Welcoming former Anglicans to an ever-changing Church
From Fr John Daley IC SIR In 1974 Pope Paul VI's biblical commission concluded there was nothing scriptural or theological against the place of women in the ordained ministry but that cultural differences and Church tradition needed careful consideration before changes could be made in a Universal Church.
When our Church of England brothers and sisters come to the Catholic Church over the issue of women in the ministry (Report, July 11) they are corning to a Church which has already rejected their scriptural and theological reasons. Will they be comfortable with us?
If the day comes that Rome takes up the papal commission's conclusions where will those who disagree go then? "Not in our lifetime" is not a convincing argument when truth is being discussed.
Moving from one church to another must be very difficult for faith, family and community reasons, and coming to the Catholic Church from the Church
of England looks to be most difficult for ordained ministers. They must accept Apostolicae Curiae and deny the validity of their orders and the sacramental nature of their previous ministry; they must accept Rome '68 instead of Lambeth '31 in the matter of birth control; and they enter a Church where the issue on which they feel strongly has been debated more quietly but just as firmly for some years hence Pope Paul's commission, whose findings were never rejected, but have simply not been accepted.
We pray with all those caught up in the pain and consequences of religious debate, but remember the first Council of the Church in AD 49 when the Church wondered how best to accept Gentile converts into the Church community. The Council did not ask what Jesus would have said or done (a sterile argument which simply projects self-opinion on to Christ), but what was best to decide in new circumstances. Jesus had not spoken to the Apostles about conversion of the Gentiles (witness St Peter's delight and over whelming surprise that all are called to the Gospel in Acts 10) but he had promised the Holy Spirit who would guide them into all truth. And that was how St James, president of the Council, sent out the decree: "It has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us..."
It was new wine in new wineskins, new questions resolved under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It has been so since that first Council in AD 49 and the Church has constantly developed and changed its teachings on salvation, predestination. necessity of baptism, limbo, marriage, religious liberty, democracy, the liturgy always seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
That Jesus did not choose women or uncircumcised men among his Apostles is not relevant. "What is the Spirit leading us to understand?" is the question that our new brothers and sisters will share with us.
Yours faithfully, JOHN DALEY St Joseph, Leicester