Sunday, November 01, 2009

A Last Bit on Roman offers

It's been interesting reading a number of responses to the Vatican's offer of a home for Anglicans who wish to be in communion with Rome, but retain something of their Anglican identity. They range from seeing it as a generous response to an inquiry, via 'papal poaching' to 'good riddance'. As I have said earlier, I think it probably makes easier a move which was possible before, but is now given more rationale and recognition by the receiving church.

It boils down to how we understand what Anglicanism is, and the basis of authority. For those tempted by the Pope's offer, their understanding would be that the destiny of the C of E was re-acceptance into communion with Rome. Therefore all decisions made by the C of E should be ones which are compatible with, or moving towards that destiny - hence the ordination of women as priests (and eventually bishops) becomes a huge obstacle.

For others what the Church of England formulated as its theological and ecclesiastical identity, following its initial break with Rome, is a precious heritage which would have to be discarded in such a re-admission / merger. Ironically those traditions then become similarly authoritative for some, once the C of E starts looking at structural merger with other churches, such as the Methodist Church.

It has to be questioned whether structural merger (whether in an RC or Methodist direction) should actually be an aspiration at all. If we could let go of the idea that being 'one' = one institutional structure, then all Christians might find themselves freer to have more fruitful relationships with each other.

Where it all goes from here, I don't know.
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