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The Anglican-Catholic Hoopla: Open Thread

I’ve already made some comments on the recent apostolic constitution released by the Vatican designed to establish a smooth fast track for incorporating as many Anglican Christians, congregations, and priests as possible.

I’ll withhold extensive comment here because I actually just want to hear what other people think of this development. My basic sense is that this is only good if one’s sole idea of ecumenism is simply conversion to the Roman church. So, basically I don’t really think this is a good thing in any way, though of course I understand why many Catholics might. The timing of the matter is what I think is really problematic though.

But enough on that: what do other people think on this?


  1. Chris Donato wrote:

    Precisely because I’m willing to engage Catholic ecclesiology, I find this develop interesting and possibly helpful to a whole host of suffering Anglicans. Those who have tenaciously held on to Scripture and tradition have been marginalized for several decades now in that “Communion.” Rome’s response is, in a certain, pastoral and gracious (and so this I think must at least inform our discussion of the Catholic idea of ecumenism). I look forward (with hope) to how this shakes out.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 11:33 am | Permalink
  2. Chris Donato wrote:

    “…in a certain sense, …”

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 11:34 am | Permalink
  3. Kevin Davis wrote:

    It should first be established that we’re not talking about “Protestants” becoming Roman Catholic. We’re talking about Anglo-Catholics becoming Roman Catholic. Actually, we’re talking about Anglo-Papists (Anglo-Catholics who accept the universal jurisdiction of the pope) becoming Roman Catholic. When the bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion petitioned Rome for inclusion, they signed a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. So, once again, we’re not talking about Protestants or Evangelicals in any meaningful sense of the terms.

    With this in mind, I don’t see the problem. Rome is, more or less, doing for these Anglo-Catholics what she has done for some Eastern churches; though, we don’t know the exact details yet. They can keep their choral music and language of the BCP, and other culturally-conditioned marks,…and their wives. So, matters that fall under practical, not dogmatic/infallible, canon law are now being accommodated for these Anglo-Catholics.

    Of course, these accommodations will make Rome more tempting for those who, while not heretofore Anglo-Catholic, are conservative on moral issues and/or women’s ordination. They will thus reconsider the dogmatic claims of Rome and, invariably, some will convert.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 11:42 am | Permalink
  4. Paul wrote:

    I recently joined the Episcopal Church, in a mostly conservative Anglo-Catholic diocese. The diocese directly geographically north of us just pulled out of the Episcopal Church to join the Province of the Southern Cone.

    For conservative Anglo-Catholics, this might be a win-win for them because they’ve felt increasingly marginalized for decades in the EC. I have no idea how the different branches of Anglicanism hold sway elsewhere around the globe.

    I personally don’t subscribe to any particular camp. Part of me feels like withholding my opinion until we see what this incorporation actually looks like. But my two cents are this isn’t ecumenism, it’s just a great opportunity for Christians who don’t even want to be in the same room with one another anymore to bid a mutual “good riddance” (these being liberals and conservatives in the Anglican Communion).

    As I’ve posed on this blog before, how many Christians would walk out of a church and never come back if the pastor said from the pulpit, “Tremendous wealth is compatible with the Gospel”? How many Episcopal dioceses would secede if the Presiding Bishop said the War on Terror is part of God’s will? How many priests and bishops would head to Rome if the Conservative Bible was deemed an acceptable translation at the General Convention?

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 11:55 am | Permalink
  5. adhunt wrote:

    As an anglo-catholic I find it to be an insulting mess. Not only did the Holy Father completely go outside of the ecumenical groups of the RCC and Anglicanism, he thereby, in a certain way, gave them the jeweled middle finger.

    I do not think that there will be a terrible number of Anglicans becoming RC besides the aforementioned “Anglo-papists” because to do so compromises our own catholicity. I need not subscribe to the many late and varied RC dogmas to be truly catholic, neither do I need to give the Pope any more allegience than the Eastern Church does. As if the absolute supremecy of the Pope is a mere “Protestant” matter.

    Subsumation and submission in the Roman schemata does not equal Catholicity.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 12:27 pm | Permalink
  6. Theophilus wrote:

    This is not ecumenism. This is voluntary annexation. As such, it is entirely unhelpful as a model for ecumenical dialogue and work between churches that actually respect and accept one other as other parts of the church catholic.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 12:29 pm | Permalink
  7. R.O. Flyer wrote:

    Rome has certainly made herself clear about what she thinks about the current conflicts in the Anglican communion, as if we didn’t all know prior to this. Frankly, I find the whole thing extremely despicable. I cannot see how this helps the Anglican communion in any way. It will almost inevitably have the effect of creating deeper divisions between Rome and Canterbury–and will certainly create more divisions within the Anglican communion itself. I simply cannot see how this could be construed as a way of helping the Anglican communion at large. As far as I’m concerned all of this strikes me as utterly self-interested on the part of Rome. The issue of homosexuality is clearly the elephant in the room here. Not only is this a way for Rome to re-solidify her own position, but it effectively seems to give an unqualified endorsement of the so-called “Anglo-Catholics” who are, as far as I’m concerned, just as at fault as the so-called “liberals” are with regard to the Anglican communion’s current divide. Shame on you, Ratzinger. You should know better.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 12:37 pm | Permalink
  8. Theophilus wrote:

    It’s worth noting that this Roman Catholic innovation has the potential to drive a wedge between high church Anglo-Catholic conservatives and low church Evangelical conservatives within the Anglican communion. I have had little interaction with conservatives of the high church party within Anglicanism, but quite a bit with those of the low church party. If Rome is successful in encouraging mass conversions of high church Anglicans to Roman Catholicism, it will likely hurt the the Anglican credentials of conservatives that remain within Anglicanism. One of the defining features of the Anglican Communion is its ability to hold together very diverse people and practices, such as the high and low parties, within one communion. If Anglican conservatives are then divided along high and low lines by Rome, this would be a devastating blow to the credibility of conservatives within the Anglican communion, especially within North America, who are already accused of being divisive and un-Anglican.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 12:37 pm | Permalink
  9. R.O. Flyer wrote:

    Sorry, I don’t buy this at all. Anglo-Catholics are effing protestants.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 12:38 pm | Permalink
  10. Chris Donato wrote:

    Surely we all understand that Catholics don’t accept the so-called Branch Theory, and certainly don’t accept modern Protestant notions of “ecumenism” (which often = lowest common denominator Christianity).

    When you’re coming from the perspective of Catholic ecclesiology, to hell (literally) with “ecumenical dialogue,” not least with a “church” (in Rome’s eyes) that has left the faith in so many ways.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 12:50 pm | Permalink
  11. adhunt wrote:

    Yes we understand this. We simply do not recognize the claims as falling within an historical Christian understanding of “the church” nor of “catholicity.”

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 12:55 pm | Permalink
  12. Hill wrote:

    The most protestant of all protestants, in fact.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 12:56 pm | Permalink
  13. Jody+ wrote:

    Of course, but in England many of them are effing protestants that use the Roman Missal with Tridentine ceremonial in worship (the BCP is often only used for the offices) and recognize the universal supremacy of the Pope. So they are certainly an odd sort of protestant.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 12:58 pm | Permalink
  14. Hill wrote:

    I don’t even feel like ecumenism is an intelligible concept.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 12:58 pm | Permalink
  15. Halden wrote:

    Me neither honestly. At least given the historical state of things.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 12:59 pm | Permalink
  16. Hill wrote:

    If anything, I appreciate this as stirring the pot.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 1:01 pm | Permalink
  17. Hill wrote:

    The “ecumenical world” has been pretty darn stale for a while, anyway.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 1:02 pm | Permalink
  18. Theophilus wrote:

    If there’s anything I could attribute to ecumenism, it’s that it has helped make it possible for me to share the Lord’s Supper (Communion, Eucharist) in many churches other than my own tradition. I can share communion with Baptists, Lutherans, Anglicans, Reformed, and many others as a Mennonite Brethren, and they can do the same at my home congregation, with the support of all the churches involved. In some sense, then, I am “in communion” with all these traditions, even those in which I am not a member. But that goes nowhere with Roman Catholics, whose dogma refuses me the Eucharist, and so vis-à-vis Catholics, ecumenism hasn’t done a whole lot for me. (It may have helped the Catholics to stop calling their friends in the police department to arrest Mennonite missionaries in Québec, though.)

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 1:21 pm | Permalink
  19. R.O. Flyer wrote:

    Seriously? What do you call the “Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification?” Your view of Catholic ecumenism seems pretty pre-Vatican II to me.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 1:30 pm | Permalink
  20. R.O. Flyer wrote:

    Now that’s an understatement.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 1:31 pm | Permalink
  21. R.O. Flyer wrote:


    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 1:32 pm | Permalink
  22. adhunt wrote:

    Over and over, even post VII, Rome has made it abundantly clear that other Christians still are resoundingly outside of the ONE Church. We are heretical Christians who are Christians only by grace but outside of Baptism and Marriage our sacraments and identity are, as they’ve always been, “null and void.”

    Surely Benedict has made this clear several times over?

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 1:44 pm | Permalink
  23. Bobby Grow wrote:

    How do you guys mean? How are Anglicans the most protestant of protestant?

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 2:12 pm | Permalink
  24. Hill wrote:

    When did Baptists ever exclude anyone from “Eucharist” (I’ve never heard a Baptist call it that, and I was one for 18 years). I’ve personally been to Lutheran services in which baptism wasn’t a prerequisite for communion. What is the a priori good in allowing a greater number of people to participate in a ritual of which they may have profoundly different understandings?

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 2:35 pm | Permalink
  25. Hill wrote:

    I don’t understand the inferiority complex people seem to have. If Rome is so shitty… why does anyone care what they think?

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 2:36 pm | Permalink
  26. Hill wrote:

    Most of the conservative evangelical Anglicans I’ve spoken too seem to be far more interested in starting their own version of the Anglican church than becoming Catholic. It’s not clear to me how creating a new communion (which happens all of the time in the Anglican world) would be superior to just going to another, larger one (i.e. Roman Catholicism), if, indeed, numerical arguments are compelling in terms of the “greatest number in communion.”

