This Study Paper, written by the Revd Brooke Lunn, is published on the Catholic League website. It is prefaced by these words:
This is already an historic document, since it is a reworking for the present circumstances of An Inlook into Anglican Identity, a study guide Fr Lunn developed early in the period from 1987 to 1990 as the leaders of the Catholic League set up a Committee for Corporate Reunion, to explore the feasibility and basis of corporate reunion. “Anglican identity” was thus the term being used at the time of the first formal plan for a scheme in the late 1980s and just into the 1990s, before the phrase “Anglican patrimony” entered into the currency. To those who say that the Apostolic Constitution was rushed in its conception and had no precedents, once again we demonstrate evidence of important foundational work two decades ago, itself resting on more than a century of repeated efforts, contacts and approaches, which are now bearing fruit as they are realised in the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham and further afield.
The original Inlook was printed in its entirety in our August 2010 Special Edition of The Messenger, a substantial collection of 200 pages of documentation and analysis entitled, Anglicans and Catholics in Communion: Patrimony, Unity and Mission. This remains available for free distribution and if you would like a copy, please email us here and we will send you a copy while stocks last. All we ask is a small donation to the Newman Fund to support the Ordinariate.
After a searching discussion among members of the League, using the Inlook, a “Congregation of the English Mission” was established as an embryonic body that could in due course petition the Catholic authorities for a “group of Anglicans” requesting a corporate reunion, marked with a distinctive Anglican identity and outlook, and committed to the union of all Christians for the sake of, and vital to, the effective and convincing mission of the one Church to the nation. Sounds familiar?
In this pioneering work, Father Lunn was a leading figure. The proposed model for corporate reunion looked to Canon 372 and also to concrete examplars such as the relatively new exceptional structure of the Personal Prelature (designed and implemented for Opus Dei) and the Pastoral Provision in the USA. A series of meetings took place with Cardinal Basil Hume OSB, Archbishop of Westminster, and his advisers Fr Anthony Nys SJ and Fr Michael Seed SA. There were also informal explorations with the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (whose prefect at the time was Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI – evidently Anglicanorum Coetibus was long forming in his mind) and the Apostolic Pro-Nuncio to the United Kingdom at the time, Archbishop Pablo Puente Buces. These plans could not be advanced at the time – the Personal Prelature because it provided only for a clerical body, and a Pastoral Provision because the Bishops of England & Wales were “of one mind that, in our particular circumstances, such alternatives would serve to increase the multiplicity of Church identities in an unhelpful and confusing manner”. Their full November 1993 statement eventually rejecting the Congregation for the English Mission’s proposal, and addressing the forthcoming likely transfer of hundreds of clergy to the Catholic Church and untold numbers of laity on an individual basis alone, can be read here. Who knows what could have been?
There were several parish groups received on an individual-cum-corporate basis, mainly in the Diocese of Westminster – notably at Enfield Lock (St Peter & St Paul) and St Pancras (Holy Cross, Cromer Street). But these relied on church-sharing by a small Catholic congregation with a continuing but diminished Anglican parish congregation; and relations, despite considerable efforts at good will locally, proved difficult, not least as their former pastors were not available to lead the nascent Catholic communities, their having been moved on to other parish postings in anticipation of ordination and incardination in the diocese. While obviously there was disappointment on the part of many that a Pastoral Provision for Anglicans seeking full communion, with some kind of distinctive ecclesial reality of its own, could not at that time be integrated into the Catholic Church in England and Wales, many clergy and faithful were undeterred. It is estimated by Fr John Broadhurst that in England over the 10 years from 1994 (the period of financial and housing support allocated by the Anglican authorities for those in conscience taking up what was essentiallly a voluntary redundancy or early retirement scheme) and in the period since, 500 Anglican clergy became Catholics, with large unrecorded numbers of lay faithful. The effect of this influx of Anglican background, patrimony and contribution to the life of the Catholic Church in England and Wales remains uncalculated but deserves thorough research. Certainly, it was something of an answer to prayer – even if an unexpected one – for vocations to the priesthood, during a period when across the Western world the numbers being ordained was seriously contracting.
As in Fr Lunn’s first Study Paper, Towards an English Ordinariate, the focus is taken beyond the immediate identity markers of Liturgy and Tradition, to a thorough treatment of origins and the Anglican theological paradigm of Scripture, Tradition and Reason, to an appraisal of the purpose and truthfulness of a Via Media (and the integrity of how that is practised), to considering the role of the laity in Anglican church life, and on to such factors as the relationship of Church and State, how size of congregation affects identity and mission, and the importance of folk religion and culture for what our now termed the “evangelisation of culture” and the “struggle for the soul of Europe”.
Fr Lunn has thoroughly revised his original Study Paper to take account of the opportunities offered by Anglicanorum Coetibus and development of the new Ordinariate. It is also a masterly introduction to the thinking of Newman as it relates to the fields he covered.
Here is the complete Study Paper:
The original on which this Study Paper is based was issued in the late 1980s by The Congregation of the English Mission under the title ‘Inlook into Anglican Identity’.
This revision is intended to encourage exploration of what Anglicanorum Coetibus terms ‘Anglican patrimony’ [ACAC VI:5] It remains the compilation of one person. Is it helpful ? Does it cover the subject adequately, at least by way of introduction ? Does it encourage useful discussion ? Are there obvious omissions ? Are some parts superfluous or irrelevant ? Constructive criticism would be gratefully received.
You may get through it in half-an-hour, with yes/no answers. This is not its purpose. The purpose of the questions is to provoke thought rather than definitive answers. Though intended primarily for group study, it may be used individually.
This is one of three Study Papers:
- Study Paper I – Towards an English Ordinariate
- Study Paper II – Anglican Patrimony
- Study Paper III – Sacraments and the Ordinariate
I. Identity – its meaning
- ‘Identity is that by which one is recognisable – by oneself and by others. Corporate identity arises from our need to belong. To be recognised and to belong are two basic human needs.’ Discuss
- ‘The Church is identified by her four marks – one, holy, catholic and apostolic.’
- i. Do you accept that the four marks are the essence of the Church’s identity?
- ii. What other marks might you wish to add to the four as generally and properly identifying the Church?
- The fullness of the Church is to be found at both the local level and the universal level. The fullness of the Church is to be found in the local Church with her bishop.
- i. Do you accept that the four marks are the essence of the local Church’s identity?
- ii. Does the local Church have additional essential identifying marks? If so, suggest some.
- iii. The only proper answer to 3:ii above is territorial bounds. For Christianity in England the one additional ‘essential’ mark is that it is in England. All other marks would be cultural rather than essential (e.g. Celtic, Anglo-Saxon, Norman, Gothic influences, etc.). Do you agree?
