Comments: Opinion - 28 October 2017

Question: Is the Church of England Protestant or Catholic?

Answer: Yes.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Saturday, 28 October 2017 at 11:12am BST

I'm afraid so-called 'obsession' with sex remains valid in the same sort of way 'obsession' with race remained valid in the Civil Rights campaigns of 60's USA.

When a Church vilifies people's tender, faithful, dedicated expressions of love - and as far as the present status quo goes, it does, theologically - and when a Church orders its priests to remain celibate if they are gay, and deprive partners of precious expressions of sexuality; and when whole Provinces are threatened with sanctions because they 'dare' to let people determine their own consciences about human sexuality; and - in the wide context - when homophobes and bullies on the street can claim sanction for their repulsions by citing the Church's own condemnation of 'abomination'...

...then people's lives are being diminished, justice is being denied, and gay and lesbian people are being marginalised in our Church, in the midst of a society that says they should not be.

And how could Martin Luther King NOT be obsessive about race as an issue? And how can LGBT people (and their millions of allies) NOT be obsessive about saying:

"This is wrong, this is unjust, this is a problem that cannot go away. Not as long as the injustice remains."

Posted by Susannah Clark at Saturday, 28 October 2017 at 11:27am BST

Bishop Tony's reflections on Anglican's Catholic and Protestant heritage are interesting, not least for highlighting evidential reasons for his approach. His concluding comments about the importance of place, (a concept itself rooted in context, history, and time), deserve to be unpacked more than the available space allows. Perhaps he can be encouraged to develop this theme further?

Posted by David Bunch at Saturday, 28 October 2017 at 12:57pm BST

The key truths about salvation are about Original Sin, Free Will, Predestination, Justification, Good Works, Sanctification and whether we look to the Bible alone for those truths or whether 'Tradition and scripture together form a single sacred deposit of the word of God, entrusted to the church' (Dogmatic constitution on divine revelation, Second Vatican Council), and who has authority to decide what is the truth about these vital matters.
As I see it, the differences between the Reformed and Roman Catholic doctrines on these subjects are real and vital. That should not prevent Roman Catholics and Reformed Christians being on good terms with one another, but it does mean that these fundamental differences in belief should be honestly faced and not glossed over.
These things really matter: they concern what God is like and whether we are saved from the wrath and condemnation of God or whether we are not.

Phil Almond

Posted by Philip Almond at Saturday, 28 October 2017 at 8:29pm BST

Re: Bishop Tony Clavier's article, there is a very engaging article on the same wave length by Stanley Hauerwas in the Washington Post.

The (ostensibly) Roman Catholic university I attended as a R.C. undergrad forty years ago, provided office space for the R.C. chaplain and the Protestant chaplain along side one another.

The protestant chaplain's office was staffed by students and non-Roman Catholic clergy from the community. I dropped by the protestant office one day to meet up with a friend, and the local Anglican parish priest ( who used the honorific, father) was taking his turn at being available. We chatted briefly, and at one point I said to him, "I'm catholic, Father". His reply was "It doesn't hurt any of us my boy". I joined the Anglican Church of Canada within the year, doing so in his parish.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Sunday, 29 October 2017 at 1:55am GMT

Ian Paul writes a thoughtful apologia for large churches. I have worked in large churches, small churches and medium sized churches in various types of setting (rich, poor, median) and I agree with most of the points he makes about what large churches contribute.

However, they are an urban phenomenon, as by definition there has to be a sizeable local population to provide a large congregation. And they tend not to be a part of the community in the same way that smaller churches on estates and in small towns and villages can be. The community work done by some of these is outstanding - and it's the particular contribution of the Church of England.

People who normally attend a smaller church can sometimes visit a large one, perhaps while on holiday, and get a real boost. Students, too, can benefit from being part of a large and vibrant worshipping community, especially if that's not what they've been used to.

But there is still the danger that people who commute in to a large church may reduce the viability of their own parish, undermining the valuable community work which (hopefully) it's doing. When I was vicar of an estate church it was quite galling to know that a number of people who lived in my parish were going off to large evangelical churches in the town. Even having two or three of them involved would have made a big difference to us. Even so, we did some very valuable work in a troubled community where a Christian presence was desperately needed. How much more could we have done had a family or two thrown in their lot with their parish church?

Posted by Janet Fife at Sunday, 29 October 2017 at 9:37am GMT


You list a lot of abstract terms and theological theory, but personally I would phrase things thus:

"The key truth about salvation" (to use your intro)... is about opening your heart to the love of God.

I think you can do that in many ways, and in many traditions, including protestant, catholic and orthodox.

