Sunday, June 26, 2011

Post-Ordinariate Anglican Papalism

It is quite clear that Anglicanism is going through a great upheaval at the moment. By "moment", I really perhaps mean over the last 30-40 years as the Church tries to get to grips with its place in the present philosophical climate.

The major development over the past few years has, of course, been the generous offer of reunion between Anglicans and Roman Catholics via the Ordinariate. It has taken remarkable courage on the part of the Anglican Clergy and Laity to have been the pioneers of this movement and to give up livelihoods, much loved buildings and even relationships in favour of returning to Communion with the Holy Father. Surely this is the Anglican Papalist's dream come true?

I'm afraid I don't believe that it is. I don't want to detract from the respect that I have for all those who have taken the step to set up ordinariate communities, but the fact of the matter is that there are headlines talking about "ex-Anglicans" joining the Ordinariate. It's this epithet "ex-Anglican" that causes me to doubt the idea of "unity but not absorption" that has been the cry of joy uttered by the Ordinariate-bound. If "ex-Anglican" is how these folk are extrinsically regarded from quarters both within and without the Roman Catholic Church, then they have as yet failed to demonstrate unequivocally how they remain Anglican. Surely Anglican Papalism seeks corporate unity with the Roman Catholic Church whilst remaining distinctively Anglican?

I have always said that the existence of Anglican Papalism is intrinsically bound up with the schism in the Church: when the Schism goes away, then so does Anglican Papalism. Has the Schism gone away? That depends on whether there are still Anglicans who regard the Pope as the head of the Church on Earth. I'm not necessarily talking about the supremacy of the Pope, but rather his primacy. To regard the Bishop of Rome as being the Foremost in the Church is Papalism, though of course this comes with some very interesting flavours. There are still many Anglicans who accept this, but not some of the other statements about the nature of the Papacy such as possessing Universal Jurisdiction (which I understand as Papal Supremacy) or Infallibility. They will, nonetheless support the Pope, and pray for the furtherance of his work. That is still Papalism. So Anglican Papalists can still exist without necessarily taking advantage of the Anglican-Roman Ordinariate.

It is also interesting that there are Roman Catholics who do not accept Supremacy or Infallibility themselves, struggle to understand their implications and/or at least cross their fingers when they declare their "acceptance" these doctrines. Perhaps these are Anglican Papalists too, only wishing to reunite the Roman Church with the non-Catholic Anglicanism (if such a beast exists) of the mainstream CofE. Are these members of the Roman "Church of England"?

However, that leads to the question of how unity can be achieved. Now it is interesting that the Ordinariate has fared best in the UK but unsurprising. The Church of England has caused an insurmountable hurdle to be put in place which renders corporate union with the Holy See impossible, but then, it was certainly impossible for the CofE to reunite with Rome considering that there are movements within the CofE which would not reunite with Rome for all the Bibles in Texas. Reunion is only the hope of the Anglo-Catholics - the successors of the Tractarians and the Nonjurors whose fundamental belief in that Anglicanism retains in itself the structures which are inherent in the Catholic and Undivided Church.

However, Anglican Papalists cannot deny that the Schism never happened. That Schism has done much to both the Anglican and Roman Churches who have developed their own character in their long walk apart. The Christian language has developed distinct dialects and it is these dialects that perhaps cause the greatest problems.

I said below that it is the breakdown in language and common sense that has resulted in greater legalism between government and citizen. One can look at the recent Milly Dowler case in which, in order to defend the accused (subsequently found guilty), the defence launched lines of enquiry which grossly invaded the privacy of a family still grieving over the loss of teenage Milly. Common sense surely says something here. Does it really need legislation or have we lost unspoken bonds between human beings.

Likewise with the Church, the unspoken bonds that bound the Church have been disrupted and of course we are unsure about how they are ever to be restored. That must come from the invisible grace of God. What does not help the Anglican Church is the lack of any cohesive body which can offer any rapprochement to Rome, or to the Orthodox Church. Anglicans are apparently split into finer and finer denominations, but the Continuum exists and can be made visible if work is put into it.

