By Rev. Dr. Rumble, M.S.C.
Thanks to Annals Publications, Kensington, N.S.W.
Australian C.T.S. No. 1174A (1953)
This is Part 2 of a much longer pamphlet published by Fr Rumble under the
Reply To The Anglican Bishops in Australia.
The full work was originally composed as an answer to the Right Rev. W. H. Johnson, of the Anglican diocese of Ballarat, Victoria, who authored the pamphlet, "Roman Catholic Assertions".
[If you would like to read the full pamphlet of Dr Rumble you will find it numbered as ACTS No. 1173A at this website:
It is an enlightening read!]
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 [First] 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'Ítre'." 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 nor 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. Matthew. 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.