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Monday, November 27, 2006

Has Rowan Williams swum the Tiber...?



If not, then what was he doing celebrating an Anglican service from the altar of Santa Sabina in Rome? This is one of the main churches of the Dominican religious order. Now I am all in favor of maintaining polite contacts with other Christians (although I think the old Roman dream of reuniting the Anglicans is circling the drain). But there needs to be a line drawn somewhere. The ABC was dressed in the full regalia of an Anglican prelate complete with miter and crosier and was even photographed standing in front of the Bishop�s throne (I don't know if he actually sat in it!).

This Anglican "mass" was assisted by the active participation of several prominent Roman clergy. The last time I checked Rome officially does not recognize Anglican Orders. (On a side note I don't know of any Orthodox who believe that the Anglicans retain the grace of valid sacraments). So again I need to ask... What's going on here? This was not done quietly. It has been widely reported although so far I have only found one Catholic blog that seems to be concerned about the implications of this. I am aware that there have been a few exceptions made for clergy of those churches whose sacraments Rome recognizes. In the case of the Orthodox, Rome holds that we are more or less a part of the same church, but just don't realize it. Yet surely there are limits to ecumenism. During the forthcoming papal visit to Turkey both Pope and Patriarch will be attending liturgical services celebrated by the other. But there are no plans for joint participation in those services beyond attendance. Nor will they be celebrated on the other church's altar. If this happened in an Orthodox Church the bishop who gave permission would probably not be a bishop for more than five minutes beyond the time required to convene the Holy Synod. Since when does the Roman Church allow what it holds (rightly IMO) to be false worship in its churches and on its alters? I hope my Roman brothers and sisters will forgive me for saying that this was a shocking and scandalous affair.



UPDATE: He sat on the throne!


15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Rome holds an amusingly mechanical view of valid apostolic succession. I haven't looked up Williams' apostolic heritage, but it's possible that he was consecrated with Old Cath or apostate Orthodox participation. (For instance, former ECUSA primate Edmund Browning had a PNCC consecrator.) That witch's brew would pass Vatican muster, sad to say. And it would have passed muster way before Vat2.

The Latins are upset only because they've invested so many years in foghorning the superiority of their orders over the Anglicans'. Maybe the Latins need to spend more time reading Apostolicae Curae and Sapius Officio and less time making fun of their Anglican stepchild.

Anonymous said...

Well, as I commented over at TNLM, I think that this was a pretty bad mistake on someone�s part. First, Williams �ordains� women and, second, he has not in any way repudiated or recanted his personal support for the �sanctification of sodomy� (or SS for short). He is, in short, a heretic, not just (to take up the line that many ill-informed RCs on TNML�s comment thread seem to be espousing) a nice, friendly, wooly, schismatic � and so what business does he have celebrating (putting aside entirely the question of the validity of his Orders as an Anglican)?

I went on to ask in my earlier comment whether if it had been the (Swedish Lutheran) Archbishop of Uppsala � like Williams, a supporter of WO, but unlike Williams one who has managed to avoid taking any clear stand on SS � who was visiting Rome he would have been allowed to celebrate so prominently in such a setting, and, if not, than why not? More to the point, what if the very orthodox Lutheran Archbishop of Latvia � you can read my interview of him here:

http://touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=14-04-031-i

� who is a stalwart opponent of both WO (which he stopped dead in the Latvian Lutheran church when he became its archbishop in 1993) and SS (he helped put together a coalition of Lutherans, Catholics, Baptists, Orthodox and even Adventists in Lativa that succeeded late last year in getting the Latvian Constitution amended so as explicitly to ban any legal recognition of implementation of SS, whether as marriage or as civil partnerships); if he had visited Rome, would he be allowed to �pontificate� in the same way as Dr. Williams? Again, if not (since his views are much more genuinely �Catholic� than Dr. Williams�), then why not? I have little expectations of any useful results of an ongoing dialogue between Rome and the �Canterbury Communion,� and in that respect find myself in complete accord with this witty article by a notable RC Newman scholar and biographer �

http://trushare.com/50JUL99/JY99AUTO.htm

� that appeared in the July 1999 issue of *New Directions.* But hope springs eternal, and inertia is easy �

William Tighe

The young fogey said...

