OK, we’ll let you back in, if you’re sorry about Anne Boleyn

Since I didn’t blog yesterday, I missed my chance to comment on this front-page item from The Wall Street Journal — except, of course, that I didn’t miss it at all, since on my blog I can write about something any time I feel like it. Anyway, here’s the item:

The Vatican said it will make it far easier for disgruntled Anglicans to convert to Catholicism, in one of Rome’s most sweeping gestures to a Protestant church since the Reformation.

A newly created set of canon laws, known as an “Apostolic Constitution,” will clear the way for entire congregations of Anglican faithful to join the Catholic Church. That represents a potentially serious threat to the already fragile world-wide communion of national Anglican churches, which has about 77 million members globally….

The move comes nearly five centuries after King Henry VIII broke with Rome and proclaimed himself head of the new Church of England after being refused permission to divorce…

Speaking of commenting on things a bit after the fact — personally, I’m way more interested in sorting out this mess with King Henry than I am the stuff about gay bishops and such.

I want to go on record right now as saying that his majesty was in the wrong on this one. I mean, it’s a bit late to help out Thomas More at this point, but he was right, you know. Which is why we made him a saint.

Bringing entire Anglican congregations back into the fold all at once is nothing new to us here in Columbia, of course. I seem to recall something like that happened here awhile back. (I’d be more specific, but I’m not positive about the details, and can’t seem to find anything about it on the Web — any links you could share would be appreciated).

And I’m all for welcoming folks back home and all — especially folks who’ve been catholic all along — but I think we ought to come up with a formal litany for the returners to recite. Something like, “I reject King Henry… and all his works… and all his empty marriage vows…” and so forth. Just to make sure nobody forgets how this started. (And to think — all we had to do to put a stop to all this nonsense is throw open the doors…)

Next, we should go to work healing the rift with the eastern church. Frankly, I think that whole business of splitting the Roman empire was a mistake to begin with. What got into that Constantine character? Sailing to Byzantium, indeed…

44 thoughts on “OK, we’ll let you back in, if you’re sorry about Anne Boleyn

  1. Brad Warthen

    By the way, lest any of my prod friends be offended, I was being a tad facetious here. I mean, now that we’re all pals and getting back together again, we can laugh about this stuff, right? Come on, people, the Hundred Years War is OVER…

  2. Karen McLeod

    The vatican announcement made it clear that it addressed those not only concerned about Bishop Robinson’s consecration, but also about all the women ordained (not to mention consecrated bishop). Apparently vatican genetic research has discovered that the locus for priestly ability lies on the Y chromosome. Let the religious wars begin!

  3. Karen McLeod

    Brad, You do know that the 100 years war took place between England and France in the (mostly) 1300’s and was not about religion, but rather some silly dispute between England and France over who who was the rightful ruler of France, don’t you? The “French Witch” (aka Joan of Arc) got right toasty over it.

  4. Bart

    Yep Burl, n we is upsot bout dem lybrl laws telling we’uns kaint marry up wit our sisters n cuzins and sech. Ain’t no need agoin tuh fam’ly getherins eny moar.

  5. kbfenner

    Martin Luther got it right, ekshully. I believe y’all even gave up selling indulgences ‘n stuff.

    How about Sarah Silverman’s brilliant idea that the Vatican sell all its worldly goods and end world hunger?

  6. Brad Warthen

    Karen, you know what — I think I meant to say 30 Years War…

    I’ll confess that I’m abysmally ignorant about European history prior to the Napoleonic Wars, and a good deal of it afterwards. (I had a second major in history in college, but concentrated on early American, while dabbling in Spanish/Latin American history.) I still find the world that was destroyed by WWI sort of mystifying. I recently put a new book about the Thirty Years War on my birthday request list, hoping I could get a little smarter about that. I didn’t get it, though. Happily, I did get my own copy of High Fidelity — so I could reread it any time I like — and the second Flashman book, and a new biography of Trotsky, and a really good one I’m currently reading about Nelson’s navy called “The War for All the Oceans”. I also got a B&N gift certificate, so I might get the 30 Years book with that, if I don’t use it all up on coffee…

    As for the role of religion — most wars that are supposedly about religion are about something else, with religion offered as an excuse. Do you think the Irish killed each other for all those years over the authority of the Pope? Not likely.

