In stating that the Vatican's initiative represents a new and unexpected level in bilateral dialogue, we mean that it is not directly related to the process that has been ongoing for the past 40 years, as related above, but rather a unilateral initiative that will certainly require deeper analysis. Below are just two elements that merit close attention:
1. The most recent official documents of the Roman Catholic Church have successively reaffirmed not only its identity as a universal church but its singularity as the true and original sign of the presence of Christ among peoples. This implies a self-understanding of ecclesiological and organizational exclusivity that hinders the advancement of dialogue between both our churches.
2. The theological underpinnings for the Vatican's initiative are based on the understanding that the unity of the Church is grounded in the claim of Petrine ministry. This postulate must be seen through the lens of its theological dimension and the historical reality of the See of Rome and to this day has not been satisfactorily resolved in Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue.
Clearly, these issues must be faced with honesty and open dialogue, to which we have always been committed in a respectful manner.
We express our concern over the initiative unleashed by Rome, considering the way in which it took place and its content.
1. Ad Orientem wrote:
This was a stunning piece. I had no idea there were enough Anglicans in Brazil to warrant their own Archbishop. Who da thunk?
Under the mercy,
November 25, 2:56 am | [comment link]
2. Br_er Rabbit wrote:
Agreed: not only stunning, but a withering critique of the processes and premises that produced this unilateral Constitution by the Roman church. This is the first honest assessment from within the Anglican Communion of a document that can only be described as an autonomous initiative rather than a cooperative response.
On another note, the archbishop’s criticism that the entirety of the Roman initiative remains at least partially hidden remains a worrisome aspect.
November 25, 3:55 am | [comment link]
3. Ad Orientem wrote:
I need to polish my sarcasm skills.
November 25, 4:05 am | [comment link]
4. Br_er Rabbit wrote:
Sorry to miss your sarcasm, Ad Orientem. As a spokesman for the Left Wing of the Anglican Communion, the obscure Archbishop of Brazil emerges as a serious contender for clarity along side the Dithering Duke ensconced at Canterbury or the Princess of Pique ensconced at 815.
November 25, 4:40 am | [comment link]
5. Pageantmaster [KJS to Coventry] wrote:
I am aware that this may well have been translated from the Portuguese, which may explain some of the peculiar language. It is all rather diplomatic and boring until we get to:
We express our concern over the initiative UNLEASHED by Rome, considering the way in which it took place and its content.
Well quite, what is it that Rome has ‘unleashed’? All the furies? The dogs of war? Rather a dramatic description of Cardinal Levada, don’t you think?
Anyway at this point the statement tips over the edge as the Archbishop tells us what he really thinks…
- “unfortunate that no official instance of the Anglican Communion participated in the process of drafting the Constitution announced by the Vatican” - you ambushed us.
- “expected the transparency expected between two churches in ecumenical dialogue” - you did it sneakily and show us no respect
- “persons who had already left the Anglican Communion” - well maybe TAC
- “But to the extent that it is aimed at persons and communities still within the Communion, even if in dissent” - dream on if you reckon ACNA is no longer in the AC, Archbishop, despite your best efforts
- “internal interference in the internal affairs of a sister church” - I have the right to continue to persecute and sue the #€$@?s - it is my right and you are wrong to stop me pinching and punching them - WAAAAAH
- “The forthcoming conversation between the Archbishop of Canterbury and Pope Benedict XVI in the coming days in Rome may provide a clearer outline of this initiative. We await this conversation, which will be the first face-to-face dialogue between the supreme leaders of our two churches.” - Yeah, 20 minutes with the Pope and an exchange of the gifts of an embarrassingly awful and risible speech from Dr Williams in return for a pectoral cross from the Pope - nothing there I am afraid.
- “In the Brazilian context, we have received and welcomed clergy from the Roman Catholic Church” - talking point no. 12 - All is Well™
- “progress already made may be restored in the quest to overcome our misunderstandings and resume the path to unity ” - fat chance - you are in denial.
The Archbishop does not get it that the Vatican has lost all respect for the leadership of some of the Communion Provinces and Instruments, and will just ignore them until they get their own houses in order .... which they won’t.
