Thursday, March 14, 2013

Anglican Assessment of Papa Francis

Archbishop Gregory Venables has this to say of Papa Francis:

"Many are asking me what Jorge Bergoglio is really like. He is much more of a Christian, Christ centered and Spirit filled, than a mere churchman. He believes the Bible as it is written. I have been with him on many occasions and he always makes me sit next to him and invariably makes me take part and often do what he as Cardinal should have done. He is consistently humble and wise, outstandingly gifted yet a common man. He is no fool and speaks out very quietly yet clearly when necessary. He called me to have breakfast with him one morning and told me very clearly that the Ordinariate was quite unnecessary and that the church needs us as Anglicans. I consider this to be an inspired appointment not because he is a close and personal friend but because of who he is In Christ. Pray for him."

Interesting about the Ordinariate!

I like the sound of this bloke. Great choice of name. But he has one heck of a job before him if we concur with Damian Thompson who is thoroughly cheesed off with the Curia.

Postscript: let's be frank about Frank. At 76 he represents a Roman hierarchy in deep doo dah. The single most important job of leadership in the church, after proclaiming the gospel, is to train up the next generation of leaders. The current set up is not doing that for Rome. Papa Francis may, like his elderly predecessor John XXIII, unleash a new wave of change. If he does and his successor is aged around 60 then well and good. But if at 76 he has limited energies, like Benedict XVI, then Rome is doomed to further years of a divided Curia, unfortunate responses to scandals, and failure to get on top of its shortage of priests.

I may like the sound of this bloke, even as I recognise the larger story into which he fits is something of a tragedy for global Christianity, a tragedy because the vision of Vatican 2 for ongoing reform is being undone. For someone who does not like the sound of this bloke, who already thinks he is a disaster within a tragic story of modern Catholicism going wrong at each step, with Vatican 2 being the worst step of all, read here. Also interesting is Tim Stanley, alert to various nuances in the situation.


Father Ron Smith said...

The fact that this new Pastor Pastorum has chosen the name of 'Francis', is an augury of his trajectory as Pope. Whatever his understanding of the Bible - Word in The Book - he seems to be, rather, Christo-centric - centred on The Word made flesh - not just words but deeds, in his attitude towards the poor and the disenfranchised.

For Pope Francis, I have llttle doubt that the Daily Mass will equip him for the ministry to which Jesus is calling him. After the example of Jesus and Francis, he will no doubt give better treatment to the 'lepers' of this world than sometimes the Church is wont to do.

Deo gratias! May God richly bless him!

Joshua Bovis said...


I find the comments by ++Venables to be problematic. The problem with public support and affirmation for the Pope is that the differences between Protestant Christianity and Roman Catholicism are too central – the whole issue of how we are saved cannot be glossed over. To say, suggest, imply or assume publicly that the Pope is a brother in Christ is saying that these differences are adiaphora as in the end do not impede our fellowship. It is unhelpful as it is confusing.

Peter Carrell said...

Are you saying, Joshua, that you have reason to believe that the Pope is not a saved Christian?

Joshua Bovis said...

Why is this the question being asked?

Do you really seriously think that the Magisterium would elect a Cardinal to the Papacy if he did not uphold the official doctrines of the RCC - the one in the same church that anathematises those who believe the Gospel of the Lord Jesus?

Canon 14.
If anyone says that man is absolved from his sins and justified because he firmly believes that he is absolved and justified, or that no one is truly justified except him who believes himself justified, and that by this faith alone absolution and justification are effected, let him be anathema.

Canon 24.
If anyone says that the justice received is not preserved and also not increased before God through good works, but that those works are merely the fruits and signs of justification obtained, but not the cause of its increase, let him be anathema

The Pope is a gently humble man, but do you think as Pontiff he can be divorced from the doctrine and theology of Rome? Unless of course this new Pope actually does not believe the official teachings of the very church he has been elected to lead?

also remember our Articles? And what they say about the RCC?

