The address given by Mr Clifford Longley, Religious Correspondent of The Times, to the Catholic Renewal Movement, as reported by you (October 11) really does put the cat among the ecumenical pigeons.
Was the restoration of the hierarchy indeed designed as an alternative to the Church of England? Was it not rather to provide pastoral care to the thousands of Catholics of England and Wales — the kind of pastoral care so difficult to find today?
To base his thesis, that the -AnglicanRoman Catholic International Commission was making the restoration of our hierarchy invalid, on a so-called agreement which ignored the Catholic teaching on the Sacrifice of the Mass and the sacrificing priesthood is surely to base it on very unstable foundations.
This "agreement" has neither been ratified by our hierarchy — who sent it back for clarification — nor by the Vatican. Ob
viously too, since, as Mr Longley correctly states, these discussions have only taken place "out of the public eye" neither have they been ratified by vox populi. The feelings of the layman who is Catholic because he believes, with the Holy Father, that the Catholic Church is indeed the One True Church, may not be those of Bishops Butler and Clarke.
Incidentally, how invalid does Mr Longley consider those two members or the hierarchy to be?
(Mrs) S. Coote Klmmcridge, 78 Hurst Lane, East Molesey, Surrey.
It is difficult to understand how Clifford Longley can say (October II) that "the work of the Anglican/Roman Catholic international Commission was making invalid the 19th century restoration by Rome of the British Catholic hierarchy".
In "The Spirit -of
Catholicism" Karl Adam states: "The Church would belie her own deepest essence and her most outstanding quality, namely, her inexhaustible fulness, and that which guarantees and supports this fulness, her vocation to he the body of Christ. if she were ever to recognise some collateral and antagonistic Christian Church as her sister, and as possessing equal rights with• herself.
"She can recognise the historical importance of such Churches. She can designate them as Christian communions, yes, even as Christian Churches, but never as the Church of Christ . . . But she cannot recognise other Christian communities as Churches of like order and rights with herself.
"To do so would be infidelity to her own nature, and would be the worst disloyalty to herself. In her own eyes the Catholic Church is nothing at all if she he not the Church, the body of Christ, the Kingdom of God."
The restoration of the hierarchy in 1850 was a latterday reiteration of this position. If Mr Longley's theme be true, the "invalidity" of the restoration would he a denial of history, rendering martyrdoms, penal disabilities, and pronouncements of successive popes as to the validity of Orders, etc, as of no effect and superflu ,ous.
There is no question of "mutual" recognition of such Orders and Sacraments, for the Anglican Church has always recognised the validity of the Orders and Sacraments of the Church of Rome, while we still officially discountenance Anglican Orders, and consequently their Sacraments of Confirmation, Penance, the Holy Eucharist, and the Anointing of the Sick.
Mr Langley remarks: "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 yet hardly begun to percolate down to parish level".
The great barrier to this conception of "invalidity" is the sensus fide', which, as it were, repudiates that which it cannot digest. This is not to deny that the friendly disposition of both sides is highly commendable, but until Teaching Authority speaks, the centuries old status quo remains fundamentally unaltered.
James Goldsbury 7:1 Bingham Koad,
A certain amount of wry amusement may be derived from the antics of the Catholic Renewal Movement (October 11), whose latest effort is to try and reduce the Apostolic Orders of the Universal Church to the level of validity with orders derived from the ordinal of the Book of Common Prayer.
High Church clergymen may blind themselves to the difference between chalk and cheese, but a referendum of the opinions of the man-in-thestreet would reveal a clear understanding that exists of the distinction between a vicar and a Catholic priest in this country. Each doubtless has a creative part to play in evangelisation but it is idle to pretend they do not differ.
Such blurring of identities was unthinkable in 1850, laughable in 1750 and deadly serious in 1650 and 1550.
32 Victoria Road, Oxford.
• Bishop Mahon has appealed to our political leaders on behalf of the world's poor. I respectfully suggest that he should also appeal to his fellow bishops. The Church's social teaching is unlikely to be put into practice until the bishops teach it and see to it that the priests, lecturers and teachers under their authority do the same. Ann Garrick 3 Cromwell Place, London N6.