But it sounds as if in his own Brazilian context, the Archbishop has got a problem, and the rest of Brazil has been watching.
November 25, 8:35 am | [comment link]
6. advocate wrote:
I don’t know why the Archbishop is claiming that there are parts of the Constitution that remain unpublished. If it isn’t published, it isn’t canonically part of the document. The only thing left unpublished is how they are actually going to implement this thing - but those are going to be practicalities. I think what you see is what they got.
It also doesn’t seem that he’s buying the argument that this initiative was a response to TAC’s petition. Yet the RC church has TAC knocking on the door wanting in. They claim 400,000 people. Even at half of that, what was the Pope supposed to do? Refuse them? And once you have a structure set up for them, as a practical matter how do you prevent others of the Anglican tradition from saying “We’d like to join up too?” There is no way to put walls on this thing - but given the numbers off of TAC I just don’t see how there petition isn’t a compelling argument for RC action. It isn’t all about TEC.
And Br_er Rabbit, this has been in the works for 3 years. Rome hasn’t been quiet about it, they sent a public letter to TAC last year telling them to be patient, they were working on a solution. There was nothing stealthy about this move. And I’m curious - how does that discussion go to have consultation on this…we are planning to create an Anglican Ordinariate and we’d like suggestions from your side about how to make this work? Wouldn’t that put the Anglicans asked to “consult” on this in an incredibly awkward position? I guess I don’t really understand your responses.
November 25, 8:53 am | [comment link]
7. rls655 wrote:
We now have a clear contrast to a Christian request for spiritual helpl 1. Help 2. Appoint a committee which does not even reply to the request. As an Anglican , I am deeply,deeply ashamed of the Archbishop of Canterbury and of his actions and comments. Lord have mercy upon us!
November 25, 9:55 am | [comment link]
8. Br_er Rabbit wrote:
Advocate, the Roman church is what it is. The disconnect is any expectation that they will work with anyone toward genuine ecumenism. The talks are just a show and a sham while Rome continues to believe itself to be the only Church. ARCIC is an exercise in hopelessness.
November 25, 10:00 am | [comment link]
9. Chris Molter wrote:
#8, what IS genuine ecumenism? No snark, I’d honestly like to hear your thoughts.
November 25, 10:17 am | [comment link]
10. Br_er Rabbit wrote:
Chris, the Roman church refuses to recognize the ordinations of Anglican deacons, priests, and bishops. It refuses to recognized the validity of any Anglican-led sacraments other than baptisms. It prohibits its members from taking communion at Anglican services. If these are all non-negotiable positions, then what is the point of ARCIC? Let’s just get together with them in areas where we do cooperate, such as social relief, etc. We don’t need ARCIC for that.
And regarding baptism: My sister converted to Rome under pressure from her husband’s family (who were pressured by Roman clergy) alleging that her children were bastards because their mariage was not valid according to Rome. She was forced to surrender her original baptism certificate from St. John’s Episcopal Church in Detroit, and told that she would never see it again, because she was now Roman, not Episcopal. Then she was re-married in the foyer of the Roman church, because the service was not allowed to be performed in the sanctuary. She has long ago left Rome, and she still grieves over the loss of her baptismal certificate.
November 25, 10:56 am | [comment link]
11. phil swain wrote:
After reading the ABC’s paper in Rome about living in communion even though we have contradictory beliefs about what the ABC calls “second order” truths, I’m beginning to think that for Anglicans “genuine ecumenism” looks awfully like, well, Anglicanism.
November 25, 10:58 am | [comment link]
12. advocate wrote:
Br_er, I’m sorry about your sister’s experience with the RC’s. I would suspect that that sort of treatment happened back around the time of Vatican II, and unfortunately, it was common (and in fact my uncle and aunt experienced something similar). There are a lot of personal stories about hurts inflicted between the churches, and I’ve heard a lot of them. They are valid, and they are painful, and they are situations for which both sides should apologize.
