An Appreciation of Anglicanorum Coetibus (Part I): Preface by the Catholic League

3 07 2011

The following comes from the Catholic League website and provides an introduction to an extended study of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus by the Revd Brooke Kingsmill-Lunn who served as Priest Director of the Catholic League until 2007 and whose own vocation was nurtured by the great Anglo-Papalist, the Revd Henry Joy Fynes Clinton. We will publish the complete paper here in stages. [Ed – having read the entire paper in full I can safely say that it is a must read for all those involved with the establishment of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, Personal Ordinariates further afield, and all Anglicans who – at whatever level – wish and hope for the reunion of the Church].

Fr Brooke Kingsmill-Lunn has been the most penetrating of commentators from the Anglican Papalist perspective in England for decades. First as the editor of The Messenger of the Catholic League and until 2007 as its Priest Director, he has offered a consistent critique of the state of the Church of England, the Catholic Church in England & Wales and the relations between them from the position of an Anglican who supports the papacy and who desires and works for the reunion of the “Church of England entire” with the Roman Apostolic See. Now retired after a distinguished parish ministry in inner north London, his pastoral priesthood in the Church of England has been devoted to the corporate reunion of the whole Church, for the sake of a society which needs not only Christians to be united but also that there be one Church under one Shepherd with a unified mission and proclamation. In this he continues the apostolate of one of the greatest Anglican Papalists of the mid-twentieth century, Fr Henry Joy Fynes Clinton, rector of the Parish Church of St Magnus the Martyr, Lower Thames Street, London, from 1921 to 1959, who encouraged Fr Brooke’s own vocation to the priesthood and his unwavering commitment as an Anglican to the papacy and to the principle that intrinsic to the two provinces of the Church of England, and of the other provinces in communion with it, was their corporate reunion with the Rock from whence they were hewn.

After so many hopeful signs during Fr Fynes’ time – from the Malines Conversations to the visits of the Abbé Paul Couturier – and so many fruits since – from the Archbishop of Canterbury’s visits to Rome first by Dr Fisher and then by Dr Michael Ramsey, Vatican II and the Decree on Ecumenism, the substantial agreements of ARCIC I, and the Pastoral Visit of Pope John Paul II to Britain and his joint blessing with Archbishop Runcie in Canterbury Cathedral in 1982 – the possibility of some kind of corporate reconciliation the age of ecumenism looked realistic. But new directions within the life and ministry of the constituent churches of the Anglican Communion, including the Church of England, culminating in the Lambeth Conference of 2008 and the vote of the General Synod of the same year to proceed with the ordination of women to the Anglican episcopate, have meant that, however advanced the theological agreement and however deep the ecumenical respect and friendship, the old trajectory of Anglican-Catholic dialogue towards reunification on the grounds of an essential similarity deriving from the common apostolic faith and tradition was definitively barred.

In these circumstances, efforts towards uncovering a new pathway towards visible unity in the apostolic faith have been initiated on a new footing, and ARCIC III is testament to this. But what of  those Anglicans who support the papacy, who believe the Anglican Church still needs the papacy and who still maintain that the Catholic Church still needs the Anglican tradition for the sake of its fuller and more effective mission to society?

In his An Appreciation of Anglicanorum Coetibus, Father Lunn examines how its provisions largely satisfy the objectives of Anglican Papalists in the new reality (and may well have satisfied the objectives of Fr Fynes Clinton), how its large vision gives continuing scope for an ongoing engagement with the fuller Anglican tradition, not simply a detached part that could risk turning its back on the Church in which it was formed, and also how a coming together of the Catholic Church with all that is of value in Anglican heritage, not only honours and protects it but overcomes disunity that is so great a stumbling block to the proclamation and acceptance of the Gospel.