  7. Santee

    You are very welcome to all the nice folks who can’t stand female priests or gay people who don’t torment themselves with celibacy. I’ll help them pack. Please understand that I am not criticizing Roman Catholic theology here, just some of the angry people in the Episcopal Church who are being appealed to through the Pope’s kind offer. May they find great happiness, somewhere else.

  8. Burl Burlingame

    There’s a good reason “Balkan” also means complex and confusing. It is. I’m still trying to suss out the Poland-Lithuania-Soviet War of 1918-1920 and how it figured in the 14 Points. A fair number of Americans were involved, BTW.
    World history is something most Americans get skimped upon in school. Most furriners know far more about us than we know about them.
    But we have Britney and they don’t.

  9. Karen McLeod

    I agree that wars over religion usually have much grimmer actual roots. There was never much religious going on in the 100 yrs war, except for a small disagreement over whether Joan was a Saint or a witch. The Holy Roman Church declared her a saint. Let’s see…I can suspend disbelief over the source of the voices; I can even, by dint of ignoring much of the New Testament, believe that God would take sides in a war, especially a thoroughly nasty political war where almost everyone turned traitor at some time; but that God would sacrifice a young peasant girl for a total wuss like the Dauphin–THAT’S CRAZY!!

  10. kbfenner

    Amen, Santee. Vaya con Dios!

    So, Brad, you throw around trash talk about Anne Boleyn, but ignore indulgences, priestly indiscretions, Thomas More’s gleeful burning of “heretics” (what a nice, saintly guy!) and the intolerance that the Pope is indeed seeking to capitalize on. As NPR commentators put it, there has been an agreement that the various Christian sects don’t poach each others’ members, seeking instead to reach out to the unchurched. The commentators felt this violated that spirit of ecumenism.

  11. kbfenner

    Naw, we bring covered dishes nowadays. I make a killer fettucine bolognese. Make you cry to give up those superfluous nonscriptural sacraments.

  12. Karen McLeod

    There are no locks on our (Episcopal) church doors when it comes to persons wanting to join or leave. Those that prefer a totally hierarchecal structure, and the requirement that you accept the infallibility of whomever has scrambled to the top this go-round (at least when he’s speaking ex-cathedra) should by all means exit the Episcopal church and join the Holy Roman Church. Those of us who recognize the Church as a large family thats going to have squabbles, but who are still willing to share a table are welcome to stay. We should have this disagreement sorted out in a century or so. Discernment takes time.

  13. Brad Warthen

    Would Martin Luther have been Martin Luther if he’d had a blog? He probably would have gotten it all out of his system rather than building up a backlog of 95 theses….

  14. Karen McLeod

    Nah. The inquisition would have kept baiting him until they could find out where he was, then nabbed him while he was busy typing out a reply.

  15. David Campbell

    Wish you had picked a subject that people would get excited about. Hard to get an opinion on this one.

  16. Elliott1

    I’m no student of history so I have a question. Did these armies give religion as a cause because they thought it justified war? I wonder what religions beliefs we have that will seem absurd to future generations. Banning women priests seems a likely one, but then I’m Methodist.

  17. kbfenner

    You know he did not want to leave the Church–he wanted to reform it, but the fat cats were having none of it.

    @ Karen–are there any more “pariahs” for the excluders to get all worked up about when they get included? I’m having trouble thinking of any, but then….

    My favorite clergyperson of all time is a now retired, openly gay dean of the Cathedral of St. Luke in Portland, Maine.I was married by a female Lutheran pastor, and my brother’s wife is an excellent Lutheran pastor. Some of the best clergy at Trinity Cathedral when I sang in the choir there were female.

    I don’t think people would be so upset if they would just calm down, give it a chance, and see what the Spirit tells them. The Pope’s stirring the pot doesn’t help matters and is somewhat like the woman down the street offering to take in the poor separated husband, instead of waiting to see if he and his wife can work things out.

  18. kbfenner

    History, wars and religion–a lot of the European wars that purported to be about religion were about control of the wealth of the Catholic Church.
    Much as in modern day South Carolina, there was one set of rules for the rank and file, and another, looser set for the aristocracy, royalty and clergy.

