"Sort of" is the answer to the question. And I am not referring to ++Justin Welby or, for that matter, ++Eliud Wabukala. As Damian Thompson explains in a stunning Spectator frontpage article,
"Never before has the Catholic church looked so much like the Anglican Communion."
A summary of the article would be "Pope Francis looks more and more like what a Pope of the Anglican Communion would look like." Perhaps, to get the full flavour of the article we should add the descriptor 'liberal/progressive' into the sentence.
But is Damian Thompson correct in his broadside against the Pope? My own sense is that the Pope is not losing the plot at all but is playing a very clever and long game. By unsettling the church he is paving the way for change, at least in application of its teaching. He knows that doctrine will not formally change. He knows that there will be a reaction to his approach when the next Pope is elected, who will be more conservative. But he is also betting that if he gets some pastoral change going, the next Pope will not change it back. Once people come to receive the eucharist, even the most traditional next Pope is not going to get his priests to stop giving those communicants the eucharist.
Hi Peter, I agree that the Pope has not "lost the plot", but the synod must have been a disaster for him. When local bishops' conferences did not return enough liberals, he made personal appointments, but still failed to win real support. Although I would not call his final address a Basil Fawlty tantrum, he did overlook (in suggesting conservatives were mosaic) that Moses was more liberal than Jesus on divorce. On a parish level, the Pope is much admired; but I am concerned that more and more media and blogging Catholics refer to him by his surname only, suggest he has a suck it and see strategy or accuse him of having an ostentatious humility. I'm waiting for the bloggers' gasps when conservatives read today's Catholic Herald and learn that Elton John considers the Pope his hero. My view is that the Pope has brought most of this upon himself. However, he is the Pope and Catholics are Catholics because we are in communion with him. Some trads forget that, but as the very traditional Cardinal Burke has said, Catholics should remain faithful. The Pope has said that his papacy will not be long. Some will no doubt hope that he follows Benedict's example. My personal view is that Catholics should continue to pray for him as he has asked.
Peter, it could be wiser and more interesting to look at it this way. The contemporary papacy has three bases of power-- appointments of local bishops, control over the curia in Rome, and a certain presence in the global media village. If Francis has a short pontificate, the first may not be very consequential. The second could be less useful if he realises his vision of devolving power from Rome. Therefore, the third is the base on which he must rely to build momentum for whatever change he favours. But the global media have changed since the days when television shaped public opinion in a way almost as autocratic as... well... as a pope. Moreover, the media papacy that we take for granted today rests on a longer tradition of popes building grassroots support by promoting marian piety. JP2 could just say mass in a stadium somewhere, speak softly from the heart about the BVM, and rally a conservative constituency from television screens around the world. And bishops appointed by Paul VI learned not to cross it.
Today, Francis has to feed the beast (as the politicians say) in order to claim mindshare as a thought-leader (as, alas, the businessmen say). Doing so in this hyperlinked media village, he meets his opponents on far less hieratic terms than his sainted predecessor. Indeed, the most radical thing about this papacy to many people is the evidence that a pope even has opponents in the Catholic Church, and that they have a pretty good chance of winning. In short, this is a test of a pastoral pope's third base of power in the nearest thing we have to the hyperlinked church that Giles Fraser was proposing several weeks ago.
"Once people come to receive the eucharist, even the most traditional next Pope is not going to get his priests to stop giving those communicants the eucharist." - Dr. Peter Carrell -
Despite what Nick may think of this statement of your, Peter - being a Roman Catholic - I believe you have hiot the crusical nail on the head.
Recognising that Eucharistic participation is the 'Treasure of The Church', Pope Francis, I believe, acknowledges the fact that, whoever subscribes to this basic Doctrine of the Church, that Christ, The Redeemer, is actually present in the sacrament of his Body and Blood and then participate in that sacrament with faith in Christ's power to redeem, is a full member of the Body of Christ - whatever the institution of the Church may say about their inclusion.
In this way, I also believe that those in the Anglican Church who acknowledge Christ as Redeemer, in their participation in the Eucharistic Thanksgiving, have the same certitude of God's power and willingness to redeem them. In this way, Pope Francis could be thought of as a good and faithful Anglican - as well as being The Pope.
Forming a perspective of a person from second hand information is difficult.
I did thing 'really' when reading the bit Damian quoted from Pope Fracis's final speech at the conference, and after reading the speech, thought r-e-a-l-l-y Damian isn't that somewhat out of context.
What I got was the underlying impression that with the focus on the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis was emphasising a focus on mercy in order to move away from the 'throwing of stones' at one another as he phrased it - sitting in judgement upon anothers life. But the mercy he extropolates is one which clearly opens a path to repentance and forgiveness, and therefore to faithful followers of the doctrines of the church by choice not force.