II. Anglican – its meaning
- The term Anglican occurs first in Latin – Ecclesia Anglicana – in Magna Carta. The meaning is the English Church. In the seventeenth century it is used to mean the English Church as distinct from Papal and Puritan Christianity. In the nineteenth century it is used to describe the Church of England abroad. It is also used in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries by those who, following seventeenth century usage, sought to justify Anglicanism as distinct from Romanism or Protestantism. For about a century it has been used to designate the worldwide Anglican Communion. More recently, with increasingly impaired communion within Anglicanism, and the proliferation of ‘continuing’ Anglican churches not in communion with, or at best in impaired communion with, Canterbury, it is losing its meaning to designate a communion. It retains some reference to provenance and culture. How it will develop is not yet known. That it may come full circle and come to mean the English Church, as in Magna Carta, would be a fascinating rehabilitation of a word which had rather lost its way.
Meanwhile, those who become part of an English Ordinariate will, indeed, be Anglicans in communion with Rome, not Canterbury. The Ordinariate is no place for disaffected Anglicans. Rather it is a helpful provision for those who remain faithful and loyal to all that is of good value in our Anglican patrimony. On the other hand those who seek to retain the description of Anglican while progressively rejecting fundamental values in our Anglican patrimony are themselves changing what it means to be Anglican.
- i. Discuss.
- ii. Is ‘Anglican’ as a designation of provenance and culture useful?
- iii. Is Anglican a helpful description of members of the Ordinariate?
- iv. ‘Anglican’ properly means English. Should it therefore be restricted to England; or English-speaking Christians wherever they might be?
- v. If a common English Christian identity were ever to emerge, could it reasonably be designated Anglican? Could Anglican be applied to English Christianity?
III. The hierarchy of truths
- ‘Professor John Macquarrie came to their rescue with the notion of a ‘hierarchy of truths’ and the need to draw a distinction between those matters which ‘made’ the Church and those which could ‘unmake’ the Church. This was, in fact, nothing more than a reintroduction of the idea of ‘fundamentals’ under different language, and still offered no adequate test of what was to be accounted fundamental and what was not. When the Fathers of Vatican II had used the same phrase they had made it clear that the hierarchy of which they spoke existed within the total context of the Church’s faith and order, and was not an invitation to regard any part of the Church’s traditional teaching or practice as disposable.’ (To the Church of England, Gareth Bennett, p.195). Discuss, and identify the main issues of this passage.
- Following Bennett (above), we must understand that we are dealing with a hierarchy of truths, not a hierarchy of opinions. The hierarchy of truths is not a differentiation between what is true and what is not; nor between what is slightly true and very true. Discuss.
- ‘Minimising is the true duty because it does not multiply doctrines without necessity. He wrote an intentionally comic sentence; men may maximise if they like as long as they do not dogmatise.’ (Newman, Owen Chadwick, p.67). Discuss.
- ‘The distinctions between fundamentals and accessories, or, in the more usual language of the day, between things necessary for salvation and things convenient in practice, was clearly drawn by Hooker and recurs constantly through the ensuing literature. The fundamentals are few and revealed, the accessories are indeterminate and more or less dependent on human invention. So Jeremy Taylor declares that the ‘intentment’ of his discourse on The Liberty of Prophesying is that men should “not make more necessities than God made, which indeed are not many.” For the Anglican of the seventeenth century those few things necessary for salvation were summed up conveniently in the Creeds, particularly in the so-called Apostles’ Creed.’ (Anglicanism, More and Cross, pp xxiv-xxv). Discuss. Is ‘the accessories are indeterminate and more or less dependent on human invention’ ‘an invitation to regard any part of the Church’s traditional teaching or practice as disposable.’?
- ‘For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels.’ (2 Cor. 4:4-7). Discuss.
- Considering the point raised in 5 above, how might we identify an ‘adequate test of what was to be accounted fundamental and what was not’? Consider the following;
- i. The Vincentian Canon, St Vincent of Lerins’ three-fold test of catholicity – quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est – what has been believed everywhere, always, and by all. Can you identify any teaching which meets those requirements?
- ii. The Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral of 1886/1888 was an Anglican attempt, in which four essentials in any future reunion were suggested – The Bible, the Creeds, baptism and Holy Communion, and the Historic Episcopate. How has this attempt fared in maintaining unity within the Anglican community?
- iii. The evolving Anglican ethos following the Elizabethan Settlement offered three criteria – Scripture, tradition and reason. Assess the value of these criteria.
- Can you call to mind any other mainstream attempts to identify an adequate test of what was to be accounted fundamental and what was not?
- Consider the following:
- i. Is there an obvious missing criterion in 10:iii above?
- ii. Is the obvious answer – The Magisterium, the teaching authority of the Church, her living voice?
- iii. Do you think that the Church needs a living, authoritative voice?
- iv. All statements of truth (Bible, Creed, etc.) need the living voice of the people of God for their continued understanding. Do you agree ?
- Consider the following:
- i. The suggestion in 12 i and ii above is that the three traditional Anglican criteria – Scripture, tradition and reason – need the fourth criterion, the Magisterium. This would give, in effect, a Vatican Quadrilateral – Magisterium, tradition, Scripture, reason. Does this make sense to you?
- ii. This Vatican Quadrilateral is a fair representation of the Church’s authority. Do you think that this works well in practice?
- iii. In this Vatican Quadrilateral, do you detect an RC emphasis on the Magisterium to the detriment of reason; and a contrary Anglican emphasis on reason to the detriment of the Magisterium? [cf. 14 following]
- ‘The Roman Catholic authorities are particularly uneasy with one aspect of Anglican identity. We Anglicans have stressed the authority of scripture, tradition and reason. Roman Catholics would be generally happy with this. It is how they perceive the particular Anglican expression of reason that causes them unease. Cardinal Hume, at the first of his Wednesday evening sessions for Anglican clergy, in an off the cuff comment on the fifth principle governing the Roman Catholic Hierarchy’s approach to the situation under consideration, wondered how his people would ‘cope with all these clever Anglicans’. That is a very telling phrase, full of heartfelt meaning. We should not underestimate the unease indicated here. Probably it has many ingredients. Let us consider briefly just one.
‘Our separation from the universal Church in the sixteenth century caused several fundamental problems. One of these was our separation from the teaching authority of the Church. Who is going to say, with authority, what we now believe? One result was the prominence given in our liturgies to faith and morals. The Ten Commandments and the Nicene Creed have to be said at every service of Holy Communion. The Apostles’ Creed has to be recited twice daily, at Morning and Evening Prayer, throughout the year. Thirteen times in each year, at Morning Prayer, the Apostles’ Creed has to be replaced by the Creed of St Athanasius, sung or said. The catholic understanding of the nature of sacraments is spelt out most explicitly in many places. The exhortation before Morning and Evening Prayer spells out clearly what we intend to do in our offices.