I see your point that this is pushing it but from the pictures he doesn't seem to be doing anything really offensive, there's no problem as long as the assisting Romans didn't receive Communion and about the only way I can see a problem from the Western Catholic POV is if he were an ex-Roman Catholic, which AFAIK he's not. So he personally is not under any Roman censure; ecumenical honour comes into it.

Also it seems according to Western Catholic theology about orders thanks to Old Catholic succession he is a priest, even a bishop, and doing or saying un-Catholic things doesn't take that away.

The Orthodox view in which orders are only positively recognised if they're in the Orthodox communion seems very appealing but what of nationalist and Old Calendarist schisms? Somehow they're still part of the family - always received back in their orders (the Russian Church recognises the Old Believer Church's orders even though they've been completely separate for centuries) - even though they're not in the Orthodox communion.

Az said...

"thanks to Old Catholic succession he is a priest..." Maybe?

Mgr Graham Leonard, onetime Anglican bishop of London had to be conditionally ordained after he poped, even though he had received the "Dutch touch" previously.

Anonymous said...

Schismatic Old Believers who possess valid orders merit different treatment than heretical Latins. Still, some Orthodox jurisdictions don't re-ordain former Latin priests.

The young fogey said...

Az, point taken. Former Anglicans are never simply received in their orders by Rome.

Anon, which one is it? Obviously you hate Western Catholicism but use an entirely Western Catholic concept - valid orders outside your communion - to recognise the Old Believers.

The young fogey said...

Anon, I do understand your distinction - the separated groups like the Old Believers don't believe anything essentially different from the Orthodox communion. No additional definitions like in Latin Catholicism. But the point remains that they are outside that communion; the Old Believers have been for centuries.

Anonymous said...

Young fogey: Thanks for your second look at my comments.

The Orthodox position is that no valid orders exist outside of Orthodoxy. That means that schismatics, such as the Old Believers, and heretics, such as the Latins, do not possess valid orders.

That is the principle. The application of the principle becomes complicated and can cause all sorts of confusion. To an extent, the Church looks at the particular heterodox church and determines the closeness of its comtemporaneous relationship with the Orthodox. A person possessing valid (from an Old Believer perspective) Old Believer orders would probably not be re-ordained. Many times, persons possessing valid (from a Latin perspective) Latin orders aren't re-ordained.

The fact that both schismatics and heretics may be treated the same in practice accounts for confusion on a pastoral level. All things considered, the Orthodox are pretty lenient, in my view.

As far as my falsely-deduced "hatred" of Western Catholics goes, I am fully confident that my Church will fully defend my interests regarding ecumenism with the Latins and other heretics.

The young fogey said...

Again I see your distinction of nearness in beliefs to 'the family' as your church's standard for economically recognising orders (not recognising orders outright outside your communion like Rome does) and I said you hate Western Catholicism not Western Catholics.

Ad Orientem said...

Anonymous & Young Fogey,
The question of when the grace of the sacraments ceases to operate is a complicated one. I am not sure that there is a consensus within Orthodoxy to the effect that schism is a bar to that grace. Whereas there is a consensus that overt and grave heresy does separate one from that grace which flows only through God�s Church. In the case of the Old Believers, most of them do not believe true apostolic orders still exist. Those now in communion with the MP or ROCOR are something of an exception. The issue becomes more complicated when discussing the various Old Calendarists sects. Are we talking about moderate Old Calendarists who recognize that they are not the only Orthodox out there and who are therefore merely schismatic? Or are we talking about the radical Old Calendarists like Moss and others of his ilk who have gone off the deep end? In their case an argument could be made that they are in fact heretics.

Then we must ask from whence did the sect receive its orders? ROCOR went around creating a lot of vegante bishops when the calendar debate heated up in the 60�s and 70�s. That these orders were conferred in a highly un-canonical manner is not in question. But is that enough to invalidate their orders? Then we need to ask what was done by the lawful church authority in the area in question. In some cases the local synods issued decrees of deposition and excommunication against the newly mitred vegantes. Unlike in the Roman Catholic Church which believes once a priest always a priest we Orthodox don�t accept the indelible seal doctrine of the Latins. The Holy Mysteries are the property of the Church. Any cleric of any dignity can be demoted to the status of a layman and that is not just a juridical act. It strips the offending cleric of the grace of the sacrament of Holy Orders. Those who were canonically deposed are nothing more than layman running around in fancy clothes.

