Anglican Claims and the Old Religion - Part 3
Part III. The Reformation And The “Recusants”
By D. G. M. Jackson
Australian Catholic Truth Society No. 1025 (1947).
THE TRANSITION TO ANGLICANISM
In the previous sections of this study - Parts I and II - I have shown that in every period of the old English Church from St. Augustine to the sixteenth century that Church was “Roman Catholic” in belief and rites, and in full communion with the Papal See. We have now to consider the nature of the changes carried out under the Tudors, and whether they can be described as a conservative reform which purified the ancient Church, leaving the substance of its faith and tradition intact, or rather as a religious revolution by which an entirely new structure was erected in the place of the older “Ecclesia Anglicana.”
Macaulay is no friend of Catholicism though little concerned with “continuity.” This stalwart Whig and Protestant, however, minces no words in his commentary on the English Reformation. It was, he writes, the work of worldly, unprincipled men and Royal murderers - “sprung from brutal passion, nurtured by selfish policy.” The facts of its history bear out these words.
The motive of the changes wrought by Henry VIII was power and pillage, their inspirer Thomas Cromwell, is a man who has found few apologists - though his type is common enough in our own time, where, beside every tyrant, is his efficient “stooge” - his Gestapo or N.K.V.D. organiser - to carry out his robberies and killings with smooth silent despatch. The servility of the episcopate and clergy made a schism with Rome possible at the time of the Divorce: and the declaration of the Royal supremacy was received with apparent indifference by the common people, since it left the traditional forms of worship and religious teaching substantially unaltered. Reverence for the Holy See had suffered much from the worldliness and political absorption of the Renaissance Papacy, and from the scandals of the Court of Rome which were the common gossip of Europe, and there were many - especially of the middle class who were not displeased to see the King set up over the clergy, though in the matter of the Divorce, feeling was strong against Henry, and Anne Boleyn was bitterly hated.
But the first attempts at a radical change of doctrine - inspired by Seymour and Archbishop Cranmer - fell flat, having little support anywhere, and none from the King. At a conference with Lutheran divines, articles based on the Confession of Augsburg were agreed to, but Henry could not forget that he himself had written against the German Reformer - and he was sensitive to the taunt of heresy. Finally, the period of radical Bishops’ flirtations with heresy was ended, for a time, by the issue of the Six Articles which asserted a very full body of orthodox Catholic doctrine on the religious matters in dispute on the Continent. The destruction of the monasteries, however, whetted the appetites of the gentry for spoil, and accustomed simple folk to the sight of plunder and also to blasphemous irreverence towards things hitherto deemed holy. The Shrines of Canterbury and Walsingham were ravished, with the religious houses up and down England; certain “superstitious’’ images were destroyed, and many Church vessels and rich vestments confiscated - most of the plate to be melted down, the rest turned to secular use. Thus the road was made clear, and men's minds hardened and prepared for the next phase.
In fact, the most important result of Henry's work was that the church was no longer inviolable; its rights had been invaded, and the invasion could be carried further. Above all, the distribution of the Church's property among the ruling class created a strong “vested interest” hostile to Catholic restoration, and ready to move further towards Protestantism to make themselves secure against it - gathering up further plunder, of course, as they went. This fact is worth remembering when we consider the story of the next three reigns.
In Henry VIII's last years, the reforming clique's power tended to grow as the King's faculties decayed and his hold on power relaxed. Its political leader was Seymour, the uncle of the young Prince of Wales: and, when the Prince became King Edward VI at the age of nine, a doubtful Royal Will was produced which enabled this group to assume authority. Young Edward - a sickly priggish little boy, brought up to hate “Popery” - was hailed as the “Young Josiah” of the Reform.
The first English Prayer book was issued by Royal Authority in 1549. It was a “compromising” work based on miscellaneous Latin and Greek sources, ambiguous on the Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament, ignoring the sacrificial character of the Eucharist, but retaining the word “Mass” in a subtitle, and much Catholic language, even prayers for the dead were included. This book satisfied nobody - not even its authors, who were taunted by the conservative leader, Bishop Gardiner, with their own denial of its doctrine!
It was replaced, therefore, in 1552 by the second prayer-book - substantially that used in the Anglican Church of today. In this book, the Liturgy was radically altered and the Canon mutilated, the Catholic allusions to “Mass,” altar, and so on were removed; unction of the sick was suppressed, as well as Reservation of the Sacred Elements, and prayers for the dead were abolished. The stone altar - symbol of the sacrificial Mass - was to be replaced by a communion-table. A new ordinal was introduced in 1550, from which all mention of the sacrificial priesthood - the “sacerdotium” - had been expunged. The Conservative Bishops, standing by the Six Articles, revolted against these changes as contrary not only to true Faith, but to Law - having been carried through in the King's minority. They were replaced by others, including some consecrated according to the new ordinal.
