By Rev. Dr. Rumble, M.S.C.
Thanks to Annals Publications, Kensington, N.S.W.
Australian C.T.S. No. 1173A (1953)
THE readers of this book will perhaps find themselves wondering why I have chosen such a title for it. I have done so because, whilst one Anglican Bishop only, the Right Rev. W. H. Johnson, of Ballarat, Victoria, is the author of the pamphlet, "Roman Catholic Assertions," which I am called upon to answer, he has prefaced it with the most formidable array of authorities in his own Church that has ever yet appeared on the cover of any Anglican publication in this country.
Indeed, not only every Anglican Archbishop and Bishop in Australia has expressly endorsed Bishop Johnson's combined attack upon the Catholic Church and defence of the Church of England. Anglican Archdeacons, Deans, Canons and Heads of Theological Colleges vie with one another in supporting all that Bishop Johnson has written. And to crown it all, there is a special letter from the Archbishop of Canterbury himself, dated from Lambeth Palace on June 28th, 1952.
"My dear Bishop," runs this commendation from the Anglican Primate of
All England, "I have read your pamphlet on Roman Assertions with
great interest, and I have handed it to a scholar* who has written on the
same subject. Both of us entirely approve of what you say. It is indeed
admirably said. You are at liberty to say that I endorse your arguments
throughout. I am, yours sincerely, Geoffrey Cantuar."
(* Footnote: This unusual anonymous citation cannot but suggest that the scholar in question felt that he could not do less than comply with the Archbishop's request to commend the booklet, but that he owed it to his own reputation as a scholar to withhold his name. That he would have had abundant reasons for wishing to remain anonymous the following pages will show.)
Now before David puts his pebble into his sling, he must be allowed to say one thing. Such a weight of authority and such a display of unity would be impressive if only Bishop Johnson's booklet were not an attack on the Catholic Church. Of course all Anglican Bishops will stand together if it's a question of opposing Rome! Bishop Robin, of Adelaide, will then forget his direct and public opposition to the teaching of Archbishop Mowll, of Sydney, concerning remarriage after divorce. Bishop Wylde, of Bathurst, will put out of his mind for the time being the "Red Book Case" which he lost at the cost of thousands of pounds because of its "Romanizing" tendencies.
Archdeacon T. C. Hammond will be content to be associated with the "Rev. Father Snell," of the Society of the Sacred Mission, though if he himself were described as the "Rev. Father T. C. Hammond" he would be horrified. In "The Anglican," of December 5th, 1952, there appeared a news item that the Anglo-Catholic Fathers of the Society of the Sacred Mission from Adelaide would "raid" Sydney, seeking recruits to be trained by them for the Anglican ministry. It seemed incredible. For the recruits would be trained in a type of Anglicanism which is anathema to Sydney and which Moore Theological College, under Archdeacon Hammond, exists precisely to counteract in every possible way. It was no surprise, therefore, to find in a later issue of "The Anglican" a letter from Bishop Hilliard, assistant to Archbishop Mowll, stating that the advertised campaign by the Kelham Fathers, as the would-be "Raiders" are popularly known, had not taken place and would not take place. The Anglicanism of the Sydney Archdiocese and that of the Kelham Fathers constitute two essentially different religions! But all doctrinal, liturgical and disciplinary differences will be laid aside when it is a question of a "united front" in proclaiming that "Rome is Wrong."
But it is not impressive that they should present such a "united front" for such a purpose. Every sensible person would expect that. What would be remarkable would be to find the same array of Archbishops and Bishops, Archdeacons and Canons and Deans united in proclaiming just what Anglican teaching really is! But that will never be.
So much, then, for the impressive-looking endorsement of Bishop Johnson's pamphlet. But all who have endorsed it must take responsibility for it; and to all of them I am justified in addressing this reply.
"THE MOST FORMIDABLE ARRAY."
Copy of the wording of the Cover of Bishop Johnson's Booklet.
WRITTEN BY THE BISHOP OF BALLARAT
THE RIGHT REVEREND W. H. JOHNSON
And Published with the Endorsement of :
BY THE ARCHBISHOP of CANTERBURY
I have read your pamphlet on Roman Assertions with great interest and I have handed it to a scholar who has written on the same subject. Both of us entirely approve of what you say. It is indeed admirably said. You are at liberty to say that I endorse your arguments throughout.
Bishop Johnson commences by saying that he has received newspapers containing persistent attacks on the Church of England, together with requests that he should answer them. But he soon makes it clear that it is my own religious "Question Box" session from Radio Station 2SM, Sydney, which is his main concern. For the replies to inquiries during that session are the ones published in almost every Catholic newspaper in Australia.
Now it is a distortion of the position to say that my replies concerning Anglicanism constitute attacks upon the Church of England. Inquiries dealt with have covered almost all aspects of religion. Naturally most questions sent to me concern the Catholic Church; and I have not refused to let listeners ask me to justify that Church against all they may choose to say to its discredit - making public their charges, however serious and bitter they may be.
Where non-Catholic Churches are concerned, all come up for discussion at times, but more questions have to do with Anglicanism than with other forms of Protestantism for the simple reason that Anglicans happen to be numerically in the majority in this country. [A position, in 2005, now occupied by the Catholic Church, whereas Anglicanism is the largest Protestant Church in Australia.] And when asked why I think Anglicanism defective compared with Catholicism, or wherein Anglican objections to Catholicism are at fault, I declare my mind clearly and dispassionately on the subject. To suggest that such replies to enquiries are gratuitous attacks upon the Church of England is to distort the position entirely.
Bishop Johnson pauses to pay tribute to good Catholics, declaring that he has "Roman Catholic friends whose Christian life and character I admire." Another Anglican Bishop, A. C. Headlam, of Gloucester, in his book "The Doctrine of the Church and Reunion," attacked Bishop Gore, Anglican Bishop of Oxford, for refusing to recognize the validity of nonconformist ordinations. And he said, "It has become the fashion now for English divines, in the same breath almost in which they deny Sacraments and Orders to the Nonconformists, to indulge in eulogies of the many signs that they exhibit of the gifts of God's spirit." Bishop Johnson adopts that same fashion, though now in regard to the Catholic Church. Firstly he pays tribute to the admirable qualities of many Catholics in order to safeguard himself against any charge of personal prejudice, and then proceeds to say all that he has against their Church.
The official attitude of that Church and the methods of her "controversialists" he declares to be "a divisive influence in Christendom today, just as she was when she caused the divisions of the Church in centuries gone by."
But the real truth is that the official attitude of the Catholic Church has ever been an uncompromising stand for the Christian religion in all its fulness. The divisive influence throughout the ages (not resulting in divisions "in" or "of" the Church, but "from" it) has been the spirit of schism and heresy. In the 11th century, mainly through national prejudices, the Orthodox Eastern Church separated itself by schism from the Catholic Church. In the 16th century the Protestant reformers separated themselves from the Catholic Church by both schism and heresy, denying at once the jurisdiction of the Apostolic See of Rome and teaching new and false doctrines.
Meantime, some 400 millions of Catholics [in 2005, it is 1.1 billions of Catholics] are united in faith, worship and discipline, in loyal communion with the Holy See. But the Eastern Orthodox peoples have broken up into 16 different national and independent Churches, whilst Protestantism has disintegrated into divisions and sub-divisions almost without number. The influence of the Catholic Church is unitive, whilst those divided from her carry their divisive influence with them which is ever at work within their own ranks.
"The first statement I have been asked to deal with," Bishop Johnson goes on to say, "came over the air in a Roman Catholic broadcast and was subsequently printed in Roman Catholic papers. It was in connection with the late King George VI, and contained the statement that the Anglican presentation of the Christian religion is 'vague and confused'."
Here I am indeed identified as the culprit. In one of my broadcasts I had said that Freemasonry cannot be reconciled with Christianity. Back came the challenge: The late King George VI was both a Freemason and a good Christian. I agreed. But I said that his many duties prevented him from making a deep study of Freemasonry, whilst his knowledge of Christianity was inadequate because the Anglicanism he had ever taken for granted was itself 'vague and confused' in its presentation of the Christian religion. That was a statement of fact in defence of the personal integrity of our late King, not an attack upon the Church of England.
However, Bishop Johnson says that if I were asked to explain why I made such a statement, he has no doubt that I "would quote something that some eccentric Anglican has said or written." Then he asks: "Is that honest?" All I can ask in turn is whether he thinks it honest to try to make his readers think me dishonest on no other grounds than a mere guess on his part which he feels to be right! For I would never dream of doing what he does not doubt I would do.
Never have I based the statement that the Anglican Church is "vague and confused" in its teachings on anything any eccentric individual Anglican has said or written. I have merely said what Anglican authorities themselves have said.
For example, in 1914, in his book "Ecclesia Anglicana," Bishop Weston of Zanzibar said that the Church of England "stands today at the judgement bar, innocent alike of narrow-mindedness and broad-mindedness, but proven guilty of double-mindedness. And until she recovers a single mind, and knows it, and learns to express it, she will be of use neither in the sphere of reunion, nor in the mission field." Bishop Weston was not merely "some eccentric individual Anglican." He was an Anglican Bishop in good standing with his Church.
It may be said, of course, that he was an Anglo-Catholic. Very well. Let us take another Anglican Bishop, anything but an Anglo-Catholic, Hensley Henson, Bishop of Durham. In his "Retrospect" he writes of the 1930 Lambeth Conference: "The truth is that, under the description of the 'Anglican Communion' there are gathered two mutually contradictory conceptions of Christianity. How long the divergence of first principles can be concealed remains to be seen."
Again it may be said that Bishop Hensley Henson was known to be a Modernist crank. Very well. Take Archbishop Randall Davidson, of Canterbury itself. Of him his successor, Cosmo Gordon Lang, said: "Seated as Archbishop on the box, he handled the three horses, Evangelical, Modernist and Catholic, fairly and adroitly; but he always seemed to me more concerned to get them together round the next corner than to envisage what the ultimate course of the journey was to be." "Cosmo Gordon Lang," by J. G. Lockhart, p. 231. That is practically to say that even the Archbishop of Canterbury did not know where he was going.
In 1947 the present Archbishop Fisher, of Canterbury, said of Bishop Barnes: "If his views were mine, I should not feel that I could still hold episcopal office in the Church." But nothing was done about it. Bishop Barnes merely stated that his views were quite compatible with Anglicanism, and stayed where he was.
In 1950, Bishop Rawlinson of Derby published a book entitled "Problems of Reunion." In it, after speaking of Anglo-Catholicism, of Broad Churchmanship, and of Evangelical Protestantism, he says: "As the Archbishop of Canterbury has expressed it, there are 'tensions' within Anglicanism which are not yet resolved." This is but a euphemistic way of saying that "vagueness and confusion" prevail.
Preaching a sermon in Somerville College, Oxford, on 13th August, 1951, the Rev. E. F. Carpenter, Canon of Westminster, said of the Church of England: "Neither its doctrinal position nor its pattern of worship is easy to state or define; nor, I think, would any of us know exactly where to go for them." "The Modern Churchman" - Sept. 1951, p. 278.
I could go on almost interminably with such assertions of "vagueness and confusion" by responsible Anglican spokesmen. And if one merely repeats what they themselves say, is Bishop Johnson of Ballarat justified in making the charge of dishonesty, basing it on the guess that such a verdict can be supported only by the utterances or behaviour of "some eccentric Anglican"?
To console his disturbed people, Bishop Johnson volunteers the information that "What the Anglican Church holds and teaches is found in her official documents and in the Book of Common Prayer." But one is compelled to ask what documents are official, and which Book of Common Prayer is meant, 1549, 1552, 1662 or 1928? And according to which interpretation of these sources, Anglo-Catholic, Evangelical Protestant, or Modernist?
In 1946 a book appeared, entitled "Laodicea in the Twentieth Century," by Frank Bennett - a book commended to all Anglicans by the Rev. Alec Vidler, editor of the Anglican periodical "Theology." In it, on p. 25, the author says: "There have been significant claims made of late that no degree of unbelief is inconsistent with membership of the National Church." And he declares this point of view to be "far from uncommon even among comparatively ardent adherents of the Church of England."
Earlier, in 1933, the Rev. T. H. Whitton published a book entitled "The Necessity for Catholic Reunion." In it he says: "In the Anglican Communion . . . not only are there at least three different and contradictory religions calling themselves 'Catholic,' 'Evangelical' and 'Modernist,' but also these three religions are divergent. In this confusion and contradiction, what can be expected of the people? . . . There is no court in the Church of England competent to declare the truth or condemn error."
It is rather useless, therefore, for Bishop Johnson to refer us to Anglican "official documents" and the "Book of Common Prayer."
By-passing all this however, the Anglican Bishop of Ballarat tells us: "There you find the age-long ministry of Bishops, Priests and Deacons most carefully retained." But again we run into trouble. The words mentioned have been retained, but not the realities for which those words stand.
There are Anglican Bishops and theologians who deny absolutely that a threefold ministry of Bishops, Priests and Deacons is essential to the Church at all. For them, the non-episcopal ministries of the Nonconformist Churches are every bit as valid. It's only a question of which system one prefers. In his booklet, "The Genius of the Church of England," the Anglican Bishop of Derby, Dr. Rawlinson, said, in 1949: "Continuity of Bishops was retained, not for any reasons connected with the idea of Apostolic Succession, but for reasons of statecraft. The Crown held that the clergy needed control, and that to that end Bishops were requisite; and, accordingly, Bishops there were."
In the "National Review" of Sept. 1925, the Anglican Bishop Knox, of Manchester, wrote: "The Pope refused absolutely to recognize our Anglican Orders on the ground that our Church does not ordain priests to offer the Sacrifice of the Mass. In spite of the attempts made by our Archbishops to conceal this defect, the Pope from his point of view was unquestionably right."
When, in 1946, the Anglican Bishop Kirk, of Oxford, published "The Apostolic Ministry," in which he tried to maintain a genuine Catholic priesthood in the Church of England, his fellow-Anglican Bishop, Dr. Hensley Henson, described it as a "mischievous book," and said: "In type, temper and tendency, Bishop Kirk's essay appears to me essentially Roman, not Anglican." "Retrospect" - Vol. III., p. 383.
