Page 2, 24th January 1969

24th January 1969
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Page 2, 24th January 1969 — CHURCH UMTY ROUND-UP
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CHURCH UMTY ROUND-UP

BY STAFF REPORTERS

r4HURCH leaders, priests and laymen at all levels have dedicated themselves anew this week, Christian Unity Week, to the ideals of Church unity.

In the great cathedrals before packed congregations. in parish church and lecture hall. Christians of all denominations have spoken of the problems still to be faced, the pitfalls to he avoided and the benefits to be reaped.

During the week Cardinal Heenan's engagements included preaching at a London Methodist church, and the Archbishop of Canterbury. Dr. Michael Ramsey. has preached at the City Temple. the 1.ondon Congregational church.

Cardinal Suenens. the Primate of Belgium, spoke in Westminster Cathedral of "converging tendencies" which were becoming more apparent.

Dr. Ramsey, Archbishop of Canterbury, who preached at the City Temple. in Holborn. on Sunday. spoke of the inability of humanism to diagnose and cure man's troubles.

He said the Christian faith knew where it stood in relation to the claims of scientific humanism. Scientific humanism was concerned with man's dignity, freedom and happiness, together with a belief that the advance of the sciences and the application of scientific methods would make the human race more efficient, happier and more moral.

Christians must share the reverence for man. but he gave a warning that "immense advances in science and knowledge can leave man proud and selfish and cruel."

Respect the doubters

In his sermon at Hinde Street Methodist Church in London on Sunday. Cardinal Heenan said those who re

garded the whole ecumenical movement as hazardous should not be dismissed as uncharitable or unchristian.

"There arc dangers in the work for Christian Unity. In the effort to be kind and friendly it is obviously possible to become insincere. There is a temptation to disguise religious convictions in order to avoid controversy.

"This is not the result of dishonesty, but of genuine desire for peace and friendship be tween Christians. It is, of course, a mistake to give each other expurgated versions of our beliefs. That is one good reason why some excellent Christians are suspicious of ecumenism."

Others were genuinely afraid that the bigger Churches, and especially the Church of Rome, were seeking to absorb all smaller communities in the blessed name of Christian unity. Many intelligent Christians had these fears.

"In these early days of ecumenism we must respect such views and not attempt to set a pace which is too fast for our people.

"Let me add that within the Church of Rome sonic are lukewarm in ecumenical matters precisely because they can see no vision of a supreme Church of Rome. They see only a dismal picture of a Church weakened by diluted doctrine and stripped of that authority which for many is its chief attraction.

"That is one view of ecumenism and it is worth con sidering if only to reassure and encourage those eager for Christian Unity. While under standing the fears and hesita tions we nevertheless believe that Christian Unity is the work of God. It is therefore to be undertaken in a spirit of faith and, above all, of charity. "For too long we have lived without each other. We are members of our Churches usually because we have inherited a family tradition. Had we been born in the East in stead of in Europe we probably would be neither Protestants nor Catholics but Moslems, Hindus or Buddhists. I mention this because it helps to

humble us. We are not what we are by our own virtue or effort."

A Spiritual revolution

In his sermon in Westminster Cathedral on, Sunday, Cardinal Suenens said the rediscovery of a climate of Christian brotherhood, which had been due largely to Pope John, had not done away with real doctrinal difficulties.

"But as the ecumenical dialogue continues, we are able to discern converging tendencies, movements of the spirit, which lead towards the unity of all Christians.

"Truths and values which at one time seemed to cancel each other out now present them selves as complementary. Ancient antinomies are tending

to resolve themselves: tradition

or scripture, hierarchy or priesthood of the faithful, papacy or collegiality. There are many examples of similar efforts to go beyond the impasse of a false dualism and to achieve harmonic unity."

The Cardinal said that, in brief. there was a tendency to replace opposing dilemmas by a unifying synthesis, with all the enrichment that this im plied for a greater realisation and manifestation of true catholicity.

"Not so long ago none of these tendencies was even thought of. They witness to the fact that, over and above those things which still divide us.

there is an ever growing concern for our common task. Our generation has seen effected within itself a spiritual revolution launched by the,Spirit."

But if the ecumenical dialogue showed converging tend encies, there still remained the stumbling block of the primacy of the Pope. However, Vatican II had brought light and pro gress on that point and had made an important contribu tion in three ways towards a better understanding of papacy and collegiality in the Church seen as a totality. • Firstly it had stressed the sacramentality of the episcopate which delivered us from a narrow, legalistic view.

Secondly it stressed, even if only in a discreet way, a pluralistic vision of the one Church.

Thirdly, it voted a text which made it very clear that the Pope and the Bishops together were a supreme unity in the Church.

Cardinal Suenens said: "The final answer to our difficulties in the ecumenical field will be given by the life of the Church itself. Theologians will have to locate papal primacy more precisely within the context of collegiality, showing especially that the primacy should be understood first of all as a service.

