Looking to the future

Grant Naylor reports on a recent study day held by the Cleaver Trust

The Cleaver Trust is, as any Catholic theological student will tell you, a very good thing. During my time at St Stephen’s House I was able to lay the foundations for a well-resourced study. This was almost entirely due to the generosity of the book grants available from the Trust. I and other clergy are deeply indebted to the trust and its work resourcing ordinands.

Well received

The Trust was founded in 1916 with a legacy under the will of a Mrs Friederica Frances Swinburne. She had left a sizable endowment to a group of trustees, all of whom had impeccable Anglo-Catholic credentials. New trustees were initially appointed by the second Viscount Halifax but since his death they have been appointed by a majority of the surviving or continuing trustees. This conclave has enabled the Trust to stay firmly within the movement and has resulted in Catholic students being some of the best resourced in the CofE.

For a number of years the Trust has held study days and I have been privileged to attend a number of them. On Saturday 25 February four deacons, eleven ordinands, and four pastoral assistants gathered at Pusey House for the Cleaver Trust Study Day.

The speaker this year was Fr Jonathan Goodall ssc. His paper, entitled ‘Such a long journey’: Canterbury, Rome and Orthodoxy and the path of communion was so well received that the question time overran, interrupted tea, and had to be curtailed by the Episcopal intervention of the Bishop of Ebbsfleet!

Emphasis on sacrifice

The paper had the right intermingling of scholarly insight, historical allusions and latest insider anecdotes. One of the great joys was to hear of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s regular visits to Rome which have fostered such a warm personal relationship between himself and the Holy Father. Fr Goodall worked from Anglican understandings of unity and how they all hold before the wider Church the challenge to full visible (Eucharistic) union. He pointed out that this is a path that Anglicans have sought to tread in conversations with other Christians ever since the 1920 Lambeth Conference at which the bishops appealed to the wider church for a new approach to reconciliation and unity.

The paper went on to discuss RC– Anglican relations and recreated (as we participants are too young to remember) the heady days of the Sixties. While noting the work had begun beforehand Fr Goodall noted the sudden blossoming of relations between the Holy See and Canterbury following the Second Vatican Council. He charted how the Common Declaration of 1966 led to a real sense that the ensuing dialogue would lead to deeper unity and eventually ‘organic union’.

Orthodox Churches

The processes of dialogue with the Orthodox Churches had begun and have continued on very different lines as to those with the Western Churches. The links between Anglicanism and the Orthodox, while generally through individuals, had already cemented strong bonds in the earlier part of the twentieth century. The Archbishop’s chaplain was able to draw on his own research which has uncovered the presence of the Serbian Orthodox seminary at St Stephen’s House during the First World War. The Serbian seminarians learnt all of their theology in the city. Amongst the cohort that studied at St Stephen’s House was the recently canonized St Justin Popović. Fr Goodall noted how the ecumenical  dialogue between the east and Anglicanism started with discussions and statements on ‘The Knowledge of God’, ‘The Inspiration and Authority of Holy Scripture’, ‘Scripture and Tradition’, ‘The Authority of Councils’, ‘The Filioque Clause’, ‘The Church as Eucharistic Community’, and ‘The Invocation of the Holy Spirit in the Eucharist’. However, an impasse was reached in the Seventies following the ordination of women in some parts of the communion, which was overcome only when the basis of the dialogue was changed from ‘negotiations for immediate full communion’ to something a little vaguer (Anglican-Orthodox Dialogue: The Dublin Agreed Statement 1984, London: SPCK, 1984).

Receptive ecumenism

The talk concluded with an overview of the ARCIC process and how it has adapted to changing circumstances. The Archbishop’s chaplain explained how ARCIC I and II had essentially sought to grapple with areas of perceived disagreement and attempt to provide a unified statement at the end. ARCIC III has now agreed to adopt Receptive Ecumenism as a theological orientation for the work that must occur before full and visible union.

The school has grown up at the University of Durham at the centre for Catholic studies which notes on its website: ‘The essential principle behind Receptive Ecumenism is that the primary ecumenical responsibility is to ask not ‘What do the other traditions first need to learn from us?’ but ‘What do we need to learn from them?

I was left with the impression after the talk that it is vital the Churches of the Anglican Communion contemplate themselves before sitting in dialogue with others. One gift that the Ordinariate has given us within the movement is a renewed confidence in our Anglicanism. It also calls us to question: what is authentic of and within our own tradition? ND

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