A comment on the recent announcement that global Evangelical Anglicans are starting up their own “parallel church” has brought the observation that “Catholics are just as divided as Anglicans although they have maintained authoritarian “unity”.
I suspect this comment comes from an Anglican, and it is the sort of thing I once believed.
I actually considered the Anglican Church to be the truer church because of her comprehensiveness. I saw that there were Evangelicals Anglicans, Ango Catholics, Liberal Anglicans, Conservative Anglicans, Charismatic Anglicans, Conservative Charismatic, Anglo Catholic Charismatic, Evangelical Conservative, Evangelical Catholic, Liberal Catholic, Liberal Evangelical Charismatic Anglican….you get the idea, and I thought this diversity represented the true diversity in Christ’s Church and that the Catholic Church was monolithic, authoritarian and uniform and therefore (despite her size) more of a sect than a diverse church.
Then I became a Catholic. Suddenly I realized how very diverse the Catholic Church is. I came across plenty of liberal Catholics and conservative Catholics. Furthermore, the ethnic and cultural diversity in the Catholic Church was truly amazing. The Church of England was (and ever will be) the church of England. It was a cultural and historical manifestation.
The Catholic Church was truly global and diverse in a way I could never have imagined as an Anglican.
However, it was true. There was division and differences within the Catholic Church.
Soon after I became a Catholic a Catholic priest said to me, “You know you will find the same level of division and difference within the Catholic Church as you have in the Anglican Church.” He meant that you would find liberals and conservatives.
I stopped to correct him.
“I don’t think that is true. May I ask you a question Father?”
“Among all your fellow priests there are differences of opinions and styles correct?”
“To be sure.”
“However, that all know what a priest is. They all know what the sacraments are. They all agree on these basics. They all know and understand the authority of the pope. They know what constitutes a valid sacrament. Would you agree?”
“I suppose so. Yes.”
I continued: “Furthermore, the majority of Catholics in the pew understand these things too don’t they? Even if their understanding is faulty or flawed, they know what the sacrament is. They know what a priest is. They know who the pope is and that what he says goes.”
“I believe most of them do.”
“Furthermore, even when they are in dissent and they don’t like what the pope says and they have doubts about the sacrament and they disagree with the church on women’s ordination. Even so they still–even by their dissent prove that they know these things are what make Catholicism Catholic. In other words, despite divisions and differences of opinion there are some basic, rock solid, foundational truths that Catholics agree on–even when they dislike them or don’t understand them fully.”
“You must understand that this is not the case in Anglicanism. Continue Reading
Image via Bing