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 2:40 pm | Permalink
  27. Hill wrote:

    When you think yourself “more Catholic than the Pope” you are actually participating in the most rarefied of Protestantisms.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 2:42 pm | Permalink
  28. Halden wrote:

    Just so we’re clear, I definitely consider myself the superior of all Papists.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 2:42 pm | Permalink
  29. adhunt wrote:

    Rome is still important. The See of Peter is still a primus inter pares amongst ancient Sees and it’s bloated sense of self is a massive hinderance to Christian recognition and cooperation and is a blight on historical understandings of what constitutes “catholicism.”

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 2:43 pm | Permalink
  30. Hill wrote:

    That’s the kind of honesty I can work with. I don’t give a damn about “ecumenism” as it currently exists, which typically is just a venue to cry about having one’s ecclesiological feelings hurt.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 2:44 pm | Permalink
  31. Hill wrote:

    I spent a good while in the Anglo-Catholic counterfactual historical world myself, so I’m not going to be critical of your posture here. I will tell you that I got over it. I really don’t mean that in a snarky way. I have been about as native as one could possibly go into the radically sectarian Anglo-Catholic world.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 2:46 pm | Permalink
  32. Halden wrote:

    Exactly. We really should all want each other to do church as we believe/are doing it, otherwise, well, what the hell are we doing other than having a weird sort of mutual ecclesiological self-loathing fest?

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 2:47 pm | Permalink
  33. Halden wrote:

    Or, put differently, quasi-Catholics don’t help a damn thing.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 2:51 pm | Permalink
  34. adhunt wrote:

    Spare me the Roman condescention. Like you I like it when you’re straight up. All Anglicans on a phenomenological level ARE “catholic” inasmuch as they continue under the traditional 3 part Orders in Apostolic Succession. We could obviously go back and forth on what “Protestant” and “Catholic” mean but I doubt we would get anywhere.

    Perhaps you could go read the Ecumenical Councils and get back to me on the “counterfactual” nature of basic investigation into the proper place of the Roman see. Counterfactual indeed. Anglicans have been amongst the most academic of any Christian church for as long as it has existed.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 2:56 pm | Permalink
  35. adhunt wrote:

    Ah, as usual I become vastly outnumbered on the site. Alas. Doing my part to “not help a damn thing”

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 3:05 pm | Permalink
  36. Hill wrote:

    All I’m saying is that there is a psychopathology associated with Anglo-Catholicism, especially in people not from England. I say this as one having suffered from it (and I still suffer with associated issues).

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 3:06 pm | Permalink
  37. Halden wrote:

    Sorry, I didn’t mean you specifically or anything. This is really more of an inside joke type of thing with me and Hill.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 3:07 pm | Permalink
  38. Theophilus wrote:

    The proposed/fledgling ACNA, by virtue of being in communion with Canterbury, would also be in communion with The Episcopalian Church and the Anglican Church of Canada. So conservative evangelical Anglicans have no proposal to creating a new communion. I’m also unsure of what you mean by saying that new communions are beinc created all the time in the Anglican world. Various parties within the Anglican communion are perhaps constantly forming, re-forming, realigning, etc., but not communions. If you’re not in communion with Canterbury, you’re not Anglican. So the danger here is that Rome’s putting the moves on Anglo-Catholics might weaken evangelical Anglicans to the point of their being too weak to resist efforts to expel them from the Anglican communion, thus dealing a double blow to the Anglican communion.

    Also, I never made a numerical argument. My concern is that the Anglican church not be purged of its more conservative elements, and become a one-sided (broadly liberal) church. One of the great contributions of Anglicanism is to other groups of Christians looking to build or maintain unity. The fact that, for example, the Wesley brothers could launch a stunningly innovative movement, Evangelicalism, and yet remain within the Church of England, is a powerful story of Christian unity even the face of sharp disagreement among Christians. This is being endangered by the latest move from Rome. I would be sad to see this great Anglican tradition diminished by Rome’s eagerness to convert Christians from other traditions.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 3:12 pm | Permalink
  39. adhunt wrote:

    I’m not sure I’d bother as it seems Hill is still under the “everythings breezy in Rome” idea. It’s “Anglicans” who have all these “other communions.” Nothing like that happens in the RCC even though a simple google search reveals the many breakaway groups of the last 150 years.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 3:15 pm | Permalink
  40. adhunt wrote:

    But then again it’s probably just my psychopathology talking :) Normally I’ve got Hill on my side but apparently not today.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 3:26 pm | Permalink
  41. Hill wrote:

    Where have I said that? Trust me, no one knows how bad things are in the Roman Catholic church like actual Catholics. My points is that none of that really matters. The entire phenomenon of judging a communion lacking such that the formation of another seems warranted is the problem. I’m not saying that the Roman Church has not complicit in division, just that this entire discussion cannot possibly shed light on reunion. As you’ve said, “Rome is important.” If it’s not important enough to warrant one’s loyalty even in disagreement, then it’s not important at all.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 3:28 pm | Permalink
  42. Hill wrote:

    I don’t mean it pejoratively. From my point of view, psychopathology is constitutive of the human condition in some sense. I have more than enough of my own. I honestly intend no ill will. I have a lot of respect for you, from what I know of you online and don’t mean to criticize you personally. If anything, I’m projecting, but I’m projecting sentiments from genuine experience. I don’t expect it to be convincing, but I can’t deny it.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 3:31 pm | Permalink
  43. Theophilus wrote:

    That sounds Donatist. Really, it’s a problem to take communion with/from people who don’t get the whole, accurate picture of what it means, who have some sort of (doctrinal/other) failing?

