Thursday, 16 September 2010

Papal visit: more Anglican angles

Giles Fraser spoke on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme today about Anglican reactions to the Pope’s visit to Britain. For the next few days you can hear what he said at Fraser: Anglicans ‘not anti-Pope’.

Kelvin Holdsworth was critical of some of the Pope’s remarks at Holyrood Palace this morning. See Where to find a place to stand?. Earlier he had written What to say to the Pope, which includes a link to the mural displayed outside St John’s Episcopal Church in Edinburgh, which was on the papal route today.

Abigail Frymann has written at the Tablet Blog The Vatican needs a few English lessons. After dealing with the Kasper gaffe, she writes:

What will Benedict say about Anglicans while he is here? Will his affection and respect for Dr Rowan Williams endear him to the troublesome Anglicans who, 500 years after running off with the family silver have opened the door to women priests, supplied the Catholic Church with married priests and seem to take a far fuzzier line on gay issues than does the Vatican? Will he reiterate his invitation for them to join Rome en masse? At best, using carefully chosen words, Pope Benedict could praise what the Vatican calls “Anglican patrimony”. In his homily at Newman’s beatification, or his meeting with the Queen or with Dr Williams and the other Anglican bishops, he could recognise the good the Church of England does, the initiatives for growth it has successfully pioneered, and the parity of its struggles with those of the Catholic Church. At worst, if there is an awkward moment behind closed doors, a subtle criticism, an unfortunate choice of words, between guest and host, let’s hope both Benedict and Koch grasp the use of the line, “More tea, vicar?”

Catherine Pepinster has written at Cif belief Cardinal Kasper take note: the Catholic church in Britain is full of immigrants. This includes the following observation:

…Kasper, like Benedict, is also deeply concerned about the Church of England and fears that it is on the point of schism over women bishops and gay priests. And while people might assume that Rome is keen for that schism if it means hundreds of Anglicans cross the Tiber and become part of what is called an “ordinariate” – a special grouping of Anglicans within the Roman Catholic church – if you talk to people at the pontifical council in Rome and, indeed, to the Catholic hierarchy here in Britain, they want the established church here to be strong…

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Categorised as: Church of England | Scottish Episcopal Church

"Ecumenical relationship work in practice, but they don't work in theory" - Canon Giles Fraser -

In his interview Canon Giles speaks of a reality, that neither Rome nor Canterbury - at the highest level - will probably talk about on this visit of Pope Benedict. Tea and tiny cakes at Lambeth Palace will probably not produce much more than theological niceties - which profess agreement on doctrinal matters studied by ARCIC, but which have not produced any confessional convergence.

Cardinal Kasper's unfortunate remarks about the UK's rampant atheism will not help conversation between the Queen/Rowan Williams and Papa Benedict either. Rome's arrogance on its primacy amongst its own bishops around the world is a problem - not only for the wider Catholic Church but also for the Body of Christ in Christendom as a whole. Therefore, any attempt at rigid papal dogmatism on this visit will put back official relationships between our two Communions even further than they are at the moment - in the wake of the 'Ordinariates' scandal.

It may not be too late for Benedict to apologise for Kasper's racist remarks - that is provided he really does regret them. Otherwise, the distance between Rome and Canterbury might extend further.

However, as Giles intimates in his interview, the relationships on the ground are far more cordial than the Vatican might actually want them to be. Individual Roman C. clergy and laity have already expressed their distaste for overbearing rule from Rome: simply by offering fellowship with their Anglican counterparts - in the belief that 'Crowns and thrones may perish' but the Body of Christ will live on.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Friday, 17 September 2010 at 2:02am BST

Fr Ron
Can you please explain what you mean when you say Kasper should apologise for his racist remarks?

I'm not being obtuse, I would genuinely like to think what you perceive as being racist here. Because, if the interpretation that Britain was judged negatively compared to other Western societies is true, then it is surely the developing countries Kasper needs to apologise to, for the implications that Third World means everything undesireable, possible to do with race.

But generally, the comments are interpreted as a slur against Britain, in which case they would not be racist but merely completely ignorant.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 17 September 2010 at 9:27am BST

Comment on Kelvin Holdsworth's piece: I think KH's observation is certainly correct that UK, the Commonwealth and USA didn't go to war against Hitler because he was an atheist. Indeed as Christians we should all remember the atrocities the Church (ie all of us) has committed against our fellow human-beings and often our fellow-christians. Remember the Cathars, the crusades, the inquisition, and on and on. Even when a society defines itself as Christian, that has never been a guarantee that Christ's teachings are it's code of conduct.

Posted by: Sara MacVane on Friday, 17 September 2010 at 11:44am BST

I found the Pope's reference to Nazi Germany disgustingly offensive.

He seems to have forgotten the many Christian bodies in Germany that in fact, openly or tacitly, supported Hitler as a bastion against the atheist Russian communists. He seems also unmindful of the silence of the Vatican during that time and its ability to get along with Nazism and Italian facism. But then, he's hot for the canonization of his predecsssor who presided over the church so disgracefully.

Shame on him.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Friday, 17 September 2010 at 1:39pm BST

I have not heard one wee word yet or even an allusion to Scotland's national established Kirk.

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Friday, 17 September 2010 at 2:24pm BST

I agree completely with Cynthia Gilliatt ( on Friday, 17 September)

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Friday, 17 September 2010 at 8:54pm BST

"Fr Ron
Can you please explain what you mean when you say Kasper should apologise for his racist remarks?"

- Erika Baker, on Friday -

the term "Third World" has now become an epithet implying a disdain for the object of the remark. Sad, but true. You only have to read the comment on this by R.I.W. on another thread to see how even Roman Catholics like Robert see the point.

I personally didn't see Kaspar's remark as an insult against the UK, particularly. In it's context, I thought it alluded to the multi-racial experience of landing at Heathrow Airport and finding a diversity of ethnic origins.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Saturday, 18 September 2010 at 10:33am BST

anglican angles? As in 'non angeli sed anglicani'?

Posted by: mynsterpreost (= David Rowett) on Saturday, 18 September 2010 at 11:19pm BST

Laurence ..the Holy Father greeted the Church of Scotland at the Glasgow Mass and met with the Moderator at Holyrood House.

The world's busiest airport is bound to be multi cultural, and the inhabitants of that part of greater London are now predominately people of Indian extraction.

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Sunday, 19 September 2010 at 7:13am BST

Fr Ron
“the term "Third World" has now become an epithet implying a disdain for the object of the remark.” RIW: “and the inhabitants of that part of greater London are now predominately people of Indian extraction.”

But that's precisely the point I don't understand.
You see, I do a lot of translation work for someone in Germany who, until recently, was a member of the Vatican's interfaith commission (can’t remember the proper official title right now). And although I am highly critical of Rome on a number of issues, I do admire what they do in this field and I like what the Pope has to say about interfaith dialogue, which doesn't get reported much in our press but which is nevertheless important and impressive.

So to take presumed Muslim or Hindu faces at an airport and then to use this to make derogatory remarks about Britain is entirely against everything Rome stands for in this respect. And Cardinal Kasper would know this.

The Pope is concerned about atheism and about a lack of faith. He knows that many immigrants are from growing Christian communities, he knows that Islam is an important faith – and although we don’t agree on what we ought to believe in, you cannot fault their family values from a Catholic point of view and their opposition to our individualistic me-me-me society. And the Christian-Muslim dialogue credentials are tops.

So from all kinds of angles, derogatory remarks about arriving at Heathrow and seeing foreign faces simply do not make sense to me.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Sunday, 19 September 2010 at 9:15pm BST
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