Saturday, July 22, 2006

Anglican Bishops respond to Cardinal Casper

Bishops Tom Wright, and David Stancliffe respond to Cardinal Casper's address to the recent House of Bishops gathering where Cardinal Casper warned against going forward with the consecration of women bishops as doing so would further impair the ecumenical desires we are all to seek. I place the below two paragraphs as essential issues to my own research for ecumenism. There is a sense in which using the Eucharist to further our understanding of one another and love for the visible Body of the Church needs more biblical exploration. The Galatians 2 passage is very important with regards to who we should and should not eat with as Christians. But also, the sacramental question of orders is essential to Eucharistic sharing that needs addressing. Can the orders of the three-fold office be tampered with in such a way that nullifies their validity? Rome says yes and hence that makes it impossible to have shared fellowship due to a lack of assurance of a proper Eucharistic offering. The Anglican Church also shares a lack of assurance about orders and hence would re-ordain someone who had not been ordained episcopally. I believe most Anglicans would have a problem accepting the Eucharist from a non-episcopally ordained minister such as a Methodist or Presbyterian. So, can Rome really be faulted for their lack of assurances that they maintain? What do the readers think about this? This should be a great discussion!

Biretta tip to Thinking Anglicans. Read it all here.
The question of Cardinal Kasper bringing a distinctively Roman perspective to Anglican affairs is also revealed in his remarks about unity, and about the role of the ordained ministry, and particularly of bishops, in engendering communion within that. The Anglican tradition takes its role as a 'bridge' seriously, and we too believe that we must work for, discern and enhance that unity for which Jesus prayed. But we do not believe that eucharistic unity ('communion' in that sense) is only attainable when there is full recognition of ministries, and all are in communion with the see of Rome. In Anglican theology, unity is achieved by our saying yes to God's gracious invitation to his table. It is because we are one with God through being caught up in Christ's one perfect self-offering to the Father that we have unity with one another, rather than communion with God being a consequence of our union with one another. We, in other words, are inclined to see eucharistic sharing not as the goal at the end of the ecumenical pilgrimage where God is waiting for us, but as the path of that pilgrimage itself, along which he accompanies us on the way. We would base our theology of union within the Godhead on a dynamic incorporation into the divine life of the Holy Trinity, rather more than on a sacramental theology based on the validity of the sacrament confected by one who has the authority to do so; and we would prefer to see debates about orders within the frame of mutual eucharistic hospitality, rather than the other way around. In this regard, we would look to Galatians 2, with its clear teaching that all who believe in Jesus Christ belong at the same table, no matter what their cultural background.

There also needs to be further discussion on the nature of Catholicity. What was distinctive of the Church of the New Testament and the early centuries was that, unlike many other religious movements of the time, it was not based on race or profession. It broke through social but also natural divisions such as age and gender. It did this above all in its foundational, Eucharistic life, as we learn from I Corinthians 11, and from that basis its total life was formed. The Church today in its local existence must continue to embrace people of a wide variety of different types and kinds, including people with diverse opinions. This is, indeed, what is constitutive of the Church's Catholicity, as has amply been demonstrated by the Greek Orthodox theologian, John Zizioulas[1], who writes "the eucharistic community was in its composition a catholic community in the sense that it transcended not only social but also natural divisions, just as it will happen in the Kingdom of God of which this community was a revelation and a real sign". The Augustinian understanding of Catholicity as universal overtook the more ancient Pauline and Ignatian understanding of Catholicity as inclusive. Wholeness is of the very essence of Church and without it the Church is not what she is called to be.


Anonymous Antonio said...

"We, in other words, are inclined to see eucharistic sharing not as the goal at the end of the ecumenical pilgrimage where God is waiting for us, but as the path of that pilgrimage itself, along which he accompanies us on the way".

Sharing Eucharist before sharing a common faith?

"...unity is achieved by our saying yes to God's gracious invitation to his table".

But is His Table everywhere?

2:51 pm  
Blogger Jeff said...

These are the important questions for sure Antonio and somehow we need to be on the same understanding of theological methodology in order to answer it intelligently. How we get there is a large part of the problem. I think the implications here are that closed communion has not helped in this regard being that faith in Jesus is in itself an invitation to the Table/Altar. At least that is the sense of the argument put before us.

Episcopal ministry does seem to be of the esse of the Church of England or they would not re-ordain a Methodist or a Presbyterian who did not have episcopal ordination. There is agreement there I think. Assurance is the issue for Roman Catholics and this drives us to ask the question of what makes the Eucharist valid.

3:28 pm  
Anonymous I'd rather not say said...

Or in other words, how can there be eucharistic sharing if there is no eucharist?!

4:04 am  
Blogger Jeff said...


I think the arguments here are not very convincing for anyone who is looking seriously into this at a theological level. That is because I am convinced that no real ecumenism will happen without bishops which means that we must come to a conclusion of what a bishop is if we are going to have biblical Eucharistic fellowship. I was especially surprised to read, 'because Rome innovates, so can we.' (paraphrase) That kind of thing is like justifying a wrong because others may do similar wrongs.

I am hopeful that others will come along and reply, but I see Tit19 has it on that site so I imagine the argument will remain there.

7:53 am  
Anonymous I'd rather not say said...


But there is a deeper ecclesiological problem with "because Rome innovates, so can we." It is precisely the Roman claim to the power to innovate that English Reformation objected to (just read the Articles). To claim now that we can innovate is to claim an type of exclusive catholicity or ecumenicity for the C of E or the Anglican Communion that Anglicanism for 500 years claimed it did not have. It is precisely this hidden, but (once realized) breathtaking claim that is at the heart of the whole problem of authority in Anglicanism today.

3:06 pm  
Blogger Jeff said...


Right, that was definitely the claim of almost all the 'Caroline'Divines and especially Andrewes and King James I was that they were keen not to do that. So, what is going to give on this? Is there not a case made for theological development that is not innovative?

3:25 pm  
Blogger Pontificator said...

Trackback Pontifications

12:20 pm  
Blogger Mike Terrell said...

"Is there not a case made for theological development which is not innovative?"

I think you probably already know that there is such a case made by Roman Catholics and the case is based upon an authoritative point of reference, the episcopal "office of unity" as Cardinal Kasper seems to have referenced.

3:19 pm  

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