    Roman Catholic insistence that Protestants can’t take RC Eucharist and vice versa resembles the Donatist position of ex opere operantis insofar as the fault of the one performing the sacrament renders the sacrament invalid. The only difference is the fault – mortal sin in the case of the Donatists, doctrine of the Real Presence in the case of the Protestants.

    Also, when else to I as a Mennonite get to call a Catholic a Donatist?

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 3:33 pm | Permalink
  44. Halden wrote:

    Oh snap. The Donatist gauntlet has been thrown down.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 3:36 pm | Permalink
  45. adhunt wrote:

    No I haven’t taken anything you or Halden have said personally. I have a rather thick skin (but, unfortunately a short temper). I think that I’ve been fuming on this all day long and for me it’s just one more fucking problem for us Anglicans who can’t seem to get a break.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 3:37 pm | Permalink
  46. Hill wrote:

    I understand the argument, but I still dispute the sense in which there is a communion, other than in name only, that includes all Anglicans. Communions, communities, parties, what does any of this mean? It is a constant assertion of one group over another, and a material splintering, if not a nominal one. In what sense would a high-Anglican be in communion with a liberal Episcopalian if the latter doesn’t understand baptism as a precondition for licit participation in the Eucharist (not at all hard to find)? I’m just not sure what “in communion” means in this discussion. As for the diminution of the Anglican tradition, my understanding of this move is that it is the only way preserve it. As Rowan Williams said, this move is an explicit acknowledgement of the value of the specifically English catholic tradition.

    At the end of the day, this isn’t going to change anyone’s mind. It’s not as if people who weren’t interested in conversion to RC will now convert. It’s just that rather than doing so in an assimilative, individual manner, the unique structures of English catholicism can be preserved in some cases and maintained. As a Roman Catholic with a deep appreciation for the liturgical and aesthetic sensibilities of the Anglican church, this is fantastic. If I had the option of using the Coverdale psalter in Roman Catholic worship and adapting the English translation of the Novus Ordo in the spirit of the older BCP, I would do it in a heartbeat.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 3:42 pm | Permalink
  47. Hill wrote:

    Resistance is futile.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 3:44 pm | Permalink
  48. Hill wrote:

    If it is true that “whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord,” then it is really may be a problem. I’m not saying that what constitutes worthy and unworthy is clear here, but it seems to warrant the gravest of scrutiny. No concept of this exists whatsoever in many of the Protestant churches I’ve attended.

    It’s not that the Eucharist “doesn’t happen.” It’s that one is failing to take seriously the admonition from Corinthians.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 4:01 pm | Permalink
  49. Hill wrote:

    Confusedly, as is the norm for such charges.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 4:02 pm | Permalink
  50. Theophilus wrote:

    If all the different parties of the Anglican Communion render them a whole serious of communions, then Roman Catholicism doesn’t have a leg up on Anglicans, at least in practice. How is a North American, pro-contraception, pro-choice, party-hard Catholic in communion with a rural Chadian Catholic with plenty of animist superstition mixed in? Or a First Things neocon Catholic with a Franciscan living with the poor who, with a wink and a nod, lets non-Catholic visitors take Eucharist? Sure, the Curia lays down a veneer of a single, unifying Catholic doctrine and practice that the Anglicans don’t have, but it’s just that, a veneer. Some of us prefer the Anglican honesty and openness with their internal disputes.

    Rowan Williams got the short end of the stick here. Sure, it’s nice that at least some of those under his oversight are considered to be mostly alright by another church, but he got scant notice that another communion was bringing in an instutional policy to encourage what evangelicals pejoratively call sheep stealing. This is more an example of Williams’ famous generosity and patience, I’ll wager, than anything else.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 4:11 pm | Permalink
  51. Theophilus wrote:

    I will go with you on this one. A while back I was reading a J.I. Packer interview (evangelical Anglican) on advocating that those under discipline from the church should be forbidden from receiving communion. He took an awful lot of heat in the comments for what I thought was a really obviously Biblical position. It was really depressing.

    In the Mennonite church in which I grew up, we did sometimes excommunicate people, which basically meant removal from membership rolls and the expectation that the excommunicated person wouldn’t try to behave otherwise, i.e., take communion. But then “the bann” is one of the central tenets of historic Anabaptism, so I’m guessing my experience is not typical of other Protestants.

    Great, now I’ve used the Anabaptist-get-out-of-jail-free card and the Donatist card in very short succession. It just feels wrong somehow.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 4:24 pm | Permalink
  52. Halden wrote:

    You mean the Anabaptist-get-thrown-in-the-water-tied-up card, right?

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 4:28 pm | Permalink
  53. adhunt wrote:

    Except that the passage taken as a whole isn’t that vague at all. It is a matter of rich members treating poor members wrongly. It sure as hell has got nothing to do with Transubstantiation.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 4:33 pm | Permalink
  54. Halden wrote:

    He may have you there, Hill.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 4:34 pm | Permalink
  55. adhunt wrote:

    I think Theophilus hit the nail on the head of your severly flawed logic Hill. What have any of us to do with any of us when you put it in such terms?