"But there is nothing that will free the papacy more com pletely from all suspicion of absolutism and authoritarianism than applying in daily life the daily principle of 'primacy of service.' This will be more effective than doctrinal discussion."

Theological research was indispensable, but it was in the very experience of the Church that primacy must be lived out. That experience would be the fruit of a coresponsibility fully accepted and lived by the bishops individually, and by the episcopal conferences, as well as by the whole Christian community.

Arguments in the abstract about hypothetical conflict of power, and efforts at increasing juridical precisions, would not hasten the time of deep mutual understanding.

Tolerance and compassion

Dr. Gordon S. Wakefield, editor of the Methodist Pub lishing House, in an address in Westminster Cathedral on Tuesday, said both Catholics and Methodists shared a number of emphases.

'We are both universalists in that we believe that the Gospel is for all men everywhere. Racialism is totally incompatible with out notion of Christianity.

"Also we are both internationalists, though you more widely and more convincingly so than we. We would both subscribe to the famous words of John Wesley that the world is our parish.

"The Roman Catholic Church is the only body of Christians which comes anywhere near to reconciling all races, classes and temperaments, though obviously she has not achieved it yet, and may have to face a time of weakening influence in some lands traditionally hers. You do somehow make religion seem natural."

Dr. Wakefield said that sometimes the Catholic Church seemed to wear a mask of great rigidity and harshness, "yet her real face is surely tolerance and compassion.

"There remains much that we cannot understand and much that we fear we may understand only too well. There is a difference of mind Which cannot be healed by clergy fraternals and joint efforts for Christian aid.

"One of the tasks of the future, intellectual, psychological and costly, will be for us to enter more and more into each other's minds. I think if I had a sabbatical year I would like to spend it studying Roman Catholic theology and then go back and be an ecumenical Methodist again.

"What we must resolve is to stay together in spite of the difficulties and discouragemeats there have been. and are bound to be again. We must not go back on the new friendship which God has given us."

'Our Lady and ecumenism'

Archbishop Cardinale, the Apostolic Delegate. who preached in the Anglican Church of the Annunciation in London on Sunday, took as his theme "Our Lady and Ecumenism."

He said that one of the scandals of Christian disunity, in the words of a famous Protestant theologian, was that brethren who professed to have God as their Father and Christ as their Elder Brother should be as separated as they are in their attitudes toward Mary as the Mother of God.

"Those different attitudes have great ecumenical relevance, for what is thought by the different Churches with regard to Our Lady is undoubtedly a key point for Christian reunion. In few matters are Christians more painfully separated than this.

"Those differences are often lodged deep in the subconscious, as part of the heritage of long centuries of obstinate and passionate prejudice, jealously cherished by a sort of tribal memory. We cannot act as though it were not there, for this sad heritage is in fact one of the chief obstacles to Christian unity.

"The result of this state of things is an inhibition to loving trust and fellowship. which cannot be dispelled simply by courtesy and smooth words, nor by doctrinal speculation, no matter how cogent. The inner recesses of the heart need to be changed on all sides by a genuine conversion.

"It requires not so much theological argument as a change of heart and a holiness of life, inspired and accompanied by private and public prayer and a frank and free dialogue conducted in a spirit of true Christian love."

The Archbishop said it would be wrong to assume that the present day situation among Christians with regard to the Mother of God was a religious phenomenon peculiar to our age, or that it began in the aftermath of the Protestant revolt.

"Our Lady, in fact, has has always been a challenge to men, arousing sentiments of deepest love and of vehement hostility. Rarely has her name left those possessing strong religious convictions neutral or impassive.

"And yet, in the beginning, the sixteenth century reformers did not reject Our Lady. No other non-Catholic has written so much about the Virgin Mary as the father of modern Protestantism, Martin Luther. In a long commentary upon the Magnificat he says: "May the same tender Mother of God obtain for me the spirit to interpret her Son usefully and practically . . • that we may sing and chant this Magnfficat eternally in the life to come.

"Even though Luther's orthodoxy with regard to Mary was to alter with his orthodoxy with regard to the Church, he.. appears to have believed, until his death. in the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption — maybe because these truths had not yet been defined as dogmas by the Pope!

"The Magnificat has continued to keep its place of honour in the liturgy of even the lowest forms of historic Protestant Churches, as a solitary witness of the Old Faith. How many of us have been deeply moved at the nostalgic chanting of that beautiful Marian canticle even by their congregations!

"But let us thank God if Christians today more and more are coming to realise the truth contained in the statement of one of your own most prominent theologians, Dr. Mascall: 'Christianity without Mary is a monstrosity'."

Vision being interpreted

Archbishop Athenagoras, head of the Greek Orthodox Church in Britain, preaching in Westminster Cathedral on Monday, said the vision of Pope John XXIII had not yet been fully grasped, but his successor and the bishops around him at Vatican II had contributed immensely to its

interpretation.