Turning to the matter of faith, Bishop Johnson, of Ballarat, next tells us: "There you find the Creeds of the Catholic Church retained."
Nominally, yes. But they are of no authority for Anglicans; or at best as each one likes to interpret them. Dr. H. L. Goudge, Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford, says in his book, "The Church of England and Reunion," p. 316: "In regard to faith, nothing is de fide in the Church of England except the Creeds, and there are legitimate differences about their interpretation." In an address at Girton College, Cambridge, in the year following the publication of Dr. Goudge's book, a prominent Anglican, R. B. Henderson, M.A., Headmaster of Alleyn's School, said: "Those who frame Creeds and impose their acceptance on others forget the simple Apostolic warning, 'The devils believe and tremble.' Nowadays they sign and chuckle." And he adds: "There is no test of orthodoxy of which any practical use can be made." "The Modern Churchman" - Sept. 1939, p. 382.
As for the Rule of Faith, Bishop Johnson tells us: "There you find it laid down that the Holy Scriptures contain all doctrine required of necessity for eternal salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, and that nothing can be taught as necessary to eternal salvation which cannot be concluded and proved by the Scriptures."
Now that teaching is found both in the Anglican ordination rite and in Article VI. of the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion. Anglo-Catholic writers have described those Thirty-Nine Articles as the "forty stripes save one" with which the Church of England is scourged, borrowing the expression from St. Paul's description of his own sufferings.
The teaching, of course, is not true, and it is self-contradictory. You cannot say that one must believe that nothing can be taught as necessary to salvation unless it be contained in Holy Scripture when nowhere in Holy Scripture will you find that one must believe any such thing. Bishop Johnson declares this teaching to be "true to the New Testament, to the Primitive Church and to the early Fathers." But it is not. St. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians: "Hold the traditions which you have learned, whether by word, or by our epistle." II Thess., 2: 14. He did not say, "Nothing is necessary unless it be contained in Holy Scripture."
As for the Primitive Church, the Acts of the Apostles tell us that the first Christians "were persevering in the doctrine of the Apostles." Acts 2: 42. They had no written New Testament at all.
And typical of the early Fathers we find St. Augustine writing in the fourth century: "There are many things from the Apostolic tradition which are not found in their writings nor in the councils of their successors, yet which are believed as taught by them and derived from them because they are preserved in the whole Church." Epistle. 54, De Baptismo, (On Baptism,) Book II, chapter 7, number 12. St. Augustine knew well the teaching of the earlier Fathers who had preceded him.
And now, having put before his readers, for their approval, the Anglican position, Bishop Johnson proceeds to ask their disapproval of the Catholic position. "The Roman Church," he says "has broken away by promulgating new dogmas, of which the Scriptures, the Primitive Church, and the early Fathers knew nothing."
To that general assertion, for which no proofs are here given, I will content myself with saying that certainly the Scriptures, the Primitive Church and the early Fathers knew nothing of the Church of England as by law established in the 16th century, nor of its derivative Churches, separated as they all are from the main body of Christians throughout the world who have remained true to the Catholic Church. But Bishop Johnson begins to come to something concrete when he declares: "Furthermore, perversions that helped to cause the Reformation still flourish in the Catholic Church. Things that provoked Luther to revolt are still there." Most Anglicans, of course, try to forget Martin Luther, holding that their Church is a "Via Media," or "Middle Way," which escaped from the errors of Rome without going to the other extreme and falling into the errors of Martin Luther. But, letting that go, we must consider the two "things" Bishop Johnson specifically mentions.
Firstly, he says: "The 'Double Standard' is still there." Goodness only knows what his readers will make of that! To most of them it will only mean some form of "Jesuitical Duplicity." But in its real meaning it is a most unfortunate charge to come from an Anglican Bishop in these days. Let us look a little more closely into the matter.
In order to justify the suppression of the Monasteries and Convents at the time of the Protestant Reformation, and to account for the absence of Religious Communities in the Church of England for some 300 years, Anglicans used to accuse the Catholic Church of teaching a "Double Standard," namely, that real holiness was expected of monks and nuns, but not of the laity. Monks and nuns should aim at perfection, but ordinary Catholics had not got to do that. They could content themselves with something less. A "pass degree" was good enough for them, and they could leave all attempts at an "honours degree" to the Religious Orders. That charge was quite false, for the Catholic Church has ever taught that Our Lord's words, "Be, you all, perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect," apply to all Catholics without exception according to the state of life which happens to be theirs.
But what Bishop Johnson has forgotten is that during the last 100 years or so there has been a steady revival of the Religious Life in his own Anglican Church. The "Guide to the Religious Communities of the Anglican Communion" lists 16 different Religious Orders for men, and 72 for women.
The Anglican Bishop Kirk, of Oxford, wrote recently: "After 300 years of largely undeserved obloquy and suspicion against the Religious Life, its restoration was no easy matter." He declared that Anglicans did not understand "the call to a special dedication to God and separation from the world." Speaking at Mirfield last year (1951) he said that "the Religious Communities of the Anglican Communion have changed the face of the Church." "I value more than I can say," he said, "the Religious Communities, because in them the Church has made her great effort to present this one truth, the thing that matters above all others, that men and women should continually be lifting their hearts and souls to God."
On 12th July, 1952, Archbishop Garbett, of York, speaking on the 60th anniversary of the Community of the Resurrection, said that he regarded the revival of Religious Orders in the Church of England as one of the supremely great gifts of the Oxford Movement, and he boasted that there were more Anglican nuns in England today than there were Catholic nuns at the time of the Protestant Reformation.
Now that is true. But Anglicans cannot have it both ways, sneering at Rome's "Double Standard" of high virtue for monks and nuns, and low virtue for ordinary people, whilst boasting about the restoration of Monastic and Convent Life in their own Church - the very thing on which they based their false charge of "Double Standards" against Rome!
Meantime, whilst all that is merely a matter of relative standards of virtue, when it comes to a question of straight-out sin and immorality, the Catholic Church as no other takes an unwavering stand against it.
Thus, writing in the "Hibbert Journal," July 1930, apropos of the Lambeth Conference of that year, the Rev. J. M. Lloyd Thomas, a Protestant clergyman of Birmingham, said: "The supreme attraction of Rome is to be found in its ethical rigorism. Rome is the one uncompromising corporate witness to that moral code of Christendom which preserves Western Civilization from final collapse. It represents the last loyalty of the human race to its own highest moral standards. . . . There is no authoritative moral theology which can tell us what is the final judgement of Anglicans and Free Churchmen on questions such as marriage, divorce, birth control, euthanasia, companionate experiments [in 'marriage'], abortion, suicide. Only Rome speaks with one voice on such themes, and these are the issues of life and death."
And the Rev. J. M. Lloyd Thomas adds: "We can all be magnanimous enough to recognize that Rome in a uniquely tenacious temper, is a steward of the mysteries and of the moral witness of the Christian Church." But Bishop Johnson, of Ballarat, has not such magnanimity. He can find room only for the trumped-up and antiquated charge that Rome has a "Double Standard," demanding a high degree of virtue from members of her Religious Orders, and contenting herself with a lower degree of virtue from the laity. For the rest, about 10 per cent of Anglicans in this country attend their Church, whilst 90 per cent do not. That ought to be more than enough to occupy the attention of the Anglican Bishops of Australia.
The second specific thing Bishop Johnson here mentions in his effort to discredit Rome is this. "Roman Catholic clericalism," he says, "virtually makes the laity an inferior caste subject to the clergy." Our Catholic laity, of course, did not tell him that. They have never felt in such a way. I certainly had no such experience as a layman before ever I thought of becoming a priest, after I had transferred from the Anglican Church to the Catholic Church.
But there is a question here for Bishop Johnson to weigh well. Nonconformists who won't have "Priests or Prelates" at any price, make exactly the same charge against Anglicanism as that made by the Bishop against the Catholic Church. Does Bishop Johnson believe that Anglican episcopal consecration or priestly ordination sets men apart in a special category within his own Church, to teach the people committed to their charge, as the Anglican Ordinal declares, and also to admonish them both in "public and private" as need shall require? If so, would he agree with the Nonconformists that this is to turn the laity into an "inferior caste?" If not, why does he adopt towards the Catholic Church their attitude towards his own Anglican Church?
He goes on to urge that such a distinction between clergy and laity "denies the Pauline doctrine of the Body of Christ in which all the members are subject to Christ Himself." One is tempted to ask how Bishop Johnson gets over the hierarchical constitution of Bishops, Priests and Deacons in his own Anglican Church. Or does he deny any intrinsic difference between clergy and laity in the Church of England, regarding even himself as but a "mitred layman?" If so, let him never complain again that Rome refuses to recognize Anglican Orders as valid!
As for his remark about the Pauline doctrine of the Body of Christ in which all members are subject to Christ, that simply doesn't touch the question as to whether, whilst all members are subject to Christ, there are differences of function, power and authority amongst the members themselves according to the very will of Christ. In the Catholic Church, whilst priest and laity are subject to their Bishop, their Bishop is as subject to Christ as they are. Will Bishop Johnson say, "In our Anglican Church all are subject to Christ, and therefore no one is subject to me?" Or if he does claim episcopal authority over his flock, does he admit that he does so in defiance of the Pauline doctrine of the Body of Christ? It is quite evident that he does not even understand the Pauline doctrine of the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ.
HENRY VIII AND THE CHURCH.
Bishop Johnson devotes the next section of his booklet to the perennial question of Henry VIII as founder of the Church of England. And he begins by creating a smokescreen, declaring that "Roman Catholic writers . . . are not certain whether to say that Henry VIII founded the Church of England, or to say that Queen Elizabeth did so."
Let me hasten to assure him that Catholic writers labour under no uncertainty whatever on that matter. When, in 1534, Henry VIII repudiated for the first time in English history the supreme ecclesiastical authority of the Pope and vested it in himself, he founded a new "Church of England" every bit as much as the English colonists in America founded a new nation in the United States when, in 1776, they repudiated the authority of the Throne of England and vested it in themselves. Catholic writers are equally clear that Henry's new Church was Protestantised in teaching and worship under Edward VI, (Henry's son) that it was temporarily abolished as a constitutionally independent Church by the reconciliation of England with Rome during the reign of Queen Mary, (Henry's Catholic daughter) and that Elizabeth (Henry's other daughter) undid Mary's work, reviving Henry's constitutional break with Rome together with the Protestantism of Edward VI. The Church of England, as we know it, therefore, dates back to Elizabeth and ultimately, allowing for the brief Catholic restoration under Mary, to Henry VIII. via Edward VI. There is no uncertainty amongst Catholics about this, and one would have to be singularly obtuse not to be able to grasp the position.
That is the end of the smokescreen. Now for history itself. Bishop Johnson contents himself with quoting one historian's verdict. "Freeman, Regius Professor of History at Oxford," he writes, "states the truth when he says: 'Nothing was further from the mind of either Henry VIII or Elizabeth than that either of them was doing anything new. Neither of them ever thought of establishing a new Church'."
Bishop Johnson has no other reason for saying that Freeman states the truth in that matter than that he would like it to be the truth. But, alas, it was not the truth, as I will soon show.
Firstly, Edward Augustus Freeman was appointed Regius Professor of History at Oxford in 1884. He was undoubtedly an eminent historian - until King Charles' head came into the picture. For he was an ardent Anglican and a close friend of the Anglican Bishop Stubbs, of Oxford. As a result, however reliable he might be in other matters, he was definitely not reliable when Anglicanism was involved. Then he was no longer impartial, and his prejudices coloured his judgement. That is not merely my opinion, held because I would like it to be true. The "Cambridge History of English Literature," Vol. XIV., p. 73, says of him that his "failings were most palpable in controversy, in the conduct of which he lacked a due sense of proportion."
Now let us turn to two utterly detached historians on this particular subject. It must be remembered that, as a prelude to the "Act of Royal Supremacy," Henry had enacted a "Statute of Appeals," in which he sought to justify his actions. Commenting on this subject, in his "History of English Law" (5th Edition, 1931), Sir W. S. Holdsworth, Professor of English Law at Oxford University, says: "The preamble to this Statute of Appeals is remarkable, partly because it manufactures history on an unprecedented scale, but chiefly because it has operated from that day to this as a powerful incentive to its manufacture by others on similar lines. Nor is the reason for this phenomenon difficult to discover. The Tudor settlement was a characteristically skilful instance of the Tudor genius for creating a modern institution with a mediaeval form. But in order to create the illusion that the new Anglican Church was indeed the same institution as the mediaeval Church, it was necessary to prove the historical continuity of these two very different institutions. . . . It was not till an historian arose who, besides being the greatest historian of his century, was both a consummate lawyer and a dissenter from the Anglican as well as from the other Churches (i.e. F. W. Maitland, LL.D., D.C.L., late Downing Professor of Law at Cambridge University) that the historical worthlessness of Henry's theory was finally demonstrated."
What then are we to say to Bishop Johnson's next statement that Henry and Elizabeth were, in their own eyes, "reforming, not pulling down or setting up, but simply putting to rights"?
Firstly, if they were merely "putting to rights," they might have gone about it in the same way, instead of Elizabeth insisting on doctrines for which Henry would have sent people to the stake! But that is a minor point. Was Henry, in his own eyes, not pulling down or setting up? Far from it. He knew quite well that he was pulling down and setting up.
In his book against Martin Luther, "The Defence of the Seven Sacraments," published in 1521 (13 years before his break with Rome), Henry wrote in the second chapter: "Certainly if anyone goes through the history of former times, he will find that, since the conversion of the world, all Christian Churches have been obedient to the See of Rome. We find that even the Greeks, although the seat of Empire was transferred to their midst, in all that pertained to the Primacy in the Church, obeyed the See of Rome - except at those times when they had fallen into schism." Again, in the 12th chapter, he wrote that Martin Luther "makes a distinction between the Church of the Pope and the Church of Christ, although the Pope is the Supreme Pontiff in the same Church of which Christ is the Head." The man who wrote those words knew quite well that when he did the very thing for which he had blamed Martin Luther he, too, was setting up a new and independent Church.
