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Luke Coppen's Catholic Herald Blog

The week the Roman Option returned

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I thought I’d end the week’s blogging with another quotation from William Oddie’s The Roman Option. This is the book which, more than any other (except perhaps The Panther and the Hind by Fr Aidan Nichols), foreshadowed this week’s dramatic announcement.

This is how it ends:

When the next convulsion within Anglicanism supervenes, the Roman Catholic bishops will find that the pastoral challenge with which they are faced will be both more clearly defined and on a very much greater scale than that of the period 1992-3. But they will also find that events have removed many of the crippling fears and anxieties of the Roman Option’s initial phase, enabling them – given courage and vision – boldly to respond to the kairos, to God’s moment. Will they be prepared? There remains at the time of writing some time left; but the sands are running out.

The same question can be put to the Anglican bishops. Will they be prepared? Will they have the vision to accommodate the Anglican Catholics in an orderly manner, to understand that their separation (and in the end almost certainly their exodus) is necessary if the Church of England is to be empowered to fulfil its historic vocation in uniting the Churches of the Reformation?

The answer is probably there will have to be at least one more major emergency before they can be brought to this point. The process of Realignment would be so much simpler if Anglicans, Free Churchmen and Roman Catholics would simply sit round a table and make rational decisions. But that is not how great historical movements proceed, at least, not at first. The great peace treaties are only ratified after major convulsions.

There will be further, and deeper crises: that is how the great clarifications of Christian history unfold. Events will be infinitely more complicated than any of the scenarios I have outlined. There will be more pain and more healing, more petty stupidity and more inspired vision; ancestral insecurities and resentments will again manifest themselves on the Church’s unimpressive human face: but in the end all this will be cast aside by the glorious Grace of God, sweeping through his people and bringing them at last safe home.

Photo: Anglican Bishops from around the world proceed out of Canterbury Cathedral to mark the opening of the 2008 Lambeth Conference (Gareth Fuller/PA Wire)

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Written by Luke Coppen

October 23, 2009 at 3:30 pm

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