"The pilgrimage of Pope Paul to the East, the friendship he cultivates with the people and leaders of East and West, show clearly that the leadership of the Western Church tries to shake off the remnants of isolating exclusiveness and to lead the Church outside itself to meet other Christians and to live and think and work together for the solution of common problems and to face the common threats against the people of God."

Common bond of baptism

Bishop Worlock of Portsmouth, preaching in St. Peter's Anglican Church, Petersfield, Hants, on Sunday. said that while Christians must be realistic about points of difference between them, which could never be solved by administrative compromise. they should give careful thought to the common bond which already unites them, and try to see how to build on it for still closer union.

"We should realise that the source of our unity is baptism and through this we are united to Christ and in Christ."

He called on Christians to co-operate in social action, in working for the needs of the

housing, care of the aged, poor community in such matters as and inadequate families, world hunger and international peace.

"No matter what have been our traditions in the past, let us resolve that from now on our activities in the social field will never be restricted merely to 'oar own people' but that we shall give the love and service of Christ to the community at large, regardless of denominational bonds."

Unity at local level

The Anglican Dean of Manchester, the Very Rev. Alfred dowett, addressed an ecumenical rally at Leigh, Lancs., on Sunday. He told a gathering of 300 of all denominations that church unity would make little progress if people thought only in theological terms. "We must come together in our local congregations," he said.

An ecumenical youth service, sponsored by Leicester Council

of Churches and the county's Youth Clubs Association took place at the Dominican Priory of the Holy Cross, Leicester, on Sunday. Young members of Catholic, Anglican and Free Churches led the service and other youth groups took part.

Unity Week had an appropriate start at Charlton, London, S.E.I8, where a Catholic ecumenical centre was opened at the Convent of the Assumption on Saturday. The centre, to be run by Augustinians of the Assumption, will be open to all denominations for lectures and discussions.

Anti-Catholic demonstration

The BBC were forced to halt their broadcast of a unity service from Braid Church of Scotland parish church, Morningside, Edinburgh, on Sunday evening because of antiCatholic demonstrations by about 20 members of the Protestant Action Society and Protestant Union, As Fr. Walter Glancy, parish priest of nearby St. Peter's Church, began his sermon there were shouts of "No Popery" and "This is John Knox's country".

Scuffles broke out as members of the congregation tried to eject the demonstrators, and the BBC faded out the broadcast, on the Scottish Home Service.

Then, as Fr. Glancy rose again to speak, another group stood up and began shouting and interrupting. At this point the BBC broadcast was abandoned.

The police were called but did not enter the church, and the service was completed without further trouble.

Outside the church demon

strators paraded with banners and placards.

Bishop Wheeler of Leeds, preaching at St. Mary's Anglican Church, Gomersal, on Saturday, said one of the great things for which this century would be remembered would be the fact that it showed a spirit that. moved everybody to want "one in Christ." Every Catholic from the Pope down was pledged to this and it was not a mere temporary fashion.

The Rt. Rev. E. Treacy, Anglican Bishop of Wakefield, said they must see to it that the unity project was not an isolated effort, but an expression of unity and trust in which they always engaged.

The Anglican Bishop of Stepney, the Rt. Rev. Trevor Huddleston, preached at an inter-denominational service at Farm Street on Sunday. The church was packed for the

occasion. • On Friday Archbishop Cardinale, the Apostolic Delegate, invited members of the local clergy fraternal near his home to a discussion on Christian Marriage. More than 50 clergy from Catholic. Anglican, Congregational, Baptist and Methodists churches were present.

Tonight there is to be an ecumenical meeting at West Park College of Further Education, Sunderland, at which the speakers will be the Rt. Rev. Richard Roseveare, S.S.M., former Bishop of Accra; Mr. Ernest Armstrong, M.P., a Government Whip, and Mr. Ralph Tanner, of Heythrop College, lay organiser of missionary volunteers.

'Don't teach exclusiveness'

At Liverpool Anglican Cathedral on Monday. Fr. Edward Turner, chairman of the Archdiocesan Ecumenical Commission, preached at a service conducted by the Dean of Liverpool, the Rev. Edward H. Patey. Mgr. Thomas G. McKenna, Administrator of the Metropolitan Cathedral, also took part.

On Tuesday, Mgr. Michael Buckley. of Woodhall, Leeds, urged a special unity week meeting of the Liverpool Catholic Teachers' Association to teach Catholicism in an ecumenical spirit and warned that to go on teaching exclusiveness in. religion would lessen the influence the Church could have in the world outside in the future.

In Birmingham over 1,5X) people packed the Catholic church of St. Catherine on Monday, when Methodists, Anglicans, Salvationists and Catholics worshipped together.




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