Thinking Anglicans

battle for the soul of two churches?

The Observer has published a full-page article by Diarmaid MacCulloch which has been headlined Pope Benedict opens new front in battle for the soul of two churches.

…There has been a great deal of excited talk about this move: one hysterical front-page headline in the Times proclaimed that 400,000 Anglicans were poised to head for the Tiber. This turns out to be the self-estimated membership of a faction calling itself the Traditional Anglican Communion.

Equally extravagant claims that this could be the end of the Protestant Reformation need to be taken with several fontfuls of salt. It is in the interests of various discontented groups on the margins of Anglicanism to talk up the significance of the latest piece of papal theatre, while ignoring its wider context.

This much broader struggle within Christianity at first sight appears to be about sex. Throughout the world, the most easily heard tone in religion (not just Christianity) is of a generally angry conservatism. Why? I hazard that the anger centres on a profound shift in gender roles traditionally given a religious significance and validated by religious traditions.

The conservative backlash embodies the hurt of heterosexual men (or those who would like to pass for being heterosexual men) at cultural shifts which have generally threatened to marginalise them and deprive them of dignity, hegemony or even much usefulness. What they notice amid their hurt is that the sacred texts generally back them in their assumptions, and they therefore assert the authority of sacred scripture…

By coincidence, the same issue has a review by Christina Odone of A History of Christianity by Diarmaid MacCulloch.

23
Leave a Reply

avatar
3000
23 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
10 Comment authors
anthonyFather Ron Smithrick allenFord ElmsTobias Haller Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest
Notify of
Rosemary Hannah
Guest
Rosemary Hannah

Well, he’s right, isn’t he?

MJ
Guest
MJ

Peter Stanford (ex editor of the Catholic Herald) has also written a piece in the ‘Independent on Sunday’ – “After 500 years, has the Pope outfoxed the Archbishop?”
http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/peter-stanford-after-500-years-has-the-pope-outfoxed-the-archbishop-1808966.html

“The irony of the week’s events is that, in the Church of England, the unravelling of its historic compromise between Catholic and Protestant factions may end up leaving it to go forward smaller but clearer about what it is and isn’t. In Catholicism, by contrast, the Pope’s apparent opportunism will bolster numbers but risks further confusing the faithful about precisely what it is their church stands for.”

MJ
Guest
MJ

This may have stirred up a hornets nest in the RC Church in Africa: “The offer has raised questions whether it will not…reopen the issue of celibate priesthood for the Catholics. Kenyan clergy and scholars argue that the Pope’s move may not augur well for conservative Catholics who view the Apostolic Constitution as a dilution of the traditional Catholic doctrines… Dr Nicholas Keya, a theological scholar and lecturer at Masinde Muliro University, said Catholics will be wondering if the Pope is admitting married priests through the back door. The Catholic Church has been battling with rebel priests who have broken… Read more »

john
Guest
john

I think Stanford’s piece deserves a separate posting. There are lots of interesting angles.

Spirit of Vatican II
Guest
Spirit of Vatican II

MacCulloch is a great historian and I am grateful for his perspective. Roman Catholics should be drinking deep of the wisdom of their sister church, not wallowing in thuggish triumphalism.

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

Wow many thanks to DMacC for decoding assistance. He’s right at the center in his decoding. One hidden bulls-eye being the shotgun marriage of mainly antigay/antiWO convenience between hard right evangelical believers and hard right Anglo-Catholic believers. Then he reaches deeper, decoding their conjoined roles in the current realignment dynamics – worldwide, after all, in nearly all religions? – a struggle unfinished between being closed or open, informed by real church and world history or some redacted pretend far right version of what facts are, able to change versus never really able to change for the better, hierarchy/obedience to weaponized… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“In one sense, this is a storm in a teacup, stirred by an elderly cleric in the Vatican with a private agenda and a track record of ill-thought-out policy moves. In another, it is a fascinating moment in a confrontation as much a struggle for the soul of the Church of Rome as of the Church of England. Once we have got past the screaming headlines, we should keep an eye open for the real story. – Diarmaid MacCulloch – This, the final paragraph in Professor Diarmaid MacCullough’s commentary on Rome’s recent offer of ‘Ordinariate’s’ to dissident Anglicans, is a… Read more »

rick allen
Guest

At the risk, i suppose of wallowing in thuggish triumphalism, I have to wonder about the basis for Professor MacCullough’s assertion that “neither John Paul II nor his successor have been enthusiasts for the messages embodied in [Vatican II’]statements of faith.” For years I’ve been asking for any particulars about where the last two popes differ from the pronouncements of the last Council. So far I’ve haven’t received an answer. My particular volume of the Council’s documents runs almost 700 pages. It’s not like there are any secrets out there. My guess is that people generally ignore what was said… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“For years I’ve been asking for any particulars about where the last two popes differ from the pronouncements of the last Council. So far I’ve haven’t received an answer.” – Rick Allen –

Well, let’s start with these – discontinued:

1. Liturgical Reform (swept away by restoration of Latin Mass).

2. Place of the Laity in the sanctuary – especially women.

3. Ecumenical Dialogue (by recent courting of disaffected Anglicans into special ordinariates)

4. Dialogue with the Real World on Sexuality and gender issues – discontinued with the revelation of paedophilis scandals.