Article 19, which says the Church of Rome has erred
Article 22, which says the Romish doctrines of purgatory, of adoration of images or relics and of prayer to the saints are repugnant to the word of God
Article 28, which declares that transubstantiation is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, and opposes the reservation or adoration of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper
Article 31, which says that “the sacrifices of masses, in which it was commonly said the priest did offer Christ for the quick and dead, to have remission of pain and guilt, were blasphemous fables and dangerous deceit”
Article 32, which opposes Rome’s demand for priestly celibacy.

Here are some words from JC Ryle:

Now what shall we say to all this? Nine times over the Thirty-nine Articles condemn, in plain and unmistakable language, the leading doctrines of the Church of Rome, and declare in favour of what must be called Protestant views. And yet men dare to tell us that we Evangelical clergymen have no right to denounce Popery, — that it is very wrong and very uncharitable to be so hot in favour of Protestantism, — that Romanism is a pretty good sort of thing, — and that by making such a piece of work about Popery, and Protestantism, and Ritualism, and semi-Popery, we are only troubling the country and doing more harm than good. Well! I am content to point to the Thirty-nine Articles. There is my apology! There is my defence! I will take up no other ground at present. I will not say, as I might do, that Popery is an unscriptural system, which every free nation ought to dread, and every Bible-reading Christian of any nation ought to oppose. I simply point to the Thirty-nine Articles.
I ask any one to explain how any English clergyman can be acting consistently, if he does not oppose, denounce, expose, and resist Popery in every shape, either within the Church or without. Other Christians may do as they please, and countenance Popery if they like. But so long as the Articles stand unrepealed and unaltered, it is the bounden duty of every clergyman of the Church of England to oppose Popery.

Joshua Bovis said...

David Ould on his blog asks a very pertinent question:

There are ways and means of welcoming Francis’ election charitably and generously without giving up the game. Or was the Reformation all just a bit of fuss about nothing?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Joshua,
The questions I ask are whether the pope loves the Lord Jesus and follows him (as far as I can see he does), has Rome engaged in any revision of its understanding of what it believes (its written canons notwithstanding), as represented by various Anglican-Roman, Lutheran-Roman documents (as far as I can see, they have), have Anglicans come to appreciate aspects of modern Romanism so we regret the tone of some of the 39A (many of us have), am I living in the 16th century (no)?

Father Ron Smith said...

Perhaps Joshua can now see why very few Anglicans care to go back to the 'certitude' of the 39 artifacts. We have moved on. Hurry, Joshua, you may just get left behind!

Unknown said...

May I step in and ask two questions of the 'unconditional welcomers'?

1. Would you yourself go to Rome?

2. Would you yourself send someone to Rome in the form of your local RC congregation?

Peter Carrell said...

Comment from Ron (minus the original last sentence, Ron, which sentence is often the undoing of your comments!):

I think Joshua yearns for the 16th century way of life, without any understanding, at all, of the remaining vlidity of all the other Catholic and Orthdox strands of the Church - of both East and West.

Calvinism is just one tiny little aspect of the Christian endeavour - hopelessly outnumbered by millions of believing Christians of other Churches. The Body of Christ contains us all. That is my belief.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi John,
I myself go quite close to Rome (I am married into a Catholic family, am often at Mass, though not - of course - receiving the elements, and have always had, as a minister in local ministers' associations and other groups, warm, friendly relationships with Roman Catholic churches, including sharing happily in Ash Wednesday services). There is much to admire in the ordinary parish life of Romanism, with its joy in the Lord, love for people, and faithfulness to the gospel (leaning towards the four gospels and their emphasis on following, than towards Paul and his emphasis on saving faith).

So I look forward, with each new pope to signs of rapprochement in Christ between our divided churches.

Would I send someone to my local Roman congregation? Absolutely. Especially if that person were Roman in background and clearly most comfortable in a Roman church. Our local priest is brilliant and one of the most godly men I have ever come across!

