Why the Catholic Church cannot with any reason or logic recognise Anglican Orders was made sufficiently clear by an excellent public letter recently of Dr Mervyn Stockwood, Anglican Bishop of Southwark (see The Times, February 9).
He admitted "there is no doctrinal agreement in the Church of England on many issues". He could have said: "on almost any issue".
He also stated: "When I ordain a man to the ministry . . . he is convinced that I am makine him a sacerdotal priest qualified to offer the sacrifice of the Mass, whereas the man kneeling next to him on whom I also lay hands, is convinced that the opposite is the case".
The good bishop did not tell us what he himself intended to do. What is it, then, that the Catholic Church is being asked by Mr St John-Stevas and his friends to recognise? Not even the Church of England itself knows. As for inter-communion, we would do well to remind ourselves of St Paul's words: "A man must examine himself first, and then eat of that bread and drink of that cup; he is eating and drinking damnation to himself if he eats and drinks unworthily" (1 Cor; 11-28). If we do not know what we are receiving, or if the consecrated Host is merely a piece of bread, then no doubt it can be used as a means to any worthy end — unity, initial belief, general goodwill or anything else.
But if, as Trent clearly defined, Christ is present "truly, really and substantially", small wonder that Cardinal Hume and the Church generally has misgivings about admitting all and sundry to Holy Communion.
Agreed statements should not deceive us as to the reality and importance of the things which still divide us. We cannot remove the difficulties by ignoring them. Expediency must give way to truth, as the life and death of St Thomas More, St John Fisher, and the Forty Martyrs usefully remind us. (Fr) Frauds Edwards, SJ London, WI.
I am one of those of whom Archbishop Coggan spoke in Westminster Cathedral. I want to be what St Thomas More was, an Anglican who accepted the authority of the Vicar of Christ. I look at the "author" in "authority" to discere its true meaning. Anglican Orders, Infallibility and Transubstantiation are not insoluble problems.
An outstanding act of love and humility, a washing of each other's feet, could solve the first problem. It would be fitting for the Vicar of Christ to make the first move.
If all Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops in Britain, however, certain of their own orders, gave to and received from each other conditional reordination, all doubt would be removed. The form of words should express the intent to do whatever Christ willed that the Church should do.
Infallibility is a word not used by Christ, or by the Apostles, or by the Evangelists, or by Anglicans. 1 hey use the word "Truth". It means the same thing. I myself believe that the ordinary teaching of the Church was absolutely null and void, once, about the "when" of the Second Coming, about the "how" of Creation (I mean the Galileo and Darwin cases) and about the "how" of the Real Presence.
The "how" and the "when" of these truths was not revealed, but God has allowed human understanding of them to develop. The Presence should now be spoken of in Einsteinian rather than Aristotelian terms. The most lunatic or (as I firmly believe) the most apocalyptic utterance of all time makes Christianity at least understandable, I have found, even to Marxists and other materialists, when so expressed. It is by the Mystery of Mysteries that they will be converted. The cosmic activity which causes all matter is a continuous act in space and time of That Which Is, by Whom all things are made, in Whom all subsist. That which is present in the particle is the same as that which is present in the whole universe, in the Body offered up on the Cross, and in the food and drink which becomes body and blood.
So believing, all Christians may obey the injunction "Do this in memory of Me" in communion with each other.
I could say no other if I were threatened with execution by hanging, drawing and quartering, or by being burnt alive at a stake. David Wheeler London. SW I.
It would be very misleading for your readers to think that all Anglican Catholics who oppose the ordination of women are, 'on the whole against the trends of thinking of Vatican II and nearer to Archbishop Lefebvre." (Your front page article of February 17).
Not all of us who signed thee Ecclesia petition are in agreement with the general outlook of this organisation, which indeed is reactionary in spirit. Many of us try to live and practise the Catholic Faith within the Church of England in the spirit of Vatican II, and our thinking and outlook are very far removed from those of Archbishop Lefebvre.
There are many hundreds, possibly thousands, of Anglicans who believe and practice the full Catholic Faith and long for the day when we may be in full visible communion with the successor of St Peter. Indeed, the main reason for our opposition to the ordination of women is that it will impede this unity still more.
We believe that we are Catholics possessing valid orders and sacraments which we cannot deny by "submitting to Rome." We cannot be converted to something we already are, namely Catholics.
What we desire and pray for is a unity which will respect our integrity and the heritage of our Corn
munion. The main stumbling block here is not one of belief or practice but the supposed invalidity of our orders. We can do nothing about this. Only a decision by the competent authority can remove this barrier to unity.
Would it be asking too much for the Roman authorities to reexamine the case against Anglican Orders? After all, a favourable decision could do so much to bring about the unity we all desire; and things are very different now than they were in 1896.
(Rev) R. Marshall Gorton, Manchester Robert Nowell's glib sleight-ofhand (February 10) produces intercommunion and, therefore unity, out of an empty hat. The conjurer's hat is always empty — except for its false lining — and his is no exception; not empty of a rabbit but empty of the truth How could Apostolicae Cause possibly be abrogated? It could be disregarded, as St Pius V's Quo Printum has been disregarded to make way for the Novas Ordo. Truth cannot be repealed, though it is often ignored.
Would Mr Nowell face the facts? Officially the Church of England does not ordain sacrificing priests, nor does it claim to. Their orders were intended to be null and void in that sense..
Cranmer would have agreed that Apostolicae Curae was merely stating an undisputed fact; but he would have gone on to say that there never was such a thing as a "massing priest" and that his Reformation priests and their successors today were in a direct and apostolic line, purified of Romish accretions like transubstantiation, If, as Mr Nowell suggests, the Church were to say that Apostolicae Cotrae was wrong it would also be saying that transubstantiation was equally wrong: certainly if it said that we could have unity and intercommunion tomorrow — by a simple act of apostasy.
Is that what he is proposing?
Jerome Burrough Oxford.