I can see this may cause something of a stirring up within parts of the Catholic Church where the keeping of doctrines provide a sense of security. However, I don't think it necessitates seeing these doctrines as no longer being the plumbline, merely, an acknowledgement that we all fall short of this plumbline and forgiveness for those genuine in their desire to turn to Christ again be offered.
I am not sure Pope Francis made a mistake in his reference to the law of Moses and the Grace of Jesus. There are many examples of the change in the bible from the law which highlights death and sin, to freedom through the Holy Spirit by the law of grace and mercy paid for by Jesus.
Personally I see the attitudes of Moses and Jesus were pretty similar in relation to divorce. Moses permitted only because of a hardness of heart even though it was permissible by law but did not encourage it. Jesus made statements that illustrated divorce causes people to in effect commit adultery and thereby re-iterating the seriousness of it - because people were abusing Moses's concession and making in the rule rather than the exception. However, there is only one unforgivable sin and therefore, if true forgiveness is sought would God withold communion with Him through His son from anyone?
For God does not require sacrifice but mercy.
"For God does not require sacrifice but mercy." - right on, Jean.
God has already given Himself for us, in Christ. Would He now fail to redeem us? "The quality of mercy is not strained. It falleth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the earth beneath" - Willy Waggle-dagger
"But that’s where the similarities end. John Paul never hid the nature of his mission. He was determined to clarify and consolidate the teachings of the church. Francis, by contrast, wants to move towards a more compassionate, less rule-bound church. But he refuses to say how far he is prepared to go" - Damian Thomopson -
Poor Damian(a conservative Catholic if ever there was one). However, here he gets the drift of Pope Francis' extraordinary charism - which is to be open to the Holy Spirit; not just to define what has already gone before, but to enunciate the modus vivendi that will open up the kingdom of heaven to ALL believers, not just baptized Roman Catholics. Long may he reign on the throne of Peter!.
If you asked a Christian in the 4th century AD to point you to "the Pope", there is a fair chance he or she would have have nominated the Bishop of Alexandria. How things change from time to time.
"Pope Francis, I believe, acknowledges the fact that, whoever subscribes to this basic Doctrine of the Church, that Christ, The Redeemer, is actually present in the sacrament of his Body and Blood and then participate in that sacrament with faith in Christ's power to redeem, is a full member of the Body of Christ - whatever the institution of the Church may say about their inclusion."
That seems like a pleasant fantasy, but really, is there any reason to believe it is true? You are in effect saying that Pope Francis is prepared to depart (in several major respects) from received teaching as set out in the Catechism of the Catholic Church - is there any *objective* reason to think that he is prepared to do so?
For example, has he ever departed openly and clearly from the CCC in any other respect?
Hi Michael A; I agree with you. I am a conservative practising RC layman. Fr Ron is hopeful in his views. I doubt many Anglicans could go along with what Fr Ron says above, let alone the Pope. As a conservative, I watch our Holy Father like a hawk. I would struggle to find a single instance where he has not upheld the CCC. He is fond of the beatitudes and Matt 25. They probably sum him up. Not bad in my view.
MichaelA and Nick. I'm so glad you two have become ideological partners in mission. Enjoy your new relationshop - brought about, here, by ADU. Reconciliation is what blogs are really all about.
Fr Ron, I look forward to the day when Anglo-Catholics finally come home to Rome. You'll have to abide by the rules though.
I do pray for Pope Francis; that God may continue to use him to bring about the changes necessary for the continuation of the Roman Catholic Church as a fully functional part of the body of Christ. Agape
Mind you, we Anglicans still have a long way to go, too.
On Francis. Is it possible that all that he is really wants is to adjust the balance of rigour and mercy in pluralistic societies where Roman Catholic rigour does not maintain social structures? There is a moderate degree of rigour that is necessary to simple consistency and a somewhat higher degree of rigour that is necessary to reify a social norm. If you are making a society's rules, the extra rigour can be well worth its extra costs. If not, it is a burden on a community that needs to compete for its influence. So, in one way or another, every church finds the level it can sustain. Francis's apparent preference is for his church to reposition itself to evangelise where it no longer absolutely rules, and a bit more mercy-- even if it demoralises some who are, well, rigourists-- facilitates that. The most interesting critics of that preference are the ones who think, not in terms of competition amid pluralism, but in terms of a mission of order amid social disintegration. I have seen no thorough comparison of the two points of view.
I very much appreciate that insight into what is going on!
