December 14, 2009
Fr. John Hunwicke
ARCIC and the Apostolic Constitution
Archbishop Rowan didn't - despite the claims of his critics - call the ecclesiology of Anglicanorum Coetibus eccentric. He suggested that there are others who might say it. A characteristically elegant dodge; not as crude as Cicero's favourite, praeteritio ("I forebear to say that my opponent is a proved embezzler and paederast; let me simply ..."). Is there a techical name in Rhetoric for "Others may say X "? Is it the same device as "You may say that, Matty; I couldn't possibly comment"?
His Grace has a point. The ecclesiology of AC does diverge from the norms to which we are accustomed and which he himself has lucidly expounded: that a "local church" is not a denomination or a province but bishop-and-presbytery-and-diaconate-and laos. Perhaps his words indicate that he is going to make one last herculean effort to secure just such an uneccentric provision for us from General Synod. If he is, all power to his elbow. If the Westminster monsignori do succeed in sabotaging the Holy Father's initiative, we could need something to fall back on. Mind you, I devoutly hope not ...
Where Rowan fails is in not taking account of some aspects of the exercise of Primacy. This was well set out in The Gift of Authority (ARCIC 1999). "We envisage a primacy that will even now help to uphold the legitimate diversity of traditions, strengthening and safeguarding them in fidelity to the Gospel ... This sort of primacy will already assist the Church on earth to be the authentic catholic Koinonia in which unity does not curtail diversity ... Such a universal primate ... will promote the common good in ways that are not constrained by sectional interests ..."
Such an understanding of primacy implies primatial intervention to protect diversity which is under threat...
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