Page 2, 24th October 1941

24th October 1941
Page 2
Page 2, 24th October 1941 — Catholic ,Practices Do Not Make a Catholic

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Locations: Liverpool


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Catholic ,Practices Do Not Make a Catholic

hope Mr. Mansfield will not consider me harsh or uncharitable if in reply to his letter I venture to suggest a few points for his consideration. I am a Roman Catholic of some 25 years' standing and for the previous 36 years I was what he apparently now is—an Anglican proud to call himself Catholic. I can therefore not plead

guilty to the " total ignorance and horrible lack of understanding or even effort to understand " the Anglo-Catholic position with which he credits (perhaps rightly) " so large a number of Roman Catholics."

The fundamental trouble is that the word Catholic has a different meaning for him and for us. The Anglican normally uses the word Catholic as an adjective to classify certain beliefs and practices, whereas the Flormen Catholic uses ff rather to denote a unit in the Church to which he belongs, somewhat as the words soldierly and soldier might be used in another connection. Let me explain further. In my Anglican days (and probably it is still the practice) it was customary to classify individual members (clerical and lay) of the Church of England as Catholic, High Church, Low or Protestant, according to their graded approximation to a standard of Catholic beliefs and practices, a standard which in itself had to be somewhat arbitrary—and, in the case of churches, according .to the type of services and devotional practices in use therein.

Incidentally, I think there was much more lack of charity amongst these various grades of Anglicans than there has ever been on the part of Roman Catholics towards AngloCatholics, or, if not a lack of charity, anyhow of understanding. The ordinary Anglican brought up to attend the traditional Prayer Book services of Morning and Evening Prayer, with the annual Harvest Festival and Sunday School anniversary as breaks in the routine, coked not feel at home in a Church where public worship was conducted on entirety different and unfamiliar lines. If, as might frequently happen with a change of incumbent, he found his parish church given over to a strange and to him unintelligible (if not " idolatrous " or

Romish " or " illegal ") kind of public service, he naturally failed to be happy about it or to hold with it. And he felt that people who worshipped God in that way did not share the same religion with himself, though both called themselves " Church of England " or " Anglicans."

Now if such " total ignorance and horrible lack of understanding or even effort to understand " the Anglo-Catholic position can exist within the Anglican Communion itself, is it surprising that the average " cradle " Roman Catholic should also fail to understand it or to believe that AngloCatholics have really the same religion as himself, however many articles of faith and devotional practices they may have in common?

The Roman Catholic starts with the conviction (which he cannot surrender without denying his faith) that no amount of Catholic practices can make a man a Catholic, if he is outside the unity of the Church which Christ built on Peter, and that no amount of verbal revering of Peter's successor as " the first Bishop of Christendom " can take the place of obedience to him whom Christ has made the essential centre of unity with " primacy. not only of honour, but also of jurisdiction." It is almost impossible for a " cradle " Roman Catholic to understand how anyone genuinely anxious to be a real Catholic should accept so much on the authority of the Catholic Church and yet reject this essential article of the Faith. To the Catholic it must be all or nothing. for if the Church were wrong about the Pope, she may equally well be wrong about anything else which she teaches as Divine revelation. And so, although he may give the AngloCatholics credit for being in good faith, he is perfectly certain that they are not of the same religion, because patently their faith has a different foundation from his, and obviously they do not belong to the same communion or unity.

Leaving aside all question of devotion or piety, the Roman Catholic goes to Mass and receives the sacraments and so on because the Church tells him to. The Anglo-Catholic does what he does because he chooses to. And if Mr. Mansfield should reply that he also does what he does in obedience to the Church, I would ask him to ask himself what Church? and to write down a definition of what he means by the words Catholic and Church and then of the two in combination. Let him then compare his definitions with the description ot the Church in the Penny Catechism (84-101). Could he then blame the Roman Catholics for failing to recognise him as one of themselves?

1 hope it is obvious that I write in no propaganda spirit nor from a 'I proud pedestal," but in response to your correspondent's appeal for mutual understanding.

am not concerned to defend or excuse anyone's " rudeness " to Anglican nuns or anyone else, but to attempt to explain why Roman Catholics cannot regard AngloCatholics as being the same things as themselves under another name.

As Mr. Mansfield truly says, " There is One huge rock over which we all stumble, because we, on the Anglican side, do not, I believe, really understand it in the least : and that is the question of the Papacy," Yet this is absolutely fundamental. If he will correct his " horrible lack of understanding " by making an " effort to Understand," there is plenty of literature on the subject. In its simplest form he can obtain it from the Catholic Truth Society (38, Eccleston Square, SW.!), in 2d. pamphlets. To economize space I give only the index numbers of relevant pamphlets from the catalogue, viz.; C. 30, 63, 168, 244, 245, 266, 267; Do. 180; H. 75. •

(Rev.) R.. G. Wass.

Catholic Church, Seaford.

A nglica n Orders

SIR,—May I trespass on your goodness and fairness and be allowed to make comments on your editorial remarks printed at the foot of my letter in your issue of October 10?

It strikes one very forcibly that it is just that attitude which you defend—symbolised by placing an Anglican Iligh Mass in inverted commas—which effectively bars the road towards unity.

Of course we realise how difficult it is for Roman Catholics to do otherwise than condemn Anglican Orders and Sacraments and their Eucharist—because if they were not to condemn them, their own position in England would seem far less secure and far less excusable.

But if one looks to the future, the question is bound to be asked—will Reunion ever come about on such a basis—on the total condemnation of our orders, sacraments, etc.? The only answer—which Anglicans know to be true with an inner conviction—is—" No."

To deny that the Eucharist when celebrated by Anglican priests, is the sacrifice of the Mass, is to shut the door on effective Reunion completely and utterly.

To realise and confess with sincere penitence and humility, our pitiable shortcomings and divergence from true Christian Charity—and the sins of our forefathers at the time of the Reformation; to do so mutually and not one-sidedly to see how much we need each other—and how imperfect we arc alone ; in short, to know our faults and errors, and to own up to them— this surely is the path which might eventually lead to the fulfilment of our Saviour's prayer—" that they all might be one .

that the world may believe." • The world does not believe, and our hateful disunity must be largely responsible.


4, Berrytlene, Ashleigh Road, Barnstaple,

[Surely our correspondent's suggestion that Anglican Orders are condemned in order " to secure" our position in the country is an example of a " pitiable shortcoming and divergence from true Christian charity?" Most Catholic.s. we imagine. would have been only too glad had the Committee of Cardinals who examined the findings of the Consultative Commission found itself able to recommend Pope Leo XIII to declare Anglican Orders valid. However. despite the feet that the commission was composed of eight expert members. four known to be favourable to the Anglican thesis, and five unfavourable, Leo XIII had. on the evidence, to condemn Anglican Orders in the Bull, Apostolicae Curse in 1896. This is a theological and historical question, dispassionately studied. and it has nothing to do with " knowing our faults and errors and owning up to iheni."—Eorroe, CH.]

Anglican Witness

Sia — Dr. Ryle, late Anglican Bishop of Liverpool said: " The Ecclesiastic of the Anglican Church is in no wise a priest although we all call him such. He is only an elder whose principal office is not to sacrifice hut to preach the Word of God," Sandgate. VICTOR FOLEY.

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