The Pope and the English People

In the newspapers today is the headline: Pope attacks Britain’s gay equality laws. The story comes from the Telegraph, via, I suspect, this UKPA story “Pope attacks equality laws in UK”, but it took The Age to add the word “gay” to the headline. Actually, the Holy Father’s address to the Bishops of England and Wales at their ad limina meeting in Rome doesn’t even mention anything about homosexuality, but journalists and news editors are quick to read between the lines and make the implicit into the headline. Interesting, none the less, that the report takes the line that this is an “unprecedented” comment “on the laws of a Protestant state”.

That raises an issue which the Pope DID mention in his ad limina address, and one which, according to the newspaper report, has led to the following action:

A senior adviser to the Queen has met the leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales to express concern over the Pope’s offer for disaffected Anglicans to convert to Catholicism. In a highly unusual step, Earl Peel, the Lord Chamberlain, asked Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols to meet him following Pope Benedict’s decree.

I guess you could call that “a highly unusual” action by a “Protestant state” concerning the laws of the Catholic Chuch!

I have also been referred to a very significant document available on the web, Archbishop Hepworth’s Pastoral Letter to the Bishops, Clergy and Faithful of the Traditional Anglican Communion. This is very, very interesting and very, very heartening stuff.

The complete TAC petition to Rome is on the same website here, and Archbishop Hepworth’s statement on the response of the Vatican to the petition is here.

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18 Comments

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18 responses to “The Pope and the English People

  1. Kiran

    The meeting took place a while back, November, I think, and is said to have been related to the possible alienation of property.

  2. What? The Queen was apologising for her sixteenth century predecessor’s appropriation of the abbeys?

  3. Matthias

    Acromaticus has a comm box on this ,but suffice to say that perhaps the Queen as supreme governor of the Cof E and as a low Anglican-of Scots Presbyterian descent is concerned at the archbishop of Canterbury’s running of the Church. The anglicanBishop of Rochester and theArchbishop of York have been doing a better job of standing up for the Cof E and England in general, than Rowan-and neither of them are English born.One is a Pakistani convert to Christianity from Islam and the other a Ugandan.
    Ironic that the decision of the Church Missionary Society to work in Uganda in the 19th Century is now bearing fruit-in England.

  4. William Tighe

    “One is a Pakistani convert to Christianity from Islam and the other a Ugandan.”

    Well, actually, he’s a Pakistani convert to Anglicanism from Catholicism; it was his parents who were converts to Catholicism from Islam.

  5. matthias

    Thank you brother William for that correction. Whatever he is standing up to secularism on one hand and rampant jihadist Muslims such as Adnem Choudary , on the other. Rowan Williams is sadly not a worthy successor to St Thomas a’Beckett.

    • Terry Maher (Past Elder)

      He isn’t a successor at all to Becket. The last one of those was Reginald Cardinal Pole (the real one).

  6. Matthias

    strewth the Yanks are out tonight. well i will not argue with you PE as Reginald Pole ,was a worthy ArchBishop of Canterbury ,and if elected Pope he may,just may, have stopped the Reformation occurring as by all accounts he was for the reform of the church,note the small ‘r’ on reform.
    . Rowan has the title,and the office but not the spiritual declension,intestinal fortitude or the forthrightness of Reginald Pole-(real or cybered)

  7. Terry Maher (Past Elder)

    What I meant was, Rowan Williams is a layman.

    As we were taught, we call EO priests “Father” because they are priests, we call Episcopal priests “Father” as a mark of respect for their beliefs and standing in the community but they are not priests.

    So, he can be worthy as can be, but he ain’t archbishop of nuttin.

    • Well, no, that’s not quite right, PE. The Archbishop of Canterbury is a Catholic layman, but he IS an Anglican Archbishop. Just as the Anglican Church IS what is commonly called a “Church”, but not a “Church” as the Catholic Church understands it. And just as a Protestant Eucharist IS a Eucharistic rite, but not the Catholic Sacrament of the same name. Let me give you another example: Mormons have “elders” (for that matter, they have “bishops”). So do Lutherans,but they aren’t the same as you were.

