You can't expect the journalists to do better than an oversimplification of Archbishop Rowan's lecture in Rome. Some of them, inevitably, fell short even of that. But intelligent people, in an internet age, should read a text before they pontificate. Sadly, among those who disappointed me is the great Fr Zed, whose blog gave only the text of the Grauniad* report with Father's rubricated comments. Needless to say, Rowan's lecture was very careful and nuanced.
Nor do I enjoy the glee with which some quarters report that the 'audience' was only twenty minutes long, and I dislike the disdainful politics of the caption Fr Zed put beneath the picture. Perhaps this is a good moment to be clear about how I see the future. I very much hope that the Holy Father's initiative is a rip-roaring success. But I also hope that the Anglican Entity will be a bridge with an exciting ecumenical function, not a sad, hostile and snide ghetto. We will have large amounts in common with those from whom we have separated, and we should cherish both the shared Patrimony and the personal relationships involved, for the good of all both now and in God's unknown future. I do not see a passion for rubbishing Rowan as part of this agenda. And when I see cheap jibes against him it makes me feel kinda (Americanism? Yeah?) protective of a fellow Anglican. Anglicani contra mundum.
But, you say, what about your own sharp comments on some Anglican prelates? Fair enough. I have been quite frank about some of these gentry. But I have done so when they have conducted or expressed themselves offensively towards my friends or those, like the Holy Father, whom I admire. And they find it quite easy to do this. Nor do I declare any moratorium in my comments on such people. Here's another such grumble. On November 16, I emailed the lady who chairs the diocesan ecumenical committee, expressing a hope that they would put in place policies to ensure the closest possible continuing relationships between those who part. She replied with a brush-off: "I don't think we need any extra policies on this matter".
Ecumenism apparently means being nice to 'vanilla' RCs, Methodists, Quakers ... you name it; nice in fact to pretty well everybody you can think of except Catholic Anglicans ... and, of course (remember the disgraceful behaviour of the Bishop of Manchester?) the SSPX.
I suppose, in a way, it's quite fun to be so far beyond the Pale (after all, my beloved Co Kerry is well beyond the Pale). It's the hang-ups of the malevolent that intrigue me.
NOTE FOR READERS ULTRA MARE
The Manchester Guardian, Britain's Liberal broadsheet newspaper, now sometimes just called the Guardian, has a long history of hilarious misprints. It was, I believe, the satirical Magazine Private Eye which coined the dyslexis "Grauniad" to refer to it.
24 November 2009
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I believe that much of this snide behaviour towards Catholic Anglicans often comes from long exiled Irish Roman Catholics in the USA and England.
With your knowledge of the Kingdom of Kerry and other parts of our sainted Isle you will I imagine have experienced kindness, encouragement, delight and, from the more traditional, empathy for our tradition.
True they are frequently bewildered and they are certainly critical of our separation but there s little or nothing of the sometimes visceral loathing which too often greets us in the Queen's realm and the Americas
Well, perhaps you have cause to be annoyed at me, too, and my friend Tom Abell -- but in my defense let me say that I have never, ever shared the fondness for the current AbC that you and many other English Catholic Anglicans seem to have. "Corruptio optimi pessima" has always been my watchword in that regard. Doc Carey, for all the harm he did, I thought merely a silly buffoon -- but his successor I regard (on the evidence of his speech in Rome, as well as on his whole career since he turned his coats around 1977 on WO, and not least his role in the founding and continuing inspiration of the Aff Cats) as a plausible deceiver, and that whether or not he is himself one of those whom he has deceived.
Nor am I inclined to think that those "little froggies" who seem willing to expire comfortably in the Church of England so long as they are allowed a kind of fig-leaf prophylactic to allow them to cherish the delusion that the institution that is euthanatizing them really has a genuine "concern" for them and their views should be encouraged in this flight from reality by those who know better. But then, I agree with "Invicta Veritas" over at Barchester that those who are able to discern the signs of the times should hope (if the revision committee insists on providing no more than a transparent fig leaf) for the success of a single-clause measure for "women bishops" in order to rend this veil of illusion.
Why invite (not to say facilitate) the General Synod imitating its Swedish "brethren" in their hypocritical ways?
Fr Hunwicke - thank you for an excellent post.
I think it's all the hair.
++Rowan looks like someone you might see in Wal-Mart thumbing through magazines or grabbing a broasted chicken. It's hard to take him completely seriously. I know it’s not fair to stereotype because of his burr head but here in Amerika we've been deeply programmed to suspect malfeasance from white guys with a 'fro. It's a '70s thing. I always think of Cheech and Chong when I see a picture of him.
Now, this is not to say that he's a bad fellow, not in the least. I do suspect that he has a deep desire to do what is right and I half expect him to jump on board the Constitution train at the 11th hour. I also suspect he’s been puppeteered a bit by Wally Cardinal Kasper.
