15 July 2010

The pope of Christian Unity

Have you seen that elaborately careful piece on the Vatican News Service about the consecration of a new Chinese bishop, in communion with the Holy See and approved by the Chinese government, performed by prelates in communion with the Holy See and approved by the Chinese government; which neatly avoids saying who has appointed him?

Does this mean that the Holy See has come to an agreement with the Chinese government about the appointment of new bishops?

There have been three main groups of Latin Christians in imperfect communion with the Holy See: SSPX; Anglican Catholics; and the Chinese churches sponsored by state authorities in defiance of the Holy See. Cautiously, one wonders whether there is real movement in the case of the last two. With regard to SSPX, recent words by Bishop Galaretta make me wonder about the good faith of some concerned in the process of dialogue. Of course, one appreciates that the leadership of SSPX has to keep its whole constituency on board, rather as Sinn Fein had to in Northern Ireland during the peace process. And I have myself expressed the hope that the dialogue going on between SSPX and the Holy See will result in a real contribution to the difficult questions about relating some elements in the conciliar documents to the Magisterium of the ages. This would be for the benefit of us all and a ktema es aei.

But if there isn't a real longing for reconciliation ... well, reconciliation is unlikely to happen.


Patricius said...

The SSPX aren't interested in communion with Rome, and neither am I (as a Catholic in communion with Rome) interested in communion with the SSPX. They can offer nothing to the Church except a poisonous view of Ecumenism and Religious Liberty, and liturgically they are vastly inept.

Anglo-Catholics on the other hand...

Ignatius said...

Both the SSPX and the Patriotic churches are in an imperfect communion with Rome. Anglican Catholics, on the hand, are not in communion with Rome at all. Those who attend SSPX Masses may still receive communion in any other Catholic. Anglo-catholics on the other hand cannot.

I find your blog interesting and intelligent, Father, but I really must voice my concern about what I see to be a misleading statement.

Sui Juris said...

I think Ignatius' criticism is right (and I speak as an Anglican). Clearly Anglicans are not in fact in communion with Rome.

But if I may midrash on Fr H's statement a little, I would say that what the three groups have in common is that what has kept us apart from Rome is historically contingent (personalities, events, divided loyalties and friendhips), not the logic of faith and order that we share with the Holy Father.

If or when (I honestly don't know) I am able to become in communion with him it will not change my understanding of the faith or the church; that distinguishes me from many of my fellow-Anglicans for whom re-communion with Rome would be a wholesale change in their understanding.

I suspect that is why Fr H. draws the parallel between these three groups. And indeed the distinctions between groups are, I suspect, also historically contigent. Chinese Catholics are in the same boat as English Catholics of the sixteenth century; we Anglicans are just several centuries down the line, with all that has come between.

God bless the one who is removing these contingencies. Like the Master, he restores those who have been long-separated as well as those who have been seperated only a little while.

Ignatius said...

Yes I think that is a fair point to make, Sui Juris. I've done a fuller post on my own blog (the link of which can be seen through my profile since I don't want to post advertising on Father's blog) if you're interested.

Peregrinus said...

I think Fr. H is right in stating that Anglo-Catholics are in imperfect communion with Rome. According to Council documents and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, proper Baptism establishes us in communion with all Catholic Christians by the grace of God. Surely being baptized and holding the Catholic faith, even though in exile, puts Anglo-Papists like Fr. H, myself and others at least in imperfect communion.

On the continent in locations where there is no access to an Anglican Mass we are welcome to receive the Sacrament in RC churches so long as we affirm the doctrine of the Real Presence as defined by Rome (Catechism), which we do. If that isn't some form of communion, I wonder what is.