The simple folk failed to notice the “continuity” of the new service with the old. Its introduction caused widespread riots in the country, whose discontent was added to by the rapacity and usurpations of the new landlords. In the South West, particularly, a genuine Catholic rising had to be suppressed by foreign hired bands. For the rest, the ruling gang were soon at one another's throats. The first leader, the Protector Somerset, was pulled down and killed by a more ruthless ruffian, Dudley, who made himself Duke of Northumberland, and pretended a great fervour for Calvinistic reform. He planned to set up his own son as puppet-King, marrying him to a young cousin of King Edward's, and securing the dying lad's consent to the exclusion of his half-sisters, Mary and Elizabeth, in her favour. But the plot miscarried. The people detested the “new disorder” and wanted to go back to the old laws and ways - above all, to be rid of Northumberland's tyranny. Mary, the daughter of Catherine of Aragon, was acclaimed in Norfolk, and rode in triumph to London (1553).
THE MARIAN RESTORATION
For a moment it seemed that the - “Reform” was over. All the religious legislation of Henry VIII and Edward VI was repealed: Catholic doctrine and worship were completely restored - though not the secularised property of the Church. The Conservative Bishops returned to full Catholic allegiance - and thenceforth, with one exception, remained loyal to the Holy See. The “Reforming” Bishops were formally deprived of their Sees; and those consecrated according to the new ordinal found their orders invalidated.
The ill-success of Mary is well-known. Her work was never completed owing to the shortness of her reign and the lack of a Catholic successor. She identified the Catholic cause fatally with Spanish Imperialism by her marriage with Philip II. Her persecution was based on the old laws against Lollardy. It was openly religious rather than political, leaving almost all the real criminals of the last two reigns unpunished - and most of them in public office and power - while a number of simple and sincere people were put to death, whose sufferings brought new unpopularity on the clergy. But perhaps the greatest cause of her failure was the fear aroused by the restoration among the powerful persons who had despoiled the Church. The Queen had set an example by returning as much of her father's and brother's plunder as lay in her hand - and they were afraid that, if the Church were solidly re-established, others might be expected to do likewise. With her death therefore, and that of her able Archbishop, Cardinal Pole, the “Reform” returned again to power - this time finally.
THE LAST OF THE OLD CHURCH
The ancient Church, though re-established, had been weakened, its leaders servility had led to schism, its restoration, like its overthrow, had been accomplished by the secular power, to whose usurpations in the spiritual sphere Englishmen had grown accustomed in the past thirty years. There was no prospect of serious resistance to a second attack upon it by the turncoats and profiteers from ecclesiastical spoil who had retained office through three reigns and three religious “settlements.” The hierarchy was depleted in numbers - ten Sees being vacant, including the primatial See of Canterbury. Those who remained were resolute in their loyalty to the Faith, all save one, but they showed no capacity for more than passive resistance. Gardiner of Winchester, the greatest and most statesmanlike of the defenders of Conservative orthodoxy under Henry VIII, had died in the reign of Mary. There was no Duke of Guise in England to rally the forces of lay Catholicism against William Cecil, the shrewdest politician in the nation, and the new Queen's chief adviser.
Elizabeth was crowned with Catholic rites by the Bishop of Carlisle - much troubled by his apprehensions - but it was evident from the first that changes were coming. Anne Boleyn's daughter would not endure the Papacy which had refused to legitimate her mother's marriage; and the Catholic Bishops would not compromise a second time by accepting a settlement of Henry's “Six Articles” type. She was forced - probably against her will - to move further to the left, back again to the Protestant Edwardian settlement of the second Prayer book.
The new Parliament - obedient as usual to the Royal will - re-enacted the laws abolishing Papal authority and annexing the Papal rights of Church Government to the Crown. The Queen was called “Governess” instead of Head - but it made no difference: for the new settlement was legislated into existence by the secular power. The Canterbury Convocation made a last stand for the old “Ecclesia Anglicana,” affirming the Sacramental doctrine of the Church, the Sacrifice of the Mass, the authority of the Holy See and the rights of the spirituality; and the Universities joined them in their protest. The Bishops in the Lords, with Archbishop Heath of York at their head were solid in maintaining the cause of Catholicism and the unity of Christ's Church. However, after a farcical debate between Catholic and Protestant clerics, the Acts of Supremacy and Uniformity were passed. The visitors appointed under it tendered the oath to the Bishops but only one - Kitchin of Llandaff - took it. The rest refused firmly and were deprived. As they died, one by one, in exile or confinement, the ancient hierarchy was extinguished.