rick allen
Guest

“Well, let’s start with these – discontinued: 1. Liturgical Reform (swept away by restoration of Latin Mass).” This is news to me. I’ve been a Catholic for going on 30 years now, and have never heard a Latin Mass. And the only reform I know of, ongoing, is some tinkering with the English translation of the Roman Rite. Vatican II, of course, called for the retention of the liturgy in Latin. The near-universal use of the vernacular was a post-concilar development, and, as far as I can tell, it’s here to stay. But, yeah, Benedict has allowed greater liturgical diversion… Read more »

anthony
Guest
anthony

Father Smith – The permission to use the old Latin mass in some circumstances certainly does not sweep away the liturgical reforms of Vatican II. Just attend mass at an RC parish church. I wouldn’t even know where to find a Latin mass in my community, other than in an Anglican church. The other three points – maybe you are right, I don’t know anything about those. But I am kind of sceptical. I don’t think the letter of Vatican II has been too much violated. The so-called spirit, however, may have been. What is called the spirit of Vatican… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

Rick Allen. You must surely be in some sort of cloud cuckoo land if you still think that the total intentions of Vatican II are part of the ongoing agenda of the Roman Catholic Church. You don’t even have to ask a Catholic theologian about that. Just ask some of the faithful laity, who long for the reforms of Vatican II to be brought into proper use in the Church. You say that women still have their place in the Sanctuary? That may be so where you happen to be worshipping. However, were you aware that the Vatican banned women… Read more »

rick allen
Guest

“You must surely be in some sort of cloud cuckoo land if you still think that the total intentions of Vatican II are part of the ongoing agenda of the Roman Catholic Church.” Fr. Ron, actually I live in Santa Fe, and of course Vatican II continues to define the life of the Church. It is apparent at every level. For all the talk about this “reactionary” pope, his committment to Vatican II is apparent (and why not, at it’s his generation’s legacy?). Yes, he is trying to reconcile the Lefebrists, but he has made it quite clear that nothing… Read more »

rick allen
Guest

I am perhaps naive or living in a past century in imagining bookshelves.

For any interested, the documents of Vatican II can be read here:

http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/index.htm

Tobias Haller
Guest

Rick, if I may make an observation on your side. It seems to me that in Vatican II the various congregations who developed the conciliar documents became almost “Anglican” in their subtlety, and ability to include some things while allowing others — a kind of Elizabethan settlement. The fact that some, particularly, I might add, in the US, took off in an allowed direction is by no means an indication that this was the only direction permitted. Thus, for example in an area with which I’m particularly familiar, the usage of celebrating the Mass “versus populum” became the norm, even… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“I wouldn’t even know where to find a Latin mass in my community, other than in an Anglican church.”

LOL!

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“For all the talk about this “reactionary” pope, his committment to Vatican II is apparent (and why not, at it’s his generation’s legacy?). – Rick Allen – I suppose you are already aware that the present Pope was once a student of, and apologist for, Hans Kung. When things got stirred up by Kung, however, Ratzinger saw the way things were going and decided to change camps. So, from being one of those in favour of the reforms being put into place under Good Pope John XXIII, Ratzinger changed his tune to conform with post-Vatican II conservatism. There are Roman… Read more »

rick allen
Guest

“…from being one of those in favour of the reforms being put into place under Good Pope John XXIII, Ratzinger changed his tune.” How? What in the completed program of the Council did he oppose or thwart? Sorry to keep beating a dead horse, but it strikes me as a significant historical question, whether the popes of the late 20th and early 21st century sought to implement or nullify the Second Vatican Council. If you read Benedict’s words, and look at his actions, he seems to me to mirror what was proclaimed at the Council. When I ask for examples… Read more »

anthony
Guest
anthony

Father Smith – Cardinal Wojtyla (John Paul II) and Archbishop Ratzinger (Benedict XVI) were at the very heart of Vatican II, directly responsible for many of its statements. They were in some ways young Turks at the time. Papal and Curial administrative responsibility set them back on their heels, as it did a lot of RCC administrators. The “anything goes” mentality in the late sixties and early seventies among the rank and file of the Americas and Northern Europe could not be absorbed by a hierarchical bureaucratic form of management. But there was not a volte face. A post-Vatican II… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“A post-Vatican II conservative reaction has been real throughout the RCC” – anthony on Thursday – Thankyou, Anthony, for that gracious and telling admission of the ‘conservative reaction’ to the work of vatican II within the R.C. Church. You, at least, are clear on that score – even if your fellow R.C., Rick Allen, is so obviously not. Regarding your remarks on those Anglo-Papists who have ‘adopted the usages of the time of Cardinal Newman and cluing to them for dear life’, I do grant you have a point there. It is precisely in this ‘Hapsburg era’ culture (which might… Read more »

anthony
Guest
anthony

Father Smith – Father Kueng was prophetic from the get go! There were quite a few other prophetic voices in the churches in the late fifties and t;hroughout the sixties. They have by and large faded over the years for one reason or another. But Kueng has blown unfailingly his alpenhorn of reform through the years. He is a most valuable theologian, though I frequently feel uncomfortable with his teachings. I should clarify my awkward statement about Calvinistic attitudes. What I meant to propose is that tendencies to a fairly sturdy Calvinism within the Episcopal Church and its daughter breakaway… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“It is easy to exaggerate the postconciliar RC reaction. It was a fact, and is still with us, maybe even increasingly with us, but the documents of Vatican II are still, both de jure and de facto, considered authoritative.” – Anthony – The fact, Anthony, that the documents of VII are ‘still with you’ does not mean, necessarily, that they are being honoured. We have the same problem with our LAMBETH 1:10 statement, which called for an ethic of respect for the LGBT community within the Church; but that does not mean that certain parts of our Anglican Communion (Uganda… Read more »

anthony
Guest
anthony

Father Smith said “The fact, Anthony, that the documents of VII are ‘still with you’ does not mean, necessarily, that they are being honoured.”

When I said “it is still with us,” I meant the reaction, not the documents. Sorry for not being clearer.

As for parts of the conciliar teachings not being honored, unquestionably. Parts of the New Testament are not honored.