Monday, March 12, 2012

Toward a contemporary Orthodox-Traditional Anglican Dialogue




From 1936...

The Church of Roumania and Anglican Orders,
(An interview granted by the Metropolitan Gurius of Bessarabia).

It is already known that the Church of Constantinople recognised the validity of Anglican orders in 1922. The oecumenical patriarch thereupon made known his decision to the auto-cephalous churches, and asked them to study and pronounce upon the question. For a long time the Roumanian Church did not give any answer to the oecumenical patriarch. As lately as June, 1935, however, there was formed at Bucharest a commission of theological professors which discussed the question in detail. At the same time an official Anglican delegation arrived in Roumania and discussed with this commission the possibility of rapprochement between the Orthodox and the Anglican Churches. Since then, the press and public opinion have given much attention to the subject of Anglicanism. Opinion is divided; some are for the recognition of the Anglican priesthood, but as many are against it.

Next the Holy Synod decided to give its formal judgment. At the end of March this year the Holy Synod, assembled in ordinary session, for the first time considered the position of Anglican orders.

In order to provide you with reliable information we had recourse to a member of the Synod. The Metropolitan Gurius is among those who entertain great hopes of the world-wide movement for the unity of the Church. He has sent several theological students to finish their studies in England. During the summer of 1934 he helped to arrange for certain Anglicans to visit Roumania. He gives his patronage to the review Misionarul, published at Kisinau. This is one of the best Roumanian reviews. It has published many articles on Anglicanism, and is in touch with the world movement towards reunion.

In November, 1934, it devoted a special number to the question of Anglo-Orthodox rapprochement. It has recently been decided to provide one or two bursaries for Anglican students who wish to read theology in the faculty at Kisinau.

This is what the Metropolitan told us:

Q. What has the Holy Synod decided about Anglican orders?

A. The Synod has undoubtedly given a favourable reply to the Anglicans, but upon one condition. The Anglican Church must first of all furnish an authoritative statement of its doctrine of the priesthood. We want to make sure that the Anglicans recognise the Sacrament of Order, and that they believe in the sacrificial function of the priest; and that the laying on of hands effects a donation of the Holy Ghost.

When once it is clear that they accept the Sacramental character of the priesthood, then the recognition of their ordinations will follow as a matter of course. In 1940 the Anglican Churches will be holding a general Conference. It is to this conference that the Roumanian thesis is to be submitted. On its conclusions our decision accordingly depends.

Q. What course did the discussion take?

A. The Synod received the findings of the theological commission, and the report of Mgr. T. Simedrea. The discussions lasted nearly three days. The great majority of members favoured the recognition of the Anglican priesthood, with the qualification I have mentioned.

Q. What will be the results of the recognition of Anglican orders?

A. Well—the Anglican hierarchy will be in the same position as those of the Roman Catholics or the Armenians. Anglican priests could be received as such into the Orthodox Church without re-ordination.

Q. And what of Reunion?

A. The recognition of Anglican orders does not mean Union at once. We recognise the validity of Roman Catholic orders, and yet how widely our two Churches are divided. . . . We must first work for Unity of Faith and as the result of that we may hope for actual Unity.

Q. But is that possible?

A. It demands a greater love and faithfulness towards our Lord, our one master. All we need is to return to the basic Christianity of the fathers and the oecumenical Councils. In the teaching of the councils of the undivided Church we have a foundation, and the only possible foundation, for reunion. I am heartily glad to think that we are working to-day more than we have done in the past to bring the Churches closer to one another, and I pray without ceasing: "That they all may be one."

FR. ANTIM NICOV.

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