30 November 2006

A Long Way From Canterbury To Rome. . .

. . . and getting farther?
At National Review Online, Benedict XVI's trip to Turkey is occasion for Fr. Raymon de Souza to ponder the ecumenical state of affairs, mainly with regard to Orthodoxy (why the Pope is in Turkey to begin with), but here with regard to Anglicanism:

Ecumenism is not about friendly encounters only, as good as they might be. The biblical mandate for Christian unity stresses that unity is for a purpose. As Jesus prays in John 17: That they all may be one … so that the world may believe. Unity is a good in itself, but it is also intended to permit a compelling evangelical witness to the world. While ecumenism has progressed since Vatican II, the common witness has not kept pace.

On the Anglican front, the prospect of unity has disappeared precisely because it is not clear what the Anglican Communion believes. Archbishop Rowan Williams’s visit to Rome was marked by open speculation in Britain that the Anglican Communion will formally disintegrate at the 2008 Lambeth Conference. The proximate cause will be the debate over the morality of homosexual acts. Some argue that they are sinful; others that they are sacramental. This is an unbridgeable gap and it appears impossible for Canterbury to straddle it, try as he might.In any case, Benedict announced in Canterbury’s presence, obligatory formalities and niceties notwithstanding, that for all intents and purposes Catholic-Anglican ecumenical relations will soon come to an end:

"Recent developments, especially concerning the ordained ministry and certain moral teachings, have affected not only internal relations within the Anglican Communion but also relations between the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church. We believe that these matters, which are presently under discussion within the Anglican Communion, are of vital importance to the preaching of the Gospel in its integrity, and that your current discussions will shape the future of our relations."

The future of those relations, should Anglicanism continue in its embrace of doctrinal novelties, will be one only of friendly encounters. The structures of dialogue will continue, but the prospect of communion will be gone. There will be no prospect of unity, as there is diminishing common belief that can be given witness to.



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