    Rowan has been getting butt raped since he got into Augustine’s chair and I am confident that it was God’s providence that put him there. Nobody else I know of could put up with what he has had to.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 4:36 pm | Permalink
  56. roger flyer wrote:

    I definitely consider myself more enlightened and worldly if not superior.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 5:09 pm | Permalink
  57. roger flyer wrote:

    Hey! Can anyone say emergent church?

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 5:09 pm | Permalink
  58. Hill wrote:

    The issue isn’t that it’s done correctly in all places Roman Catholic. It’s that Roman Catholicism acknowledges that it’s possible to do incorrectly, and that more generally, there is not a common understanding, ecclesially speaking of what is going on. This is only possible because there exists an actual Catholic position. For many Protestant bodies, there is no formal understanding of what the Eucharist is. I don’t know what else to say if you don’t see how this could be an impediment. Just answer this question: is it licit for an unbaptized person to take communion? I’m not saying they don’t often take communion in RC churches, but when they do, they are in formal contravention of the rules. That is categorically different from there being no rule at all, which is the case in much of the Protestant world.

    This change isn’t going to cause anyone to convert that wasn’t otherwise planning on doing it. It’s not as if becoming Catholic is suddenly more appealing. Only those with no concept of the personal and spiritual dimensions of the process of conversion (or comprehension of actual good reasons for become Catholic) would think that, which of course, is not a surprise.

    It all seems like a lot of posturing by people whom are unlikely to be affected in any material way, short of arguments with people on the internet, by the changes. I, for one, will abstain from the baseless psychoanalysis of Archbishop Williams, who I think is fine man and can speak for himself.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 5:24 pm | Permalink
  59. Hill wrote:

    That constitutes one manner of rendering oneself unworthy. It would be a fallacious (and utterly proof-texty) to assume it were the only way.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 5:24 pm | Permalink
  60. Hill wrote:

    If there were one dispensation for intercommunion, I’d hope it would be for the Mennonites :)

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 5:26 pm | Permalink
  61. Hill wrote:

    It is worth noting, on the subject of intercommunion, that the Roman Catholic Church does not prohibit members of Eastern Orthodox Churches from taking communion in a RC Eucharist. This emphasizes the point that from the point of view of the RCC, the essential impediment to Protestant intercommunion is the corporate theology of the Eucharist (or in some cases, the lack thereof), and not one’s view of the papacy.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 5:30 pm | Permalink
  62. Halden wrote:

    That, sir, is why my fondness for you never wanes.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 5:32 pm | Permalink
  63. Hill wrote:

    If you don’t believe in pastoral excommunication, you are doing something wrong.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 5:34 pm | Permalink
  64. Theophilus wrote:

    That wasn’t the issue. The issue was whether the Anglican communion was one or many. Anglicans actually have a pretty decently thorough catechism. So do Lutherans, in fact (the Augsburg Confession). Both of the major Mennonite conferences in North America put an awful lot of theological care and attention into their confessions of faith (functionally catechisms). A lot of Protestants ignore their confessions or catechisms, or read them with so much Derrida that their interpretations bear little to no resemblence to what the documents’ writers intended them to say. But lots of Catholics do exactly the same thing. Your charges against Protestants don’t demonstrate an understanding that Catholics aren’t the only ones with substantial documentation of what they do and do not believe, on this issue or many others.

    And yes, I am unlikely to be materially affected by this change. But I consider Anglicans (and Roman Catholics, for that matter) to be fellow members of the church catholic, and “when one member suffers, all suffer.” That’s why I care, and why I write.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 5:35 pm | Permalink
  65. Halden wrote:

    Oh hell, yeah. You can’t really love anyone Jesus-style without it.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 5:36 pm | Permalink
  66. adhunt wrote:

    No, it’s proof texty to take out-of-context readings and fashion them for whatever use seems convenient.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 5:40 pm | Permalink
  67. Hill wrote:

    But how is anyone suffering here? If we’re all members, why is Anglicans-who-are-unhappy-being-Anglicans becoming Catholics a bad thing? I seriously doubt the same sort of hysteria would grip the theological blogosphere if the Episcopalians made it possible for liberal Catholic parishes to convert corporately or if the EO did the same for Catholics uncomfortable with the filioque. It just seems like there is an undercurrent of animosity towards Catholicism that is really hard to understand except as ressentiment in some form, that results in this being such a big deal. I can promise you most everyone will have forgotten about this in a year, because it isn’t going to amount to much. There are a few parishes of people who want to become Catholic. That process is becoming streamlined. So what? It’s only because the “freak out because the Pope did something I might be able to muster offense over” instinct is so well conditioned that this sort of thing is discussed in the way it is.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 5:43 pm | Permalink
  68. adhunt wrote:

    I know plenty of Churches that have substantially “Real Presence” views of the Eucharist who are not allowed. The Eastern churches do not explain their position by the “Transubstantiation” term so I see no need to use that language (despite my respect for truly Thomistic – as opposed to Scholastic – Trans..) If you want to know Anglican thought on it look in our Prayer Books or look at the joint Roman/Anglican statements which show substantial agreement.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 5:44 pm | Permalink
  69. Hill wrote:

    My only point is that it is possible to partake of the Eucharist unworthily and thereby jeopardize one’s soul in the process. This basic claim is denied by a large part, if not a majority, of Protestantism, as Theophilus pointed out above. You will see upon examining this thread that I said nothing more. It is an empirical question (that I can’t answer) whether or not transubstantiation has any bearing on whether or not one partakes of the Eucharist worthily.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 5:45 pm | Permalink
  70. Hill wrote:

    I completely agree with you. There are pragmatic issues, still to be worked out, but I don’t think they are theological, or at least they don’t concern Eucharistic theology. I’m speaking about the prospect of open Roman Catholic communion. It may not be clear, but you are unlikely to find anyone more sympathetic with the Anglo-Catholic position than myself. I just think that Anglo-Catholicism is mainly an idea. It’s hard to find real Anglo-Catholicism on the ground, and the few times I have, they’ve been worse than the Catholics. I’m really not kidding… I’ve had people tell me that they wouldn’t let the Pope in if he asked.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 5:50 pm | Permalink
  71. Hill wrote:

    Although, it’s worth adding, the question of valid orders is relevant, but it seems like a real quagmire, and I haven’t found anything I’ve read about the issues there interesting or compelling.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 5:52 pm | Permalink
  72. Hill wrote:

    And Halden, just when I thought your blog was getting boring, you hit this one out of the park. You did it in a completely disingenuous and cynical way, but you did it.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 5:54 pm | Permalink
  73. adhunt wrote:

    Here’s a sample from a great monograph worth the effort by Charles Gore, “Roman Catholic Claims” –

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 6:00 pm | Permalink
  74. Halden wrote:

    I live to not be perceived as boring.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 6:11 pm | Permalink
  75. Theophilus wrote:

    It’s not that Anglicans are converting, it’s that Rome appears to be loudly encouraging and enabling them to do so. As someone who believes that Roman Catholics and Protestants alike are part of the church catholic, Rome’s actions amount to rubbing salt in one of the wounds of schism within the church. I see that as a bad thing.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 6:22 pm | Permalink
  76. dan wrote:

    Personally, I think the Donatists may have gotten an undeservedly bad rap.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 6:24 pm | Permalink
  77. Hill wrote:

    So it’s bad for Catholic to want other non-Catholics to become Catholic? Do people seriously fault RC for this? Rome isn’t “loudly encouraging” anything. It’s actually responding to specific requests by actual Anglican groups. I can’t possibly imagine how the availability of this option would actually change someone’s mind. If it would, they are Anglicans in bad faith, anyway, because it would mean they were Anglicans just for the BCP (I’d hardly fault someone for this, however).

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 6:27 pm | Permalink
  78. Hill wrote:

    You may be right. Regardless, there should be a moratorium on the use of the word as a term of opprobrium.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 6:29 pm | Permalink
  79. Theophilus wrote:

    Um, when your announcement turns up in a bunch of national newspapers and hits the top 10 articles on the BBC website, it’s loud. I’ll gladly acknowledge that the RC Church, by virtue of its size, might have had trouble flying under the radar if it tried. It didn’t try. It called a news conference. It was attended by Britain’s top cardinal and even the Archbishop of Canterbury. That’s loud. People paid attention because it was loud. Also, usually Christians go around trumpeting conversions from those converting from “outside the faith”, however that is conceived. So this amounts to yet another very public Roman Catholic stick in the eye to those Christians who aren’t in communion with Rome.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 6:36 pm | Permalink
  80. Theophilus wrote:

    Didn’t we just have a moratorium on moratoriums the other day? Or am I getting mixed up with something else?

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 6:38 pm | Permalink
  81. Hill wrote:

    This is more like there was a stick on the ground and people are picking it up and sticking it in their eye.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 6:42 pm | Permalink
  82. Hill wrote:

    You missed the moratorium on moratoriums on moratoriums.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 6:46 pm | Permalink
  83. Daniel Imburgia wrote:

    I’ve been watching the Showtime series ‘The Tudors,” and last episode Henry chopped off (my favorite character) Thomas Moore’s head so I am feeling a little gruntled about protestants today. Nevertheless, as a RC (meeting all minimum standards) I have mixed feelings about encouraging Anglican homo…(…phobes?…what’s the right label here? Vaginocentrics?) to join the Church. Still, Anglican’s (in US) tend to be more affluent so their contributions may help with all those pedophilia lawsuits, and the outreach to Pepsi drinking Mormon’s and ‘just war’ Anabaptists has not met projected goals. I personally have reached out to many coeliacs, and, if I may be forgiven for proselytizing on this site, any of you Protestants who are allergic to wheat should know that since 1972 the RCC has offered a gluten-free communion wafer for coeliacs! (the wafer is made from rice flour, cornstarch, and potato powder, the very embodiment of ecumenism!). obliged, Daniel.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 6:48 pm | Permalink
  84. Hill wrote:

    This thread just got even better. Love your insights.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 6:51 pm | Permalink
  85. Halden wrote:

    For more on this consult Thomas Aquinas’s critique of the notion of an infinite regress of moratoriums.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 7:07 pm | Permalink
  86. Halden wrote:

    Vaginocentric=the best word ever created on this blog.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 7:15 pm | Permalink
  87. Theophilus wrote:

    And here I’ve been told the whole time that all the steeples on those churches were phallic symbols. Somebody totally missed the boat on how churches are actually vaginocentric.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 7:21 pm | Permalink
  88. Halden wrote:

    Just try stranding in the middle aisle of any church and taking a full view of the whole place and how it all sort of . . . zooms in. It all becomes clear.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 7:24 pm | Permalink
  89. Theophilus wrote:

    And if I’m Catholic then real human flesh gets created at the far end! Transubstantiation for the win!