      • Terry Maher (Past Elder)

        God bless me sideways, blow me out the door, roll me down the street, then sweep me up.

        That’s what I bleeding said!

        To rephrase what I was taught in terms of archbishops of Canterbury: we call the “Archbishop of Canterbury” the Archbishop of Canterbury as a mark of respect for his beliefs and his standing in his community, but he is not really the Archbishop of Canterbury.

        There has not been a real Archbishop of Canterbury since Reginald Bloody Pole, after which the office Archbishop of Canterbury was simply an office in the state church, but with the restoration of the right to exist at all in 1850, while prohibited by civil law from regaining former lands and titles, the true hierarchy of the true church was restored, and the Archbishop of Westminster to-day occupies the spiritual role of the Archbishop of Canterbury before that office ceased to retain its spiritual legitimacy.

        So call him what you want out of respect for the beliefs of those who are wrong, but really he ain’t archbishop of nuttin.

        • No, we don’t call him the “Archbishop of Canterbury” as “a mark of respect for his beliefs and his standing in his community”, we call him that because he is an Anglican Archbishop and his seat in the orgaisaton which calls itself the Anglican Church is Canterbury.

          He is not a “Catholic” Archbishop of Canterbury, because there isn’t one. Thomas a’Beckett does not have a Catholic successor, but he does have an Anglican Successor, and the current Archbishop of Canterbury is that person. At some point in the story, a Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury was succeeded by a completely different kind of animal, ie. An Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury. So we call him “Archbishop of Canterbury” because that is what he is, not just as a mark of respect. The point you are trying to make is that he is not a Catholic archbishop (or even priest for that matter), which is a completely different point all together, and does not stop him from being recognised as really and truly an “archbishop” (in another meaning altogether) and really and truly a “successor” to St Thomas (even if St Thomas would not own him).

        • but really he ain’t archbishop of nuttin.

          Or to make it really simple: Yes, he is. He is Anglican Archbishop of the Anglican diocese of Canterbury. That ain’t “nuttin”, even if it isn’t a Catholic diocese. Ok?

          • Terry Maher (Past Elder)

            Dude. Dude. DUDE.

            Postconciliar doublespeak at its finest.

            Yes he is the Anglican Archbishop of the Anglican Archdiocese of Canterbury. There’s only two problems with that: it is false to a Catholic understanding, and for that matter, false to an Anglican one too. But it sure as hell sounds all nicey nicey for the “ecumenical” bunch.

            From a Catholic POV, there ain’t no such thing as Anglican Archbishops, they can dress them up in all the period costumes they want in all the stolen cathedrals they want, but these are not archbishops, bishops or even priests, and to say that is only so in the Catholic understanding is to avoid the fact that we Catholics consider that to be not just one understanding among many but the right and correct understanding, meaning the others are simply false. However, given as within his own church, which is not really a church at all but they think it is, he is considered an archbishop and head of that communion, as a mark of respect for that we can certainly call him Archbishop even though really he is not one, except in the mistaken ideas of his communion, which is to say, he is just not an archbishop.

            For that matter, although I cannot speak as an Anglican personally, it would be my understanding that an Anglican would not except as a matter of conversational convention consider him an Anglican Archbishop, strictly speaking, but rather simply an archbishop, same as the bishops in the RCC or the EO, and while “Anglican” may identify his jurisdiction, it does not identify his validity and he is an archbishop period whether the RCC thinks he is or not, and to use the expression “Anglican Archbishop” in the sense that it is only within the Anglican Church that he is an archbishop is a ruddy insult.

            Finally, if one “animal” is “succeeded” by “a completely different kind of animal” then he is not succeeded at all, he is simply followed, and what followed is not what he was even if what followed him says it is and uses the same name. If what Becket died for means a damn thing, it means that there is absolutely no such thing as an “Anglican” successor to a Catholic bishop instead of or alongside of a Catholic successor.