‘All this notwithstanding, there is not one single article of faith, from belief in God to belief in the bodily resurrection of Jesus, which is not openly challenged and publicly doubted, if not rejected – not just by minor ecclesiastics but by senior bishops. Therefore, orthodox Anglicans have developed a particular use of reason. We know that, when asked the reason for the hope that we all have (cf I Peter 3:15) we must always be prepared and have our answer ready. But we know that it is insufficient for us to answer – because the Church teaches us so, or because it is stated in our Anglican formularies. Our faith is God-given, but we need to be able to explain what it means to us – faith seeks understanding, as St Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, reminds us. Thus orthodox Anglicans ask many questions with the intent of deepening our understanding of our God-given faith. When we ask many questions about the resurrection of the body, it is not because we doubt the resurrection of the body, but in order to deepen our understanding of our firm belief in the resurrection of the body. Our questioning is thus the very antithesis of doubt. We feel that this fundamental difference between questioning and doubting is not always appreciated by our Roman Catholic friends. When Roman Catholic bishops tell us Anglicans that we must learn to trust them, we sometimes feel that they are telling us not to ask so many questions. That is why the Cardinal’s off the cuff reference to these clever Anglicans is such a telling phrase.’ (Reuniting Anglicans and Rome, Brooke Lunn, pp. 75-76)
- i. Do you agree that our Roman Catholic friends do not always appreciate the fundamental difference between questioning and doubting, especially where Anglicans are involved?
- ii. Does this passage identify a genuine Anglican unease with the Roman Catholic practice of authority?
- iii. Does the pre-Vatican 2 idea of the Ecclesia docens and the Ecclesia docile, the teaching Church and the taught Church, still give rise to unease amongst Anglicans?
- Pursuing this issue, consider the following from The Messenger of the Catholic League, February 2007, p. 30:
The absence of a living Magisterium in the Church of England following the break with Rome has contributed to a sense of needing to explain what we are, what we are doing, what we believe and why, and so on, in the Church of England. The preface to Morning and Evening Prayer in the BCP is an example, with its description of worship. Likewise the preface to the ordinal attached to the BCP, which gives a clear expression of intention to do what the Church does in the conferring of Holy Orders…and many other examples. Concerning the possibility of ordaining women, the Church of England has carried out, to some extent, though, in my view, far from adequately, a debate. Such a debate, however limited, has not taken place in the RC Church.
The Catholic Church, with her Magisterium, can more easily simply state – The Church teaches…without necessarily feeling the need to explain why. Or, to put it another way, RC bishops have to apply doctrine, not identify it. That is the job of theologians. Bishops, collegially with the Pope, have to agree what the theologians identify, and then apply it. Anglicans, lacking this teaching authority, largely have to sort it out for themselves ! Anglicans have their ‘scripture, tradition and reason’, but lack the necessary Magisterium. The Catholic Church has all four – Magisterium, tradition, scripture and reason…but too often neglects that fourth essential, reason, in her application of her teaching. This is a long-continuing issue in the catholic Church.
- i. Does this passage indicate two different ways of treating the same doctrine?
- ii. Are both ways authentic as far as they go; but both needing to be complemented by the other?
- iii. How true was the Anglican claim not to have a doctrine of our own?
- iv. Can this claim still be sustained in the light of more recent developments?
- ‘Even as an Anglican he believed that the Catholic Church could not err. When he changed his Church he had no difficulties about fitting the authority of the Pope into his belief. We need strong authority in religion, to resist the aggressive intellect of man, interfering where it has no right….. Newman therefore expounded the limit of the infallible authority:
- i. It touches only religion. It cannot touch science. The physicists and the Darwinians are still free. Its sphere is religious truth; not an inch further.
- ii. Its sphere is only what has already been given by the apostles to the Church. It cannot make us believe new truth. It can only safeguard old truth. ‘Nothing can be presented to me, in time to come, as part of the faith, but what I ought already to have received, and hitherto have been kept from receiving (if so) merely because it has not been brought home to me.’
- iii. The object of the authority can never supersede the dictate of the individual conscience. Newman wrote one of those sentences most offensive to Cardinals in Rome. ‘If I am obliged to bring religion into after-dinner toasts (which indeed does not seem quite the thing) I shall drink – to the Pope if you please – still to Conscience first, and to the Pope afterwards.’ (Newman, Chadwick, pp 66-67)
- i. Discuss.
- ii. How ‘Anglican’ does this position of Newman seem?
- iii. Does Anglicanism like strong authority in religion?
- iv. How might Anglicans reconcile the apparent Anglicanism of Newman above with the fact that he was a loyal Roman Catholic, even to the extent of being commended eventually by being made a Cardinal?
- A substantial exploration of the implications of Newman’s second point in 16 above is to be found in his Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine. In this he sought to explore how the Church judges what is a legitimate development and what is not. Chadwick says that the Essay persuaded neither Protestants nor Catholics. Yet Chadwick also says:
The idea of development was the most important single idea which Newman contributed to the thought of the Christian Church. This was not because the idea of development did not exist already. But it was a very restricted idea, so restricted that it posed insuperable problems for anyone who studied history with open eyes. Newman made it wider and vaguer and thereby far more fertile in conception, and more useful to anyone who cared about intellectual honesty, or the reconciliation of faith with the evidence of the past which history finds. (Newman, Chadwick, p48)
To what extent is the teaching authority of the Church obliged to be the living voice representing the Gospel in every age and clime? In what way does this imply development of doctrine?
- Has Anglicanism replaced the external infallibility of the Church, the Bible and the Pope with the infallibility of the individual?
- ‘We need the Church to be visibly one so that the body of Christ may be appropriately incarnate and the Church might fulfil without ambiguity its mission to be universal sacrament of salvation, effecting what it signified. The world needs the guarantee that the word of God is being authentically interpreted and the sacraments of Christ validly conferred. We need a united Church so that all the richness of Christ might be constantly available and shared by all and so that a united voice might bear witness to the message of Christ. It is singularly important that the world should know where to find the Church of Christ.’ (Towards a Civilisation of Love, Cardinal Basil Hume, p.148). Does not Cardinal Hume here speak for all right-thinking Anglicans, and indeed for all right-thinking Christians?
- Richard Hooker (1553-1600) was one of the earliest writers who represent a distinctive Anglicanism. Pope Clement VIII declared of Hooker’s Ecclesiastical Polity that ‘it had in it such seeds of eternity that it would abide till the last fire shall consume all learning.’
In considering Hooker, the Caroline Divines, the writers of the Oxford Movement, those who produced the report Catholicity in 1947, and other Anglican theologians and devotional writers of a catholic outlook, how likely is it that any of them today, in the more favourable climate post Vatican II, would get the Imprimatur or the Nihil Obstat ? Would they require a new category – Beneficial reading, provided that you engage your critical faculties fully?
- The First Agreed Statement on Authority (1976) of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, has this in its second section:
Through the gift of the Spirit the apostolic community came to recognize in the words and deeds of Jesus the saving activity of God and their mission to proclaim to all men the good news of salvation. Therefore they preached Jesus through whom God has spoken finally to men. Assisted by the Holy Spirit they transmitted what they had heard and seen of the life and words of Jesus and their interpretation of his redemptive work. Consequently the inspired documents in which this is related came to be accepted by the Church as a normative record of the authentic foundation of the faith. To these the Church has recourse for the inspiration of its life and mission; to these the Church refers its teaching and practice. Through these written words the authority of the Word of God is conveyed. Entrusted with these documents, the Christian community is enabled by the Holy Spirit to live out the Gospel and so to be led into all truth. It is therefore given the capacity to assess its faith and life and to speak to the world in the name of Christ. Shared commitment and belief create a common mind in determining how the Gospel should be interpreted and obeyed. By reference to this common faith each person tests the truth of his own belief. How well and how adequately do you think that this expresses the authority of the canonical Scriptures?
