Comments: opinion

William Oddie's essay (and the comments on it) is a travesty. Heaven forfend that the leaders of two great Christian communities should meet to discuss the issues they CAN agree on...after all, the ordination of gays and women is so much more important than the conditions of the poor and suffering in our world.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Saturday, 15 June 2013 at 11:33am BST

Oh my, Mr. Oddie. Who actually has "so wilfully made unity impossible"? The simple fact is that Christian Unity will never exist in the future until Rome starts taking Matthew 20:25-28 as seriously as it takes its own interpretation of Matthew 16:18-19. The comments to the Catholic Herald article demonstrate that they Just Don't Get It. Forty years ago we had real hopes for Anglican-Roman reunion. I have not been holding my breath for a long time.

Posted by Bill Moorhead at Saturday, 15 June 2013 at 1:53pm BST

It's shocking, sad, and almost unbelievable that someone like Mr. Oddie wpould write such an article and have it published in a Roman Catholic paper in 2013. Considering that visits to Rome by Archbishops of Canterbury have been happening for half a century (and vice versa), why should this now be an issue? Didn't Rowan Williams recently address a group of bishops there? Where was the indignation then? Well, we know Mr. Oddie's opinion. Articles like this could have been written in 1913 or even 1513, not now. The supposition that only the Holy Roman Church is the one and only true Church (with the exception of some Orthodox) and that Anglicans are heretic hell-bound Protestants gives ample evidence of the corrosive effects and attrction of saying that one is saved and all others are damned. An attraction by some to the Roman Church, no doubt. But there is nothing of Jesus in it. Sadly, it's getting worse. The "old" Roman exclusivity seems to have returned.

Posted by Richard Grand at Saturday, 15 June 2013 at 3:47pm BST

It is not so much Dr Oddie's article that is revealing (many Thinking Anglicans will remember his somewhat dyspeptic journalism in the run up to the ordination of women - before he swam the Tiber), as the thread that follows. Absent a few contributions remonstrating at the tone of the article and thread, the response of the great majority of Catholic Herald readers to the views expressed by Dr Oddie is remarkable for 2013. For many of them it is still 1613. I read the thread with an increasing sense of numbness and desolation. Why should anyone outside the churches not think, on reading such a thread, that the whole concept of Christian charity is nothing but the most arrant hypocrisy and all the exhortations to fellowship and kindness declaimed from so many pulpits the most ludicrous impertinence?

Posted by Froghole at Saturday, 15 June 2013 at 4:47pm BST

I have often said that ARCIC is a profligate use of time and money. William Oddie’s essay makes it clear why that is the case.

Posted by Lionel Deimel at Saturday, 15 June 2013 at 4:56pm BST

William Oddie must surely be a candidate for the Pio Nono prize. It is important, not to mention good behavior modelling, for the leaders of two Christian traditions to meet, get to know one another better, and advance dialogue. One does not have to aspire to the lofty and increasingly problematic heights of ecumenism to do so--it's just basic decent and civil behavior.

Oddie's slam at ARCIC is also unfortunate.
The churches need more, not less, theological engagement from their respective experts. I suspect that the issues of eucharist, ministry, and authority seemed no less insurmountable to our faith ancestors as do modern issues in human sexuality to some of us. The ABC and the Pope are to be commended for getting together in the early days of their respective leadership stints. People of goodwill expect nothing less.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Saturday, 15 June 2013 at 5:21pm BST

Dr Oddie's article is a sour and uncharitable read, and some of the comments below it are distasteful and even hateful.

However, is there not an underlying truth in what Dr Oddie writes? Did not the churches of the Anglican Communion in effect come to a junction in the road, at which they could *either* move towards the ordination of women as priests and bishops while giving up any thought of reunion with Rome, *or* seek reunion with Rome while giving up any thought of ordaining women as priests and bishops, but *could not possibly do both*?

The Anglican Communion's choice has been to embrace women's ordination while rejecting any possibility of reunion with Rome. Fair enough. But it's no use pretending that there is now any point in talking to Rome about reunion, rather than mere ecumenical co-operation - and the dialogue has been broken off by us, *not* the RCs.