THE NEW BISHOPS
A new line of Protestant Bishops came into existence with Dr. Matthew Parker, intruded by Royal authority into Canterbury after a period of general vacancy of the Bishoprics. Parker was consecrated by four deprived Bishops of Edward VI's time. Of these one, though a Protestant, had received consecration according to the old Catholic rites, two had been consecrated according to the rite adopted in King Edward's reign, which the Catholic authorities had held to be invalid; one, Barlow, may never have been consecrated at all! The rite of the Second (1552) Prayer book was used, in which the office of Bishop was not mentioned in the words of Consecration. The whole modern Anglican hierarchy and clergy as tracing its orders back to Parker, depends on his status for the validity of theirs. It has thus no Catholic standing whatever, and no “continuity” with the ancient hierarchy of the Church founded by St. Augustine.
Parker himself was a gentle, estimable man, definitely Protestant in his beliefs. His Episcopal brethren held varying views, like their modern successors, being united chiefly in their strong rejection of “Popery.” A number regarded the new Elizabethan settlement as an unsatisfactory compromise and encouraged the movement towards more radical “Puritanism.” The clergy frequently disregarded the Prayer book, and the Royal “Injunctions” in order to follow their own caprices, so that the religious arrangements of parishes showed from the first a great variety.
THE PARISH CLERGY
While the Catholic Bishops rejected the oath of Supremacy, it is a shameful fact that the majority of the parish clergy accepted it - even if the highest figures are taken for refusals, there were no more than a thousand. Their failure, if inexcusable, is not inexplicable.
Many had been ordained in Henry VIII's time, under the Royal Supremacy. The changes of recent years had been temporary, and the Queen's weak health gave reason for surmising that the latest might endure no longer than the others. The Queen of Scots would come in then, and Catholic worship would be restored. A number of priests said Mass in secret, while observing the new worship publicly, a minority became “hedge-priests,” and others, who at first confirmed, seem to have joined them later. In these conditions, the authorities found it difficult to provide for parishes, and cures came to be held by many ignorant and ill-conditioned persons - many churches had only lay readers. The Reformation brought no reform of the clergy in either learning or morals - the evidence testifies rather to the contrary. Things may have been ill before - they were worse afterwards.
The Act of Uniformity made Church attendance compulsory, under pain of a heavy fine. This rule was increasingly enforced while special fines - of crushing weight - were later laid on Catholic “Recusants” (refusers). A Royal visitation to enforce the oath of Supremacy was provided with “injunctions” as to parish worship under the new regime.
These provide an interesting light on the question of “Continuity.” The clergy were required to preach against the Papacy, in favour of the Royal Supremacy, four times a year. They were to warn their people that pilgrimages, candles and rosaries were idolatrous. The old religious processions were forbidden, shrines, religious images and other monuments of “idolatry and superstition” were to be destroyed, as well as stained-glass windows. Altars were to be removed, and inventories made of Church ornaments, plate and books - especially those connected with Catholic worship. No wafers were to be used in communion - only plain bread.
The Visitors’ work was continued by the hated Court of High Commission, which administered the Royal supremacy until its abolition on the eve of the Great Rebellion in Charles I's reign. After the Restoration of Charles II, the work was taken over by Parliament.
The wrecking of the churches had begun even before the Visitors arrived; for as early as August, 1559, there was an “Auto da fe” of crosses, images, censers altar-cloths books and banners in London and similar deeds took place all over the country. Everything connected with Catholic worship was usually destroyed, sometimes the vestments were made into dresses or uniforms. The removal of stone altars - symbols of sacrifice - took place often amid scenes of revolting profanity. The Government wished, at first, to have all chalices melted down as “superstitous.” Crucifixes and crosses - even in graveyards - were destroyed. Houses were searched for Catholic service books, which were burned. Pews and carved work were cut up for bedsteads, the niches of the smashed images were whitewashed. In a word, the old parish churches were practically gutted from end to end.
As for the new service, its performance was often hardly decent. The Communion table was moved hither and thither - treated as a hatstand in one church, while in another it was “decked like an altar.” As for vestments, early attempts to secure the use of the Cope at Communion failed, the surplice itself was barely tolerated in the first years after the new settlement.