As for the reception of heterodox clergy into Orthodoxy, I think this comes under the same heading as the debate over whether or not to receive converts through Baptism or Chrismation. The canons of the Church clearly permit both methods. But there is a long tradition that Holy Chrismation can heal and make whole that which was done imperfectly although with an Orthodox intent. Thus Trinitarian Baptisms done with sacramental intent are often accepted as sufficient to permit reception of a convert by oikonomia without requiring them to undergo a formal Orthodox baptism. This principal might also be applied to those clergy converting from a heterodox confession which has retained a more or less Orthodox understanding of Holy Orders and the external forms of Apostolic Succession. For a much more detailed discussion of this I would recommend the reader take a look at the �The Significance of Apostolic Succession in Heterodoxy� http://www.holy-trinity.org/ecclesiology/succession-1.html by the late (and controversial) Patriarch Sergius of Moscow.

All of this however is moot if we are talking about sects which have repudiated in fact if not in theory some of the basic tenants of Christianity. Which brings us back to the ABC celebrating �mass� on a Roman altar. Does Rome still accept the prohibition of communicatio in sacris with heretics? This is not just limited to taking communion. By allowing Rowan Williams to do his thing on a RC altar they were clearly making a statement that something in line with what the Roman Church does at mass was being done by the ABC. By permitting Roman clergy to participate actively in the Anglican liturgy they give credence to Anglican orders. Seriously. Someone in the Vatican needs to spend a little time thinking about this before inviting anyone to do services on their altar.

Anonymous said...

Young Fogey: I love the Orthodox Western Rite--and that is REAL Western Catholicism.

Ad Orientem: Thanks for inciting this controversy. If Old Rome recognizes the validity of particular non-RC holy orders, then those non-Latins can validly (but not licitly) celebrate Latin sacraments. Only discipline--and not ontology--would differentiate Latin sacraments from valid non-Latin sacraments within this context. Do you agree?

A real problem with the Latins is that only one cleric's opinion separates the Latin church from the Schori church. Carte blanche works only if an upright man uses it.

The young fogey said...

Ad, that's a good description of Orthodoxy's view of economic recognition but your description of indelible character is AFAIK only Orthodox opinion not doctrine. There are indeed Orthodox in good standing who believe as you describe.

Anon, that's insulting to Western Catholics much like many Orthodox are offended by Byzantine Catholicism (which nobody in Rome seriously describes as the replacement for the Orthodox) but I understand where you're coming from given Orthodoxy's exclusive claim to be the one true church.

A real problem with the Latins is that only one cleric's opinion separates the Latin church from the Schori church. Carte blanche works only if an upright man uses it.

That's a good basis for a whole other discussion on the papacy! As I understand it the early church didn't make the modern claims about the papacy, essentially your position as a good Orthodox. That said those claims don't give the Pope the carte blanche that Dr Jefferts-Schori or more accurately the Episcopal Church's General Convention seems to enjoy. He can't go against past definitions of doctrine. So in a sense he's bound by rule of law. Whereas following the Zeitgeist and crushing those who object to that seem the first principles for Dr J-S.

But getting back to this entry's main point, might the Diocese of Rome's hospitality lending Santa Sabina to ++Cantuar be an example of romanità? The world knows the Holy See's positions on women's ordination and homosexuality but note that Dr Williams is actually going against his own liberal beliefs and considering siding with the conservative, largely Third World, largely non-white whopping majority in the Anglican Communion and not with the Episcopal Church, whose power in the communion is largely financial. That means even though ++Cantuar has no direct power over TEC like the Pope does over the Archdiocese of Los Angeles (just like the Patriarch of Constantinople can't tell the Patriarch of Moscow what to do), he may well decide not to invite TEC's bishops to the next Lambeth Conference, that is, kick TEC out of the Anglican Communion. If he is REALLY interested in ecumenism with Rome, might some encouragement in this form from Rome push him in this conservative direction?

To quote a friend:

'More flies with honey than vinegar and all that.

'If Dr Williams could experience first hand what rapprochement would be like, it might indeed help to nudge him in the right direction. It's no guarantee,
but nothing ventured, nothing gained.