Posted by Veuster at Saturday, 15 June 2013 at 5:35pm BST

For what it is worth, I do not find it necessarily true that the Church of Rome will be without women in the priestly orders til the end of time. The rationales against such ordinations given at Trent were later repudiated by the Vatican, in the materials surrounding _Inter Insignores_, and the reasons advanced in those documents have been abandoned if not repudiated by the much simpler gag order on the matter. Read the pronouncements carefully and you will see that they are littered with loopholes, far move easily traversed than the seemingly airtight language of _Apostolica Curae!_

All that being said, cordial dialogue should continue, if for no other reason than to show how Christians can get along even when they disagree.

Posted by Tobias Haller at Saturday, 15 June 2013 at 7:09pm BST

To many of us Anglicans it sounds extraordinarily arrogant to suggest that all the obstacles to unity have been brought about by the Anglicans: Papal infallibility and declaring Anglican orders null and void didn't much help. Whether Anglican bishops are male, female gay or straight is irrelevant - they are all null and void, an issue which Rome has not addressed. The rejection by Ratzinger of the amazing work ARCIC achieved before women were priests could be added too, as well as declaring all churches other than Roman and Orthodox ones patronisingly as ecclesial communities, and the stricter line towards intercommunion are but a few, before we get on to things like contraception sexual ethics etc.

But Welby and the Pope are to be admired for reaching out to each other for the sake of the world's poor and disadvantaged and for ignoring the poisonous invective of Mr Oddie and his ilk.

Posted by sjh at Saturday, 15 June 2013 at 8:35pm BST

For a different perspective: I was raised in a conservative Greek Orthodox parish. Our rector was a monk from Patmos. From childhood, we were taught that the Roman Catholic Church lapsed into schism when it assumed an authority it did not have and excommunicated the Patriarchy of Constantinople. Further, our priests taught us that the Roman Church fell into heresy when it placed core Orthodox doctrine, based on centuries of Sacred Tradition, under the anathema and then proceeded to promulgate heretical doctrines such as the universal jurisdiction of the Bishops of Rome. I am told by Orthodox priest friends that these views continues to be widely held at the monasteries of Mt. Athos today, as well as by the Athonite monasteries in the United States and Canada.

Pardon me if Dr. Oddie's triumphalism seems misplaced to me. While I am a progressive Episcopal priest, I still look upon the Roman Catholic Church as a schismatic and heretical Church. I love the Roman Church for the piety and holiness of so many of its members. I pray for the real reconciliation of the Roman Church to Holy Orthodoxy, which will require an end to the teaching of heretical doctrines in the Roman Church.

While the anathema has been lifted from the Orthodox by the papacy and there are cordial fraternal relationships between the Bishop of Rome and the Ecumenical Patriarch, real reconciliation and unity will require that the Roman Church successfully meet the requirements of the monastic communities of Mt. Athos. The Ecumenical Patriarchate is the juridical and ecclesial head of much of Orthodoxy but Mt. Athos and Athonite monasteries throughout the world are the lungs and Heart of Orthodoxy. Without them, and accession to their demands, there will be no visible unity of the Roman Church and Orthodoxy.

There are continuing signs of fraternal charity among the hierarchy and clergy of both Churches, but I don't see the Roman Church doing the very hard work that will be required for reconciliation. As a devout Roman Catholic, perhaps Dr. Oddie would be interested in lending his talents to this effort.


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Posted by Karen MacQueen+ at Saturday, 15 June 2013 at 10:23pm BST

Oddie's lobbying to be "more Catholic than the Pope."

"The Anglicans carry on with ARCIC because they think that one day, we’ll just change our minds."

1) "think": no, it's called faith.

2) As Rome is currently constituted, we really only have to change *one* mind, don't we? The one who occupies the Chair of Peter---which is not you, Mr Oddie.

Posted by JCF at Saturday, 15 June 2013 at 11:40pm BST

Ungenerous rubbish from Oddie. Is he the ornithologist or the Anglican priest turned Roman Catholic layman? Presume he took the money. Maybe the reason there was a pastoral dialogue between the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Rome was that Pope Francis invited him.

Posted by Anthony Archer at Saturday, 15 June 2013 at 11:48pm BST

The Anglican view, as I understand it, is not reunion with Rome, but mutual recognition of mission and orders. The Roman ethos is all authority and submission; the Anglican way (with that unfortunate detour through the Covenant) is cooperation and worship. (Time after time, ARCIC participants found themselves largely in agreement, but were shot down by the Vatican, which considers concord with other Christians a threat to its pretensions.)

