Thursday, May 8, 2008

Protestant or catholic...?

Protestant or Catholic: Anglicans must decide!!!

Hard words for Anglicans from the head of the Council for Christian Unity in Rome. Cardinal Walter Kasper has told the Catholic Herald that now, with Lambeth approaching, is the time for Anglicans to decide whether they are Catholic or Protestant. 'Ultimately, it is a question of the identity of the Anglican Church. Where does it belong?' he said. 'Does it belong more to the churches of the first millennium -Catholic and Orthodox - or does it belong more to the Protestant churches of the 16th century? At the moment it is somewhere in between, but it must clarify its identity now and that will not be possible without certain difficult decisions.' The genius of Anglicanism has always been its ability to straddle the divide, but maybe the Cardinal is right and the Communion's present difficulties reflect the impossibility of continuing to do this.

His comments coincided with the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams' 'friendly' meeting with Pope Benedict XVI. This is the Pope who, as Cardinal Ratzinger, delivered a strong message of support to an early meeting of a group of conservative Anglicans in Plano.I wonder how much the Catholics understand, however, that the Anglo-Catholics who might be the ones most naturally tempted towards Catholicism are not really where the present dissent stems from. Most of those who were going to go over have already gone, over women priests.

The 'orthodox' or 'traditionalists' now are from the opposite end of the spectrum, in Anglican terms. They are from Kasper's Protestant wing. The irony is that if the Anglican Communion does what Kasper is asking and decides it is in fact a 'Catholic' Church, it will emerge as a Church in the mould of the liberal Catholic provinces of TEC, Scotland and the Catholic wing in England. This would not fit at all with the present mold of conservative catholicism in Rome. If on the other hand it decides it is Protestant body, the resultant church would be more like the evangelical independents that the Catholic Church is going head-to-head with for proselytes in Latin America and parts of Africa.

But of course simply to ask the Anglicans to make a decision of this nature is to illustrate a lack of understanding of the nature of Anglicanism. George Bernard Shaw said that England and the US were two countries divided by the same language. Catholics and Anglicans are the same, two denominations divided by the same religion.

Posted by Ruth Gledhill on May 06, 2008

That's like asking someone to choose to have either peanut butter or jelly, black beans or rice, corn beef or cabbage....can be done but not without affecting taste! I thought the not choosing was part of the point of Via Media....or not?



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