That having been said, the Roman church has come a long way since then. I believe that the Churches have worked diligently towards common belief, particularly since Vatican II, but from the Roman perspective, who now do you talk to? +++Rowan? +Katherine? The Evangelicals? American Liberals? The Global South? TAC? I have been a firm and committed believer to ARCIC and other ecumenical talks. And frankly, until starting in 2003 I believe that the Romans were looking for ways to work around a document they were saddled with from a different political situation/religious situation in the 1890s. But…for “genuine ecuminism” to occur, you at least have to know who you are talking to. And Anglicans currently can’t reach consensus on the color of the sky, much less speak with one ecumenical voice. Given that, there was no way that the Anglican Orders issue was ever going to be revisited when it is increasingly evident that a considerable amount of the Anglican church does not have the same understanding of the nature of a priest or the nature of the sacraments (WO comes to mind) as the RCs. But, even Cardinal Ratzinger in his writings made a theological distinction between sacramental efficacy and validity. I might also add that Orthodoxy also doesn’t recognize Anglican sacraments and does not have open communion either with the Anglicans or the RCs.
And frankly this Ordinariate is different. It is respectful of Anglican patrimony and tradition. The reason that RC bishops were “worked around” is that it was realized that to have a truly Anglican expression in RC world, it needed to be something separate and apart from local bishops in the US and England (many of whom are first or second generation Irish, and I guarantee you that fact makes a HUGE difference, for obvious reasons). It allows for this Ordinariate to be run by former Anglicans, which also helps ensure that it will not be “Latinized and Assimilated.” That was the problem with the Pastoral Provision - it was under the control of a bishop that likely did not understand Anglican patrimony.
Again, I’m a huge supporter of talks. But seriously, how many Anglicans actually sign on to the beliefs articulated in the ARCIC documents? I don’t think it is a sham, I think that the view from the ground has changed profoundly in the last 10 years, and instead of growing together, Rome and many of the divisions within Anglicanism are growing apart. And since 1) TAC ASKED FOR THIS, and 2) in particular the C of E seems to be giving no protection to the Anglo-Catholics and they also are asking for help, I’m not sure that Rome had any other choice.
November 25, 11:47 am | [comment link]
13. advocate wrote:
BR #10, if she hasn’t tried this, your sister may want to contact the RC Church where she was married and where she surrendered her baptismal certificate. RC churches never throw away anything that would be considered a sacramental record, and it is likely that it is still in a file somewhere at the church. It would certainly be worth it to at least inquire - and I’m sure that it is a different priest there as well.
November 25, 11:51 am | [comment link]
14. Br_er Rabbit wrote:
Advocate, your point is well taken about talking parthers. If the Anglican church can’t figure out who the Anglican church is, how can they talk with others?
Thanks for the suggestion about the certificate. I am not sure my sister wants to have any contact with that period of pain in her life; there were many other attendant issues.
November 25, 11:56 am | [comment link]
15. phil swain wrote:
Br_er Rabbit, the Anglican “church” knows who it or they are. All you have to do is listen to the ABC’s address in Rome. The Anglican “church” is comprehensive. As long as you share a belief in what is considered “first order” truths you can still be in communion with one another even though you hold contradictory beliefs as to what are called “second order” truths. Perhaps, another way of saying that is that “second order” truths cannot be dogmatic. In his Rome address, what the ABC was indirectly telling reasserters in the USA is that you have no grounds for separating yourself from TEC.
November 25, 12:30 pm | [comment link]
16. Br_er Rabbit wrote:
Phil, tell that to the GAFCON primates.
November 25, 12:47 pm | [comment link]
17. Rick H. wrote:
As an anecdote, for what its worth, when I entered the RC church this past January, I proferred my Episcopal Baptismal certificate, and it was quickly copied and returned to me.
Brer Rabbit, here’s the thing about the RC church which was hard for me to grasp when I was a Protestant and which, I suspect, is hard for many other Protestants to grasp as well. The Church does not consider itself to be a denomination. It considers itself to be The One True Genuine Church founded by Jesus Christ to continue as his mystical body during his physical absence from earth. It has always considered itself so. This is an issue of dogma to the Church—to forsake this claim would be to forsake its identity as Catholic. The Church has never backpedaled or diluted this claim. No Protestant Church, to my knowledge, makes a similar claim, and it may be difficult to appreciate the implications of this claim from the other side of the Tiber.
