Thursday, December 29, 2011

Blogday 2011: Anglican Papalism and Me

Wow! Another year and this one has been quite momentous for me. Eagle-eyed readers of this blogling will notice that I've removed my page linking to Fr Brooke Lunn's description of Anglican Papalism. Does this mean that I cease to be an Anglican Papalist?

Well, yes and no - a typical Anglican answer! I hope you will understand my equivocation. I have had to re-evaluate myself this year and what I really believe, and perhaps now is the time to start nailing my colours to the mast. While I was in the CofE, I was as much a slave to the inherent confusion as anything else. I would leave even my own services with a headache, let alone from Mass and this was in no small part due to my trying to reconcile the irreconcilable. I have now had time to think more clearly. I have sailed that sea and, though with my sails tattered and my mast broken, find myself on a more comfortable shore.

The main principles of Anglican Papalism are:

  1. Anglicanism has made authentic and honourable contributions to the development of Catholic Christian practice (e.g., Week of Prayer for Christian Unity).

  2. Petrine Succession and Primacy are authentic and honourable developments of Catholic Christian theology.

  3. There is a legitimate place within Catholic Christianity for Christians seeking full Communion with the Apostolic See of Rome yet retaining Anglican practices deemed salutary by the Church's Magisterium.

I am not an Anglican Papalist if this means that I wish to take advantage of the Ordinariate. I cannot agree that the system that is in place preserves Anglicanism if it means that Anglican priests have to go through the unnecessary sacrilege of re-ordination. This is a blatant denial of the Catholic validity that Anglicanism has and which Pusey and the other members of the Oxford Movement saw when they rediscovered the orthodoxy embedded in Traditional Anglicanism. That Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman departed for Rome was not a problem for him because he doubted the validity of his own orders and ceased from practicing when he realised this. That he was also under much emotional pressure at the time is surely understandable. Likewise, I cannot condemn anyone entering the Ordinariate and I will explain why this is a good thing.

I am not Anglican Papalist if I have to hold to the Pope being anything more than a Patriarch and a Bishop with privileged see. Over the past few years, I have drifted further and further from the doctrines of Papal Infallibility and Supremacy as they stand defined in the First Vatican Council, on the grounds that (a) it is not a truly Oecumenical Council and (b) the doctrines doesn't make sense without it being a truly Oecumenical Council. The Infallibility comes from the Church and were the Church to hold a truly Oecumenical Council and for the bishops all to agree on a matter of faith and doctrine, then the Infallible position would then be ratified by the Pope. He would bang the gavel on the matter, as it were.

I do not hold to the idea that the Holy Father is a monarch of Christians, especially since, in the eyes of the Old Testament, the Covenant points to the Monarchy of God. I will willing hold to the Holy Father's primacy but not his universal jurisdiction, because it is not true. Either the Orthodox Churches who do not subscribe to Papal universal jurisdiction are not Catholic Christians (which Rome believes) or the Pope has universal jurisdiction (which the Orthodox Churches do not believe).

However, I am still an Anglican Papalist if I believe St Paul when he tells us that, in the Body of Christ, one part cannot reject another part and that I am still committed to the unity of the Undivided Church. I still hold to the Holy Father as my Patriarch, even if he himself denies it and goes so far to suppress that title. There is good evidence in the Early Church of the Primacy of the Pope, and that Anglicans do share very much doctrine with the Roman Catholic Church. I long for the Unity with the Holy See but I fear that Vatican II has ruined her more than Vatican I. Vatican I cut the Holy See off further from Anglicans, Orthodox and even her own ilk in the Old Catholic Church. Vatican II cut her off from her own past in an attempt to blow away the cobwebs. Moral: never open your windows to air your room when there's a Gale Force 9 Hurricane raging outside.

For unity to occur, there needs to be movement on both sides. The ACC did her bit in the 1970s when she came away from the heresies of ECUSA and again in the 1990s in the U.K. If Rome is serious about Church Unity, then she needs to look at herself to ensure that she is fit for unity rather than just assume that she is.

I am still an Anglican Papalist if that means I still defend the Roman Catholic Church where possible since, as I said above, Anglican Catholicism shares a very great deal of true doctrine with her. This isn't always possible when the hierarchy of the Holy See says some very silly things, usually from ignorance, but I certainly have her interests at heart. I have a great love and affection for her and the Holy Father and I certainly support the Ordinariate in that if Anglicans can subscribe to the extra conditions that Roman Catholicism imposes then they should take them up. It means that homeless Anglicans do find a sound spiritual home, though not without cost. It will also help the Roman Church see the value of Anglicanism and perhaps help her to play a better role in the unity of the Undivided Church. There are some very good and devout former Anglicans entering the Ordinariate, this can only be a good thing for all parties and I pray for its success and growth.