  19. Randy E

    Elliott, the RCC has a strong set of traditions that have endured. They range from covering the wine when flies had free rein in the church to the sacraments.

    The hierarchy certainly includes abuses as kb cites but it also serves as a rudder to maintain consistency of our Faith. We are provided guidance as to the meaning of scripture, which is important given that much of it is not easily discernable without background, e.g. the eye of a needle.

    This is important if we accept that Jesus’ word is absolute Truth and not merely contemporary interpretation that is ever changing.

    Yes, men have committed heinous crimes and sins in the name of God. This is a dramatic example of how we are sinners who are in need of a savior.

    Finally, Catholicism may be the most complex in terms of rituals and traditions, but it is probably the most accepting of other Faiths. We pray for God’s original chosen people, the Jews. Our church does not claim that protestants and baptists will go to hell because their dogma differs from ours. Our outreach and missionary work is less about proselytizing and more about acts of faith as exemplified by Catholic Charities which has an office next to my classroom in the lowest socio-economic school in the state of CT.

  20. Karen McLeod

    Elliot, When you’re killing people for God to win back Jerusalem for all Christendom, or killing heretics because they’re infecting the Holy Mother Church with false belief, then you are carrying out God’s will. Of course, if your not Christian or don’t believe the right thoughts the right way, then….

  21. Luanne Malkasian

    to kbfenner
    About burning heretics. Please learn your history. The burning was begun Not by Thomas More. It was started and continued by Henry’s Cromwell. Until Cromwell met his own fate on the Block. More fought Henry on most of the changes he initiated. The Book of Common Prayer and the C of E Mass is so close to the Catholic Mass as to be nearly exact. My own Catholic raised children could not tell the difference. Please understand what you are saying before you insult our Saint.

  22. Lynn Teague

    David Campbell says “Wish you had picked a subject that people would get excited about. Hard to get an opinion on this one.”

    Oh dear me, David, you surely have not been hanging around an Episcopal Church lately, have you? Excitable folks abound. Some are terrified that a new bishop of this diocese might not squash gays with a single bound. Unfortunately, they seem to be so heavily represented on the search committee that one would think the Diocese of Upper South Carolina was about to elect an “Official in Charge of Denying Same Sex Blessings” rather than a bishop of the Christian church.

  23. Luanne Malkasian

    Brad, obviously those that have been “dissing” you have not spent time with your editorials. You and I have disagreed at least twice. But as you say it is always civil which keeps ,me at least, people comming back to hear your opinions. By the way we have agreed many more timees than not.
    About the Church’s decision. I am a cradle Catholic and will haveto get a copoy of the Book of Common Prayer and see how or if it will change my feelings of GREAT! Yes, I agree about the Eastern Church. It was a difference of semantics that caused the schism. My husband is Armenian Apostolic and is in communon with the Holy See but still must check with pastors to see if he can be part of the Mass. Thank God our pastor, Fr. Lahockey, welcomes him with open arms. Thanks forthe chance to “talk”.

  24. Herb B.

    This has become a great forum again. Relief!

    Even taking into account Brad’s tongue-in-cheek above, I’m not convinced that he has ever understood Protestant theology, and especially Luther’s desire to get back to the basics.

    A lot of religious discussion is, in the final analysis, a question of final authority. It really doesn’t matter what future generations might think–Jeremiah wasn’t popular, either, in his day. Nor were most prophetic figures, for that matter.

  25. Greg Flowers

    OK, I am a little confused. Many current and former members of the Protestant Episcopal Church feel deserted by their spiritual home over matters of canon policy which they consider to be very important. Some have joined splinter anglican denominations outside of the Anglican Communion. Some have joined African members of the Communion. Others are at spiritual sea. For the Pope to offer them a home seems to me no more than Christian charity. In the Balkens there have been for hundreds of years Eastern Rite Roman Catholics so this is really nothing new and the cries of outrage seem unwarranted.

  26. Herb B.

    The “splinter” Episcopal groups are the ones that are growing, especially in Africa. Falls Church in Virginia, and others, joined the movers and shakers. The sad thing is that growing and dynamic congregations get defined by issues that are far from their real focus.

