Friday, October 12, 2007
The Continuum, the TAC and Rome
A recent thread about the possible news to come from the latest TAC College of Bishops meeting caused some heated conversation. Comments included claims the creation of the thread was irresponsible, based on mere rumour, and malicious in intent. While these claims have been refuted well enough on the thread, I would like to say a little more here.
The reason the thread was created was that Albion was told by Abp Hepworth, Primate of the TAC of some potentially very substantial progress in the TAC's moves towards Rome. He was also told not to reveal the substance of this till Abp Hepworth had contacted him again from the Synod. That is why he only gave a general indication of something "historic and ground-breaking" coming up. Note the positive description. The foreshadowed communication, however, did not come, despite Albion's repeated attempts to gently remind his source of his commitment. In other words, Albion was only trying to reveal news fed to him by someone who had wanted it revealed. This information is sufficient to prove that the thread was neither irresponsible nor rumour-based.
The related claim that Albion's post or my comments were designed to condemn the TAC's attempts at re-union with Rome or steal the TAC's sheep for the ACC by encouraging dissatisfaction among the TAC's laity is both preposterous and vicious. Firstly, Albion's post, as noted above, presented the upcoming news positively. Secondly, the comments about how the TAC should or would not submit to Rome unconditionally by accepting Vatican I etc. were not made by me or Albion but either by members of the TAC or those strongly sympathetic to it. Thirdly, I happen to disagree that Vatican I is the insurmountable obstacle it is said to be, as I have clearly implied some time ago here. I think Rome needs to say more, not less, about the Papacy, but to do so in order to re-attain the more balanced perspective of the Undivided Church. I also think much of what needs to be said can be teased out of accepted RC sources! Fourthly, while I have reservations about the way the TAC has approached the problem, perhaps being willing to underplay the theological work that still needs to be done, I wish them success. Indeed, I have already said as much in private correspondence with Albion.
Too, I would like to address the oft-repeated nostrum that if one accepts Vatican I as orthodox, immediate submission to the RCC under the terms they presently offer is morally obligatory. I can see why people say this, but it is untrue. Both the initiation and continuation of the break in communion between the Roman and Anglican communions were and are primarily unilateral Roman acts premised on Anglican Churches being formally schismatic, officially heretical and not real churches. Since I firmly believe the premise is incorrect and based on historical judgements not necessarily infallible even by Roman standards, I cannot consider myself to be unorthodox or out of communion with the Pope from my side, so to speak, just because I belong to a jurisdiction he does not recognise at this time. In fact, if I believe the ACC to be orthodox and a legitimate, "canonical" jurisdiction, as I do, and have vowed obedience to it, as I have, I can not satisfy the RCC's present conditions for them accepting me from their side into communion without committing sin. Why? Because those conditions effectively include repudiation and dereliction of the ACC.
Does this mean I think the English Reformation was simply a mistake? No and yes. Much that the C of E protested against needed reproof, correction and separation from. However, much of the error it perceived in Rome was due to mistaking flawed theology for false doctrine. On the other hand, that mistaking was done by both sides, that is to say, Rome often claimed and demanded more than it was entitled to by its own principles properly applied. For example, it is clear that the Papal Primacy rejected by the C of E was not that described in more recent RC documents, but was instead an absolute supremecy in matters ecclesiastical and civil. But Unam Sanctum and the political component especially of the excommunication of Elizabeth I, for example, provided plenty of evidence that the misconception was Rome's true conception of itself, to be applied vigorously! Similarly, much that the RCC saw as Anglican heresy was either common opinion but not officially or definitively embraced, or it was easily capable of orthodox interpretation and given such orthodox interpretation by many of its bishops and doctors. Furthermore, the C of E's fundamental and official commitment to the consensus of the Fathers and the Church as the authoritative guides for interpreting Scripture and determining controversies made the Orthodox and Catholic reading of its formularies the only legitimate one.