Monday, December 17, 2012

An Equality Too Far?


Am I the only one who is uneasy about this picture?
It is from a recent joint celebration of Vespers with the Archbishops of Westminster and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, in Westminster Cathedral at which Dr Williams preached.

It was kind thing to do for Archbishop Nichols to invite the Archbishop of Canterbury to Westminster Cathedral shortly before his retirement. However at the back of Westminster is that plaque which shows Vincent, by the Grace of God and favour of the Apostolic See, not Rowan, is the successor St Augustine.

Today we Catholics are not too uncomfortable with using the title "Archbishop" or "Bishop" by Anglicans, we accept the state given legality of the title. We accept that Anglican clergy are de facto heads of particular Anglican diocese. Today, we would certainly not be churlish and deny someone we have invited to an event the title he has chosen, and which is commonly used to refer him.

That being said, we Catholics actually do not believe that Dr Williams is a Bishop, yes he has leadership, episcope, over  a huge "Ecclesial Community", but we do not believe he is Bishop in the sense that Vincent Nichols or any other Catholic is a Bishop, we don't have problems with Orthodox either but we do have problems with Anglican orders.

The baseline is we do not believe that the sacraments he celebrates are valid, we do not believe that he has Apostolic Succession, we do not believe he has valid Orders. For all our fraternal affection we might have for him, we do actually believe that he, and his Ecclesial Community are separated, in old parlance, "in schism", with the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, and actually, as uncomfortable with the word as we are today, despite so much we have in common with the Anglican Communion, we do do believe that he is actually a heretic.

The normal attire for a non-Catholic religious leader to attend a Catholic Liturgical Service is "choir dress". inviting Dr Williams to dress in the liturgical vesture of a Catholic Bishop in a Catholic Cathedral suggests a parity that does not exist. There are many things that a the Catholic Church and non-Catholic Christian can and must do together but pretending we have parity of Orders is not of them.

Permitting a non-Catholic to vest in cope and mitre in a Catholic Cathedral, or for a Catholic to do so in an Anglican is an equality too far, it might be "nice" but it is about, confusion, thelogical inaccurracy, fudge. Indeed it is about removing the meaning from words in the same way our Government have decided to strip marriage from anything other than empty signs and symbols.

45 comments:

Lazarus said...

I agree with your unease and felt the same when I saw the picture. By all means let's cultivate as much genuine friendship between Anglicans and Catholics as possible, but in the end it's profoundly disrespectful to them to pretend that we share the same understanding of issues such as the episcopacy and the priesthood.

pooka said...

Better tell the Pope then......

http://www.anglicancommunion.org/acns/news.cfm/2012/3/12/ACNS5061

Fr Ray Blake said...

Pooka,
Indeed, what is being said?

Robert said...

I wonder what is going to happen when a female sits on the cathedra chair in Canterbury Cathedral. It's only a matter of time. Will the Catholic Church in England and Wales be so ecumenical then. Or will a male representative have to be sent by the Church of England. A thought to ponder and to get sick thinking about. Especially since Roman Catholics built Canterbury Cathedral, Durham Cathedral, Salisbury Cathedral, etcc. and yes for Catholic Christians in communion with Rome. I read that when the Roman Catholic Church was reinstated in the Realm, they did not want to use the names and locations of the old dioceses and archdioceses, so they had to come up with new names and locations. I guess that would remove the triumph of Protestantism over Catholicism. Sad!. But if the Church of England were to disappear do to secularism and atheism. Than those Cathedral would become museums, rather than returned to their founding Church. Kind of like Hagia Sophia in Constantinople. God forbid if that ever would become a Byzantine Basilica again.

Fr Levi said...

However, Father, I understand that while in Rome that the ABC is treated with the dignity accorded a Cardinal, that Pope Paul VI presented AB Michael Ramsey with a ring (which is still worn by his successors) in 1966, and Pope Benedict XVI presented the current ABC with a pectoral cross in 2009.

Given that this is how the Holy See treats the ABC, perhaps it should not be a surprise at the respect he is accorded in Westminster ... however, given what is currently happening in the CofE, one might be forgiven for wondering how much longer this may continue, whether in Rome or closer to home ...

Fr Ray Blake said...

