As the "Wind of Change" is blowing over so many peoples and so many institutions in the world today, is it not high time that thc authorities in the Catholic Church in this country tried to sweep away some of the many fears. misconceptions and prejudices that still deter so many genuine seekers for the truth from entering the portals of the Church Catholic?
I have enumerated below the principal reasons why genuine Protestants, as a whole, still either fear or cordially dislike the idea of Catholicism growing any stronger, or exerting any real influence, in the social or political life of modern Britain.
1) Fear of Catholic cruelty and the domination of the mind of the individual through the confession. Thc Anglo-Saxon subconscious mind still remembers with horror the Spanish Inquisition and the fanaticism of both Mary Tudor and James IL 2) What appears to be the Catholic backing of Fascist dictators, however unpleasant they may he.
3) The Catholic unwillingness to help with any improvement of the "underdog" classes in Spain, Sicily, or South America in the field of better housing, or improved social conditions.
4) The suspicion and distrust the average Britisher still has of Ireland and the Irish.
5) The ease with which prominent Catholics in the past have had otherwise valid previous marriages annulled. Napoleon Bonaparte, his brother Jerome and Margaret Tudor (the sister of Henry VIII), are cited as examples.
6) The Catholic inability to quote the Bible. chapter and verse, as thoroughly as do the Protestants.
'7) The use of religion to enforce political voting, as in Malta.
8) The sale of "Holy Relics", "Pieces of True Cross", rosaries and medallions. The average Protestant finds the sale of these articles nauseating in the extreme.
9) What the Protestants are pleased to call "Mariology". The belief that the Mother of Christ is worshipped is still strong among many.
10) The garish and ghastly Catholic statues, often to be seen in the windows of Catholic shops. They are often in the worst of artistic taste, and must surely repel more people than they attract.
CHARLES CRICHTON-STUART BENNING.
43 Shepherd's Place. Mayfair, WI.
It is useful to he given this bird's eye view of the main stumbling blocks to mutual understanding. They involve misunderstanding, of course, and sometimes prejudice. But Catholics must ask themselves how far their own prejudices and ignorance and lack of charity are a contributory factor. To correct this image of the Church is not only the duty of ecclesiastical authority, but demands an outpouring of love on the part of each Individual Catholic towards his separated brethren. It is also our duty to 'nuke ourselves thoroughly conversant with the issues involved. so as to be able to explain them to our non-Catholic friends in 0 way that does not insult their intelligence. And in matters where Catholic., certainly have erred as individuals, let us be honest enough to admit it, and make due atonement.EDITOR.
I am all for your policy of allowing non-Catholics to express their views in your columns. But I doubt whether any good purpose is served by allowing them (without any disclaimer from you) to repeat hoary misrepresentations that I thought were dead and buried. I will mention only two, in a letter published last week.
1) 'The eacommunication of Queen Elizabeth on the grounds of her illegitimacy'. The grounds for Pius V's sentence are clearly stated in the Bull Regnans in Exreisis. There is no mention whatever of the Queen's illegitimacy, 2) At first the validity of Anglican Orders was contested on the grounds of the Nag's Head Fable'. The Church's attitude to Anglican Orders was determined once and for all in the reign of Queen Mary (1553-8). The Nag's Head fable is never heard of before 1603.
Your correspondent says that 'the facts need to be stated as an Anglican sees them'. Surely facts need to be stated truthfully.
Godfrey Anstruther, 0.P. Leicester.
May I take up A. R. Janes' first point? He says, ". . . . it is true that Anglicans are in a state of schism . . ." It would seem that the logical conclusion to such a statement must be an equally frank admission of one's obligation in conscience to end that state of schism. It may be a most unfortunate inheritance and in no way culpable as long as one is unaware of it, but as soon as the individual becomes conscious of his state. the obligation is inescapable. A schismatic is one who tears asunder the Body of Christ, whether he is unaware of it or not. Objectively, there can be few sins as great as knowingly to to continue so to disrupt Christ's Body. thus perpetuating disunity.
Faced with this conscious state of sin, the individual's view on the validity of Anglican Orders is a side issue. If I do not take steps to end my conscious and prolonged state of schism, whether my sacrifice at the altar is based on valid or invalid orders, I can be certain of one thing. That sacrifice is unacceptable to God who has told mc through His Son, "Go first and be reconciled with thy brother and then come and offer thy gift". If that brother is John, the centre and ground of unity, that order is all the more imperative.
