Page 5, 29th December 1972

29th December 1972
Page 5
Page 5, 29th December 1972 — Ecumenism in the gospels

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Ecumenism in the gospels

L`CUMENISM in embryo is to be found in the Gospels. It is significant Oat when Christ was asked by John what to do about the man who was casting out devils in His name his', was not a member of their community our Lord told him "forbid not, for he that is not against you is for you." (Luke 9: 19.) There is no suggestion that anyone should be coerced in;:o the 'Church. Christ God had founded it. It is there for those who want to accept it. Whether they accept it or not will be of the:r own free choice.

A suggestion that a Church which in the belief of the Catholic is in fact the One True Church founded by Christ can be equated with another founded by an earthly King who set himself at its head is a contradiction in terms.

Having said this let me hasten to add that 1 am at one with Fr. Charles-Roux in his sympathy for those Anglicans who believe sincerely that they are in fact members of the one Catholic Church. 1 sympathise with them, I agree with them in the broader sense of what is meant by the "One Catholic Church".

But I cannot agree that membership of the Anglican Church is the same as membership of the (Roman) Catholic Church, nor that Anglican Orders are no different from those of the Catholic Priest, and I do not believe that it can be harmful for either Catholics or Anglicans to state publicly exactly where each stands on this issue.

Nor do I believe that such a statement could be an obstacle to future unity. Rather I should say that if unity is going to come, (and I believe firmly that it is) it will only be hindered by refusing to face up to the fats of what our respective faiths really imply. Unity must be sought by searching for Christ's answer through the working of His Holy Spirit.

Perhaps we are too anxiously looking for solutions which fit in with our own conceptions instead of giving the Holy Spirit a chance to be heard. Unity is perhaps more likely to come through prayer than through argument "The family that prays together may well come together." Jas B. Battle 105 Cross Halts Lane, Leeds, II.

MRS. Come (Dec. 15) may rest assured that Anglican priests do not "need" ordination by Old Catholic Bishops. nor do they "take out insurance" by doing so. As the Old Catholics are in communion with Anglicans their bishops may sometimes be invited to participate in consecrations of bishops and ordinations — and vice versa.

But what about the condemnation of "the sacrifices of masses" in Article 31? The Eucharistic Sacrifice was completely misunderstood in the Middle Ages and during the Reformation. Sacrifice was identified with death, and the slaying of the victim was confused with the offering of the blood. Hence we find such expressions as "the altar of the Cross" (in Hymns Ancient and Modern 128; English Hymnal 125). But the Cross is not an altar; the slaying of the victim was not done at an altar. The Christian altar is in Heaven: it is not the cross.

In The period just before the Reformation it was commonly taught that the chief work of the clergy was to offer the sacrifice of 'the Mass, which was regarded as something distinct from the one Sacrifice of Christ. Sacrifice was believed to be "immolation" and every Eucharist or Mass a kind of repetition of Christ's death; which death saved us, indeed, from original sin (in St. Augustine's sense, a taint which made Us. from birth. hateful to God), but the Sacrifices of Masses were believed necessary to save us from actual sin.

Thus arose the "chantry system": wealthy persons left money to build a chantry chapel and endow a priest to say Mass in it perpetually for their souls; many of these deanery chapels arc still to be seen in our Cathedrab and larger churches. By this means they hoped to be freed from Purgatory; every Mass was believed to have additional value in bringing this about. Moreover, priests were partly paid by the Masses they said (as they still are sometimes in the Roman Communion?).

A priest was paid so much for each Mass, by the person for whose benefit he olTered it; he was not allowed to say more than one a day (except on Christmas Day and on other days by dispensation). Since the Sacrifice of the Mass saved us from sin (by persuading God to forgive es),

the More Masses were said the iter R. Miller's letter (December

more sins they saved us from. ' IV.11.6) appears to me to require The Reformers protested uncriticism, espec:ally in paragraphs ceasingly against this system: for 5 and 6. which reason. Article 2 insists 1 quote: "In my comparatively

that our Lord was a sacrifice "not only for original guilt" (here we observe the influence of St. Augustine), 6 "but also for all actual sins of men": and Article 31. that "the offering of Chris: once made is that perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction, for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual, and there is none other satisfaction for sin, but that alone".

The Prayer of Consecration in the Prayer Book Liturgy says that Our Lord made on the Cross, by His one oblation of Himself once offered, a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world.

This emphasis was right. There was nothing in the teaching of the New Testament or of the Fathers, or of the Eastern Churches, to justify the chantry serstem.

Now the condemnation of "the Sacrifices of Masses" is connected with the above quotation from Article 31 with "wherefore". It is because "there is none other satisfaction of sins but that alone", that the "Sacrifices of Masses", "to have remission of pain or guild" — that is, to induce God to release men from Purgatory — were "blasphemous fables and dangerous deceits". They were blasphemous, because they misrepresented God's love; fables, because they had no warrant in Scripture; dangerous because they encouraged men to trust in the Masses they could pay for; deceits, because they induced men to pay money to no purpose.

