So would you too be feeling the strain

You know, I like Rowan Williams a lot. Partly it’s because he’s a really interesting thinker – even if you’re not theologically inclined, his writings on Dostoyevsky are well worth your attention – who, often at some cost to his own reputation, doesn’t bother much with tailoring his thoughts for media soundbited purposes. Partly it’s because his theological conservatism has never stopped him taking the expansive and humane view. But most of all, I feel sorry for him. And this has everything to do with the unleadable shower he’s supposed to lead, which would tax Moses himself, never mind a fallible human being like +Rowan.

But allow me to digress for a moment. Some years ago I was talking to a clerical contact who’d done some work at the Christian Unity dicastery, and who was most interesting on the differences in dealing with the various denominations. First you have to consider that the four major Christian traditions – Catholic, Orthodox, Armenian and Coptic – may have their differences, but do share a basic conceptual universe that allows them to more or less understand each other, a conceptual universe not shared by Seventh Day Adventists or Louisiana snake-handlers or such. What this boiled down to was that if Catholic negotiators were talking to the Russian Orthodox, both sides would have their settled dogmas that they could compare, identify points of agreement and disagreement, and talk about in a structured way.

This is not, of course, to say that you couldn’t make progress with the Protestants, at least those with settled positions. My interlocutor was very impressed at the way the German tag-team of Kasper and Ratzinger had engaged with the Lutherans, drawing on a shared cultural background and some understanding of what the Lutherans were about. But what used to drive him absolutely spare was trying to deal with the Anglicans, because they were a constantly moving target. You could have Rowan Williams across the table from you and have very little idea whether what he was saying was an official Anglican position or just Rowan’s opinion. The latter would, of course, be rendered more likely if Akinola popped up the next week and flatly contradicted what you’d heard from Rowan. Or was it Akinola who was off message? One could never tell…

The point being that dear old Rowan is defined not just by his personality but by his environment. His style – he writes in dense paragraphs full of qualifying subclauses, and speaks in a slightly toned down version of the same – is not always of Orwellian transparency. But if he can come across as muddled, that isn’t entirely his own fault, as Fr Dwight points out:

How could anyone hope to be clear headed and clearly spoken when he has to head up such a denomination? Here’s the real situation. Anglicans have liberals who deny the existence of God, the supernatural, any vestige of a traditional understanding of the Christian faith and they also have conservative Evangelicals who are virtually Biblical fundamentalists. They have Anglo Catholics who believe in the real presence, have monks and nuns, go on pilgrimages to Marian shrines, call their priests ‘Father’ and whose liturgy is more Catholic than the Catholics. On the other hand they have priests who have the same orders who deny all Catholic doctrines, put leftover communion bread out for the birds and proudly bear the name of Protestant. They have proponents of homosexual marriage and those who think homosexuals should be put in jail. Some would die to have lady bishops some would die if they didn’t have lady bishops.

All of this is held together under the banner of ‘unity’, but how can anyone hope to hold any of it together at all without being totally muddle headed? It’s impossible. That’s why there is a typical sort of Anglican clergy speak which goes like this: “I think I would like to say that in some way there ought to be a way forward which does not alienate anyone and yet attempts to propose a truth statement which may, if I am not pushing it too far, expresses what might be called ‘truth’ in a way that is a propositional statement which is descriptive while it is not prescriptive. This is to say that if we cannot find a way forward then it is best, perhaps to return to a discussion stage when we might sit down and without being dogmatic or judgmental listen again to one another to see if there is not in fact a way in which we can walk together while we are still fundamentally walking apart. Of course this will be a demanding and challenging journey which will in many ways for some of us (indeed all of us in one way or another) be at its heart paradoxical if not seemingly contradictory. However the seeming contradiction need not be a real contradiction even though it feels painful for some us to continue to live and what might be called a creative tension……. blah blah blah.