Of course, the issue is not so simple, since the Anglican Communion has frcm the beginning embraced heresy of various kinds. Thus the Anglican who becomes conscious of the gravity of his schismatic state must then face up to those heresies he may be perpetuating. In this connection, he need not worry about such irrelevancies as the excommunication of Queen Elizabeth. That was little more than a formality, making explicit the automatic excommunication incurred by the Church of England. when it voluntarily embraced heresyafter formally and with full intent placing itself in a state of schism.
Maurits Green, 0-SR. Maryport, Cumberland.
In reply to Mr. A. R. Janes' letter, may a Catholic also be permitted to speak plainly? The Anglican schism was accomplished when the Catholic Hierarchy was destroyed at the opening of Elizabeth's reign and a new uncanonical hierarchy set up by Crown and Parliament in the teeth of Papal authority, which was at the same time explicitly rejected. The excommunication of Elizabeth and those who abetted her in her acts may be criticised on several grounds but not as a schismatical act. The schism was already in being.
Since Mr. Janes frankly acknowledges that his Church is in schism, it would seem imperative for him to end that state of affairs as far as he is himself concerned. It is true that he bears no responsibility for the original act of schism, hut the sole responsibility for remaining in that state is his own.
As to his Orders, I should have thought that a perusal of Father Clark's recent book on the subject would have made clear the solid reasons why the Catholic Church, from the very beginning of the schism, refused to acknowledge them. Does he really believe that the Nag's Head Fable was ever a "ground" of the Church's action? Furthermore, he is faced with the fact that the vast majority of those who have received Anglican Orders in the past and in the pre I was interested to read (Jan. 4) of the steps taken by Bishop Rudderham of Clifton towards a Parish Stewardship Movement.
I was particularly interested in the aspect of this work dealing with the aged and infirm. Perhaps the great possibilities in this sphere are not fully appreciated by the majority of us while we arc fit and/or young.
However well the aged and infirm may organize their lives. there arc times when they need help badly, but may well hesitate to make their needs known.
I am disabled. During the recent bad weather. there was a real danger that my home would he flooded if a thaw came. Fortunately the Parish Priest called to see if I was in need of any kind of help.
Very soon afterwards he returned with one of the altar boys, and between them they channelled a way in snow over two feet deep, round a courtyard and through a long garden to the main drains. This seemed to me to he practical Christianity and true charity, and by a happy coincidence tWs parish is in the Clifton diocese.
It would indeed be appropriate if those in need could look first to their fellow-parishioners, under the direction of the parish priest. Let us, however, remember, that although it may sometimes be hard to give. whether it be time, talent, or labour, it is also sometimes hard to receive. To be dependent on others is not easy, but if assistance is given in true charity, and with due regard to human dignity then assuredly it will be of added benefit to those who give and to those who receive.
sent have been convinced that they are not thereby constituted sacrificing priests, thus agreeing with the Catholic Church. Surely such a consensus of testimony must have some weight with him.
Ile dismisses the South India affair but would he not agree that if he and his friends had had their way it would never have gone through? It is easy to rationalise after the event, hut the action of the Rev. Walton Hannah and Mr. Ross Williamson seems more in keeping with the first AngloCatholic reaction.
Finally, the explicit statement which he quotes can hardly be used as a basis of discussion since its presuppositions are not acceptable to Catholics. The notion of an undivided Church contrasted with a divided Church is repugnant to Catholics. since we believe that the Church of Christ is essentially undivided. Moreover. the appeal to a primitive state of the Church ruled off at a given moment (by those who make the appeal) against the voice of the living Church denotes a view of teaching authority which is again repugnant to Catholics. In any case, it would be unwise for Anglicans to appeal to what they call the undivided Church for any kind of justification of schism.
I have been engaged for nearly forty years in discussion with nonCatholics of every kind and I am convinced that the real point at issue is, as the Abbot of Downside has recently demonstrated so brilliantly, the question "Wear is the Church of Christ?" When this question has been thoroughly explored then the question "Which is the Church of Christ?" will present less difficulty and a great deal of unnecessary and exasperating controversy may be by-passed.
Ronald Flaxman, Banstead, Surrey.
May I suggest to the two correspondents who have written to you on the above subject that they should read "A Spiritual Aeneid ' by the late Mgr. R. A. Knox and "The Church Surprising" by Sir Penrose Fry. The former book was re-issued and annotated sometime before Mgr. Knox's death; the latter book may be out of print and not easy to obtain. Both books contain sound and cogent arguments.
C. W. Porter,
Oxford Union Society.