Comments: Kasper pours cold water

I suspect that the Pope, never mind the wider Roman Catholic leadership, are in two minds about this. They probably view the Traditional Anglican Communion like they view the episcopi vagantes, if not identically, that is to say that they recognise the orders, and some liturgical practices, but regard the clerical leadership as illicit.

Pope Benedict probably respects Rowan Williams a lot, but mainline Anglicanism considerably less so, whereas he has a high regard for Orthodoxy and would like to make real moves, including with effect on the papacy, to try and move the Orthodox closer. The view that finds traditionalist Catholic Anglicanism acceptable is probably a similar view to finding Orthodoxy acceptable, and thus the dilemma is to maintain a form of acceptable Anglicanism (as in the TAC) whilst yet these are the people most likely to be recruited into the fold en masse.

Ecumenism is about respect even where there are differences, but the narrower the distance the easier the ability to show such respect.

In the end this Pope probably would take in such a group, and even consider having Anglicanism of that sort under his wing - but that would frighten the Orthodox, who cannot be under his wing. They all have to be equals. So it might then be better to set up recognition, and thus ecumenism involves the Roman Catholic Church accepting a view of apostolic succession beyond its boundaries as not being illicit.

There are quite a number of traditionalist Catholic Anglican groups, some very small now, but they represent only a tendency within Anglicanism and one increasingly marginal after the ordination and consecration of women. If the Roman Catholics absorb them, then there won't be a traditionalist Anglicanism except by those fragments who deliberately refuse papal infallibility but sign up to just about every other dogma.

Posted by Pluralist at Wednesday, 5 December 2007 at 1:07am GMT

Oops, don't you just hate it when that happens?

Posted by Curtis at Wednesday, 5 December 2007 at 4:24am GMT

TAC is the Anglican equivalent of the Lefebvrists, and hardly likely to be viewed any more warmly by the Vatican than the Society of St Pius X is. It seems unlikely that they have 400,000 faithful, if their presence in the UK is anything to go by - a couple of hundred people sounds more likely.

Posted by Fr Mark at Wednesday, 5 December 2007 at 9:03am GMT

Even if such a move were likely, it would be unwelcome to liberal Catholics. Incorporation of married clergy from TAC might call the celibacy rule in question, but it would put back the ordination of women in the RC church forever.

Posted by Eamonn at Wednesday, 5 December 2007 at 12:00pm GMT

TAC is headed by an ex Catholic priest who is twice married divorcee. The press claimed 300 members in Ireland, but TAC admitted less than 30. No wonder the Vatican are cautious.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Wednesday, 5 December 2007 at 4:57pm GMT

The good Cardinal's concerns are misplaced. TAC are not Anglicans.

Posted by Robert Leduc at Wednesday, 5 December 2007 at 5:40pm GMT

Cardinal Kasper is nobody's fool -- IMHO, Fr Mark is absolutely correct -- this group does indeed manifest the Lefebvrist mindset & Kasper is not going to get involved with that (& I do believe that Eamonn is also correct -- Kasper would be sensitive to the concerns of liberal Catholics -- unlike perhaps, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith).

Posted by Prior Aelred at Wednesday, 5 December 2007 at 9:19pm GMT

If TAC wants to join Rome why not just do what Steenson and Lipscomb have done. My father left Roman Catholicism and became and Episcopalian certainly these folks can leave TAC and become Roman Catholics? Ah, there is a catch isn't there?? You can just pick and choose which Roman rules you're going to play by and which ones you want to be able to disregard. No, Kaspar and Benedict don't seem to be in a negotiating mood.

Posted by Bob In PA at Thursday, 6 December 2007 at 2:47am GMT

No the Tac are not Lefebvrist...they are liberals ( despite all their birettas and incense), and I know people are going to say I am a one issue person...riddled with re-married divorcees.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Thursday, 6 December 2007 at 6:45am GMT

what on earth is a "Liberal Catholic" one either accepts the universal faith or not; it is not pick and choose!

