Sunday, March 16, 2008

A few thoughts on Rome. . .

These are just a few random musings about the current state of the Church of Rome. I believe the Roman Catholic Church to be a true Christian body, but not the One Church of Christ. I believe that the current Bishop of Rome is a godly bishop, one who is an excellent theologian. The current Bishop of Rome has made statements about doctrinal issues that ring nicely in Anglican ears, especially about the Eucharist, the role of the papacy, and Purgatory: I have a book by the current presiding bishop of the Free Church of England and he points out how much closer Roman Catholic theology has come to classical Anglican theology, on both the nature of the ministry and the Eucharist.

While some Anglicans feel a soft spot in their hearts for the Roman Church of the Middle Ages, Trent, and the late Victorian period (Anglo-Papalists, a name which many of them proudly embrace), other Anglicans (myself included) wish that John Paul II or the current Bishop of Rome were around during the Reformation--a few more steps and they would have been on the side of the Lutherans and Anglicans.

While many moderate and ecumenically minded Anglicans read the current works of Roman theologians and think (on many points) "why that sounds rather Anglican," we must also acknowledge that other heads of the Roman Church have endorsed teachings on Purgatory, the role of the Saints, the nature of Indulgences, the status of the Blessed Virgin and her role in salvation, etc., that are far from orthodox and strike a severely discordant note in the ears of many a Reformed Catholic Churchman (otherwise known as an Anglican). We have to ask, quite honestly, which position is the position of the Church of Rome? Is it what Benedict is now saying of Purgatory, or what other popes have endorsed? Of course, they could ask the same of the Anglicans. It would be my humble opinion that the Anglican position is to be found in the canons of the Reformed Church of England, the formularies, and the Anglican divines (where too few Anglicans go for their own authority).

Do I think honest ecumenism with the Roman Catholic Church is possible from the standpoint of classical Anglicanism? I pause and say "perhaps." Honest ecumenical dialogue with one patriarchate of the Orthodox Church or even a confessional Lutheran group would be easier. The very strident Romans simply cry "submit!" but an honest ecumenical approach demands a rejection from the Anglicans of those things that need to be rightly and roundly rejected or an orthodox restatement of those things that would be authoritative.


Anonymous said...

Spot on.

Canon Tallis said...

The motion seconded!

DannyWatt said...

Hi, I have been attending an Anglican church for the past year and am rather new in Anglicanism, and hardly understand most of the tradition and theology.

Prior to this, I have been a charismatic brethren denomination for years.

There are some differences, such as the understanding of the holy communion (I was taught it was just symbolic to remember Jesus death)

Could you help me understand Anglicanism better, how it differs from Rome?

What did you mean by

"The current Bishop of Rome has made statements about doctrinal issues that ring nicely in Anglican ears, especially about the Eucharist, the role of the papacy, and Purgatory:"?

I thought Anglicans do not believe in Purgatory nor the real presence?