Fr Levi,
The ring given to Ramsey was actually Paul VI's own ring. The pectoral cross given by Benedict was from one of the Roman shops, so actually a few notches down, and not of any historic significance.

Delia said...

Agree, Father. But maybe he just turned up like that and they were too polite to show him the sacristy door.

I had rather an interesting email exchange with the AofC's office when i complained about the list of archbishops on their website, which shows unbroken succession from Augustine. . .

pooka said...

Fr Blake,

My comment was that if the Pope is happy to sing Vespers with Rowan Williams, and both vested as Bishops, the surely that is sufficient precedent for Westminster? Much the same lines as Fr Levi's comment

StevieD said...

The Anglicans are indeed heretics and it is false charity to give any indication to them that this is not the case. I think that the English Church should be giving the Vatican a lead on this but we shall hope in vain for the moment at least.

Mr Grumpy said...

'I wonder what is going to happen when a female sits on the cathedra chair in Canterbury Cathedral.'

Well, the Archbishop of the day will have to extend the same privilege to her, unless he wants to be guilty of discrimination pure and simple. For it's just as much the case that Rowan Williams isn't in fact a bishop as it would be if he were a woman. True, he could be one if he was a Catholic and hadn't married, but that's beside the point. He isn't and he has.

Which road was it that's paved with good intentions?

Colonel Mustard said...

Jesus wept.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Pooka,
I take your point, my point is what does it mean.

Ultimately it "Releativist"!

Simon Platt said...

I'm with you, Father. Events like this cause scandal and the authorities at Westminster should know better.

@Robert - I understand that English law prevents catholic dioceses being erected with the same name as existing protestant dioceses (but not the other way round, of course).

(There's also the rather annoying protestant habit of declaring suffragan bishops with the same title as authentic catholic bishops - Lancaster and Shrewsbury, for example.)

Jacobi said...

Father,

You are not the only one to feel uneasy.

“Archbishop” Williams being an Anglican minister has signed the 39 Articles, therefore, amongst other things, he believes the Catholic Mass to be an abomination. Mark you could argue that it wasn’t Mass he was invited to!

And we should be careful of relativised ecumenism. The Church of England is a state church and will reflect what the increasingly Secularised state believes. It, and other Protestant sects, with the possible exception of the Evangelicals, are drawing rapidly away from us, and we have less and less in common.

Ecumenism lies with the Orthodox Churches.

Deacon Augustine said...

"Am I the only one who is uneasy about this picture?"

No, Fr. Ray you most certainly are not. What I detest most about ecumenism is not the objective of establishing unity or friendly relations with our separated brethren, but the fundamental dishonesty involved in this kind of picture. It is no different when the Popes get up to it with pectoral crosses, rings, and praising dead heresiarchs etc.

The local Anglican curate used to see this kind of thing and say "But surely we have unity already." and then get distressed when something happened that emphasized we did not have unity at all.

Unfortunately the Council launched us on this great ecumenical journey without even providing a definition of "ecumenism" let alone setting any limits or boundaries to actions that may be taken in its pursuit. There are no agreed aims or objectives of ecumenism within the Church, let alone among the separated communities, other than the pusuit of a nebulous "unity" - a "unity" which again has never been defined and about which the Church's interlocutors cannot agree.

The only concrete fruit which seems to have come from ecumenism are the Ordinariates, but they have received a mixed reaction both within and without the Church. The rest of the separated communities seem to be moving away from the Church like galaxies expanding away from the centre of the universe - but still the pretense is maintained that things are just dandy and ecumenism should go on as normal.

I would never knowingly dissent from the Magisterium of the Church, but there are a lot of areas like ecumenism - involving prudential judgment rather than faith - which seem to be just plain bonkers, dishonest and counterproductive to the Church's mission of evangelization. (Rant over!)

Katie said...

One can't help but think of cuckoos who don't build nests but occupy those of other birds and throw out the fledglings. Why are English catholics so in awe of Anglicans like RW?

Andrew Leach said...

Do watch the second episode of "Westminster Abbey" (on iPlayer now, but repeated tonight). It features the choir of the Abbey joining the Sistine Chapel Choir singing in St Peter's for the Papal Mass on St Peter's Day [last year?] The Abbey clergy are clearly shown wearing red stoles, not simple choir dress with scarf.