  8. matthias

    PE can you explain that again . i am a bit thick. but as a Lutheran -once a Catholic- which true church are you referring to. But I perceive that because the CofE BECAME a State church ,the issue of spiritual leadership was lost,and the mantle of the AofC was taken up by Westminster because firstly there was no compromise with the State? Am I warm,hot ,cold or simply dumb?

  9. Susan Peterson

    Matthias,
    Past Elder is referring to the fact that according to a Papal bull, Apostolicae Curae, Anglican orders are invalid. That is, the transmission of apostolic authority from bishop to bishop, back to the time of the apostles themselves, was broken at the time when the Church in England was forcibly split from the Catholic Church. There was a continuity of the laying on of hands, which is why those Anglicans who believe in such things, believe their orders are valid. However it is clear from changes in the rite used, and from the other changes in the liturgy and from writings of the bishops involved in making those changes, that the understanding of what ordination means had changed. The Anglicans no longer understood themselves to be ordaining a sacrificial priesthood. They were ordaining men to preach the gospel and to administer baptism and holy communion, and to pastor their communities, but they were not ordaining priests to offer the sacrifice of the mass. If by ordination you don’t understand yourself to be doing what the Church does, you have not ordained.

    Since that time, through the Oxford movement it came about that there are Anglicans who believe in Eucharistic Sacrifice. Many of these made sure that ordinations of their bishops included a bishop whose ordination was considered valid by the Catholic Church, such as an Old Catholic bishop.
    They tried to make sure the formula and procedure they used to ordain, would be considered valid by Rome. Most current Anglican clergy can trace their orders to one of these possibly valid ordinations. The Catholic Church has not made a definitive statement as to their validity one way or another. At least one converting Anglican priest, Fr. Graham, was conditionally ordained based on the possibility that these ordinations were valid. Rome is at least interested, or concerned, regarding those ordinations, as they ask for the pedigree (history of who ordained him and who ordained them and who ordained them and so on) of each converting Anglican clergyman, but so far the rest have been ordained absolutely.

    Past Elder is giving no weight to these “Dutch Touch” ordinations (So called because the Bishop of Utrect’s successors were involved)-or to any other considerations to be discussed in a further comment- and is saying that any Anglican clergyman, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, is no more than a layman.

  10. Susan Peterson

    Past elder typically rejects Vatican II and all its works….from the point of view of the Catholic he used to be. So the following considerations would have no meaning for him. However, they do have some meaning for Catholics who consider Vatican II to be an ecumenical council of the Church.

    The Decree on Ecumenism states that the communities of the separated brether are not without importance in the mystery of salvation. These communities, and their sacraments or ordinances, are means of grace for their members. From this it clearly follows that the ministers of those communities are a means of grace and instruments of salvation for the members of those communities, and that God has chosen and called them to serve those communities. From this point of view, an Anglican bishop is not “just a layman.”
    He may not be a priest in the same way a Catholic priest is a priest, but he is a clergyman of an “ecclesial community” which is “not without importance in the mystery of salvation.”

    This would apply to Lutheran minister as well, by the way.
    Susan Peterson

  11. Terry Maher (Past Elder)

    Ms Peterson is quite right, I gave no consideration to the Dutch Touch or the possibility that some ordinations may be valid within the Anglican Church. Apart from Roman legalism, the answer just doesn’t matter. If one of them wants to function as Catholic clergy, it would be a matter of concern, but any Catholic place where a butt in the pew like me has to see credentials to know his priest is really a priest just isn’t worth the bother.

    As to the Decree on Ecumenism, well, there it is again, what the RCC taught to me as Catholicism is now a point of view. Wow. But of course, nothing’s changed, nothing’s changed!!

    Catholicism has always recognised that elements of the church and faith, sufficient for salvation, can exist outside its visible boundaries. But God has not chosen anything of the sort. He does not choose anything outside the visible boundaries of his church, and insofar as elements of it can so exist, they are true and valid precisely to the extent that they are Catholic.

    Now, back to being a Lutheran for a moment here, I don’t give a flaming damn what Rome thinks of our validity, ministers, sacraments, or anything else.