Ecumenical Discussions in Canada
THE latest attempt to advance the ecumenical dialogue between Anglicans and Roman Catholics took place in May at the “Queen of Apostles Renewal Centre” near Toronto. Bishops gathered from various parts of the world under the leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury and Cardinal Edward Cassidy. A letter from the Pope expressed particular affection for the Archbishop and referred to two particular occasions when they prayed together for “the full visible unity which is Christs will for His followers”. This presumptuous reference to the will of Christ is followed by a similar claim to be “guided by the Holy Spirit who leads into all truth”. Needless to say, any movement towards Rome is not towards the truth; it is neither the will of Christ nor under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
The Pope further claims that “the search for unity in truth . . . will enable us to preach the gospel powerfully and without reserve”. The fact is that the theology of Roman Catholicism and liberal Protestantism is completely inconsistent with the gospel. What is called for is a sincere willingness to take the Bible seriously and to yield total obedience to the truths revealed in it without being influenced by the false presuppositions of these movements.
The participants in these meetings claim to “have come to a clear sense that we have moved much closer to the goal of full visible communion than we had at first dared to believe”. But there are problems, “as yet unresolved differences and challenges”. “These have to do”, we are told, “with such matters as: the understanding of authority in the Church, including the way it is exercised, and the precise nature of the future role of the universal primate; Anglican Orders; the ordination of women; moral and ethical questions”. Central to these, no doubt, is the position of the Pope. Can Anglicans be persuaded to accept his total authority as he now exercises it over “all the faithful”? There is no doubt that the decision by the Church of England to ordain women to the ministry is a significant obstacle in the way of union with Rome. However, it is clear from remarks made by the newly-appointed Archbishop of Westminster that it is not impossible that Rome might yet accept women priests.
The meetings decided to prepare a Joint Declaration of Agreement which would set out, among other things, “our shared goal of visible unity [and] an acknowledgment of the consensus in faith that we have reached”. It may be that, while progress is slow in many areas, such a declaration is intended to give the impression of a continuing advance and to keep up the ecumenical momentum in the words of Cardinal Cassidy, to “stimulate the quest, to raise the expectations”. It is significant that one of the next tasks assigned to the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) is “a study of the place of Mary in the life and doctrine of the Church”.
The Archbishop of Canterbury may have had an Evangelical background but it is clear that his present stance is far from scriptural. He left Toronto claiming that it had been “a heartening and hopeful meeting which encourages us to press forward towards the visible unity of the Church”. This is a long, long way from the Reformation position of his Church as expressed in the Thirty-Nine Articles: “The Bishop of Rome has no jurisdiction in this realm of England”. Rome has not changed fundamentally; the authority of the Bible is what it always was; but the Church of England has changed drastically. The Church of England always required further reformation; it now requires a complete transformation. Then, among other blessings, the drift towards Rome would be completely reversed.K.D.M
The Vatican and the “sacred duty of truth”
IN a message to the media at the beginning of June, the pope said that journalists had a “sacred duty” to “render a precious service to truth itself and therefore to man”. We agree with The Daily Telegraph journalist who, in response to the papal exhortation, wrote that this “preaching the value of truth sits rather oddly with the Vaticans refusal to open up its archives to the researchers exploring the relationship between the Church and the Nazis”.
One truth that the Vatican decidedly does not wish the media or others to publish is that about its anti-Semitism during the Second World War. When the Holocaust Educational Trust requested the Vatican to release records which belonged to Jewish organisations, it was given twelve volumes of documents all of which turned out to be already available. No reply has been given to a further request, sent 18 months ago, for specific documents. Dr Shimon Samuels of the Wiesenthal Institute said, “The Vatican is sabotaging our attempts to write the history of the holocaust. By releasing only handpicked documents, it is strengthening the impression that there is something to hide.” But the truth will come out sooner or later.
Indeed, The Times of 24th May reports that “documents found by chance in a Rome flea market prove that Pope Pius XII, accused of having turned a blind eye to the Holocaust, was given a daily account of Nazi atrocities by the British envoy to the Holy See. Defenders of Pius XII, who include the present Pope, insist that he could not have known about the Nazi death camps, but Francis DArcy Godolphin Osborne, the British Minister to the Holy See, gave the Pope a daily typewritten report culled from Allied broadcasts after he took refuge in the Vatican in 1940.”
Romanism has always specialised in hiding the truth about itself from the world. It ill becomes this false religion to preach to others about telling the truth when it is a religion that is built upon lies lies of error regarding the way of salvation, lies about its history, and lies about those who oppose its superstition and errors. Those, in Ezekiels day, who professed to worship God, but in secret worshipped idols, were saying, “The Lord seeth us not.” But, of course, the Lord not only saw their wickedness but also revealed it to Ezekiel and others. So will it be, we believe, with regard to the hidden evils of Rome they will be unveiled one day. q