From the Revd Dr Lorraine M. Cavanagh
Sir, — The latest overture to disaffected Anglicans is unlikely to make Pope Benedict XVI remembered for bringing about full and visible unity between Anglicans and the Church of Rome, something that he would very much like to be remembered for. This is because Anglicanorum Coetibus has nothing to do with genuine reconciliation, still less with unity.
Reconciliation is a two-way process. Unity is an ongoing joyful exploration of that dynamic process, undertaken in the deepest love for Christ. Neither of these can take place when one party takes it upon itself to state the “terms and conditions” for reconciliation, in the confident assumption that it alone is the true Church, and simply waits for the other party to join it on those terms. The terms and conditions contained in the numerous caveats and anomalies of this document will, in any case, make it very difficult for Anglicans joining that Church to feel unconditionally welcomed.
Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor is reported as saying (News, 13 November): “Ordinariates . . . do not become a reality just because there is a legal reality.” I left the Roman Catholic Church because I felt its legalism was blocking my way to knowing Jesus Christ and to a real understanding of what the Kingdom of God is supposed to be.
Like many former Roman Catholics who have made their journey back to faith as a result of the wisdom and compassion of Anglican teaching and practice, I experience the “true Church” as one that seeks to love and honour all of its members, despite deep and serious disagreements.
It is the desire to love as Christ loves and the longing for the Kingdom which will ultimately transcend these disagreements, and which at the same time make them so painful. I sense very little of this love in the Roman Church’s recent treatment of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and in its ultimately uncompromising attitude to Anglican orders.
I fear for the well-being and happiness of those Anglicans who may embrace its terms and conditions for membership too hastily.
Cae Hedd, Talycoed Lane, Llantilio
Monmouthshire NP7 8TL
From Prebendary Desmond Tillyer
Sir, — The recent interest in the beatification of John Henry Newman has not, to my knowledge, picked up on one important matter raised in Rosemary Hill’s biography of Pugin, God’s Architect.
In it, there is a reference to a letter from Newman in which he allegedly refuses to support the removal of legal impediments then in place preventing Jews’ becoming Members of Parliament. Newman was keen to support the repeal of such legislation against Roman Catholics, but apparently not against Jews.
If this is so, does there not need to be an investigation into whether this refusal to support the repeal of such legislation constitutes anti-Semitism in Newman? It would be singularly unfortunate if the process to his beatification were completed without resolving this issue, and a Personal Ordinariate were named after him.
D. B. TILLYER
The Croft House, The Croft
Old Costessey, Norwich NR8 5DT