December ~ 2021 ~ Anglican-Roman Catholic news & opinion
Just before Christmas 1937, Monsignor Ronald Knox wrote a letter to the English Catholic periodical, The Tablet. Knox was the son of a Church of England bishop and had converted to Catholicism shortly after taking a brilliant First at the University of Oxford. He later became the first Catholic Chaplain to Oxford since the Reformation.
The letter arose from a remark that a friend of Knox’s had made, that she “wasn’t going to have her house turned upside down just because it was Christmas”. Thinking afterwards about what she had said, Knox wrote in his letter, “What is Christmas from start to finish but things being turned upside down?”
Even the days, continually darkening in the run–up Christmas, turn with the solstice and light begins to win again. Just when trees should be at their barest, lustrous evergreen branches are brought indoors and enhanced with lights and glitter. And just at a time (especially in the ancient world) when darkness was a cover for thieves in the night coming to burgle homes, in our modern recasting of the story, a genial old boy squeezes himself down the chimney and leaves gifts.
A group of Catholic and Anglican theologians has publicly called on the Vatican to review and overturn a papal document from 1896 that declared Anglican ordinations “absolutely null and utterly void.” “Where we once walked apart, we now walk together in friendship and love,” wrote members of the Malines Conversations Group after tracing the history of ecumenical agreements between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion and, especially, reviewing examples of collaboration and gestures of recognition.
The judgment made by Pope Leo XIII in his apostolic letter “Apostolicae Curae” in 1896 “does not accord with the reality into which the Spirit has led us now,” said members of the group, which is an informal Catholic-Anglican dialogue that began in 2013. Members of the group, who are not appointed to represent their churches but keep their respective ecumenical offices informed of their studies and discussions, presented their document Dec. 15 at Rome’s Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas. The 27-page document is titled, “Sorores in Spe — Sisters in Hope of the Resurrection: A Fresh Response to the Condemnation of Anglican Orders.”
The members of the Malines Conversations Group are honoured to invite you to the presentation of their new document:
SORORES IN SPE – Sisters in Hope of the Resurrection: A Fresh Response to the Condemnation of Anglican Orders (1896)
during an ecumenical seminar at the Angelicum’s Institute for Ecumenical Studies, Rome, Wednesday, 15 December 2021, 15:00-16:00, in presence at Aula 11 of the Angelicum or in direct streaming on Angelicum YouTube.
The legacy of the Malines Conversations — a series of private conversations on the unity of the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches, held in Belgium from 1921 to 1927 — is “alive and important” today, the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Williams told an audience in York Minster this week.
The dialogue was the initiative of two friends, Charles Lindley Wood, the 2nd Viscount Halifax, the leading Anglo-Catholic layman of his day, and the Abbé Fernand Portal, and took place at the invitation of the Archbishop of Malines, Cardinal Désiré-Joseph Mercier.
At a service on Monday to mark the centenary, Lord Williams noted their dismissal by some, including Hensley Henson, Bishop of Durham, who had described it as “predictably futile: a few unrepresentative Anglicans meet a few unrepresentative Roman Catholics. The Vatican, always courtly and polite, makes friendly noises and does absolutely nothing and the C of E likewise.”
In fact, Lord Williams said, the conversations had “kept open two very important windows. Within the Roman Catholic Church, it had allowed some vastly distinguished historical theologians … to pursue, without instantly being condemned for modernism, some urgent questions about the nature of the history of Christian thinking.” This had gone on to shape the Second Vatican Council.