THE CHARACTER OF THE CHANGE
These, then, are the facts: and it may well be asked how, in the face of them, it is possible to establish any genuine “continuity” between the old “Ecclesa Anglicana” and the new Anglican Church. We see the ancient authority outraged; the very existence of a “Visible Church” in the old sense denied; doctrines, even the most fundamental, overthrown by Act of Parliament; the ancient hierarchy expelled, and its place usurped by State-appointed officials, ordained by a new, unheard of ritual; the churches plundered and wrecked to destroy the least vestige cf Catholic worship. If this is not a radical religious revolution, there is no such thing.
True, there came later a movement of partial restoration; decency and even splendour in worship reappeared with the reforms of the Stewart period, and some ancient Church doctrines were revived. But no stream can rise above its source and the source of the Anglican hierarchy and authority is not the Church of St. Augustine, but the Church of Elizabeth and Parker, set up by the religious revolution of the sixteenth century, in which the old Catholic English Church was done to death.
THE RECUSANTS AND THE OLD ENGLISH TRADITION
After the usurpation of the throne of England by William and Mary in 1689, the rights of the ancient Royal dynasty continued to be asserted by a dwindling body of British loyalists - the “Jacobites” - until its extinction in 1805. So it was with the rights and faith of the ancient English Church - only that in its case, the claim has been upheld until the present day, and has never at any time been without supporters in England. Though the ancient hierarchy perished, Catholicism ,did not have to be reintroduced into the country, for a minority always remained who refused to “bow the knee” to the Baal of the new Royally imposed religious order. Sometimes it dwindled - sometimes expanded, at last, in the eighteenth century, it sank almost entirely out of view until the coming of the “Second Spring” after Emancipation. This body of “Recusants,” English and even ultra loyalist, served by English priests trained in seminaries founded and staffed by English exiles, continued the tradition of the ancient Church founded by St. Augustine, they, and they alone, have the indefeasible right to the name of “English Catholics.”
NATIONALISM OF THE CATHOLICS
It is interesting to notice how little there was among them of what was later styled “Ultramontanism” - the particular attachment to Italian devotions and ways of worship, and insistence upon the mediaeval political claims of the Papacy over secular rulers. The great body of English Catholics were unswervingly, even absurdly national under the most adverse conditions; and it was their loyalty to the rulers under whose bloody persecutions they suffered which, from the first, made organised resistance so difficult. The readiness of the majority of them to accept a form of allegiance to James I drafted in the most insulting terms, even when it was condemned by the Pope, is only one sign of their attitude. The group of exiles who held, with Parsons, the Jesuit, that Catholics should support a foreign intervention to overthrow Elizabeth or force her to change her religious policy, found themselves handicapped by the enthusiastic nationalism of their English co-religionists. The clergy - even though after the dying out of the “Marian” priests, they were all trained and ordained abroad - were filled with the same spirit. Educated at Douay, Seville or Rome, under the protection of the Pope and the King of Spain - both declared foes of the Queen at the end of her reign - they yet accepted her authority. Their spirit was that of Blessed Edmund Campion who prayed for “Elizabeth, my Queen and your Queen” on the scaffold, to which she had doomed him after tortures which beggar description.
It was not for Catholics who were persecuted for their loyalty to spiritual authority, to deny the rights of the temporal power within its own sphere. As they had refused the spiritual revolution, so they rejected the temporal revolts of the next century - thereby suffering a double ruin. It was a paradox that the children of those who were harried under James 1 for “disloyalty” should suffer under Cromwell's Government, as later under that of the Orange usurper, for their attachment to the lawful King. It was left for the sons of the subservient “loyalists” who had aided the Tudors in their usurpation's, first, to rebel against their sovereign and kill him, and later, to commit the very crime which Catholics had again and again been accused of plotting - that of summoning over a foreign prince and army to overthrow the Government.
CHARLES II ON CATHOLICISM
Charles II, probably the ablest of all our Kings, fully realised the importance of the English Catholic tradition to the monarchy. His attitude, at a time when he himself hovered between scepticism and the Faith, may be compared to that of the great modern infidel who has defended Catholicism in France - Charles Maurras. The nature of Protestantism was, as he saw it, inconstant. Having in the past abandoned one authority to which they were bound by every tie of tradition and law - the Holy See - there was no reason, he held, to suppose that Anglicans might not equally abandon the Royal authority at a crisis, despite their fervent assertions of the principle of “Divine Right.” And so, in fact, it proved: for, even though Charles I had died a martyr for Anglicanism, it was Anglican Bishops who gave the signal, by their revolt, for the revolution which drove out his son. The “continuity” of political as well as religious tradition was to be found in the highest degree among Catholics, who remained faithful, to a man, to the House of Stewart; while of Anglicans, only a remnant, the “Non-Jurors,” were prepared to stand by their principles of Sacred Kingship.
