Sunday, March 30, 2008

The rise of anti-Anglicanism

One might expect the more robust Roman Catholic newspapers and journalists to disparage the Church of England and impugn the reputation of its leaders and faithful adherents, but it is quite another thing when The Times enters the fray.

In its Credo column on March 29th, James Mawdsley touched on a dimension of Cranmer’s very raison d’etre, in his assessment of 'The proper place of the Church in debates of state’. It is worth reading, not only because His Grace holds Mr Mawdsley in the highest regard, but because of one crucial paragraph:

Politicians listen to scientists, to the military, even to economists. If politics is to play its role in overcoming evil, then it must also listen to the Church. For 2,000 years the Church has grown as an “expert in humanity”, notably thanks to her patient listening in the confessional, in her apostolate with the sick and the poor, and in her experience of persecution. Therefore if politics would truly serve Man, and is to be an agent in reaching the common good, then politics has to open its ears to the Church.

Cranmer could not agree more. But what was profoundly saddening was the overt anti-Anglicanism which permeates the piece. Consider the opening paragraph:

Anglicanism and Islam were both founded by men who wielded total power. Under Henry VIII, politics swallowed religion. Under Muhammad, religion swallowed politics. Consequently, Anglicans struggle to defend their religious identity against a political agenda and Muslims struggle to defend their political rights against a religious agenda. Roman Catholics believe that the boundary between religion and politics is no less essential than the bridge.

It is a purposely provocative juxtaposition of Anglicanism with Islam, and it is a grotesque caricature of the foundations of both religions.

If ever anyone dared to compare Roman Catholicism with Islam, there would doubtless be cries of anti-Catholic bigotry (especially from the aforementioned more robust Catholic media), but the Church of England is deemed to be fair game. Anti-Anglicanism has not entered the vernacular, but it is, sadly, becoming increasingly pervasive.

Only a profound ignorance of 7th-century Arabia would assert that Mohammed in any sense 'wielded total power'. Any cursory reading of the Qur'an and the Hadith would establish that Mohammed acted in different ways in diverse situations because he was politically forced to do so: he understood his complex religio-political context and agreed a number of compromise treaties with people of diverse religious beliefs. Of course there were acts of barbarism, but there was also much diplomacy. While Henry VIII may have had little patience for diplomacy and compromise, neither, it has to be observed, did Queen Mary (as Cranmer is all too aware).

Any impartial analysis of the history of the Church of England will establish that it opted for a via media on the complex Church/State relationship. For The Times to convey the notion that Rome and Rome alone now has this in perfect balance and that Anglicanism is hopelessly compromised is to ignore both historical fact and present reality. It is sad indeed that when Cranmer questioned Mr Mawdsley on this, he responded that Roman Catholics can remedy their past wrongs 'by returning to their roots'. He continued: 'I am afraid that Islam and Anglicanism offer no service when they return to their roots (persecutors).'

The reiteration of the juxtaposition is confirmation of his anti-Anglican sentiment.

Yet it is not the Church of England that lays claim to theocracy: it does not believe that it uniquely holds the keys to salvation, and neither do any of its leaders claim to be infallible. It also insists that it is part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, even if other Christians of another denomination insist that it is not.

‘Ut unum sint' is not remotely aided by comparing Anglicanism with Islam. Henry VIII was no saint, but he was certainly no Mohammed. And if he were, what does that make the Papacy?

And an apt PS:

It was on this day in 1533 that Cranmer was consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury as a consequence of the requisite papal bulls. His Grace was the last Archbishop of Canterbury to be appointed with papal authority.


Blogger steadmancinques said...