Anglicanism is not a puritan or Calvinist sect. It embraces a wide range of religious expressions. And maybe that is what is special about it: because it throws us back on the need to love each other in our differences. It calls for growth and grace and love, as we learn to see past our differences, and fall back on that one key thing: the love of God for us, the love God wants us to open to, the love God wants us to share with others.

That love - so clearly seen in Jesus Christ - is the treasure. Anglicanism is not a standard protestant tradition. Through history it has drawn back from that precision of dogma. It has been a tradition where different traditions live in tension , and maybe learn from one another, and certainly it calls for grace and love beyond our means - so we can really rejoice in other traditions, and pray for their flourishing, in the great opening up to the amazing, the mysterious, the sacrificial, the given, tender, passionate love of God.

If we try to pin the dogma down, we maybe miss the point.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Sunday, 29 October 2017 at 12:47pm GMT

The Clavier and Hauerwas articles are stimulating. But I wish we could move away from some of those western doctrines towards eastern, Orthodox, theology. The Orthodox, for instance, have never gone for original sin—they have a different take on such as Romans 5—and, if I understand correctly, sit very light to the (unscriptural) doctrine of the fall. This puts a life affirming take on their theology, one that is echoed in Charles Wesley’s hymns (good patristic scholar that he was) such as ‘made like him, like him we rise’ and ‘man shall all be lost in God’ (from ‘Let earth and heaven combine’), that does not require the dreadful Anglican grovelling as soon as you've had a good sing. No wonder the Orthodox churches are growing. Thesosis is our destiny.

Posted by Stanley Monkhouse at Sunday, 29 October 2017 at 1:24pm GMT

The term "Protestant Episcopal" is found in some of the official documents of the Church of England but is one disliked, for example, by Robert E.Shoemaker in his book, "The Origin and Meaning of the name 'Protestant Episcopal'" (in reference in his case to the United States). Here in Australia, the term "Protestant" is now very rarely used although somewhat revived in the discussions this week of Luther's theses posted to his bishop though probably not on a church door, the name of course originally associated with that particular "Reformation". (In my hospital, only rarely do a few very old patients ever identify as such. And far more, young and old, still identify as C.of E. - as I do - rather than Anglican.) However, the term I really dislike is "Anglicanism" used in this article. I do not believe in "Anglicanism" or Protestantism. Ours is a Church not an "ism" and I prefer myself the name Episcopal to Anglican. In the 19th century here, if C.of E. was not used (even though for a time we were the United Church of England and Ireland and even though it had plenty of Irish and Scottish members as well as English), a church would be referred to or marked on maps as the English Church or, quite often, as the Episcopal or Episcopalian. "Anglican" is a comparatively recent innovation. The Australian Armed Forces, by the way, officially distinguishes between Anglican and Protestant (PD) denominations. As for the price of fish ...

Posted by John Bunyan at Sunday, 29 October 2017 at 8:33pm GMT

Re Stanley Monkhouse, "But I wish we could move away from some of those western doctrines towards eastern, Orthodox, theology. The Orthodox, for instance, have never gone for original sin"

Ditto. Dreary Augustinian doctrine always brings me down.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Monday, 30 October 2017 at 12:19am GMT

Well said, Janet Fife. My husband who is a priest, functions in 4 villages just outside Oxford. It is a tragedy to know that so many of the vibrant Christians resident in the villages go into Oxford rather than to their parish church. They would be able to do so much and be a real force for the gospel if they would only throw in their lot with their parish church. An elderly parishioner who goes into one of the large churches in Oxford broke her arm and was not able to drive, when I asked her if we would have the pleasure of seeing her in church on Sunday replied, “I suppose I will have to come”. She clearly had no idea how rude she was being, AND how much she was missing. Sadly she didn’t come, she was given a lift into Oxford each Sunday. The church members in each of these villages are wonderful, totally committed, hard working, loving and longing for the other Christians to join in, but they just don’t/won’t. I think one of the problems is that so many incumbents see ‘success’ as the number of people in Church, so don’t want to lose those who travel in from the villages who swell their numbers. Janet is absolutely right that commuter Christians reduce the viability of their own village churches and undermine the incredibly valuable community work being done by the parish churches. I long for the day when they will see how much they are missing from not joining in with their own village communities and making the Christian presence in the villages so much more vibrant and visible. Of course I understand that there are many reasons why people want to be part of a large church, and it could be, for example, the provision of really good children and youth programmes, but so often these people give the impression that the message presented by the large church is in some way ‘better than’ that presented by the village church, which is both untrue and seriously undermines the work being done in the villages. So lets have a “Go to your parish church” week once a month. Just imagine what might happen then in the villages!

