Thursday, 24 February 2011

Not even some small degree of comfort?

I came across this from Archbishop William Temple the other day [from the book, 'Thoughts on Some Problems of the Day' p 114.]
Before anyone tells me, I'm fully aware that I am interpreting his statement (in connection with non-episcopally conferred orders - the parallel itself is instructive)  in a somewhat different way than he may have intended, but it did give some small degree of momentary comfort as things Anglo-Catholic come to their denouement - depending on your point of view, ruin or fulfilment:
" ......In other words, though real ministries within the universal Church, they may still not be ministries of the universal Church with a commission from the whole fellowship to all its members."
That's a fair summary of our own perception of precisely where we are now, hence the total willingness of clergy going to the Ordinariate to accept ordination in order to minister in another, and wider, context - that of the universal Church.
Of course, Temple goes on to say this:
"Our claim [as Anglicans] is that where a living Church acts through duly consecrated Bishops we have assurance that there Christ bestows His commission to act on behalf of the universal Church. If some part of the Church refuses to recognise it, that will constitute a defect in the effectiveness of the commission, but it will not destroy it as a commission of the universal Church......"
But in the contemporary situation, in the light of Anglican decisions since 1991 (in the U.S.A. really, 1974 - 76, and certainly since 1989),  that begs quite a few questions, I think, for those of us who do not accept that the ordination of women is, in fact, in that highly questionable, if not actually mendacious phrase, now the basis of the new orthodoxy in many Anglican provinces, "consonant with scripture and required by tradition" . For many of us, it's more difficult now, to say the least,  to maintain that Anglican episcopal or priestly orders (a source of division even within the Anglican Communion) are either "duly conferred" or a continuation of the 'historic' ('apostolic') ministry of the universal Church.
Of course, and it's necessary to repeat this ad nauseam, the ordination of women is the presenting symptom rather the disease itself. It remains a visible reminder both of the need for a true locus of authority not subject to constant synodical revisionism, and also the end of the possibility of Anglicanism as a whole pursuing a "catholic" ecumenical vocation. Some might say, whatever they may have previously believed, that it does indeed destroy even the possibility of Anglican orders being regarded as acting "as a commission of the universal Church......"  Where it does leave them it's not so easy to say.... Perhaps it's not necessary to say anything.


  1. Archbishop Temple's comment sits with the famous remark of Archbishop Fisher: -
    We have no doctrine of our own – we only posess the Catholic doctrine of the Catholic Church ... enshrined in the Catholic Creeds, and those Creeds we hold without addition or diminution... the Church of England was in existence long before the Reformation, and while it was deeply affected by the travails of the Reformation, it emerged from them in all essential reflects the same Church, as before within the One Catholic and Apostolic Church" [Church Times, 2 February 1951].
    Neither of these men could be described as Anglo-Catholics. They were merely expressing the historic view of the Church of England. Could a Bishop of the Church of england say the same today, in honesty?

    Simon Cotton

  2. Exactly so - we forget very easily how radically the ethos of the Church of England has changed over the last few generations. It would perhaps account for Fr Hunwicke's recent comment about those who were hoping to join the Ordinariate being "priests soaked in the ethos of the life and spirituality of the real Church of England." But undoubtedly, the rationale behind the establishment of the Ordinariate is precisely to appeal to those who value the historic and Catholic Anglican spiritual / liturgical inheritance and who may even regard the Ordinariate as the only way of preserving it and reintegrating it into the mainstream of western Christianity.

  3. Fr Michael don't fall into the same trap that the so called liberal modernisers have fallen into - that of thinking that 'proclaiming afresh' means changing the content to suit this modern age. That is exactly what they do with their response to Scripture, Tradition and Order.
    Let Temple and Fisher speak for themselves in the same way that Pope Benedict tells us to listen to the Scriptures, not as some would reconstruct them, but as the Church has given them to us.

    Fisher is right about the Church of England, even though she is currently disguised by the whims of those who have been promoted to positions of power. She is and remains "...within the One Catholic and Apostolic Church". It is just more costly to live that truth in this present moment.


Anonymous comments will not be published