14 December 2017

The Anglicans are dumping the Common Ground: Welby on Abortion

When formal ecumenical dialogue between Catholics and Anglicans began in earnest in the 1960s, there was a strong ground assumption. It was this. We were glad that we had so much in common. We recognised that there were things upon which we differed. So dialogue would serve to remove the differences; meanwhile, what we had in common would stay safe. The Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury had agreed upon a formula which made much of "the Common Ancient Traditions". Neither side would introduce new differences.

(We Anglo-papalists, of course, already agreed with the Magisterium of the Catholic Church on everything. I'm talking about the general assumption among non-papalist Anglicans and Catholics.)

Recently, there have been reports about Justin Welby. He is said to have declared that the (admirably clear) views on abortion held by a Catholic MP called Rees-Mogg are not held in the Church of England.

He could have said that these views on abortion were not universally held in the Church of England. That would have been a (depressing) statement of fact. But his actual words, reportedly, were that such views are "certainly not held within the Church of England".

That is a plain untruth. His predecessor as Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, held very clear views on abortion. You could find them by googling 'Rowan Williams abortion'. And Williams, sadly, is still in the Church of England. Ergo ...

The Anglicans appear to have no shame about ditching those things which, a generation ago, they held in common with Catholics. And, as far as I know, Catholic spokesmen, whether in Rome or Westminster or Birmingham, never waggle a finger and say "'ere 'ere 'ere, what's going on? Are we still in dialogue or are we not?"

The ARCIC methodology would be best served if both sides were required to give, say, ten years' notice of the next load of innovatory departures from the Common Ancient Traditions which they intended to introduce.


Highland Cathedral said...

How much common ground was there in the 1960s, or at any time, between Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics or any other non-Evangelicals in the Church of England? How much dialogue has there been between these different groups within the Church of England? And how do you dialogue with an organisation that contains such a wide variety of views on theological topics? I would suggest that dialogue between Catholics an Evangelicals could be meaningful and fruitful but that dialogue with much of what there is in the Church of England these days would be utterly frustrating. You can see the same disparity in the Church of Scotland. The minister of the church nearest to where I live believes that Christianity is no more ‘correct’ than any other religion. He had a series of Church of Scotland ministers come to preach at his church about different parts of the Creed. All they did (transcripts available on the internet) was to knock the traditional understanding of the words of the Creed and invent their own.

DMG said...

Reuters on Williams: "The archbishop said that when the Abortion Act was passed in 1967, it was never meant to usher in a period of “easy abortion”, but to provide an option for women in extreme cases." Q.E.I?

Nicolas Bellord said...

And Welby cannot make up his mind about sodomy.

I suspect ARCIC will continue as it provides trips abroad and free lunches for those involved. Perhaps keeps them out of mischief?

Nicolas Bellord said...

And Welby cannot make up his mind about sodomy.

I suspect ARCIC will continue as it provides trips abroad and free lunches for those involved. Perhaps keeps them out of mischief?

Deacon Augustine said...

Any "common ground" on issues of morality began whittling away at the 1930 Lambeth Conference, if not before and has been ever since. There is no "common ground" between the different factions within Anglicanism and they keep moving further and further apart.

The only reason Paul VI could speak of any "common ground" was due to his total ignorance of what Anglicanism was and is - an ignorance still reflected in today's Anglican-wannabe Catholic bishops. This is why ecumenism will always be a dead end.

Christ told us to go out and teach - He never said anything about dialogue with heretics.

Richard said...

'Ecumenism' has been about as effective in restoring unity between the denominations, as modernised liturgy in building up the faith of the people. But who will admit it?

Grant Milburn said...

As CS Lewis admitted, it's like asking a man to agree with a debating society.

William said...

In fairness, you really ought to quote Welby's words in full, so that one can see exactly what views he is talking about. He actually said that it was “certainly not held within the Anglican Communion, that there are no circumstances in which abortion is right at all, under any circumstances whatsoever …". As far as I recall, that question was not asked of Jacob Rees-Mogg: he was asked in general terms about abortion, and then specifically about the case of pregnancy caused by rape; he was not asked about "any circumstances whatsoever", nor specifically about indirect abortion where the direct aim is not to kill the embryo but to save the mother's life.

Welby went on to say: “The circumstances in which the taking of any human life is permissible are invariably terrible, whether it’s in war, with abortion, or any other circumstances … They are always nightmare circumstances." Likewise, in a joint service with PF a year ago, Welby gave a homily pointing to shared concerns on issues such as abortion and euthanasia, speaking of a world where “the weak, the unborn, the trafficked, the dying, those with disabilities are treated not as humans but as inconveniences”. While one might wish for greater clarity as to what he means by "any circumstances whatsoever", his public utterances, as far as they go, seem quite compatible with the opinions both of Rowan Williams and of most Catholic moralists.

KaeseEs said...

Like two cruisers engaged in battle, both sides in ARCIC must have struggled mightily to hit moving and maneuvering targets through heavy fog and smoke. Did anybody actually think it would lead to corporate re-union? Did both sides even want that?

William Tighe said...

Nicholas Bellord wrote:

"I suspect ARCIC will continue as it provides trips abroad and free lunches for those involved. Perhaps keeps them out of mischief?"

Fr. Ian Kerr (the biographer of Cardinal Newman) wrote an archly sarcastic article to that effect, published in The Catholic Herald in 1999, just after the production of the ARCIC agreed statement "The Gift of Authority" in that year, and in response to it. I have been unable to find it online (although I had done so in the past), but it worth searching it out.

Grant Milburn said...

One day in 1960:

Catholic: Yeah, there's heaps we agree on, like, err, no woman priests - or bishops.

Anglican: Well of course we agree on that. It's not like you're the Unam Sanctam, and we're some benighted sect, making it up as we go along. The Church of England and the Church of Rome are two branches of the Universal Catholic Church. We both take as our guide what's been believed always everywhere and by everyone.

Catholic: But I was talking to a devout Anglican yesterday who was adamant that the Anglican Church is definitely a Reformed Luthero-Calvanist body.

Anglican: No TRUE Anglican thinks like that. The AUTHENTIC view of the C of E is as I just mentioned.

Catholic: Well, that's encouraging. I guess we have a secure foundation here, from which we can move forward together. So no Women Bishops eh?

Anglican: If the Greeks, the Russians, and the Romans don't have them, then the English don't have them either. It's as simple as that! Case closed! Not because Roma locuta, causa finita est, but because securus judicat orbis terrarum.

Catholic: And no homosexual marriage?

Anglican: Ha, ha ,ha. You crack me up. Like that's ever gonna happen. No, and no elephants as archbishops either.

(Both laugh)

pueblosw@gmail.com said...

The amazing thing to me is that the Anglican church, Catholic non-papal, protestant, other, managed to hold together a reasonably common body of theology and moral teaching for almost four centuries before stating to fall apart in the 1930s. True, there were attempts, Bl. Newman comes to mind, to regularize and build on it but unfortunately too late. By now, one would think that serious Anglicans of all stripes might give consideration as to whether they might be missing a message from a Higher Authority that four centuries of wandering and searching without success might indicate that they were in the correct location to begin with.