If the Affirmation of St Louis can be demonstrated to be a fully Catholic understanding of Christianity, then there is an Anglicanism that can demonstrate its credentials to Rome. There will be many groups of Anglicans who have demonstrated that they do not wish to be included by the innovations which have rendered their idea of Catholicism invalid. A united Anglicanism (proper Anglo-Catholicism) that can demonstrate itself to be sincere in its membership of the Catholic Church would be a jewel in the crown of Christianity and a body with which the other parts of the Catholic Church could feel that they understand their position.

Of course, this presupposes that the Roman Catholic Church wants to reunite in this manner, affirming the continuing Anglicanism of those who would seek the reunion. At the present it is clear that she doesn't as she certainly has done nothing to suppress that epithet of "ex-Anglican". Yet, in setting up the Ordinariate she has shown that she is beginning to understand the position of Anglicans who show themselves to follow the Catholic faith. A clear body of Anglicans whom she can see follow Christ in His Rule would certainly calm any worries that she might have.

The Ordinariate has taken its toll on expressions of Anglicanism that have already had a clear idea of Anglican Catholicity. The TAC seems to be in some turmoil because, largely, they already could see there was a discrepancy between being a member of the Ordinariate and remaining obviously Anglican. There are many fragments of the TAC struggling to understand what to do. They need some clear body to which to align in order to stabilise their situation, and Anglican bodies must reach out to help and offer a hand of Love.

Anglican Papalism is still alive after the Ordinariate, though not really in the form it once was. Any Anglican who longs to be in Communion withe the Pope regarding his primacy will certainly have a claim to being a Papal Anglican, but it will only be those who work to reunite Anglo-Catholics and Roman Catholics whilst respecting their identities who embody what the first Anglican Papalists were trying to do.

John Henry Cardinal Newman and Fr. Edward Bouverie Pusey, pray for us.


edpacht1 said...

Christian unity is an essential objective, and it is reasonable to suppose that the Bishop of Rome, as leader of the largest segment of Christianity, and as having held that position for most of Christian history, should (for those reasons, and not necessarily for specifically theological reasons) be seen as its central human figure. It is a genuine tragedy that the unity of brethren has been fractured. However, I don’t seek to enter into unity with the pope. Rather, I seek a circumstance in which the pope can fully recognize the unity that we already possess with one another. I do not see this unity as being that of a unitary structure with authoritative institutions. That has never been the case outside the Roman Church itself, and did not become the case even there until it was produced out of the many struggles of the Middle Ages and only cemented in the Counterreformation. There is not and never has been such an overweening structure in the Christian East, nor, even when most closely regulated by the Crown, did the Church of England claim such status for itself. Anglicanism outside England, from the foundation of the Scottish Episcopal Church and later the Episcopal Church in America, Anglicans have been a recognizably close fellowship of churches without a central authority of more than informal power. I see this attitude toward the nature of Christian unity to be at the heart of Anglicanism.

Thus, one of the primary elements of the “Anglican patrimony” has to be entirely denied in order to enter into the Ordinariates, and thus into the Roman Church. One needs to accept a view of unity itself that was not fully developed until after Anglicanism had found itself separated from Rome, and one needs to reject the view that Anglican Churches have always embodied. On this, and on the related issues of repeated Confirmation and Ordination de novo, it does indeed become accurate to speak of the Ordinariates, however much of Anglican form it might retain, as being composed of “ex-
Anglicans”. You are right that Rome in establishing them has generously affirmed much of what AngloCatholics have preserved, and that this is a marvelous step in the right direction, and you are right that many good men have availed themselves of the invitation in good conscience. However, for many of us, the choice given is still one of affirming what we believe to be untrue and of denying what we believe to be true, and that cannot be done.

One day brethren will find their way to accepting one another as brethren. May the Lord hasten that day.

Jakian Thomist said...

I would like to comment about the "ex-Anglicans" joining the Ordinariate. and "It's this epithet "ex-Anglican" that causes me to doubt the idea of "unity but not absorption"

I think using the term "ex-anglican" is in essence correct but incomplete. For example, the Ordinariate bound would have to leave behind the conception of anglicanism as described by Anglican blogger 6eight: - if this is what one considers to be core to "anglican"ness then indeed applying "ex" to the Ordinariate bound is correct.

Others do not believe this to be core, liturgical practice may instead be seen by them as essential. In this case, if Anglo-Catholic liturgical practice is maintained and nurtured by the Ordinariate then one could indeed could argue that the essense of Anglicanism is not absorbed but is distinct and unified through the Ordinariate.