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 7:26 pm | Permalink
  90. R.O. Flyer wrote:

    Wait, the emergent church is ecumenical?

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 7:30 pm | Permalink
  91. R.O. Flyer wrote:

    Remember, for Roman Catholicism, the eucharist is the sacrament of church unity. It really doesn’t matter if you believe in “real presence” or whatever. The RC prohibition of the eucharist to non-Catholics is one important way to recognize the reality of division in the church.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 7:38 pm | Permalink
  92. adhunt wrote:

    Wait, there’s an emergent ‘church?’

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 7:53 pm | Permalink
  93. james wrote:

    e.e. cummings?

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 8:27 pm | Permalink
  94. Evan wrote:

    R.O. and Hill win the prize for best insight. This whole “we’re not really Protestant!” thing bothers me to no end.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 8:40 pm | Permalink
  95. Kevin Davis wrote:

    No, they’re effing not. That is, unless we define “Protestant” as “not Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox” but the Reformers were more concerned with the Gospel…”faith alone” and all that jazz.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 10:05 pm | Permalink
  96. Hill wrote:

    Hell… I might be a Protestant! Chew on that!

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 10:18 pm | Permalink
  97. Hill wrote:

    You’ve identified the one word starting with “e” that might actually be less meaningful than “ecumenism!”

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 10:19 pm | Permalink
  98. Halden wrote:

    You so are.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 10:49 pm | Permalink
  99. Halden wrote:

    No one said they were Lutheran. The point is that Anglo-Catholics, like all Anglicans originated from the sixteenth century reformation(s). The common term for all such branches of Christianity is “Protestant.”

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 11:02 pm | Permalink
  100. kim fabricius wrote:

    On the church at Corinth …

    Here is a small church, meeting, no doubt, in the house of a well-to-do member, that is riddled with personal, social, economic, moral, and doctrinal divisions. The social and economic divisions are paricularly evident at the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, viz. in the presumptuous disregard of the wealthier for the poorer. It’s pretty clear from the text that “eating unworthily” speak to this scandal. It is the scandal of lovelessness. There is a trajectory in I Corinthians from chapter 11 to chapters 12 – and 13.

    If we want to extrapolate, it would be to conclude (I think), in the context of this discussion, that ecclesial differences cannot and should not constitute grounds for fencing the Table, that (if you like) the unity of charity trumps the unity of faith and order. For Christ’s sake, the Lord’s Supper unfolds against the background of the Last Supper, on the night when Jesus ate and drank with those who would shortly betray, deny, and abandon him, and now some Christians exclude other Christians from Communion because they do not share the same ecclesiologies?

    I will be told that it’s more complicated than that, but these complications themselves, I think, constitute a betrayal of fastidiousness and control.

    Thursday, October 22, 2009 at 2:46 am | Permalink
  101. myles wrote:

    Seriously??? Someone’s bringing up the Donatist thing again?

    Thursday, October 22, 2009 at 6:44 am | Permalink
  102. Thomas wrote:

    There’s a very important different between the way Anglicans originated versus the way the rest of Protestantism originated in that the institution was preserved mostly intact and with (arguably) apostolic succession. Retaining institutional continuity that can be traced back to the apostles is a huge difference over the rest of protestantism.

    Add to that the fact that Anglicans have largely (though obviously not even close to completely) remained loyal to the catholicity, sacramental practice, aloof from “sola scriptura” and other distinctively reformed beliefs makes it hard to call the Anglican church protestant in any unreserved sense.

    And the origin of the Anglican church, while influenced by the reformation on the continent was a distinct historical phenomena (as Henry VIII insisted).

    Thursday, October 22, 2009 at 7:18 am | Permalink
  103. This is a fascinating and educational conversation; thanks Halden & everyone!

    @ Paul — Great questions; I like them! Would you mind if I borrowed them to insert into another conversation elsewhere? :)
    I hope that my non-gay-affirming brothers and sisters in the Mennonite Church USA would howl as loudly or more so if any of those positions were taken by pastors, congregations, as they do at us “Pink Mennos” & others who are welcoming & affirming (of LGBT folk) making noise & calling for change.

    Thursday, October 22, 2009 at 8:31 am | Permalink
  104. Paul wrote:

    It’s more complicated than that, Kim. See the conversation directly above your post.

    You see, I once had a long argument with an RC about the vaginocentrism of the sanctuary. They thought the primary aesthetic emphasis was phallic. We couldn’t come to an agreement, and it for things like this that different communions simply cannot receive the Eucharist at the same table.

    Trust me, the original manuscript of 1 Corinthians featured a chapter emphasizing this very point. It got deleted in the 2nd century by the Phallicists.

