Friday, November 27, 2009

The Roman Church as seen by the Anglican Church

By Archbishop Methodios Fouyas, 1972.

Much of the Anglican writing concerning the Roman Church can be found in the works of the seventeenth-century Anglican divines. John Cosin (1594-1672), speaking of the agreements and disagreements between Anglicans and Romans, says that the Bishop of Rome could be acknowledged to be the Patriarch of the West, but not by divine right.1

William Laud (1573-1645), says: 'The Roman patriarch, by ecclesiastical constitutions, might perhaps have a primacy of order'; but he is equal to the other patriarchs.2 Isaac Barrow (1630-1677), on the other hand, says that there is not one Canon of the Catholic Church directly declaring the authority of the Pope; nor any mention made of him, except thrice [twice] accidentally; once upon occasion of declaring the authority of the Alexandrine Bishop, the other upon occasion of assigning to the Bishop of Constantinople the second place of honour, and equal privileges with him.'3 Elsewhere Barrow says that the order fixed among the great Sees of the Christian Church followed the greatness, splendour and opulency of the cities. Amongst the other Anglican Divines, John Bramhall (1594-1663), Gilbert Burnet (1643-1715) and George Hickes (1642-1715) plainly deny any universal authority of the Pope.4 James Ussher is reputed to have called the Pope 'Antichrist',6 and, although he denied the authorship of this remark, it remains as an indication of Anglican feelings towards Rome during the seventeenth century. Marco Antonio de Dominis (the former Roman Catholic Archbishop of Spalato who from 1617 to 1622 was in the Church of England) calls the Pope 'Pharaoh' and 'Antichrist'.6

The Roman Church did a great deal towards establishing Christianity firmly in England. It sent St. Augustine, who with his missionaries converted the south-east of England. The Church of England was united with Rome until the Reformation. St. Gregory, Pope of Rome, has always been regarded as the Apostle and founder of the Church of England. The Anglican Church, says Puller,7 recognizes that 'the Local Roman Church, over which St. Gregory presided as being its Bishop, is our Mother Church, for which we should naturally wish to feel a filial reverence and gratitude'. But in later times the Popes became tyrannical, so that this filial feeling has in fact almost disappeared. However, when Anglicans speak about the foundation of their Church they like to acknowledge that the Roman Church in the time of Pope Gregory was a loving Mother.

Amongst the Tractarians the Church of Rome was recognized as a true Church. Some of them were attracted by the great Church of the West, others and especially William Palmer (of Worcester College, Oxford) said that Rome is 'an unsound and corrupt Branch of the Christian Church' or that 'the Church of Rome is a corrupt Church, but still a part of the Church of Christ in spite of its glaring imperfections'.8

In favour of Rome were W. G. Ward,9 Froude,10 Pusey, and Newman. Keble maintained neutrality towards Rome.11 More recently, Archbishop Garbett wrote that the Church of England, in accepting the spiritual supremacy of the Pope, acknowledged advantages in the existence of a higher spiritual power. But since the Reformation, the promulgation of the decree of Papal infallibility has further widened the breach with Rome.12 Like Villain, Garbett 13 thinks that the Church of England is inspired
more often and more directly by Platonic philosophy, and especially the Eastern Fathers of the Church.

The new doctrinal definitions of the Roman Church 14 are thought by Anglicans to be innovations, which are not grounded on Scripture nor on the tradition of the Early Church. On this point E. L. Mascall insists that modern Christianity must go back to its origins. The claim, characteristic of his book,15 is that both Byzantium and Rome, as well as the Reformation, have been unfaithful to the ancient Tradition. The dialogue between the Churches should be based on Patristic thought. On Roman Catholic ecclesiology, Mascall says 'Rome must abandon juridical ecclesiology and make it sacramental'.

It is indisputable, as Anglicans admit, that the Roman Church represents half of Christendom and that for long it was characterized by strong discipline and uniformity. It still has great boldness in proclaiming what it considers to be the Gospel and is unwilling to compromise on what seem to it to be essential truths. The zeal and sacrifice which it consecrates to the service of the one Lord in every corner of the world are well-known. Anglicans believe, however, that they must raise their positive protest against the methods of the Roman Church in interpreting truth.