Ttony said...

Father, I think you're right about the inadvisability of ++Vin letting this sort of thing happen, but I doubt if anybody other than those of us more traditional than ++Vin will think anything of it. Archbishop Williams will appreciate the courtesy, ecumaniacs will rejoice, but nobody will think that this brings "unity" any closer.

Whose Vespers were they? One of the two legitimate Catholic uses' for that hour on that day or somebody else's? And if not the former, were the (Catholic) clergy taking part reminded that they still had an obligation to fulfil?

mike hurcum said...

cardinal Herbert Vaughan did give thw Vatican the lead. This gave us the Papl Bull concerning the lack of validity of the anglican ?????
The problem of any validity comes from the actions of a French Catholic Priest who was going to show the English catholics how to convert the Anglicans. Read Cardinal Vaughan's biography published about ten years ago there is a very good chapter on the battle.

Physiocrat said...

They look like a couple of chess pieces.

Parate Viam Domini said...

"They look like a couple of chess pieces."

They look like a couple of badly made beds to me !:-)

Gervase Crouchback said...

of more concern is the future- when and if the Church of England does get the 'opt in" clause for gay marriage. This joint Vespers has set the precedent for future such worship services,and in the Name of Christ will ++Vin say no the next Archbishop of Canterbury if this scenario occurs? Be the reverse of what Marcus Loane as Anglican ArchBishop of Sydney did when Pope paul VI came to Australia in the 1960s'

Peter said...

Deacon Augustine
May I dare to suggest that the Vatican II Decree on Ecumenism did set some limits? In paragraph 8 we read: “Sharing in sacred rites, however, is not to be applied indiscriminately...”
In paragraph 9 we read that meetings with separated brethren should involve real experts with the bishops keeping watch.
None of this seems to undermine your point: I suspect that the notes of caution in the decree are rarely heeded.

Matthew said...

We know where the Church is, but not where the Church isn't.

wretchedwithhope said...

protesting truth

in 1532 Jabba the Hutt aka Harry 8, declared himself 'head of the CofE', he dissolved the monasteries and demanded that 'any recollection of England's long bond with Rome - aka St Augustine - be forgotten'. the desecration even shocked Charles V. (all this info engagingly presented in a short piece on St Augustan by Ramsgate's Fr Holden.)

as for tolerance of untruths -  after Assisi - "Pope John Paul II prevented the statue of Our Lady of Fatima to enter the Basilica so as not to “offend”other religions, and allowed a statue of Buddha to be placed on the tabernacle containing Our Lord Jesus Christ" - where are the boundaries of the sacred/Truth? or are there no more lies?



Nicolas Bellord said...

Much as I respect Rowan Williams one has to remember that he accepts the decision made in 1930 by the Anglican Church of artificial contraception thus separating sex from procreation. One of he logical outcomes of this is the acceptance of homosexual sexual activity and eventually gay marriage. Our present Government is just waiting for the CofE to accept it. It probably thinks that we Catholics will accept it in the long run. After all who knows what is down the road.

David Joyce said...

I agree, Father, but as others have commented, when Rome itself performs similar or even worse actions, then to whom do we appeal? To God Himself? It is simply the The Spirit of Assisi that encourages such lapses in the life of the Church. Unfortunately, as Pope John Paul II put it: "The differences are a lesser important element in relation to the unity which, on the contrary, is radical, fundamental and determining". What happened to Our Lord's mandate to his disciples: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."

wretchedwithhope said...

why do we respect the bishop candelford? remind me?

John Nolan said...

In the episode of 'Westminster Abbey' much was made of the Pope being the successor of St Peter, of the abbey continuing the Benedictine tradition, and of the 'hurt' felt by the Anglicans at not being able to receive Communion in St Peters. Well, if they really want communion, the offer's still open.

Although Westminster Abbey is a Royal Peculiar they don chasubles and swing incense when HM's not around. Smacks of hypocrisy.

Fr Tom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Physiocrat said...

If HM turned up and didn't like the incense swinging, it could be queen takes bishop at the next move, but who knows then how the game would play out with the two pawns in the background.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Fr Tom,

I think the picture has been reference above. I am not enraged, I am uneasy!