Posted by Mark Wharton at Thursday, 6 December 2007 at 3:44pm GMT

Wrong, Mark. That's simply your opinion. Liberals will continue to think and interpret - you carry on accepting unthinkingly, but don't expect others to follow you in depositing their brain on the church step!

Posted by Merseymike at Thursday, 6 December 2007 at 10:23pm GMT

Gee I think a liberal catholic believer is any number of things along the liberal or progressive spectrums of method, hermeneutics, discernment, and the multiple levels of religious and ethical allegiance in daily life. One obvious touchstone is probably a strong commitment to empirical hypothesis testing.

How odd that anybody should be so startled at these ideas - that a whole reasonable range of method, hermeneutics and discernments apply to understanding what some conservative realignment posters evidently like to simplistically tag, the universal faith.

Much about our current knowledge would surprise, puzzle, or even dismay believers in past centuries. So what? Much about the sure knowledge taken for granted in the past might well dismay, puzzle, or surprise us as well.

In place of monarchies and despots, we aspire to democracy and citizenship across all our human differences. Even in more specifically doctrinal areas, there is simply much about which we simply do not agree in conformed detail, unanimous - the adoration of Jesus' mother, Mary, comes to mind as a good example. Indeed, the whole of our religious and world history can be reasonably told quite accurately as a story of our hot button differences, and our slowly but surely changing discernments.

What former centuries' believers so often took for granted - for example, an unquestioned divine right of monarchs to rule, pronounced and rooted in God's very nature, not to mention laid out so clearly in all the observable hierarchies those believers thought they saw as bedrock in nature's orders; we may not take at all for granted.

Our sense of the hierarchies observable in nature has been qualified and repositioned by the great paradigms of ecological systems and of evolution. Key pieces of traditional presumptive and presuppositional foundations - for a faithful understanding of God, for a faithful understanding of what good citizenship innately is - have passed away.

It is not that kings and despots have ceased to exist, but that their authority is hardly divinely established in the understandings of our modern era. Indeed, in many clear cases, the king or despot is so harsh, ignorant, and cruel that one would hardly think of discerning God at work in the mis-uses of state authority which are among the distinguishing marks of such leaders.

Modernity is sketched out so open-endedly – rich with precious details - that we know pretty much we are hardly finished yet.

Posted by drdanfee at Friday, 7 December 2007 at 1:56am GMT

RobertIan W: Archbishop Lefebvre himself was not harsh when it came to sexual ethics. He started his movement to continue the traditional liturgical forms and spirituality. It was not the RC tradition to maintain an unrealistically hard doctrine on sexual ethics: that is something that has only come in during recent years in the RC Church, and was very much emphasised by John Paul II.

Posted by Fr Mark at Friday, 7 December 2007 at 9:10am GMT

"what on earth is a "Liberal Catholic" one either accepts the universal faith or not; it is not pick and choose!"

You can't make yourself believe anything. You can make a conscious decision to stick with the teachings of your church. You can try to change them from within. Or you can hope that some aspects will be something the church will eventually change its teachings on.

But no-one says you can or have to believe with heart and mind absolutely everything just because the church tells you to.

Or did you go through the prescribed beliefs of all possible Christian churches and decide which one you could follow 100%?

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 7 December 2007 at 10:44am GMT

A liberal catholic? Hmmm. How about

'A western-rite Christian who believes in the Real Presence, in the 'ex opere operato' efficacity of the Sacraments, the historic threefold ministry etc etc, but can no more absolutise the Magisterium any more than they will absolutise Scripture'?

Thus it is possible to be a conservative liberal catholic!

'Quod ubique, quod semper' may have worked in the (very) early Church as a definition of catholicism, but doesn't hold good permanently! The anathematising of Luther in C16 sits ill with the Joint Declaration of 1999, so even 'The Universal Faith' shifts over the centuries.

What Mark Wh seems to envisage is a catholic form of the Bible Belt (?The Biretta Belt?). Been there, done that.