1 P. E. More-F. L. Cross, Anglicanism (London, 1957), p. 55.
2 op. cit., p. 57.
3 op. cit., pp. 61, cf. p. 65.
4 op. cit., pp. 65-9.
5 op. cit., p. 69.
6 op. cit., p. 74.
7 Puller, op. cit., pp. 3-4, cf. also Cyril Garbett, The Claims of the Church of England, p. 23. A different view has been expressed, however, for example: 'Great Britain owes much more than most are willing to acknowledge to the Eastern Church. Rome may have been the stepmother of the Church of England, but assuredly the Orthodox East was her mother.' A. Lowndes, Vindication of Anglican Orders, Vol. ii, p. 545.
8 Cf. William Palmer, Treatise on the Church of Christ, 3rd. ed., vol. I, Part I, chapter xi; H. P. Liddon, Life of Pusey, ii, 295; see also F. Oakeley, Historical Notes on the Tractarian Movement (1865), p. 36 ff.
9 Wilfrid Ward, W. G. Ward and the Oxford Movement.
10 Froude's Remains, Part I, vol. i (1838), pp. 306-8.
11 John Keble, Letters of Spiritual Counsel, ed. by R. F. Wilson (1870), pp. 78-9.
12 Garbett, op. cit., pp. 18-19. The Tractarians generally rejected the supreme authority of the Pope. They accepted a primacy, but not his authority over his brethren.
13 Op. cit., p. 34. See Villain, Unity, pp. 137-8: 'The Platonic characteristic of the Caroline Divines (Lancelot Andrewes, Jeremy Taylor, William Laud, Simon Wilson [sic], John Donne, to mention only the most important) comes from the fact that they draw largely on the Greek Fathers'.
14 'The Immaculate Conception of Mary', wrote Gore in The Anglo-Catholic Movement Today (1925), p. 31, 'is a (supposed) fact of history which has no basis in historical evidence at all'. Similarly, the dogma of the Papal supremacy and infallibility is plainly contrary to the facts of history. It was never part of the Eastern tradition of the Church.
15 The Recovery of Unity, p. 232.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

More Thoughts on the 'Roman Offer'

A few more developed reflections on ANGLICANORUM COETIBUS.

My apologies for being in abstentia on the weblog recently!

I pray that the new Apostolic Constitution will bear much fruit in the lives and ministries of Anglicans who have long desired to enter into full communion with the Roman Church. I have a number of brother priests in the Society of the Holy Cross (SSC), especially in the United Kingdom, who may avail themselves of this provision. The Constitution does seem to offer a partial recognition of those beautiful traditions of Anglo-Catholicism which have contributed much to the wider Catholic world. It is reassuring to know that the Bishop of Rome honours elements of our patrimony, including our ethos of worship, prayer, liturgy, spiritual formation, pastoralia, and yes, married deacons and priests.

I also pray that the Successor of Saints Peter and Paul at Rome will make it possible for ordination to be, in certain circumstances, administered sub conditione for Anglican priests who become Roman Rite Catholics of the Anglican Ordinariate. The official Vatican commentary was, frankly, disheartening. Several priests I have known personally, all former Anglicans, were each and every one conditionally confirmed and ordained by Latin Rite bishops. I hope that that pattern might continue, as the question of absolute ordination continues to be a major stumbling-block of conscience for many. The denial of Anglican Orders, and of the validity of the Masses, Absolutions and other sacraments Anglican priests have celebrated, is too much for some to bear. For those souls, such a denial presents and constitutes a practical rejection of the objective reality and spiritual efficacy of their entire previous ecclesiastical being. Although this assertion may seem boorishly repetitive and even borderline obsessive to some of our Roman Catholic friends, the issue is decisive, paramount for many Anglicans. Yes, it really is about Orders - for many. And the consideration of Orders does not in itself yet touch upon the equally critical and decisive matters of dogmatic theology:

