"Let unity, the greatest good of all goods, be your preoccupation." - St. Ignatius of Antioch (Letter to St. Polycarp)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

"Anglicanism Nearly Finished Destroying Itself"

"Breaking the Bonds of Communion", by Father Raymond J. de Souza, National Post

H/T: Mark Shea

The choice for Anglicans is either to continue to fragment, each person continually seeking out a bishop somewhere (e.g. in South America, or in Africa) with whom he agrees, or to pursue reconciliation and reunion with the Holy See. There are no other options.

Those who do not understand the relationship between being and unity will not understand that to lose unity is to lose being. To fragment is to die. In other words, to lose catholicity is to cease to exist. It is only a matter of time, just as it is only a matter of time for a corpse to disintegrate.

Just as being cannot come from non-being, so unity cannot come from non-unity. St. Thomas Aquinas writes, "ab uno derivatur unitio" [uniting is derived from unity](ST I Q.60 a.3 ad 2). That is why ecumenicism cannot be "E Pluribus Unum" [out of many, one], because unity cannot be derived from plurality. Out of mere plurality can only come plurality, for unity only comes from unity, just as being only comes from being. Unity does not come from plurality, for plurality (as such) has no unity to give, because plurality is a privation of unity. And nothing can give what it does not have. Unity is given to plurality from unity, to make what is plural into a unity, by incorporating the many into an already-existing unity. We can see this implicitly in verses like 1 Corinthians 10:17, which in Greek reads:

ὅτι εἷς ἄρτος, ἓν σῶμα οἱ πολλοί ἐσμεν, οἱ γὰρ πάντες ἐκ τοῦ ἑνὸς ἄρτου μετέχομεν.

and in Latin:

Quoniam unus panis, unum corpus multi sumus, omnes, qui de uno pane participamus.

and in English:

Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.

We, who are many, are made one by partaking of the one Bread (John 6), who is one. (John 10:30) Only by participating in and partaking of the One are we, who are many, made one. We can see this also in 1 Corinthians 12, where St. Paul teaches that in our baptism, we are baptized into one body [εἰς ἓν σῶμα; in unum corpus]. (1 Cor 12:13). By our baptism, we are incorporated into an already existing unity, namely, the Body of Christ. Why is the Body of Christ one, even though it has many members? Because Christ, who is the head of the Church, which is His Body, is One. (Eph 5:23) The Church is one because Christ its Head is one, and because the Spirit which animates the Church is one. The unity of the divine nature is the source of all other unity, and has no source of unity, for it itself is perfect unity, i.e. unity per se, uncaused unity. Every other unity is a derived unity, i.e. a unity-from-unity. No mere plurality can become an actual unity without being incorporated into an existing unity, and the only divine unity into which we can be incorporated is the life of Christ, found in His Body, the Church which He Himself established. Any other community is an imitation, and is intrinsically disposed to fragmentation, for it was not founded by the God-man Jesus Christ. "Then if anyone says to you, 'Behold, here is the Christ', or 'There He is', do not believe him." (Matt 24:23) Christ is in the Church that Christ founded, not in the societies founded by mere men. (See here.)

What's my point? Tower of Babel ecumenicism is doomed to failure by the metaphysical truth that unity cannot come from plurality anymore than being can come from non-being. The only sort of ecumenicism that can succeed is that which finds and participates in that already-existing unity which the incarnate Christ Himself established, and of which He is the Head and Cornerstone. To separate oneself from the Catholic (universal) Church is to cut oneself off from the Unity and Life of Christ in the Church. That is why the only two options before the Anglican bishops, as the Vatican warned in May, are the pursuit of reconciliation and reunion with the Holy See, or the eventual utter fragmentation that necessarily accompanies Protestantism. It appears that one portion of Anglicanism has chosen the path of Protestantism. Let us pray that all of Anglicanism pursues the path of reconciliation and reunion with the Holy See.

UPDATE: Read Fr. Longenecker's "Anglicans in Agony". According to Damian Thompson, at least one Anglican bishop is preparing to seek full communion with the bishop of Rome after the Lambeth Conference.

1 comment:

Iohannes said...

Thanks for giving the Greek and Latin along with the English. The verse from First Corinthians is sometimes translated differently, but I think you have the correct rendering of it. The AV's translation ("For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread") is not bad, but it does not quite bring out the force of the hoti, which when translated in a precise manner shows more clearly the relationship of the sacrament to unity.