- Reason is a means, not an end, a process whereby we use our critical faculties to assess, judge, evaluate and develop our understanding of the data. Questioning is essential to this process.
- i. Do you agree ?
- ii. Questioning, not doubt, is essential to reason. Do you agree ? Do you understand the difference ?
- ‘In Aubrey de Vere’s account of his conversion to Rome there is a passage that bears on this point. “Carlyle”, he says, “was one of those who gave me the most curious form of warning: ‘I have ridden over here to tell you not to do that thing. You were born free. Do not go into that hole.’ I answered: ‘But you used always to tell me that the Roman Catholic Church was the only Christian body that was consistent, and could defend her position.’ He replied: ‘And so I say still. But the Church of England is much better notwithstanding, because her face is turned in the right direction.’” The word “right” may be begging of the question, but it was in establishing a certain “direction” and in avoiding a premature fixation that Anglican theology in its formative period showed at once its character and wisdom and its underlying consistency.’ (Anglicanism, More and Cross, pp.xx-xxi)
- i. Does certainty necessarily discourage or preclude thought and the use of our critical faculties?
- ii. Does not the above quotation invite the text: ‘If the trumpet gives an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?’ ? (1 Cor.14:8)
- iii. Is not the word “right” most certainly a begging of the question? Can you identify the right direction in which the face of the Church of England is turned?
- iv. ‘Avoiding a premature fixation’ must surely be a virtue. Do you agree? Is there not good value in the freedom which, in doctrine, sees the system as a means and an aid, not as a procrustean end?
- v. Can you identify the ‘underlying consistency’ of Anglicanism to your own satisfaction?
- Reason has limitations; you cannot argue somebody into faith. ‘Here enters philosophic doubt. Faith is certain of its object. Evidence can produce answers which are never more than probable. By what leap (if it is a leap) does the religious mind pass from the probable to the certain ?’ (Newman, Chadwick, p34) Newman would not accept that reason alone could produce certainty. He did accept the certainty of faith, its assurance and trust. Newman closed the gap between probability and certainty with his theory of the illative sense. (illative = a word or phrase introducing or stating an inference, as English so, therefore, etc., late sixteenth century)
- i. Is ‘the full assurance of faith’ at home in typical contemporary Anglicanism?
- ii. ‘The human race cannot live in universal doubt.’ (Newman, Chadwick, p35) How ‘universal’ is doubt in Anglicanism today?
- iii. The whole question of natural knowledge, the place of reason, and the certainty of faith is very far reaching. It would take us way beyond the reasonable bounds of this study paper.
VII. The via media
25. ‘It hath been the wisdom of the Church of England, ever since the compiling of her Publick Liturgy, to keep the mean between the two extremes, of too much stiffness in refusing and of too much easiness in admitting any variation from it.’ [The Preface to the Book of Common Prayer] Is this reasonable?
26. ‘Devotional language is likely to run to excess. If you love someone you use terms of endearment in private which if published in a newspaper look maudlin, repulsive as love-letters in a police report. The early Church glorified the Virgin far more than Protestants like to remember. But Newman threw overboard an excess of adulation of St Mary, ‘fulsome frigid flattery’. These things, he said, may suit foreigners; that is their affair. They do not suit Englishmen and they do not suit me.’ (Newman, Chadwick, pp 65-66). Is this moderation in devotion a good thing, or does it tend towards too much stiffness and formality in our spiritual lives? Have the English always been as Newman says?
27. ‘It is very well for sublime sciences, which work out their problems from the crowding and jostling, the elbowing and toe treading of actual life, to care for nobody and nothing but themselves, and to preach and practise the cheap devotion to what they call truth, meaning of course, facts; but a liberty to blurt out all things whatever without self-restraint is not only forbidden by the Church, but by Society at large; of which such liberties, if fully carried out, would certainly be the dissolution. Veracity, like other virtues, lies in a mean.’ (The Essential Newman, p247, from Via Media)
- i. Do you agree?
- ii. To what contemporary issues does Newman speak in this case?
28. Aristotle taught a doctrine of the mean in ethics. Mean is a mathematical term meaning what lies between two extremes. Too much food or exercise or too little, spoil health. Each virtue is opposed to two vices, one of excess and one of deficiency. For Christians, the determining factor is not the vices, but the virtue. Thus vice is an aberration, an abuse, a misuse of that which is good. The choice is therefore not simply a mean between two extremes, but between good and evil. Thus the apparently opposite extremes in practice have a lot in common. Discuss.
29. ‘I die in the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Faith, professed by the whole Church, before the disunion of East and West: more particularly I die in the communion of the Church of England, as it stands distinguished from all Papal and Puritan Innovations’ [Thomas Ken’s will]. This is a classic expression of the Anglican via media in doctrine. Such a view was often found amongst the Caroline Divines. It was Newman’s view as an Anglican.
- i. Who are its exponents in contemporary Anglicanism?
- ii. What are its good points?
- iii. What are its defects?
30. Hegel proposed a dialectic of thesis, antithesis and synthesis. Anglicans like to see ourselves as the synthesis between opposites; a bridge; a force for reconciliation; an expression of ‘glorious comprehensiveness’.
- i. Does the evidence support such a view?
- ii. Are we a bridge?
- iii. Are we a force for reconciliation?
- iv. How ‘glorious’ is our comprehensiveness? (cf. 33 below)
- v. Can the formal emergence of impaired communion at the Lambeth Conference 1988 and other recent developments be reconciled with the idea of Anglicanism as a synthesis?
31.‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.’ [The Church in Laodicea, Rev.3:15-16]
- i. Is the via media necessarily the mean between hot and cold, that is, lukewarm?
- ii. Can one reasonably be as strongly committed to the via media as to the extremes?
- iii. Can the via media carry as much conviction as the extremes? or even more?
32. ‘Fuller, who employs the same metaphor of the silken cord through the pearl-chain of the virtues, is careful to explain that “moderation is not an halting between two opinions, when the thorough-believing of one of them is necessary for salvation”, nor is it mere “lukewarmness” in matters divine, but a law and ideal whereupon all a man’s soul may be set, even to martyrdom. So understood, the principle of measure is at once English and Greek.’ [Anglicanism, More and Cross, p.xxiii]
- Does this well express the positive nature and centrality of the via media, rightly understood, in the Christian faith?
33. Consider these questions
- i. The ‘glorious comprehensiveness’ of the Church of England – How glorious is Anglican comprehensiveness?
- ii. Is there a significant distinction between Anglican and other evangelicals?
- iii. What about Anglican and other pentecostalists?