Posted by Anne at Monday, 30 October 2017 at 10:04am GMT

Ironic to have a non TEC Anglican Bishop living in the US speak of the charism of Anglicanism as ‘place’!

Posted by CRS at Monday, 30 October 2017 at 11:49am GMT

Her Majesty, in November 1952, made and signed the accession declaration: "I, Elizabeth, do solemnly and sincerely in the presence of God profess, testify, and declare that I am a faithful Protestant".

At her Coronation in June 1953 she was asked: "Will you to the utmost of your power maintain in the United Kingdom the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law?".

To discuss whether, or to what extent, we may be Lutheran or Calvinist, is one thing; but anyone who suggests the Church of England is not Protestant is simply not speaking the Queen's English.

They are like physicists who adopt their own definition of "colour", and then tell us white is not one.

Posted by T Pott at Monday, 30 October 2017 at 1:18pm GMT

T Pott: At my ordination I swore to uphold the 39 articles. Anyone who thinks I believe in them doesn't speak the Queen's English.

Posted by FrDavidH at Monday, 30 October 2017 at 2:42pm GMT

Your assertion that Tony Clavier is not associated with TEC is incorrect. He has been working as a priest within TEC for a number of years now.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Monday, 30 October 2017 at 3:16pm GMT

T Pott. I don't disagree. The original Catholick Religion claim was very soon one of protestant claims about the errors of the mediaeval church (Lancelot Andrewes et al).

Yet people throw the word 'catholic' around in anglican circles routinely in our period.

And there is as well considerable deference to the See of Canterbury -- a deference not turned back by the incumbent, nor as of yet not ceasing outwith the CofE re: Lambeth Conference, Primates etc.

Given the protestant religion reality that in time became the nomenclature, to which you refer here (and to which Bishop Clavier refers in his own vein), what kind of role ought the ABC now have? That has been my persistent question (which RG turned upside down into my search for Camelot!).

What does the word Catholic purport to mean when anglicans use it, and when, drafting beghond it, they allow the See of Canterbury an international role? Lutherans and Presbyterians don't do this kind of this, e.g.

Or are we just speaking of a residual Commonwealth ethos...

The Queen is being solemnly anointed in respect of the protestant religion for whom...

Posted by CRS at Monday, 30 October 2017 at 3:22pm GMT

Question to T Pott: What is your understanding of 'upholding the 39 Articles'?
Phil Almond

Posted by Philip Almond at Monday, 30 October 2017 at 3:42pm GMT

Clergy (and where relevant, laity) don't swear "to uphold" the 39 Articles, not any more, anyway, and not since 1974.

The bishop or other person reads the preface:

"The Church of England is part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, worshipping the one true God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It professes the faith uniquely revealed in the Holy Scriptures and set forth in the catholic creeds, which faith the Church is called upon to proclaim afresh in each generation. Led by the Holy Spirit, it has borne witness to Christian truth in its historic formularies, the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, The Book of Common Prayer and the Ordering of Bishops, Priests and Deacons. In the declaration you are about to make, will you affirm your loyalty to this inheritance of faith as your inspiration and guidance under God in bringing the grace and truth of Christ to this generation and making Him known to those in your care?"

"I, A B, do so affirm, and accordingly declare my belief in the faith which is revealed in the Holy Scriptures and set forth in the catholic creeds and to which the historic formularies of the Church of England bear witness; and in public prayer and administration of the sacraments, I will use only the forms of service which are authorized or allowed by Canon."

As a lay person who for the first and probably only time had to say these words just a couple of weeks ago (minus the phrase "and administration of the sacraments"), I am pretty certain that all I said about the 39 Articles was that I affirmed my loyalty to the inheritance of faith to which they, amongst other items, bear witness.

Posted by Simon Kershaw at Monday, 30 October 2017 at 4:41pm GMT

To what extent has the portrayal of the Church of England in rural areas contributed to the decline in attendance of 'small churches'? The 'spin' put on such churches is that they are inward looking, peopled by the very old and wedded to worship that looked anachronistic at the turn of the last century. Even if we are to take the Vicar of Dibley type portrayal out of the equation, the statistics we present to the rest of the country don't make inspiring and inquiring reading.
This is likely to be a challenge for our new Communications Director - how to let everyone know just what a good time we are having in little rural churches and why are you polluting the planet driving to your big one?

Posted by Lavinia Nelder at Monday, 30 October 2017 at 6:48pm GMT

Thank you Simon. It just shows how old I am.

Posted by FrDavidH at Monday, 30 October 2017 at 6:59pm GMT

Reply to Simon Kershaw: But (obvious question)- what does affirming loyalty commit you to, bearing in mind that the Preface states that the Church has been led by the Holy Spirit to bear witness to Christian truth in the Articles, Prayer Book and Ordinal. Also, what about Canon A5?