Posted by Murdoch at Saturday, 15 June 2013 at 11:55pm BST

Sometimes the world is bigger than our horizon allows us to imagine, in that regard, on this particular issue, thanks to Karen MacQueen for what I found to be the very informative information and "big sky" perspective of her post!

Posted by Rod Gillis at Sunday, 16 June 2013 at 12:47am BST

"the response of the great majority of Catholic Herald readers to the views expressed by Dr Oddie is remarkable for 2013"

Froghole, I could be mistaken, but I believe the Catholic Herald is the right-wing, Ultra-Montane (what I call "Popoid") organ of RCs in the UK, whereas The Tablet is the more moderate paper (see re the National Catholic Register vs the National Catholic Reporter, in the US). If so, the readership (and majority comments) of the Catholic Herald should not be seen as surprising---OR as representative, of British Roman Catholics.

[@ Veuster, re "Did not the churches of the Anglican Communion in effect come to a junction in the road, at which they could *either*...": only if you're going by the Devil's Roadmap! ;-/]

Posted by JCF at Sunday, 16 June 2013 at 5:46am BST

Oddie recants:

http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/commentandblogs/2013/06/14/i-was-wrong-and-uncharitable-to-suggest-that-the-pope-should-not-be-meeting-archbishop-welby-but-about-our-relationship-with-anglicanism-i-got-it-right/
But as he points out in his apologia his original uncharitable view has already been a Cause for Sin in many others.

Posted by Fr Alan-Bury at Sunday, 16 June 2013 at 9:38am BST

Yes yes, I agree that William Oddie has been much less amusing since he left The Goodies.

But - @Karen MacQueen (excellent Greek name, BTW) - the RCC is "schismatic and heretical"? Must we really resort to such language? How is this tone helpful?

We're all schismatic, I suppose (inasmuch as it takes two to have a schism), and most of us are heretical - I think of Rose Macaulay writing cheerfully about belonging to "the Anglican heresy." I can think of plenty of things to criticise the Church of Rome, the Greek Orthodox Church, and - for that matter - the ECUSA about. But to start labeling other groups in such warm terms is an arrogant presumption of one's own infallibility: something liberal Anglicans are often just as prone to as the most reactionary old cranks.

Posted by rjb at Sunday, 16 June 2013 at 1:46pm BST

I once heard William Oddie preach when he was still a wet behind the ears CofE curate.Unforgettable!

Posted by Richard Ashby at Sunday, 16 June 2013 at 2:22pm BST

Thank you for alerting me. I enjoyed Wm Oddie's piece and the delicious comments enormously.

Very cheering and going with the grain of my sense of the ridiculous.

Posted by Laurence at Sunday, 16 June 2013 at 2:45pm BST

"We're all schismatic, I suppose (inasmuch as it takes two to have a schism), and most of us are heretical..."

My thoughts: Until we die (or the Second Coming) none of us can know for sure. It may be (as a fervently hope) that the Lord will see us all as sincere in our beliefs and that is sufficient.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Sunday, 16 June 2013 at 4:32pm BST

Re W. Oddie's 2nd article, his semi-contrite footnote, in which he writes: "We can see what has happened since the Sixties: the faithful [R.C. faithful he means here ] in the pews are uncertain what to believe any more."

This kind of patronizing generalizing has been around since the days of Vatican II. Many of the R.C. faithful understood what the Council reforms were about and were happy to embrace them. Anecdotal evidence is abundant. My mother is a devout lifelong R.C. and a former Latin student who has often said that she loved the new English Mass which was introduced to her at midlife.

Mind you, many former faithful in all the churches, including the R.C. Church, have left the practice of religion, not because they are confused, but rather because they understand very well but have rejected, much of the "teaching" and other policies of the hierarchy.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Sunday, 16 June 2013 at 5:49pm BST

Folks interested in the W. Oddie articles may also be interested in this CBC Sunday radio feature on dissident R.C. Irish priest Tony Flannery, and his scrap with the Vatican.
http://www.cbc.ca/thesundayedition/shows/2013/02/03/dissident-irish-priest-censured-by-vatican/

Posted by Rod Gillis at Sunday, 16 June 2013 at 6:43pm BST

With respect to Mr. Gillis' comment, I don't see what Vatican II had to do with it. My grandfather and his younger brother (my godfather) were quite unsure as to what to believe back in the twenties. Something to do with the tendency of priests and bishops to use admission to the sacraments as a way of getting money from the faithful, and I doubt that started in their Chicago of 1920.

