18 September 2009

The Anglican VIA MEDIA revisited

On second thoughts, it occurs to me that there may be more to the Anglican notion that Anglicans constitute a via media between Protestants and Papists than I suggested in my posts a few days ago.

Official Anglicanism, after all, cheerfully, whole heartedly, and gleefully persecuted both Papists and Protestants. As far as the former are concerned, I wrote in 1992: "We should acknowlege that ... the great historical fact is that, for hundreds of years, the community of which we are the inheritors defined itself in broad, popular, international and cultural terms by opposition to Rome, to priesthood, and to sacramental religion. We helped to torture and kill those who perceived themselves - and were perceived by others - to be maintaining these things. ... for centuries we persecuted other Christians and then, when we finally realised that they had been largely right all the time, we couldn't even be decently apologetic and humble about it".

As far as Methodism is concerned, in the 1930s Dom Gregory Dix wrote about the hunger of the early Methodists for frequent Communion (Wesley rather liked a daily Mass) and commented "When one contrasts this hunger for communion with the torpid rapacity of prelates like Archbishop Manners-Sutton, who combined the See of Canterbury (then worth £40,000 a year) with sixty-three livings with cure of souls as well as other preferment, what can one say but that, great as is the sin of schism, the sin of Amaziah the priest of Bethel may well be greater still?"

In an age in which it appears to be fashionable to apologise for what one's predecessors or ancestors did, I wonder when Official Anglicanism is going to apologise for the via media from the comfort of which it raked with its heavy artillery the poor dissenters on each side of that Way. And let us not forget the Unitarians whom we continued to burn for long after the breach with Rome. And since the official Anglican position is that the C of E is the same Church as the pre-Reformation Ecclesia Anglicana, presumably we are legally obliged to apologise also for the Lollards we terminated and the victims of the fires of Smithfield.

Will a Lambeth Palace Spokesman give us dates for all these very necessary ritual grovellings?


Andrew said...

Let us not forget either the Scots Episcopalians at whose persecution our C of E predecessors connived.

Steve said...

Pray do not forget, either, that the main reason the Roman Catholics were persecuted by Elizabeth I was that the reigning (what a rotten term for a Christian minister, by the way!) Pope, having excommunicated Elizabeth, called on his followers in England to overthrow her, thus putting every decent law-abiding English Roman Catholic on the wrong side of the Treason Act. (I'm not saying this excuses their persecution, but it does move the goalposts more than a little.) Elizabeth I, in fact, was always a committed believer in the Church of England being Catholic, and for this reason, when invited to send a "Protestant observer" to the Council of Trent, she sent the papal messenger away with a flea in his ear.

Now, am I going to be unkind enough to invite comparison with the persecution of non-Roman Catholic Christians under Mary Tudor?

Incidentally, the Roman Catholic authorities learned from their mistake over Elizabeth I, and held back from formally excommunicating Hitler so as not to make life impossible for German Roman Catholics during World War II.

Anonymous said...

To quote you (yet again), Father:

"There ought to be another prayer (I hope someone would like to compose one, preferably in Latin) for the pontiff to say, after Mass, as he again puts on the Old Adam and goes back to his ordinary everyday life of murdering, fornicating, and embezzling."

Perhaps this prayer should not be only for the pontiff?

And, since it appears you haven't had any other attempts at it - here goes. I'll leave the translation to others (somewhere along the lines of "Presta, quaesumus, omnipotens meus: ut veni, vidi, vici...)


Independent said...

Steve - the early catholic historians after the Reformation appear to have regarded Elizabeth as a good queen who responded to papal pressure by adopting a policy of persecution. According to Fr Vidmar OP "English Catholic Historians and the English Reformation"(2005) Berington and Butler blamed the Pope for the Reformation. He tells us that "there is no one 'catholic version' of the English Reformation".(p148). These early catholic historians thought in terms of politics rather than religion.

What is your authority for Elizabeth being asked to send anyone to Trent, and refusing to do so, please? And what evidence have you regarding what she meant by catholic? After all the Reformers all claimed to be catholic.

They all seem to have held the doctrine , now in our time taken up by secularists, that "error has no rights".

William Tighe said...

Let us await Fr. Hunwiske's essay on "1559 and All That;" and in the mean time lament that Archbishop Heath in early 1559 managed to prevent bishops Watson of Lincoln and White of Winchester from themselves excommunicating Bess the Bastard for her attack on the liberties of the church of England and on the Apostolic See. Had they done so, perhaps St. Pius V's action in 1570 would not have been too little, too late.

Independent said...

Among the ritual grovellings might be included ones for the pogrom at York in March 1190 and the cult of Little St Hugh of Lincoln dating from 1255.