They were only "getting rid of innovations and corruptions," insists Bishop Johnson. But "they" were doing nothing of the kind. I have already pointed out that Henry was so bent on retaining things declared to be "innovations and corruptions" by Edward VI and later by Elizabeth that he had people hanged, drawn and quartered for not accepting them! He wanted to be free from Papal authority, but insisted on other Catholic teachings and practices, such as the Sacrifice of the Mass, the doctrine of transubstantiation, all seven Sacraments, auricular confession, the celibacy of the clergy, prayers to the Virgin Mary and to the Saints, and also for the souls in Purgatory.
Common to both Henry and Elizabeth would be Bishop Johnson's further assertion that "they were casting off a usurped foreign jurisdiction," were it indeed "usurped" and "foreign." It was, however, neither usurped nor foreign.
It was not foreign, for ecclesiastical jurisdiction in the Church, abstracting as the Church does from all national considerations, could in no way be called foreign. The Catholic Church conforms to the teaching of St. Paul in Gal., 3: 28: "For as many as have been baptized in Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither bond nor free; there is neither male nor female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus." >From the religious point of view no member of the Catholic Church is a foreigner to another member; and there can be no question of the spiritual jurisdiction of a "foreigner."
Nor was Papal jurisdiction usurped. When was it usurped? No one can say. In his Penguin Special, "The Gospel for Tomorrow," (1941) the Anglican Bishop of Truro, Dr. J. W. Hunkin, wrote, "Anglicans may maintain that they were only repudiating an authority wrongly acquired by the Pope. But actually the Pope had had this degree of authority conceded to him by Western Christendom, and in this respect Anglicanism was a real break-away from what had become the established order of the Western Churches." Archbishop Garbett, of York, also, speaking of the controversies between the Popes and English kings before the Reformation, wrote in his recent book, "Church and State in England," p. 40, "The true nature of these controversies is often misunderstood . . . as the attempt of an indignant Church and patriotic nation to escape from thraldom to Rome. However much we might wish this had been so, the actual facts give no support to a theory so congenial to later-day Protestantism. . . . Papal authority and jurisdiction were accepted in England as in the rest of Western Christendom."
PETER AND THE PAPACY
In order to try to undermine the right of the Pope to supremacy over the whole Church, Bishop Johnson now feels obliged to go back to the very beginning. "What are we to say," he writes, "about the Roman Catholic claim that Peter was the Rock?" Of all the possible replies to that question, even from his own point of view, I could think of many better ones than those he has chosen!
He says truly that Archbishop Kenrick of St. Louis, U.S.A., had prepared an answer which he purposed to deliver at the Vatican Council in 1870 - a speech which was not delivered, but published at Naples in the same year. Now Archbishop Kenrick was one of those who, before it was defined, was opposed to the dogma of Papal Infallibility. His speech, of course, expressed his opposition to the defining of the dogma; but it was too long for delivery in the Council. It would have taken four hours! When, however, the dogma was defined he at once accepted it; and when, later, he was asked about the arguments in his speech, he said he had sufficiently indicated their lack of worth by his public proclamation of the dogma of Papal Infallibility in his Cathedral as soon as he arrived back in his Archdiocese in America. Of what benefit is it for Bishop Johnson to quote the argument of a man who himself treats it as of no force whatever?
"In it," declares the Bishop, "the Archbishop said that a clause in the Creed of Pope Pius IV. required that Scripture should be interpreted only according to the unanimous consent of the Fathers." But that was one of the major fallacies in the Archbishop's speech. He had quite misunderstood the clause in question.
Had he gone back to the actual Decree of the Council of Trent, on which the Creed of Pope Pius IV. was based, he would have found that the Council forbade anyone to interpret Scripture in a way which would conflict with any meaning for which the unanimous consent of the Fathers existed. There is no need to find the unanimous consent of the Fathers concerning the meaning of every passage in Scripture before one can accept an interpretation of it! There are many passages in Scripture many of the Fathers did not discuss at all. What one must not do is to maintain an interpretation of Scripture against the unanimous consent of the Fathers where such unanimous consent exists. It is really a waste of time, therefore, for Bishop Johnson to quote the words of Archbishop Kenrick which he finds so impressive.
Archbishop Kenrick, he says, "pointed out that five different interpretations were given by the Fathers of the words, 'On this Rock I will build my Church.' Seventeen Fathers taught that Peter was the rock; eight taught that the whole band of the Apostles was the rock; 44 taught that the rock was the faith expressed by St. Peter; 16 taught that Christ was the rock; and there was the interpretation that the rock was the whole body of the faithful."
But here again, Archbishop Kenrick had overlooked the fact that these different interpretations were not mutually exclusive. Fathers who taught that Peter was the rock taught the other interpretations also; and those who taught other interpretations taught also that Peter was the rock. And no Father can be quoted denying that Peter was the rock. In reality, different Fathers stressed different aspects of one and the same truth that Peter was the rock upon which Christ founded His Church. Seventeen Fathers taught that Peter was the rock. Eight, that the Church was founded upon the rock of the Apostles, of whom Peter was the chief. Forty-four said the rock was the faith confessed by St. Peter in the sense that the Church would ever be preserved in the true faith through Peter. Sixteen speak of Christ as the rock, intending that although St. Peter was head of the Church, it could only be as through Christ and subject to Christ. Those who taught that the rock was the whole body of the faithful meant no more than that St. Peter by reason of his supreme pastoral office was representative of the whole Church.
"Archbishop Kenrick," declares Bishop Johnson, "summed the matter up in these words: 'If we are bound to follow the greater number of the Fathers in this matter, then we must hold for certain that the word "Petra" means, not Peter professing the faith, but the faith professed by Peter'." Archbishop Kenrick, however, was obviously illogical in first laying it down that we must interpret Scripture only according to the unanimous interpretation of the Fathers, and then insisting on an interpretation not, on his own showing, in accordance with such a unanimous interpretation. But he was wrong both in his ideas about the authority of the Fathers and also about the meaning of what they wrote. So we can dismiss his views on the subject, even as he himself when he accepted the decision of the Vatican Council repudiated the value of his own arguments.
Meantime, an Anglican scholar of today, Dr. T. G. Jalland, in his book on "The Church and the Papacy," writes as follows: "It may be said, however, that the evidence as to the patristic views has exegetical interest only, since, to quote a modern Protestant writer, it is 'quite certain, and is now generally admitted, that the words, "this rock" refer, not to Christ, nor to Peter's confession of faith, but to Peter himself'." Dr. H. L. Goudge, Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford, also maintains, in the "New Commentary on Holy Scripture," that Peter personally is the rock.
"We need only add," continues Bishop Johnson, as if he has sufficiently proved his previous point, "that the fact that different interpretations of the passage have been held by men of eminence in the Church is sufficient reason for stating that this particular text could never have been regarded as the charter of an important claim." But, as I have already said, the different interpretations of the Fathers were not mutually exclusive, but explanations of the profound significance of St. Peter's position as the rock-foundation of the Christian Church. In any case, this particular text is not regarded as the charter of our important claim. It is but one of many, even though it is an outstanding one. And it retains its force despite Bishop Johnson's superficial remarks concerning it.
"The only thing certain," he urges, "is that the Fathers did not hold, and never expressed the belief that St. Peter was constituted by Our Lord the Rock to the exclusion of the other Apostles." We shall let St. Cyprian answer that. Writing in his "De Catholicae Ecclesiae Unitate," (On the Unity of the Catholic Church) about 251 A.D., St. Cyprian says: "And after His resurrection He said (to Peter), 'Feed my sheep.' Upon one He builds the Church, and entrusts the feeding of the flock to him. And although He gives equal power to all the Apostles, He yet establishes one chair, thus arranging by His own authority the source and test of unity. The others were indeed what Peter was (i.e. Apostles), but the primacy is given to Peter, and we are shown one Church and one chair. . . . He who deserts the chair of Peter, upon whom the Church was founded, does he really imagine that he is still in the Church?"
The usual Anglican reply to these words is that of Archbishop Benson of Canterbury, namely, that they are not authentic, but an interpolation. But the Anglican Dr. Trevor G. Jalland, in "The Church and the Papacy," p. 162, candidly admits that Benson's position must be abandoned, and that Batiffol, Chapman and Bevenot have abundantly proved the words authentic, and not the unscrupulous interpolated forgery Archbishop Benson declared them to be.
"It is interesting to note," writes Bishop Johnson, as a kind of afterthought, "that in the Roman Missal the Collect for the Vigil of SS. Peter and Paul reads: 'Grant, we beseech You, Almighty God, that You would not suffer us, whom You have established on the rock of the Apostolic Confession, to be shaken by any disturbances." But is he really so blind as not to see that if such a prayer is found in the Roman Missal - as it is - it would not be there unless the Catholic Church were fully aware that it in no way conflicts with her teaching on the primacy of St. Peter?
ST. PETER SUPREME HEAD
Bishop Johnson shows even less discernment in the passages of Scripture he quotes against that primacy. When he says that, if we study the New Testament, we find that in St. Matthew 19: 28, our Lord promised His Apostles 12 thrones, one for each, without saying that St. Peter's throne was to be above the others, he adduces a symbolical and eschatological passage which is not concerned with the visible Church in this world, and which has no more to do with the case than the flowers that bloom in the spring! Meantime, if Bishop Johnson would like a little problem upon which to exercise his exegetical prowess, since there were twelve Apostles apart from St. Paul, who was yet undoubtedly an Apostle, which of the 12 thrones is to be his? To solve that problem the Bishop will have to find some interpretation of the twelve symbolical thrones in heaven other than the one he has so superficially adopted.
He next invokes St. Paul's words in Ephesians 2: 20, that "the Church is built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ being the chief Corner-stone." But it is a waste of time to quote passages of Scripture which have no bearing on the topic under discussion. Obviously, from the text itself, that Our Lord was the chief Corner-stone does not exclude the fact that He built His Church on the foundation of the Apostles, and the whole question is whether amongst the Apostles constituting the foundation St. Peter had the primacy. With that matter the text does not deal, and had no intention of dealing. The appeal must be to texts that do deal with a given subject, not to those that do not.
The bland statement is then thrown in that "Neither in the writings of St. Paul, St. John, nor St. James do we find a trace or germ of Papal power." That is not true of St. Paul and St. John; whilst, once more, St. James in his epistle was concerned with other matters which gave no occasion for introducing the topic.
Continuing his series of unsupported denials, Bishop Johnson then says: "St. Luke, the historian of the missionary labours of the Apostles, gives no indication that Our Lord conferred on St. Peter the kind of primacy and supremacy which the Roman Catholic Church claims for him." So he may wish to think. But his fellow Anglican, Dr. Trevor Jalland, in his "Church and Papacy," p. 54, declares that to St. Luke "we owe the unique Dominical 'logion' (saying) in 22: 31, 32 . . . 'Simon, Simon, behold Satan has sought to have you all, that he may sift you [plural] as wheat; but I have prayed for you [singular], that your [singular] faith fail not. And do you [singular], once converted, establish your [singular] brethren'." And Dr. Jalland adds, "If it is not easy to see here the institution of a permanent office, we can scarcely do less than recognize in it a personal commission of leadership and initiative."
On p. 64 of the same book Dr. Jalland writes after completing a close study of the New Testament evidence: "Our survey is now complete. With the evidence before us it is difficult to imagine that there can be any satisfactory final conclusion but one, namely, that the extensive authority assigned by anticipation to St. Peter in the 'Tu es Petrus' ['You are Peter' Mt 16:18] is amply supported. . . . It is Simon the Rock alone whose attitude appears to possess a certain finality, and from whose decision there would seem to lie no appeal."
Bishop Johnson claims to have read Dr. Jalland's book. There is the less excuse for his ignoring of the findings of the latest Anglican scholarship and trying to bluff the simple readers for whom his booklet was intended. And that reproach applies to all who endorsed his arguments throughout.
An appeal is then made to Acts, 8: 14, where, the Bishop tells us, "we are told that the Apostles sent Peter and John. This does not sound as though Peter was the ruler, let alone the Supreme Head and Pope." But it does not sound as if he was not to one who keeps in mind all other information given in the New Testament about St. Peter. For elsewhere the primacy of St. Peter is made clear; and that all the Apostles who happened to be at Jerusalem at the time should agree that Peter himself should go, together with John, to visit Samaria in no way conflicts with that primacy. Dr. Jalland, in the book I have quoted, p. 58, is honest enough to write: "So far as the testimony of the Acts is concerned, it is evident to the most casual reader that in almost half the narrative he (St. Peter) is the most prominent figure. His is the initiative which leads to the election and ordination of Matthias to fill the vacant apostleship; his voice first bears witness to the nature and reality of the new Pentecostal gift; to him is accorded by special revelation the divine purpose that the devout 'God-fearers,' no less than those actually 'within the covenant' should be admitted to share the privileges of the Gospel; by him the freedom is secured which one day his fellow-apostle (St. Paul) will make known throughout the Roman world. These are but a few, yet significant illustrations of the important and outstanding place taken by him in the reconstituted 'ecclesia' of God."
But "in Acts 15: 6-19," urges Bishop Johnson, "we are told that St. James presided at the first Council of the Church. If St. Peter was the Supreme Ruler why did he not preside?" The answer is not far to seek. St. James, as Bishop of Jerusalem, where the Council was held, presided as host to his fellow-apostles. But he did not preside as holding the primacy. Again let me offer Bishop Johnson of Ballarat the benefit of Anglican scholarship as recorded by Dr. Jalland who writes: "James gives his vote at the apostolic council, and as president of the local church records it last; but it is the summing up of a chairman, not the verdict of an arbiter. If anything, the narrative suggests that it was the evidence of Peter which turned the scales of decision in favour of St. Paul." Dr. Jalland also says that earlier, according to the epistle to the Galatians, St. Paul had visited Jerusalem, and did not hesitate to affirm that his chief purpose in doing so was to see St. Peter. "He admits," writes Dr. Jalland, "that he did encounter James 'the Lord's brother' as well, but makes it clear that this meeting was purely accidental. Why was it so important to introduce himself to St. Peter? Can we exclude the possibility that St. Paul had some problem of a pastoral or administrative nature, regarding which he had reason to think that St. Peter's opinion would be not only valuable but decisive?"
