Catholic League: ‘For the record’ III – On the ‘Centenary Tractates’

29 07 2011

The Catholic League blog is posting a series of articles, talks and papers from the archives, entitled ‘For the record’. We reproduce them here in order to help give them as wide a circulation as possible.

A glance at the Centenary Tractates of the Council for Promoting Catholic Unity in 1933
Brooke Lunn, January 2006

Eight tractates were published, as follows:
1. What do the Celtic Churches say? by the Reverend Silas M. Harris, M.A. (36 pages)
2. What does the Anglo Saxon Church say? by the Reverend J.G. Morton Howard, M.A. (20 pages)
3. What do the General Councils say? by the Reverend S. Herbert Scott, D.Phil., B.Litt., F.R.Hist.S. (36 pages)
4. What did the Church of England say? by the Reverend J.G. Morton Howard, M.A. (32 pages)
5. What does the XVI century say? by the Reverend Spencer Jones, M.A. (40 pages)
6. What do English Divines say? by the Reverend L.F.Simmonds, M.A. (32 pages)
7. What do the Tractarians say? by the Reverend Spencer Jones, M.A. (44 pages)
8. What are we to say? by the Reverend H.J. Fynes-Clinton, M.A. and the Reverend W. Robert Corbould. (31 pages)

The purpose of the tractates was to demonstrate the integral relationship between the Church of England and the Holy See from the earliest times; how, since the sixteenth century schism, this integral relationship had not totally been lost from sight or remembrance; and, in 1933, celebrating the centenary of the Oxford Movement, the extent to which this integral relationship had been restored to sight, with progress towards its full re-establishment.

The tractates are of considerable scholarly merit, and bring before the reader a wealth of evidence which four centuries of anti-catholic propaganda had sought to suppress. For my part, they largely substantiate, as Spencer Jones says in the thirteenth of his propositions [see previous post] ‘that Rome is in fact the mother of English Christianity’. Here I wish to refer, briefly, to tractate eight by way of a corrective to certain misunderstandings currently circulating.

What are we to say?
In tractate number eight Fr Fynes-Clinton, referring to the Manifesto of October 1932, wrote:

Constructively it asserted that the inevitable end of the Catholic Revival is the corporate return of the English Church to communion with the Holy See, and that this is the aim for which it is the duty of all Catholics to strive.

Under the heading of ‘The Catholic Life of the Church’ Fr Fynes writes:

The English Church possesses those essential elements of the Catholic inheritance that make her a living part of the Holy Apostolic Church founded by Christ:- the Faith in her assertion that she adheres to the undivided Church and the Oeucumenical Creeds, and in her appeal to the early Councils and the consent of the Fathers: Sacramental Orders with her expressed intention that they be a continuation of those of the Primitive Church: her maintenance of Episcopal government and her ancient Canon Law.

Beyond question she has much of value to contribute to the whole in her sacramental life, in her revived Religious Orders, in her historic continuity with the past and an intimate nexus with the national life and history that no other religious body possesses. In this lies a hope for immeasurable progress in the future in winning the allegiance of the English people back to their Catholic inheritance. The Church of England has unrivalled opportunities of reaching every village and household, of influencing the great interests and powers of the kingdom, and these opportunities involve the gravest responsibility.

Further on, under the heading ‘Corporate Return’, Fr Fynes writes:

To-day we see cause for great hope in the agreement that our state of disunion is intolerable. Schism from the Church or schism within the Church is sin. Our schism from Rome was Corporate: the remedy must be Corporate. Individual secession serves but to postpone reunion and leaves the problem where it was before. A corporate return made possible by an acknowledgment of the faults on both sides in the spirit of penitence, of prayer, of charity and determination. This is our aim: its glory our inspiration. The supreme need of the Church of England to-day is Corporate return to the Holy See, and this is but a return to her natural and original life.

Fr Corbould, in the second part of tractate eight, regarding the acceptance of the Holy Father as the centre of unity for Christendom, writes:

But such an acceptance need not involve the great upheaval feared in our accustomed religious life. Granted dogmatic agreement, on Roman principles much variety could be allowed in practice, and much could be allowed of those things which are peculiarly English and which we have come to value. In a union effected on such a basis for instance, all the following concessions could be made without touching the basis of dogmatic agreement. We do not say they all would be: we do not even say that it is desirable that they should be, but at any rate they serve to show how large a field of negotiation remains after dogmatic agreement has been attained. Rome could concede:-

1. That the Archbishop of Canterbury be acknowledged as Patriarch of such Anglican churches throughout the world as should desire to enter into the union.

2. That until the Anglican Church shall ask for a change of relationship she shall be governed by her own canon laws, provided that these in no case override oecumenic laws or custom, under the authority of the Patriarch of Canterbury, with an appeal to the Holy See.

3. That liberty be granted to the Anglican Church to appoint her own bishops.

4. That an English rite be authorized approximating as nearly as possible to that familiar to our people, but revised so far as necessary to satisfy Catholic liturgiologists.

5. That the use of the Authorized Version of the Bible be allowed until such time as a revised edition of it can be agreed upon.

6. That the Pope himself shall regularize from his point of view the orders of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and that the Archbishop should then secure the “regularization” of the rest of the clergy – no denial of the validity of their present orders being required of them. (It should be noted that such a means of satisfying questions as to orders was suggested by the Anglican bishops at the Lambeth Conference of 1920 and would follow the precedent of St. Chad and the Celtic Church.)

7. That the existing bishops and priests of the Anglican Churches adhering to the union should be secured in their present offices and status – including those who should be already married.

8. That communion in both kinds should be allowed as a permissive use.

That such ideas should be put forward in 1933 in a classic Anglican Papalist text should act as a corrective to false notions about Anglican Papalism still in circulation.


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