November 29th, was written primarily as a defence and explanation of certain points concerning Anglican belief and practice which had been called in question by your correspondents.
I realise that those of us who are not in communion with the Holy See must appear impertinent in criticising the ecclesiology and attitudes of those who are, but you allowed me to indicate what appears to be the stand of the Church of England on matters which have been disputed.
However. Mrs. Attwater calls us to task quite properly, and I am grateful to her for giving me air opportunity for self-criticism.
In the past we have been too insular and smug about our inheritance. The Anglican grasp of Catholic faith and practice has been thought of as sonic peculiar, if not absurd, thing, called "Eng lish" Catholicism.
The Catholic Faith can be no more "English" than it is "Roman" — it is universal. But historical accidents, as well as insularity, make many unwilling to admit this.
Within Anglicanism itself, the Church of England has too long thought of herself as THE Anglican Church, and all others outside these islands as her miasions. Recent years have served to jolt us out of this complacency.
Wu have realised that we in England form only a very small, and not very profitable, part of our whole Communion. We need to realise even more forcibly that we are part of the whole Church, with other communions (pace Mrs. Attwater), as well as our own.
In passing, I would urge your readers to recall that discussion of the Anglican situation now involves millions of Christians, in communion with Canterbury. hut who are not hide-bound by Acts of Parliament or the Establishment.
Here in England, the Establishment clearly must undergo radical revision, if not rejection. Leclesia Anglicane libera sit!
It is obvious from other letters, that many would like us to shed our woollymindedness, and codify our doctrine so that our position would-Be known to all. within our limits and without.
The practice of individual Anglicans makes me long for this sometimes: but as far as I can see, we are bound by the terms of the Lambeth Quadrilateral: the acceptance of the Scriptures, the historic Creeds, the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion and (what we call!) I fail to see how one can judge Anglicanism by the points of view of individuals —even of Bishops! We are incapable of what might otherwise appear to us, at any rate, to be spiritual totalitarianism. Perhaps we ought to be: in which case, pray that we shalt be led to the right answer.
In many areas, a policy of adult lay education has been profitably set under way. Every priest and minister must have experience of the great ignorance on basic religious matters among his faithful. We vague Anglicans are no exception to the rule. "Dialogue"' whether it is to be with the world or other Christians, will have to he a deal more informed than it is.
I hope that in all this "dialogue", we may remember it is not a slanging-match, and Mut the greatest renewal we all need is one of true charity, which can only edify the Body.
THE Reverend John Salter in his letter (CATHOLIC HLRALD, December 6th) does not face up to the vital point at issue regarding Baptism, which surely is that, to he valid, the Sacrament trillst be administered with the right words and in the right form.
This, I admit, is what made Fr. Corbishley's contention that one could join in nonEucharistic services with Anglicans because they, too, had been baptised, quite fantastic.
When an Anglican is received into the Catholic Church he (or she) is "conditionally baptised", in case the Anglican Baptism previously received was not administered correctly. Moreover, this precaution is not confined to the Catholic Church, When — before my own conversion I wanted to join a religious order in the Church of England, I was asked whether I could be quite sure that my (Anglican) Baptism had been valid. All I could say was that my mother had told me that when the water was poured OR my head I yelled
That, in the eyes of that Anglo Catholic community was sufficient. for they assumed that the water had been poured. But the point should be noted — not all members of the Church of England itself believe that Baptism as administered by that Church is necessarily valid.
As regards Mr. Salter's other statements, I cannot help feeling that he is less than just to the Reformers, They were not fools. They knew what they were doing (although. naturally, the ordinary members of the Church were in considerable confusion for ninny years).
They meant the Bishop of Rome as the head of the Catholic Church: nothing else makes sense. As to the alteration of "Head" to "Supreme Governour" of the Church of England, surely this is a quibble — call the Monarch the "Big Boss", if you wish: the basic idea is the same.
Mr. Salter's explanation of the Articles is not particularly heard l y pre s a n
i v . Many Anglicann y y cars g monk (1 am almost sure I am right in thinking it was Father Vernon, who later became Monsignor Vernon Johnson) "explain" the Articles in such a way that they sounded like art exposition of Catholic Faith. It was brilliantly done but very far, one cannot but believe, from the feelings of the writers.
I he a great affection for the Church of England, and will always acknowledge my debt to her, and I have many Anglican friends. For this reason, and because I have been on both sides as it were, I do feel very strongly that one should approach the subject of reunion with realism. First for its own sake, the Church of England should work for union within itself. Today there are not only Low Church, Broad Church, High Church and AngloCatholic members, but many of the two last-named sections not only have doubts on the subject of Anglican Baptism but also of Anglican Orders.
I have, personally, known clergymen who have had their Orders "confirmed" (I do not know the technical term) by Orthodox Bishops. How can the Catholic Church accept Anglican sacraments as valid when not even all the clergy and laity of that church themselves believe in them? It is not logical.
Finally, let us not deceive ourselves. Truth is many sided but it is not contradictory. Let us work together for greater understanding of one another but, ultimately we come, and will always come up agdinst certain beliefs on which the Catholic Church will not, and cannot move.
Unless other Churches accept these and submit (oh yes, some object to that word, but why? If the Catholic Church is the Church of Christ—and if she is not then no one should belong to her—one is "submitting" to God: are we too proud for that?) to the Church, then reunion is not possible.
Annetta Howarth Lord Rome.