Well, quite. As Fr Dwight puts it in his inimitable style, we come back to what Newman said about the sectarian error and the latitudinarian error, and the good old C of E is the living exemplar of the latitudinarian error, having raised “inclusivity” to be a virtue in itself. This is what happens, I suppose, when you have a state church which is governed by the Crown in Parliament, which was precisely designed to be an all-inclusive national church and which, as a result, has never taken magisterial teaching very seriously. Indeed, Anglican culture has elevated fence-sitting to an art form, but you still can’t be impaled on the fence indefinitely.

The upshot of all this is that, as the C of E General Synod has been meeting this weekend, the old tensions are very much in evidence. And as usual, the tensions are over gays and girls.

Prior to Synod, we had something of a kerfuffle over whether Dr Jeffrey John, the openly gay (though celibate) Dean of St Albans, would get the plum job of Bishop of Southwark. We don’t know for certain what transpired – the Anglican process for episcopal appointments, whereby a shortlist goes to the Crown Nominations Commission which then sends a name to the prime minister for approval, is no more transparent than the Catholic process – but what we do know is that it was being heavily spun that the popular Dr John would get the job, then it turned out that he didn’t. Set that against the background of Rowan having treated his old friend very shabbily when forcing him to stand down from being appointed Bishop of Reading in 2003 – well, it doesn’t look good. In fact, translated into C of E factional politics, it’s hard to disagree with Jonathan Wynne-Jones that it makes the whole church look buck mad.

What looks even crazier is when you try to unpick what the C of E’s actual position on gay clergy is. To recap, the Catholic position on homosexuality (as enounced in the current CDF documents) is that, while same-sex attraction is morally neutral (and indeed it is explicitly stated that persons of homosexual orientation have the same intrisic dignity as anyone else, and should be free of hate and persecution), nonetheless homosexual acts remain sinful in all circumstances. It’s not a position that would satisfy Peter Tatchell, but it’s a good bit better and more nuanced than the condemnation of sodomy at the Third Lateran Council in 1179. And if you think that’s convoluted, it’s as nothing compared to the mess in the C of E.

The current position, as I read it, is that C of E clergy can be openly gay – even civil partnered, as in Jeffrey John’s case – as long as they’re celibate, though how you’d tell I don’t know. This sort of but doesn’t quite satisfy the C of E conservatives for whom the main problem is sex outside marriage, and for whom the gay issue is secondary. It certainly doesn’t satisfy the more headbanging elements in Uganda or Nigeria, for whom the homosexual condition itself is an abomination. Nor, of course, does it satisfy the liberals – whatever one may say of the American Episcopalians, they aren’t hypocrites, and Bishop Gene Robinson doesn’t even pretend to be celibate. Not to mention that, when it comes to homosexuality amongst the laity, the C of E’s position depends very much on which vicar you talk to.

Before leaving this, I’ll just note that Ken Livingstone was saying on the BBC this morning that David Cameron should appoint Jeffrey John to be Bishop of Southwark whether the C of E likes it or not. I slap my forehead.

But that wasn’t what caused the big row at Synod. The big row, of course, was about women bishops, and the narrow defeat of a proposal from Rowan and Sentamu to create a reservation for traditionalists.

This is actually very simple, but it deconstructs the whole fudge whereby the C of E can claim to be Protestant and Catholic at the same time. And it’s a time bomb that’s been ticking ever since they ordained women in the first place. If you hold to the concept of a sacerdotal priesthood based on the Apostolic Succession, then the ordination of women is a non-question, which is why the womynpriests movement is extremely marginal (if noisy) in Catholicism and non-existent in Orthodoxy. If, on the other hand, you stand by the Protestant concept of ministry, there’s no real reason why women shouldn’t be admitted to all levels. Perhaps not all of the C of E liberals realise this, but they have resolved the split identity of the C of E definitively in favour of it being a Protestant church.

And this puts it up to the Anglo-Catholics in no uncertain manner. Their bluff has been called, and they’ll have to consider whether they are really Protestants who just like to spice up their worship with Catholic trappings, because that’s what the future holds for them in the C of E. Alternatively, if they’re serious about being Catholics of Anglican heritage… well, there’s Rome, with Benedict’s offer of the Anglican Ordinariate; there’s Constantinople; there are the small Continuity Anglican formations. What they can’t say is that there is no option.