And only a profound ignorance of the history of the Church in England, as well as that of the Church of England would lead to the adoption of such a premise as put forward in 'The Times', that the control of the Church of England was the product of the political will of Henry VIII; centuries previously, the Norman and Plantagenet kings kept an iron grip on the Church; bishops could not travel to, or, indeed correspond with Rome except with royal permission; the Church managed to wrest a degree of autonomy in the civil strife between Stephen and Matilda, only for royal authority to be harshly re-imposed by Henry II; this situation engendered the bitter quarrel which led to the martyrdom of Thomas Becket. In the reign of John, all church functions were suspended for nine years by the Interdict imposed by Innocent III when John insisted on his right to nominate his own Archbishop and rejected Innocent's nomination of Stephen Langton; the papal legate was kept kicking his heels in northern France for more than a year before being given permission to cross to England to negotiate. The history of Church-State relations in England is far more complex than the 'Times' correspondent would suggest, or like. Ubi Caritas.

30 March 2008 at 18:55  
Anonymous oiznop said...

It is a warped an ill-informed piece in The Times, and the author's response to you that the roots of Anglicanism are 'persecution' is unbeliebable bigotry and prejudice. Does he have any idea of what the Roman Catholic 'roots' did to the Early Church? Does he know how many third-century Christians died at the hands of zealous Catholics obeying their emperor priest?

If Henry VIII is like Mohamed. then successive popes have been Hitlers, Stalins and Saddams. Their evil has been colossal, and the present one isn't so innocent either. As a member of Hitler Youth, he was just doing what he had to at the time. That's the precise justification that many past Anglicans might give, including King Henry.

30 March 2008 at 20:58  
Anonymous dearieme said...

The Synod of Whitby was wrong.

30 March 2008 at 21:29  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why do these uneducated people pontificate on subjects that they evidently haven't studied?

Henry V111 might have broken with the power of Rome but for centuries the English had challenged that authority. The original spirituality of the English was Celtic, it was the manipulation at the synod of Whitby that tied England to Rome and that seems to have never been completely accepted as in every generation protest was made by those who objected to having to subject their beliefs to the pope of the day's order!

One has to say that the Roman Catholic church of today is the one church authority with the balls to challenge politicians when they trample on christian beliefs and ethics but don't bury the Anglican Communion just yet.

30 March 2008 at 21:39  
Anonymous tiberswimmer said...

Your Grace, now really . . . for the last time. It is not simply Christians of another denomination who insist that the Church of England is not part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. It is the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church herself who teaches this with clear and full authority.

30 March 2008 at 23:02  
Anonymous Martin said...

I do believe you and your correspondents are getting excercised about very little here. While James Mawdsley may have briefly mentioned Anglicanism in passing, his piece was not about the Anglican Church. And I can assure Cranmer and his correligionists that "the more robust" Catholic journals do not "disparage the Church of England and impugn the reputation of its leaders and faithful adherents." This may come as a surprise, but they have other more important things to convey to their Catholic readers.

30 March 2008 at 23:35  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just stating fact here, for what it is worth.

The large modern CofE South London church I attend, is packed on Sunday mornings often to the point of standing room only.

Church going from my own experience has never been more popular.

Good points but what exactly is your problem?

The answer as to why the CofE is a soft target is obvious. If your are not prepared to blow yourself and other people up for your own particular version of truth. Then some people will take the piss and believe they can get away with it. Thats just the way of the modern world. It may not be fair, but then what is these days, or any days come to think about it?

Now I don't think you want to go down that sort of road again, and I am sure most members of the CofE are not too keen either. None as far as I can tell.

We are members of a peaceful and extremely rich and powerful communion. They are members of an extremely rich and powerful murderously and suicidally inclined to violence one.

God it our judge and our conscience is our guide. We choose to be where we are, and thats exactly how it should be. Dogma, and all forms of socialist dogma especially, are the road to despotism and the ultimate corruption of our eternal human spirit.

The CofE does a fine job at not throwing papist dogma along with its well known hell and damnation propaganda in peoples faces, and people still go to church in their many thousands. Which is fine by me.

Atlas shrugged

30 March 2008 at 23:40  
Anonymous hear o israel said...

your grace
it is a little saddening to find people equating that all religions are the same , it is a nice try to re establish the secular authority no doubt in the socialist or liberal flavour.

they make arrogant statements , already assuming the church is antiquated and that they have set up sufficient idealogical opposition that it can be put in a box subject to secular law.