As for the vadity of Anglican Orders, I am not quite sure that the "dutch tutching" really solves the problem which is not just of Apostolicity, the main concern of AC. There is also problem of Form: Anglican Service Books, and of Intention; here the 39 Article, the Book Homilies, the Anglican Tradition, would suggest something contrary to Catholic and Orthodox Tradition.

There have been recent cases where the CDF have declared ordinations involving Old Catholics as "definitely invalid".

Your statement, "Note too that the Orthodox variously found Anglican orders to be intact" leaves me perplexed; which Orthodox? Some would have difficulty with Anglican baptism!

Vesta said...

Actually, I think you'll find that Rowan Williams was consecrated bishop by an Old Catholic Bishop. Rome accepts the orders of the Old Catholic Church (they are considered valid, though irregular by Rome). This means that Rowan Williams' orders are valid (though irregular), which means that he is a bishop, no matter how you look at it and no matter how you view Anglican orders....

Fr Ray Blake said...

Vesta,
As I say validity of Orders is based on a little more than the "dutch tutch" for both Catholics and Orthodox.

Physiocrat said...

Surely the last regular AoC was Cardinal Pole who died in 1558? Canterbury is now in Southwark diocese. What is Dr Williams bishop of? Can a place be in two different dioceses at the same time? Which raises the perennial question: what precisely is the status of the CoE? If it were, in a general way, "shadowing" the practices of Rome, then this could be taken as an intention to be part of the universal church. But since it goes its own way in all manner of practices and beliefs, where is the intention of unity?

A few weeks ago I attended evensongs at Oxford and Salisbury on successive Sundays. In the former there was a sprinkling of women clergy, in the latter the men were in a minority. Once this happens, the CoE is on the way to becoming a women's organisation like the Church of Sweden, rapidly becoming defunct with a lot of nice buildings that nobody knows what to do with. Such a church cannot be in any sense part of the universal church, more's the pity.

John Nolan said...

Fr Tom,

Article 31 refers to the "sacrifice of Masses" as being "blasphemous fables and dangerous deceits". Do the Orthodox accept that Anglican women priests are validly ordained?
Anglican ministers are validly ordained for what they are (clerical civil servants of a state Church) and for what they do (celebrate a protestant communion service, however decked-out it may be with pseudo-Roman trappings). The CofE is not even regarded as a Church by Rome, but as an 'ecclesial community' and when it ordains female bishops and allows gay marriages (which it surely will) the rest of Christendom won't be much bothered.

Rowan Williams's angry reactions to the recent General Synod decision says it all - the CofE mustn't be further marginalized in terms of contemporary society. The fact that it is already marginalized as far as Catholic and Orthodox Christendom is concerned doesn't seem to bother him.

Paulinus said...

It is the season for 'Boy Bishops' but Professor Williams is a tad old to be dressing up as one....

Peter Simpson said...

In my mind what was most odd was not the Archbishop of Canterbury wearing a cope and mitre, but the Archbishop of Westminster not carrying a crozier in his own Cathedral.

Fred Brown said...

The greatest error of the decree on Ecumenism was that it failed to distinguish between Catholic and Protestant ecclesiology. Paradoxically, the cause for this disaster, which is, in my opinion, the root of the current crisis, was Catholic 'Triumphalism'. The young Turks at the council (advisers (periti) like Congor, Ratzinger et al) failed to take into consideration the fundamental basis of Protestant ecclesiology, thinking that unity meant 'visible' unity for Protestantism as it does for Catholicism. This is, of course, not the case. For most protestant groups unity is already a reality. They are quite happy with the status quo. Their church is always a small ‘c’ as a matter of principle. ‘The Church’ is always an eschatological reality for them- this is one of the defining pillars of Protestantism (strange that all the council fathers missed the blatantly obvious?). They cannot concede to real visible unity without denying the whole of their theology, regardless of which sect they belong to. This reality was brought home to Newman when he realised what the shared bishopric in Jerusalem really meant. How, he reasoned, could the Anglicans possibly claim to be Catholic if they were happy to share the Jerusalem bishopric, in a three year cycle, with the Lutherans AND the Calvinists (the Calvinists believe, uhm, the exact opposite to the Anglicans in just about every area of theology)? He knew then that the idea of catholic unity for Anglicanism was essentially ‘groups that call themselves Christians which are not necessarily attached in structure or Dogma’ - Groups that would remain in diverse and contradictory unity until the Parousia, at which time the different and contradictory sects would become one, one, holy Catholic and apostolic Church. In other words, the ecumenical posturing of the protestant groups e.g., the Anglicans, is just that. They don’t need to do anything else; once Rome recognised them in the Decree on Ecumenism it was game over i.e., the goal of ecumenism was fulfilled at that moment as far as they were concerned.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Fred,
There is certainly quite a bit of truth in that, hence I think now Ecumenism looks East.