Another antiquated objection raised by Bishop Johnson occurs in the words: "St. Mark's Gospel is known by scholars to represent St. Peter's own account of the life and teaching of Christ; yet it contains no mention of the claim that St. Peter was made Supreme Head and first Pope." But does Bishop Johnson deny that all four Gospels are of equal authority? Will he say that what is found in three of them is nullified by omission to speak of it on the part of one of them? St. Mark's omission of the Petrine claims has been explained by some by the humility of St. Peter, who preferred to leave it to others to speak of his high office in the Church. If we do not like that explanation, we can try to think out another. If we cannot think of any other, we can say simply that we do not know. But we are certainly not justified in ignoring positive evidence elsewhere - and still less in regarding omission to speak of something as a denial of it!
Dr. Jalland, in the book quoted above (pp. 53-4), speaking of St. Mark's Gospel says: "In addition to those passages in which St. Peter is mentioned in company with others, though always first in order, in at least half a dozen others he alone is specified by name. In this way the author seems to wish his readers to recognize, either that he acted as leader or spokesman of the rest, or else for some unexplained reason was to be distinguished from them. . . . If we had this Gospel alone . . . it is perhaps not less remarkable that we should also be ignorant of much that might be said in disparagement of his character." That latter fact alone would indicate a very high degree of humility on the part of St. Peter. But Bishop Johnson is not impressed by that.
"Assuming that St. Peter wrote the first epistle that bears his name," he says, "it is strange, even if he were the most modest of men, that St. Peter failed to safeguard his own authority and the organization of the Church by an explicit statement, if he believed in anything like the present Roman Petrine claims." If it is only a matter of assumption for Bishop Johnson whether St. Peter wrote the epistle or not, then it is also a matter of assumption for him as to whether it is evidence of St. Peter's silence or not. And he might just as well not have mentioned the matter. We Catholics, who accept the epistle as St. Peter's, are not worried by the considerations introduced by the Bishop. Conditions when St. Peter wrote it were very different from those now. In these days we may have to stress the primacy of St. Peter against Protestant denials of it by the Witnesses of Jehovah and up through all grades of Protestantism, including the various schools of Anglicanism. But there were no denials of it in apostolic times, and St. Peter had no need whatever to defend his own authority and the organization of the Church by assertions of his office and authority, an office and authority which all admitted.
But did all admit it? Bishop Johnson says that "St. Paul certainly did not regard St. Peter as Supreme Head of the Church when he rebuked him, as we read in verse 11 of Galatians Chapter 2" That threadbare objection, however, is more to be expected from smaller Protestant sects such as the Christadelphians or the Seventh Day Adventists, not from an Anglican Bishop. Let me once more put at Bishop Johnson's disposal the scholarship of his fellow Anglican, Dr. Trevor Jalland. The Bishop, of course, might prefer the views of Dr. Littledale, whose book, "Plain Reasons Against Joining the Church of Rome," in its 1924 edition, he recommends to his readers. But he omits to mention that Dr. Littledale's book was written over 70 years ago , and that the reprinting of it was for those Protestants whose thinking has never got past 1880; just as Maria Monk's grotesque exposure of Convent Life is still being reprinted for those whose minds have not got past 1850. Dr. Jalland gives us the present position of Anglican scholarship, with the accumulated results of the 70 years of study and research since Dr. Littledale's polemical outbursts.
What, then, does Dr. Jalland say of St. Paul's rebuking of St. Peter, as recorded in Galatians Chapter 2?
I have already mentioned Dr. Jalland's use of that very epistle to the Galatians in order to show that St. Paul's account in it of his visit to Jerusalem to see Peter indicates the importance of St. Peter and suggests the need of getting a decision from him. And in the account of St. Paul's rebuking Peter he finds another tribute to St. Peter's primacy, not a denial of it as Bishop Johnson imagines!
Here are Dr. Jalland's words: "It is sometimes argued that . . . St. Paul's confessedly critical attitude towards his fellow-apostle is utterly inconsistent with any belief in a peculiar prerogative enjoyed by his colleague in virtue of a Dominical Commission. But can we explain why St. Paul makes so much of Petrine inconsistency and only notices in passing the same defect in Barnabas? . . . We may admit that St. Peter was inconsistent, and may even grant that the Pauline protest was justified. . . . Yet St. Paul must have had a reason for so emphasizing the seriousness of his co-apostle's action. We can only infer that a decision made by St. Peter . . . was liable to be accepted as the norm. . . . Only so does the real implication of the Pauline protest become clear." "The Church and the Papacy," p. 60.
I might add that the matter concerned was one, not of doctrine, but of discipline. St. Peter had refused to eat with the Gentiles, on the ground that Jewish converts might not like his doing so. St. Paul thought it better to make Jewish converts realize that the Gospel was just as much for the Gentiles as for them.
The point of all this, however, is that Dr. Jalland would tell Bishop Johnson, his fellow Anglican, that the significance of this incident is the very opposite of that imagined by him; and that it tells in favour of, and not against the primacy of St. Peter!
Bishop Johnson concludes his appeal to Scripture by saying: "So it can be stated emphatically that in the New Testament there is no idea of the Roman Catholic claim of Supreme Headship or Infallibility." To which I can but reply that it can be, for anything can be stated emphatically. But it cannot be stated truly. A proposition is of value, not by the fact that it is stated emphatically or even repeatedly, but by its having had good reasons advanced on its behalf. Those Bishop Johnson does not produce. But he is not disheartened.
"Furthermore," he says, "the claims which the Roman Catholic Church makes for the Papacy are contrary to the teaching of the Fathers . . . and the decisions of the Councils of the first four centuries." But that also does not happen to be true. He can produce no quotations from the Fathers and no decisions of any of the Councils of the first centuries denying Papal Supremacy.
At most, Protestant opponents of the Catholic Church can point to a fact which everyone should expect; namely, that the evolution of the formularies of the Church had not reached within the first four centuries that degree of clarity and precision which they were to attain in later centuries. After all, it was only in the 4th century that the Church really "got going," when freedom to develop according to its own innate principles was granted by Constantine's putting an end at last to the three centuries of pagan persecutions. And it is absurd to imagine that the development of the Church was legitimate for the first four centuries, but not after that.
Meantime, the innate principles which found a later and more developed expression in the Church are evident enough from the writings of the earliest Fathers, St. Clement of Rome (96 A.D.); St. Ignatius of Antioch (107 A.D.); St. Irenaeus (202 A.D.); and St. Cyprian, quoted earlier in this book, (250 A.D.). In 314 A.D. the Council of Arles in France sent the account of its deliberations to Pope Sylvester with the words: "To the most beloved Pope Sylvester. Being united by the common bond of charity, and by that unity which is the bond of our Mother, the Catholic Church . . . we salute you with the reverence which is your due, most glorious Pope." In 325 A.D. two Legates were sent by the same Pope Sylvester to the Council of Nicea, who, with Hosius, Bishop of Cordova, had precedence amongst all the Bishops there.
"These Councils," declares Bishop Johnson, "(recognized) the high position which the Bishop of Rome occupied in the Church on account of the importance of the city of Rome." It is a pity, but that just will not do. Ecclesiastically Rome derived its importance from the primacy of St. Peter who died there. And the high position of the successor of St. Peter in the bishopric of Rome was acknowledged throughout the whole Church both Eastern and Western. This cannot be explained by the political importance of Rome, or when in the fourth century the seat of Empire was transferred to Constantinople the primacy would have been regarded as belonging to the Bishop of that city and no longer to the Bishop of Rome.
But such was not the case. The primacy remained with the Bishop of Rome. Dr. Jalland, in his "The Origin and Evolution of the Christian Church" (1948) p. 178, writes: "However much the See of Rome may have owed to the secular prestige of the city in which it was located, there is all but universal testimony in the Church of the pre-Nicene age that ultimately its 'potior principalitas' ('Greater Authority.' Dr. Jalland translates it as 'Superior Origin.' Dr. B. J. Kidd, also Anglican, as 'Leading Position') depended on the tradition, if not the fact, that its 'ecclesia' (Church) had been 'founded and erected' by none other than the two apostolic princes, Peter and Paul, and that it perpetuated their 'paradosis' (Apostolic Teaching). Amid all the changes which the fourth and succeeding centuries were to bring, the conviction that the See of Rome was 'par excellence' the Apostolic See remained the fundamental basis of its pre-eminent status."
"They accorded to the Bishop of Rome a pre-eminence of honour," explains Bishop Johnson, "but not of power or of jurisdiction." Here, once more, I must refer him to Dr. Jalland's book, "The Church and the Papacy." On p. 22 of that book this Anglican scholar says that the evidence shows "that the Roman See was recognized by other Churches as possessing from very early times, if not in fact from the beginning, an undoubted primacy in the sphere of doctrine, at least in the sense of a right to be heard in preference to others. . . . Equally, as we venture to believe, it will emerge that the primacy of jurisdiction . . . if not traceable so far back as the doctrinal primacy, is at least contemporary in respect of its development with the evolution of episcopal jurisdiction." As all the Bishops who attended the Councils were well aware of their episcopal jurisdiction, the evidence gathered by Dr. Jalland is more than enough to prove that the Councils accorded primacy of jurisdiction to the Bishop of Rome.
Dismissing for the moment all intervening centuries, Bishop Johnson next says: "The modern claims for the Papacy were forced through in spite of the strenuous opposition of learned theologians of the Roman Catholic Church." We should be grateful for the admission that at least those learned theologians had the opportunity of stating their opinions and doing so strenuously. But there were, of course, other theologians, not less learned, who disagreed with them.
Nothing is to be gained, however, by dwelling on the merely human element where the Councils are concerned, save perhaps from the purely historical as detached from the religious point of view. Anglicans may say with Archbishop William Temple of Canterbury, "I believe in the Holy Catholic Church and regret that it doesn't exist." But we Catholics believe in the Holy Catholic Church and know that it does exist; and that it depends for its inerrancy in vital matters upon the guidance and protection of the Holy Spirit. All who have the Catholic Faith know that the teaching authority of the Catholic Church is ultimately safeguarded by the divine element from any difficulties arising from the human element. If one lacks the Faith, and takes natural views of the Church only, ignoring spiritual and supernatural considerations, then he will concentrate on human factors only and condemn himself to an inevitable misunderstanding of the true nature of the Catholic Church as Christ intended it to be.
"So it was," writes Bishop Johnson, "that the eminent Roman Catholic historian, Lord Acton, was compelled to complain that the Roman Catholic Church was placed at a hopeless disadvantage in every reasoned discussion." Lord Acton, of course, was not "compelled" to make such a complaint, though it was quite in keeping with his character that he should choose to do so. Not that he ever wavered for a moment in his belief in the Catholic Church. But he had been far too greatly swayed by his studies in the German Universities.
Herbert Butterfield, a Methodist and Professor of modern history at Cambridge, in his book, "Christianity and History" (1950) says, on p. 9, "It was often noted in the earlier decades of the present century how greatly it had become the habit of Protestants to hold some German scholar up their sleeves - a different one every few years but always preferably the latest one - and at appropriate moments strike the unwary Philistine on the head with this secret weapon, the German scholar having decided in a final manner whatever point might have been at issue in a controversy. . . . The tendency was not confined to Protestants, however, for almost a century ago the young Acton was warned not to play this game of waving German professors at his fellow Catholics; though he not only failed to take the advice, but added the weight of his influence to a tendency that was making historical scholarship perhaps over-arrogant and certainly too pontifical." Bishop Johnson is welcome to his "too pontifical Lord Acton." Whether this book shows that a Catholic is placed "at a hopeless disadvantage in every reasoned discussion" must be left to the reader to decide.
From the question of St. Peter's Primacy the Anglican Bishop of Ballarat now turns to that of Papal Infallibility.
To this he begins by objecting that "The Infallibility of the Pope is a new dogma promulgated by the Roman Church." Now it is true that it was not defined until 1870 by the Vatican Council. But it is difficult to see how Bishop Johnson can object to the promulgation of a new dogma then, since he professes to accept the Council of Nicea, of the fourth century, which promulgated the dogma, new as a "dogma" in those times, that Christ is of one substance with the Father. He cannot object on principle to the promulgation of a new dogma. If he objects to the Catholic Church doing in the 19th century what it did in the 4th it can only be because the Church to which he belongs is not the Catholic Church. But let us take the grounds he himself offers for his objection.
"The more one gets to know about the Decree of Infallibility, and how it was arrived at," he writes, "the more unsatisfactory it seems from the point of view of Christian standards." Yet if he would study up the full history of the Council of Nicea, which he says he accepts, he would logically have to reject that on the tests he applies to the Vatican Council! Speaking of the latter, he says that "It is significant that 88 Bishops voted against the decree of Infallibility at the General Congregation on July 13, 1870." But the only significance in that is that those who wanted to vote against the proposal were quite free to do so. Of the votes cast, 451 were in favour of the doctrine being defined, 88 against it, and 62 for it provided some amendments were adopted. That "in addition, about 70 were absent on the day and gave no vote, whilst others had returned to their dioceses on account of illness" would not have affected the result, as there would still have been a majority for it had all been present.
"July 18th," writes Bishop Johnson, "was fixed as the date for the final public session when the definition was to be solemnly passed in the presence of the Pope. It is estimated that about 250 seats were vacant." True. But nothing is gained by such an observation.
