3 January 2010

Ecumenism and the Catechism of the Catholic Church

Fr Aidan Nichols, in an address to Forward in Faith in 2002, spoke of the Anglican Establishment ("The ecumenical conversations between this Anglicanism and the Catholic Church will inevitably be long and arduous") and added:
" There is another Anglicanism, more restricted in size but at the same time more compact and coherent in doctrinal outlook and sacramental practice. ... This is an Anglicanism which looks to pre-Reformation Christendom, to the apostolic See of the West and, further afield, to those of the East. It is an Anglicanism that has already received much from the Latin Catholic inheritance, liturgically and otherwise. It is an Anglicanism too that has often nurtured the hope of restoring union with the patriarchal church of the West from which it was sundered.

"This, I might add, should be on the understanding that the church of Peter and Paul does not wish the West to breathe without the East, without that 'other lung' in the metaphor of the Dominican ecclesiologist Yves Congar. 'The other lung' is a phrase which [Pope John Paul II] often repeated, and indeed turned into action, not least in the promulgation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, much of which, as has been said, reads as if written in Constantinople. With this other Anglicanism the ecumenical journey is, by any reasonable assessment, shorter and more secure".

Perhaps the idea of the CCC as the doctrinal standards of the Ordinariates arose from a desire to pay tribute to the affection Anglican Catholics have always had for the East. That strictly papalist figure Fr Fynes Clinton loved hobnobbing with Orientals. And do you remember all those 1930s photographs of that equally hard-line papalist, Fr Hope Patten, leading Russian hierarchs into the Shrine of our Lady of Walsingham to celebrate an Akathist before the (Russian copy of the) Ikon of our Lady Portaitissa ton Iberon?

Affection for, and a passion to learn from, Byzantine and other Eastern forms of the One Great Tradition, is not something which is extrinsic to our identity. Originally, it came from a slightly questionable motive: a polemical desire to use Orthodoxy as a stick to beat Rome (and there are still one or two endearing old dinosaurs around who live in that time-warp). But it has long since bedded down as a wholesome and most fertile part of our Patrimony. One of my first visits when I go to Walsingham is up the stairs on the right to the parekklesia of our Lady Zoodochos Pege. And I have more homiliae photocopied from the S Gregory Palamas volume of PG than from any other.


  1. While this is off-topic, may I thank you, Fr H., for so kindly taking my friend and I for a tour of your church this morning.

  2. Welcome! It is always fun to meet readers .. and especially those who have made so many and such valuable comtributions to my blog. I'm sorry I could not be free for longer.

  3. Joshua, Fr J H, this makes me wish I'd been there this morning!

  4. The real story about why the TAC bishops chose the CCC as the standard of Faith to which they have subscribed will soon be revealed in a new book to be published in either February or March this year. Then, all will be revealed ....

  5. When I'm next in Oxford, Fr H., perhaps all matters will have been so composed that I will do more than visit your church out of the hours of divine service.

    Many thanks again; ut unum sint.