“Fr Ron, I look forward to the day when Anglo-Catholics finally come home to Rome. You'll have to abide by the rules though.”--Nick :)
Sorry, Nick, most Anglicans I know—mostly High Church people—won’t even consider reunion with Rome without the Pope first unconditionally withdrawing “Apostolicae curae.” No withdrawal, no reunion, period/full stop.
My comment about coming home to Rome assumed a route through anglicanorum coetibus. Of course, apostolicae curae is not then a problem, because the doubt (from the Roman perspective) is cured.
Kurt; my point precisely. Although there is a natural affinity between High Church Anglicans and roman Catholics - epsecially under Pope John XXIII or Pope Francis, with their openness to 'Sinners' - the bottom line for true convergence would be the recognition of Anglican Orders.
On the ground, of course, I have met many Roman Catholic clergy who have - at least, tacitly - accepted my priesthood - but that is probably because I accept the True Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
This is, I think, the basic fear of the R.C. hierarchy, that some Anglican clergy do not subscribe to that doctrine.
Further to Kurt's and my recent comments on the Anglican relationship with Rome; the Roman Catholic-sponsored 'Anglican Ordinariate' has just published, with Roman apptoval its first official Worship Manual, with the following explanation of its provenance:
"Divine Worship: The Missal contains all the necessary ritual texts for celebrating the Eucharist and the other sacraments. According to an official communique [PDF] from the U.S. Ordinariate, it “gives expression to and preserves for Catholic worship the worthy Anglican liturgical patrimony, understood as that which has nourished the Catholic faith throughout the history of the Anglican tradition and prompted aspirations towards ecclesial unity.”
"As a liturgical text, it expresses a eucharistic celebration that is “at once distinctively and traditionally Anglican in character, linguistic register, and structure, while also being clearly and recognizably an expression of the Roman Rite.” It has the stated purpose of situating itself “firmly within the shape and context of the Roman Rite so that it might be approached in a manner which respects its own integrity and authority.” As such, the text uses what is called “Prayer Book English,” making allowances for “a certain adaptability to local custom.”
These two paragraphs in the announcement describe the cdonditions under which the Mass can be celebrated - “giv(ing) expression to and preserv(ing) for Catholic worship the worthy Anglican liturgical patrimony, understood as that which has nourished the Catholic faith throughout the history of the Anglican tradition and prompted aspirations towards ecclesial unity.”
This at least gives 'the nod' to the patrimony of Anglican catholicity in its retention of the essence of the Mass Celebration.
But, that's as near as Rome is prepared to get to Anglicans at the moment - as refugees from Women Clergy! (one reasonj I am not R.C.)
Fr Ron; I know almost nothing about the ordinariate, other than what I can net search. Do Anglicans see it as a refuge for those who disagree with women clergy? I would have thought, as you suggest, that a fundamental issue is the validity of your orders. I am not going to get into an argument about that (I am not ordained and have no skin in the game), but the ordination of women is surely a side issue for men who do not believe that their own ordination cuts it. Let's be clear, I am not saying your orders are a nullity, but I have not thought of the ordinariate as a protest against women. I cannot imagine that Rome supports that. Members of the ordinariate are not diocesan Catholics. We are in full communion, but I am slightly concerned by your last sentence.
Take heart Fr Ron. I had a visit recently from a relative who lives in a small town somewhere in the land of the long white cloud (I have to be a bit covert here). She happens to be Catholic and the said preacher in her church the Sunday their Priest is busy elsewhere. Curious I just innocently said, are women allowed to preach in the Catholic church? Oh no she said, then with a genuine smile, but nobody says anything.
What happens on the ground can be somewhat different from the rules on high : )
I am not certain Bowman whether the concern for order among social disintegration and the need to evangelise in a pluralistic society are competing motivations but the same within the wider church at present. A number would view social disintegration as being in part due to the loss of ethics/morals due to the number of people who lack a compass in the teaching of Jesus. I would take a stab that Francis's motivation has more to do with spending time on the ground and grounding his theology in this experience - athough of course we would have to ask him : )
Losing traction as the rule setter in some Countries may be Pope Francis's strategic plan for his moves if he is concerned with the Catholic church remaining a political body but I wouldn't be surprised if it has as more to do with his personal convictions. In this instance for church doctrine to incorporate a greater degree of mercy, which is scriptural, while still remaining in line with its tradition. As has been said he doesn't appear to comment on or give creedance to changing the core traditions, he has though advocated for a degree of forgiveness to be permissable, and been willing to meet with those who do not follow the core doctrines or have failed to in the past. People seem to assume meeting with as approving of a person's stance, I do not think this can be assumed.
So in short I would take a stab the 'liberal' church and secular society read too much into Pope Francis's actions as do the 'conservative' wing of the Catholic Church. Perhaps a sign of a good leader?