Father Ron Smith said...

I, too, noted John's (Richardson's) query about whether, or not, any of us could recommend anyone to the ministry of the Roman Catholic Church. I see this as an unwillingness to believe that 'ALL of us' are Sinners - redeemed by Christ. none of us has the exclusive knowledge of salvation, which is: 'Hid, with Christ, in God'.

A wee bit more humility about our own hold on salvation would more befit the role of an evangelist.

Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison! Perhaps the assumed title of the new Pope; Francis I, might help us all to understand humility & grace

Anonymous said...

Constantly telling others that they lack humility is an expression of self-righteous judgementalism.

Calvinism is founded upon the doctrine that we are ALL sinners saved by grace alone. The Roman church teaches that we are saved by works of righteousness as well as grace.

The former is Biblical, the second is not.

MichaelA said...

"Perhaps Joshua can now see why very few Anglicans care to go back to the 'certitude' of the 39 artifacts. We have moved on. Hurry, Joshua, you may just get left behind!"

Actually, Fr Ron, the vast majority of Anglicans in the world subscribe to the Articles of
Religion as embodying the true principles of Anglican doctrine, together with the Book of Common Prayer and the Edwardian Ordinal. For example, this is written into the constitution of the Anglican Church of Australia.

So hurry up, Ron, you may have already been left behind!

I would have thought a more credible response you could have given to Josh was to point out the wording of Article 19: " also the Church of Rome hath erred...". The Articles disagree with Rome about some things (as do you) but they still refer to it as a "church".

From an Anglican perspective (including a reformed evangelical anglican perspective), the RCC is still a church, even when we disagree with it.

MichaelA said...

"May I step in and ask two questions of the 'unconditional welcomers'?
1. Would you yourself go to Rome?
2. Would you yourself send someone to Rome in the form of your local RC congregation?"

My answer to 1 is "Of course not". My answer to 2 is "In Sydney, of course not. In the USA, quite possibly. If there were no faithful Anglican churches within reach, I would much rather that person be at a Roman Catholic Church (if run by a faithful priest) than at a TEC church. TEC is headed by a woman who denies the necessity of Christ's saving work, and its bishops include such luminaries as Shannon Johnston who has just welcomed and recommended the wierd pagan John Dominic Crossan."

In any case, its not a matter of ""unconditional welcoming": When the Pope teaches something that is in accordance with sound scriptural doctrine, I will applaud it. If he teaches something else, I will oppose it. Just like I do with everyone.

Father Ron Smith said...

"the Articles of Religion as embodying the true principles of Anglican doctrine, together with the Book of Common Prayer and the Edwardian Ordinal. For example, this is written into the constitution of the Anglican Church of Australia."
- MichaelA -

See what I mean? No other comment!

Anonymous said...

"Calvinism is founded upon the doctrine that we are ALL sinners saved by grace alone. The Roman church teaches that we are saved by works of righteousness as well as grace."

Well, no, not exactly - but it fudges the difference between justification and sanctification (as that renowned Anglican Tom Wright now seems to be doing, if I can decipher his prolix paragraphs), and its popular piety is indeed one of rewards for good deeds - which is exactly how most 'Christian' people today still think of 'heaven'. Yet Christ does teach there are rewards for obedience ('ten cities, five cities, one city'), which evangelical preaching often shies away from teaching about.


MichaelA said...

Glad to see you agree with me, Fr Ron!

MichaelA said...

Martin, I gather you have not heard much evangelical preaching. I have, and it doesn't shy away at all from the passage you seem to be referring to.

Andrew Reid said...

Just to get back to the person of Pope Francis, rather than Anglican/RC issues, there has been a great deal of concern about his actions (or lack of them) during the military junta in Argentina. This article from New Republic seems to me to be the only one that presents any hard evidence/testimony, rather than relying on unsubstantiated allegations.
It is also reasonably balanced, rather than starting from a pro or anti position.