19 December 2009

Dom Gregory Dix and the Papacy

Anglicans have commonly bellyached about the definition of Papal jurisdiction in Vatican I as an Ordinary, Episcopal, and Immediate jurisdiction over every Christian. It apparently subverts the doctrine of Episcopacy (sometimes called 'Cyprianic') which has often attracted Anglicans. "It makes the Pope a parallel and superior diocesan bishop in every diocese of Christendom", we have whinged.

Dom Gregory Dix dealt with this, as I point out in the December New Directions, by referring to an incident in Anglican history in which, a diocesan having refused to institute a parish priest, the institution was therefore performed, after the legal processes ended with the diocesan losing the case, by or by commission from the Archbishop of Canterbury as Primate. As Dix pointed out, this is Ordinary (in accordance with norms of canon law) Episcopal (conferring the Cura animarum) and Immediate. If Anglicans can accept this, they need have no problems with Pastor Aeternus.

I assumed that this referred to the Gorham judgement of the 1840s, when a High Church bishop, Philpott of Exeter, refused to institute an Evangelical incumbent who denied Baptismal Regeneration. But Fr Alan Cooke of S Mark's Chadderton writes to me: " In the early days of Archbishop Lang's primacy, as related on page 379 of Lockhart's biography, Bishop Barnes [the ultra-Modernist bishop of] Birmingham refused to institute a priest of whose views he disapproved. After proceedings in the High Court of Chancery, the Bishop remained intransigent, and the priest was instituted by the Archbishop. I wonder if it might be this incident that was in Dix's mind. He would certainly have had more sympathy with the view of that priest in Birmingham (the Revd Doyle Simmonds) than with those of Mr Gorham."

Nice one, Father. You may be right. But - if I may play Devil's Advocate:
(1) the Gorham case was much more high-profile; and contributed to Archdeacon Manning's departure from the C of E; and
(2) if Dix had 'Gorham' in mind, he really is taking the war into the enemies' territory by arguing that even the most anti-papal factions within Anglicanism are happy to have a Pio Nono on tap when it suits them.

Yeeees ... I think Fr Cooke is probably right ....


William Tighe said...

Actually, I wondered about that, too, when I read your posting. Dix writes, when introducing his discussion of the episode in the last paragraph of what was posthumously published in 1975 as *Jurisdiction in the Early Church: Episcopal and Papal* (p. 123) "Some years ago a bishop in the Province of Canterbury refused to institute a priest to a benefice, for reasons which were found on question to be illegal." That might mean anything, I suppose, but I have always taken it as meaning "not so long ago."

Michael McDonough said...

Vatican I defined Papal Primacy as "Ordinary, Episcopal, and Immediate jurisdiction over every Christian".

Fr. H, I think your example is a proper example of how Papal Primacy, or Primatial Primacy, does normally take place in the Church. In fact, I think it is appropriate to view Primatial Primacy in the very same terms (not legal terms, theological ones) as one views the Papal Primacy.

I strikes me that the chief difference between the Primacy of Peter, and that of other Primates or Patriarchs, or even Bishops in their dioceses, is that while the Pope must be the faithful servant of the Faith with respect to the whole Church, their service is defined for a "portion" of the people of God.

From a theological standpoint, IMO, the terms you listed were used at Vatican I because they needed to have a kind of negative language to express the Primacy of Peter's Successor. The chief reason for this is that men cannot know in advance just what service the Successor of Peter will need to perform henceforth in order for the Church to remain faithful to Herself, and Her Lord!

"Ordinary", as you mention, refers to "according to law", lawful. But that cannot be restricted to Canon Law, or else Canon Law itself becomes absolute, no? Hence, the Divine Law is also intended.

"Episcopal" means "supervisory" (i.e., like an "overseer"). The fulness of the Priesthood: the powers of Teaching, Sanctifying and Ruling Christ's Church. The "matter" to which Primacy applies. Perhaps, also episcopal rather than monarchical. NOT the same powers exercised by an earthly monarch!

"Immediate" because there is no way of knowing in advance who might be opposed to the Church's Unity, and "Peter" must be given the last word about that. If the Pope needs to "depose" a bishop such that the deposition will be known and accepted throughout the Church, he must be allowed to do so. Of course, such a person would have recourse to a legal appeal, etc., if necessary, but the Petrine Ministry cannot be merely curtailed because some group of miscreant Catholics, even bishops, says so.

I am morally certain that Pope Benedict XVI could make these types of correlations himself, and far more convincingly than me, because in some sense, as Cardinal Ratzinger, he already has. He does not go into great detail about it, but he states that he is convinced that St. Ignatius of Antioch's words about the Roman See are reconciliable with the legal terminology of Vatican I. He also admits that that terminology makes the Orthodox cringe whenever they hear it. Their very reaction is a good sign that a better theological expression is, in fact, needed.

[Cf. Joseph Ratzinger, Pilgrim Fellowship of Faith: The Church as Communion, 2005, Ignatius Press, pp. 217-241]

Christian Year said...

I don't think Archdeacon Manning saw it as an exercise of spiritual authority, unfortunately for your argument. In The Appellate Jurisdiction of the Crown in Matters Spiritual (1850) he repudiated the intervention of the Civil power - the judicial committee of the Privy Council - in a matter which was the most intimately and purely spiritual and divine. When the Archbishop instituted Gorham he did so as an exercise of the power of the state, upholding the law of property - the right of patronage. And so Manning quit the Church of England.