It is a rather astonishing claim in our post-Enlightenment culture. It is the polar opposite of moral relativism—there are right and wrong answers to questions about faith and morals and the Church claims for itself to be the one human institution that is authorized to provide definitive and irrevocable right answers. It is similar in audacity to the Gospel claim that the Creator of the universe became incarnate in the flesh as a man at a unique moment in human history. Orthodox Christianity teaches that Jesus was simultaneouly human and divine. The Church teaches that it is the mystical body of Christ on earth today and its adherents are living stones, that it is, in fact, simultaneously human and divine as an institution. Both the Gospel’s claim and the Church’s claim are of the nature that they must be either true or false, no gray area, no in-between, no nuance.
You will never see a Pope approve anything that undermines or compromises this claim. His position would be that he lacks the authority to do so. You may want to be critical of this inflexibility, which would be understandable. But be aware that the Church as an institution, and this Pope in particular, are studiedly unconcerned whether the rest of the world sees the Church as inflexible on questions of faith and morals. The inflexibility itself is doctrinal. The attitude was summarized by G. K. Chesterton when he said something to the effect of, the Cathoic Church sees itself as a messenger who refuses to tamper with the message.
November 25, 1:24 pm | [comment link]
18. Pageantmaster [KJS to Coventry] wrote:
I don’t think anyone is asking the Roman Catholic Church to change its view of itself. Real Anglicans also regard themselves as part of that same church and this did not change in the Reformation, any more than the Corinthians or the Thessalonians regarded themselves differently. It is not necessary to derogate from others in order to affirm one’s own identity.
But perhaps this is academic in the light of Rowan Williams’ peculiar attempt to fudge things with talk of first and second order issues [women bishops and gay partnered bishops presumably] and ‘communities of communities’ - hardly the way to inspire confidence when writing to the Romans.
And it suggests that once again the Great Fudger is preparing the way for fudge on the Covenant from the JSC, blithely and arrogantly assuming that this will not in fact be tantamount to him administering the coup de grace he signalled in Jamaica.
But perhaps I will be surprised - I doubt it somehow. ‘How to wreck the Communion’ by Rowan Williams looks like being his next book.
November 25, 1:49 pm | [comment link]
19. Br_er Rabbit wrote:
It considers itself to be The One True Genuine Church founded by Jesus Christ to continue as his mystical body during his physical absence from earth.
Thank you, Rick. You have made my point precisely. And since I believe it is a fundamental error to deny that the mystical body of church is considerably more extensive than that envisaged by Rome, there is little left to talk about.
November 25, 2:12 pm | [comment link]
20. phil swain wrote:
Pageantmaster, yes, the convenant process is about fudging “second order” issues. But that’s not because it’s peculiar to Rowan. That is what Anglicanism is! There never was nor will there ever be an Anglican Communion that includes “second order” issues as essential to its identity.
November 25, 2:29 pm | [comment link]
21. phil swain wrote:
Br_erRabbit, Are the Gafcon Primates in the Anglican Communion?
Rick H., I think the Catholic Church says that the Church of Jesus Christ subsists in the Catholic Church. That’s a little different then saying it’s the “one true genuine church.”
November 25, 2:59 pm | [comment link]
22. Ad Orientem wrote:
The difference is semantic only. Rome holds that the fullness of the Catholic faith subsists in their church. I don’t agree but I respect their position. It is substantially the same as ours (Orthodox). Love them or not, you always know where Rome stands.
Part of the problem (as I have said many times) is a different understanding of what is true ecumenism
Protestants see true ecumenism as the process by which the different churches move closer to each other. Rome (and we Orthodox) see ecumenism as the process by which those outside the Church move away from their error and towards restored union with the Church. Rome has never, does not now, and will never compromise on doctrine (though her discipline is not irreformable). To do so would be to become Protestant and concede that there is no One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church and that the creed is a lie.
The Creed refers to a single church, not multiple churches. To profess the existence of multiple churches which are divided in faith and yet all still part of the “catholic” church spoken of in the creeds is heresy. This is why Rome and Orthodoxy do not hold communion with those outside of our respective bodies and never will.
