Monday, February 19, 2007

The Practical Papacy

A recent article in the Times of London, regarding the possibility of a reunion between some Anglicans and the Roman Catholic Church, reads:

"Anglicans rejected the Bishop of Rome as universal primate in the 16th century. Today, however, some Anglicans are beginning to see the potential value of a ministry of universal primacy, which would be exercised by the Bishop of Rome, as a sign and focus of unity within a reunited Church."

Obviously, the reasoning of these Anglicans leaves a lot to be desired. But which is worse? The fact that these Anglicans are following that sort of logic? Or the fact that even some of the most conservative defenders of Roman Catholicism are so desperate as to use the same sort of reasoning as their primary defense of the doctrine of the papacy? We hear less and less about a historical case for the papacy from passages like Matthew 16 and the church fathers and more and more about a philosophical case in which an appeal is made to the practical benefits of having a papacy.

These Anglicans are leaving one sinking ship to join another. One of the ships is bigger and is sinking more slowly.


  1. I highly doubt Reformed Anglicans like J.I. Packer would be too enthusiastic about this. Then again, they're probably too much in the minority to make much of a dent.

  2. Well, Packer may not go quite that far, but make no mistake, Packer is something of an ecumenist, and was rebuked publicly by Dr. Robert Godfrey for his part in "ECT" in a plenary session of the national meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society in November of 1998. I was there and heard it myself.


  3. As an Anglican Priest and can tell you that you shouldn't get too worked up about this. What the Times is talking about seems to be an extension of several reports of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission which argued for a role for the Pope as primus inter pares, which, incidentally is the role that the Bishop of Rome traditionally played prior to the expansion of Papal power. That said, these reports are written by groups whose job it is to ignore differences or at least put them in the best possible light--their recommendations are just that, and one could imagine any reunion between Rome and Canterbury coming at about the same time the Pope decides married clergy and female priests are OK in his book--which pretty well means it ain't going to happen. Not to mention that outside of these ecumenical commissions, there are enough Anglicans that have issues with RC doctrine and enough RCs that want nothing to do with parts of Anglicanism that you can rest assured there's no chance for reunion between Rome and mainstream Anglicans.

    That said, there's a huge possibility that there could be some union achieved between the Anglo-Catholic "Traditional Anglican Communion" and Rome...but that's a horse of a different color.

  4. A horse of a different color, yes, but what we're talking about is a bunch of primates according to the article. Fancy that, they recognized the Pope is a primate...