5 November 2019

Dom Gregory Dix and the Papacy

Anglicans have commonly complained about the definition of Papal jurisdiction in Vatican I as an Ordinary, Episcopal, and Immediate jurisdiction over every Christian. It apparently subverts a doctrine of Episcopacy (sometimes called 'Cyprianic') which has often attracted Anglicans. "It makes the Pope a parallel and superior diocesan bishop in every diocese of Christendom", is the criticism.

Dom Gregory Dix dealt with this by referring to an incident in Anglican history in which, a diocesan having refused to institute a parish priest, the institution was therefore performed, after the legal processes ended with the diocesan losing the case, by or by commission from the Archbishop of Canterbury as Primate. As Dix pointed out, this is Ordinary (in accordance with norms of canon law) Episcopal (conferring the Cura animarum) and Immediate. If Anglicans can accept this, they need have no problems with Pastor Aeternus.

I assumed that this referred to the Gorham judgement of the 1840s, when a High Church bishop, Philpott of Exeter, refused to institute an Evangelical incumbent who denied Baptismal Regeneration. But Fr Alan Cooke of S Mark's Chadderton wrote to me in 2009: " In the early days of Archbishop Lang's primacy, as related on page 379 of Lockhart's biography, Bishop Barnes [the ultra-Modernist bishop] of Birmingham refused to institute a priest of whose views he disapproved. After proceedings in the High Court of Chancery, the Bishop remained intransigent, and the priest was instituted by the Archbishop. I wonder if it might be this incident that was in Dix's mind. He would certainly have had more sympathy with the view of that priest in Birmingham (the Revd Doyle Simmonds) than with those of Mr Gorham."

This may very well be right. But - if I may play Devil's Advocate:
(1) the Gorham case was much more high-profile; and contributed to Archdeacon Manning's departure from the C of E; and
(2) if Dix had 'Gorham' in mind, he really is taking the war into the enemies' territory by arguing that even the most anti-papal factions within Anglicanism are delighted to have a Pio Nono on tap when it suits them and their proddy cause. This is the sort of cheeky ad hominem argument that Dix, like Newman, loved to employ.

I use ad hominem in the Lockean sense of pressing a man with the implications of his own assertions.


Stephen said...

I would submit, and ask for your thoughts regarding, that the core issue regarding papal claims is less what non-Catholics say about it, and much more about what Roman Catholics have to say. For example, I would guess that roughly 90-95% of what I must believe to receive communion in the Orthodox church can be readily and easily discerned in liturgy, in the public prayer life of the Church; whereas some percentage less than that could be said for Roman Catholics, as papal claims and adherence thereto are among these extra-liturgical belief requirements, as far as I can tell. As such, it takes an extra level of effort, of discernment, of discussion to nail down what these extra-liturgical belief requirements mean; and I do not read or hear of great consistency among Roman Catholics about their meaning.

Strangely enough, leaving aside that just about any traditionalist minded Christian would prefer the Rite of Pius V to that of Paul VI, the case could be made that there is nothing said at Mass in your average Roman Catholic parish any given Sunday that would be rejected outright by Orthodox (other than the filioque of course), and vice versa, ie. nothing said at Divine Liturgy in your average Orthodox parish any given Sunday that would be rejected by Roman Catholics (other than the lack of the filioque, I suppose, but there's more wiggle room here). The filioque aside, then, the only matters of faith not accepted by both communions are these extra-liturgical belief requirements, which include papal claims.

So then the question is,should extra-liturgical belief requirements be weighted equal or higher to those so readily and easily discernible within common prayer? I would say no, and that the onus to prove otherwise rests with those who would say yes.

Do correct me if you find my assumptions and conclusions faulty.

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Dear Stephen. ABS noticed you left a lot of crucial evidence out of your claims.

ABS has a friend ( a fellow Floridian) who was kind enough to assemble these quotes abut the Papacy by well known Saints/Experts of your communion.

Ignoring the past is not the way to advance into the future..These truths must be addressed honestly and reconciled.


Stephen said...

I actually was hoping you might have said, "Here in fact is where and when we Catholics pray together our beliefs regarding the Papacy." This would have laid my conjecture to rest.
Let me ask another way. We all talk about "lex orandi, lex credendi". The rule of prayer is the rule of faith. As we pray, so we believe. To know what we believe, know what we pray. So, if Catholics don't pray publicly together about their beliefs regarding the Papacy, why should non-Catholics presume anything about what Catholics think about it? How would anyone know?

