An Anglican liturgist recently offered his thoughts about obstacles to ecumenical dialogue and relations between the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church. Which of the following did he pinpoint as leaving him "both stunned and dismayed", as well as apparently apoplectic, miffed, and even ecumenically-challenged?
1. The ordination of women as "priests" by the Church of England.
2. The acceptance of women as "bishops" by the Church of England.
3. The acceptance of openly "gay" priests by Episcopal Church of the U.S.
4. The growing likelihood of openly "gay weddings" celebrated by various Angelican groups.
5. The now longtime acceptance of divorce and contraceptives by the Church of England.
6. The lax and ambiguous stance within Anglicanism toward abortion and related life issues.
7. The directives regarding translating liturgical texts expressed in the Vatican document, "Liturgiam Authenticam"
It's a tough one, I know. But if you managed to come up with #7 as an answer, you're a winner! From Catholic News Service:
ROME (CNS) -- Because the Roman Catholic Church was a driving force behind the development of a common English translation of basic prayers used by many Christian churches for 40 years, more recent Vatican rules for translating Mass prayers "came as a bombshell," said an Anglican liturgist.
"I do not contest for a moment the prerogative of churches to change their liturgical texts," said the Rev. David Holeton, a professor at Charles University in Prague.
But he said other Christians were "both stunned and dismayed" when the Vatican abandoned the English texts of prayers Catholics had developed with them since the Second Vatican Council and when the Vatican discouraged Catholics from consulting ecumenically on the new translations. ...
Rev. Holeton asked if "slavish conformity" to the Vatican document on translations was a greater priority for the Catholic Church than its commitment to promoting Christian unity.
The Anglican liturgist spoke May 5 at a conference marking the 50th anniversary of Rome's Pontifical Liturgical Institute.
He quoted "Liturgiam Authenticam" ("The Authentic Liturgy"), the Vatican document on liturgical translations, which said: "Great caution is to be taken to avoid a wording or style that the Catholic faithful would confuse with the manner of speech of non-Catholic ecclesial communities or of other religions, so that such a factor will not cause them confusion or discomfort."
Oh no, not slavish! How, oh how, can the Catholic Church really pursue ecumenism when it puts a higher priority on being Catholic than being Anglican? How can Catholics claim to be ecumenically-minded when they insist on following Church authority and being attentive to Church doctrine than to appeasing non-Catholics? (And, yes, those are rhetorical/sarcastic/prickly questions.)
Holeton also said, "Both the sense of being 'at home' and of being 'among friends' are foundational paving stones on the way to Christian unity and it is the liturgy, more than anything else, that has nurtured this sense of communality." But, of course, the ancient phrase, Lex orandi, lex credendi, does not mean that how we worship depends on malleable belief or a fluctuating set of doctrines. "The law of prayer is the law of faith: the Church believes as she prays", states the Catechism of the Catholic Church, "Liturgy is a constitutive element of the holy and living Tradition" (par. 1124). Or, as "Liturgiam Authenticam" states in another passage:
Since the lex orandi must always be in harmony with the lex credendi and must manifest and support the faith of the Christian people, the liturgical translations will not be capable of being worthy of God without faithfully transmitting the wealth of Catholic doctrine from the original text into the vernacular version, in such a way that the sacred language is adapted to the dogmatic reality that it contains. Furthermore, it is necessary to uphold the principle according to which each particular Church must be in accord with the universal Church not only as regards the doctrine of the Faith and the sacramental signs, but also as regards those practices universally received through Apostolic and continuous tradition. For these reasons, the required recognitio of the Apostolic See is intended to ensure that the translations themselves, as well as any variations introduced into them, will not harm the unity of God’s people, but will serve it instead. (par. 80)
These matters are discussed at length—and with far more expertise—in the chapter, "The Anglican Use within the Western Liturgical Tradition", by Prof. Hans-Jürgen Feulner, Th.D., in the just-published book, Anglicans and the Roman Catholic Church: Reflections on Recent Developments (Ignatius, 2011; also available in e-book format), edited by Stephen Cavanaugh.
Also see, on Ignatius Insight:
• The Papacy and Ecumenism | Rev. Adriano Garuti, O.F.M. | From Primacy of the Bishop of Rome and the Ecumenical Dialogue
• The Vatican, Ecumenism, and Tolerance | Dr. James Hitchcock
• Rome and the Orthodox East | Aidan Nichols, O.P. | The Conclusion to Rome and the Eastern Churches: A Study in Schism