Anglicans suffering from 'ecclesial Parkinsons'

 

Cardinal Ivan Dias, Prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Evangelisation, has been addressing the world’s Anglican bishops meeting at the Lambeth Conference. This could be the first time the Anglican crisis has been likened publicly by a Vatican official to a degenerative disease.

Cardinal Dias says:

Much is spoken today of diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. By analogy, their symptoms can, at times, be found even in our own Christian communities. For example, when we live myopically in the fleeting present, oblivious of our past heritage and apostolic traditions, we could well be suffering from spiritual Alzheimer’s. And when we behave in a disorderly manner, going whimsically our own way without any co-ordination with the head or the other members of our community, it could be ecclesial Parkinson’s.

But it’s worth quoting the bit before that, too. Cardinal Dias is arguing that evangelisation is crucial to the outcome of the "spiritual battle" that began in the Garden of Eden; and that evangelisation depends on unity.

Evangelisation is the unique prerogative of the Holy Spirit, who needs channels through which He may flow unhampered. This will be possible in the measure in which there is unity and cohesion between the members of the Church, between them and their shepherds, and, above all, between the shepherds themselves, both within the community as well as with the other Christian confessions. For, in the present ecumenical framework in which Providence has willed to engage the Churches, a unity which binds them together in the apostolic faith is intrinsic to the Church’s mission of speaking and spreading the Gospel. Hence, when they are of one mind and heart notwithstanding their diversity, their missionary thrust is indeed enhanced and strengthened. But, when the diversity degenerates into division, it becomes a counter-witness which seriously compromises their image and endeavours to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ.

In other words: “Get it together, people. There’s a wider picture here.”  Christians can’t afford to have too many absolute principles.

Cardinal Dias is one of three cardinals attending the Lambeth Conference. Cardinal Walter Kasper’s address will be on the wider picture of the Anglicans’ relationship with other Churches. Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor will do the charm bit. It’s a three-pronged Roman offensive -- but one designed to shore up the Archbishop of Canterbury’s efforts at getting his imploding Church to look outwards.

8 years 10 months ago
I am very grateful to Mr. Ivereigh for his regular commentary on the Lambeth Conference and the Anglican Communion. It is insightful, measured, and charitable. I wonder, though, if Cardinal Dias’ speech is intended, as Mr. Ivereigh claims, to shore up Rowan Williams’ efforts to put aside internal concerns for the sake of external ones. A common theme from many in The Episcopal Church (TEC) and elsewhere is that problems over ordination and sexual ethics are (much) less important than those of poverty, hunger, the Millennium Development Goals, etc. Mission must trump—or, at least, have priority over—doctrine. Otherwise, ecclesial introversion and navel-gazing ensue. “Creeds divide, deeds unite,” as the saying goes. This is a potential danger. But, Cardinal Dias, following Pope Benedict’s ecumenical addresses in New York and Sydney, turns this argument on its head. He says that mission and evangelization ultimately fail when cut off from unity in the apostolic faith. Doctrine and mission are inseparably bound together, and, when doctrinal erosion occurs, mission failure will result, too (as will ecumenical failure). That is why Dias insists so strongly, as Ivereigh notes, on unity as the condition for evangelization. There can be no end-runs around the church’s apostolic faith and order, even in the name of mission. In this sense, I see Cardinal Dias trying to strengthen Rowan Williams and the Lambeth Conference not by ignoring matters of faith and order, but by reminding them of where strength for mission comes from.
8 years 10 months ago
Christopher is spot on. I certainly did not want to give the impression that Cardinal Dias was urging Anglicans to put aside internal considerations for external ones. Dias is indeed saying that "mission and evangelization ultimately fail when cut off from unity in the apostolic faith" -- and that is an excellent summary of his message.

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

Pope Francis meets with President Donald Trump on the occasion of their private audience, at the Vatican on Wednesday, May 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, Pool)
President Donald Trump and Pope Francis held a private 30-minute meeting at the Vatican on Wednesday laden with religious symbolism and ancient protocol.
Gerard O'ConnellMay 24, 2017
A youth takes the Eucharist from Monsignor Gregorio Rosa Chavez during a Mass giving thanks for Pope Francis' announcement that Chavez will be elevated to the rank of cardinal, at San Francisco de Asis parish church in San Salvador, El Salvador on Monday, May 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Salvador Melendez)
Rosa Chavez has a reputation as a man of the people, warm and quick to smile.
Fan leaves the Park Inn hotel in central Manchester, England, on Tuesday, May 23, 2017. Over a dozen people were killed in an explosion following a Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena late Monday evening. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
Pope Francis sent his condolences and prayers to all those affected "by this senseless act of violence" in Manchester, England.
In this photo taken May 19, 2017, a GPO worker stacks copies of "Analytical Perspectives Budget of the U.S. Government Fiscal Year 2018" onto a pallet at the U.S. Government Publishing Office's (GPO) plant in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
The budget’s moral measure will be assessed by “how well it promotes the common good of all,” the bishops write.
Kevin ClarkeMay 22, 2017