It does make it more likely that the Ordinariate will get a bit of critical mass behind it, even if the numbers are relatively small at first. The other imponderable has been the English Catholic bishops, not all of whom are terribly keen about the Ordinariate. Still, they did send Bishop Malcolm McMahon to meet C of E traditionalists yesterday, which shows how serious they are, as there can be few things more likely to entice defectors than the prospect of spending more time with +Malcy. There’s evidently nothing to worry about on that score.

43 Comments

  1. marcpuck said,

    July 12, 2010 at 12:26 am

    I do try to keep up but cannot tell if the last two sentences are facetious or… not.

  2. July 12, 2010 at 12:30 am

    Perfectly and wittily stated.
    Bravo.

  3. robert said,

    July 12, 2010 at 12:35 am

    Agreed Splinty – once the Anglican Church accepted women priests it confirmed that it was after all a Protestant church, which was one reason why I was in favour of the reform. If the Anglo Catholics don’t like it they should join the real Catholic church.

  4. Bob Kovacs said,

    July 12, 2010 at 1:34 am

    Video from the synod.

  5. magistra said,

    July 12, 2010 at 6:47 am

    Could you give a link to the CDF statement on homosexuality, please? I had thought that Catholic teaching currently held that gay people were ‘objectively disordered’ (and that was why even celibate gay men couldn’t be priests), but if I’m wrong about that I’d like to find out the details.

    I think the Anglican fudge on women priests 16 years ago was partly to try and separate out the differences within opponents of their ordination, and give a soft landing to them. Effectively it said: ‘We’re going to have women priests, but you can pretend they don’t exist’. The hope was that once actual women priests existed, it would be realised that they weren’t all feminist lesbian goddess-worshippers, and some opponents would be reconciled. (One of the most interesting aspects is the emergence of ‘conservative’ anti-gay women priests). But I think the pretence that women priests don’t exist is going to prove too hard to sustain when you have women bishops.

  6. Phil said,

    July 12, 2010 at 8:14 am

    If you hold to the concept of a sacerdotal priesthood based on the Apostolic Succession, then the ordination of women is a non-question

    There is clearly something more to “holding to the concept” than you’re letting on here. The document you linked to cites three reasons for not ordaining women:

    1. All the disciples were men.
    2. The Church’s practice has always been only to ordain men, see 1. above.
    3. The Church’s teaching has always been that it is correct only to ordain men, see 1. and 2. above.

    and offers the following handy one-line summary

    We’re here because we’re here because we’re here because we’re here.

    (OK, I made that last bit up.)

    In all seriousness, two reasons out of three are and it’s what we’ve always done, and we think we’re right. In any other area of life you wouldn’t give that kind of argument a second look. I look forward to the next time you turn your attention back to the SWP – If you hold to the concept of a strong and effective CC accountable to the party as a whole, then the expression of individual dissent is a non-question

    • GOR said,

      July 12, 2010 at 6:37 pm

      Phil, first of all “what we have always done” in the Catholic Church refers to Tradition – with a capital ‘T’.

      Secondly, the ‘money quote’ – as they say from – Ordinatio Sacerdotalis which SS refers to, is the final paragraph, wherein John Paul II says:

      “Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.”

      Of course certain of the clergy – and hierarchy even (cfr. a certain South African bishop inter alia) – are not clear on what “to be definitively held” really means. They need to go back and re-visit their Dogmatic Theology. Dr. Ludwig Ott would be a good start…

      • Phil said,

        July 12, 2010 at 10:13 pm

        OK, so it’s not so much “the concept of a sacerdotal priesthood based on the Apostolic Succession” as “John Paul II’s explicit stipulation that the concept of a sacerdotal priesthood based on the Apostolic Succession requires an all-male ministry”.