Since the decision of promulgating the Definition had been made on July 13th, there was no need for those to remain for the formal ceremony who did not wish to do so. On the day itself, when the members of the Council who were present were asked to give a formal renewal of their approval, 533 did so, whilst two declared that they still did not approve. But as soon as the definition of Papal Infallibility had been pronounced all present, including the two who had voted against it, declared their whole-hearted acceptance of the Dogma as part of the Christian Faith. And the Bishops who were not present equally accepted it. They had the Catholic Faith which the Anglican Bishop of Ballarat lacks. They knew that if the Dogma was actually defined, the promised protection of the Church by the Holy Spirit would have been operative to preserve the Church from error. All the reasons for and against the definition urged in advance were but a human element which could not provide one way or the other a motive for faith. The acceptance of the Dogma by faith was an act of faith, not in merely human reasoning, but in the promise of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. As the Council of Jerusalem had said: "It has seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us," so could the Vatican Council.
If a man has not the Catholic Faith, he can but view things as an outsider and must be content not to understand. On the other hand, take the case of Bishop Las Casas, of Hippo. He had voted against the definition on July 13th. He absented himself from the session of July 18th, when the Dogma was defined. But he accepted with profound humility and faith the moment it was defined. And in his will he left instructions that if any sermon was preached at his funeral rites, the preacher was not to say that he was against the definition merely as "inopportune." The preacher was to say that he was against the doctrine being defined at all. And he added these magnificent words: "I remained fixed in my opinions so long as the Council had not pronounced. But once the definition was made, God gave me the grace to be able to say with entire truth, in the fulness and tranquillity of faith, 'I believe today in the Infallibility as thoroughly as I disbelieved in it yesterday'." In other words, his faith was not in himself, but in the Catholic Church, as he had ever professed in the Apostles' Creed. And once the Dogma was proclaimed, he knew he had to choose between declaring the Catholic Church wrong and admitting that his own previous opinion was wrong. He knew that his faith in Christ and in the guidance of the Church by the Holy Spirit left but one decision possible. The Catholic Church was right. It was he who had been mistaken.
"Cardinal Newman," declares Bishop Johnson, "was very disturbed by the whole happening." He was. Not that he objected to the doctrine of Papal Infallibility. He made it clear that he had always believed in that from the day he had become a Catholic. But he thought it inopportune that it should be defined as a Dogma at that stage. He felt that such a definition would be premature, and that insufficient time had been allowed for the deliberations of theologians. He thought that the exact and precise formulation of the terms of the definition might suffer from this. And owing to the very importance of the matter he was deeply concerned about it, and hoped, and said so openly as he was free to do, that the definition would not be made. Naturally, in his state of anxiety, he was a prey to many unjustified fears. But when the definition had been given he accepted it at once and expressed his relief by saying that no more was defined than he had ever believed and held. One who wishes to argue against the truth of the Dogma of Papal Infallibility will find nothing in Cardinal Newman's attitude to assist him.
Bishop Johnson then urges that, in a letter quoted on p. 309 of Wilfred Ward's "Life," Newman writes: "I am told that some wicked men, not content with their hitherto cruel conduct, are trying to bring in the doctrine of inherent infallibility. . . . Perhaps they would like to go on to call him (the Pope) a Vice-God, as some actually did, or sole God to us." Here it is impossible not to accuse Bishop Johnson of two suppressions, one of which could possibly be accidental, but the other of which is simply dishonest.
Cardinal Newman's letter was written on August 8th, after the definition had been promulgated on July 18th. In that same letter he had earlier written that he had "ever believed as much as the definition says." It was in a postscript to the letter that he wrote: "I am told that some wicked men, not content with their hitherto cruel conduct, are trying to bring in the doctrine of inherent infallibility, of which there is not a hint in the definition." Why did Bishop Johnson deliberately omit those last words? Because then it would not look like an objection on the part of Cardinal Newman to the defined Dogma.
In reality, he was objecting, not to the definition, but to those, of whom he had vaguely heard, who wished to go beyond what the definition declared and make the Pope inherently infallible; that is, not only at the actual moment of defining a dogma, but habitually. And far from suggesting that such an exaggeration is in keeping with Catholic doctrine, he branded it as just the opposite.
As for Bishop Johnson's quotation, "Perhaps they would like to go on to call him (the Pope) a Vice-God, as some actually did," Cardinal Newman wrote "as some one actually did." Obviously he is speaking of that one - whom he does not identify - as an isolated crank who was not representative of Catholicism but whom the wicked men he has already condemned might be tempted to imitate.
The Cardinal's words have absolutely no bearing on the doctrine of Papal Infallibility, but only on the possible behaviour of certain individuals against the mind of the Church. Yet by judicious suppression of very vital words Bishop Johnson clearly hopes his readers will take this passage from Cardinal Newman as Cardinal Newman never intended it to be taken; namely, as an argument against the Dogma of Papal Infallibility as defined by the Vatican Council. It would appear that Bishop Johnson and all the Bishops, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, who endorsed all that he said, believe after all that the "end justifies the means."
One does not expect in these days to hear the word heading this section of his booklet from the lips of a Bishop of the Church of England. In Anglican circles generally the expression has long since fallen into disuse. Even in the book "Ways of Worship" prepared by a Protestant Theological Commission for preliminary study by all members of the World Council of non-Catholic Churches at Lund, a special chapter was devoted to "Mariology," or the "Theology about Mary." The expression "Mariolatry," suggesting the idolatry of Mary, was carefully avoided. But apparently Bishop Johnson could not bring himself to be so gracious, and lapsed into the language of what Dr. Nathanael Micklem, the Congregationalist, described in a letter to me as "the Protestant Underworld."
He begins the section by saying that "the doctrine of infallibility has been used to bring forward new doctrines concerning the Blessed Virgin Mary." He conjures up the vision of the Pope sitting back and saying, "Well, now. In 1870 the Pope was defined to be infallible, so I think I will define something about the Blessed Virgin Mary!" But the difficulty with that picture is that in 1854 Pope Pius IX. defined the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception without having any defined Dogma of his own Infallibility to use for that purpose. "In 1950," writes Bishop Johnson, "the Pope proclaimed as a dogma the Bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin." Pope Pius XII did so, and could have done so whether his own Infallibility had previously been defined as an Article of Faith or not - as in the case of Pius IX. For the infallibility of the Pope was the generally accepted doctrine of the Church in any case.
"Devout and learned Catholics resisted," continues the Bishop, "but their resistance was of no avail." One wonders what he is trying to prove! All Catholics already believed in the Bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as did, and do, the Greek Orthodox Churches. When it was suggested that the Pope should define the doctrine as a dogma or article of faith, there were some devout and learned Catholic theologians who thought things should be left as they were, without any formal definition being pronounced. But they were the few - the very few. The vast majority of Catholic theologians and of the Catholic Bishops throughout the world, not less devout and not less learned than the disapproving minority, urged the definition. Bishop Johnson has no grounds for thinking only those devout and learned whom he can quote as preferring that the doctrine - in which they firmly believed, as he does not - should not actually be defined. Nor is he justified in describing their expression of opinion as resistance, for they were quite prepared to accept the definition should the Pope decide upon it; and once the dogma had been defined, did accept it. But an Anglican who belongs to a Church which can define nothing, and has reconciled itself to tolerating all degrees of belief' and unbelief, has little hope of understanding the Catholic point of view.
"Now any Roman Catholic who entertains even an interior doubt on this matter," complains this Anglican Bishop, "knows that he will be held to bring his soul into peril." Would he, had he been at the Council of Nicea, have opposed the condemnation of the Arians, pleading tearfully, "Now anyone who entertains even an interior doubt about the Divinity of Christ knows that he will be held to bring his soul into peril?" As Catholics knew then where they stood as regards the substantial participation in the Divine Nature on the part of Christ, so they know now where they stand as to whether the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is actually an Article of the Christian Faith or a pious opinion of secondary importance even though universally believed by Catholics throughout the world. Meantime, since Bishop Johnson is not a Catholic, it doesn't affect him - unless he is worried lest the definition should dissuade prospective converts from becoming Catholics!
"Cardinal Newman was aware of this kind of danger," he says, proceeding to quote the Cardinal as anticipating another kind of danger altogether, having nothing whatever to do with the question of the Dogma of the Assumption. "He (Cardinal Newman) wrote in the letter already quoted: 'I heard lately of someone (English or Irish) who said that we ought not to pray to God at all, but only to the Blessed Virgin. God preserve us if we have such madmen among us, with their lighted brands'."
Cardinal Newman prefaced that statement with the words: "Unless my informant was mad." He would not guarantee that his informant was even sane. And what he had heard was of "some one" - an erratic individual once more whose extravagance was not in keeping with Catholic teaching. And he practically says that if his informant was not mad, then people who speak in such a way are mad and likely to do harm by giving an utterly wrong impression of the Catholic religion. But that has nothing whatever in common with the definition of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven. For the rest, readers of Bishop Johnson's booklet can console themselves with Cardinal Newman's assurance that if ever they do become Catholics they will not be expected to adopt such ideas as he declares to be quite un-Catholic and insane.
"What would Cardinal Newman have said," asks Bishop Johnson, "to the news cabled from New York in June, 1952?" The news was that when some stolen treasures were recovered, Monsignor Cioffi announced to his congregation: "The Blessed Mother has heard our prayers. A miracle has happened." Cardinal Newman would have said that there was no reason whatever why Monsignor Cioffi should not have been quite right; and that he was perfectly entitled to hold and express the opinion he did.
The stolen treasures consisted of a golden and jewel-studded crown from the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Church. The people prayed for its return. Those who stole it returned it next day anonymously. Does Bishop Johnson brand the prayers to Mary as "Mariolatry," or the "idolatry of Mary"? If so, he would find many in his own Anglican Church who differ from him. Does he blame Monsignor Cioffi for declaring the return of the crown within 24 hours a remarkable and extraordinary event beyond any merely natural expectations? If so, no common-sensed person would agree with him. Certainly one thing Cardinal Newman would not have said, namely, that the incident in any way constituted an argument against the truth of the Catholic Church.
And since Bishop Johnson attaches so much weight to Cardinal Newman's opinion, would it not be better for him to ask what Cardinal Newman would have said about Bishop Johnson's own Anglican position? When the "Globe" newspaper in England published rumours that Newman was disillusioned by Catholicism and was likely to return to Anglicanism, he at once wrote to that paper: "I have not had one moment's wavering of trust in the Catholic Church ever since I was received into her fold. I have no intention, and never have had any intention, of leaving the Catholic Church and becoming a Protestant again. . . . Return to the Church of England! No. I should be a consummate fool (to use a mild term) if in my old age I left 'the land flowing with milk and honey' for 'the city of confusion and the house of bondage'." In a letter to a friend he said that he hoped his denial had settled all such rumours once and for all.
"This is in keeping," continues Bishop Johnson, "with the teaching of Liguori's 'Glories of Mary,' a book that was formally recommended by Cardinals Wiseman and Manning. This book teaches: 'The salvation of all depends on their being favoured and protected by Mary'."
Now that is quite sound Catholic doctrine. It is common alike to the Catholic Church and the Greek Orthodox Churches. All who are saved, whether they realize it or not in this life, will know in heaven that they owe their salvation not only to the redemptive work of Christ, but also to the favour and protection of Mary, ever associated with that work. The Rev. T. M. Parker, an Anglican, insists upon this in the book "Ways of Worship," prepared for the Lund Conference of non-Catholic Churches on Faith and Order. "The chief difficulty felt by any Protestant about both Orthodox and Catholic veneration for Our Lady," he writes, "is that it seems to him a kind of excrescence upon Christian faith and Christian prayer. How should we answer him? Surely by calling his attention to the place of Mary in the economy of redemption. The Blessed Virgin is not an extraneous figure in the story of human salvation, but a chief actress in the drama, who plays a key part." And he adds: "A form of prayer which does not mention her is to some degree incomplete. Not only does it make men think of God apart from the Incarnation and Body of Christ; it also runs the risk that when we do turn to Mary we shall forget her relationship to God. Never to think of God without Mary, and never of Mary without God, is a safe rule." I commend to Bishop Johnson these words of his fellow Anglican, the Rev. T. M. Parker, of Pusey House, Oxford.
But there is worse to come. "Often," the Bishop quotes from St. Alphonsus Liguori's book, "we shall be heard more quickly if we have recourse to Mary and call upon her name, than we should be if we called upon the name of Jesus our Saviour."
At least St. Liguori admits, that whatever Mary's influence, it is Jesus Himself Who is our Saviour. But let us take the Saint's words as given by Bishop Johnson. There is nothing wrong with them. For it is not a question of preferring Mary to Our Lord, but of preferring Our Lord's way of granting certain graces and blessings to our own way of wanting them. As that may need explaining, consider this. If Our Lord wills to honour His Mother by granting special favours to those who have recourse to her, then recourse to her in prayer is the surest way of getting them. To disprove that, Bishop Johnson must disprove that Our Lord ever wills to honour His Mother in such a way. He will not succeed in doing so if he spends the rest of his life at it.
Then, too, we must consider the relative values of our prayers to Our Lord, and her prayers to Him. If we appeal to her intercession and she prays for us, her prayers will carry more weight with Him than our own. St. James tells us: "Pray for one another that you may be saved. For the continual prayer of a just man avails much." (James 5: 16). Who will deny that the prayers of the Mother of Christ must be of great avail? To quote once more Bishop Johnson's fellow Anglican, the Rev. T. M. Parker, of Pusey House, Oxford, we find him writing: "The man who takes no notice of Mary and the whole company of heaven in his prayers will be in danger of a wrong approach to God upon whom he desires to concentrate . . . his whole vision of God will be to some degree defective, as if he were spiritually colour-blind. . . . We Anglicans . . . have suffered much from just such a deprivation." "Ways of Worship," p. 287.
"The Blessed Virgin," writes Bishop Johnson, "is rightly honoured above all women." She is. Though she is not honoured rightly by the vast majority of Anglicans. "But the Roman Catholic Church," hastily adds the Bishop, "has permitted practices and promulgated dogmas concerning the Blessed Virgin Mary that have no warrant in the New Testament and were unknown to the early Church." Statement for statement, that is not true. For the rest, there is most certainly no warrant in the New Testament for the Church of England to which Bishop Johnson belongs; and it was quite unknown to the early Church, dating as it does from the 16th century only.
THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION
Having, as he believes, refuted Catholic objections against the claims of the Church of England, and undermined any appeal the Catholic Church might ever have had for his readers, Bishop Johnson proceeds to set out what his own Anglican Church has to offer them. But again it is chiefly a list of protests against Rome.
He begins by declaring: "The Anglican Communion takes her stand with the early Church which, as we are told in Acts 2: 42, continued steadfastly in (1) the Apostles' Doctrine (later expressed in the creeds); (2) the Apostles' fellowship (continued in the Episcopal Ministry); (3) the Breaking of Bread and Prayers (sacraments and public worship); and, as we have seen, she had made (4) the Bible the court of reference both for the Church's theology and also for its practical life in keeping with the tradition of the Church in the first five centuries. These four principles constitute what is known as the Lambeth Quadrilateral."
Now, in the first place, it is not right to say that the Anglican Communion takes "her" stand on these four principles; for the Anglican is not one Church. Bishop Johnson should have said: "The different Churches claiming to belong to the Anglican Communion take 'their' stand, etc." Yet even then he would be wrong, for they don't take a stand. On every one of the points mentioned there is the utmost diversity of belief among Anglicans. And as nothing emanating from the Lambeth Conference claims to be authoritative, no Anglican is obliged to believe the so-called "Quadrilateral" statement to be final - even should he know of its existence. It is an inadequate, ambiguous and in part inaccurate statement of basic Christian principles in any case.
"The Roman Church claims," writes the Bishop, "that by refusing to acknowledge the supremacy of the Pope the Anglican Church has cut itself off from the Catholic Church. The English Church at the Reformation claimed to reform herself, and there is no Catholic principle which forbade her to do it. In so doing she did not withdraw herself from the Catholic Faith or the Catholic Church; indeed she professed her intention of remaining within the Catholic Church, true to the Apostolic Faith as contained in the Creeds of the Catholic Church."
Had it been merely a question of a reform in morals, a change from laxity to fidelity and fervour in the Christian lives of Bishops, priests and people, no Catholic principle would have forbidden it. But the setting up of a constitutionally different Church by Henry VIII, with himself as its head, and the changes in doctrine and worship under Edward VI and Elizabeth, are quite a different matter. Those changes meant, not the reform of the existent Catholic Church in England, but the substitution of a new, schismatic and Protestant Church in its place.
As for the assertion that the new Anglican Church did not "withdraw herself from the Catholic Faith or the Catholic Church," those are mere words divorced from reality, words with which Anglicans seek more and more to beguile themselves. In his autobiography, Vol. II, p. 135, Bishop Hensley Henson, of Durham, wrote: "Can the Church of England really do what unquestionably many of its Bishops and Clergy are now insisting that it ought to do, namely, repudiate the Reformation? Nevertheless, in spite of this dramatic change on the part of the Anglican clergy, the facts of history remain, and fix forever the character of the Church of England as one of the Reformed or Protestant Churches." So spoke the Anglican Bishop of Durham in 1924.
Undismayed, however, Bishop Johnson says: "What the English Church did at the Reformation was not to separate from the Church Catholic, but to renounce the Roman errors and to repudiate Roman domination." Yet what is the truth? In accordance with the new line mentioned by Bishop Hensley Henson, modern Anglicans are trying to get back as fast as they can most of the doctrines they repudiated at the time of the Protestant Reformation, declaring them to have been wrongly thrown away. But even if they get them back, that will not make them Catholics. For always the repudiation of Papal Supremacy remains. If that does not separate them from the Catholic Church, how is it that all Catholics elsewhere, in Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Ireland and throughout the world refuse to recognize Anglicans as their fellow-Catholics; though no such attitude towards Englishmen existed before the Protestant Reformation? It is no use saying that you belong to a family if all others in that family positively refuse to admit that you do!
"As Bishop Gore said," adds the Bishop of Ballarat, "the Eastern Church is like a vast breakwater, meeting and throwing back the Roman claim long before it reaches us." But Bishop Gore, when he said that, spoke very foolishly. For the Greek Church lapsed into schism in 1054 A.D. Long before that the Roman claim to supremacy was fully acknowledged in England, even as it had been hitherto acknowledged by the Eastern Church. That is evident from the fact that, in 668 A.D., Pope Vitalian appointed as Archbishop of Canterbury the Greek monk Theodore, a member of the Order of St. Basil. The Pope personally consecrated Theodore in Rome, and after his arrival in Canterbury sent him the following document: "It has seemed good to Us to exhort you and on this present occasion to commend to your wisdom and piety all the churches on the island of Britain. Hence, whatever privileges and ordinances have been established and ratified by Our predecessor St. Gregory in favour of his legate Augustine . . . We grant to you forever." After those words, written by Pope Vitalian in 669 A.D. to the Greek Theodore whom he had appointed to be Archbishop of Canterbury over all the churches in England, it is absurd to say that the Greek Schism of 1054 met and threw back the Roman claim to supremacy long before it reached England!
Bishop Johnson then assures us that "the English Church recognizes the value of Cyprian's principles, which gave to each Bishop a large measure of independence." If, of course, there be any English Church it cannot be the Catholic Church, or even part of it, as the Bishop likes to maintain. The Catholic Church is one and the same Church throughout the world. It may exist in different countries, in Italy, in Spain, in France, in America, in Canada, in Australia, in England. But it abstracts from nationality. The mere fact that Bishop Johnson thinks of his Church as English brands it as a limited national institution, and not Catholic.
As for St. Cyprian, whatever the measure of independence he maintained for individual Bishops, it was never to the exclusion of dependence upon the Papacy. He insisted upon communion with the Pope as successor of St. Peter to whom was given the Primacy as a condition of membership of the Catholic Church. St. Cyprian, it is true, writing as he was in the middle of the 3rd century, had not the benefits of later clarifications through centuries of study of the principles he upheld. But Mosheim, the Protestant historian, says that they must be blind who do not see that St. Cyprian's teachings must issue in the modern Catholic system. (De Gall. Appel. ad Conc. Univ. Section 13).
Bishop Johnson tells us that the English Church "is content to receive with thankfulness and reverence the determinations of General Councils." Yet if we look up the Book of Common Prayer to which he refers us as an authentic source of Anglican doctrine we find ourselves expressly warned that General Councils may err, and have in fact fallen into errors. But worse still, the Bishop says: "Let it be remembered that the reforming Councils of Constance and Basle (A.D. 1415 and 1432) asserted in the strongest language the subordination of the Pope to General Councils. But in the Roman Church the Pope has asserted himself over Councils. Thus the imperialistic ambitions of Rome have triumphed."
Since the Church of England repudiates all General Councils beyond those of the first five centuries, it forfeits the right to quote the authority of any later Councils! As for the Councils of Constance and Basle, they certainly lacked authority in all those decisions which were not truly Conciliar but Gallican and National, and which did not succeed in gaining explicit Papal approval. In speaking of Rome's "imperialistic ambitions," Bishop Johnson is thinking, of course, not in ecclesiastical but in national terms from which members of a national and racial Church can hardly expect to escape.
"The Roman Church, as we have seen," he continues, "makes much of the theory of development." Better say that it makes much of the principle of development. Speaking of His Church, Our Lord said that it was like a grain of mustard seed, which indeed is the least of all seeds, but which when it is grown up, is greater than all herbs and becomes a tree. (Matt. 13: 31). A tree develops a host of apparent differences from a seed, though all the differences were embodied in principle in the seed.
"But the Papal claim," objects the Bishop, "is not a development of the original idea of the Episcopate so much as a reversal of it." Bishop Johnson's fellow-Protestants, the Nonconformists, will tell him that there was no original idea of any Episcopate. When he has finished justifying the necessity of an Episcopate against them, it will be time enough for him to discuss his differences from the Catholic Church as to how the original idea of the Episcopate should have developed. Also it might be well for him first to get his fellow-Anglicans to agree with him as to the nature of the Episcopate.
"The original idea of the Episcopate which the English Church has preserved," he then complacently observes, "secures for the Church a duly representative government and provides, by the confederation of relatively independent Churches, a system of checks upon one-sided local tendencies." Unfortunately for him, a confederation of, not relatively but absolutely independent Churches as far as any single unifying authority is concerned, does not constitute a Church anything like the Church as it is put before us in the New Testament.
In his book, "The Church of England and Reunion," the Rev. Dr. H. L. Goudge writes (p. 168): "In the New Testament believers in Christ not members of the one visible Apostolic Church are nowhere to be found. We hear, indeed, of 'the Churches' as well as of the Church, but these Churches are very different from 'the Churches' of which we hear today. The Churches of Galatia or of Macedonia are the Christian communities, all alike under St. Paul's authority, in the Galatian and Macedonian cities. . . . The relation of the Churches to the Church is like the relation of our local post-offices to the G.P.O. in London. There is only one Post Office, private enterprise not being here permitted. But the G.P.O. has its local representatives in the towns and villages, and in dealing with them we are dealing with the Department itself. Everywhere in the New Testament the Church is one, and only one."
That description fits perfectly the one Catholic Church throughout the world and subject to the authority of the Bishop of Rome as the successor of St. Peter; but it cannot be reconciled with an association of independent self-governing Churches such as the "Anglican Communion" represents! The truth is that the constitutionally independent Churches calling themselves "Anglican" are no more one Church than the nations associated in the "League of Nations" were one nation. That Dr. Goudge did not see that can have been due only to other prepossessions which prevented his following the truth wherever it might lead.
As for Bishop Johnson's "system of checks upon one-sided local developments, what is that system and where is it to be found? No efficacious system of checks exists in the Anglican Communion of loosely associated and independent Churches. In the Catholic Church there is a universally acknowledged authority; but not in the Anglican Churches.
"The Papacy," declares the Bishop, "represents the triumph of imperial absolutism over constitutional authority, and of centralization over consentient witness and co-operation." Yet quite the opposite is the truth. It represents the preservation of constitutional authority in the Catholic Church as opposed to the triumph of anarchical independence which prevails in the separate Anglican Churches; and it secures the consentient witness and co-operation of all Catholics throughout the world under that one constitutional and unified hierarchical authority. Bishop Johnson may call that "imperial absolutism," but in his own Anglican Communion of independent Churches the outstanding thing is their lack of any one constitutional authority binding them together; their lack of consentient witness, with their different and divergent High, Low and Broad Church presentations of doctrine and worship; and their lack of co-operation save, of course, in denouncing Rome.
HOW DID SCHISM COME?
In answer to that question, the Bishop says: "Rome excommunicated Elizabeth." True. Pope Pius V did so in 1570. As Elizabeth had succeeded to the throne in 1558 at least no one can say that the Pope did not give her time to come to her senses! She had, of course, professed to be a Catholic during the reign of Mary; and when she came to the throne England was a Catholic country, in union with the Pope, like all other Catholic countries.
But instead of remaining a Catholic Elizabeth followed the example of her father Henry VIII, abandoned the Catholic Church, and set herself up as the supreme authority in England, in all things spiritual as well as temporal. The doctrine and worship of the Church of England, however, was to be as it was in the reign of Edward VI, Protestant. As all the Catholic Bishops save one, Kitchin of Llandaff, refused to accept Elizabeth instead of the Pope as head of the Church, she deposed them all except Bishop Kitchin, who thenceforth lapsed into obscurity. Then Elizabeth appointed an entirely new Protestant hierarchy of her own. Informed of this, and of much else, Pope Pius V in the end excommunicated her and forbade Catholics to attend Church of England services. But here comes the strangest of all strange results from looking through the wrong end of the telescope.
"Rome," explains Bishop Johnson, "separated English and Roman Churchmen." The perversity of that statement should surely be evident. Elizabeth had separated England from Rome, following in the footsteps of Henry VIII. As Henry VIII was later excommunicated, so Elizabeth was later excommunicated. English Catholics who remained loyal to their Church were instructed that they could not in conscience attend church services provided by clergy who had abandoned union with Rome for the Elizabethan Establishment. It was Elizabeth, therefore, and all who followed her who separated. themselves from the ancient Church and Faith. Bishop Johnson may say, as he does, that Rome "did not exclude the English Church from the Catholic Church. She had no power to do so," but the simple historical truth is that the English Church, substituted for the Catholic Church in England, excluded itself from the Catholic Church.
But now comes the conclusion for which the Bishop has been preparing the way. He says that Rome "created a schism in the Church, leaving both separated parties within the Communion of the Church Catholic." That's an impossibility, of course. There can be no schisms in the Church Catholic, but only schisms from the Church Catholic. Schism means separation together with a proclamation of independence. The Elizabethan Church separated from the Papal Church and proclaimed its independence. By that it became a schismatic Church, no longer one with or a part of the Church it had abandoned. If the Church of England is the Catholic Church, then the Roman Church is not. If the Roman Church is the Catholic Church, then the Church of England is not. But both cannot be it between them.
"The guilt of the schism," declares Bishop Johnson, "lies with the Roman Church." Which is rather an unusual line for an Anglican Bishop to take. Most Anglican writers on the subject today begin by beating their own breasts, humbly acknowledging the guilt of the Church of England, and then asking the Catholic Church also to do penance in dust and ashes. The Lambeth Conference, in its Appeal to All Christian People in 1920, stated: "The causes of division lie deep in the past, and are by no means simple or wholly blameworthy. . . . We acknowledge this condition of broken fellowship to be contrary to God's Will, and we desire frankly to confess our share in the guilt of thus crippling the Body of Christ and hindering the activity of His Spirit." But Bishop Johnson cannot apparently bring himself to agree with that. "The guilt of the schism," he says, "lies with the Roman Church"; to which all the Bishops, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, who endorsed his booklet, say, "Hear, Hear!" Did the Lambeth Conference of 1920 really mean what it said, or not?
"Professor Salmon, in his famous book, 'The Infallibility of the Church,' reminds us in the Preface," we are told, "that Bishop Firmilian, a great Bishop of the Eastern Church, had cause long ages ago to say to the Bishop of Rome: 'How great is the sin of which you have incurred the guilt in cutting yourself off from so many Christian flocks. . . . While you think that you can cut off all from your communion, it is yourself whom you cut off from communion with all'." Now that does not help Bishop Johnson's case a bit. For according to him, when Pope Pius V excommunicated Elizabeth, both remained within the Communion of the Catholic Church. Neither party, according to him, was "cut off."
