24 September 2009

Meddling galore

Since Orders depend upon a valid episcopate, where does all this leave Anglicans? I prefer not to answer this question by drawing out the implications of the last two posts, or to investigate the politicking of Cardinal Vaughan in the last years of the nineteenth century. For more than a century we Anglicans had persecuted the heroic young clergy from the Seminaries and cheerfully connived at the horrors of their execution simply 'for priesthood'. The condemnation of our Orders in the Bull Apostolicae curae is our justly deserved punishment for our collaboration in this evil. The bull settles the juridical question of our Orders - Leo XIII described it as hoc caput disciplinae - and we have to live with that and with its consequences. I am prepared to do so and I consider it both charitable and dignified not to criticise those involved in the events of the 1890s. And I have a rooted disinclination to go around saying that Roman Pontiffs have 'got it wrong'.

But one can contextualise it. There has been a recurrent tendency throughout history for bad feeling between Christian groups or individuals to lead to hard words about the orders of other people, rather as when Pope Stephen VII 'annulled' the ordinations of his predecessor (and had his corpse exhumed and tried!). And an episode in Bede gives, in my view, a bit of a hint as to how we Anglicans might conduct ourselves. S Theodore, Archbishop of Canterbury, told S Chad that he was non rite consecratus; Chad had been consecrated by "Celtic" bishops according to "Celtic" rites. We do not know the rites used by "British" and "Irish" bishops when conveying orders or what S Theodore disliked about them; but Bede does not regard their orders as invalid and there has not been much of a tendency since then to consider that their orders were invalid. Current Roman praxis in Calendar and Martyrology certainly treats the "Celtic" episcopal Saints as truly bishops. But S Chad conducted himself with great humility; S Theodore then ordinationem eius denuo catholica ratione consummavit.

I think most Anglican Catholic priests will be more than happy, when received into Full Communion, to have their orders catholica ratione consummari, and their bishops to offer to recede from episcopal ministry. The Chad Solution!


Anonymous said...

I have often thought of dear Saint Chad who resolutely dangled himself before the controlling juggernaut - the powers that be (were) - and covered a multitude of sins. (Though I think it highly probable he hoped to have been sent back to the monastery for some ascetical R&R!) His is the only road forward if there is to be peace in the Church of God. Sacrifice pride. No surprise, sexual sin, which is born out of pride, is the captivating sin of the modern Church. The Church has become very "Lutheran" in this respect.

Too often we insist that everyone else to be *just right,* else we refuse to take the forward step. The time for this sloth of disobedience is past. The battle line between God's Church and Satan's kingdom must be remade by a unified, militant Body - it has too long been neglected. There is no time to rub each others face in it and squabble over 100-500+ year old dung. The Pope must rise to the occasion and make his move soon or all will be lost. A replacement generation does not exist. Christianity is contracting at a breathtaking rate.

Joshua said...

A very worthy post, if I may say so - admirable in its humility.

As a mere layman, friendly to Anglicans, but who has been rather outspoken in making some comments recently, I say bravo: thou art a better man than I.

Independent said...

Did not the "Appeal to all Christian People" of the Lambeth Conference after WWI say that Anglicans were willing to be reordained to further Christian unity?