There are many Anglicans who still locate the essence of the Anglican Tradition in the ecumenical consensus of the Undivided Church of the First Millennium and who therefore cannot accept the dogmatic decrees of Apostolicae Curae, Ineffabilis Deus, Munificentissimus Deus, and the I Vatican Council, decrees maintained unchanged in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Those Anglicans who, as a matter de fide and of informed conscience, cannot accept the distinctives of the Papal Dogmas as currently defined and promulgated will not be able to embrace the new Constitution's offer and provision. And Rome would certainly have it so, and rightly so. The Ordinariate is not merely about the male character of the Apostolic Ministry or the traditional Christian teaching on Holy Matrimony - it is, rather, about one's full, unconditional and unreserved acceptance of the totality of Roman Catholic doctrinal and dogmatic teaching. Anglicans who cannot without reservation accept the Papal Claims in toto should not join the new Ordinariate.

The Malines Conversations of the 1920s between Anglicanism and Rome professed the desire for a 'Church of England united not absorbed.' But now, I confess I am disconcerted with the possibility that we shall have just the opposite: a greatly loved and esteemed part of the Anglican Tradition, a part valued and treasured for its contribution to the full Catholic life of Anglicanism, absorbed, converted, not united. An authentic orthodox ecumenism, leading to full communion and mutual recognition of equal sister Churches in the ancient Catholic Faith, should and must continue. Let us pray that avenues for such a rich and potentially fruitful dialogue between traditional Anglo-Catholics and Roman Catholics will open or remain open subsequent to the Constitution's implementation.

Our jurisdiction, the Anglican Province of America (APA), although in communion with the Traditional Anglican Communion, is not a Anglo-Papalist body and will therefore almost certainly not choose to be received into communion with the Roman Church on the basis of the new provision. But we Catholics of the Anglican Rite shall indeed pray for those who do and shall strive to maintain the closest relationships possible with those clergy and laity who will decide to become Catholics of the Roman Rite, as well as with those who are already Roman Rite Catholics. These are indeed compelling days.

Monday, November 09, 2009


Here is the official documentation for the creation of Personal Ordinariates for former Anglicans who shall enter into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church.

And, to me, this is most significant statement found in the documentation's theological commentary:

'The ordination of ministers coming from Anglicanism will be absolute, on the basis of the Bull Apostolicae curae of Leo XIII of September 13, 1896.'

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Annual Seminarians' Support Sunday 2009

5th November 2009

Dearly Beloved in Jesus Christ,

The Bishop has designated Sunday 6th December 2009, the Second Sunday in Advent, as the third Annual Seminarians' Support Sunday for the entire Diocese of the Eastern United States. 'Bible Sunday' is a most appropriate day of the year on which to solicit prayerful financial support for those of our Diocese who have offered themselves for the Sacred Ministry of the Church. We request that all parish priests please place a notice regarding this important collection in the Sunday bulletin that day and please also make a special announcement at the time of Sunday notices in which parishioners might be encouraged to give generously to this vital cause: the future of our Church.

Monies collected that day may be sent from all parishes and missions to the Diocesan Treasurer for the Diocesan Seminarian Fund: please forward any collections received to Mr DJ Fulton at Saint Barnabas Anglican Church, 4795 North Peachtree Road, Dunwoody, Georgia 30338.

We, of course, gladly leave it to the good offices and discretion of our parish clergy and vestries to decide how much of the total parish Bible Sunday offering received on 6th December may be applied to the Diocesan Seminarian Fund. We hope that many of our parishes might be willing to give a significant percentage of the day's offering, or even the entire day's collection, to the work of forming and training the future clergy of the Diocese of the Eastern United States.

We trust that the Annual Seminarians' Support Sunday has become a welcome and encouraged annual tradition throughout our Diocese and we look forward to everyone's active participation in this great work.

Thank you for your magnanimous and loving support of the Board of Examining Chaplains and the Vocations Ministry of the Diocese.

May the Lord Jesus Christ, the coming King we celebrate in the approaching Advent, bless your thoughtfulness and generosity!

In Christ and Our Lady,

The Reverend Canon Chandler (Chad) Holder Jones SSC
Examining Chaplains' Chairman and Vocations Director

May 2024 Comprovincial Newsletter

The Comprovincial Newsletter for May 2024 -