THINKING ANGLICANS

Women bishops: valid sacraments and catholicity

Two more articles on this subject from Modern church by Jonathan Clatworthy.

Women bishops and valid sacraments

This article focuses on a central concern of opponents, the conditions for the validity of the sacraments, expressed for example in Simon Killwick’s article in the Church Times in July 2010. My aim is to undermine this concern by describing the historical origins and theological weaknesses of the idea.

Women bishops and catholicity

This article aims to clarify the claims being made. What is the universal Church? In what sense does the Church of England belong to it? How, if at all, does the universal Church make or allow changes? What stops women priests and bishops being one of the changes?

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Bill Dilworth
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Bill Dilworth

I have the same problem with Jonathan Clatworthy as I do with Simon Killwick: they both assume that the opponents of women’s ordination speak for all Anglo-Catholics, and present the most stringent position as The Anglo-Catholic Position.

Bill Dilworth
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In the article on women bishops, Clatworthy sums up the view of sacramental validity this way: “What this means is that God does not turn the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ so the congregation do not receive the spiritual benefits they have been misled to expect. Had they walked down the road to Christchurch, where the priest is male, they would have received the spiritual benefits; but they do not.” If this is the “Anglo-Catholic position” in Britain, it seems a faulty one in light of the fact that physically receiving Holy Communion is NOT… Read more »

Marshall Scott
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You know, Clatworthy’s papers brought to my attention another “innovation” that separates churches in the Anglican tradition from that of Rome or Orthodoxy, one of which their occasional Evangelical fellow travelers ought to be attentive. The churches of the Anglican Communion, unlike Rome or Orthodoxy, embrace the Hebrew Old Testament, and not the Septuagint, as the standard for belief. With the Articles, we might find Apocryphal books as useful for education in morals; but they aren’t Scripture, at least in the sense of Torah, Histories, and Prophets. If we’re to lean toward the “three denomination” vision of the Universal Church… Read more »

John E. Clifford
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John E. Clifford

I would like to see Mr. Clatworthy’s dissection of the arguments about the Anglican Covenant and the related brouhaha. It seems that similar reasons (but of more recent origin) are being presented for doing new things in odd ways and not doing ordinary things in traditional ways. (But I do suppose ABC like the notion of apostolic succession.)

ruidh
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ruidh

The Catholic answer to these questions of validity is not new. The Faith of the people supplies whatever the celebrant is lacking. The 39 Articles themselves say that the worthiness of the minister doesn’t affect the validity of the sacrament. XXVI. Of the Unworthiness of the Ministers, which hinders not the effect of the Sacraments. Although in the visible Church the evil be ever mingled with the good, and sometimes the evil have chief authority in the Ministration of the Word and Sacraments, yet forasmuch as they do not the same in their own name, but in Christ’s, and do… Read more »

Laurence Roberts
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Laurence Roberts

Clatworthy’s articles are interesting. And I realise,I have no desire to ‘kneel at an altar’.

That practice seems as problematic to me as those he dismantles so fully.

Fr Mark
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I don’t agree with Jonathan Clatworthy that the 19th century Anglo-Catholics were trying to return to a magical worldview. I think they were very realistic often hard-headed practical-minded churchbuilders with a drive for mission in modern urban contexts, rather than mediaeval romanticisers. I think he misunderstands what the Catholic Revival was about, which was the rediscovery that despite all the iconcolastic battering of the Reformation and Puritan periods, the Catholic religion still survives and touches people in ways that the Protestant one cannot. Jonathan Clatworthy does the cause for the ordination of women a disservice by making arguments that are… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
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JCF
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JCF

“Rome, meanwhile, resolutely refuses to acknowledge Anglican orders; to most Anglicans the continued appeal to the ‘universal Church’ sounds like the unhappy state of a deserted lover who years after the separation still refuses to do anything of which the beloved would have disapproved.” Heh, I can relate. When my ex left and divorced me, I spent a couple of years in a fog like this (thankfully, and by the Grace of God, I outgrew it!) @Fr Mark. On the surface, I agree that Clatworthy is “making arguments that are basically against the whole Catholic sacramental system.” However, underneath, I… Read more »

