  New Wine is another example.  We also have some of the world’s leading biblical scholars and theologians.  There are some exciting things going on here - you should come and see.

“I think this represents a final judgment from the seat of Peter on the CofE/ Anglican Communion”
- well: “judgment is mine saith the Lord”

Are you SSPX?

October 30, 2:55 pm | [comment link]
39. TridentineVirginian wrote:

#38 Pageantmaster -
Well, I am not an SSPX’er, though I am a sympathizer and look forward to the day they are fully returned to the Church. I do not approve of the break they made, but Abp. Lefebvre’s critique of what went on after V-II was substantially correct (but not in every respect) and he took a brave if somewhat misguided stand. I have no doubt the end result of the talks between the Vatican and the SSPX will bear the desired fruit, especially since the Holy Father has the right people on the case. There are good and holy people over who are needed back within the bosom of the Church (and a few stinkers, like Bp. Williamson, admittedly).
Yes, final judgment on souls is reserved to the Lord but I am speaking here of necessary judgments our shepherds must make on important issues, and this is one of those. I don’t think the Pope sees any more future in ecumenism as practiced over the past 40 years, certainly not with the AC. The Apostolic Constitution is evidence of that, but there are other things said and done over the years by him that I think are also proof of that.
Of course I desire that all Christians are unified with the See of Peter, but anyone who stands firm in the orthodox belief has my sympathies and support if they can’t yet bring themselves to that. I hope it did not sound like gloating in any of my comments about the AC - while I am extremely happy with the Pope’s recent initiative, I am sad about the circumstances it came under and I recognize those who persecute the orthodox in the AC are common foes to all Christians. Those people do the devil’s work and they have allies and sympathizers also in my church. One reason I keep tabs on the AC/TEC is really intelligence gathering - where we are not already, we will face the things that come from the heresiarchs who run the TEC and parts of the AC. My point is though, from the outside looking in, it seems obvious that the cause is lost in the AC, it’s the worst in the TEC but CofE looks only a step or two behind TEC and treading down the same path. Let me qualify the AC to mean those parts of it in the West - Africa is a different story. I am not sure if there is anything to be gained any longer remaining in communion with the people who have seized control in TEC and CofE; I think the only hope is Rome (and ok, Orthodoxy if one cannot bring oneself to Pope just yet).

October 30, 3:34 pm | [comment link]
40. Pageantmaster [Katie bought Welby] wrote:

#39 TridentineVirginian
Thanks.  I would probably find Orthodoxy more foreign than Rome but am very happy where I am at the moment.  I think we have to remember that the AC is an enormous communion of 50-78 million depending how you count it, although it is considerably smaller than either the Roman and allied churches or the Orthodox churches.  The vast majority of it is solidly biblical and orthodox.  The issue is TEC and ACoC and certainly there are difficulties in the other Anglo-Saxon provinces, of which the CofE is probably the most conservative, but then it is the larger of them.  But all is not lost.  We are just having to make our minds up where we are going: down the TEC route or with the majority of the Communion.

We have fifth columnists here from TEC - two Episcopalian women priests have been stirring the problems with pro-women bishop and pro gay rites pressure group WATCH [Women and the Church] who were behind the treatment of our Anglo-Catholics at Synod ‘08 and I see these harridans have just thrown all their toys out of the pram with a Spong-like statement rejecting the proposed provision for Anglo-Catholics.

[I think the Tridentine Rite, well done, is just stunning.]

October 30, 4:00 pm | [comment link]
41. Pageantmaster [Katie bought Welby] wrote:

#39 TridentineVirginian
“Of course I desire that all Christians are unified with the See of Peter, but anyone who stands firm in the orthodox belief has my sympathies and support if they can’t yet bring themselves to that. I hope it did not sound like gloating in any of my comments about the AC - while I am extremely happy with the Pope’s recent initiative, I am sad about the circumstances it came under and I recognize those who persecute the orthodox in the AC are common foes to all Christians. Those people do the devil’s work and they have allies and sympathizers also in my church. One reason I keep tabs on the AC/TEC is really intelligence gathering - where we are not already, we will face the things that come from the heresiarchs who run the TEC and parts of the AC.”

I would add that I have a very strong sense of the Church of England in particular as under attack, by forces both within and without her - there is an undermining and a cutting down of the Kingship of Christ and His Word.  As this has happened authority has passed from her and her leaders and this has produced crisis.  Our church and our leaders are in need of prayer, but when faced with it our leaders will not have the confidence to trust in that prayer for God to restore their authority.  The rest of us, notwithstanding that, must continue in prayer for the church and for them to top up such authority as does return and to pray for the raising high of the Cross over us again.  Only in that way is there any hope.

I hope I may ask you and other Christians to join us in that prayer.  Prayer is powerful, and the more who join in the better.

October 30, 8:44 pm | [comment link]
42. TridentineVirginian wrote:

Pageantmaster - you have my prayers!

October 30, 9:13 pm | [comment link]
43. Pageantmaster [Katie bought Welby] wrote:

#42 Many thanks.  Bless you.

October 30, 9:16 pm | [comment link]
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