Saturday, October 23, 2010

We are not an ecclesial community :)

Interesting post from Damian Thompson, cited below, in which he quotes a statement on the site of the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales. It's not quite the same as a statement from B16, but it is the next best thing ... surely?!

"Answer: yes, according to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. A priest has just drawn my attention to the following explanation from their website:
'Like any family, the Church has several branches. Each is different (Roman Catholic, Methodist, Anglican to name but a few) but all share a common source: Jesus Christ.'
Actually, this view is explicitly rejected by the Roman Catholic Church – but Eccleston Square has a more relaxed attitude to these matters, it appears. My curiosity is aroused, however. If RCs, Methodists and Anglicans are “but a few” of the branches of the Church, what are the others? Methodists are in, so clearly you don’t need bishops. That would also make room for Baptists, Presbyterians, Congregationalists and the United Reformed Church. Quakers? They don’t explicitly accept the divinity of Christ – but on the other hand they don’t explicitly reject it, either, so we’ll stretch a point. The Salvation Army? Although they believe Jesus is God, they don’t have a sacrament of baptism, which is tricky, but… OK, we’ll let them in. Unitarians? Christadelphians? Um, there seem to be some Trinitarian problems, so we’ll get back to you on that. And then there are these funny people called “Anglo-Catholics” who want to leave the Anglican branch and hop over to the Roman branch to form an “Ordinariate”, whatever that is. Sorry, no branch-swapping. We have to draw the line somewhere."

Ta, Damian!


Andrew Reid said...

They seem not to have read their own Pope's statement on the matter, published soon after he became Pope.

It poses a series of questions which clarify Roman Catholic teaching on the nature of the church. Essentially, the Orthodox are churches, and can join the Roman Catholic church if they acknowledge the Bishop of Rome as their head. Protestant churches are ecclesial communities, not churches, since they break with Apostolic succession.

It's thought Benedict authored most of this himself before he was elected Pope, so I wouldn't get my hopes up for wholesale change here.

Peter Carrell said...

I would not get my hopes up either! At least not in the short term. But what the English and Welsh bishops says fits with the 'on the ground' ecclesiology of many Catholics (here in NZ at least). In the long term Roman ecclesiology might match the ecclesiology of everyday Catholics.

liturgy said...

Yes, it is a nice street-language, visitor-friendly website line, Peter. But I'm not sure that this webmaster's phrasing can quite be taken as "what the English and Welsh bishops say" (at least not in public) :-) Your observation that the pope's teaching does not fit with "many Catholics (here in NZ at least)" I think is worthy of much more reflection.