Nicolas Bellord said...

Having read Fred Brown's comment I realise how out of my depth I am on ecumenism! For me the outcome of ecumenism would be a protestant church realising the errors of its ways on essential points of doctrine and thus rejoining the Catholic Church whilst the Catholics perhaps dropped some non-essential practices. Did anyone conceive of ecumenism as anything different?

Perhaps though if you are a universalist then it does not matter if you have unity with some essential doctrines still being rejected as we all go to heaven anyway?

Fr Tom said...

I stand corrected and chastened on my comment about the 39 Articles, and so have removed my post. Deo gratias, the Articles are not binding on Anglicans and do not represent modern Anglican theology: the 1938 Report, 'Doctrine in the Church of England,' gives a much more nuanced explanation of Anglican thought on Eucharistic sacrifice than Cranmer and his ilk were able to, pointing to the 17th Century Hugh Church usage. Even taking the Article as it stands, its objection to the Mass as a propitiation is on the grounds that there was only one propitiatory sacrifice - that made on the Cross - with which Catholic theologians would no doubt agree! I suppose it comes to a Reformation misunderstanding of anamnesis.

I'm sorry I wrote in haste and anger: you'll be aware that having one's orders' validity questioned can be red rag to a bull. Still, you're quite right that just 'being nice' does not make for real ecumenism. Your honesty is best.

Oh, the Orthodox: Constantinople (1922), Jerusalem and Sinai (1923), Cyprus (1923), Alexandria (1930), Romania (1936) seemed to affirm Anglican orders, but then the Russian Church in exile in 1935 came to the opposite conclusion. As you say, the waters have been muddied by the ordination of women, but conversation continues (as does ARCIC). Long may it do so.

Have a blessed Christmas (or, indeed, Christ-mass)!

Fr Tom said...

P.S. On ecumenism: I think for us it's a matter of 'essentials' - a question of what in the Catholic faith is non-negotiable, and where divergence of opinion is allowed. Clearly, Anglicans have more of the latter and fewer of the former. Perhaps that is where we need to change.

Physiocrat said...

As a "raw" convert to Christianity long ago, I considered the Anglican church. It has much nicer buildings and decent music is not difficult to find. Catholics, on the other hand, have horrible buildings, nice buildings that have been altered to make them horrible, and mostly horrible music. Until recently the translations were also horrible. The contemporary Catholic liturgy is also usually dire, being rarely carried out in accordance with the instructions, since it now transpires that the almost-universal practice of celebrating Mass in the vernacular and facing the people is based on misinterpretations of Vatican 2. So one way and another, Catholics have a lot to put up with.

When I looked at the 39 Articles, however, it seemed like you were expected to believe contradictory things at one and the same time, which rather put me off. In fact, it was not clear what one was expected to believe or not believe. The whole was about as transparent as one of those sheets of notes you get from HMRC which are meant to "help" people fill in their tax returns. So that put me off the CoE.

I could have joined the Orthodox church and that is always a temptation, but which one? The local Euphorbian Orthodox Church is quite appealing but the only people who go to it are a few women who arrived as refugees in 1946, and their granddaughters who come for the summer holidays. And the language of Euphorbia is notoriously difficult. So that rules it out really. Where else is there to go?

Ben Vallejo said...

When Dr Williams, then Archbishop of Canterbury and a Rowan Catholic preached at a Catholic Mass in Lourdes, he was in cope and mitre too.

Now isn't that only clergy will valid and licit orders can preach at Mass?

It's either Rome knows Dr Williams has valid orders or Rome overextended its ecumenical courtesy!

Nonetheless I still pray Rowan joins the Ordinariate. We will then find out!