  27. Karen McLeod

    kbfenner, Let’s see–pariahs–how ’bout them illegal immigrants? And we’ve yet to consecrate a tran-gender bishop. I’m sure there are more, we just need to think on it.

  28. kbfenner

    There are countless citations to Thomas More and burning heretics I could provide. Sorry. Perhaps you would dispute the sources, but it seems pretty well-established ot me that he did approve it.

    Karen–A communist bishop!

    Randy E–Accepting of other faiths–A Roman Catholic can marry in a Protestant church, but can a Protestant marry in am RC Church?
    I do agree that the traditions are rich and wonderful. I do wish Vatican II had not thrown out so much of them–I became an expert in singing sacred Renaissance polyphony, which is to my taste, the highest form of music, and largely and regrettably abandoned by the RC Church. I have sung in countless Episcopal church services Rites I and II–and the Catholic Masses I have attended are not the same…oh well…

  29. Lynn Teague

    Greg, I haven’t actually heard much outrage about the offer from the Pope. I agree, as do many others, that it is entirely reasonable for those who think they will be more at home spiritually in the Roman Catholic communion to go there. As far as I know, the heat that has been generated has focused on the underlying issues within the Episcopal Church, not on the Pope’s offer. Those underlying issues include sexuality and gender roles, but at their deepest root they are about how one interprets the Bible, and to what extent one sees infallible divine wisdom or ancient social prejudices in some of its dictates. This is pretty basic stuff. The Episcopal Church offers some latitude in how people approach these issues of scriptural authority, more latitude than some are comfortable with. So, they are welcome to their comfort zone, but not welcome to narrow the acceptable approaches to scriptural interpretation for me. Nor do I believe that it is reasonable for the beliefs about sexuality and gender roles of people in South Carolina to be limited to those acceptable to the majority of Anglicans in Nigeria or Brazil.

  30. Karen McLeod

    Herb, safe, acceptable, conventional belief and/or wisdom is not always right (or should I say,’correct’.
    kbfenner, how about a socialist,fascist dictator who can’t produce a birth certificate and knows Bill Ayers?

  31. Randy E

    kb, a protestant CAN be married in a Catholic church to a Catholic. The ceremony cannot include full communion. This is in keeping with non-Catholics not taking communion during a standard weekly mass (although it obviously will happen).

  32. Randy E

    My understanding matches Herb’s point. Luther wasn’t looking to start a reformation but to clean up the Faith.

  33. Herb B.

    Karen, maybe it’s just because I’m dead tired to day, but I’m not understanding your point.

  34. Herb B.

    Can someone explain to me how this guy knows something that the rest of us don’t?:

    A case in point is last week’s stunning announcement (it took even the leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion, Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury, by surprise) that the pope is creating a novel “church within a church” so that Anglicans can join with Catholics without giving up their rites and traditions. The goal is to accommodate traditionalist Anglicans around the globe and conservative Episcopalians in the United States who are upset about the acceptance of openly gay clergy in North America and female bishops in the Church of England, and with what they see as the failure of their leadership to discipline the transgressors.

  35. Burl Burlingame

    Jerusalem — something I’ve always wondered. Would it be possible for the UN or some other neutral agency to administer Jerusalem as an open city to all, not belonging to any particular nation or faith?

  36. Karen McLeod

    Herb, I’m glad to hear that these churches are growing. I’m just sorry that these family members felt so much of a grudge that they had to leave the family dinner table here in the US. I contend that discernment takes time, and that it will take many years to determine which side in these squabbles more clearly reflects the mind/heart of Christ. Meanwhile, you might want to read Scott’s “Re’Imagine the World” and/or Crosson’s “Empire and God” to get a possible alternative take on conventional wisdom (they have nothing to do with homosexuals, bishops, or anything otherwise directly connected to the current squabbles).

  37. Brad Warthen

    Kathryn, you’re right that I am unlikely to be moved by Maureen Dowd stringing together a series of sneers based in a superficial assumption which could be summed up as “Modernity is cool and smart, and everything that is at odds with it is stupid and backward.”

    The way Maureen puts things is likely to make me want to argue even when she’s trying to say something I agree with.