        Now, I seem to remember someone on this blog having a lot of fun with ignorant secularists’ invocations of “papal infallibility” and pointing out that the numen of a papal ruling which must be taken as eternally true has only ever been invoked once, or something in that area. Almost all the time, in other words, what HH has to say on behalf of his Church is authoritative but no more; the idea that it might be reversed at some later date isn’t unthinkable.

        And, in this case, it’s not unthinkable that Luke 22:32’s “brothers” (αδελφοιs) should be taken as referring to the members of a group which in the contemporary world includes women. Nor is it unthinkable that Catholics might look forward to a future Pope coming to that conclusion himself.

        As far as I can see, the gender of the priesthood is one of those issues to which the Xtian Church has devoted far too much time, given the complete silence of Jesus of Nazareth on the matter. I agree that Rowan has an impossible job on his hands, and if you were to suggest that some Episcopalians are not only forcing the pace but taking the piss I’d tend to concur. But this awful smug “if you were a Catholic you’d realise we don’t do that” stuff – well, I think you need to take a couple of steps back and have a rethink. And I’m not even going to talk about the treatment you give to liberal Catholics (“if they were real Catholics they’d realise…).

      • ejh said,

        July 12, 2010 at 10:52 pm

        What Tradition means in practice is whatever it suits the Church to mean. If it wants to change something, it will discover that previous assumptions that it was part of Tradition were misinterpretations.

    • ejh said,

      July 12, 2010 at 10:58 pm

      I look forward to the next time you turn your attention back to the SWP

      I have an occasional notion that in fact, our attention has never in fact been deflected from that organisation, and all the Catholic Church posts are a roundabout way of discussing, by way of a parallel* how ideology, loyalty work in an organisation other than the one based in Rome.

      This is however a more generous interpretation of the current trend of this blog than is probably merited.

      [* if you can have a parallel roundabout, which even at three minutes to midnight seems improbable]

  7. ejh said,

    July 12, 2010 at 9:54 am

    womynpriests

    Pity’s sake.

  8. Steve said,

    July 12, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    I think you’ve nailed down the Anglican position, insofar as it is possible to nail down a blob of jelly.

  9. Sussex Catholic said,

    July 12, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    Magistra,

    The content of the posting re Catholic teaching on homosexuality is absolutely accurate-there is nothing (in the Catholic Church’s teachings) that is sinful or immoral about same-sex attraction no more than any feeling or naturally occurring desire can be sinful in itself. Sin requires an act of the will for it to be sin. Such a desire may be the result of a “disorder” but to call something a disorder in this context is not a moral judgment but a statement about that phenomenon’s place in the perceived natural order. It is a recognition that not everything that occurs naturally within human persons tends naturally towards their good if fulfilled in action. Thus same-sex attraction is morally neutral but it represents a human behaviour which is a departure from the natural order and might be considered something which needs to be addressed or managed because its fulfilment in action cannot be perfected in happiness. It in no way is something for which people are morally responsible for experiencing. Beyond that the Catholic Church makes no particular and specific judgment that singles out homosexual people from any other category or persons of human dignity-it states simply that anyone regardless of his or her state of life or sexual orientation, is called to a life of chastity-purity of heart and mind and faithfulness to their particular calling. For the vast majority this calling is a life of loving and generous friendships which may be characterised by both broad relationships and intimate friendships. For a certain category of people they are called to live this life consecrated to God and this is vowed celibacy whereby the focus of their human capacity for loving is directed specifically and solely towards a deep relationship with God. For another category these are called to consecrate their lives to God through the love of just one other person-their spouse, and to consummate this love in the fullness of the conjugal act and its openness to new life. Thus marriage is seen by the Catholic Church as sacramental not only as an event on the day itself but as a day to day lived reality by which husband and wife give themselves away to each other without reservation and without barrier (literally). So for a large number of Catholics who are neither priests/religious/consecrated laity nor married, the same rule applies to all equally and without prejudice. You might say then that homosexual desire is akin to the sexual desire which exists between any two people-there is nothing wrong with the desire but there is a lot wrong with acting on it if it is not being acted upon in its proper place, in the fullness of the marital act. So if Peter Tatchell is looking for some hypocrites he need look no further than heterosexual Catholics who condemn homosexuality but practise contraception for they affirm that it is possible to divorce sex from the procreative purpose of marriage and affirm it as capable of being purely an affirming instrument of love with no basis whatsoever in Catholic teaching.

