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Rome and the ambiguities of Anglicanism

15 September 2010


From Mr Geoff Duncan

Sir, — Mr R. C. Sanders (Letters, 10 September) appears to sympathise with Cardinal Kasper’s finding a problem with the Anglican Com­mun­ion (as if many did not have problems with certain aspects of Cardinal Kasper’s Communion).

There is a mentality that appears happier with the “either/or” dicho­tomy rather than the “both/and”. Thus, at one extreme, some Angli­cans prefer not to see any lineage with the pre-Reformation Church, and seem to perceive their forebears who worshipped in it as supersti­tious and erroneous simple­tons (cf. Eamon Duffy).

At the other extreme are those who fervently wish and act as if the Reforma­tion had never occurred (or even Vatican II!), and see Anglican­ism as having no valid Reformed features.

Perhaps most Anglicans still see value in our reformed Catholic in­heritance, and will resist the call to “clarify its inheritance now”. (In any case, if we did somehow reach the decision that we “belonged more” to, say, the Catholic tradition, what reaction next from the likes of Car­dinal Kasper?)

Ours can at times be a frustrat­ing, ambivalent, and even irritating heritage, but it can be argued that it continues to offer much that is posi­tive and fulfilling. Living with the “both/and” tension can provide a unique witness until that day when, as Michael Ramsey once said, it will be the fate of Anglicanism to dis­appear for a greater good.

Until then, may we continue to present ourselves to our ecumenical partners, Catholic, Orthodox, and Reformed, as the product of a com­plex history that, for all its disagree­able and unpleasant features at times, has nevertheless evolved into something that is worthy.

Is it really necessary for us to re­spond to Cardinal Kasper’s call for us to decide whom we belong “more to”?

14 Compton Lodge
23 Compton Place Road
Eastbourne BN21 1EQ

From Virginia Johnstone

Sir, — Robert Hornby, in his article “Canterbury caps in Rome” (Feat­ures, 10 September), recalls the visit of Archbishop Michael Ramsey to Pope Paul VI in March 1966. He states that they visited the “Centre for Anglican Studies — an initiative created by Fisher in 1960”.

As secretary of the Anglican Centre, I was present when Arch­bishop Michael Ramsey came to dedicate the Chapel of the Anglican Centre in Palazzo Doria, not offi­cially opened until later that year.

The initiative was created by Bishop John Moorman, chief Angli­can observer at the Second Vatican Council, and Canon Bernard Paw­ley. Their friendship with Princess Orietta Doria led her to offer the flat in her Palazzo.

To enable it to expand its work, the Centre relocated to larger pre­mises within the Palazzo in 1999, where it flourishes to the present day.

Secretary of the Friends of the Anglican Centre in Rome
127 Cranmer Court
Whiteheads Grove
London SW3 3HE

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