Posted by mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Friday, 7 December 2007 at 12:36pm GMT

Mark - After over 20 years as an Anglican hospital Chaplain both in Liverpool and in London 'picking' and 'choosing' is what most Roman Catholics I have met do. Most of them were happy to see an Anglican Chaplain on the wards and to engage me in conversation. Most did not accept papal infalibility, the ban on contraception, or understand why they could not receive communion from me, nor why the churches remained divided. They were far more concerned with the issue of child abuse than homosexuality. Most were happy to see the celibacy rule abolished and a great many were open to having women priests. The Catholic hierarchy presents a monolithic front but the reality is that the fault lines we see in the Anglican communion are there in the Roman Catholic Church. Their bishops are better at stiffling debate with a flock more used to not answering Father back. Perhaps they should come over to the Anglican Church and the Holy See can have our arch conservatives. I suspect that the likes of Cardinal Kasper are terrified that any great influx will upset the tensions simmering beneath the surface of his church.

Posted by AlaninLondon at Friday, 7 December 2007 at 12:46pm GMT

Of course there is such as liberal Catholic. You can be such from either direction: a Catholic who, looking at the depth of the Greek based concepts, realise that they clash with each other in an apophatic sense, and that you then appear (at least on the surface) to be liberal. Alternatively you can be liberal, and indeed be selective according to what stands the tests of reasoning and reasonableness. There is another way too, that if you believe in grace in one sense of another, then the actual details of belief are not so critical.

There are several ways of being liberal Protestant too, and those who have a mixture or Catholic nd Reformed may well have a liberal viewpoint from the fact that the Reformation went in several directions.

Then there is the effect of plain old humanism, either Enlightenment or postmodern.

There are also dedicated Liberal Churches, including a number of small Liberal Catholic Churches with syncretistic, Reformed and Unitarian encounters.

Posted by Pluralist at Friday, 7 December 2007 at 2:06pm GMT

Robert Ian Williams, you are a one issue person!

There, glad that's over.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Friday, 7 December 2007 at 8:59pm GMT

"After over 20 years as an Anglican hospital Chaplain both in Liverpool and in London 'picking' and 'choosing' is what most Roman Catholics I have met do. Most of them were happy to see an Anglican Chaplain on the wards and to engage me in conversation. Most did not accept papal infalibility, the ban on contraception, or understand why they could not receive communion from me, nor why the churches remained divided." (AlaninLondon)

Before I went to seminary, I was visiting in hospital a former RC, a man who had once been a Christian Brother, had become laicized to raise his younger brother and sister, but who was, at this time, an Episcopalian seeking ordination to the priesthood, which he could not do if he remained RC, because he was now married with children. (His wife and children remained RC). When I went into the hospital room, there was one of the man's RC friends, a communion minister, who had stopped by on his rounds. When I entered the room, and was introduced as lay pastoral visitor from my friend's parish, the RC communion minister took out his pyx with the host in it, and said, "Good. Now we can have communion" and pushed it toward me. He and John knew he had been forbidden by the RC Church to give John communion while on his rounds of the hospital. But no one had said a lay Episcopalian woman couldn't do it!

So much for RC order and discipline. We said the service for communion from the reserved Sacrament and all of us received together, the RC communion assistant receiving the host from my hand.

When my friend died and was buried, his service was done by the Episcopalian bishop, in the man's former RC parish church, with his former RC priest preaching, and with the front row filled with the black suits and white collars of the RC diocesan "observers" who were there to make sure the Catholics kept to the order and discipline of their church. They didn't. The priest didn't receive communion, but all the laity did, and their priest did nothing to stop them.

Does that constitute "liberal Roman Catholics"?

Posted by Lois Keen at Friday, 7 December 2007 at 9:28pm GMT

Gee, and I thought that catholicism and liberal thought of academia went hand in hand over the centuries.

'Gotta stop thinking so much.