- iv. What about Anglican and other liberals?
- v. What about Anglican and other catholics?
- vi. Is that which is distinctively Anglican found primarily with Anglican catholics, Anglican liberals, Anglican pentecostalists, or Anglican evangelicals?
- vii. Given the great diversity amongst Anglicans, what might we all have in common? The institutional structures, the Church Commissioners, the Pensions Board, buildings, liturgy, other cultural factors, etc.?
IX. The inclusive approach
34. In ecumenical and inter-religious relationships the mean between the two extremes of exclusivism and pluralism is the inclusive approach. ‘By this we mean that, without prejudice to, or compromise of, our own convictions, we will seek to recognize all that is true in the beliefs and convictions of others, which are also effects “of the Spirit of truth operating outside the confines of the Mystical Body” [Redemptor hominis 6].
‘Furthermore we will eschew the exclusive attitude which would see us as perfectly right and others as totally wrong. Yet again, we will eschew the pluralist attitude which says that the differences of conviction and belief do not seriously matter’ [Congregation of the English Mission Statutes 39 and 40]. Currently in Anglicanism exclusivism and pluralism are to the fore and the inclusive approach is in the background.
- Do you agree that the inclusive approach is closest to the true spirit of Anglicanism? Is so-called Anglican comprehensiveness another name for pluralism?
35. Consider three approaches to authority:
a. The subjective, liberal, pluralist approach. This plays down external authorities such as the Church, the Bible, the Creeds, and so on. In its extreme form its sole criterion of authority is what is personally acceptable to the individual. ‘You shall not do according to all that we are doing here this day, every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes.’ [Deuteronomy 12:8]
b. The objective, fundamentalist, exclusive approach. This emphasises external authorities, notably the Church and the Bible. Having adopted such external authority, the individual suspends the use of their critical faculties, thus keeping their authority external to them.
c. The integrated, inclusive, synthesising, catholic approach. This accepts the external, given nature of revelation, of faith as the gift of God, and seeks to appropriate it, using one’s critical faculties, so that it does not for ever remain external to the individual, but permeates his or her life.
- i. Compare and contrast these three approaches. In spite of the obvious superiority of the third approach, do you ever tend towards either of the other two?
- ii. Newman wrote against liberalism and dogmatism. Does this suggest that he clearly favours the third approach? (You can only give a reasonably fair answer to this question if you are sufficiently acquainted with Newman’s writing.)
36. The Greek word pragma means that which has been done, a deed. Pragmatism in Anglicanism means tackling the situation in hand rather than planning strategies to deal with possible or probable eventualities.
- i. Is this a recipe for muddling through?
- ii. Is pragmatism an expression of the Gospel: ‘Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.’? [Matthew 6:34]
- iii. Does pragmatism tend towards a situation where you are constantly trying to make the best of a bad job?
37. Pragmatism gives no scope for preventative action, little scope for curative action, and unlimited scope for coping with the situation (that is, reaction to circumstances rather than initiative).
- Is this a fair assessment of pragmatism?
38. The 1988 Lambeth Conference broadened the concept of communion by formally acknowledging the fact of impaired communion.
- Is this typical of Anglican pragmatism?
39. ‘All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient.’ (I Cor. 10:23)
- Is expediency on its own an adequate criterion of right behaviour?
40. ‘If the Anglican differs from the Romanist or the radical Protestant, it is because more definitely and consciously than either, he justified his belief by the pragmatic test of experience, namely: “Does it work?” It is not that he rejects authority for an unchecked individualism; he sees that his personal experience is no more than a fragment of the larger experience of mankind, and must be controlled at every step by that accumulation of wisdom which is the voice of the Church. What he rejects is the Absolute of authority based on a priori theories of infallibility. Rather, looking without and within, he asks the consequence of believing or not believing. How does acceptance of the dogma of the Incarnation work out in practice? Does faith bring with it any proof of its objective validity? Now pragmatism of this sort may seem to leave religion exposed to the shifting winds of human opinion…’ [Anglicanism, More and Cross, p.xxxiii]
- i. Does pragmatism stand up to the test of experience?
- ii. How convincing is this exposition of Anglican pragmatism?
- iii. ‘Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.’ [Heb. 11:1] What can be meant by ‘proof of faith’ above?
- iv. What implications are there for a faith whose acceptance depends on it demonstrating that it works in practice? What about unanswered prayer? What about ‘innocent suffering’? This world does not seem to be working very well – why believe that God made everything, and it was very good?
- v. Do not Christians believe that God is absolutely infallible?
41. ‘The Church of England has consistently claimed not to have a distinctive doctrine of her own. She claims to be the local manifestation of mainstream Christianity. If there is an identifiable Anglicanism, it is not to be found in a distinctive doctrinal system such as Lutheranism or Calvinism. However, there is a valid claim to a distinctive Anglican way of doing doctrine…Once again, there is a distinctive way of doing morality which, though not exclusively Anglican, is typical…So far, in looking at doctrine, morals, authority and the historic resources, the search for an Anglican identity has been elusive. It seems that we tend to be pragmatic, to be distinctive in the way we do our doctrine and morals, for example. This means that our identity is somewhat intangible!’ [Liturgy and Unity, Brooke Lunn, pp.8-9]
- i. Do you accept that Anglicanism has no special doctrine of her own – the traditional Anglican claim? If no, indicate what doctrines are specifically Anglican.
- ii. Does pragmatism make our identity too intangible for you?
42. The traditional struggle for orthodoxy (right belief, worship, glory) is now being balanced by the struggle for orthopraxis (right doing, practice, behaviour), notably in liberation theology. The theologians are being summoned forth from their ivory towers, the universities and colleges, the ‘groves of Academe’ and the Vatican, into the slum, the shanty towns, and urban priority areas, to do their theology in context.
- Is this a healthy development?
XI. The laity
43. The laity properly designates the whole people of God, from a newly baptised baby to the Pope. However, it is customarily used in a more restricted sense. ‘The term “laity” is here understood to mean all the faithful except those in Holy Orders and those who belong to a religious state approved by the Church.’ [Lumen gentium 31]
- i. Is clericalism, with all its false values, still a major problem in the Church?
- ii. What are the false values?
- iii. What terms might Anglicans use for the catholic terms religious and secular?
44. The relationship of the laity to the teaching authority of the Church (the Magisterium) remains an uncleared minefield. The mines have Latin names – sensus fidelium, consensus fidelium, sensus catholicus, sensus fidei, Christiani populis fides, communis Ecclesiae fides – the understanding of the faithful, the consensus (majority agreement ?) of the faithful, the understanding of the Church, catholic understanding, the understanding of the faith, the faith of the Christian people, the faith of the whole Church.
- What do you think might be the basic issues in this relationship of the laity to the Magisterium?
