Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Pope Benedict's invitation to Anglicans: Two Takes

Here's Ross Douthat and David Gibson on the Pope's recent invitation to Anglicans.  Gibson wonders if the move is "liberal", in that

Benedict has signaled that the standards for what it means to be Catholic -- such as the belief in the real presence of Christ in the Mass as celebrated by a validly ordained priest -- are changing or, some might argue, falling. The Vatican is in effect saying that disagreements over gay priests and female bishops are the main issues dividing Catholics and Anglicans, rather than, say, the sacraments and the papacy and infallible dogmas on the Virgin Mary, to name just a few past points of contention.

It does not seem to me, though, that Benedict is, in fact, signalling that what we might call substantive "standards for what it means to be Catholic" are changing.  I could be wrong, but my understanding is that there is nothing in this invitation that relieves crossing-over Anglicans from the need to affirm and profess as true all that the Catholic Church teaches as true. 

Douthat, on the other hand, sees this as an "unusual effort at targeted proselytism, remarkable both for its concessions to potential converts — married priests, a self-contained institutional structure, an Anglican rite — and for its indifference to the wishes of the Church of England’s leadership. . . .   [T]he pope is going back to basics — touting the particular witness of Catholicism even when he’s addressing universal subjects, and seeking converts more than common ground.  [T]he pope has systematically lowered the barriers for conservative Christians hovering on the threshold of the church, unsure whether to slip inside. This was the purpose behind his controversial outreach to schismatic Latin Mass Catholics, and it explains the current opening to Anglicans."

That tricky Pope Benedict.  He keeps 'em all guessing. 


Garnett, Rick | Permalink

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