Since gaining agreement on what consistutes the essense of Anglicanism is so difficult to achieve, I'm not supprised that newspapers are resorting to the simplistic expressions and observations - e.g. these people no longer worship in an Anglican church building therefore they are ex-anglican - but this doesn't assist us in determining their essential identity.

Warwickensis said...

Jakian, thank you. I take the point about the confused nature of Anglicanism and the need for simplicity to refer to those entering into the Ordinariate as being "ex-Anglican".

I still do not like it and would much prefer "ex Church of England" to "ex-Anglican", though of course this would run up against the members pf the TAC entering into the Ordinariate. My real problem is that those who are availing themselves of the Apostolic Constitution aren't actually changing anything about their Christian identity. They may have distanced themselves from the largely heterodox and non-Catholic Mainstream that makes up the bulk of the Church of England, but then so have I, and I rejoice that I am both Anglican and Catholic but with a fervant desire for the right circumstances and recognition of my Catholicism from the Holy Father. I am ex-"CofE" just as much as Mgr Newton and Mgr. Burnham et co.

Of course there is the problem of Anglican Orders, and this does prevent me from taking the swim across the Tiber. However, I don't want to be disloyal to m kind nor deceitful to Rome who I love very dearly and will always try to defend her where possible because in defending her, I am defending my own Faith.

JamesIII said...

The Ordinariate has accomplished two major things; it has offered a harbor to Catholic Anglicans wishing to fully shelter under the umbrella of Roman Catholicism, and it has given back a once-vibrant Anglo-Saxon face to the Church of Rome. A third possible benefit is still questionable; will it promote unity or drive a wedge into the workings?

I, too, wrinkle my nose at the term “Ex-Anglican”. Jonathan's “Former-Church-of-England” or “Former-Continuing-Anglican” sits a little more comfortably but the emphasis is still on “what was” rather than on “what is”. Counter-Reformation dogmatism still holds a powerful position although there are intelligent cracks appearing. A residence under construction does not often look like a home... yet! What we see now may be a far cry from the eventually evolved outcome. The Holy Spirit is very good at surprises... and placing barriers around the construction site with only small peep-holes for us to view the progress.

Rome may have bitten off more than she can chew or comfortably swallow. Our heritage of Protestant/Catholic warring has had the effect of solidifying our chosen Catholicism to a degree that most natal Romans don't possess. It was the product of inspired and erudite selection. We are, in truth, the embodiment of the usual Roman as Ed has noted; We are fully Catholic with a jaundiced eye when viewing “manufactured dogma”, crossed fingers and all.

It may be that we are the Lord's best tool for completing the house by attaining the real purpose of the Reformation; setting the church aright. For those who choose to remain in valid continuing Anglo-Catholic jurisdictions, I have no doubt of the validity of orders and the sacraments. Those priests and bishops, with whom I have had the pleasure of working and serving, did their homework before ordination and their lineage is authentic.

Old prejudices and propaganda take as long to dissipate as they did to form. All things come in God's good time.


edpacht1 said...

Two observations:

Much of what Anglican divines such as Hooker taught in contradistinction to current RC teaching was firmly within the permissible teaching of the High Middle Ages, and was indeed part of the ongoing theological discussions then being held. Many Anglicans preceive the narrowing of the RC viewpoint at the Counterreformation to be a movement of Rome away from the center of Catholic doctrine. What we desire is a restoration of that freedom of thought within patristic bounds. Many of us perceive acceptance of the terms offered as acceptance of that unfortunate narrowing.

Rome has raised up a difficult conundrum in its insistence of the invalidity of Anglican orders and on absolute, as opposed to conditional ordination and confirmation. If one enters the RCC under those conditions, one either accepts that stand, denying what has gone before, or proceeds under false pretenses, which could indeed raise doubts as to the sacraments so received. Could it not be asserted that one who believes himself ordained is incapable of intending to accept something he believes he already has? Would that not cast question on his intent to receive what the Church offers? I'm not convinced that conditional acceptance of something offered absolutely is an actual acceptance of what is offered. It seems very possible that some of those received and ordained will eventually have their validity questioned on these grounds. JamesIII's confidence (which I share) in Anglican validity, would raise strong philosophical questions were he to enter the Ordinariate. Yes, these wrinkles will eventually be ironed out, but in the meantime ...