Posted by Philip Almond at Monday, 30 October 2017 at 8:30pm GMT

Thank you, Lavinia Nelder. From the first episode of Dibley (I was not ordained then) I felt uncomfortable. Was this the ideal image of Christianity and of being a Vicar that some church PR Officers told us would revitalise the church? I was brought up in rural Cumberland and I have ministered to rural communities in England and Ireland. Dibley bore little or no relation to reality, and if my antennae are well tuned, a Dibley Vicar would have been regarded as a buffoon. I'm not sure that celebrity Vicars of today do much to dispel that image. But even if media portrayals are reasonably authentic, as was Sean Bean's Fr Kerrigan (though he seemed only to have one church to look after - how realistic is that in the RCC now?) I doubt they have much effect since everything that people found in the church say 50 years ago is now to be had more readily from other groups, without the necessity for grovelling as miserable sinners that the CoE goes in for. People are doing their best to cope in increasingly difficult circumstances and are understandably repelled by being told that they are sinners. No amount of spin - and that's exactly what it is - will neutralise this.

Posted by Stanley Monkhouse at Tuesday, 31 October 2017 at 6:52am GMT

The biggest problem with Tony Clavier's essay is found in the title. As the old saying goes, if the only tool you have is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail.

Posted by jnwall at Tuesday, 31 October 2017 at 12:15pm GMT

SS--sorry, but he is indeed a "non TEC anglican Bishop." Yes, latterly he is working in TEC.

Makes the appeal to 'place' even the more strange.

Posted by CRS at Tuesday, 31 October 2017 at 1:43pm GMT

To amplify on my previous comment -- one difficulty in using binary terms like "protestant" or "catholic" to categorize religious traditions is that the meaning of the terms has shifted over time.

In institutional terms, anyone who is part of a religious community that acknowledges the Pope as the head of the church can claim, legitimately, to be Catholic.

In pragmatic terms, today's Roman Catholic Church is probably not "Catholic" in the terms in play in 1500 -- ie there are no sales of indulgences or chantry clergy, altars are free-standing, worship is conducted in the vernacular, etc. At least some Roman Catholic clergy signed on to a document on the Eucharist that relegated the word "transubstantiation" to a footnote.

On the other hand, these days it is a common occurrence to see clergy in what we normally call protestant traditions wearing clerical collars in public and donning albs and stoles, if not chasubles, during the conduct of worship.

So, in deciding whether Anglicans are catholic or protestant, we need to define the era we are drawing on for our definitions.

And we are probably making a mistake from the outset in choosing only two terms to help us with our categorization.

Posted by jnwall at Tuesday, 31 October 2017 at 2:08pm GMT

Philip Almond - did you mean to ask for my understanding of upholding the 39 articles? It was FrDavidH who used the phrase.

crs - I don't think the Queens anointing was specifically Protestant, or even Christian, though certainly Biblical - as Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anointed Solomon king.

I do agree about the AbC though, just as the Queen is above politics, the archbishop (based on his gay sex comments) seems to see his role as above religion, a mere focus of unity.

Posted by T Pott at Tuesday, 31 October 2017 at 5:18pm GMT

Re: jnwall, "...if the only tool you have is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail."

Looking at the metaphor differently, on the other hand....

"If I had a hammer ...I'd hammer out love between my brothers and my sisters All over this land"
(Pete Seeger & Lee Hays)

Posted by Rod Gillis at Tuesday, 31 October 2017 at 5:58pm GMT

What people found in churches 50 years ago was a deeply incarnational form of Christianity essential for ministry even if the concept of mission in the UK wasn't on the horizon. This incarnational mission is still very much to the fore in many rural communities, but this seems to have a lower priority in the eyes of a significant body of the Church. It makes me wonder how much do the commuting Christians want to be part of the larger (small)community or is it just easier to worship away and put your faith back in a box until next Sunday.

Posted by Lavinia Nelder at Tuesday, 31 October 2017 at 6:14pm GMT

"today's Roman Catholic Church is probably not "Catholic" in the terms in play in 1500"

But of course it is Catholic in that there is a universal teaching, a magisterium, a central See, Bishops in Communion, and a clear sense of eucharistic inclusion.

Free standing altars etc did not define the Catholic Church.

We could end up making words mean nothing if in the name of declaring anglicans "catholic" we reduced Catholic to selling indulgences. (The teaching itself can be defined as the reduction of temporal punishment after confession and absolution; the Catholic Church has not rejected that notion).

TP: "I don't think the Queens anointing was specifically Protestant, or even Christian" -- sorry, that sounds eccentric. The anointing arose in the context of claims to be the Catholick Church in England, going back to earliest times, and not reliant on the See of Rome in any essential sense.

