By a Staff Reporter
1 he work of the AnglicanRoman Catholic International Commission was making invalid the 19th century restoration by Rome of the British Catholic hierarchy, The Times religious correspondent, Mr. Clifford Longley, said on Saturday.
Mr Longley, a former member of the Catholic Renewal Movement, was speaking at a CRM conference on "Renewal at the Crossroads" at the Catholic Chaplaincy to London University.
He said: "The basic premise which led to the restoration of the English and Welsh hierarchy in the 19th century is now plainly invalid, even if the implication of this invalidity has as yet hardly begun to percolate down to parish level."
The restoration was based on the assumption that only the Catholic Church was in any sense at all the one true Church. "It was conceived and designed as an alternative to the Church of England, in the hope that the direct competition of truth with falsehood would ultimately leave it triumphant," he said.
The International Commission had already reached agreements on the Eucharist and Ministry and was now debating Authority, he said. He thought that there was now no great barrier to mutual recognition of ministries and sacramental worship by Catholics and Anglicans.
The differences between Anglicans and Catholics were becoming harder to define, he said, Roman Catholicism was now no longer seen as a major obstacle in such appointments as Director-General of . the BBC or to government posts
such as the Lord Chancellorship, or becoming Prime Minister.
Now that religion was no longer politically contentious, what separated Anglicans and Catholics could be examined in exclusively theological terms out of the public eye.
Looking to the future, he said there was no biblical guarantee that Europe would retain large Christian communities, and people would have to think about the unthinkable and reexamine what being a Christian really meant, in contrast to being "a good pagan."
Fr Martin Pendergast, a Carmelite, discussed the best method of evangelisation and supported the multiplication of prayer groups based on Charismatic renewal,
Dr Oliver Pratt, chairman of the Pastoral Development Group, told the 60 people who attended the conference that 80 per cent of those replying to a questionnaire. on renewal were in favour of individuals doing
hatever they could wherever they were, rather than working through a special organisation. The CRM annual general meeting, which followed the conference, elected an executive committee of ten, but the current chairman, Mr John Baker, said he was forced to resign because of pressure of work.
No one has yet been nominated to fill the post, hut it is hoped that Mr Neville Neal, vice-chairman of the CRM Birmingham group, may accept the position,