Which Side Are You On?

January-February 2010

When the Vatican announced its new canonical structure that will allow Anglicans to enter en masse into the Holy Catholic Church, clerical ecumenists on both sides of the fence scrambled to make sense of Pope Benedict XVI's monumental gesture on their own terms. Ecumenical dialogue partners Vincent Nichols, the Catholic archbishop of Westminster, and Rowan Williams, the Anglican archbishop of Canterbury, the de facto leader of worldwide Anglicanism, in a joint press release, described the impending publication of the apostolic constitution that would formalize the new structure as "further recognition of the substantial overlap in faith, doctrine and spirituality between the Catholic Church and the Anglican tradition."

It is true that there is significant overlap in many areas — the Anglican Communion, after all, split off from the Catholic Church in the 1500s but retained a greater sense of Catholicity than the other Protestant sects that developed out of the Reformation on the Continent. But the practical effect of the Pope's apostolic constitution, Anglicanorum Coetibus ("Groups of Anglicans," released by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on Nov. 9, complete with complementary norms), has been to crystallize the significant differences between modern Anglicanism and Holy Mother Church.

Ten days after Anglicanorum Coetibus was released, Archbishop Williams addressed an ecumenical conference at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He touched on the most divisive issue in Catholic-Anglican relations, the ordination of women, which also happens to be the most divisive issue within Anglicanism itself. In his address, given a day before he was to have a private audience with the Pope, Williams in effect threw down the gauntlet. As The Times of London reported (Nov. 20), "The Archbishop made clear that there would no turning back the clock on women priests in order to appease critics." Williams instead asserted that the Catholic Church's refusal to ordain women to the priesthood was a "clear obstacle" to corporate reunion: "For many Anglicans, not ordaining women has a possible unwelcome implication about the difference between baptised men and baptised women, which in their view threatens to undermine the coherence of the ecclesiology in question."

Williams then issued a "challenge" to Catholics: "Even if there remains uncertainty in the minds of some about the rightness of ordaining women, is there a way of recognising that somehow the corporate exercise of a Catholic and evangelical ministry remains intact even when there is dispute about the standing of female individuals?"


You have two options:

  1. Online subscription: Subscribe now to New Oxford Review for access to all web content at newoxfordreview.org AND the monthly print edition for as low as $38 per year.
  2. Single article purchase: Purchase this article for $1.95, for viewing and printing for 48 hours.

If you're already a subscriber log-in here.



New Oxford Notes: January-February 2010

Read our posting policy Add a comment
"You are either for Me or against Me". Whose side are we on? God's? Or the other fellow's? Posted by: lyricmac
January 23, 2010 02:20 PM EST
It would seem logical that, if some in the Anglican Church wish to return to its Catholic roots, that the "anglican corporate union" becomes a more liberal group - hence a larger gap between the two churchs. When one laments the lack of women priests or other issues that exist, it begs the question of just what is the goal of the ecu­menical dialogue? or the dialogue within the Anglican Church to reconcile its differences? These liberal churchs have replaced the notion of Church Teachings and the Way of Christ with a goal of self satisfaction in the guise of human rights or tolerance vice permissiveness. That will not lead to salvation, Church unity or a reunion of different churches. It leads to chaos and further denigration. Posted by: awunsch
January 29, 2010 02:35 PM EST
For a good example of the confusion and blandness such "limited but real common life and mutual acknowledgment of integrity" brings, see this story abt the candidates for bishop of the Episcopal diocese of the Rio Grande:

http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=12296

All the energy is directed to keeping the gang together and not to the natural work of the church. It's as if a sprinter had to walk along a balance beam held hundreds of feet off the floor. There would be a certain drama in the attempt, but he's not running the race as he should be.
Posted by: DavidMills
March 23, 2010 06:33 PM EDT
Add a comment


©