18 January 2016

The Chair of Unity Octave ...

... is the name it started off with at the start of the twentieth century, when it was begun by a community of American Anglican Papalist Franciscans. Originally, this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity linked the Feast of the Cathedra of S Peter on January 18 with that of the Conversion of S Paul on the 25th.

Autobiographically speaking, as a 75 year-old, I now feel conned.

When I was an undergraduate in the early 1960s, this Week was, in Oxford and elsewhere, one of the big events of the year. Prayer booklets were issued every year, giving intentions for each day of the Octave and liturgical formulae for use at the (many) prayer meetings that took place all over the University. Christian Unity was the imperative; the overwhelming need if the Church was to bear united witness to her Lord. It took precedence over anything, everything else. It was pointed out, over and over again, that John 17 means that the Unity of the Lord's people is rooted in and required by the inner life of the Trinity itself; we were to be One, that our Oneness might be the same Oneness as that shared by Father and Son in the koinonia of the Spirit, "so that the World may believe". Anything that delayed or obstructed such a Unity was deeply wrong.

So there was much regret that 'the Roman Church' had 'placed a new obstacle' in the way of unity a decade earlier by defining the dogma of the Bodily Assumption of the Theotokos. Anglo-Catholics like me were made to feel awkward because our views on the necessity of episcopacy were an an obstacle to pan-Protestant unity. I so far went along with all this that, a little later, as a young priest, I voted in favour of the then current scheme for Anglican Methodist Unity, satisfied by the assurances of Dr Eric Kemp (one of its authors) that the Scheme had been carefully constructed to include a service adequate to confer conditionally Priestly Ordination upon the Methodist clergy.

Now, more than half a century later, we are told that things really aren't as simple as that. Christian Unity is still, indeed, technically, a good thing ... Oh definitely ... technically. But, apparently, we were wrong to accept a simplistic notion that Unity was the one, the only one, the over-riding imperative of the Spirit. How terribly silly we were! We should, apparently, have realised (I don't remember anyone explaining this at the time) that there were many other things which would easily trump the need for Unity: particularly the Spirit-filled Gospel Imperative, a matter of the purest Justice, to ordain women to priestly ministries. Just as Pius XII thought he was right in 1950 to create a new obstacle to unity just because it was true, so the liberals of the 1980s deemed themselves absolutely right to do precisely the same. Now, they are peremptorily demanding ex animo and de fide assent to their most newly defined divisive dogma, the Sanctity of Sodomy. Well I never. Who would ever have thought it.

What gullible fools we were, I was, back in those 1960s, ever to take them at their word.

Never trust a Liberal. As the slippery b****r looks you straight in the eye, clasps your hand with warm manly sincerity, and assures you on his honour that something-or-other really is the case, always remember that a few decades later (or sooner if it suits him) he'll sneer at you and say 'Did I really say that? I think you must have misunderstood me'. It's not that they're consciously dishonest; it's simply that their own unstable fancies and fantasies slither around in such undisciplined and unpredictable ways that they easily slide into a duplicity which they are too self-obsessed even to notice.

And, before he leaves your house, count the spoons. He may have nuanced views on spoons.


motuproprio said...

Ah! Dear Ralph Waldo Emerson “The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons.”

Tony V said...

To be fair, it's not just liberals you shouldn't trust.
Don't trust anyone. Least of all oneself.

El Codo said...

Doesit it not make you rejoice Father that the net is broken and we are free? A pile of clothes in the corner is always that and so the C of E. I have nothing to do with the Christian Unity charade...there is One True Church and the sooner all those Prots accept that,the better. We have a terribly nice Methody,Baptist,Anglican and Quaker in our village...all wrong,wandering around in FOGBOM!God help them.

Valdemar said...

Oh, Father.

As an ex-Methodist, I get it.

Trouble is now that we are in the Church, we see there are that same lot deep in the high weeds here as well.


Zephyrinus said...

Dear Fr,

The two words that sum up the attitude of today's liberal, modernist, groupings, are contained in the penultimate paragraph of your Post.


Jason Liuzza said...

"To be fair, it's not just liberals you shouldn't trust.
Don't trust anyone. Least of all oneself."

Wow that's very deep.

Священник села said...

At least, the spoons of other people.

motuproprio said...

Another illusion shattered! I had not expected that you would have been taken in by the cobbled together scheme for Anglican-Methodist merger which was one of the many attempts (eventually successful as we see today) to undermine a Catholic understanding of the priesthood in the Church of England.

Palamède de Charlus said...

Well... Yes and no.

The Roman & Anglican communions engaged in what seemed to be a very fruitful series of conversation (ARCIC I). Substantial agreement seemed to be reached. But then it seemed that Rome had not been playing a straight bat. The decision of the General Synod of the Church of England to ordain women came after a slap in the face from the Vatican in its response to the ARCIC I Final Report.

Faults on both sides and all that. But I am not sure the C of E has been any more slippery than Rome.

Fr John Hunwicke said...

This is an untruth sedulously asserted by Anglicans. It is true that Rome made successive demands for clarifications, because the wording sometimes seemed designed to be ambiguous. But after the final ARCIC Document, entitled "Clarifications", all the relevant dicasteries, including the CDF, agreed that the questions had been settled and no more work on these topics remained to be done. This is not a slap in the face.

There was a point about which Rome had been getting worried: they had thought that they were supposed to be finding consensus with the Anglican Communion. But Anglican documents gradually revealed that all that some on the Anglican side were agreeing to was the proposition that the "Agreements" represented a position which was within the 'Anglican spectrum of belief'. There was thus a suspicion that the Anglicans had been playing a far from straight bat.

I'm afraid I am not going to rake over these

Fr John Hunwicke said...

... matters any further.

Highland Cathedral said...

Anglican-Methodist Unity? The mind boggles. I recently attended a baptism at a United Reformed Church where the minister is a combined Methodist-URC appointment. Having baptised the baby she got up into the pulpit to examine the meaning of baptism. Various possibilities were considered then rejected. Eventually she came to original sin. She rejected this doctrine on the ground that babies cannot commit sin. What do they teach in Methodist seminaries?