Tuesday, 8 July 2008

What is the problem with diversity?

The big news over the last few days has been the news that a number of Anglican bishops are in secret negotiations with the Vatican.

The Anglicans

I have to admit I'm somewhat skeptical about this news. Certainly if they did jump, they would make a nice addition to the Traditional Anglican Communion, who have certainly been making the right noises about being genuinely catholic.

The stimulus to the move, though, is female bishops - apparently the concern is that this would clearly break the apostolic succession, in a way that female priests don't quite. But from a Catholic perspective, the apostolic succession of the Anglicans was lost long ago (hence the invalidity of their Orders). And of course, one could also point out that New Zealand and other countries have had Anglican women bishops for decades (presumably the colonies don't really count!).

Still, it may be that the current state of the Anglican communion has led some to realise the untenable nature of their position. Certainly, the last time such discussions started they were scandalously thwarted by liberal English bishops, something I don't think this Pope will be inclined to allow to happen again!

An Anglican use or rite?

One of the key issues both for this group and the TAC appears to be the ability to retain their identity. I have to admit that I really can't understand the objection to a plurality of rites and uses within the Church. Before Trent there were very many more rites around - and the move to greater uniformity was understandable given the need to know who was orthodox and who wasn't at the time of the Reformation.

But that imperative has long since disappeared, and so the suppression of various monastic and other rites that took place after Vatican II, and continued resistance to diversity in the shape of the Extraordinary Form is very difficult to understand, particularly in the face of the enormous variability built into the Ordinary Form of the Mass.

In any case, this is shaping up to be a good year for church unity, so do pray for them....

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