I am rather surprised we had not seen this earlier , but none the less now that it is here , let us see where the great minds wish to approach this problem from.

dawkins is already in trouble and in an odd way , the tricks of neuro linguistics still leave a lot to be desired as do the dynamic images of electical flashes across the brain.

the athiests so love there one liner "do you beleive in god?" "I believe that the people who do believe in god, do!"

surely any good marxist would follow the line of making religions equal , and best arbitrated by secular governance.

of course if god does exist , then the marxists have the most to lose especially in the end !!

31 March 2008 at 00:04  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

while Christians fight between each other the Muslims are taking our England.

31 March 2008 at 01:45  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So Anti Anglicanism bad.
Anti Catholicism & anti Islamic good?

That's just from the perspective of someone who generally avoids this site because of the constant attacks on the Catholic church.

I wish we could get over continual the C of E V RC arguments and see that the real threat to Christians was from outside.

31 March 2008 at 09:58  
Blogger Cranmer said...

His Grace does not usually respond to anonymice, but he would be immeasurably appreciative if 09.58 could give a brief summary of His Grace's 'constant attacks on the Catholic Church'.

31 March 2008 at 10:14  
Blogger Johnny Norfolk said...

Blair gave our rebate back to the EU. He has become a catholic just so he can placate the Germans and French to further his ambitions to be leader of the EU. I have no doubt he would do all he could to arrange the demise of the COE, to further his aim. This country should be aware of what is happening before we are just a euro state paying church tax and the like.

31 March 2008 at 11:46  
Blogger Little Black Sambo said...

tiberswimmer: "It is not simply Christians of another denomination who insist that the Church of England is not part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. It is the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church herself who teaches this with clear and full authority."
Category mistake and begging the question. By definition, the "Church" in the first sentence cannot be the same as the "Church" in the second.
As for the Times article, it appears, like so much in that wretched paper, to have been written by a teenager. The "roots" of the C of E are in the Latin Catholic Tradition.
"We have no doctrine of our own - we only possess the Catholic doctrine of the Catholic Church enshrined in the Catholic Crees, and those Creeds we hold without addition or diminution." (Geoffrey Fisher, Archbishop 1945-61. "And this spake he not of himself, but being high priest that year", and it was also before the C of E made the addition of the doctrine of the ordination of women.)

31 March 2008 at 13:14  
Anonymous hear o israel said...

I dont particulary feel any problem with catholiscism , it has made some great contributions to the bigger christian church , but the C of E has also done much.

our bibles are virtually identical as are our main festivals , although the saints play a more important role in catholic celebration.

lets not forget the coptic church (the oldest) or the orthadox churches.

i still think that the structures often put more importance on them selves than what is in the heart and mind on the follower !!

however the problem of how the follower is best served with a structure is worthy of dialogue , putting aside papal supremacy if possible ?.

31 March 2008 at 23:16  
Anonymous The recusant said...

Put aside papal supremacy, sorry hear o israel, no that is not possible.

1 April 2008 at 20:46  
Blogger steadmancinques said...

In reply to tiberswimmer, what constitutes the Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church was the outcome of lengthy, sometimes bitter debates, in the first five centuries of Christianity, and was settled, partly by the writings of the Fathers and partly by the deliberations of Councils. The disputes centred almost exclusively around different understandings and beliefs concerning the human and divine nature of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. The Church of England subscribes in full to the definitions arrived at in the final form of the creed, and this is what determines its membership of the universal church, not the opinion of any particular Bishop of Rome. The split with the Eastern Church was over the unilateral addition of 'que' to 'filio' by the Latin church, making the origin of the Holy Ghost as 'proceeding from the Father AND the Son; the E. Orthodox Church was not necessarily in disagreement with the definition, merely the unilateral nature of the papal declaration; denial of papal infallibility does not exclude the Orthodox from the universal church; neither does it exclude the Anglican.

2 April 2008 at 19:54  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older