SOLD DOWN THE RIVERThe significance for the Church of England of Clarifications (1994), the reply of ARCIC to the Vatican's Response to the Final Report
IT IS NOW perfectly clear from the latest reply of ARCIC to the 1991 Response of the Vatican, that it has completely and utterly capitulated to the claims of the Church of Rome.
When Newman and Hurrell Froude went to Rome in 1833 to find out from Wiseman on what terms the Church of England could be received back into the Roman fold, they were told it could only be done by 'swallowing the Council of Trent whole', to use Froude's colourful expression. That feat ARCIC has now performed on behalf of the Anglican Communion, and if you wish to see how it is done, you must read the recent document Clarifications of Certain Aspects of the Agreed Statements on Eucharist and Ministry (1994).
SURRENDER TO TRENT'S TEACHING ON 'THE EUCHARIST'
From the start it was clear that there was no other way to be received back into communion with Rome, which was the whole object of the ARCIC process, other than by acceptance of the teaching of the Council of Trent. But in the earlier documents, and even in the Final Report (1982), this was carefully hidden in ambiguous and obscure language. The most recent offering takes little trouble to disguise the matter at all. The subjects the 'Holy See' wished to be clarified concerned:
1. 'The 'essential link' between Calvary and the eucharist;'
2. 'The propitiatory nature of the eucharistic sacrifice', which can also be applied to the dead;'
3. 'Certitude that Christ is present... substantially when "under the species of bread and wine these earthly realities are changed into the reality of his Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity";'
4. 'The adoration of Christ in the reserved sacrament.'
On all these points the Commission lines itself up with the Council of Trent. The 'sacrifice'of the eucharist is, as far as the Commission is concerned, the same as that of Calvary, and is propitiatory in its effect. Here the Commission blatantly misquotes and distorts the liturgy of the Book of Common Prayer to make its point. It quotes the 'Comfortable Words' (I John 2:1, 2), which clearly refer to Christ as our propitiation, and seeks by sleight of hand to transfer that to the eucharist. The Commission does the same with the Post-Communion prayer, which also states clearly, that it is through Christ's "merits and death" and "through faith in his blood" that "we and all thy whole Church" obtain remission of sins, not through the propitiatory power of the 'eucharistic sacrifice'.
The Commission goes on to quote the ASB in its support, which of course has no doctrinal standing or authority. But it is now becoming commonplace for these texts to be quoted as if they were authoritative.
On the question of transubstantiation the Commission caves in and states, that as long as it is clear that it subscribes the teaching of Trent, it is not important what words it uses. What it is saying is exactly what Rome wants to hear, namely, that there is a substantial change in the elements, and it adds '... the Final Report wished to express what the Council of Trent, as evident from its discussions, clearly intended by the use of the term' [ transubstantiation].
Finally, on the question of the adoration of the sacrament, the Commission again seeks to satisfy and to reassure Rome that ARCIC does not in any way deny the presence of Christ in the sacrament. The practice of reservation in the Church of England, it says, as well as the reverence enjoined in the Prayer Book for the consumption of the remaining elements, and the prayer of Thanksgiving for the Institution of Holy Communion in the rejected 1928 Prayer Book, all prove this point. Yet, here again, there is misrepresentation. The practice of reservation is an innovation in the Church of England, as is the prayer of the 1928 Book, which again has no official standing as a repository of doctrine. And as for the reverent consumption of the left-over elements, it has nothing whatever to do with the 'presence of Christ' in the elements, as the rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer make quite clear; but merely exemplifies the principle stated in Scripture and in the preface to the Prayer Book, that everything should be done 'decently and in order'.
It is clear that the Commission is becoming bold and even reckless, since it now assumes that most Anglicans are either oblivious to, or not interested in, what it is doing, and will acquiesce in its conclusions whatever they might be.
Most Protestants today are in the condition which Rome defines as 'Invincible ignorance'. They do not actually reject the doctrines of Rome and the Council of Trent, as the Reformers and past generations of Protestants did, because they do not even know what they are. The anathemas of the Council of Trent are directed at those who deliberately 'deny' its teachings. (Read Bishop Ryle on 'Why were our Reformers Burned?')
0 that the heedless people of the Church of England could see what a great and deep pit is being prepared for them! Unless they can stir themselves actually to reject these pernicious doctrines of Mass sacrifice for the living and the dead, of transubstantiation, and the worship of Rome's breaden god, they will be most certainly swallowed up by them.
We have maintained from the beginning that the end result of the ARCIC process would be to draw Anglicans ever deeper into this kind of commitment. First, a vague sort of compromise is reached, which has some degree of ambiguity about it. The Vatican then calls for clarification and resolution of the ambiguity. This results in an explicit statement satisfactory to Rome. The longer the process takes and the farther it gets away in time from the original starting point, the less alarm is likely to be experienced or expressed in the Anglican constituency. So there was great wisdom and canniness on the part of the Vatican in delaying for ten years its response to the Final Report of 1982. Sufficient time was given to Anglicans for them to become comfortable with the half-way stage before moving on to full commitment.