But the article does not condemn the use of the name "Mass" for the Eucharist, which is used in the 1549 Prayer Book; nor the belief that the Eucharist is an offering or Sacrifice; nor the doctrine that in the Eucharist we are united in Our Lord's perpetual offering of His one sacrifice to the Father; for all these are supported by the witness of the early Church, to which the Anglican Communion appeals as the interpreter of Scripture, and by a long series of Anglican divines.

Since the word "Sacrifice" was not understood in the period of the Reformation. both those who used it and those who rejected it were wrong. The Eucharist is a Sacrifice, but it is not an immolation; and it was most unfortunate that the Council of Trent, by defining that it is an immolation, committed the Roman Communion then to a theory of the Eucharistic Sacrifice which is no longer tenable, and which the best Roman Catholic divines have long been trying to explain away.

The Council of Trent also laid down that the Eucharist is "a true, proper. and propitiatory sacrifice." If propitiation meant an attempt to turn God's wrath away by making an offering to Him. there would be no propitiation either in the death of our Lord or in the Eucharist. The misunderstanding is caused by the unfortunate translation of ilasinos (I St. John ii, 2, iv, 10) by the Latin "propitiatio". The Eucharist is the last stage of our Lord's redeeming work, and is propitiatory only in the sense in which our Lord's death is propitiatory.

An Anglican Layman London N.W.3.

VR. Charles-Roux (December 15) justly praises Newman's sympathetic appreciation of Anglicans, but unfortunately draws from it conclusions as to his views on Anglican Orders and Sacraments opposite to those he held.

Newman "always showed himself very reluctant to deny the presence of Orders in the Anglican Communion" in this sense that he never wished to cause unnecessary pain over a controversy he felt to be "dreary", and one that did noi touch the real point. When required to speak on the subject of Anglican Orders, as he several times was. he said: "I certainly do think them doubtful and untrustworthy; and that, independent of any question arising out of Parker's consecration."

He went on to answer by anticipation Fr. Charles-Roux: "If indeed earnestness of mind and purity of purpose could ever be a substitute for the formal conditions of a sacrament. which Apostles have instituted and the Church maintains, certainly in that case one might imagine it to be so accepted in many an Anglican ordination. I do believe that in the case of many men, it is the one great day of their Jives ... but devotion cannel reverse the past, nor can good faith stand in the stead of what is true .. " Essays Critical and Historical. IL pp. 76 and 84.

(Fr.) Charles Stephen Dessain The Oratory.

Edgbaston, Birmingham 16. short experience as a Catholic and haying lived in parishes in the North West and East Midlands, it appears evident that the laity have no more than a passing interest (if that) in the Church of England and will never attend Anglican worship unless instructed by their parish priest to do so ..."

Here in Leicester, under the auspices of the University of Leicester (Vaughan College) Anglicans and Roman Catholics have been studying Biblical and Ecumenical Theology together for the last decade, culminating in worship at a Choral Evensong each year at Leicester Cathedral. This seems to me to be more than a "passing interest." I would consider it unnecessary to ask my parish Priest to attend this or any other form of Christian worship.

I quote: "Apathy and indifference are perhaps the greatest barriers preventing any constructive dialogue between Canterbury and Westminster."

There has been much dialogue between Canterbury and Rome during recent years — to quote one example, 'the recent Joint Statement on the Eucharist, The friendship between Cardinal Heenan and Archbishop Ramsey is common knowledge and this zordiality is a source of great joy to all Roman Catholics in this country. "That they may all be one . . ." (John 17 v.21).

George F. Sheehy 55 Babingley Drive,


IHAVE always thought your paper very fair-minded and have taken it in for years. You put in a fine article by the Anglican Bishop of Southwark (Nov. 24) but subsequently' there were about half a dozen rude (and not at all accurate) letters about the "non-validity" of Anglican Orders.

Any educated Catholic— and I use the word in its right sense here, meaning both Anglican and Roman — knows that the "sacrifices of masses" does not refer to the Holy Sacrifice itself, but to superstitious practices in the Middle Ages.

Even after the reign of Henry VIII, Anglican Orders were recognised; they must have been, else why bring out the Bull Apostolicae Curae which seems to have no rhyme or reason, so long after! Abroad, Anglicans are made welcome at R.C. Altars (when they have no church of their own within reach). I have found this out in Spain (a Catholic country, if there is one) and in Lourdes too.

(Miss) V. Clifton-Smith Dovedale, 53 Langdale Road,



MANY of your readers could 1V-1-verify from their own experience Fr. John Hart-lot's charge of "alarming waste within the Church."

Here are two local examples: Church A until two years ago had three different heating systems each installed within three years of each other. These have been removed and yet one more installed.

Church B: Priest living in semidetached 3-bedroomed presbytery finds it inadequate though he is the only resident. Builds a new presbytery 25 yards from the old one but costing near to £20,000. He is no longer the only resident, but employs housekeeper.

Meanwhile the previous presbytery is not let to a straggling young couple looking for somewhere to live or used as a hdliday home for worn out mothers but sold for £9,000. And in the same church is an appeal for Shelter. W.B. Name and address supplied.

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