November 25, 3:28 pm | [comment link]
23. Rick H. wrote:
To be more precise, here is what the Catholic Church teaches about its own nature:
The Church is catholic because Christ is present in her. “Where there is Christ Jesus, there is the Catholic Church.” In her subsists the fullness of Christ’s body united with its head; this implies that she receives from him “the fullness of the means of salvation” which he has willed: correct and complete confession of faith, full sacramental life, and ordained ministry in apostolic succession. The Church was, in this fundamental sense, catholic on the day of Pentecost and will always be so until the day of the Parousia.
19. Brer Rabbit—I agree that there is nothing to discuss about restoring communion to Protestants if Protestants expect the Catholic Church to change its view of itself in order to accommodate them, or if Protestant Christians are unwilling to submit to the teachings of the Catholic Church. If one holds to those teachings, one should really be a Roman Catholic. If one rejects those teachings, one should not become a Roman Catholic nor pretend to be one if born to the Church. I don’t wish to engage here in a debate on the merits of the Church’s claim about herself vs. the merits of the arguments of those who disagree (and possibly you do not wish to debate, either). My point is that she has always been very clear about her claim, distorted interpretations of the teachings of Vatican II notwithstanding. May we agree that if the Catholic Church is right about herself, it would be sinful and heretical for the Pope and other leaders to compromise her teachings and doctrine, and, that if she is wrong about herself, then she is very wrong indeed and many of her doctrines and teachings collapse?
November 25, 6:38 pm | [comment link]
24. Br_er Rabbit wrote:
Rick H., I cannot respond to your loaded question.
If I allow myself to refer to the Roman Catholic Church as “she” or “her” then I am admitting that that particular institution is the Bride of Christ. Clever ploy, but I’m not falling for it.
The RCC is made up of the same kind of fallible men and women who also make up Anglicans, Baptists, Assemblies of God, Mennonites, and—heaven help us—even The Episcopal Church.
Revelation comes from God, and the fullest revelation is given to us in Scripture. Doctrine comes from Man, as they seek to understand and live out the call of revelation.
I can discuss the relative merits of various doctrines, but I cannot refer to any visible Church with a personal pronoun, as if it were a person that could decide something. The visible church is made up of fallible persons reaching out to God.
November 25, 7:03 pm | [comment link]
25. Br_er Rabbit wrote:
This from the Random House Webster’s College Dictionary (2001)
1. general; universal; worldwide.
2. of or pertaining to the whole Christian church.
3. promoting or fostering Christian unity throughout the world.
4. interreligious or interdenominational.
This from the Briar Patch Dictionary: (new entry 11/25/2009)
The process by which one church recognizes another church as a church.
By all of the definitions above (even #4), the Roman Catholic Church by virtue of its doctrine is incapable of engaging in an ecumenical process.
November 25, 7:23 pm | [comment link]
26. Ad Orientem wrote:
Re # 25
I will briefly play the devil’s advocate here and take Rome’s side. They would argue that they meet the first three definitions quite well.
1. Their religion is the largest Christian church in the world and exists in every continent and among ever race.
2. They are the Whole Church.
3. True Christian Unity exists among those united in the faith of the Roman Catholic Church and who are in submission to and communion with the Pope.
4. I don’t think Rome would accept that definition.
And I am absolutely certain they would not accept the latter definition from the Briar Patch Dictionary.
The same by the way is true of the Orthodox Church for the reasons I outlined in my # 22. There are no multiple churches. Only one… unless the Nicene Creed is a lie.
November 25, 7:34 pm | [comment link]
27. Br_er Rabbit wrote:
Thanks. I wish to amend my final statement.
the Roman Catholic Church by virtue of its doctrine is incapable of engaging in an ecumenical DIALOG.
Because in anything ecumenical, they will simply be talking among themselves, themselves being the whole Church.
November 25, 7:53 pm | [comment link]
28. Ad Orientem wrote:
Re # 27
Again we are back to the objective of ecumenical dialogue. But for the record I have never been a fan of dialogue with Rome with “reunion” as the objective. But then again, I am not a real big fan of ecumenism however you slice it.