Posted by CRS at Wednesday, 1 November 2017 at 7:48am GMT

Lavinia Nelder I am sure you are right that changing patterns of community and belonging are a factor in the struggle to build Christian communities today but patterns of decline in CofE churches go back a great deal further than 50 years.

Posted by David Runcorn at Wednesday, 1 November 2017 at 8:02am GMT

Reply to T Pott: Sorry - I didn't read the post carefully. Perhaps FrDavidH could answer my question?

Phil Almond

Posted by Philip Almond at Wednesday, 1 November 2017 at 9:21am GMT

Re CRS "...[Roman Catholicism] is Catholic in that there is a universal teaching, a magisterium, a central See..." All things which non-Roman Catholics would assert are not catholic. This is especially so when one defines "universal" as conformity with R.C. definitions.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Wednesday, 1 November 2017 at 10:32am GMT

I would give an an example of 'upholding' the 39 Articles as ministerial life as lived in the diocese of Sydney. So-called 'Anglicans'in that part of Australia haven't yet heard of the 21st century but choose to live as if nothing has happened in the Church since Cranmer. It makes them appear eccentric if not a little mad.

Posted by FrDavidH at Wednesday, 1 November 2017 at 2:32pm GMT

Re: jnwall, "...... protestant traditions ...donning albs and stoles, if not chasubles, during the conduct of worship." The difficulty is evaluating cultural affectations v. recovery by protestants in an ecumenical environment.

The conversation hinges on reference points as you correctly note in your post 10/31. Roman Catholics have claims that are particular. See Unitatis Redintegratio Chapter I (#3) Chapter III (#13) which references Anglicans and Chapter III (1 # 14 ff.) which discuss the Orthodox.

Anglican first use the term catholic is in the sense of "...One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church..." within a matrix that includes the creeds of the undivided church. (See, e.g. Solemn Declaration ACoC 1893). Catholic Camelot it seems.

Post reformation is counter-reformation, Vatican I, Vatican II and ecumenism marred by a proliferation of schisms. No up to date consideration of catholicity can take place without reference to ecumenism and various agreed statements and concordats regardless of one's assessment of the same i.e ARCIC, RC-Lutheran, Anglican-Lutheran and the like.

Bottom line, there is currently no "small c" Catholicism --only a search for the recovery of a common definition of catholicity. It's a search we must not let an authoritarian patriarchal agenda exploit.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Wednesday, 1 November 2017 at 2:40pm GMT

RG: If canadian catholic liberals or american ones do what they want vis-a-vis Catholic teaching, the latter remains what it is. The same is true when liberal anglicans confect a new meaning of small-c catholic (this coming in about fifteen varieties, including several you do not like).

I live in the Catholic rectory of a 12th century Catholic church in France. The faithful do not believe the faith they live and confess is "national diversity depending upon where one lives." That is now quasiment what anglicans here at TA think: national churches in honour of diversity. They may even call that 'catholic.'

Talk about humpty dumpty and language!

Posted by CRS at Wednesday, 1 November 2017 at 4:46pm GMT

I grew up in a faithful R.C. family during Vatican II. Discussion at home together with information provided at school and Sunday mass were intense.

I did studies under R.C. university scholars (one of whom was mentored by Council theologian Joseph Ratzinger) excited about the reforms and the catholic protestant question. It gave one an existential coordinates that protestants who have never been Roman Catholic find difficult to appreciate.

Events like this one (link) describe current ecumenical momentum behind the search for a recovery of catholicity by protestants and Roman Catholics alike.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Thursday, 2 November 2017 at 2:26pm GMT

RG: yes, I have seen this press release. In it the word "Catholic" is used and it applies to the RCC.

Your curious phrase "recovery of catholicity by protestants and RCs alike" is nowhere to be found. Unsurprisingly.

I have an association with both Centre Sevres (Jesuit) and Institut Catholic in Paris and have supervised PhD work in the area of Vatican II. Lutherans have done important work on justification by faith in conjunction with Catholics and it is very gratifying to have pontifs speak positively about Martin Luther. But "recovery of catholicity" is a bit like canadian football as the key to the real definition of football.

Posted by CRS at Friday, 3 November 2017 at 7:23am GMT

re: CRS, Your academic work gives you a perspective; but the existential experience of actually having been R.C. during a formative time of one's life and in that era of the R.C. church is one you cannot re-create intellectually. However,you can learn from another's experience.

"...the word 'Catholic' is used and it applies to the RCC."

Yes,its is "upper case". Thankfully the article is in the business of clarity.