But letting that go, in the point at issue between Bishop Firmilian and Pope Stephen (254-257), namely, whether baptism administered by heretics was valid or not, the Pope was right in saying yes, Firmilian was wrong in saying no. Nothing in the latter's letter can be construed as a denial of the Pope's supremacy. It was a hasty, impulsive and ill-considered complaint about the way in which Pope Stephen was exercising that supremacy. And eventually the decision of Pope Stephen was accepted throughout the whole Church, even in those localities which had formerly been opposed to the practice he insisted upon.
Professor Salmon's authority on this matter is not of much weight today. He wrote his book about 1870, and there has been much progress in historical study since then. Dr. T. G. Jalland, in his book, "The Church and the Papacy," (1944) is not nearly so impressed by the incident as was Bishop Johnson's authority. He says that "it must surely be admitted that for arrogance and self-righteousness Firmilian was 'facile princeps' (i.e. unsurpassed). And he declares that Firmilian's letter, "in spite of its outspoken criticism . . . at times bordering on invective . . . bears a certain unwilling testimony to the prestige of the Papacy in his time."
Apparently Bishop Johnson feels the need of giving us something more up to date, so he next says: "On the breach between the Anglican Communion and the Roman Communion the following statement was issued in 1948, in the diocese of Christchurch, New Zealand." But as no particular importance attaches to a statement issued by Anglicans in New Zealand, we can let that aspect go, and discuss the statement on its own merits.
"The Church of Rome," it begins, "broke with us at the Reformation." Bishop Johnson himself has already said that. It is a wonder that grown men, who must surely be credited with at least an elementary knowledge of history, can think, let alone say such a thing. Take the sequence of events once more. Henry VIII broke with Rome in 1534 when he declared Papal jurisdiction over the Church in England abolished and substituted his own. Twenty years later, in 1554, Mary Tudor (Henry's Catholic daughter) restored the Church in England to union with Rome, repealing Henry's law and officially acknowledging Papal supremacy. Five years later, in 1559, Elizabeth (Henry's other daughter) broke with Rome by renewing Henry's law declaring Papal jurisdiction abolished and herself supreme over both Church and State. If that meant not Henry and Elizabeth breaking with Rome but Rome breaking with Henry and Elizabeth, then carts pull horses and horses don't pull carts, as those of us who claim to be rational have always thought!
"Had Queen Elizabeth agreed to Roman Supremacy," the statement goes on, "the Pope of the day would have sanctioned prayers in the vernacular." That is only a conjecture; but supposing it to be true, much more would have been demanded than acceptance of Papal Supremacy. Even if the Mass were permitted in English, it would have to be the Mass. That would have meant the rejection of the Book of Common Prayer of 1559 which Elizabeth had imposed. Likewise the Catholic Bishops she had imprisoned or exiled would have to be restored to their Sees, and her own invalidly consecrated Protestant hierarchy removed. The use of English instead of Latin was not the only, nor was it even a vital difference between the Elizabethan Church of England and the ancient pre-reformation Catholic Church.
"The same Pope," says the Christchurch statement, "declared it illegal for Roman Catholics to go on attending services in the Church of England in the time of Elizabeth. . . They were commanded to withdraw from the services they were accustomed to attend."
To that, again, the reply must be a simple exposition of the facts. For five years, during the reign of Mary, the people had been accustomed to attending the Catholic Mass, which she had restored in place of Edward VI's "Communion Service." When Elizabeth broke away from Rome in her turn, abolished the Catholic Mass and re-imposed Cranmer's Edwardian Protestant Prayer Book the Second, she at first tried to force the people to attend the new services by taxing and taxing and taxing them for non-attendance until their means of livelihood were gone. Many, welcoming Protestantism, went willingly of course. Of the majority of the people, many would go under duress to the Protestant services, and then hear Mass privately elsewhere. But many others positively refused to go at all, earning for themselves the name of "Popish Recusants." These assisted at Mass secretly, and clung to the Catholic Faith of their forefathers. But for these, eventually, the result was not only the confiscation of their property, but straight-out persecution, physical suffering, exile, or even death.
"Some obeyed this order (of the Pope) and some did not," continues the Christchurch statement. "Those who obeyed withdrew from the Church of their Fathers, and formed a schismatic Roman sect in England. This was the origin of the Roman Catholic body in England." And Bishop Johnson thinks it worth reprinting that! Remember that those who obeyed the Papal Decree were those who refused to forsake the Church of their Fathers - the Church of all Englishmen until Henry VIII first asserted his independence of it.
The absurdity of the business should be evident from one single consideration. Are we to say that a French Catholic in communion with the Pope becomes a schismatic the moment he crosses the British Channel and sets foot in England, and ceases to be one the moment he sets foot once more on French soil? There has been no change whatever in his thoughts, convictions or will. He has merely crossed the Channel. And having done so, though not a schismatic in France, he becomes one in England. No personal change, but merely a geographical change is supposed to effect this!
Naturally this French Catholic would have nothing to do with the Church of England. He would attend Catholic churches subject to the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, or others amongst the Catholic Bishops in union with Rome. For him, as for any other Catholic from the Continent, the Church of England as by law established would be a Protestant Church, as schismatical as any other of the numerous Protestant denominations in England. And he would be right.
"The roots of the Church of England," we are told, "go back to Apostolic times. So do the roots of the Church of Rome." But the latter admission cannot alter the fact that the roots of the Church of England go back only as far as Henry VIII, Edward VI and Elizabeth, in the 16th century. Any other verdict is simply to fly in the face of history. The same is true of the declaration: "We reformed and purified ourselves at the Reformation." I have lately been reading, a book entitled, "The Counter-Reformation in the Church of England," in which the author, the Rev. Spencer Jones, Anglican rector of Batsford, England, at the time, declares that the Church of England, ever since 1833, has been trying to get back what it wrongly threw away at the time of the Protestant Reformation, and has been seeking to purify itself of the many errors then foisted upon it!
"Rome," asserts the Christchurch statement, "would not agree and was left behind. We do not disown her as a Church. She disowns us. Scripture supports our claims." A Church which is conscious of being the one true Church must disown other and contrary Churches. A Church not conscious of being the one true Church has no need to disown anybody. For the rest, not a book, chapter, verse, word, comma or full-stop in Scripture supports the claims for the Church of England in this Christchurch statement in 1948 on behalf of New Zealand Anglicans. And that Bishop Johnson should have thought it worth quoting with the endorsement of all other Anglican Archbishops and Bishops in Australia and even of the Archbishop of Canterbury himself, shows how unsound is the Anglican position everywhere.
But the amazing thing is that an official Report, "The Fulness of
Christ," was presented to the Archbishop of Canterbury, in 1950. It
was drawn up by a Committee of 17 Anglican theologians, especially appointed
for the purpose. In it we read, on p. 51 (as published by the S.P.C.K.):
"The Church of England as it emerged from the Reformation found itself in all fundamentals on the 'protestant' side of the 'catholic-protestant' chasm. It asserted the doctrine of justification by faith only. It appealed to Scripture as its supreme doctrinal standard. It defined the visible Church in terms of the means of grace, the preaching of the word, and the administration of the sacraments. Its ordinal gave central place to the ministry of the word, replacing the paten and chalice by the Bible in the 'porrectio instrumentorum'. It adopted a Communion Office which . . . was certainly designed to convey a 'Protestant' doctrine of the Eucharist. Further, the Church of England after the Reformation maintained intimate relationships, including a large degree of intercommunion, with the 'Protestant' Churches of Scotland and the continent, and it never tired of denouncing the iniquities of Rome."
The most charitable conclusion is that by 1952 the Archbishop of Canterbury had forgotten all about this 1950 Report!
So much for the Christchurch statement. Now Bishop Johnson of Ballarat continues with his own indictment of the Catholic Church. "The cause of the schism," he declares, "was the temper of the Roman Catholic Church, the temper of intolerance and self-aggrandizement, the temper which will not tolerate anything that interferes with its designs." That may be how he sees things. Historians see things differently. They tell us that the Pope would not tolerate Henry VIII's proposed divorce from Queen Catherine and his marrying Anne Boleyn. They tell us that Henry was the type of man who would not tolerate anything that interfered with his designs. They tell us that he therefore abolished by law any further Papal jurisdiction in England and constituted himself head of a Church detached from the unity of the Catholic Church hitherto acknowledged throughout Western Christendom. When Bishop Johnson declares what he describes as "the temper of the Roman Church" to have been "the very temper that our Lord condemns in St. Matthew 18," we can but assure him that, in dealing with Henry VIII's case, the Pope was not so absorbed by St. Mark, 10: 11, "Whosoever shall put away his wife and marry another, commits adultery," as to overlook anything in St. Matthew chapter 18.
Now Bishop Johnson introduces a matter - a little late - without which he must have felt that his booklet would be incomplete. It really belongs to the earlier part of his treatise, but he apparently forgot it when writing that section. However, better late than never.
"In the 9th century," he says, "the attempt was made to bolster up the claims of the Papacy by the Isidorian decretals." It is well-nigh incredible that Bishop Johnson, who claims to have read the Anglican Dr. T. G. Jalland's book, "The Church and the Papacy," could have written such a sentence in 1952! For speaking of the said decretals, Dr. Jalland expressly declares: "This has been the cause of a considerable amount of anti-papal prejudice; so much so that many people have supposed that it constitutes the chief support of what have been described as the papal claims. Hence in the interests of historical accuracy it is well that we should understand its real character. This may well lead to a very different estimate of its part in the development of papal authority." And he adds, "Those who have supposed that its primary purpose was to extend by fraudulent means the authority of the Roman See have seriously misunderstood its 'raison d'être'." He points out that the interpolations in the Isidorian decretals were Gallican in origin, and not Roman; and that they were in order to uphold the privileges of the French Bishops, not of the Pope. (pp. 377-378). Yet despite these findings of modern scholarship, Bishop Johnson, who knows of them, repeats the discredited version of the decretals which Dr. Jalland declares to have been the cause of so much anti-papal prejudice. His reason for doing so should be clear; but his honesty in doing so is certainly open to question.
"Subsequently," he emphasizes, "the Roman Church had to admit that these decretals were forgeries." That sweeping assertion also Bishop Johnson must know to be false. For Dr. Jalland has made it quite clear that all the documents in the Spanish collection of Canon Law, known as the original Isidorian collection, "are indubitably authentic." In France, other and spurious documents were included with them, in order to bolster up episcopal authority in France far more than to bolster up papal authority. Dr. Jalland declares that use of the spurious sections of the decretals was made by "numerous non-Roman authors in the ninth and tenth centuries," whilst "the papal chancery observed a remarkable hesitation in (their) regard." And he concludes: "The real creator of the Papacy, as it was to be known for the next six centuries, was not, as has sometimes been thought, the elusive 'Pseudo-Isidore', but the genuine historical Nicholas I" (Pope from 858-867.)
As for Bishop Johnson's ungracious remark that the "Roman Church had to admit that these decretals were forgeries," inaccurately as he speaks of "these decretals," there is no question of Catholic scholars being forced reluctantly to admit the unreliability of the interpolated sections. For long before Dr. Jalland published his book Catholic scholars had said just what he says now, in the interests - to use his own phrase - of "historical accuracy." It is Dr. Jalland who has had to admit, not reluctantly, but frankly and willingly, that arguments such as Bishop Johnson's against the Papacy which are based on the so-called "False Decretals" are worthless.
"There is need for the Roman Church to humble herself again today," says the Anglican Bishop of Ballarat, "to abandon the arrogant assertion that she alone is right and everybody else wrong, and to surrender claims which, as we have seen, have no warrant in Holy Scripture or in the early Church." Needless to say, nowhere in Bishop Johnson's booklet have we seen that Papal claims or any other essential teachings of the Catholic Church "have no warrant in Holy Scripture or in the early Church." All we have seen are Bishop Johnson's continual and unsupported statements to that effect. Nobody will be impressed by those except people who already think as he does. Meantime, he will be in a better position to discuss the virtues the Roman Church ought to cultivate when he himself has learned from his fellow-Anglican, Dr. Trevor G. Jalland, the honesty and accuracy required in the interests of historical truth.
COMMUNION WITH THE POPE ESSENTIAL?
Bishop Johnson now turns to a series of emphatic repetitions of much that he has already said, probably on the principle that if you say a thing often enough someone will begin to believe it.
He begins by saying, "The Roman claim that the Roman Catholic Church is the one true Church cannot be substantiated." He must think that, of course, or he would have no excuse for not belonging to it. "She builds all," he writes, "on the premise that Peter was the Rock, the Supreme Head of the Church, and that he passed on his position and supreme power to the Pope. But this premise is false." He has said that before, and there is no need to deal with it again. "So, too," he continues, "the doctrine is false that the prime and essential condition of salvation is to be in communion with the Pope of Rome."
Here we must pause for a moment, because the Catholic Church does not teach as Bishop Johnson declares. She teaches that the prime and essential condition of salvation is that one must be in a state of grace, i.e., in the love and friendship of God as one's soul goes from this world. If, of course, a man realizes that it is God's serious will that he should be in communion with the Pope, then for him membership of the visible Catholic Church is a condition required for his being in the necessary state of grace. For the refusal of a known and serious obligation in the sight of God puts one by the very fact into a state of sin and danger of eternal loss.
"The New Testament knows nothing of this doctrine," he reassures his readers. They seem to need a lot of reassurance that they need not become Catholics! However, when Our Lord said to St. Peter, "I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven" (Mt 16:19) - words not said to any of the other Apostles - He certainly implied that right relationships with St. Peter were necessary; and as His Church is to last all days even till the end of the world, that means with the successors of St. Peter, whom none have ever claimed to be except the Bishops of Rome.