    For the first year or two that she was a columnist, I saw her as a refreshing change of pace. But after that, her constant cutesy sarcasm began to be unpleasant, like a constant tapping on the same spot, a la Chinese water torture.

    And to the extent that she’s offering a serious argument here, it fails to stand up logically. For instance, here:
    “Nuns were second-class citizens then and — 40 years after feminism utterly changed America — they still are. The matter of women as priests is closed, a forbidden topic.”

    Now maybe I’m reading her wrong here — maybe she is not saying that BECAUSE the matter of women as priests is closed, nuns are therefore second-class citizens. But she seems to imply that rather strongly. And I have to say, it just doesn’t follow.

    Are we to assume that all women who are nuns want to be priests? Are we further to assume (and here’s where I get in trouble with folks who think society should be ordered around what individuals WANT to do, rather than should do), that all nuns who want to SHOULD be priests? Seems to me that in the anecdote she just related, Father Montgomery was far more suited to a pastoral role than the apparently vindictive and power-mad Sister Hiltruda. Just as some women would be more suited to it than some men.

    Are Christian Brothers second-class citizens because they are not priests? Am I a second-class citizen because, although I am a eucharistic minister and lector, I can’t be a priest? I certainly don’t think so.

    This is completely apart from the issue of whether there should be an all-male, celibate priesthood. If women, or married men (aside from defectors) should be priests, make the argument, in terms of God’s will and the good of the church and its mission in the world.

    But don’t try to whip up my emotions by telling me that a specific set of people (nuns) has been done wrong. I’m glad that after all these years Maureen can sympathize with Sister Hiltruda. (I suspect that with little Maureen, the sister had a handful.) But that does not constitute an argument.

  38. Lynn Teague

    Dowd does seem to imply that nuns are second class citizens if they can’t be priests. I agree that this is unfortunate, because whether nuns should be priests or not is a separate issue (although an important one) from whether nuns are second class citizens in their roles as nuns. She would have had a stronger case if she argued that nuns are facing a problem that other largely female professional groups have faced. Nurses, for example, have spent decades making the case that they deserve professional respect for their specialized place in health care. They do not argue that they should all be reclassified as doctors. Nurses have made great progress. Nuns have made progress as well. The present question seems to be whether the progress made by nuns will be lost in a reversal of Vatican II reforms.

  39. Greg Flowers

    A case in point is last week’s stunning announcement (it took even the leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion, Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury, by surprise) that the pope is creating a novel “church within a church” so that Anglicans can join with Catholics without giving up their rites and traditions. The goal is to accommodate traditionalist Anglicans around the globe and conservative Episcopalians in the United States who are upset about the acceptance of openly gay clergy in North America and female bishops in the Church of England, and with what they see as the failure of their leadership to discipline the transgressors.

    This arrangement is not “novel”, for hundreds of years “Eastern Rite” Catholics have been able to have married clergy, observe their own liturgy and recognize the supremacy of the Bishop of Rome (I believe they even have a seminary in the Pittsburgh area).

  40. Kathryn Fenner

    Brad, you ignorant slut– 😉

    I read Dowd as saying nuns are simply being treated as second class citizens because they in fact are being treated such. She cites many instances, such as their being admonished for doing what sure looks to me like the Lord’s work. I have been doing a lot of research into the lot of 20th century nuns immediately pre- and post- Vatican II for a class at USC and it isn’t very good for the Church. The nuns were and I believe still are the hardest workers in the Church, yet got by with the crumbs from the table while the priests were eating fairly high on the hog. The brothers didn’t provide necessary services like schools and hospitals–brothers go off and contemplate and make bread or grow mushrooms and the like to support themselves. She is right about how the nuns were usually the ones who raised the cry about priestly “indiscretions” and were shouted down or ignored, while the priests were promoted.
    Her piece, as I read it, says that the beat goes on with Pope the Enforcer. Nuns should be seen and not heard. They are to keep their noses clean–not help AIDS patients, for example, while the Pope worries about ideologies and doctrines.

    Well, it’s not my Church–it is hers–she is a practicing Catholic, and the nuns can leave if they like, so I really ought to stay out of it.

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