The real contribution of Anglo-Catholicism

From Fr Alan Cooke

There are many good things in Bp Andrew Burnham’s article in the July issue. He gives due praise to the work for vocations and for children and young people which goes on in our constituency, and to the encouraging balance of men and women in many of our congregations.

He is rather more controversial, though, when he says, ‘The real contribution of Anglo-Catholicism, however – without which it is all a game – is the priority it gives to working for the unity of the Church… which we see in the first instance as reunion with the Holy See.’

As the Lambeth Conference stated as long ago as 1908, there can indeed be no authentic Christian unity which does not include ‘the great Latin Church of the West’. But has the desire for such reunion truly been the real contribution of Anglo-Catholicism, ‘without which it is all a game’?

There was a time in England, and not so long ago, when Roman Catholics were forbidden even to say the Lords Prayer together with non-Roman Catholics, and when RC bishops did not scruple to describe their Anglican contemporaries as nothing more than laymen. They were far less hopeful time for reunion with the Holy See than the time we live in now. Yet Anglo-Catholicism was strong and vigorous, and taught the Faith to millions who could never have been reached by the Roman Catholic Church.

Bp Burnham is clear that we must wait for the synodical process to run its course before any of us make up our minds where our next steps might take us. The Revision Committee and the General Synod have a heavy responsibility for the future of many of their fellow-Anglicans. But we must surely be careful lest we give the impression that our chief priority is to be in union with the Holy See as soon as possible; because then our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters, not to mention our Anglican ones, cannot be blamed for asking why we do not just go ahead and do it.

Alan Cooke

The Vicarage, Milne St,
Chadderton, Oldham

& finally…

Don’t miss next month’s expanded issue, and if you have always thought ‘I’d like to write something for New Directions,’ but then never got around to doing anything about it, take this as a reason for a firm resolution.

The delightful and telling discussion of Postman Pat’s marriage (p. 13, go back and read it, if you haven’t already) was one such unexpected item in the electronic post box. A winner; but hardly something one could commission.

If you are writing letters do, please, think, react and put pen to paper within a fortnight of one issue for inclusion in the next. Too often (we are guessing) people like to mull an idea over and refine it – by which time it is too late.

In dispiriting times, the joy of the First Masses have been particularly appreciated by Anglo-Catholics. Men in black are not especially photogenic, but when they dress up and behave (as our lot know how to do), they can be an encouraging sight. Concelebrants at the First Mass of Fr Philip Corbett at Worksop Priory, early in July:

Letters for publication should be sent to:

The Editor, New Directions 2b The Cloisters, Gordon Square, London WC1H0AG