Ecumenism may described as the search for catholicity on the part of all dialogue partners. Roman Catholics claim the fullness of catholicity. Other churches, including but not limited to Anglicanism, claim catholicity as well, while rejecting what Rome requires as essential.

The question is, what is the understanding in Anglicanism (or in other protestant churches) of catholicity and where does it both converge with and diverge from that of Rome? It's a question you keep missing.

As for Canadian football, we are used to the views of the expatriate American as self proclaimed expert on all things local, eh. ( :

Posted by Rod Gillis at Friday, 3 November 2017 at 11:53am GMT

Tony Clavier raises a number of vexing questions such as, "Do the terms Catholic and Protestant serve any useful purpose?". Those interested in exploring both Clavier's questions together with those prompted by his article on this thread may find the following book of interest.

The Unity We Have And The Unity we Seek:Ecumenical Prospects For the Third Millennium. ( Jeremy Morris and Nicholas Sagovsky eds. T&T Clark 2003.)

An essay within, The Reformed Tradition And The Ecumenical Task: 'A Vulnerable Catholicity' by Peter McEnhill is of particular interest re the Clavier piece. McEnhill discusses what he describes as the vulnerable commitment of Reformed traditions to ('small c') catholicity, and the historical commitments to catholicity and ecumenism by Anglican and Reformed traditions.

Also of interest is the essay, Identity, Plurality, Unity--What's The Right Blend? Some Perspectives From An Old Catholic Perspective, by Urs Von Arx.

Sagovsky's essay on ARCIC is also pertinent.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Saturday, 4 November 2017 at 1:28pm GMT

RG: You would appear to be someone who tries to keep up with theology and ecumenism.

In Unitatis Reintegratio the term “catholicity” is used with reference to the now diverging arena represented by baptism and eucharist. That is, the fact that baptized Christians do not share eucharistic unity is an obvious impairment if the word “catholic” is defined as universal and existing *within Catholic Church,* where baptized non-Catholics do not/cannot take communion. It does not refer to the idea that the Catholic Church’s teaching, or its ministry, or sacramental truthfulness, is lacking and so it is in search of something. The RCC is not “searching for catholicity” along with Protestants. It is noting a tragic divergence: “catholicity is not operative within the Catholic Church in a full manner.” In the long document that is the single place where the term appears, and it refers to a catholicity *within the Catholic Church.*

You can of course disagree with the view.

I commend the 2015 “Declaration on the Way: Church, Ministry, Eucharist” which consists of the most recent consultations between the (US) Bishops’ Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs and the ELCA. It was prepared in part with an eye toward the 500th anniversary we celebrated last week.

Canadian football is aired on TV and we have TVs in Toronto. grace and peace.

Posted by CRS at Saturday, 4 November 2017 at 3:06pm GMT

Re:CRS, "[Unitatis Reintegratio] does not refer to the idea that the Catholic Church’s teaching lacking and so it is in search of something.” I agree completely.

The Document reads [I (4)], “...divisions among Christians prevent the Church from attaining the fullness of catholicity proper to her, in those of her sons who, though attached to her by Baptism, are yet separated from full communion with her. Furthermore, the Church herself finds it more difficult to express in actual life her full catholicity in all her bearings.” The sense is that full catholicity is prevented among 'separated brethren” with the second consequence of creating problems of hegemony perhaps.

This is in accord with Lumen Gentium (Dogmatic Constitution on The Church) [I (8)]

These indicate the claims of the R.C. Church as I have already noted above.

However, “The RCC is not 'searching for catholicity' along with Protestants.”, here we are hedging our bets with commentary. Even if from the R.C. side the end game is welcoming “separated brethren” home, it has to yield a more visible manifestation of catholicity. It is interesting to consider the comments of Walter Cardinal Kasper on the 40th anniversary of Vatican II (link). Quo vadis?

This is only one side of the issue. Anglicans lay claim to catholicity. In our liturgy we pray for, “ the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church throughout the world”. We renew our baptism covenant with belief in “the holy catholic church”. So,from the Anglican side, my question remains, where does that diverge from, and where does it converge with, the Roman position? I contend that our participation in ecumenical dialogue indicates we are seeking, based on a belief in catholicity, an updated manifestation of the same. Other Reformed traditions see it similarly.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Saturday, 4 November 2017 at 8:33pm GMT

The document I referred to does just this: explain where Lutherans and the Roman Catholic Church can agree. It is impressive in form alone.

Of course Anglicans recite the Nicene Creed.

The question remains how they understand the word catholic. If TA is any indication, there are about 6 different understandings, some mutually corrosive. The RCC does not labor under this same post-reformation burden.

