Thursday, February 8, 2024

A parody of ecumenism. . .

Now that the photographers and press people have moved on to other things, it might be worth a quick look at what was accomplished when 50 or more Anglican and Roman bishops gathered for a week of study and prayer together a month or so ago.  At the end of it all was, of course, the obligatory press release.  This one was entitled "Our Common Witness, Calling, and Commitment."  This was a celebrated end to an ecumenical summit of "Growing Together".  There was the predictable call for unity and a shared mission.

Organized by the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM), January 2024 meeting had the full support from the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity in Rome as well as the Anglican Communion Office, Secretariat to the Anglican Communion.  "After four centuries of conflict and separation, the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion have now been on a walk towards reconciliation for almost six decades. At times, the path has been bumpy, but the Holy Spirit has been at work and our churches have persevered in a dialogue which has been extraordinarily fruitful," the joint statement reads.  It was undoubtedly crafted at the highest levels of both communions so it invoked the sacred cows of synodality, relationships, and people over the discredited notions of doctrine, creed, and confession.  It seems both Francis and Welby found common ground here  --  not to mention the dutiful reference about climate change, diversity, and injustice.  Welby and his group were able to celebrate an Anglican Eucharist in the Catholic Church of St. Bartholomew on Tiber Island in Rome -- something technically not supposed to happen.  The Anglicans included a pair of women bishops -- something else not quite kosher for Rome.  But it was all good and a good time was had by all.  Undoubtedly, they all went back to their day jobs patting each other on the back for all that was accomplished.

If this is what passes for ecumenism, then we are in big trouble.  On the one hand, you have a fractured Anglican communion bleeding off people faster than anyone can count and a Pope who talks out of both sides of his mouth and leaves a wake of confusion wherever he goes.  This might be good for a fake ecumenism but it is not salutary or beneficial for any real conversation between disputing Christians.  The real duty of ecumenism is to bring the diverse together under the banner of God's Word, affirming every word of the creeds, and confessing without apology the sacred deposit (no matter who might be offended).  That is not what happened here.  Rich with empty symbolism and muddy words which mean whatever the Humpty Dumpty says they mean, both churches are broken and in trouble.  The Anglicans have plenty of clergy but no people.  The Romans have plenty of people but no clergy.  Each puts on a good show and has colorful vestments but neither of these made up for the lack of substance behind those words and the spectacle of solemnity.  The statement insisted that they had equal dignity but failed to acknowledge they also have equal challenges to their very existence.  Will there even be an Anglican Communion in a decade?  Will there be anybody in Church in Europe or England in a decade?  What will this pope and this archbishop leave as the pieces their successors will have to put together (or ignore)?

Canterbury is quick to say "we are not like those other Protestants" and Rome is not sure what that means since both groups have an uncomfortable relationship with Scripture and with the voices of their forefathers.  In this meeting you might have heard both Anglicans and Romans echoing each other in distancing themselves from the faith believed, taught, and confessed by those who went before them.  "You have heard it said... but I say to you..."  Honestly, I prefer the rancor and dispute of people who take their differences seriously to the papered over divide of what was a parody of what ecumenism should be.  But who can turn down a good photo op and junket when there is a pile of problems waiting for you on your desk when you get home.... 


2 comments:

Carl Vehse said...

"A parody of ecumenism. . ."

Another meeting of the Antichrist with fellow antichrists.

It would have been more interesting if the article had been written about the Lutheran meeting a couple of months ago between the leaders of the LCMS, ELS, and WELS. The three synods have been meeting annually for the past 11 years and were once in altar and pulpit fellowship, but broke apart over sixty years ago.

A Report the group issued back in 2015 noted there would not be any formal A&P fellowship talks in the near future, given the disagreements between the church bodies concern the doctrine on the pastoral office, prayer fellowship, roles of men and women, cooperation in externals, and international church relationships.

These were pretty much the objections raised back in the 1960s.

Pastor D said...

Perceptive commentary