    Your point about the CDF instruction re homosexual men in the priesthood is a different but related point about “affective maturity” and what priests are called upon to renounce/transform about their identities which I could expand upon if you wish.

  10. GOR said,

    July 12, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    Yes SS, I sometimes feel a little sympathy for +Rowan too. Trying to hold together the CofE is – as they would say in Texas – like trying to “herd cats”.

    Fr. Dwight has some good insights into the internal workings of Anglicanism in all its forms, having “been there, done that”, so to speak.

  11. July 12, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    There is one thing that seems odd to me and that is that Roman Catholic priests can receive only six of the seven sacraments whereas Easter Rite priests receive all seven. And, since a Sacrament is”an outward sign , instituted by Christ to give grace”,
    the rule of celibacy then denies that grace. I guess it’s another mystery of faith.

    • GOR said,

      July 12, 2010 at 6:44 pm

      Careful Frederick, or you’ll be giving the womenpriest movement another club to beat the Church with – as women can only receive 6 of the 7 sacraments also…!

  12. July 12, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    But remember, “A woman is just a woman but a good cigar is a smoke!”
    Besides if women were to be ordained I imagine that the celibacy rule would apply.

    • GOR said,

      July 12, 2010 at 9:03 pm

      Hmm Frederick, I don’t think the sisterhood will be inviting you to any of their (smoke-free, of course) soirées anytime soon…

  13. July 12, 2010 at 11:32 pm

    More’s the pity.
    I don’t like cucumber or hummus canapes anyway.

  14. Chris Williams said,

    July 13, 2010 at 8:29 am

    Oh, you kill me Frederick. More bon mots, please.

    Splinty, surely much of this derives from the fact that the CoE is – and has been for centuries – a state church? This creates a long-term incentive for priests / ministers to decide to stick around (especially when they predict the size of the congregation that they are likely to Gather if they split) and gives them a medium-to-large trough to stick their snouts into in, as they say, ‘the wider community’ and the ‘third sector’. Thus, we create an institution whereof the only thing that its wings have in common is the agreement that it needs to exist.

    Me, I’m just a spectator, and as an (ex-Calvinist Baptist) atheist, this institution stuff is all a bit odd. Odder than it is for (say) Phil, who was CoE in his time.

  15. Chris Williams said,

    July 13, 2010 at 10:09 am

    PS – being as I am, I obviously understand why there’s no problem with Protestant ministers being Y-deficient. But aside from the CoE, are there no denominations at all out there with women _priests_, who claim to do magic stuff with wine? Yeah, they’re a tiny bit less like Christ than are blokes, but frankly neither of them are especially like Christ, are they, what with not being God?

    • ejh said,

      July 13, 2010 at 10:44 am

      a href=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18swCqwYLf4″>Because

    • July 13, 2010 at 10:57 pm

      “But aside from the CoE, are there no denominations at all out there with women _priests_, who claim to do magic stuff with wine?”

      Plenty – schismatic Catholics, Gnostics, etc – but they’re pretty much to sacramental Christianity what the Posadists or the SPGB are to social democratic politics.

  16. GOR said,

    July 13, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    A couple of thoughts Phil. The concept of Sacred Tradition in the Church is more than tradition (small ‘t’). It refers to consistent teaching over the course of the centuries from the Apostles through the Fathers of the Church and the Popes to the present day. It refers to doctrine, not matters of discipline (such as eating meat on Fridays or even celibacy…).