45. In 1859 Newman wrote an article On consulting the faithful in matters of doctrine in which ‘he developed the theological position that the laity form one source from which the actual belief of the Church may be ascertained and he affirmed that the Church was in a healthier state when the laity were informed on theological matters, especially those which constitute the objects of their spiritual life. The article was delated to Rome for heresy. Though Newman was not condemned and he subsequently supplied the requested explanation of his views, he was asked to relinquish the editorship of the magazine.’ [The Essential Newman, p273]
- i. Is a laity informed on theological matters a threat to the Magisterium?
- ii. Does contemporary Anglicanism have a theologically informed laity?
- iii. Does the House of Laity of the General Synod of the Church of England demonstrate competence in theological matters?
46. ‘In the definition of truths the teaching Church and the taught Church collaborate in such a way that the sole task of the teaching Church is to sanction the opinions of the taught.’
In so far as the concepts of the teaching and taught Churches have any place in Anglicanism, does this quotation describe synodical government in the Church of England? (The quotation is a proposition censured by the decree Lamentabili in 1907.)
47. Evaluate the following as possibly a fair summary of the position:
- i. Valid insights into religious truth may arise from the Magisterium, the faithful, and even beyond Christianity. ‘The firm belief of the followers of the non-Christian religions – a belief that is also an effect of the Spirit of truth operating outside the visible confines of the Mystical Body.’ [Redemptor hominis 6]
- ii. The task of discerning, defining and promulgating religious truth properly belongs to the Magisterium.
- iii. On the one hand the Magisterium does not need the agreement of the faithful for this task. On the other hand it is wrong to say that the only responsibility of the faithful in this sphere is to listen properly to the Magisterium.
- iv. ‘…an essential characteristic of the Church’s concrete regime, collegiality or the combination of the corporative with the hierarchical principle.’ [Lay people in the Church, Yves Congar, p294] Congar is perhaps the most significant writer on this issue. He has here summed it up in a nutshell – how to combine the corporative with the hierarchical.
48. In the evolution of synodical government, the Church of England claims to have found a way through the minefield. Today synodical government is being drastically criticised from many sides.
- i. Is it truly representative?
- ii. Are its priorities right?
- iii. Give specific examples of how it, as a synod, has helped the Church.
- iv. Does it give the laity a proper place in the Church?
- v. Has it a recognisable competence in discerning the truth?
49. ‘As far as the laity is concerned we are only at the beginning of the renewal.’ [Towards a Civilisation of Love, Cardinal Basil Hume, p69] It seems that, both in the Roman Catholic Church and in the Church of England, we still have a long way to go to achieve the proper place of the laity in the Church.
- Do you agree?
50. ’…holy Church, that every member of the same, in his vocation and ministry…’ [BCP Good Friday collect]. More is being said about every member of the Church sharing in the Church’s work and ministry.
- Is more being said, but not much more being done?
XII. Church and State
51. Canon A7 Of the Royal Supremacy of the Church of England reads:
We acknowledge that the Queen’s most excellent majesty, acting according to the laws of the realm, is the highest power under God in this kingdom, and has supreme authority over all persons in all causes, as well ecclesiastical as civil.
- i. How far is this a dead letter?
- ii. Constitutionally, a Scottish atheist MP has more authority in the Church of England than the Archbishop of Canterbury. Do you lose any sleep over this?
- iii. Parliament does exercise its legal rights from time to time and has done so recently. Can you give recent examples of this?
52. Magisterial reform is a term used to describe those sixteenth century movements carried through with state backing.
- What legitimacy, if any, can be given to such magisterial reform from a Christian viewpoint?
53. Some argue that there is a need for a close relationship between Church and State because a Christian society is one which seeks to redeem rather than reject the world.
- i. Does this view assume a Christendom situation (that is, where Christians are in the majority and there is a Christian cultural heritage)?
- ii. Is the Church-State relationship in England the best way of achieving a right relationship?
- iii. What about the relationship in Scotland?
- iv. What about those relationships in European Lutheran Churches, where the Church tends to be a department of state?
- v. What about those countries where the relationship is governed by a concordat which preserves the independence of both Church and State?
- vi. Could you detail a better relationship between Church and State in England?
54. Specify what you see as the advantages and disadvantages of the present establishment of our Church.
55. ‘When the two English provinces of the Latin Church of the West assumed a separate existence this was effected by giving to the secular ruler a supreme jurisdiction in ecclesiastical affairs. Indeed a defence of this Royal Supremacy became a mark of the first apologist for the Church of England and a true ecclesiology was somewhat slow in developing…So what in the past has kept the Church of England together, with its clergy and members even establishing a reputation for the way in which different traditions of churchmanship can coexist ? There seem to have been four factors at work. Pre-eminent has been the State establishment. Whether there is any justification for the State to exercise control over the Church, it has at least allowed men and women of differing ecclesiologies to live within an authoritative system.’ [To the Church of England, Gareth Bennett, pp191-192] Fear of the alternatives to establishment has given our language reputedly its longest word – Antidisestablishmentarianism.
- What might be the consequences of disestablishment:
- i. Loss of historic resources – churches, endowments, etc.?
- ii. Loss of seats in the House of Lords?
- iii. Loss of the one factor which keeps otherwise totally disparate peoples together?
- iv. Loss of our special place in the life of the nation – whatever we mean by this?
- v. Anything else?
56. To what extent does the special place of the Church of England in the life of the nation give her any advantage in evangelising the people?
- i. She has the entry into the homes (largely fallen into disuse now)?
- ii. She has the folk religion opportunities?
- iii. She has some standing, highly debatable, with the media?
57. The special place of the Church of England in the life of the nation derives from a Christendom situation. This does not readily lend itself to evangelising.
- Does this disadvantage outweigh the possible advantages? (see 56 above)
XIII. Folk religion
58. Folk religion means the religion of the people. It is widely disparaged. ‘This is not Christianity, it is the religion of the people.’ (BBC Radio 4 ‘Changing Places’ 1980) Folk religion denotes those who only occasionally attend church, for christenings, weddings, funerals and carol services at Christmas.
- i. Evaluate the following criteria of folk religion:
- a. They don’t come to church regularly.
- b. They can’t explain properly what the service is about.
- c. They are only using the Church.
- d. We probably won’t see them again.
- e. It’s only an excuse for a party.
- ii. Is folk religion guilty until proved innocent?
- iii. Is there a ‘pew-fodder’ attitude in the above criteria?
- iv. Could there be other, more genuine, reasons for folk religion? If so, suggest some.
59. Evaluate the following positive Christian view of folk religion:
There are two basic ingredients in the Christian attitude to folk religion. First, we are concerned with the redemption of this world. Much folk religion is an expression, however inadequate, of the need for redemption. Far from spurning such expressions, we see them as a challenge requiring our whole-hearted loving response. But folk religion does need redeeming. We do not meet the challenge by ‘going along with’ folk. All too often we either turn our backs completely on folk religion – the rigorist, exclusive approach; or else we side-step the challenge by falling in with inadequate approaches instead of seeking to redeem them.
The second ingredient of the Christian attitude to folk religion is our belief that Christianity is concerned with the whole of life. It is not a compartment of life nor a department of state. This is God’s world. Christians do not select a part of this world to redeem and sanctify, but the whole of it. We are essentially sacramental. This is where our faith is unique, that in Jesus Christ the whole creation is made new. This is Christianity – and it is the religion for the people.