    Thursday, October 22, 2009 at 8:43 am | Permalink
  105. IMO: Not only is the Lord’s Supper grounded in the Last Supper with the disciples, it is grounded in Jesus’ practice of table fellowship with “sinners”. The invitation to eat with Jesus was always open. Why should the invitation to eat Jesus be restrictive?

    I’m curious — was my imagination missing the mark when I read something like this point into Halden’s (sarcastic?) remark: “Oh hell, yeah. You can’t really love anyone Jesus-style without [pastoral excommunication]” ?

    Thursday, October 22, 2009 at 8:52 am | Permalink
  106. R.O. Flyer wrote:

    Why? Because Mennonites aren’t protestant!

    Thursday, October 22, 2009 at 10:04 am | Permalink
  107. Hill wrote:

    They just have a wildly alternative metaphysics… or something? Like if Aquinas had been a dairy farmer or something… the Radical Reformation might not have even been necessary. I’m working on a proposal to change the official classification of the Mennonite sect to “schismatical” from “heretical.” What a tragic misunderstanding.

    Thursday, October 22, 2009 at 10:25 am | Permalink
  108. Glenn D wrote:

    Several bloggers have also noted the remarkable timing of Pope Benedict’s offer to the Anglicans–that of the feast of St Paul of the Cross, founder of the Passionist Order.

    The Catholic Encyclopedias entry on St Paul of the Cross explains how he prayed for over 50 years for the conversion and reconciliation of England, and he encouraged his spiritual sons to do the same.

    Perhaps the timing of this offer by the Pope on St Paul of the Cross’ feast day was intentional, given Paul’s fervent desire for the reconciliation with the Church of England.

    I did a bit of research and wrote a brief article concerning St Paul of the Cross and his desire for the reunion of the Anglicans. For those interested it can be found here:

    Glenn D.

    Thursday, October 22, 2009 at 11:06 am | Permalink
  109. roger flyer wrote:


    Thursday, October 22, 2009 at 4:36 pm | Permalink
  110. roger flyer wrote:

    Kim is my papa

    Thursday, October 22, 2009 at 4:38 pm | Permalink
  111. Daniel Imburgia wrote:

    Scott, perhaps it’s also worth mentioning the ‘Lord’s Supper’ in relation to the Sabbath/Passover meals? A comprehensive political theology of eating should include the 1954 convocation of Rabbi’s convened in Cleveland to determine if Jell-o could be eaten by Jews. Not eating Jell-o, which was considered quintessentially American, caused some Jews to be ostracized and their patriotism called into question during the hyper-patriotic 50′s. Many Jews, already under suspicion as contaminated by communism felt that their restrictive diet was contributing to their alienation. The area from Utah to Arizona is still known as the “Jell-o corridor” because of the Mormons fervent, and patriotic consumption of this jiggly dessert. All this is to say, lot’s of folks consider, who eats what, why, and when, and with whom Important, (of course, who doesn’t get to eat at all is also worth thinking about). obliged

    Friday, October 23, 2009 at 8:17 am | Permalink
  112. roger flyer wrote:

    How about effin?

    Sunday, October 25, 2009 at 6:31 pm | Permalink
  113. Doug wrote:

    But isn’t there another way to see this altogether – a way in which, far from effing Protestants, Anglo-Catholics have historically been the most conservative Catholics of all time and that those who accept il Papa’s gambit will have moderated themselves in order to align with Rome? I say this, as neither Roman nor Anglo Catholic, after an ecumenical Catholic theologian with deep ties in the Vatican suggested to me in another context this past summer that the most conservative Catholic position would be to obey the local bishop, even where their positions went against the Pope’s – a sort of chain of command theory. He said he’d never met such a Catholic (btw, the context was a bit of a snide swipe at Catholics such as Weigel who would elevate national interests over the Vatican on matters of national security). Having duly read my St. Ignatius, I saw the logic of his remark immediately. I now wish I could have a conversation with him and say, hey what about Anglo-Catholics?

    Monday, October 26, 2009 at 4:25 am | Permalink
  114. Hill wrote:

    Couple of remarks to Doug: what may be distinctly “conservative” in the radical conservatively Catholic tendencies of Anglo-Catholics might not necessarily be good. You could think of it as a kind of hyper-Ratzingerian impulse without any of the checks on it present in Roman Catholicism (it’s a disservice to Ratzinger to equate him with conservatism, but I’m trying to make a point). Second, Anglo-Catholicism is largely a theory. While I know that Anglo-Catholic parishes exist, they are very often participating in a bizarre kind of anachronistic aestheticism that is only better than the baroque version of phenomenon in Roman Catholicism because the gothic sensibilities present in the Anglo-Catholic version are better than the baroque sensibilities that inform most Roman Catholic traditionalism. The problem is that this sort of traditionalism is a fringe movement (one that I admittedly participate in to some degree) within Roman Catholicism, while it is constitutive of actual Anglo-Catholicism (on the ground, at least).

    Monday, October 26, 2009 at 11:10 am | Permalink
  115. Nathan wrote:

    As an anabaptist who was brought up pentecostal, attended an Evangelical college, married a Catholic, and now is a member of an Episcopal church, I must say that ecumenism is indeed unintelligible (even though I am living it).

    Monday, October 26, 2009 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

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