    That was the basis for John Paul II’s declaration on the impossibility of having women priests. For two thousand years it was never an issue. Why was that? You could argue that it was due to sociological reasons – women’s place in society, social mores, etc. But Our Lord was not concerned with the social mores of His time. Had he wanted women to be priests or even Apostles He could have done it, but He didn’t. It’s hard to believe that this just ‘slipped His mind’ or never occurred to Him.

    He was God. He knew the future (everything is present with God – no past or future – all is now). You think He didn’t foresee the issues of our day and of every time? When He gave Peter the power of binding and loosing and the assurance that He would be with the Church until the end of time, it was a guarantee that the Church would not fail, would not err – but would faithfully pass on His teachings complete and unchangedto all ages. That is the basis of our faith in the teaching of the Church, which includes Sacred Tradition – indefectibility.

  17. Chris Williams said,

    July 13, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    “a guarantee that the Church would not fail, would not err”

    How much knowledge of the history of the RCC is enough to falsify that proposition? Any? The amount that we have? Or are all the crimes in the church’s history not enough to gainsay it, since the true real church, underwritten by Christ’s 100% Warranty, was ipso facto somewhere else at the time?

    As Phil points out, this is all looking remarkably like Papal Infallibility…

  18. chris y said,

    July 13, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    who claim to do magic stuff with wine?

    If you mean turn it into blood, the CoE doesn’t claim to do this, although there may be Anglican priests who think it happens anyway; look hard enough and you’ll find an Anglican priest who believes pretty much anything. But transsubstantiation is definitely not mainstream in the CoE, so they don’t need the magic Y chromosome to catalyse the reaction.

    • Chris Williams said,

      July 13, 2010 at 4:37 pm

      Sorry, not for the last time I was being overly facetious. I didn’t mean transub, more that ‘priestly’ churches have a number of sacraments which only the clergy can do it they are to work properly (or to ‘work properly’ – YMMV on the punctuation necessary here. This seems to me to be very different from a preaching ministry.

  19. July 13, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    It is a fact that Christ didn’t pick women to be his apostles.
    However he did pick a woman to be his Mother.
    And she was a Jew.
    But his Father wasn’t.
    This, perhaps, would confer upon Christ, hybrid vigor.

  20. GOR said,

    July 13, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    Don’t confuse the sins of the members – we’re all sinners – with the Mystical Body of Christ. One of Our Lord’s hand-picked Twelve betrayed Him also – and all of them ran away at Gethsemani. So are we to conclude that Our Lord was mistaken, made bad choices, was a ‘bad manager’…?

    But we’re talking doctrine here – Faith and Morals – and certainly, Papal Infallibility enters into it, not pronouncements on Global Warming or whether Capitalism is a good thing or not.

    • shane said,

      July 13, 2010 at 7:36 pm

      True, but Church Teaching doesn’t have to be infallible or be pronounced ex cathedra in order to require a religious submission (obsequium religiosum) of will and mind on the part of the faithful*. Economical systems and principles are certainly within the competence of the Church. They fall under “ethics”, because economics is an activity of man and hence must have an end subject to mans’ final end. To think of economics as something autonomous of ethics results from a lack of clarity in thinking or a proclivity towards materialism [you will look in vain for a doctrine of materialist economics in Aristotle or historical Catholic societies]. The Church has a social doctrine which teaches that economics fits firmly within the moral order. St. Ignatius of Loyola said that all things were created for man in order to help him save his soul. Thus economic activity is not independent of the salvific order, but is subject to it by its very nature, since man is created for a purpose, and all his activities either help or hinder that purpose. The fact that the Church has condemned economical practices such as usury show that the economic order is subject to the moral law and must be judged by it. There is no created order independent of God.

      *Lumen Gentium, 25: “This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will. His mind and will in the matter may be known either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking.”

      http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19900524_theologian-vocation_en.html

      23. When the Magisterium of the Church makes an infallible pronouncement and solemnly declares that a teaching is found in Revelation, the assent called for is that of theological faith. This kind of adherence is to be given even to the teaching of the ordinary and universal Magisterium when it proposes for belief a teaching of faith as divinely revealed.