I suspect that one of the big problems with +Rowan is that he's essentially an academic who is not entirely comfortable talking to ordinary people in language they can readily understand. Even academically minded theologians have been known to find him somewhat obscure at times.
His other problem is a desire to please and be nice to everyone and by adopting that approach you can end up pleasing nobody.
That said, he's in a situation where whatever he says or does will be wrong. He can't win.
Fair enough, and thank you for a very proper rebuke. Chesterton once commented that there comes a time when nothing anyone else could say can disuade the person seeking full communion with the Catholic Church, but one word from a Catholic can ruin all. It is a useful practice to go back every now and then and reread the various documents of Vatican II (though I confess I find Gaudium et Spes to be so very dated). Looking especially at Unitatis Redintegratio 4, we find a three-step process described as true ecumenism: 1) avoid harsh words and misrepresentation of our separated brethren; 2) respectful dialogue between competent scholars with a view toward better understanding of what we believe in common and where our real differences lie; and 3) “when the obstacles to perfect ecclesiastical communion have been gradually overcome, all Christians will at last, in a common celebration of the Eucharist, be gathered into the one and only Church in that unity which Christ bestowed on His Church from the beginning.” Too many professional ecumenists are stuck at step 2. A good many of us as stuck at step 1.
Well Father, I did slog through the written account of the Archbishop’s address and typical of +Rowan it was not all as clear as mud. But then I have also slogged through St. Thomas’ Summa and thrown my hands up more than once. So I concentrated on the final double-question Rowan posed at the end of his address and, taking a page out of the Angelic Doctor’s book, prefaced both with “Utrum…?”
The first asked whether this “unfinished business (Ecumenical dialogue) is as fundamentally church-dividing as our Roman Catholic friends generally assume and maintain”. To which I answer: yes.
Events of recent years in the Anglican Communion have pushed us farther apart. There can be no reconciliation of Anglican/Episcopalian attitudes regarding women clergy, homosexual ‘marriage’, etc. with Catholic teaching. There is no via media here. No compromise is possible. It is a stumbling block as Cdl. Kasper warned it would be awhile back.
The second question asked whether we can “address the outstanding issues with the same methodological assumptions and the same overall spiritual and sacramental vision that has brought us thus far?” To that I answer: no.
If the ecumenical dialogue of the past 40 years – the “methodological assumptions and…vision” – have resulted in us being further apart now than heretofore, then something has gone wrong with the process. Or to put it in secular terms: “when you find yourself in a hole, stop digging!”
My impression of Rowan’s address is one of “Can’t we all just get along?” – despite fundamental differences, which he downplays as “second order”. It is as if he considers these merely matters of discipline or administration – amenable to changing conditions and capable of being dispensed with easily.
But my concern is did he arrive at that conclusion on his own, or based on what he had been hearing from the Catholic representatives in the dialogue? If the latter, then he has been misled - and those doing the misleading have the greater fault.
Truth be told, Fr. H, I found Archbishop Williams's address so difficult to follow that I'm not sure what to think about it, other than it is extremely abstract prose. His signposts are various "agreed" statements made over the years, which I have neither read nor personally agreed. Unlike GOR, I found it much more difficult to grasp than almost anything Aquinas put in writing; nevertheless, I agree with GOR's conclusions.
The problem seems to be this. As a RC, I hold the doctrine epressed in the CCC -- articles of the Creed, Sacraments, Moral Law, and Prayer -- to be axiomatic, data. They all involve specifics, and even particulars.
Archbishop William's piece starts out speaking about "post Vatican II" ecumenism as a "new style of ecclesiology". I thought ecclesiology was a [sacred] science, not an endeavor, much less one led by Cardinal Willebrands. The normative leadership of ecumenism, I thought, was that of the Holy Spirit. And that is the only "spirit" Christ has left us, and that Spirit insists on my obedientia fidei as the norm.
Since what is axiomatic about the Faith can never go missing, however developed it may become, to have the "ecumenical movement" debouche in "bracketing" its very starting points ("second order"), is clear evidence that something went wrong along the way. Simply put, no bridge has been built. Perhaps that is because by nuancing (and thus obscuring?) the specifics and particulars at the outset, one has begun a conversation that cannot arrive at mutually agreed and true conclusions about them.
Anyway, if "ecumenism" is dead, requiescat in pace; if not, let it renew contact with the Holy Spirit, and draw new impetus therefrom. That's my view from the provinces.
Have you seen this risibly foolish response from the Anglican Archbishop of Brazil:
whose "church" is merely a colonial offshoot and "running dog" (in that lovely Maoist phrase) of TE"C" here in the States?
Nebuly ~ this is a myth about the Irish. Most of the hostility within Roman circles emanates from the Portsmouth-Liverpool axis.
Yes I agree, and I am Irish, and have never encountered it At Home
However OUTSIDE Ireland those of Irish extraction seem to me to react very differently
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