My bishop isn't crazy:reflections on Canterbury and Rome

Given my response to a certain event last week (that I've been referring to as the "Canterbury-Rome Cataclysm") there are things I need to say...perhaps primarily to reestablish my status as a rational human being.

I have a bishop who seems to be rather concerned about healing schism. This is a good thing. However, it seems to result in my being greatly upset with him rather often. He is currently taking the stance that "This offer from Rome is a good thing, however, there are some problems that need to be addressed before we, as our particular branch of the Church are interested." Given my strong feelings on the matter, this scared me...until I realized that he more or less said the same thing to the ACNA. I was upset about that too, though less upset, and for totally different reasons (that may be worthy of their own post). We're not going anywhere, we're just talking about it. And even though that seems a little dishonest to me, I think it's right. Heck, what's the point of having a bishop in the Apostolic Succession if the Holy Spirit *isn't* helping guide him?

Per Dionysius, bishop of Alexandria, around AD 166 (And I am lifting this quotation directly from Frank Schaeffer's book Dancing Alone, so it's out of context. Though it's worth saying that Dancing Alone did really horrible things to my perceptions of both Orthodox Christians and all of the Schaeffers.):

"You ought to have been ready to suffer anything whatever rather than split the Church of God, and martyrdom to avoid schism would have brought you as much honor as martyrdom to escape idolatry- I should say more. For in the latter case a man is martyred to save his own single soul, in the former to save the whole Church."

Or to grab a favorite hymn of mine:
O thou, who at thy Eucharist didst pray
that all thy Church might be for ever one,
grant us at every Eucharist to say
with longing heart and soul, "thy will be done."
O may we all one Bread, one Body be,
through this blest Sacrament of unity.

For all thy Church, O Lord, we intercede;
make thou our sad divisions soon to cease;
draw us the nearer each to each, we plead,
by drawing all to thee, O Prince of Peace;
thus may we all one Bread, one Body be,
through this blest Sacrament of unity.

We pray thee too for wanderers from thy fold;
O bring them back, good Shepherd of the sheep,
back to the faith which saints believed of old,
back to the Church which still that faith doth keep;
soon may we all one Bread, one Body be,
through this blest Sacrament of unity.

So, Lord, at length when sacraments shall cease,
may we be one with all thy Church above,
one with thy saints in one unbroken peace,
one with thy saints in one unbounded love;
more bless├Ęd still, in peace and love to be
one with the Trinity in Unity.

Overkill, maybe. My point is that this conversation, about two branches of the Catholic Church about reuniting is good, fitting, important, and perhaps unavoidable because of the faith we both hold to. It may very well be impossible to do more than talk though. Rome wants unity on their own terms-demanding that we accept the pope as Christ's Vicar here on Earth, that we accept the Marian doctrines as necessary to salvation. Oh, and by the way, all our clergy need to be re-ordained, because according to Rome, they're not ordained to begin with.

If we were trying to prevent Schism, that amount of work might be worthwhile. However, what we're dealing with is a schism that's already happened, and accepting the current offer means yet another ripping apart of the Church of England. I don't think it's worth it. If this were pre-Reformation, I might consent to submit to the pope and to accept the Marian dogma as good and necessary, seeing this as my duty to the Church. But it's not!! And the Reformation in many ways happened *because* of Rome's power-hungry political posturing. I am not about to say that they were right and fragment my (also Catholic) branch of the Church even more. Nothing about that heals schism. I will continue to pray for healing and unity, but given offers like this one, I'm not expecting us to be united on this side of heaven. But because of who we are, because of those prayers on all sides, the discussion still needs to be held.


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