"The New Testament lays it down," he declares, "that the requisite for salvation is belief in Christ and union with Him through baptism." (Acts, 8: 30-38; St. John, 3: 5, 16 and 36; First letter of St. John, 5: 12, etc.). Now it is true that the New Testament speaks of those two conditions as necessary for salvation, but it does not say that they are the only necessary conditions. The New Testament also demands obedience to the Church. "If a man will not hear the Church, let him be as the heathen," Our Lord Himself said (Mt 18:17). The New Testament demands a right belief in all that Christ taught, speaking of those who, unlearned and unstable, wrest Scripture to their own destruction (see 2 Peter 3:16). It speaks of the necessity of good works, telling us that "by works a man is saved, and not by faith only." (James 2:24) But there is no need to go on with this. If some fundamentalist Protestant came to Bishop Johnson, saying that he believed in the Lord Jesus Christ and had been baptized by some wandering evangelist, would the Bishop tell him that that was all that was necessary? If so, why did he say earlier that his Church takes its stand on the "Lambeth Quadrilateral," acceptance of the Creeds, Episcopacy, Sacraments, together with the Bible and the tradition of the first five centuries? Or did he not believe those four planks to be really necessary at all?
Omitting a series of emphatic repetitions of things Bishop Johnson has said equally emphatically before, we come to the statement that "there is no evidence that he (Peter) founded the Church in Rome." The Anglican Bishop of Ballarat may not be aware of any; but that can only mean that he has not studied the subject. A worthwhile Anglican scholar, the Rev. Dr. B. J. Kidd, one of the Anglican representatives at the Malines Conference with Cardinal Mercier, says in his book, "A History of the Church to A.D. 461", that "the evidence is early and threefold in favour of St. Peter" as founder of the Church in Rome. 1 Peter 4:13 is written from 'Babylon' which is code for 'Rome'.
Dr. Kidd points out that, in Rom. 15: 20, St. Paul declares his aim to preach the Gospel where it had not yet been preached, and not to "build upon another man's foundation."
In his epistle to the Romans St. Paul said that he intended visiting Rome which he had not yet seen, not to found a new mission there, but only as passing through to Spain.
"Rome, in short," writes Dr. Kidd, "was another man's foundation. . . . Who, then was 'the other man'?" Dr. Kidd unhesitatingly replies: "St. Peter."
"If he did," rhetorically asks Bishop Johnson, "why did not St. Paul include his name in the long list of salutations in the epistle to the Romans?" Dr. B. J. Kidd contents himself with saying: "No allusion by name to 'the other man' is wanted. The Romans knew well enough whom he meant." Renan, the French rationalist, said that prudential reasons would have suggested not mentioning St. Peter by name in a letter which could easily fall into the hands of the pagan authorities at Rome and betray the fact that St. Peter was even then founding the Church in the very heart of the Roman Empire. But there is another and much simpler explanation possible. It is that St. Paul, when he wrote his epistle to the Romans in 56 A.D., knew that St. Peter was not there at the time. St. Paul himself had founded numerous Churches, not remaining permanently in any of them, though revisiting some of them at different times. So, too, St. Peter, in his capacity as an Apostle, would not be obliged to remain continually in Rome merely because he had founded the Church there. He could have been absent on other apostolic work for long intervals. We do know that at least he returned to Rome and ended his days there, enduring martyrdom during the reign of Nero. One thing is certain. St. Paul's failure to mention St. Peter by name in the epistle to the Romans is not evidence of anything more than that St. Paul failed to mention him. It is certainly not evidence of any kind that St. Peter was not the founder of the Church at Rome.
"Was St. Peter ever Bishop of Rome?" asks Bishop Johnson. He may rest assured that he was, all due allowance being made for St. Peter's more-than-episcopal office as an Apostle, and for the greater precision as to the nature of episcopacy as the living and growing Church developed. Dr. Jalland writes: "It may be allowed that the 'episcopi' (Bishops) of the primitive Roman Christian community succeeded to St. Peter's position in Rome, as the 'episcopi' (Bishops) of the Corinthian community succeeded St. Paul in Corinth; and thus at least it may reasonably be conceded that the succession took place 'by divine providence.' If it be said that no evidence of this can be found in Holy Scripture, we can well reply that such evidence as we possess is at any rate secondary only to Scripture itself, and ought to be regarded as a not less trustworthy witness to beliefs current in the first and second generations of Christians." "The Church and the Papacy," p.528.
"Why," exclaims Bishop Johnson, "even the Roman Catholic writer, Von Dollinger, shrinks from calling him Bishop of Rome. (See the chapter on 'Peter's Alleged Roman Episcopate' in Dr. Salmon's 'The Infallibility of the Church')."
How things grow! Dr. Salmon says that Von Dollinger "appears to shrink" from calling St. Peter Bishop of Rome. That's how it appeared to Dr. Salmon. Bishop Johnson turns it into what Dr. Dollinger actually did. In reality, Dr. Dollinger was not concerned with denying that St. Peter was Bishop of Rome. He was concerned to bring out the fact - and rightly - that in St. Peter both the apostolic and episcopal offices were combined, and that only those who succeeded to the Roman See and who were not Apostles could be called Bishops as we understand the word today. Where his successors were Bishops of Rome, St Peter was Bishop of Rome - and more; for he was an Apostle, as his successors were not.
"The Roman Church," now complains Bishop Johnson, "is not serving the cause of truth by putting forth her claims in the way in which she does." Naturally one who does not believe in the Catholic Church regards any efforts to bring the Catholic Faith into the lives of other people as not serving the cause of truth. But at least he should say that, if Catholics believe their religion to be true and that they are obliged to obey Our Lord's command, "Teach all nations, preaching the Gospel to every creature," (Mt 28:19; Mark 16:15) then they are not to be blamed for adopting all lawful and reasonable means to proclaim what they believe they are obliged to proclaim, thus serving the cause of truth as they realize it to be! But Bishop Johnson does not think in such a way.
"The desire for totalitarian supremacy has captured her," he declares. It is unpardonable that he should here use the word "totalitarian," with its political implications, as a means of enkindling religious prejudice against the Catholic Church. Every Church proclaiming the rights of God over humanity must proclaim His "totalitarian supremacy." St. Paul declared it the duty of the Church to bring "into captivity every understanding unto the obedience of Christ." 2 Cor. 10: 5. Bishop Johnson's Anglican Church may not be conscious of any authority to speak in the name of God. Anglicans may not be conscious of any obligation to obey their Church. But Catholics know that Christ speaks to them through the Catholic Church He established, and acknowledge His totalitarian claims upon them; and not upon the Catholic laity only, but upon Brothers and Nuns and Priests, and Bishops and Archbishops and Cardinals, and upon the Pope himself. We are all subject to the Law of Christ, whose authority over us is totalitarian as no earthly ruler's authority over us could ever have the right to be.
"But in a world," predicts Bishop Johnson, "that must fight to deliver itself from totalitarianism, the insistence of the Papacy on the acknowledgement of its supremacy and infallibility will less and less command the confidence of the rest of Christendom."
To that I would say, firstly, that the totalitarianism from which he says the world must fight to deliver itself belongs to the political order, which has nothing to do with the matter we are discussing. Secondly, in the religious field, whilst no Church has spoken as definitely and clearly against the outrageous claims of would-be omnipotent and totalitarian States as the Catholic Church, the insistence of the Papacy on the acknowledgement of its supremacy and infallibility is but an insistence on the rights of Christ to our obedience in the Church as He constituted it, and to our confidence in the protection He promised His Church in order to safeguard it from the teaching of error. In reality, the argument Bishop Johnson uses against the Catholic Church is one of the most telling in its favour.
As for his prediction that it will "less and less command the confidence of the rest of Christendom," the rest of Christendom, being non-Catholic, obviously has no confidence in the Catholic Church - or those comprising the rest of Christendom would not be non-Catholics. But in that same "rest of Christendom" more and more are showing less and less confidence in their own non-Catholic Churches. And if, unfortunately, the majority are drifting to almost complete religious indifference, a far greater number than is commonly realized are seeking certainty and peace of soul in the Catholic Church.
THE ANGLICAN POSITION
Concluding his booklet, Bishop Johnson of Ballarat puts before his readers what he evidently believes to be a supremely attractive vision of Anglicanism.
"Over against Papalism and Romanism," he writes, "the English Church stands for Catholicism." One must pause to comment upon the strange description of it as the English Church. We Catholics may acknowledge the Pope to be the visible head of our Church as successor of St. Peter in the Bishopric of Rome. But we do not attach to our Church - since it is truly Catholic - any national limits. With St. Paul we can say there is neither Jew nor Greek nor Gentile; adding, to suit our modern times, nor English, nor Irish, nor Canadians, nor Americans, nor Australians, nor French, Filipino, Lebanese, Italian, Vietnamese, Spanish, Korean, German, Polish, African nor Chinese nor Indian or Norwegian. We are all simply Catholics religiously. Bishop Johnson's special English form of religion, not being Catholic, cannot by that very fact stand for Catholicism.
"Her attitude to other Christians," he continues, "and her vision of the reunion of Christendom, can be seen in the 'Appeal to All Christian People' issued by the Bishops of the Anglican Communion at the 1920 Lambeth Conference. I close with this brief extract from it." Far from showing that the Church of England stands for Catholicism, I have seldom read a document giving clearer evidence of just how un-Catholic that Church really is.
"We believe," the Statement declares, "that the Holy Spirit has called us in a very solemn manner to associate ourselves in penitence and prayer with all those who deplore the divisions of Christian people, and are inspired by the vision and hope of a visible unity of the whole Church."
Here at once difficulties present themselves. Those who speak of hoping for a visible unity of the whole Church confess firstly that such visible unity ought to be, and secondly that they have not got it. Catholics agree that such visible unity ought to be, so much so that the Church Christ established can never be without it. Those who have to confess that they do not belong to the visibly united Church admit by the very fact that they are schismatic and heretical Churches, separated from the one united and visible Catholic Church in this world. It is good that the Lambeth Bishops recognized their Anglican Church as one of the many subdivisions of Protestantism, that it is wrong to be in such a position, and that they ought to get back into the visible unity of the Catholic Church. But they make it quite clear that they have no idea of what the Catholic Church really means, still less of how to go about things in order to realize their dream!
"The vision that rises before us," the Bishops continue, "is the vision of a Church, genuinely Catholic, loyal to all truth, and gathering into its fellowship all who profess and call themselves Christians, within whose visible unity all treasures of faith and order, bequeathed as a heritage by the past to the present, shall be possessed in common, and made serviceable to the whole Body of Christ."
All who profess to be Christians, and who do not yet belong to her, will obtain all the advantages mentioned when they return to the Catholic Church their forefathers should never have left. But so long as the Lambeth Bishops themselves refuse to look in the direction of Rome they'll have to be content with their unfulfilled dreams. And they will continue to refuse to look in the direction of Rome so long as the penitence of which they speak leaves untouched the national pride which impelled one Anglican Bishop to say: "You can rest assured that we shall never go through any doorway above which is written the word submission."
"Within this unity," the Anglican Bishops continue, "Christian Communions now separated from one another would retain much that has long been distinctive in their methods of worship and service." Such typically compromising generalities lead nowhere. The Lambeth Bishops carefully refrained from saying how much the other Protestant Churches would have to give up which they wanted to retain, and how much Anglicans themselves were prepared to give up which the other Protestant Churches wanted to reject. It is of little use to point to the "Lambeth Quadrilateral" with its talk of Creeds, Bishops, Sacraments, Bible and Tradition, for Anglicans themselves are not agreed as to the sense in which any one of those requirements is to be understood!
"It is through a rich diversity of life and devotion," we are told, "that the unity of the whole fellowship will be fulfilled." But that will not do. Unity may permit a rich diversity of life and devotion, as it does in the Catholic Church. But unity is not fulfilled by that. It is fulfilled only by acceptance on the part of all of the same essential doctrines, discipline or authority, and forms of worship. To say: "Let's shake hands all round, calling ourselves one visible Church, whilst we remain as we are, each with our own distinctive doctrines, discipline and worship" will not mean unity in one Church but merely an aggregate of different Churches united, as I remarked earlier, like a kind of "League of Nations," all members of which still remain different nations! Such was never the intention of Christ.
"This means an adventure of goodwill and still more of faith," plead these Anglican Bishops, "for nothing less is required than a new discovery of the creative resources of God." So we are invited to set out on a voyage of discovery, as Columbus set out to discover a problematical country beyond the seas! All is bewilderment and uncertainty. We are told, in St. Matt. 7: 28-29, that when Our Lord had finished speaking one day to the people they "were astonished at His doctrine, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes." A supernatural and divine certainty rang through His words which found an echo in their own inner consciousness. He knew that He was speaking the truth, and they knew it also. And among all the Churches in the world today the Catholic Church alone speaks in such a way. It is because Our Lord is continuing to speak through her. But those in whose souls her words find no echo condemn her for her "dogmatism," or her "intolerance," or her "imperialistic ambition," or her "totalitarian demands." They are not impressed by her teaching as one having authority, and not as they themselves. But there are those who notice that the Catholic Church talks an entirely different language from these Anglican Bishops, that as Christ spoke as no man ever spoke before and with all the authority of God, so does the Catholic Church speak still in His name, and they realize that it is in the Catholic Church that Christ wills that they should find Him.
"To this adventure," the Lambeth Bishops proclaim, "we are convinced that God is calling all members of His Church." That may be their conviction. But no members of the Catholic Church feel called to such an adventure. Nor, considering the nature of the adventure, are Anglicans or any other non-Catholics called to it by God, however firmly they may have persuaded themselves that their thoughts on the subject are from Him. Certainly the Anglican Bishops will find no warrant for their ideas in the authorities they say they accept, Holy Scripture, the Creeds, and the Traditions of the first five centuries.
So Bishop Johnson closes his booklet. And what has he given us? Only
more reason than ever to reject the Anglican position he wishes to uphold.
And certainly nothing he has written in it, from cover to cover, could
lessen any well-read and intelligent person's confidence in the Catholic
Church as every normal person understands that expression; namely, that
Church throughout the world which is in union with the Bishop of Rome as
successor of St. Peter, according to the will of Christ Himself.