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many a tear has to fall

By Diogenes (articles ) | Dec 05, 2003

John Allen's Word from Rome contains some helpful clarifications of the extent of the rupture in Anglican-Catholic dialogue, but also introduces a few new puzzles, including this one:

Even though both sides appear determined to keep talking, Anglicans should be under no illusion about the depth of Catholic concern. Some Catholics point to the May 2000 "Mississauga Statement," in which Anglicans and Catholics agreed that neither side should make decisions in faith and morals that would put distance between the two. A more dramatic breach of that agreement, one American Catholic theologian recently told me, is hard to imagine.

Wait a minute. Since when are Catholics bound not to make "decisions in faith and morals" that would distance us from schismatic bodies? Granted that no such decision could ever entail a change in doctrine, who would have the authority to make such a deal with the Anglicans? What could it possibly mean in concrete terms?

It turns out that the "Mississauga Statement" was the product of one of those vegetarian lasagne ecumenical potlucks convened by Kasper's predecessor, Cardinal Cassidy. The conclusions seem to have been hortatory rather than juridical. In fact, the Anglican Primate of Ireland made a point of panning Dominus Iesus (issued later the same year) precisely on the grounds that it gave the chop to the billings and cooings of Mississauga:

[The Mississauga Statement] said that those who had participated believe that our two communions had "reached a very significant new place on our journey." There was also reference to a "new stage of communion in mission." This heartening sense of hope for the future seemed to have brought some warmth into what many had felt was an 'ecumenical winter.' But that hope was not to last for long because of the declaration, Dominus Iesus.

So we can feel some relief in the knowledge that the ecumenists haven't mortgaged the faith when we weren't looking in order to buy smiles from liberal Protestants. Allen records some mildly testy remarks of Kasper regarding Cardinal Ratzinger that likewise mitigate the anxiety caused by Kasper's proposal of an "ecumenical post-baptismal liturgy ."

But they should never let ecumenists play with live ammo, even with adult supervision.

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