Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Thoughts at the end of a momentous day

Not poaching but rescuing the perishing!

There are those whose visceral suspicion of the Vatican is such that they are already queuing up to accuse Pope Benedict of “poaching” traditionalist Anglican clergy and laity. I’m at a loss to understand their logic. For years we have been told, in effect, to leave because we are not wanted in the new “inclusive” Anglican order. Now we hear that we are being “poached” by the terrible scheming, devious Church of Rome. Could it be that modernists know deep down in their heart of hearts that heterodoxy needs even a vestigial remnant of orthodoxy (however much they affect to despise it) to feed off and in some sense protest against, and that without it they fear they will just wither and die? I shouldn't’t be tempted into amateur psychology, but I am convinced that some of our ecclesiastical leaders dream they are still taking part in the student protests of the 60s; it would account for their “blue jeans” version of theology; in their hearts they are still fighting “the establishment,” failing to appreciate that they themselves have become the conventional authority figures they so despise.
But are liberals so lacking confidence in their newly packaged and zeitgeist-friendly version of the faith that they believe the incorporating of another body laying claim to Anglican patrimony into the Catholic Church will threaten the success of their project? Or is it rather that theological modernism in its all-consuming and totalitarian contemporary guise simply cannot tolerate any rival to its ambition of complete hegemony. (Marxist thought patterns didn’t die with the fall of the Berlin wall, they had already migrated west via academia a couple of decades before; they are certainly alive and well in parts of the Anglican Communion.)
So suddenly the Vatican is “poaching” or “fishing in the Anglican lake” and we are told that the Anglican hierarchies are implacably opposed to the offer being made whilst not being prepared to lift a finger themselves (or make any kind of un-nuanced statement) to support the position of traditionalists within the communion.
But today's announcement from the Vatican is not “poaching” or “exploiting Anglican difficulties” or whatever other condemnatory expression springs to mind, but it is part of a rescue mission to unite those who have been rejected, and in some cases – the U.S.A. springs to mind, although there are instances closer to home - even victimised and persecuted, by their own ecclesial bodies for their adherence to a shared Catholic Christian orthodoxy.
Could it be that the Holy Father is now attempting as part of the sacred duty entrusted to him as the Successor of Peter to gather together the scattered fragments of Western Christendom before embarking on the much greater task and far higher prize of unity with the East? Catholic Anglicans, the SSPX, disaffected Lutherans…..? Future generations will view this pontificate as one of enormous historical importance.
Pope Benedict has read the signs of the times; in the battles to come against increasingly militant secularism and the gathering culture of death we need not only to hear Christ’s great command to be one but actively work to bring it about. There has been much Anglican - Catholic dialogue from Malines through to ARCIC and beyond, and much of it has been and will be of inestimable value, but perhaps now is the time to cut through those new obstacles which have been set up in the way of Christian unity and open the doors for those who really do want to come in.
There is much to be said for old men in a hurry; we need them to translate the dreams of the young into hard reality.


  1. A good summation of the situation, viewed from the United States.

  2. Ahh I love that last line of your post. Have linked

  3. Thanks for that - will link + follow.


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