THE RITUAL TRADITION
Even if we go down to the least details of the history of the English Catholics, we find the same feature of a clinging to the national traditions. The ancient “Uses” of England in the matter of rites and festivals had varied through the country in the Middle Ages. The “Sarum” (Salisbury) use was general in the South, but in the North and West there were others, as well as “customs” observed in certain dioceses from the old days. In times of persecution it was well-nigh impossible for migrant priests, trained abroad in the Roman rite and harried to and fro over the land, to continue to observe these local varieties of “Use”; yet they were upheld in principle for long, and only abandoned when the prospect of restoration of settled parish life was seen to be hopeless.
THE CONTINUlTY OF RELIGIOUS ORDERS
The continuity of the hierarchy was broken, as we have seen, by the failure to consecrate titular Catholic Bishops to replace those of Queen Mary at their deaths, but the same was not always true of the religious Orders. Several of the English Catholic Orders of our time possess unbroken continuity with those of the Middle Ages others only died out some time after the establishment of the new Protestant Church.
Thus, a remnant of the Carthusians, whose house, founded in 1412, was suppressed by Henry VIII, had fled overseas. They returned, under Queen Mary, to Sheen, but emigrated again after Elizabeth's accession.
They retained their identity as a separate group in the Charterhouse at Bruges, and eventually founded a house of their own, “Sheen Anglorum,” whose Prior bore the old title. This house, finally settled at Nieuport, continued until its dissolution under the Emperor Joseph II in 1783; the last of the old line of English Carthusians died in 1821.
The Bridgettines of Syon, whose house was founded in 1415, still remain, having an unbroken tradition of more than 500 years. The English Benedictines possess continuity with the old Abbey of Westminster, built by King Edward the Confessor - one survivor, Dom Buckley, having handed on the heritage to the reestablished congregation in 1607. The Franciscans, who maintained a ‘hidden” province in England until 1614, continued their line in the same way through Father Stanney, who gave the habit to Jennings, the founder of the Second Province at Ypres.
The witness of a continuous tradition in these instances, and the revival of other English Orders abroad in the seventeenth century, is sufficient to expose the falseness of the claim made for modern Anglican groups bearing the traditional names that they are “reviving” the religious life of old England.
HOW ENGLAND WAS CHANGED
I have written enough to show the falseness of the view that the modern Catholic Church is a mere “Italian Mission” without any link with the historic tradition of the English-speaking world. I have sufficiently indicated the attitude of the Elizabethan Church towards the Mass, the priesthood, Catholic doctrine and devotions, to prove that between Mary's Cardinal Pole and Elizabeth's Archbishop Parker there is a great gulf fixed which no theory of continuity can traverse. The English were finally dragooned and propagandised into accepting Protestantism - though the authority of the Queen's political Church never secured the unanimous assent even of Protestants. The methods of terrorism and pressure by which the change was achieved bear a striking resemblance to those which have been employed, in our own time, in order to destroy the faith and transform the outlook of great masses of people, by the Nazi and Communist regimes. The resources of despotic government were smaller in those days, however, and its means for imposing its will less effectual; so that the process was long and difficult, taking more than a century to complete.
Acts of Parliament and Royal decrees created new formularies and enforced their acceptance, as a test of loyalty, under pain of drastic penalties which were continually increased. Measures were taken to make it impossible to secure Catholic education, whether at home or abroad, and to prevent the training and introduction of priests into the country. Catholics were constantly harried and subjected to brutalities; they were driven from public life, excluded from political office, economically ruined by fines and confiscation's. Their clergy were imprisoned, tortured and slain. Like the Soviet Union, again, the English Government was adept at fostering dissension and schismatical movements among those loyal to the Church, so as to set Catholic against Catholic. At last, the Faith was so far crushed out that even its memory was a sinister shadow in eighteenth century parishes. It remained for men of the next age to assert that “English Catholicism” and Anglicanism were the same - that the new Communion was the equivalent of the Mass which had been so bloodily suppressed; and to refuse the name of “English Catholics” to the sturdy remnant which had survived the storms of persecution, and the converts who had rallied to the Faith of their remote ancestors.