Hector
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Re: With the Articles, we might find Apocryphal books as useful for education in morals; but they aren’t Scripture, at least in the sense of Torah, Histories, and Prophets. This is simply word games, as far as I can tell. We include them in the daily office and the lectionary, thus they’re scripture as far as I’m concerned. The bit about them being ‘not scripture in the strict sense’ might have made sense in the 17th century to please the Calvinists, but there’s no reason we still need to follow it to the letter today. Incidentally, it’s always seemed very… Read more »

Hector
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Hector

Re: If we’re to lean toward the “three denomination” vision of the Universal Church (or even of its norms and “best practices”) we need to note that distinction as well. I’m not sure why. The non-chalcedon churches (Armenians, Copts, and Jacobites) are all in communion with each other, even though they differ on what books are in the canon (the Jacobites of Syria & India have a shorter Bible then we do, the Ethiopian Church have a longer one). That we differ about the exact status of the Deuterocanon (and personally I view it as scripture same as the rest… Read more »

Robert Ian Williams
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Robert Ian Williams

Jonathan Clatworthy states..”There was a renewed conviction that the priest really does have powers unavailable to lay people, that the Prayer of Consecration, uttered by a priest, really can turn bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ, and that the consecrated sacrament really can affect the spiritual condition of the Christian communicant.

This sacramentalism is in a sense a revival of medieval magic.”

A statement that Ian Paisley and many other Protestant fundamentalists would heartily agree.

Now what do you think of that Bill and Ron?

Bill Dilworth
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“Now what do you think of that Bill and Ron?”

Well, thank goodness the RCC has never given rise to individuals who don’t conform to its teachings! Rome, here I come! Yep – I can be sure that *everyone* in the RCC always believes the same thing.

Oh, wait – no they don’t. Never mind. Guess I’ll stay an Anglican after all.

Seriously, though – why on earth would what a CofE priest says affect me? Has the CofE adopted his views while I wasn’t looking?

Pluralist
Guest

There is a distinction to be made between the supernatural and the magical, and it isn’t always the case that ‘the right way to do something’ implies a magical approach when it involves supernature. What Jonathan Clatworthy seems to be doing is bringing it all down to an anthropological and consensual understanding, a sort of whatever floats the boat and works approach. The problem with that argument for many Anglicans – yet one I agree with – is that it allows anything to evolve in terms of consensual agreement and what seems to work. Thus any practice can be legitimate,… Read more »

Laurence Roberts
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Laurence Roberts

“(don’t have the 1662 book at hand this second, but I think it’s in there, too).”

Yes, Bill it most certainly is in the BCP. You make a vital point.

I would have thought that contrary to the impression given on TA., many (most)parishioners in England, are at heart receptionists, as is the BCP Communion Service itself. Many of the scruples being expressed melt away in the light of the understanding of eucharist articulated in 1552.

Perhaps if Communion were celebrated less frequently,a sense of perspective might be restored to us.

john
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john

I agree with much of Clatworthy’s argument, in both pieces. But his cry for more discussion of the theology is a waste of time. FiF people (and, of course, not only they) are NEVER going to accept his arguments re the Eucharist. Father Mark, My Proddy soul (or part of my soul) dislikes talk of ‘the Catholic religion’ as opposed to ‘the Protestant one’ (terminology much beloved of a certain type of RC), as if the differences between ‘Catholicism’ (to the extent that it is an entity) and ‘Protestantism’ (ditto) were of the same magnitude as those between Christianity or… Read more »

Bill Dilworth
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“Perhaps if Communion were celebrated less frequently,a sense of perspective might be restored to us.” It’s not very Anglo-Catholic of me, but sometimes I wish that we followed the pattern that prevailed in much of Anglicanism in the 20th century: Early Celebration, at 8:00, and then Morning Prayer as the principal service at 9 or whatever. Since ECUSA formally adopted the policy that the Eucharist is to be the primary service on Sundays and Holy Days we’ve poorer for the loss of MP. Oh, it may still be wedged in as a preliminary service to HE, but it’s probably sparsely… Read more »

