William Oddie has some firm things to say about the latest baffling statements to come from ARCIC*
In an interview with the Church of Ireland Gazette (which the Telegraph picked up), Archbishop Longley referred to the changes in “specified circumstances” in which non-Catholics might be given Holy Communion (like imminent death) set out in the 1993 Ecumenism Directory. He commented that, “Given that that represents a … a very significant shift away from the impossibility to the limited possibility, then I could imagine and foresee one of the fruits of our ecumenical engagement as moving towards a deeper understanding of communion and a deeper sharing, a deeper communion between our churches which perhaps would lead to reconsideration of some of the circumstances.”
Asked if he felt “healing” on the issue would indeed come, the archbishop said: “I know that that will be the case,” and described the “pain” of division at the Eucharist as “a spur” towards resolving the issue. However, he also pointed to how, over the past several decades, “further challenges — obstacles, if you like — in the way of that have been placed before us and they also have their part to play in what holds us back from sharing the Eucharist together.”
He instanced differences over the recognition of clerical orders.
Now, that isn’t at all the same thing as saying there ought to be intercommunion between our Churches: and the simple fact is that the “obstacles” Archbishop Longley points to, principally the ordination of women to the Anglican priesthood, are not simply a temporary glitch but a permanent and definitive barrier to any possibility of intercommunion, ever. Another fact is that the very existence of ARCIC is now an unending source of misunderstanding, and it ought to be dissolved, or at least have its remit clearly redefined.
He continues, making the point that:
The trouble with ARCIC always was (as a former Catholic member of it once explained to me) that on the Catholic side of the table you have a body of men who represent a more or less coherent view, being members of a Church which has established means of knowing and declaring what it believes. On the Anglican side of the table you have a body of men the divisions between whom are just fundamental as, and sometimes a lot more fundamental than, those between any one of them and the Catholic representatives they face: they all represent only themselves.
Read the whole thing here.
* Anglicans Remaining Completely In Chaos (not charitable, not funny (alright maybe a bit) and not fair, but it’s been a long week).