"In the course of justice whom can see salvation? Therefore we must pray for mercy" - Shakespeare
"Do Anglicans see it (the Ordinariate) as a refuge for those who disagree with women clergy? - Nick -
Precisely, Nick. That was the sole reason for their disaffection with the Anglican Churches from which they have departed - not only clergy but laity as well. Being 'High Church' Anglicans, they sided with the Roman Catholic Church on its liturgical usage - believing that, despite the Reformation, Anglicans were still part of the One, Holy, Catholic and apostolic Church - so that the Ordination of Women in their Anglican Churches was the distinct departure from 'Catholic Order' that bade them to seek refuge under the Pope's wing.
Pope Benedict saw the advantage of attracting catholic-minded Anglicans 'back to Mummy' (the R.C. Church) and, accordingly, set up the Ordinariate, whereby disaffected Anglicans could pretend to be Roman Catholics while still retaining their distinctive 'Anglican Patrimony'. This meant owing loyalty to Rome rather than Canterbury.
They have become a sort of Anglican/Catholic 'halfway house' wherein their fantasies can be lived out in a quasi-Roman Catholic atmosphere (aided and abetted by the R.C. Church). The Orders of the priests have been 'regularised' by Rome, so that they can now function as quasi-Roman clergy - even if married with families. However, no ex-Anglican bishops - as far as I know - have become R.C. bishops. (I may be wrong about that, I'm not sure).
From what I hear, the local Roman Catholic clergy and parishioners do not necessarily trust themj. A situation that has disappointed some of the clergy, at least. What their future holds, I don't know.
The Ordinate is only one of a number of “Continuing Anglican” formations in America. America, being the original land of freedom of religion, has over 30 such denominations. The Ordinate is one of the smaller ones. The Episcopal Church (TEC), however, is the only full, voting member of the world-wide Anglican Communion (and, along with the Canadian Church, was one of the handful of its original initiators.)
Like American Roman Catholics, American Anglicans/Episcopalians have (with the exceptions of Virginia and possibly Maryland), always been a minority religious tradition here. Radical Evangelical Protestantism has historically been much more numerous than either communion. Nevertheless, American Anglicanism (along with American Roman Catholicism) is one of the two oldest denominations in the North America. The first Roman Catholic services go back to at least 1526, and the first Anglican services to back to at least 1565—which is 450 years ago this past August, in fact.
Before the fundamentalist Protestants had the Roman Catholic Church to complain about, they had us Episcopalians to kick around. For example, in Sometimes in America popular Protestant prejudice against the Church of England (“Rome’s sister”) got out of control and sacrilegious use of the sign of the cross was one result. In the aftermath of the Glorious Revolution of 1688, Boston Puritans went on a rampage against Episcopalians in general and against the King’s Chapel in particular. Quaker Thomas Maule (himself no stranger to persecution in Boston) witnessed “breaking the [Anglican] Church Windows, tearing the service [Prayer] Book, making Crosses of Mans Dung on the Doors, and filling the Key-holes with the same.” The Rector of King’s Chapel, the Rev. Robert Ratcliffe, “for his safety was forced to leave the country and his congregation and go for England.”
American Episcopalians have centuries-old High Church traditions. Crucifixes and rosary beads have been recovered by archaeologists at the 400-year-old James Fort in Virginia, and there is evidence that incense was used at the Anglican Church in Jamestown from about the same period (circa 1610). Probably the earliest complete set of ornaments for an American Anglican/Episcopal altar for which there is a written record arrived from England in 1619 for the use of St. Mary’s Church, Smythe’s (Smith’s) Hundred, Virginia—which is before the Separatists known as “Pilgrims” landed at Plymouth Rock.
Anglo-Papalism, however, has never been as popular here as it has been in the UK. The Society of the All Saints’ Sisters of the Poor translated to Rome in 2009, and Father Paul’s Franciscans (Graymoor) did so a century earlier in 1909, so corporate reception is not unknown. On the other hand, the bishop of my diocese (Long Island), the vicar of my parish church and our parish’s deacon were all Roman Catholics who translated to Canterbury.
So there you are Jean! Kurt has given a much broader understanding of the protestant/catholic divide - based on the North American experience, which is not inconsiderable. Current Anglo-Catholics who have stayed loyal to Canterbury far outnumber those who have moved to the Ordinariate, which, as Kurt informs us, is only one of a variety of spin-offs from the original Episcopal Church (Mothered by the Scottish Episcopal Church rather than the Church of England.
Thanks Kurt, this was all new to me and I'll have a further look into it. In terms of your last sentence, there are no holy orders issues in your parish!
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