Friday, February 01, 2008

A few details on the TAC and Rome

A reader who is giving up commenting as a pre-Lenten/ Lenten observance wrote something to me. I am going to quote it here. He may allow me to use his name if he will. This is deserving of its own post so that it will be more visible. The video in question can be found here. Having seen it, I have more questions rather fewer. Furthermore, the silence will continue to result in speculation, for that is human nature. I am not against the TAC at all. Very much the reverse. I want to know what is going on in the mind of the Archbishop in Australia. I am hoping for discussions between Anglicans and Romans that are meaningful, and such discussions as work toward unity without the loss of beliefs and practices Anglicans hold dear.

I enjoy your articles and sermons on the Continuum blog, and have a few comments and questions. mention a few things about the TAC, particularly about +Hepworth's comments in the BC Catholic newspaper . Archbishop Hepworth's comments were indeed part of a larger interview, that took place in Ottawa in January 2007, at the consecration of two suffragans for the ACCC. Other interviews were given by the other bishops and the episcopal candidates. Some of this material appears in the short video that Salt and Light TV (the Catholic TV channel in Canada) produced.

In that, I think that Archbishop Hepworth makes it clear that the purpose of this isn't just submission. He mentions that the previous efforts of individuals to become Roman Catholic haven't always worked well "because at heart they were still Anglicans". Comments from other TAC members in the video, such as Bp. Robert Mercer (who had the advantage of being an Anglican Communion bishop, and heavily involved in RC/Anglican dialogue), are most helpful, I think. He talks about the "Anglican ethos", and also explains about our request for married clergy - even a married episcopate ("like the first pope!" - Bp. Mercer pointed out).

My own feeling is that the larger ecumenical context is extremely important here as well.

Rome is currently very concerned to define the Papal ministry in terms that are acceptable to Eastern Orthodox churches. This cannot but help us as well. Also, I've had the privilege to do a small part of my studies with Ukrainian Catholic theologians, who have been working hard to create an Eastern Catholic ecclesiology that is faithful to the unity of the Church, but also makes clear that there are differences in how the Eastern tradition "receives" the Ecumenical
Councils, and dogmas about the Papal office. It is a very subtle articulation, but when they bring up the doctrine of the Trinity, and point out that both East and West believe in the Trinity, but the East understands it somewhat differently, it provides a good example. They don't feel that the
filioque should remain an obstacle to unity.

Traditional Anglicans can, I think, articulate a theology where Catholic doctrine is subscribed to, with the understanding that it has been "received" differently, within a different theological tradition. To do so requires arguing forcefully that Anglican practice is not simply a deviant expression of the Roman rite, but has, in fact, developed into a rite of its own. Even if it takes a long time, I think the ultimate dream should be a recognized autonomous/autocephalous Anglican church (or in Latin terms, an
ecclesia sui juris). That is, of course, only my own opinion.

What is most necessary, though, for us to develop the theological depth to properly articulate our case in ecumenical relations (whether with Rome, Orthodoxy, or anyone else), is to find a way of jump starting the path towards traditional Anglican unity. Moreover, we badly need to produce more theologians and writers. We need a university, methinks.

(I would have responded to the comment on the TAC via the combox, but I have decided to give that up until after Easter.)

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