We were told by Dr. Carey, when he was Chairman of the Faith and Order Advisory Group, and responsible for steering these ARCIC documents through the General Synod, that the Council of Trent and its traditional formulation of Roman Catholic doctrine were just so much 'lumber in the attic'. We need not worry our heads about these things; they were just as much an embarrassment to the Church of Rome as they were to Anglicans. Just forget about it. That is what we were meant to do, for the Church of Rome had changed. But the Council of Trent was never so much lumber in the attic, and now he knows that, or ought to know it. The Tridentine doctrines are the doctrines by which the Church of Rome lives, which inform and guide its whole life and being. This shows how little these Anglican leaders, to whom were entrusted discussions with Rome, understood Rome. Indeed, they were only, in their naivety, attributing to Rome (without any justification) the attitude which they adopted to the formularies of their own church - the 39 Articles. They treated these with cavalier disregard and even with contempt, as mere historical documents with little or no significance for today. Dr. Carey, himself, assured us that the 39 Articles were like an out-of-date map, dangerous to follow and no longer relevant. But now the Council of Trent has returned to haunt him and has become the controlling influence in the understanding and interpretation of the ARCIC Final Report. This is seen not only on the subject of the 'Eucharist', but also on the Ministry.SURRENDER TO ROME'S TEACHING ON MINISTRY
With regard to Ministry, the Vatican has sought reassurance:
1. That the validly ordained priest is acting 'in the person of Christ' and that he alone can offer 'sacramentally the redemptive sacrifice of Christ';
2. That 'the sacrament of orders, which confers the priesthood of the New Covenant, comes from Christ' and that orders are not simply conferred by the church;
3. That 'the character of priestly ordination implies a configuration of the priesthood of Christ', (i.e. that the priest is an actual image of Christ, particularly in the eucharist);
4. And that the unbroken apostolic succession is the cause of the church's continuation in true doctrine.
Here indeed is a veritable camel of Tridentine Roman doctrine for the Commission to swallow. But it does it with great ease. 'All this', in effect they say, 'we steadfastly believe, and you will find it stated in the Final Report, if you look carefully'. And indeed you will. It was, in fact, all there, wrapped up in lubricous language and ecumenical-speak. We said so at the time, but we were told we were not trusting enough. We were dwelling too much upon the doctrine of the Church of Rome of the past. We ought to recognise that we are now dealing with a new situation, the post-vatican II Church of Rome, which has left those things behind, and we must go on together to find agreement.
Indeed Dr. Carey put it in a debate in the Central Hall, Westminster, in 1987: 'In drawing closer together with the Roman Catholic Church ... Scripture becomes our theological starting point and the primacy of Scripture becomes our yardstick and norm'. Such words now ring very hollow indeed, for it is abundantly clear that the Council of Trent is, and was, the yardstick all along and Anglican leaders have been the willing dupes.
The status of the ARCIC document Clarifications is uncertain. It seems that ARCIC sent it to the Vatican but nowhere else. So officially there is nothing before the Church of England, or the Anglican Communion, to discuss and no response is being prepared. But, then again, the status of the document is uncertain because it is, as its name indicates, merely 'clarifications' in reply to the Response of the Vatican to the Final Report (1982).
The Final Report was approved by the General Synod of the Church of England in 1986, and overwhelmingly by the Lambeth Conference in 1988.
Clarifications is therefore no more than an explanatory work on the Final Report which has already been endorsed. It merely states what ARCIC considered to be the true meaning of the Final Report. It is doubtful whether this explanatory work will be subjected to the same procedures as the Final Report itself, and therefore it is unlikely to come before the General Synod for approval. But even if it did, the fact remains that General Synod has given its approval to the Final Report of which this is now the official interpretation.
The net result is, therefore, that the Church of England is now saddled with a report that endorses the doctrines of the Council of Trent on ministry and the sacraments, and this must in time be acknowledged to be the new doctrinal position of the Church of England. The 39 Articles will become a mere historical curiosity, which is what they have in fact been for some time. It is.really now too late to do anything about it. The time for action was in 1986 when the Final Report was before the General Synod.
There is a strange irony in the fact that the movement (set on foot in the last century by Newman and carried forward into this by the Anglo-Catholics) of bringing about a convergence between the Church of England and the Church of Rome has now achieved its goal, but just at the time when the Anglo-Catholics have been deposed by the Liberals, and numbers of Anglo- Catholics are leaving for Rome.
However, this is only a temporary set back. The present traditionalist Pope will not go on much longer and will be replaced by a more liberal one. The movement for the ordination of women grows apace in the Church of Rome. The only Roman Catholic objections to it are traditional ones and it only requires the rnagisterium to declare that it is right for women to be ordained for it to be so. Indeed many of the 'converting' Anglicans have said that they would be prepared to accept it, if the Church of Rome approved it.
So we may yet see the triumph of ARCIC in the reunion of the Church of Rome and the Church of England on the basis of the Agreed Statements and with a sacrificing priesthood shared by men and women.
It is the old story of the Trojan Horse all over again. The strange creature appears outside the walls of the citadel. The inhabitants are fascinated by it and, despite the warnings of their prophets, go out and draw it gladly into their city. But once inside the walls the warriors emerge from inside and take the city. So the Church of England and the Lambeth Conference warmly received and gladly endorsed the Final Report of the Anglican - Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC), in spite of the warning voices that were raised at the time. But now that it has been approved and accepted the real meaning and content of the report are revealed. Too late! The stratagem has succeeded.
Reprinted from the English Churchman by kind permission
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