25 January 2023

Fr Aidan Nichols, and the Ecumenical Future

 Fr Aidan Nichols, is without doubt the most considerable living theologian of the English-speaking Catholic World. For members of the Ordinariate, he is the great friend who, when we were still Anglicans and he was still a Dominican, helped and guided us during the years when we were planning, and then setting up, the Ordinariates. And he is as prolific a theological writer as Joseph Ratzinger (on whose theology he wrote a still normative guide, long before the election of Benedict XVI).

Fr Aidan once delivered a characteristic lecture on the crisis which had been precipitated by Amoris laetitia. The Catholic Herald gave a report on 18 August 2017, which is still there, only a google away.  I urge everybody to read it; and to take it very seriously.

I would like to make two comment on my own behalf.

(1) Fr Aidan delivered his lecture at a meeting of the English Fellowship of Ss Alban and Sergius - largely an Anglican/Orthodox Society. Was this a good idea? Washing our dirty Catholic laundry in front of non-Catholics??  

Detur Responsum.

It was a thoroughly brilliant idea. You see, there are people who think that Pope Bergoglio's style of papacy may be somehow more "ecumenical" than that of some other popes. Bergoglio goes around kissing Patriarchs and begging their blessings; he insults his fellow-Catholics with such easy and iterated fluency yet can speak only well of non-Catholics. He is reported to have reopened the "Question of Anglican Orders"; he spoke ambiguously about "intercommunion" with Lutherans; made a fool of himself at Lund.

But as we conclude this 2023 Octave of Prayer for the Unity of Christians, you will forgive me for reminding you that thoughtful Orthodox and Anglicans will not be attracted by a model of Papacy which can make any Roman bishop a self-obsessed tyrant propped up by an unhealthy personality cult; somebody whose least word or whimsy has to be accepted; who can, at will, change doctrine, morality, liturgy, and law. 

Such a papacy is not a papacy which the more open-minded Anglicans and Orthodox have ever been prepared to receive from earlier popes. There is no reason to think that they will be any more prepared to accept it when it comes with an Argentine accent and emphasis. 

BUT the best reason whey should not accept it, is because it is not what the Catholic Church teaches.

Fr Aidan reminded his hearers that Vatican I in fact limited the papacy; and surmised "it may be that the present crisis of the Roman magisterium is providentially intended to call attention to the limits of the papacy [in regard to teaching]"

(2) Very naturally, there have been people, during this Pontificate, who have kept their heads below parapets; who have been cowed into acquiescence by fear of the bully-boys, delatores, and sycophants who surround the current Roman bishop. 

The courage, and unambiguous words, of Fr Aidan Nichols might inspire them to demonstrate that parrhesia for which ... at an earlier stage in his pontificate ... pope Francis himself so often loudly called.



Expeditus said...

'was still a Dominican'. Is he no longer, and, if not, what is he?

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Oncet, ecumenism was comcerned with ending the divisions within the Christian Churches, Confessions and Communities but now it has become a syncretist stew that the Chief Chef searches all over Hell and Half of Georgia to find any ingredient that can be said to have sometthing in common with the One True Church and to toss that into the indifferentist pot so as to secure peace in the world.

Let's try and apply this ideological ecumenism to another area of life and see just how worthwhile are the results:

Did you know that the lungs of a man are comprised of about 83% of water while pears are comprised of about 84% of water and when you consider that a man has a pair of lungs, that really makes you stop and think just how it is that man is essentially no different than some fruit in God's creation.

Now, imagine that you are a man suffering from cancer and require a lung transplant and your Doctor comes to visit you in your hospital room;

I have great news for you dying man. I have discovered that your lungs and pears are comprised of roughly the same amount of water and so I will operate on you and replace your pair of lungs with a pair of pears

NURSE, make Dr Francis leave my room and get me a real Doctor....

frjustin said...

In the online edition of the Catholic World Report for January 18, 2023, there is a splendid interview with Fr Nichols about his new book, "The Singing-Masters: Church Fathers From Greek East and Latin West". The front cover of the book is shown with the author identified as Aidan Nichols, O.P.


The book was published on January 11, 2023, and may be ordered from Ignatius Press:


Ben Whitworth said...

Expeditus, I understand that Fr Aidan has applied to join the Norbertine order. (I know this only because his intention to do so has previously been mentioned in a comment on this blog.)

Prayerful said...

When our dear Holy Father Pope Francis says something concerning (this time homosexuality is a sin but not a crime, which in context of the Grassi case onwards, the naked Judas Iscariot with our Lord picture reportedly in his office, his tenderness to Fr James Martin SJ and other homosexualists, are dubious words coming from PF), Fr Aidan Nichols OP (unless something generally unreported has happened, Fr Aidan remains under his local OP Province living in Cambridge Blackfriars) and many other eloquent priests (including our host) are full of eloquent and worthy words. There are also many excellent young Dominican priests. Honestly, even where nothing obviously scandalous to the ears of the faithful is issued by Francis or his press office, the texts (on vatican.va) are almost very unsatisfactory. That said, a good many of his cardinals, bishops and priests could beat the Pope in winning the Golden Sulphur.

PM said...

I was interested in the report that Fr Aidan has applied to transfer to a Norbertine community in the United States. Here he is (in Jamaica) delivering an excellent homily (a model of plain-English Thomism) that is very Dominican and very English: