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Anglicanorum Coetibus: too many terms and conditions from Rome

18 November 2009


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
Crossenny, Abergavenny,
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.

The Croft House, The Croft
Old Costessey, Norwich NR8 5DT

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