Bill Dilworth
Guest

“The churches of the Anglican Communion, unlike Rome or Orthodoxy, embrace the Hebrew Old Testament, and not the Septuagint, as the standard for belief.” Well, yes and no. The Articles specify that the Apocrypha isn’t to be appealed to as a basis for doctrine, but the versions of the Bibles that Anglicans use take Septuagint readings into account. That and the fact that, AFAIK, allusions to the Old Testament that occur in the NT seem to refer to the Septuagint means we aren’t as cut off from it as might appear at first. The Old Testament that appears in Christian… Read more »

drdanfee
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drdanfee

Believers are really up against it when/if disputations and doubts and differences manage to have us shifting gears – from God as the trustworthy guarantor of sacrament powers – to dark whispers and odors all having to do with ritualistic purities, substitutes for a law of diminishing returns as we grow increasingly preoccupied with weighing and fearing neighbors instead of understanding/relating to them? Just go way back, keep every jot and tittle of the Law – claiming your version is the purest of course – and avert your eyes, heart, body, mind, soul from God to that very extent? Where… Read more »

David da Silva Cornell
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David da Silva Cornell

>> The Catholic answer to these questions of validity is not new. The Faith of the people supplies whatever the celebrant is lacking. The 39 Articles themselves say that the worthiness of the minister doesn’t affect the validity of the sacrament. << [ruidh] From a Catholic perspective (and I write as a cradle RC and progressive A-C), the foregoing assertion conflates two distinct concepts: (a) the worthiness of the minister and (b) the *nature* of the minister, i.e., is the person acting as minister even really a *valid* minister in the first place. The first goes to the personal moral… Read more »

Bill Dilworth
Guest

David, you wrote: “E.g., the Eucharist was not truly confected at their Masses…”

But, given the very Catholic practice of making a “Spiritual Communion,” an echo of which can be found in the rubrics in the Communion of the Sick (cited above), surely there’s no practical difference for a communicant who takes part in them thinking that they are valid celebrations of the Eucharist – doesn’t it?

Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

“as other parts of the universal Christian Church do not have women priests and bishops, for the Church of England to introduce them is to set us at odds with them so that we cease to be part of the universal Church.” – Jonathan Clatworthy – What is seemingly not understood here is that in parts of the world-wide Anglican Communion (which is in communion with the Church of England) there are already women priests, and in some Provinces, women Bishops. To say that: ‘For the Church of England to introduce them’ – when the C.of E. has already taken… Read more »

Marshall Scott
Guest

Hector, Bill: Thanks for responding,. Hector, remember that until very recently both Rome and Constantinople considered the “ecclesial defects” of the Oriental Orthodox churches at least as serious as those of the Anglican churches, and those of the Churches of the East to be even more so. They do indeed differ from the Western Churches (and in this historical context, the Orthodox churches are “Western,” institutions of the Roman Empire) on the Canon; and those differences were certainly seen as part of the evidence of separation. Bill, Hector, since one of critical arguments *among* Anglican churches is about interpretation of… Read more »

David da Silva Cornell
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David da Silva Cornell

>> But, given the very Catholic practice of making a “Spiritual Communion,” an echo of which can be found in the rubrics in the Communion of the Sick (cited above), surely there’s no practical difference for a communicant who takes part in them thinking that they are valid celebrations of the Eucharist – doesn’t it? << Bill — In a word, yes — yes, there is a significant difference, from a Catholic perspective (both RC and A-C). “Practical” is a term that doesn’t really enter into the Catholic categories at play here. The operative categories would be “spiritual” and “sacramental.”… Read more »

Bill Dilworth
Guest

1 of 2 David, thank you for your explanation. I hope a couple of questions won’t bother you (or Simon). “An act of “spiritual communion” is *not* the Eucharist. It is a second-best devotion for use when the sacrament is not available; it does not replace, or rise to the level of, the Eucharist.” Well, of course it isn’t the Eucharist. But what we’re really talking here is the Presence of Christ, not any particular liturgical or extra-liturgical rite, I think. And while there may be liturgical hierarchy, I don’t see how it makes sense to rank different manifestations of… Read more »