Posted by Gene O'Grady at Sunday, 16 June 2013 at 9:08pm BST

I found the nastiness of Dr. Oddie's article quite shocking, as well as the very uncharitable comments on his article which were printed below. As an American, I find myself wondering if this arises from envy of the Established Church's position in British society. Roman Catholics in our country may disagree with us, but they don't generally stoop to this kind of rhetoric. Can anyone enlighten me?

Posted by Old Father William at Sunday, 16 June 2013 at 9:18pm BST

Re Gene O'Grady, and what V-II has to do with it, I was responding specifically to Oddie's comment in his 2nd article that the faithful in the pews have been "confused since the 1960's". I took this to be a slam against the alleged response by average Roman Catholics to Vatican II 1962-65. Oddie's comment is often repeated i.e. the Vatican II was a "fad", that it changed the faith etc. Such is a standard spin to this day by conservatives, traditionalists, and quite frankly protestant converts ( including Anglicans) to Rome. My rejoinder was aimed at pointing out that faithful practicing Roman Catholics are a testimony in opposition to this kind of spin. The fact that the faithful may been confused in the 1920s, or at any other time, is beside both Oddie's point and mine.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Sunday, 16 June 2013 at 11:50pm BST

@rjb, I don't get your point about my name. My father was a Scot, obviously, and from Skye. My mother's last name was quite Greek enough. Not everyone who is Orthodox has a Greek surname.

I do apologize if you find my tone to be arrogant. That was not my intention, so do forgive me if I fell short. If we are all "schismatic" then there would be no point in using the word. It wouldn't mean anything.

I understand the criticism of the Greek Orthodox regarding the Great Schism to be that the Roman Church assumed the authority to break commmunion with or claim to cast out another Church. In the Anglican Communion, we have just passed through a turbulent period in which the leaders of some of the Churches in the Communion tried to have my Church, the Episcopal Church, cast out of the Anglican Communion. That is what I mean by "schismatic", the use of one's religious authority to cast out another Church over a disagreement. As used by many Roman Catholic theologians, "schismatic" is their description of Churches that have somehow become guilty of separation from Rome because of different doctrinal views. This type of theological thinking obfuscates the issue that the Roman Church excommunicated these Churches. rjb, perhaps you have in mind this Roman Catholic view of schism and you reject it. So do I.

As for "heresy", I know it is a loaded term. Accusations of heresy have been used to do great harm. Still, I was commenting on the influence of the monastic communities of Mount Athos and Athonite monasteries throughout the world. In their terms, the doctrines of the the universal jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome over all Christians and the Infallibility of the Pope are considered to be heresies. I would put it differently and say that I not accept either of these doctrines.

In my comments, I was hoping to challenge Dr. Oddie to see Christian history and doctrine through other eyes, in this case from the perspective of traditional Orthodoxy.

Posted by Karen MacQueen+ at Monday, 17 June 2013 at 11:25am BST

I appreciated Karen's+ perspective. I do have a Greek surname.

All I can say about Oddie is that he certainly exemplifies the caricature that many have of a rigid, hateful, and arrogant church, that doesn't seem to resemble the living God. It's nice that we live in an age where he can be ignored.

Posted by Cynthia at Tuesday, 18 June 2013 at 12:43am BST

I don't mean to be argumentative, but my point was that based on personal experience the confusion in the Catholic pews where I spent most of my life is based on the difference between practice and preaching (to coin a phrase), not V II. Further, I don't see why faithful Catholics can't be confused. Most of them are. Not sure where the objection to my comment is.

Posted by Gene O'Grady at Wednesday, 19 June 2013 at 7:00am BST

@ Gene O'Grady, not sure we are talking about the same thing Gene. I don't disagree that some of the faithful may be confused at any given time. Some days midst all the excitement and political baffle-gab, I get a little confused myself. But, and this is the issue with regard to Oddie, to claim, as Oddie does, that the faithful have been confused since the 1960's is in fact a jab at Vatican II, and secondly I suggest that lots of Roman Catholics found V-2 not confusing but refreshing. Furthermore, I don't think many of the faithful who have embraced V-2, and long for more, are confused with the systematic retrenchment, like that advanced by Oddie, since Vatican II--they understand it and they resent it.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Wednesday, 19 June 2013 at 5:14pm BST
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