      When the Magisterium proposes “in a definitive way” truths concerning faith and morals, which, even if not divinely revealed, are nevertheless strictly and intimately connected with Revelation, these must be firmly accepted and held.(22)

      When the Magisterium, not intending to act “definitively”, teaches a doctrine to aid a better understanding of Revelation and make explicit its contents, or to recall how some teaching is in conformity with the truths of faith, or finally to guard against ideas that are incompatible with these truths, the response called for is that of the religious submission of will and intellect.(23) This kind of response cannot be simply exterior or disciplinary but must be understood within the logic of faith and under the impulse of obedience to the faith.

      24. Finally, in order to serve the People of God as well as possible, in particular, by warning them of dangerous opinions which could lead to error, the Magisterium can intervene in questions under discussion which involve, in addition to solid principles, certain contingent and conjectural elements. It often only becomes possible with the passage of time to distinguish between what is necessary and what is contingent.

      The willingness to submit loyally to the teaching of the Magisterium on matters per se not irreformable must be the rule.

      • magistra said,

        July 13, 2010 at 10:09 pm

        This would all be slightly more convincing if the Catholic church hadn’t changed its definition of usury (from charging interest to charging excessive interest) during the Middle Ages. So what it is really wanted is that you submit loyally to the teaching of the Magisterium even if this completely changes over time.

      • Chris Williams said,

        July 14, 2010 at 12:41 am

        That’s more like it. Not stuff that I agree with, but at least it’s stuff that’s (given one or two rather significant predicates) internally consistent, rather than this week’s Telegraph comment page given a red hat.

  21. Chris Williams said,

    July 13, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    Hey Splinty, some of your new fans aren’t passing the ‘What would Loyola post?’ test.

  22. Post Anglican said,

    July 13, 2010 at 9:07 pm

    The Anglicans will finaly discover Democratic Centralism
    and vote to become one with the Cosmos

  23. Nathaniel said,

    July 14, 2010 at 8:31 am

    Yes, the “magic stuff” with the wine, assuming you mean the Real Presence and not just Transubstantiation is done by Lutherans, some sections of which ordain women (and those sections are the ones that are members in the Lutheran World Federation, which was the organization in dialogue with the Catholic church). Lutherans believe in the real presence and, although it’s not always catechized properly, they didn’t do the fudge on that that the CofE did. I know that in some way the difference in Lutheran and Anglican theology has been that the Lutherans kept more of Catholicism in their services and the Anglicans kept at least the semblance of it in their church structure. This isn’t necessarily true in countries where Lutheranism became the state church, like the high and extremely liberal Church of Sweden, but Lutherans don’t proudly consider themselves part of some “Via media”. Of course, I would be a bit combative about this…although I may be a Marxist agnostic now, I am the child of Lutheran pastors, i.e., one of whom is a “woman priest.”

    • Chris Williams said,

      July 15, 2010 at 9:08 am

      Ta, Nathaniel.

  24. weus said,

    July 14, 2010 at 10:08 am

    “I appeal to you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.” (1 Cor 1:10 RSV)

    If the members of the Body of Christ are divided it is because love and humility is lacking. Jesus left us with one Church. Today, His Body is shredded and torn to pieces. LOVE is missing.

    Unity will begin not with a signed treaty, but in the HEART. “It is not just through words that unity among brothers will come, but through the action of the Holy Spirit.” (Sep 30, 1993 TLIG)

    The first step the Church must take is to UNIFY THE DATES OF EASTER, out of pure love for Jesus, so that every Christian heart is united to the Passion and the Resurrection of our Lord with one mind, on one date, in the unity of the Holy Spirit.

    Jesus promised that if we UNIFY THE DATES OF EASTER the Holy Spirit will come in full force to give us the next step to take for complete unity and peace. But the Church must UNIFY THE DATES OF EASTER first, and then the Holy Spirit will do the rest.

    Let us raise our hearts in prayer for the Church to UNIFY THE DATES OF EASTER, for the sake of Christ alone.