That no such communal, public prayer exists could lead a non-Catholic to reasonably think that it is not a fully baked belief among Catholics. "But wait", you may say."It's in our catechism, or in these proclamations, or wherever."

Ok. So that means a non-Catholic, or even a Catholic, would not know about that if all he did was attend Catholic public prayer events. Because it is an "extra-liturgical belief requirement", an ELBR. So, as a non-Catholic, my question is, how is it that ELBRs rank the same, or maybe even higher, than ILBRs? (intra-liturgical belief requirements).

Don Camillo SSC said...

In qualifying the Popes jurisdiction as Ordinary AND EPISCOPAL, surely it follows that although the Pope can, when appropriate, do anywhere anything that the local Bishop can do, he cannot do any more than the local bishop can do. It is not an absolute and unlimited power. He is not a "super-bishop". He cannot lawfully require obedience to any and every command, if the local bishop could not lawfully do so. For instance, neither the local bishop nor the Pope could command a member of the faithful to vote for a particular candidate in an election, or to marry a particular person. Boniface VIII was fond of excommunicating those who did not support his political aims - did such an act really cut off someone from divine grace? Benedict XVI was clear that there are limits to Papal power. Perhaps we could have some discussion of what these limits might be, and what happens if a Pope exceeds them.

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Dear Stephen.

Nicene Creed

Te igitur

Feast of Chair of St Peter at Rome

Deus qui beato Petro

Deus qui multitudinem

Tract...Tu es Petrus

Alleulia alléluia...Tu es Petrus, et super Hand petram aedificabo Ecclesiam meam. Alleluia

Gospel of Matthew 16;13-19

Communion...Tu es Petrus...

Stephen. ABS was hoping you'd address the content of what was linked to but it is understandable why you chose to ignore it and not respond.

Stephen said...


Of course, Matthew 16: 13-19 and Tu es Petrus are part of the deposit of faith. I can easily hear about the Orthodox understanding of St. Peter, among other places during the great and holy feastday we celebrate of Saints Peter and Paulin our prayers below said during the festive Liturgy (which is made all the more joyful as the preceding Apostles' fast is broken!)

Troparion — Tone 4

First-enthroned of the apostles, / teachers of the universe: / Entreat the Master of all / to grant peace to the world, / and to our souls great mercy!

Kontakion — Tone 2

O Lord, You have taken up to eternal rest / and to the enjoyment of Your blessings / the two divinely-inspired preachers, the leaders of the Apostles, / for You have accepted their labors and deaths as a sweet-smelling sacrifice, / for You alone know what lies in the hearts of men.

Kontakion — Tone 2

Today Christ the Rock glorifies with highest honor / The rock of Faith and leader of the Apostles, / Together with Paul and the company of the twelve, / Whose memory we celebrate with eagerness of faith, / Giving glory to the one who gave glory to them!

My question remains: Can you please direct me to an example of Roman Catholic common, public prayer that speaks to Roman Catholics' belief about the Papacy?

Marko Ivančičević said...

@Don Camillo
While you're correct that the pope cannot do what he cannot do, he still can do whatever the local bishop can. This power is absolute in the sense that it can effectively potentially replace every single hierarch on the planet. It seems that the bishops are there for convenience sake since it would be too hard on one man to rule over almost 2 billion people.

Stephen said...

COLLECT for Mass for the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter
Praesta, quaesumus, omnipotens Deus, ut nullis nos permittas perturbationibus concuti, quos in apostolicae confessionis petra solidasti.
Grant, we pray, almighty God,
that no tempests may disturb us,
for you have set us fast
on the rock of the Apostle Peter's confession of faith.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
I am indebted to you. Thank you for informing me about the Feast of the Chair of St Peter, of which I was only vaguely aware. I looked up the Collect here http://www.liturgies.net/saints/peter/chairofpeter/mass.htm. It is wonderful in its clarity and conciseness - and affirms an understanding of The Papacy that any Orthodox would welcome. It remains a pity that Roman Catholic extra-litugical belief requirements do not conform to what is prayed in this Collect, and as such have contributed sadly to the loss of the great western liturgical patrimony.