Bill Dilworth
Guest

2 of 2 What to make of the rubric in the service for the Communion of the Sick: “If a person desires to receive the Sacrament, but, by reason of extreme sickness or physical disability, is unable to eat and drink the Bread and Wine, the Celebrant is to assure that person that all the benefits of Communion are received, even though the Sacrament is not received with the mouth”? Why would one be able to receive “all the benefits of Communion” without taking the Sacrament in one situation, but not another? It appears from the textual witness of the… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

Bill. I believe there can be such a thing as the ‘Communion of/by Desire’. A possible case occurred in my experience this morning, thus: Having just experienced a 7.1 (it turns out to have been) Earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, the CBD has been close off to all but residents and business managers. Apparently this morning, for all intents and purposes, I became a ‘business manager’ – as I was allowed through the barriers to Celebrate the 8am Mass, in company with the Parish Priest who had arrived earlier to field calls from parishioners who intended to attend the Mass… Read more »

David da Silva Cornell
Guest
David da Silva Cornell

1 of 2 – Bill, a few responses: Re “I don’t see how it makes sense to rank different manifestations of the Presence of Christ. Different in the way they occur? Yes. One better than another? Well, either Christ is present, or he isn’t. Being present would seem to be in the same category as being pregnant – you either are or you aren’t. Aren’t you? :-)” Apples and oranges; not analogous to being pregnant. There are indeed degrees of presence, and different ways of being present. Someone may be “present” in person, by phone, or by Skype. Silly example,… Read more »

David da Silva Cornell
Guest
David da Silva Cornell

2 of 2 Re Aquinas: Read in its full context, this is a prayer for the valid Sacrament to not just be received physically but for it to work its grace. In other words, yes, the disposition of the communicant matters — but in terms of maximizing the action of the grace received. The full grace conveyed by the Sacrament exists regardless of the disposition of the communicant, but is *received* by the communicant dependent upon her/his disposition. But to receive at all, it has to be a valid Sacrament in the first place – which requires a valid priest.… Read more »

Bill Dilworth
Guest

Thanks for the response, David. “Someone may be “present” in person, by phone, or by Skype. Silly example, but see the point?” Not really. It would never occur to me that, for example, because I telephoned Buckingham Palace and spoke with someone, that I had ever been present there. I don’t think that’s what we mean by “being present.” “Re the 39 Articles, I’m not quite sure why you have cited them a couple of times.” Because they refer to a position of St. Augustine. “But the key point is that citing the 39 Articles in attempting to ascertain a… Read more »

Bill Dilworth
Guest

Father Ron, first of all I’m very happy to learn that you’re okay. You were the first thought in my mind when I saw the news of the quake.

“NOW, in celebrating that Mass, I felt that those who had intended to come, but were unable by force of circumstance, were actually present with me in spirit – and therefore valid recipients of the grace of the Sacrament. Do you have a comment?”

Other than “This makes sense to me, but probably won’t pass muster with David’s take on the sacramental system,” no.

Bill Dilworth
Guest

Incidentally,, the 1549 BCP was even fuller in its assurances given to people separated from Christ in the Blessed Sacrament: “:ΒΆ But yf any man eyther by reason of extremitie of sickenesse, or for lacke of warnyng geven in due tyme, to the curate, or by any other just impedimente, doe not receyne the sacramente of Christes bodye and bloud then the curate shall instruct hym, that yf he doe truely repent hym of his sinnes and stedfastly beleve that Jesus Christ hath suffered death upon the cosse for hym, and shed his bloud for his redempcion, earnestly remembring the… Read more »

Bill Dilworth
Guest

“And as far as I know, the RC requirement is still that there be at least a symbolic consumption as an objective act — such as placing a drop of wine on the tongue of a person who cannot consume a host or swallow the wine. “

That’s not a symbolic consumption, David – it’s consumption. Christ is fully present in the smallest crumb of the consecrated Bread and the smallest drop of the consecrated Wine. What you are describing here is simply receiving Communion under one species, reduced to the bare minimum.