One has the distinct sense that when Lutherans and Catholics dialogue, they really know one another well, like estranged brethren. The former have all kinds of written formulation to refer to, akin to the latter. Anglicanism does not operate on the same plane. It sought to ground its status at the reformation differently.

Posted by CRS at Sunday, 5 November 2017 at 6:56am GMT

Re CRS, The "The question remains how they [Anglicans] understand the word catholic". This is essentially the question I have been asking i.e. where does that diverge from, and where does it converge with, the Roman position?

Peter McEnhill ( see my post Nov.4th 1:28) considers the reformed position on catholicity as grounded in the preaching of the Gospel,"seeking the reform of the church catholic in terms of the scripture."

Cardinal Kasper in his observation on the 40th Anniversary of Unitatis Redintegratio appears to concur given his comment about the churches of the reformation, "Despite their different, often considerably differing stances, the reformers conceive of the Church as a creatura verbi whose point of departure is the Word of God and not the Eucharist."

Does Anglicanism, despite the increased importance attached to the Eucharist, ground its notion similarly as a reformed tradition, especially given our assertion that the Scriptures contain all things necessary for salvation?

Does such a notion provide a lens for understanding Anglicanism's long standing commitment to ecumenism, including as expressed in Lambeth resolutions from Lambeth 1920 (resolutions 9-31) down to the present?

Does Anglican liturgical reform over the past half century provide us with clues?

How does Anglicanism understand catholicity? You are Anglican. Answer what is my question and your own as well.

I have the sense from your comments that you may see Anglicanism caught in a kind of colonial lag with reference to Rome.Surely, that cannot be the case?

Posted by Rod Gillis at Sunday, 5 November 2017 at 9:44pm GMT

RG: you have been the one underscoring the catholicity of Anglicanism. I thought you had a view about how that is so. Now you have decided to ask me to answer the question/s you are yourself posing.

My comments should make clear that I believe at present Anglicanism has no clear understanding, and that in comparison with the Catholic Church. Throwing the word "catholic" around in anglican circles points to at least 6 different understandings, some of them deeply contradictory.

The Institute I have been in charge of has written amply on the general topic at the level of polity. The present state of the CofE has revealed considerable challenge on this front. Over the past decades, in the light of missional expansion coupled with challenge, authority has been given to primates and ABC, though as noted the logic for this is often not grounded in much more than longing for a catholic (truly global) sense of self.

I do not hold the view that independent national churches or schemes for containing diversity make for a catholic anglicanism. And I do not believe that the eucharist was instituted by Christ so that people could believe different things and then also 'get along.'

I am not sure what your numerous questions mean as you pose them -- either to yourself or more generally. grace and peace

Posted by CRS at Monday, 6 November 2017 at 7:47am GMT

Re CRS, "you have been the one underscoring the catholicity of Anglicanism." No, I have been questioning the existence of a common lived out defintion.

Nov. 1st, I posted, "there is currently no "small c" Catholicism --only a search for the recovery of a common definition of catholicity"

Your rejoinder was a potpourri, ie. national churches, liberals here and there, opinions on TA, living in a Catholic Rectory, small 'c' catholic as a new confection. Your subsequent posts have gone on to articulate and reference views about the R.C. position, and more recently Lutherans, but nothing of substance on Anglicanism, beyond an a stated aversion the some of the opinions you find here at TA.

I reiterate, there is no common definition of small 'c' catholicism ( as distinct from Roman Catholicism). The ecumenical movement is in part an attempt to recover a common understanding of catholicity.

"I am not sure what your numerous questions mean..."

Reasonably, since Anglicans claim to be small 'c' catholic, one may ask what we may mean by our claim. In my previous post I suggested some places to search.

Where do you think we might look?

Asking about where one may look to recover a common understanding of one of the marks of the church does not obviate the view that no current definition is held in common.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Monday, 6 November 2017 at 1:50pm GMT

Re. CRS, “Declaration on the Way: Church, Ministry, Eucharist” Thank You for the reference. Having read it, but with over a hundred pages referencing a number of dialogues. some I am familiar with, others not, I would not presume to comment at this time.

Section IV 'Remaining Differences and Reconciling Considerations' certainly raises questions to ponder.

For Example, the section "The Nature and Limits of the Binding character of Church Teaching".
(IV(A)(4) "Critically, Lutherans hold that the gospel cannot without reservation be consigned to an ecclesiastical ministry for its
expression and preservation."

Interesting to get the final verdict from the
Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. Recollect that nearly twenty years ago the Vatican's enthusiasm for the The Joint Declaration on Justification was much less acute than that of the members of the working group.

