The UK’s Catholic Herald had a very interesting piece concerning the problematic choice for Anglo-Catholics (a group close to my heart, vis-a-vis JH Newman) between the Catholic Church and the C of E. Right now, the Anglican Communion has made the decision that all dioceses, to be in communion with the rest of the body, must agree to be subject to women bishops, essentially, either by being directly subject to a women bishop or by being in full communion with those dioceses governed by the aforesaid. The C of E has long prided itself on its “tolerance” and that it didn’t really have any strict doctrinal boundaries.
Putting aside my own failure to see the lack of dogma as somehow Christian, the “tolerance” angle has been their emphasis. However, it is incredibly ironic that such an “inclusive” body is now faced with the fact that they are intentionally excluding anyone who holds to a Catholic theology of ordination where women cannot be so ordained validly (of course, C of E priests don’t have valid orders in general, but let’s leave that aside as well).
Only orthodoxy is excluded from their toleration of all heresies.
It reminds me very much of the book by Robert Hugh Benson, a convert from Anglicanism to Catholicism himself, called Lord of the World. It was a story about the Antichrist, who unites the world under the banner of inclusiveness and tolerance. It works and he really does bring peace to the world. The final step, the one last remnant of division in his perfect world, is to eliminate religion as the ultimate divisive force. In the end, the Antichrist “nukes” Rome and eventually sends an army to wipe out the final Pope hiding in Jerusalem.
One of the final dramas is the dialogue between one of the government officials and his wife when she find that her husband has signed a decree of death for all those who believe in God:
“Is it true?” she said.
Oliver drew one steady breath, and sat down again.
“Is what true, my dear?”
“Is it true,” she said again, “that all are to be questioned as to whether they believe in God, and to be killed if they confess it?”
Oliver licked his dry lips.
“You put it very harshly,” he said. “The question is, whether the world has a right—-“
She made a sharp movement with her head.
“It is true then. And you signed it?”
“My dear, I beg you not to make a scene. I am tired out. And I will not answer that until you have heard what I have to say.”
“Say it, then.”
“Sit down, then.”
She shook her head.
“Very well, then…. Well, this is the point. The world is one now, not many. Individualism is dead. It died when Felsenburgh became President of the World. You surely see that absolutely new conditions prevail now—there has never been anything like it before. You know all this as well as I do.”
Again came that jerk of impatience.
“You will please to hear me out,” he said wearily. “Well, now that this has happened, there is a new morality; it is exactly like a child coming to the age of reason. We are obliged, therefore, to see that this continues—that there is no going back—no mortification—that all the limbs are in good health. ‘If thy hand offend thee, cut it off,’ said Jesus Christ. Well, that is what we say…. Now, for any one to say that they believe in God—I doubt very much whether there is any one who really does believe, or understand what it means—but for any one even to say so is the very worst crime conceivable: it is high treason. But there is going to be no violence; it will all be quite quiet and merciful. Why, you have always approved of Euthanasia, as we all do. Well, it is that that will be used; and—-“
In the end, she commits suicide. Her last thoughts:
She saw now that He [the Antichrist] was perfectly logical—that He had not been inconsistent in denouncing the destruction of Rome and a week later making His declaration. It was the passion of one man against another that He denounced—of kingdom against kingdom, and sect against sect—for this was suicidal for the race. He denounced passion, too, not judicial action. Therefore, this new decree was as logical as Himself—it was a judicial act on the part of an united world against a tiny majority that threatened the principle of life and faith: and it was to be carried out with supreme mercy; there was no revenge or passion or partisan spirit in it from beginning to end; no more than a man is revengeful or passionate when he amputates a diseased limb….
Orthodoxy is a dangerous thing.
Yours in Christ,
Br. James Dominic, OP