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Luke Coppen's Catholic Herald Blog

The Pope’s offer to Anglicans: eccentric or inspired?

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Fr John Hunwicke SSC, a thoughtful commentator on Anglo-Catholic affairs, wonders whether the theology of Anglicanorum coetibus is in fact eccentric:

Archbishop Rowan didn’t – despite the claims of his critics – call the ecclesiology of Anglicanorum Coetibus eccentric. He suggested that there are others who might say it…

His Grace has a point. The ecclesiology of AC does diverge from the norms to which we are accustomed and which he himself has lucidly expounded: that a “local church” is not a denomination or a province but bishop-and-presbytery-and-diaconate-and laos. Perhaps his words indicate that he is going to make one last herculean effort to secure just such an uneccentric provision for us from General Synod. If he is, all power to his elbow…

Where Rowan fails is in not taking account of some aspects of the exercise of Primacy. This was well set out in The Gift of Authority (ARCIC 1999). “We envisage a primacy that will even now help to uphold the legitimate diversity of traditions, strengthening and safeguarding them in fidelity to the Gospel … This sort of primacy will already assist the Church on earth to be the authentic catholic Koinonia in which unity does not curtail diversity … Such a universal primate … will promote the common good in ways that are not constrained by sectional interests …”

It is the ministry of the Roman Church to uphold diversity. Roman Pontiffs have not always done that as robustly as they should; in North America they once were less forthright than they ought to have been in defending the patrimony of Eastern Catholic communities – or even the Poles – against local Irish and German diocesan bishops.

But this pope, as far as one can see, has got a well screwed on head.

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Written by Luke Coppen

December 14, 2009 at 7:01 pm

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