Wednesday, August 10, 2005

a very good point

Here is how we should think of it: parts of the Anglican Communion (most notably, ECUSA's General Convention) are claiming authority for themselves that not even the pope claims. Namely, they are claiming doctrinal authority over the Apostolic patrimony of the sacraments of Holy Orders and Matrimony, and over Morality in general. In Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, for example, Pope JP II explicitly denied that he had authority over such things:

I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women...

Ironically, to clamor for the ordination of women (or, by extension, a permissive attitude toward sexuality outside the confines of Christian marriage) is to claim for the Church and the pope even more doctrinal authority than they claim for themselves.

Likewise, the ECUSA General Conventions of 1976 and 2003 have gathered unto themselves considerably more doctrinal authority than have either the Roman Magisterium or the Pope. Consider the following from the Anglican Use Society:

The Magisterium of the Catholic Church, her teaching office, is an instinctive
stumbling block for many. Here, we can only point out the following:

The disciples were promised by our blessed Lord the Gift of the Paraclete, the
Holy Spirit, Who will teach you all things (Jn 14:26). This was at the very end of our Lord’s ministry, on the night He was betrayed. Clearly, He had not even then
taught them everything.

In the unfolding life of the Catholic Church, guided by the Spirit over these two
thousand years since, we see the fulfillment of this promise. We believe that the
Church has enjoyed the fulfillment of the Lord’s promise over those centuries: He
has kept the Church from error while she has taught boldly, confident in the Spirit,
just as we see the Church teaching in the Acts of the Apostles.

With respect, we must point out to our Episcopalian friends who have trouble
accepting the Magisterium, the teaching office of the Catholic Church, that they
find themselves in a Church which has a teaching office as well, one which their
own Tradition does not allow. Today, the General Convention of ECUSA
exercises a teaching office which would astound the founding fathers of the
Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America in 1789. GC was
never meant to be a doctrinal body. Anglicanism, as Archbishop Geoffrey Fisher
of Canterbury said in the 1940s, neither had nor wished to have distinctive
doctrines of its own; rather, it sought to be the Church of the early fathers and
councils of the Church, and offering itself to the service of the future, undivided
Church as a bridge between traditions.

The legislatures of different Anglican provinces today claim authority the Pope has
declared he doesn’t have – over Matrimony, Holy Orders, morality. It would seem
that those troubled by the claims of the Catholic Magisterium need to consider where it is more likely that the Spirit is working.

Read the whole thing here. (Be warned: It is a pdf file.)

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