60. The Church of England parish priest is in the front line:
a. Church law requires him to reside within the territorial boundaries of his parish.
b. The people who come to his church are the congregation. The people who live in his parish are his parishioners, whatever they do or do not believe.
c. Much of his time is spent in exercising his ministry with the wider community, the parishioners, not just with church people. He is the persona (parson) of the parish.
d. His church school likewise is often a community school, not just for ‘church children’.
- i. Are these some of the sources of the folk religion element?
- ii. Does this front line position give the Church of England an advantage or a disadvantage in evangelising the people?
61. ‘The parish community has been able to allow people to relate to each other and to their pastor at a personal level and with freedom and trust. This is usually impossible with our contemporary parishes because of their size and the uneven social, intellectual and cultural mix to be found there. The most obvious and necessary step is to develop within the parish a host of smaller natural groupings or associations. It is here that a deeper, more personal spiritual formation can be carried out, that worship and prayer can be given new life and that action can be more effectively planned and carried out.’ [Towards a Civilisation of Love, Cardinal Basil Hume, p154]
- i. Do you believe that small is beautiful?
- ii. What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of large parishes?
- iii. What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of small parishes?
- iv. Do you agree with Cardinal Hume’s recommendation for smaller natural groupings?
62. Most Church of England parish churches are like the local corner shop, where there can be a personal relationship between the shop owner and the customer, time for a chat, and a certain ‘clubbiness’. In comparison, Roman Catholic churches in England are often not quite so local, and like the supermarket, more impersonal.
- i. Is this a fair comparison?
- ii. What size is your congregation? Is it sufficiently small to be a natural grouping? Is it large enough to benefit from having a number of smaller natural groupings within the parish?
- iii. Do you see problems of grouping on social, intellectual and cultural grounds?
- iv. What, if anything, is your experience of small groups, cells, house groups, house church, base communities, etc.?
63. The majority of small country parishes have, in the last generation, ceased to have their own resident priest. The makeup of the parish has probably changed considerably. There may still be residual congregations going back to the time when there was a resident priest.
- i. What might happen to a younger generation growing up in such a parish?
- ii. Does it suggest the demise of such parishes?
- iii. Does it suggest a policy akin to small groupings in a large parish?
- iv. Does it suggest changed patterns of ministry with increased lay participation?
64. The Church of England is quite small. It is quite easy to know the main characters. There is a certain ‘clubbiness’, a sense of belonging. You don’t usually get lost in the Church of England, you’re not anonymous. There is a high priest-people ratio. In worship the people know the priest and the priest knows the people. Perhaps this leads to a personality cult – the singer, not the song. The pastoral dictum – I know my own and my own know me – applies. This has developed into mutual expectations (e.g. the time a priest will spend with individual penitents). The priest might spend more time dealing with a particular problem rather than quoting textbook answers.
- i. Is the above true in your experience?
- ii. What disadvantages might there be with this more ‘manageable’ size?
- iii. Is there a tendency for the local church to become a club – a fellowship with religious overtones – where you have to go easy on the religious side?
65. Some points from a census of churches in 1979 [MARC Europe]:
- 87.1% of Church of England churches had congregations below 150.
- 17% of Roman Catholic churches had congregations below 150.
- 54.4% of Methodist churches had congregations below 25.
- The traditional one-man ministry becomes a self-limiting factor when the church reaches the upper limit of this category (150).
- Methodists have a bias towards the small church. ‘Small is beautiful.’ As one minister often looks after several churches, it is akin to one parish with several ‘house’ churches.
- i. Is there an ideal size for a church ? Can you suggest what it is?
- ii. What implications do the above figures have for team ministry and lay ministry?
- iii. What other implications do the above figures have?
XVI. Some other cultural factors
66. We are told that it was the beauty of worship in Santa Sophia, Constantinople, that decided Vladimir of Kiev to choose Eastern Orthodoxy for his people (the millennium of the Conversion of the Rus). His envoys said of their experience of Eastern Orthodox worship: ‘We knew not whether we were in heaven or on earth.’ Vladimir had also considered Judaism, Islam and Latin Christianity. This beauty consists largely of icons and music. It has been suggested that beauty in Anglicanism is literary – The Book of Common Prayer, the Authorised Version of the Bible, the devotional writings of the Caroline Divines and others, etc.
- Wherein, do you think, lies the beauty of Anglicanism ?
67. Which of the following two lists most aptly describes Anglicanism? Do you prefer it that way, or would you like to see it reversed? –
- i. casual, amateur, not too demanding, easy-going, open-ended.
- ii. Precise, professional, demanding, definite.
68. How important to you are the following:
- i. Moderation in devotion (cf. 26 above) and seemly order.
- ii. Anglican chant.
- iii. Church bells (the distinctive English style).
- iv. Gothic architecture.
- v. Robed choirs.
- vi. The pageantry of the Church of England.
- vii. Anything else.
69. Church of England people and English Roman Catholics are one people with different cultures. We are inherently the same, but culturally differently conditioned. We have this treasure (the Church) in earthen vessels (Anglican and RC cultures). Anglicanism is a valid vessel and culture. Do you agree ?
70. ‘If it happens that in certain regions there is a group of men which is impeded from accepting the Catholic faith because they cannot adapt themselves to the particular guise in which the Church presents itself in that place, then it is desirable that this situation should be specially catered for, until all Christians can gather together in one community.’ [Vatican 2 Decree Ad Gentes 20]
i. Does the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales have a particular guise to which Anglicans have difficulty in adapting? If so, give reasons and examples.
ii. Do you think that the particular guises of Anglicans and English Roman Catholics could be brought together so that ‘all Christians can gather together in one community’?
71. Prior Burge OSB of Ampleforth Abbey, writing towards the end of the nineteenth century to the committee for the new Roman Catholic church in Stroud Green, North London, gave the following as one of his arguments in favour of Ampleforth making a foundation there: a group of priests, thoroughly English in all their ways, who might thus be expected to make headway amongst our separated brethren. It is said that the English Benedictines are rather ‘Anglican’ and that the Church of England has a sort of Benedictine ethos.
- i. Can you think of a reason for this and illustrations of it?
- ii. Do you accept the implication that, to carry out our missionary task, it is helpful to be thoroughly English in all our ways?
This has also been considered in Study Paper I – Towards an English Ordinariate II.10. Here are a few further considerations.
72. Catholic Churches define themselves primarily in their liturgy; as distinct from those ecclesial communities which define themselves through their confession of faith as, for example, the Lutheran Augsburg Confession, or the Presbyterian Westminster Confession. In this respect the Church of England is aligned with the Catholic Churches. A common response to the question – What is our Anglican patrimony? – is, The Book of Common Prayer. The Prayer Book is a significant part of Anglican patrimony, and for many years fulfilled a role in identifying the Church of England; and thus being, to some extent, a unifying factor. However, as an identifying and unifying factor, it has always been problematic.
