Monday, September 27, 2010

Is Benedict the Vicar or not?

Reflecting a little more on the 'stole gate' affair (see Bosco Peters' post and comments - ignore mine as now almost certainly proven wrong !), I think the following is credible:

Benedict wears Leo's stole.
The motivation is to underline both the fact and the unchangeability of the nullness and voidness of Anglican orders.
In the context of doing so in England this is either small-mindedness or a subtle display of a very long view of church life, i.e. the C of E is going down the tubes, in the long term it will be dwarfed by the Roman church, so there is no need to change our view that we are right, true and valid and you are wrong, false and invalid.

I also recognise that if the ground on which your ministry as a pope rests is that your office is laid down by Christ, to continue Christ's work in the world as his Vicar, then there can be no cessation of the desire to draw all other churches (e.g. Eastern Orthodox churches) and ecclesial communities (such as the Church of England, as viewed with Roman eyes) into communion with the church led by yourself.  Conversely there is unlikely to be much thought given to either entering into full communion with other churches on their terms (i.e. dropping to claims to Vicarship), or to reviewing the status of ecclesial communities. Better to welcome them into the Catholic church than to change their definition. (NB This paragraph and the next have been modified from its initial posting). Concomitantly there is unlikely to be much motivation to review the grounds on which the alleged "orders" of the Anglican ecclesial community have been declared "null and void." (There are grounds for such a review, but they have been argued by Anglicans!). (NB This paragraph and the next have been modified from its initial posting).

But much depends here on the claim that the Pope is the Vicar of Christ is securely founded. What if they are not? If the Pope continues to maintain a number of claims which rest on this great claim then those questions raised by the Reformers, as to whether the true church of God on earth is organised according to the principle of Petrine supremacy, continue to be pertinent. 'Stole gate' seems to mean that, when all is said and done, a number of theological problems raised during the Reformation (but not only then, the Eastern challenge to Petrine supremacy is older than the Reformation) remain very far from being resolved.

Benedict XVI is a luminous intelligence (we all recognise that). So is Archbishop Rowan Williams (and we all recognise that). But ++Rowan excites quite a bit of opposition, and many think he is dreadfully wrong on some matters. There is no intrinsic reason why Benedict should be correct in everything. What if he is wrong on the basic point of being the Vicar of Christ? (!!)

My next post will develop this question and relate it to the one thing which even the Roman church knows it has gotten wrong.


liturgy said...

Just a couple of points I’m hoping you might clarify a bit more, Peter.

The pope regards the CofE as not a church, and regards Anglican orders as invalid. But this has nothing to do with whether an “ecclesial community” is in communion with him. Nor whether orders are “submitted to” the pope. The pope regards Eastern Orthodox and Old Catholics as churches and their orders as valid. The way that you have written your post appears to give a different, confusing impression.



Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco,
You are right. I need to be more careful, thus I have modified the confusing paragraph.