Posted by choirboyfromhell at Friday, 7 December 2007 at 10:14pm GMT

Alan's comment reminds me of an observation.\

The typical North American (and possibly UK) Roman Catholic desires a church with catholic liturgy, catholic sacraments, catholic church order, they believe their clergy should be allowed to marry, they are okay with the ordination of women and they don't want to listen to the pope on certain issues. What are Anglicans? We have catholic liturgy, catholic sacraments and catholic church order, our clergy can marry, we ordain women and we don't have to listen to the pope. Ergo, QED, the typical North American (and possibly UK) Roman Catholic IS an Anglican but just doesn't realize it.

More seriously, I attended the ordination of a (female) deacon last week. One Roman Catholic priest was there, vested, processed as just another pries rather than as an ecumenical representative. Of course, in a visible role, he did not receive communion. He and I spoke at some length afterwards of the pain involved in not receiving at a celebration of the eucharist.

Posted by Malcolm+ at Saturday, 8 December 2007 at 6:43am GMT

Response to Comments.....Archbishop Lefebvre kept the line on sexual ethics as do the Society of St Pius X....although I pray they will reconcile to Rome.

Yes there is much confusion amongst British lay Catholics, but look at the wishy washy episcopate and the lack of coherent teaching in the schools for the past thirty years.

Yes, the same fault line exists, but the promise to Peter remains. The house on the rock is lashed by the storm, but will not go under.

I apologise if I sound one issue Martin( my fellow Welshman), but if certain persons are asserting they are saving marriage by attacking another group... I will speak out and show them that they are exerting a double standard and risking their own souls.

I was a evangelical...and through God's grace discovered the authentic Catholic I understand the evangelical mindset, which at its heart is as subjective as the liberal rationalist.

I am grateful of the tolerance given to me by this website, which was not shared by Stand Fierm...because I kept reminding them about their divorced constituency.

Wasn't Giles Fraser , brilliant in the Church Times on Evangelicals and divorce?

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Saturday, 8 December 2007 at 7:40am GMT

The marriage analogy is puzzling, indeed. It comes up so often, especially triggered by Canterbury's remarks to similar effect.

But if we are joined, it is by Jesus as Risen Lord of whose body we are all made members by baptism and by the following that baptism empowers us - even lures us - into.

Can that be severed by anybody but God the Holy Spirit? Note that conservative realignment leaders are campaigning on two fronts simultaneously. The realignment campaign first seeks to have one sort of believer party separated from another. Repeat, shake well, use smaller and smaller containers, ad infinitum? At the same time, the realignment campaign seeks to revise and narrow the hermeneutic and confessional boundaries of Anglicanism - formerly so intentionally wide and flexible and open-ended- so that from that point onwards only a locked-step, cookie-cutter sort of believer will do.

These two campaign initiatives strike keenly at the very heart of modern pluralistic citizenship - because we hear preached that we can no longer tolerate people different from ourselves (danger, danger Will Robinson, dontcha know?), and we are told we cannot ethically and religiously be ourselves without compelling others to be exactly like us. The totalitarian message of the conservative realignment is clear in any number of ways, from any number of different angles.

Alas. Lord have mercy.

Posted by drdanfee at Saturday, 8 December 2007 at 5:38pm GMT

They really ought to consider it. Allowing conservative Anglo-Catholics to go over to Rome would raise the IQ of both Churches.

Posted by MRG at Sunday, 9 December 2007 at 1:26am GMT

Is MRG a code for Doctor Paisley.....?

God generally chooses the thick not the psuedo-intellectuals.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Tuesday, 11 December 2007 at 8:13am GMT

Robert Ian Williams: "God generally chooses the thick not the psuedo-intellectuals." I think reasoned discussion rather than unquestioning obedience to the indefensible is a hallmark of the Anglican tradition. Many of us on here, I suspect, are concerned to keep it that way. We have a lot to offer worldwide Christianity if we can maintain that tradition - there are plenty of refugees from the more authoritarian churches who have found a home in Anglicanism.

Posted by Fr Mark at Tuesday, 11 December 2007 at 9:03am GMT
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