Theological relativism is not my cup of tea.
My position on ecumenism is pretty simple. If you want to be in communion with the Orthodox Church you can do what I did. Convert. Otherwise we can work together on those things where we have common interests and go our separate ways when it is time to worship.
November 25, 8:01 pm | [comment link]
29. Rick H. wrote:
Brer Rabbit, I see your point and I apologize. I meant no trap. I was in the Navy and I called ships, “She.” I did not mean to imply that to answer my question was to agree that the Catholic Church is the bride of Christ. We can call the Catholic Church “It,” if you like. Or forego pronouns altogether. My whole point is that the Catholic Church cannot change in the way you would want it to change in order to engage in ecumenical dialog, because to do so would be to repudiate its core doctrine of its very nature. That doctrine is either right or it is wrong, but it cannot be anywhere between those two poles. If it is right, then the Church is also right to take the position it has taken. If it is wrong, then the Church is wrong to take the position it has taken, but then it would really have much bigger problems, such as being responsible for leading an awful lot of people down a slippery slope.
November 25, 8:23 pm | [comment link]
30. Ad Orientem wrote:
Some years ago I got into a huge battle with a college professor who strenuously objected to assigning “a gender specific pronoun to warships” since that was sexist. In response I asked him how much time he had spent at sea. I think he said he had once taken a cruise with his wife.
November 25, 8:42 pm | [comment link]
John (ex-PC2 USN)
31. Br_er Rabbit wrote:
Thanks, Rick. I think we understand one another’s positions.
November 25, 9:19 pm | [comment link]
32. Pageantmaster [KJS to Coventry] wrote:
Ships are always female in English, although not in French from what I remember.
I do wonder though why it is the recent converts to Rome and Constantinople and Moscow who are so fervently dogmatic and certain about the unchanging claims and doctrine of their newly adopted churches compared to those brought up in those churches who are much more laissez-faire and relaxed, or so it seems to me, admittedly as someone brought up in the Anglican Church and who has never gone church-shopping let alone church-hopping.
November 25, 9:26 pm | [comment link]
33. Ad Orientem wrote:
I think the question I would reply with is what do you mean by “laissez-faire and relaxed?” Most cradle Orthodox in my experience have very little interest in non-Orthodox religions. But if asked they are just as uncompromising. Most in fact see little difference between the various non-Orthodox.
There was an amusing story I read on Fr. Joseph Huneycutt’s blog a while back…
A Greek village priest once told some ladies that there would be visitors from Great Britain coming for a few days and one was a priest. “Is he Orthodox?” asked one lady. “No” the priest replied. “He is Anglican.” They looked confused. He explained further… “he is a Protestant.” Still blank looks on their faces. “You know… like Roman Catholics.”
“OHHHHH!” immediate expressions of comprehension.
Under the mercy,
November 25, 9:46 pm | [comment link]
34. Pageantmaster [KJS to Coventry] wrote:
#34 Ad Orentum
November 25, 10:53 pm | [comment link]
I do enjoy your stories, although having travelled in Greece and other Orthodox countries I am not entirely convinced. The reality is that ecumenical efforts have got to an advanced stage within recent history. However recent events in the US and Canada, and the hopeless wishy-washyness of Lambeth Palace have rather set things back somewhat as I must acknowledge. We can see it in +Huron, +Briedenthal and +Marshalls moves towards SSU’s. They and TEC think that they can do and get away with what they like. They think Rowan Williams is a ninny - and they are probably right.
35. Rick H. wrote:
Well, Pageantmaster, here is my anecdotal evidence: I was a cradle Episcopalian and for a long time I was disinterested in Episcopal teaching. I was catechized in the fifth grade, but I can’t even remember what I was taught. But to convert to Catholicism, I had to study its doctrines and make an affirmative decision to accept them—the Church insists on this. My pastor once told me not to judge the Church by the behaviors and beliefs of those in its pews. But still, most of my cradle Catholic friends are as wed to Catholic dogma as I. I think though that I am probably drawn to the more faithful among those I meet. Or maybe I am just blessed to belong to an ultra-faithful parish.
November 25, 11:48 pm | [comment link]