- i. Wherein lies the good value of the 1662 Prayerbook?
- ii. In its doctrine?
- iii. In its liturgical shape and structure?
- iv. In the clarity and beauty of its language?
- v. In the care and manner of its celebration?
- vi. In other ways?
73. Do the many versions and revisions (1549, 1552, 1559, 1662, 1928, Series 1, Series 2, Series 3, ASB, and now Common Worship) indicate innate problems, or a healthy adaptation in changing times; or a mixture of both?
74. Has the liturgical movement of the twentieth century encouraged an ecumenical development towards a common liturgy capable of being shared by different Churches and Ecclesial Communities?
75. Given the great variety of liturgical and quasi-liturgical celebrations in the Church of England today, what positive role might the 1662 Prayer Book still serve, if any?
XVIII. Two limitations of Anglicanism
76. What do you think of the following?
Anglicanism has at least two substantial limitations. First, it has a very limited appeal, probably at most to five per cent of the population. The majority of people are not learned, literary, academic and scholarly. There is a false tendency to think that the majority is the worse for this.–There is a consequent tendency in Anglicanism to appeal to an elite, and to despise the rest – the folk religion of the ordinary English people, the superstitious Irish, the Mediterranean peasants, and so on. So this limited appeal, though perfectly justifiable in itself, is set up as the norm, and accompanied by a process of self-justification at the expense of others. The appeal of Newman is to such an elite, whereas his fellow ex-Anglican, Manning, made a name for himself with the masses because of his social responsibility. Yet Manning is compared unfavourably to Newman, whereas they had different abilities exercised in different spheres.
The second limitation of Anglicanism is its ambivalent attitude towards mainstream Catholicism. We seem to have a love-hate relationship. There is a continuous anti-Roman, anti-papal strand running through classical Anglicanism. Just when we might think that it has died out, it seems to reappear from nowhere, as in much of the very recent reaction to Anglicanorum Coetibus. It is more complex than the anti-catholicism of protestantism.
Consider two possible sources:
- (a) First, there is the genuine criticism of what are seen as wrong emphases.
- (b) But genuine criticism is insignificant compared with the second source of anti-Romanism. This latter is complex. Anyone with catholic inclinations who is not a Roman Catholic will be unable to ignore the challenge which is presented to them by the Roman Catholic Church. A lot of energy is spent in trying to justify being a non Roman Catholic, and so we find the apparent paradox that, the closer we draw to Catholicism, the more we need to justify our continued separation from the Roman Catholic Church.
XIX. Mary’s Dowry
77. England became known as Mary’s Dowry in the Middle Ages and devotion to Mary was widespread. This is seen, for example, in the shrines, pilgrimages and dedications of churches. Much of this disappeared in the sixteenth century, though Bishop Thomas Ken’s 186 line devotion for the First Sunday after Epiphany covers just about every aspect of Marian devotion. It ends with the two lines:
And here below, now she’s of heaven possess’d,
All generations are to call her bless’d.
A Church truly devoted to Jesus cannot keep his Mother out. In 1876 the Mothers’ Union was founded to be especially concerned with all that strengthens and preserves marriage and Christian family life. It offers an interesting sidelight into popular devotion to Our Lady in the Church of England. In a great number of churches the MU banner would be displayed. It is often the result of skill and imagination by local members. It usually depicts Our Lady holding Jesus, and includes the name of the parish. Our Lady thus came back into churches not by any grand design but by popular devotion of ordinary people.
The emphasis, of course, was on Mary as Mother. There is all too often a dismissive attitude to popular religion and simple piety, but these often go to the heart of the matter. Mary is the Mother of God. Mary is the Mother of the Church. Identifying Our Lady primarily as Mother witnesses to the truth that the mother is right at the centre of human society, just as Mary is right at the centre of the Church. The dilution of marriage, the undermining of the family, the marginalising of motherhood, the devaluing of childhood are all characteristic of our weakened society. It is well-nigh impossible to overestimate the significance of Mary, both for the well-being of the Church, and of human society.
- i. Do you accept that we live in a weakened society; and that the casualties include a right understanding of the family, motherhood, childhood, marriage and so on?
- ii. Do you agree that the role of Mary as Mother gives her great significance for the well-being of the Church and of human society?
XIX. The people of England
78. ‘We are convinced that the Roman Catholic community, diocese by diocese, will be enriched by the eventual full integration of those who bring with them not only the traditions of English Anglicanism, but also its commitment to reach out to those who are on the margin of Christian living, or beyond.’ [Statement of the RC Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, November 1993]
- What do you think might be meant by reaching ‘out to those who are on the margin of Christian living, or beyond’?
79. ‘I have just come to the end of a long, rewarding day of the kind that will be utterly familiar to every Parish Priest reading this, Mass, a school assembly, a funeral at the crematorium, lunch with a local councillor, an inter-faith forum, a community meeting, and so on. Most of the day was spent ministering to people beyond the Sunday congregation.’ [letter from Fr Philip North in New Directions, December 2009]
- Is this what is meant by reaching out to all the people of England?
80. Fr Simon Ellis, in the February 2010 New Directions, raises an issue about this historic relationship of the Church of England with the people of England:
‘I think his (Fr. North’s) comments, and the comments many of us will be making over the next few months, sit under the more important consideration of what is of primary importance about our faith as Catholic Anglicans…Even with all the pastoral and evangelistic opportunities that we currently value, can we make the best of them, belonging as we do to a church that does not cohere in terms of faith and order ? Pastoral and evangelistic outreach take place from a context and feed in to a Eucharistic community…Anglican Patrimony should be about a mindset, not a set of historic advantages.’
- i. Is it a simple choice between maintaining our full faith or commitment to reach out to all the people of England?
- ii. Might maintaining our full faith leave us in a cosy, complacent ghetto separated from the people?
- iii. How can we share our full faith with the people if we have substantially compromised it?
- iv. Maintaining the full faith in today’s Church of England parish is becoming increasingly congregational. How far can one go down the congregational path before one has fatally undermined the full faith one is seeking to proclaim ?
- v. Are maintaining the full faith and sharing it with all the people alternatives ? Or do they necessarily go together?
- vi. Maintaining the full faith and sharing it with all the people was the situation, with varying degrees of effectiveness, in the days of Ecclesia Anglicana before the sixteenth century. Has this now become an impossibility?
- vii. Is this where the concept of mutual reception becomes particularly relevant? [cf. Study Paper 1 – Towards an English Ordinariate II:6]
81. This exploration of Anglican patrimony is partly to see how we perceive the people of England and our ministry to all the people; and even more so, how the people of England, all of them, perceive us, the Church of England. Our concern for what provision might be made for us and our patrimony in the Ordinariate should follow from this.
Reinforcing this point, the primary motivation in exploring Anglican patrimony and how it might find a proper home in the Ordinariate is part of the process of the sharing by all Christians in England of that which is of good value in our several heritages, in order the better to share this heritage with all the people of England.
- Do you agree ?