BY A STAFF REPORTER
PrHE invitation by the
Dean and Chapter of Canterbury Cathedral to the Catholic Church to celebrate open-air Mass in the Cathedral precincts on July 7 was criticised last week by the Church Society.
The Mass, which is to be celebrated by Archbishop Cowderoy of Southwark, is part of an ambitious programme of celebrations in Canterbury commemorating the 800th anniversary of the death of St. Thomas a Becket.
The Church Society, ,n a statement, said it welcomed the freer atmosphere in the relations now existing between the two Churches and common action on matters of mutual concern.
FAR-REACHING But it was important to remember that wide differences in doctrine. liturgy and practice still existecl. One of the most important concerned the doctrine and practice of the Mass, "The invitation extended by the Dean and Chapter . . . has far-reaching implications. If this were simply an act of ecumenical brotherliness, the specific form of worship and doctrine implied by the Mass is not appropriate, for no doctrine commission or competent authority in the Church of England has approved this specifically Roman doctrine and form of worship.
"However well-intentioned, the Cathedral authorities of Canterbury can only be judged to have exceeded their prerogative."
The Society's statement goes on to say that the association of the Catholic Church with the Becket Festival "raises even more acutely" the historical objections which had already been made to the contemplated canonisation of the 40 English Martyrs. "Many would be prepared to leave these issues as far-off historical events, to be understood in the circumstances of the time.
"SERIOUS DOUBTS" "But the present method of refurbishing their memory, in the light of contemporary Papal assertions of authority, raises serious doubts about the doctrinal seriousness, the ecumenical widom and the proper respect for Anglican opinion generally, that ought to be expected from the cathedral authorities at Canterbury."
The statement is issued over the names of K. M. L. Benson, Society secretary. and J. R. Bourton, chairman of the Society's Council.
The Church Society has Viscount Brentford as its president and was founded in 1950 to defend the doctrine of the Church of England's 39 Articles, contained in the Book of Common Prayer.