I would never dream of lauching one of my snide attacks on our great historian Fr Arthur Middleton. He is infinitely more learned than I could ever hope to be; has deployed his erudition unsparingly for the Catholic Cause; and is a far nicer person than I am. And it's not so much anything he has written that I have problems with, but what you might call the Body Language of what he writes.
He is a dab hand at showing how the Anglican tradition of the last 450 years bears upon the problems besetting our Communion at the moment; and he does it with magisterial elegance. But the incautious reader just might get the impression that our tradition is that of the last 450 years, and that the Church of England seeks its customary authority and traditional teaching in the divines of that period. I'm sure Fr Arthur would be among the first to agree that the Church of England ... the provinces, that is, of Canterbury and York ... dates from around 596 and that the last 1400 years (despite such nastinesses as the Tudor Disruptions and the Great Rebellion and the Dutch Invasion) are an essentially unbroken continuity. But what I am sure is implicit in his writings may not always seem explicit to some.
This is where my biretta comes in. My previous two posts have shown the uniqueness of the C of E as a Roman foundation, and the significance of the Ancient Tradition that our clergy ... or at least, the clergy who Receive the Chrism from the bishops of Canterbury, Richborough, and Ebbsfleet ... dress like the clergy of Rome itself; pompomless biretta and all. I am reminded of Dom Gregory Dix's words: Under a succession of archbishops who were all missionaries from Italy (this includes the Greek S Theodore) or Saxon disciples trained in their school, the Anglo-Saxon church was 'ROMAN OF THE CITY' in its rite, in its calendar, in the dedications and fittings of its churches, in its church music and in ecclesiastical details generally.
That is how I define Anglicanism, to which I owe unswerving loyalty: to be ROMAN OF THE CITY. Here lies what, in the post-Conciliar jargon, we might call our Anglican Foundational Charism. S Thomas's church expresses this by the picture in the baroque reredos above the High Altar: a superb copy of the painting Raffael did for the High Altar of the church of Sancta Maria in Ara Caeli on the Capitoline Hill: the heart of Rome where the Imperatores concluded their Triumph processions and where our Lady is said to have explained to Augustus the Advent of a yet greater King. I do my best to lead my people in being ROMAN OF THE CITY. And I notice that Bede, in his account of all the paraphernalia sent from Rome in 601 to sustain the life of our young church, includes sacerdotalia vel clericilia indumenta: the things that priests or clerics wear. That is why the purest expression of our unique Anglican identity is to be as ROMAN OF THE CITY as possible; in big things, like dogma, in middling things, like the use of the Canon Romanus, and in little things, like pompoms.
As Tully used to say, dixi.
THE OBARTION HONEYMOON
As traditionalist American RCs get angrier and angrier about Aborma being welcomed at "Catholic" Universities, I hope they will not fail to notice the good news. Apparently he has decreed that CIA operatives guilty of torture will not be prosecuted. While that is thoroughly bad news in itself, it does have just a little silver lining ... it could be the beginning of the end of all this mindless adulation.