Bill Dilworth
Guest

Father Ron, your use of the phrase Communion by Desire really hit me at church this morning. It makes perfect sense: if there’s such a thing as Baptism by Desire, then why not Communion by Desire? I googled the term when I got home, and came up with 171 hits for it, and a whopping 3,980 for Communion *of* Desire! It seems that it is used as a term for what I was taught to call making an Act of Spiritual Communion. I think it’s much more accurate than the term I was taught to use (isn’t every reception of… Read more »

David da Silva Cornell
Guest
David da Silva Cornell

>> The problem I’ve got with the positions you put forth is that they seem to make the Blessed Sacrament a straitjacket for Christ. We are, after all, talking about a real and active Person, not a passive object of contemplation. He goes where he wants to go. He’s promised to be with us under certain circumstances (e.g. the Sacrament) but that can’t possibly mean that he’s limited to those circumstances. << Bill, we could go on and on, and I’m happy to do so if you wish, whether here or by private e-mail, and address such sideshows as your… Read more »

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

Solidarity with Ron and our kith and kin in Christchurch! Our prayers are with you.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Fr. Ron, also glad to hear you are alright… there were prayers for New Zealand this morning in Nova Scotia.. there was a Eucharist this morning in our parish church without electricity because of hurricane Earl… a very minor nuisance it turns out compared with the quake in New Zealand… blessings to you and all there.

Bill Dilworth
Guest

Wow, David, the Articles of Religion really did push a button, didn’t they? I was taught that it’s possible to give the Articles a Catholic reading (I suppose that would be the intellectual contortion you write of above). If my citing them really bothers you that much, just leave it alone. For the record, I don’t disagree with you about Clatworthy. I simply think that he, at least, has misstated the Catholic position. Let me make a clarification. I am not arguing for a receptionist view of the Blessed Sacrament; I believe in a Real and Objective Presence in the… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

Thank you, Robert. “It’s moments like these you need Minties” – and the prayers of friends – and even those of people with whom you may have not always agreed. Pax Vobiscum!

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

Bill. I still remember the story of Teilhard de Chardin who, on one occasion when he was in the desert without wine or bread – or any means of physically *Making Eucharist* – he cupped his hands together and prayed: “Lord become the Bread and Wine of the Eucharist for me today – or words to that effect. I found that most inspirational – but only to be used in an absolute emergency. And remember, as a R.C. priest, T. de C. would have been used to celebrate Mass every day. So that to be deprived of it – even… Read more »

Bill Dilworth
Guest

I just noticed this passage in the first article:

“This objection to women as priests and bishops has its place within a larger set of conditions: consecration of Holy Communion will also be invalidated if red wine is not used…”

That is, of course, incorrect. In the West there is no requirement that the wine used at Mass be red, although there is such a requirement in the Eastern Orthodox Churches.

David da Silva Cornell
Guest
David da Silva Cornell

>> Wow, David, the Articles of Religion really did push a button, didn’t they? I was taught that it’s possible to give the Articles a Catholic reading (I suppose that would be the intellectual contortion you write of above). If my citing them really bothers you that much, just leave it alone. << “Bothers” and “buttons” assume an emotional investment on my part that I don’t think you’re in a position to evaluate, Bill. But notwithstanding Tractarian mental gymnastics to re-shape them, I assume from your clearly well-informed state of knowledge that you know perfectly well that when originally written… Read more »

Bill Dilworth
Guest

” “The Sacraments were not ordained of Christ to be gazed upon or to be carried about,” etc etc.”

I was taught that the proper response to this was, “Well, whoever said they were?”

Bill Dilworth
Guest

“Of course not — God’s grace flows where God wills it to flow!” I am glad that we agree on this. ” But “sacramental” is a specific, distinct subset of “spiritual,” and sacraments carry unique assurances of grace in a way that other spiritual acts do not — that’s inherent in their being sacraments, isn’t it?” But that assurance has to do only with where grace is to be found, not where it isn’t. It assures us that when the Church rightly administers the Sacraments, grace results, not *only* when the Church rightly administers the Sacraments. It’s probably worth noting… Read more »

Bill Dilworth
Guest

By the way, Newman wasn’t the first one to interpret the Articles in a Catholic sense. That would be the seventeenth century friar Franciscus a Sancta Clara, in his “Paraphrastica Expositio Articulorum Confessionis Anglicanae”.