25 January 2009

That they may be one

When he became Pope, our beloved Holy Father revealed that he expected the first question put to him by his Judge would be: what had he done for the unity of Christians? The dear old gentleman must be overjoyed that he has been enabled to allow the rescinding of the excommunications incurred by the four SSPX bishops.

Would that news within the Church of England were as full of wholesome joy. The admirable and informative Massinformation blog gives us the views of one of the suffragan [that's Anglican for Assistant] bishops in this diocese of Oxford: who thinks that Anglican Catholics enjoy self-indulgence and fantasy, and, just for kicks, attempts to smear us by hinting that we might very well have a disposition towards holocaust denial. There seems to be a jinx on this diocese. The last bishop of Oxford had reluctantly to give up his planned appointment of a suffragan because it became clear that his nominee could not function as a point of unity. Remarkably, the diocese now does have a suffragan who has disqualified himself even more decisively from exercising episcopal ministry by an attack, including a very dirty smear, upon one of the traditions of 'churchmanship' to which he is presumably expected to minister. If his resignation is not sought and accepted, I question how John Pritchard himself [bishop of Oxford] can expect to enjoy acceptance and moral legitimacy. What is surely beyond debate is this: an attempt to conclude this episode with some sort of qualified expression of regret ... a formula syntactically based on a protasis like "If I have unwittingly caused offense ..." will not work. Only a one clause apology will merit even being looked at.

Setting aside the Goebels-like smears, can I ask: Is it really "self-indulgence" on the part of us Anglican Catholics to long for Christian Unity? I am reminded of the occasion when a youthful Gregory Dix had waxed eloquent upon Unity; his paper was followed by the words of a disdainful senior bishop who suggested that, having listened to a young man's dreams, the hearers should now get real. Dix interjected that Unity was indeed the dream of a Young Man: a Young Man at Supper with his friends the night before he died.

Is it really "fantasy" to notice that Rome has drawn the concept of the Infallibility of the Church's Ordinary Magisterium over the statement of John Paul II that women cannot validly receive the Sacrament of Order? Is it a "fantasy" that Walter Kasper, a theologian with a long history as a 'liberal' and a proven track record (right up to the conclave) of drawing theological swords with Joseph Ratzinger, came and told the English Anglican bishops that they should decide whether they wished to be a Protestant or a Catholic Church and that, if they proceeded to the ordination of women bishops, the current ecumenical process of working towards visible unity would be over? Was it just a journalists' "fantasy" that his pleas were ignored by a decisive majority? Were the reactions of the Moscow Patriarchate to the vote for women bishops just a nightmare that we shall all wake up from?

May it turn out that Pritchard's dim suffragan is himself the "fantasy". He certainly isn't the pleasurable "self-indulgence".

1 comment:

Ecgbert said...

When I found that offensive entry through another blog I thought 1) at least he takes Anglo-Catholicism seriously enough to hate it and 2) it's better to have that than be patronised (the liberals' 'tolerating' you) though under a condescending régime one has room to operate (teach and practise the Catholic faith in a parish).