I am still an Anglican Papalist if that means that I recognise the contribution to Anglicanism that the five-hundred year walk with the Roman Catholic Church has forged with all its riches and colour as well as the inherent truth that Anglican and Roman Catholicism share. Although I recognise the need for its occurrence, I still find the Reformation one of the saddest and most abject periods in Church History and wish that it had never happened in the way that it did. I still hold to the pious opinions of the Immaculate Conception and Assumption of Our Lady and to the doctrine of Purgatory, though not as a place of punishment, but rather a painful "place" of personal reconstruction but filled with the light and love of God.

Looking back at some of my earlier posts I notice that I have changed much, but then who doesn't? I am not ashamed of myself for the times that I have been a bit more ultramontane than I am now. I believe it is the sign of spiritual growth in me and I praise God for it. However, I'm not convinced that I've changed all that much, just a dotting of the Is and crossing of the Ts with the loss of hair and increase of girth. There's still much more growing that I have to do, but I am happy to be in a place which allows that growth to occur in a nurturing and supportive environment.


    Jakian Thomist said...

    Hi Warwickensis,

    I must admit that I really do enjoy reading your annual 'revoir' it was a pleasant surprise to come upon it.

    I think it is truly a gift that you have found a "nurturing and supportive environment" and I hope that everyone whose 'spiritual habitat' is being disturbed by a determined few in CoE will be similarly revived this time next year.

    I read and pondered over your comment regarding 're-ordination' and the Ordinariates. You may have noticed it also from looking across the blogs but I feel that there is a sense of 'talking-past' one another on this topic, RC's 'reducing' its significance while Anglican contributors feeling as if 'THE' point has been completely missed.

    I find my own viewpoint difficult to express - the best description I have come across of the issue is in the words of a commentator I link below -the crossover between 'objective validity, which only God can know, with recognized validity which is all the Church can offer.' The key point being that a sacrament cannot be objectively conferred twice and to attempt to do so is indeed gravely sinful. The question - is this what is being intended by the parties involved?

    I trust that the other issues you have raised for discussion are for other contributors to consider.

    I hope you have a peaceful new year, JT.

    Link: further thought-provoking comments by Michael de Verteuil - I imagine you may have already come across this in your web-travels!

    Colin Chattan said...

    I agree with much of what you have to say, Warwickensis - "what oft was thought, but ne'er so well expressed". I am personally agnostic on the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption, but there can be no objection to those who hold them as pious opinions. I do object strongly, however, to those who insist, without any clear warrant of scripture, that they must be accepted as dogmas on which one's salvation depends (in the former case posthumously turning poor St. Bernard of Clairvaux into a heretic!)

    I do not find M. de Verteuil's explanation all that helpful, Jakian Thomist. It is, typically, Romanocentric and self-serving; it presupposes that the tender sensibilities of Roman Catholics (who, after all, belong to the "One True Church") must not be in any way disquieted while Anglican concerns can be simply trampled in the mud. And Heaven forfend that the "One True Church" should be in any way inconvenienced by conditional re-ordination! It reflects the old Roman approach to ecumenical negotiation: "what's mine is mine and what's yours is negotiable."

    And for all of M. de Verteuil's red herring parsing of Roman practice, the bottom line remains that that practice is based on Pope Leo's unequivocal pronouncement in "Apostolicae Curae" in 1896, specifically paragraph 36: "Wherefore, strictly adhering, in this matter, to the decrees of the pontiffs, our predecessors, and confirming them most fully, and, as it were, renewing them by our authority, of our own initiative and certain knowledge, we pronounce and declare that ordinations carried out according to the Anglican rite have been, and are, absolutely null and utterly void." If it's a choice between Pope Leo's obvious intent and the Clintonesque qualification, "It depends on what you mean by "have been and are"", I'll take Pope Leo's candour any day, however much I disagree with his conclusion.

    In Christ,

    Colin Chattan

    edpacht1 said...

    You've developed to a position so close to mine that it's nearly impossible to tell the difference. As to changing one's opinions, well, I find it a sign of spiritual immaturity if one is unable to change. Since it is a given that the deep matters of God are beyond human understanding, it follows that NONE of our approximations truly do justice to the truth. We try our best, and our best has to get better or we have ceased to grow -- and what happens to a living thing that ceases to grow is that it begins to die. We are all on a difficult pilgrimage in this earthly life, always trying to find the right road, often wandering from it.

    As for re-ordination: I'm very cautious with words like "sacrilege" -- There is a difference between deliberately misusing the things of God and ignorantly making errant use of them. Intent and attitude matter more (when judging the state of a soul) than the objective facts of the case. That said, I find myself deeply troubled by the insistence on absolute ordination. Such a rite, no matter what lame explanations are intended, cannot be anything but a denial of what went before. If only Rome had been humble enough at least to offer a conditional ordination, allowing freedom of opinion as to the past. Ah, well, it isn't that way, and one more barrier is in place.


    Father Gregory Wassen said...

    Great post!

    But you did get me wondering ... How does Vat. II constitute a bigger problem as does Vat. I ?

    Gregory +