Hans Kung's observations have been much more visceral:

"In the 2017 Jubilee Year, those responsible should consistently put the results of the ecumenical Dialogue Commissions into practice. The Catholic Church should consider the following issues:Martin Luther's rehabilitation;Lifting all the excommunications that were pronounced in the Reformation era;
Recognizing Protestant and Anglican ministries;
Mutual Eucharistic hospitality."

The Vatican is ever the bottleneck, declaring in Vatican II "Among those in which Catholic traditions and institutions in part continue to exist, the Anglican Communion occupies a special place. " [Unitatis Redintegratio III (13)].

Wonder what they meant? ( :

Posted by Rod Gillis at Monday, 6 November 2017 at 3:06pm GMT

RG: my comment to 1.50 seems to have got lost and I see now you have a second comment.

In my remarks at the three Lutheran congregations sponsoring me for the Reformation anniversary,I imagined the effect of canonising Martin Luther. The last two popes have spoken enthusiastically about his contribution.

"in part continue to exist" -- yes, probably refers to apostolic succession; or Old Catholics.

I do not believe that constant reference to the Anglican Communion as "not a church" and as a "loose association of independent national bodies that disagree" will be perceived as moving in the right direction. My Catholic colleagues here certainly do not see it that way. UR predates all of the major upheavals of the last decades.

Posted by CRS at Tuesday, 7 November 2017 at 9:09am GMT

PS--UR was promulgated in 1964, in a very different ecumenical climate re: Anglicanism now 53 years later.

Exhibit A is the extremely vehement reaction in the most recent posting at TA. "We have no doctrine." "We have no world-wide church." "The CofE answers to no one but has its own national life."

Who would UR imagine it is speaking to, or who might speak for Anglicanism in response, in such a context?

Posted by CRS at Tuesday, 7 November 2017 at 11:47am GMT

Re, CRS, "I do not believe that constant reference to the Anglican Communion as 'not a church' and as a 'loose association of independent national bodies that disagree' will be perceived as moving in the right direction."

On that score,I prefer to fess up to my own sins rather than those of someone else;but I actually agree that this characterization of The Anglican Communion is not helpful, neither to us nor to our ecumenical partners. However, I think it is an effort to marshal voices from our attic as a counter measure to current trends.

Let me close with something that, like Unitatis Redintegratio, precedes our present situation.

It is Walter Lock writing on The Church in Lux Mundi:

"Amid the divisions of Christendom, and in face of her own shortcomings, the Church of England does not claim to be the full complete representation of the Church of Christ. She is only one national expression of the Catholic Church: she feels that 'it is safer for us to widen the pale of the kingdom of God, than to deny the fruits of the Spirit;' she has ever on her lips the prayer, 'Remember not, Lord, our offences, nor the offences of our forefathers, neither take vengeance of our sins,' and yet she must make her claim boldly and fearlessly to have retained the true ideal of the Church; to be loyal to the essential principle that her life comes historically from Christ and not from man."

Thanks for this exchange. It has been a stimulating way to spend the octave of the 500th.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Tuesday, 7 November 2017 at 2:00pm GMT

RG, you are welcome.

1953 and 2017, on this score, are as far apart as the east is from the west.

I suspect the shrillness of the push-back from within the CofE draws from an "attic against counter trends" that will widen the gap, if that is now possible. At best we will have "catholicity" of subjective insistence.

Grace and peace.

Posted by CRS at Tuesday, 7 November 2017 at 3:32pm GMT

Tried to say "you are welcome" but my comments are not going through.

I don't believe UR, or Lux Mundi for that matter, could have anticipated where the AC and the CofE now find themselves.

Posted by CRS at Wednesday, 8 November 2017 at 8:57am GMT

Re CRS, a post script of my own re your thank you (this day) and your post script (yesterday) which I'm just getting this morning, "I don't believe UR, or Lux Mundi for that matter, could have anticipated where the AC and the CofE now find themselves."

No, but on the other hand, "The service was one of the highlights of an ecumenical summit organised by Iarccum to mark the 50th anniversary of the meeting between Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Michael Ramsey in 1966 – the first such public meeting between a Pope and an Archbishop of Canterbury since the Reformation. The summit, which began at the weekend in Canterbury and is continuing in the Vatican, will also mark the 50th anniversary of the Anglican Centre in Rome."


Posted by Rod Gillis at Wednesday, 8 November 2017 at 1:03pm GMT

Yes, there was much hopefulness 51 years ago. Now we have politesse and sympathy. As you have noted, aggressive declarations about not being a world-wide church and having no doctrine will invariably make ecumenical relations chiefly about politesse. The Catholic Church, in the estimate of my Jesuit friends, looks on affairs in anglicanism in the west and sees it as a kind of warning, given such a rapid decline and consumed by controversy.

Posted by CRS at Wednesday, 8 November 2017 at 2:49pm GMT
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