'If that is the truth of things, then the Holy Father (or whoever arranged this) is very shrewd indeed!'

And an Orthodox in Britain has noted that many of his co-religionists use similar hospitality offered by Anglican churches.

Being nice to other Christians: what a concept.

Ad Orientem said...

YF,
that's a good description of Orthodoxy's view of economic recognition but your description of indelible character is AFAIK only Orthodox opinion not doctrine. There are indeed Orthodox in good standing who believe as you describe.

I don’t know of any. Could you site some examples?

On the subject of the scandal in Rome… I am all in favor of being nice to people (even heretics). But there is a difference between being nice and compromising on important matters of faith and or giving scandal to the faithful. Anyone who has read the Apostolic Canons knows what happened crossed a lot of lines. As for trying to lure Canterbury to Rome by allowing the ABC to celebrate a graceless liturgy on one of their altars, that’s just silly. The CofE is theologically only a step or two behind TEC. Even if they weren’t off the scale in liberal weirdness how can you bring into communion an ecclesial body that has no doctrine? There is no theological basis for Anglicanism. Some are Protestants, some are high church wannabe Catholics and a significant umber in America and England are basically liturgical Unitarians. Anyone with a modicum of common sense knows that the WWAC is gone. They are not returning to the Apostolic Faith. They made that decision when they started ordaining women. Everything that has followed has just been a logical consequence of the decision that they made in the 70’s. They had a choice between restoring communion with one of the apostolic churches or turning left. They turned left and drove off a cliff.

If he is REALLY interested in ecumenism with Rome, might some encouragement in this form from Rome push him in this conservative direction?

How do you define Ecumenism? What is the objective here? As I noted above no one seriously believes they are going to reverse all of the decisions they have made and unordain all these womyn priests and bishops. At some point a reality check is called for.

The young fogey said...

Of course I meant that many Orthodox agree with you on indelible character but there are those, also good Orthodox, who don't.

Good point about the unlikelihood of the liberal churches in the Anglican Communion undoing the apparently un-Catholic changes (the arguments given for them so far are un-Catholic) of the past few decades but to clarify I don't date the beginning of the modern problems to women's ordination but to the acquittal, in a heresy trial conducted by his brother bishops, of James Pike in which, though the Episcopal Church remained a Christian church on paper, belief in Christianity became optional for sitting bishops. (Pike denied the Trinity - he'd apostasised.) From then on Broad Churchmen were free to be liturgical Unitarians as you say. (As recently as the 1920s, when relations between Orthodox and Anglicans were extremely friendly, an Episcopal Church bishop was IIRC convicted of heresy and deposed for not literally believing the creeds.)

The other spanner in the works is as you suggest Anglican comprehensiveness means many of the conservative churches are Protestant in their beliefs and so not really interested in union with the Catholic family except on Protestant terms.

I much prefer the approach of 19th- and early 20th-century Russians to these matters, like the friendship between St Tikhon and Bishop Charles Grafton, ROCOR Metropolitan Anastassy preaching at St Paul's in London and 'we know where the church is but do not presume to say where it is not', to 'graceless liturgy' and so on.

That said I understand and respect the logic of the Orthodox not lending their consecrated churches, altar and all, to non-Orthodox groups. (I really don't think the church fathers lent theirs to the Arians or Donatists for charity's sake.)

For all you know St Tikhon, Lord Halifax and Cardinal Mercier were smiling from heaven that afternoon at Santa Sabina. At least it's a look at what could have been, say, if the Anglican Communion were the way it was when Geoffrey Fisher was ++Cantuar.

Interestingly with the Episcopal Church women's ordination isn't the deal-breaker in ecumenical talks with the Russian Orthodox Church but morals: making a statement that evil is good by consecrating a practising homosexual as bishop. Now the ROC still wants to talk not only to the three Anglo-Catholic dioceses that don't ordain women as priests but four or five more Episcopal ones that do but are not on board with the gay thing.

By ecumenism I mean something more like what the Pope or you believe in (though obviously you and he differ on who's the only true church) and not the 'radical inclusion' (relativism) of Broad Church Anglicans.

Anonymous said...

Further pictures at:
http://www.catholicpressphoto.com/servizi/2006-11-26-williams/default.htm