  25. Sussex Catholic said,

    July 14, 2010 at 10:16 am

    Magistra- I’m on your case again. The Catholic Church’s doctrine on usury (as with many Catholic doctrines) has developed over time (for the outstanding contribution to this understanding of how doctrine develops organically and consistently through time to respond to changing circumstances see Cardinal Newman’s Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine. It was not a case of the Catholic Church deciding one day arbitrarily to change its doctrine but rather that the way money came to be used changed. In brief money was originally seen as something like any other material item such as bread, cheese or cake and that it was consumed by its use (spent). Thus It was perfectly permissible to charge someone for the thing itself, but to charge for its use (usury) as well would be equivalent to double charging (you don’t sell someone a bottle of wine and then charge them again to drink it). But as money ceased to be merely something used up in transactions (what Aristotle would call a ‘barren’ means of exchange) but came to be seen as capital productive of wealth (like land) it became appropriate to charge for its loan. Thus the Catholic doctrine on usury remains identical as regards the exchange of “barren” items, it has adapted itself to exclude money as a category because of money’s changed status and so instead now focuses on a prohibition on exorbitant levels of interest.

  26. ejh said,

    July 14, 2010 at 11:28 am

    And that’s magic!

  27. July 14, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    On this topic, Niall Ferguson’s book, The Ascent of Money ( A Financial History of the World) , is most enlightening.

  28. andy newman said,

    July 14, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    ” that C of E clergy can be openly gay – even civil partnered, as in Jeffrey John’s case – as long as they’re celibate, though how you’d tell I don’t know. ”

    the answer to this is a marvellous Anglican compromise, that gay celergy have to be prepared to answer to their Bishop whether or not they are celibate.

    That is, only the Bishop is entitled to ask.

    I think what you miss is that the character of the Anglican church is marvellously English, and also reflects the muddle of the constitution.

    it is not an English characteristic to seek ideological coherence when that might impede pragmatic solutions.

    I have a lot of sympathy for dr Williams, and I am sure that his compromise will prevail.

    the more diffiocult issue in the broader episcopalian communion is the conflict between the North American and African churches

  29. Lee Gilbert said,

    July 17, 2010 at 8:07 am

    Sussex Catholic, you write

    “It {same sex attraction] in no way is something for which people are morally responsible for experiencing.”

    No? And how do we know this? Does the Catholic Church then subscribe to the homosexual gene business, that there are not only homosexual acts, but homosexual *persons* who are that way naturally? This seems to me simple surrender to the homosexual propaganda juggernaut.

    How can one be naturally unnaturally inclined? It’s absurd.

    However, if one breaks with God, the source of our moral integrity, then one may go astray in all manner of ways, and discover almost irresistible desire for food or pornography or sex natural and unnatural, etc.

    However, you might say, “Look, we are talking precisely about people who believe in God, who have not left the Church, who have not “broken with God,” as you put it.”

    Right, but there is more than one way to break with God, and one very common way is unforgiveness. God is love, and if we choose to be angry and unforgiving toward our parents, or Bush, or anyone, we have broken with God, the source of our moral integrity- and from that point on anything can happen.

    In the course of a long life I have seen four people go astray in this way, and in every case it was preceded by deep seated anger of long standing. Beyond that, I have never known a homosexual who did not pride himself on being able to throw a first class snit. Perhaps one day will “studies show” a relationship between anger with one’s father or mother and the later emergence of homosexual desire. In the meantime, I see no reason to believe in the emergence of a third type of human being around whom we should restructure the social or ecclesial order, when scripture says, “Male and female He created them.”

    Or, as one room for rent advert said, “If you are male or female (but not both) we would be happy to rent to you.” At least someone still has some common sense in this very confused age. Why take on an angry tenant?

  30. August 3, 2010 at 11:00 am

    […] Sunrise, the Marxist blog which increasingly concerns itself with the affairs of the Roman church. Splinty quotes the American blogger, Father Longenecker, ruminating upon the Anglicans: How could anyone […]


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