THE PRINCES IN THE TOWER
Some years ago, a controversy arose as to the right of the Anglican clergy to assume charge of the bodies of the young princes murdered by King Richard III, which were discovered in the Tower of London. Edward V and his brother were committed to the grave with Anglican ceremonies; but can anyone seriously doubt as to which Church, Anglican or “Roman,” they would have recognised as the “English Church” of 1483, the year of their tragic end? The Archbishop of Canterbury at that time was Cardinal Bourchier, who had received his pallium of office, as well as the sacred Purple, from the Pope, and he, with the whole bench of English Bishops, had sworn allegiance, in ancient set form, to the Holy See. The Seven Sacraments, the Sacrifice of the Mass, and the other Catholic doctrines had been clearly taught from infancy to the unhappy sons of Edward IV; they were accustomed to pray to Our Lady and to their patron saints, to revere holy images and relics, and the shrines of the saints. Such was the faith of Englishmen - a Faith whose public denial was heresy, punishable by death under the secular law as a crime against society. Yes - and the very ruffian who killed the children had sworn in his Coronation oath, to observe the rights and liberties of the Church so constituted. The new Church has usurped the bodies of the princes as it usurped the temporalities and shrines of the old “Ecclesia Anglicana” but it has no shadow of valid claim to either.
WESTMINSTER AND CANTERBURY
What is the position of the Catholic hierarchy in England today? What are the claims of Archbishop Fisher and Cardinal Griffin respectively to the heritage of St. Augustine? Dr. Fisher has the old title, the Cathedral and its property, the Palace at Lambeth. But these are mere external, legal trappings. The spiritual authority of the ancient Catholic Archbishops was obtained from the Holy See, symbolised by the grant of the ‘‘pallium’'; they swore allegiance to the Pope, and bound themselves to every detail of the Roman creed as the standard of orthodoxy - and so it had been since St. Gregory first sent St. Augustine to the shores of Kent. They even held the title of “Legatus natus” as permanent representatives of the Papacy in England. It was in virtue of this spiritual power that they ruled the old English Church. Clerical temporalities - for which they owed duty to the King - might be, and sometimes were, held by laymen. In virtue of these they were Barons and Lords in Parliament. Cardinal Griffin professes the Faith of Augustine, of Lanfranc, of Langton, of Bourehier, of Pole, the present Archbishop of Canterbury could not possibly accept that Faith without renouncing the Articles and Prayer book to which his ministry binds him, and the official supremacy of the King as governor of the Church. The Cardinal has, like St. Augustine and his successors, the Roman pallium as a symbol of his allegiance, like them, he has been ordained and consecrated according to the ancient sacerdotal ritual of the West.
This is the substance of the Catholic claim that its modern episcopate, in England and the English - speaking world of English Christianity are inheritors of the lawful hierarchical tradition of the ancient Church of the English. The present Catholic hierarchy of England, and the hierarchies of the English-speaking Dominions, owe their origin to the same Papacy which erected Canterbury and York and the old English Sees: these Bishops profess the same faith, and exercise their office under the same obedience, as the Bishops who reigned in England before the changes of the sixteenth century.
“YE KNOW NOT WHAT”
In conclusion, we make reflect that the most striking difference between the ancient Catholic “Ecclesia Anglicana” and the new Anglicanism is expressed in the contrast drawn by Our Lord Himself between Jerusalem and Samaria, whose “patriotic” assertion of a separatist claim has an interesting resemblance to the Anglican attitude. In the King James version the text runs: “Ye worship ye know not what: we know we worship; for salvation is of the Jews.”
The ancient Catholic “Ecclesia Anglicana’’ shows the utmost clarity and definiteness in doctrine and loyalties - it is intolerant of division and heresy of every kind. On the contrary, ambiguity and evasion have been the notes of official Anglican teaching from the days of Elizabeth on. The Church of England has shown itself to be incapable either of defining its Faith with clarity or of dealing with those who deny fundamental Christian doctrines from positions of authority in the Church itself. It is a prey to irreconcilable dogmatic and disciplinary confusion, for which some of its adherents attempt to console themselves by glorying in its “tolerance” and “comprehensiveness.” This very contradiction of character is a refutation of its claim to be the inheritor of the spiritual tradition of the old religion.
Yet, let us remember that Our Lord loved the Samaritans, even while condemning their errors; and that He often held them up as an example to the cold ingratitude of Israel. For this, too, has a meaning for us.