Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Justin and Francis: “What were you arguing about on the way?”

Enormously encouraged by the second meeting of Justin Welby and Pope Francis.

Justin's address to Pope Francis and Pope Francis' address to Justin are both online. I was greatly encouraged by this from Pope Francis:

The Lord’s question – “What were you arguing about on the way?” (Mk 9:33) – might also apply to us. When Jesus put this question to his disciples they were silent; they were ashamed, for they had been arguing about who was the greatest among them. We too feel ashamed when we ponder the distance between the Lord’s call and our meagre response. Beneath his merciful gaze, we cannot claim that our division is anything less than a scandal and an obstacle to our proclaiming the Gospel of salvation to the world… Our progress towards full communion will not be the fruit of human actions alone, but a free gift of God. The Holy Spirit gives us the strength not to grow disheartened and he invites us to trust fully in the power of his works.

It is clear that the goal is  " full communion" - and it is possible that at least inter-communion could be achieved by Francis and Justin just deciding to do it. We can share the Eucharist without having to make the priesthoods interchangeable - just as we have full mutual recognition of baptisms already.

PS Archbishop Cranmer carries this remarkable photograph of Justin blessing Pope Francis!
So much for "absolutely null and utterly void".


Sir Watkin said...

But the two cases (Baptism and Eucharist) are different.

Full mutual recognition of Baptism is possible because there is no problem about the minister (a lay person can baptise so the question of Anglican (or other) orders is irrelevant).

But mutual recognition of orders is inextricably bound up with eucharistic sharing, not a separate issue (because without a valid priesthood there is no Eucharist). Inter-communion would by implication "make the priesthoods interchangeable" (at least at the level of principle): it would be a de facto recognition of Anglican orders. That would be a very good thing and a tremendous oecumenical advance, but Rome could hardly undertake it lightly ("just deciding to do it").

The only way for this not to be so would be for Rome to abandon the view that a priest (validly ordained) is absolutely necessary to the celebration the Eucharist. Precisely the position of (many) protestants, but even more problematic for Rome (and indeed many Anglicans) to accept.

starcourse said...

In practice they do recognise Anglican Orders. The Pope clearly considers Justin to be an Archbishop in a sister church which is not yet in full communion. This "absolutely null and utterly void" nonsense may be official doctrine but it's not real.

There is no reason I can see why we and the RCs can't say Catholic Priests and Anglican Priests are not interchangeable but they both celebrate the Eucharist. This is what almost everyone really believes in practice, whatever their theoretical position.