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Pope Benedict XVI: “These two things must go together”

Wednesday, July 16, 2008 • 9:54 am

One minor story that has been trumpeted and, as it turns out, trumped up by revisionist bloggers and the MSM centers on scattered reports of Pope Benedict’s remarks regarding Lambeth. We were told that the Pope expressed antipathy toward an Anglican “schism” and that his words, somehow, represented an indirect condemnation of GAFCON and of orthodox Anglicans in general.

The reports and semi-gloating blog posts turn out, shocker, to be half the truth. Here are his Holiness’ remarks in full:

Q: While you are in Australia, the bishops of the Anglican Communion, which is very widespread also in Australia, are meeting in Lambeth Palace. One of the main arguments will be possible ways to consolidate communion between the provinces and to find a way to ensure that one or more provinces do not take initiatives that others see as contrary to the Gospel and tradition.

Is there the risk of a fragmentation of the Anglican Communion and the possibility that some will ask to be received into the Catholic Church. What is your hope for the Lambeth Conference and for the archbishop of Canterbury?

Benedict XVI: My essential contribution can only be prayer and with my prayer I will be very close to the Anglican bishops meeting in Lambeth Conference.

We cannot and must not intervene immediately in their discussions, we respect their own responsibility and it is our hope that schisms and new breaks can be avoided, and that a responsible solution will be found given our times, but also in fidelity to the Gospel. These two things must go together.

Christianity is always contemporary and lives in this world, in a certain time, but it renders present in this time the message of Jesus Christ and, hence, offers a true contribution for this time only be being faithful—in a mature and creative way—but faithful to the message of Christ.

We hope, and I personally pray, that together they will find the way of the Gospel for our day. This is my wish for the archbishop of Canterbury: That the Anglican Communion in communion with the Gospel of Christ and the Word of the Lord will find the answers to the present challenges.


Quite a bit different in context. Unity without Truth is no unity at all.

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That sounds more like B16!!!

[1] Posted by jedinovice on 07-16-2008 at 10:22 AM • top

What distortion in the MSM and blogs!?!

I am shocked, shocked, I tell you!  Where are the smelling salts?  Whatt!!!  They were all bought up for VGR’s impropmptu faints over the inhumanity and injustice of it all?

Just the ammonia disinfectant, then, dears.

[2] Posted by dwstroudmd+ on 07-16-2008 at 10:23 AM • top

I think the source of all of this euphoria was an aricle in the Guardian, which clearly ignored the darkened words above.

[3] Posted by BettyLee Payne on 07-16-2008 at 10:33 AM • top

Whenever issues of this nature come up, there should be an automatic link back to Greg Griffith’s excellent post laying out the heart of the matter: always understand that our worthy opponents lie. They lie all the time, and can never be counted on to be truthful in any of their dealings with us.

“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

[4] Posted by TridentineVirginian on 07-16-2008 at 10:39 AM • top

My hope and prayer is that the Pope does make room for those seeking to return and that there will be some dialoque with those Anglo-Catholics who have been kicked to the curb by the CofE!

[5] Posted by TLDillon on 07-16-2008 at 10:40 AM • top

Heh. Ironic. Conservative Evangelicals agreeing with the Pope on “fidelity to the Gospel”. Isn’t that the very accusation you’ve been throwing at Rome for 500 years? Articles 22 & 28 don’t seem to see much evidence of ‘fidelity’. And I take it you now accept the doctrines of the Assumption and Immaculate Conception as being faithful to the Gospel.grin

[6] Posted by Micky on 07-16-2008 at 10:45 AM • top

Conservative evangelicals have been finding that they have a lot in common with the pope, Micky. He believes Jesus is Lord, for instance, and a number of other things that “revisionists” don’t believe in their new religion.

[7] Posted by oscewicee on 07-16-2008 at 10:48 AM • top

Hi Micky,

Yes evangelicals and Catholics continue to disagree on a number of crucial points. But the Reason we disagree is that we not only take God’s revelation in scripture “seriously”, we believe it is true. And because we both believe that God’s Word is true, it is happily quite easy to join spears against things that clearly contradict it, like the mass slaughter of unborn babies or the blessing of sexual perversion.

Hope that helps

[8] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 07-16-2008 at 10:50 AM • top

Mickey, your ranks have little room to talk when it comes to strange bedfellows.  Perhaps it is all relative.

[9] Posted by monologistos on 07-16-2008 at 10:53 AM • top

I think it is fair to say, Micky, that one may believe in the Immaculate Conception and in the Assumption without distorting anything in the Gospel.  Belief in the Gospel does not by itself compel belief in those doctrines, of course, but neither are they incompatible with the Gospel, nor with any of Scripture. 

I think the point is not that there are thousands or millions of evangelical Anglicans who are wanting to swim the Tiber en masse.  No one is claiming that.  The point is that there are likely going to be opportunities for Anglo-Catholics who have had enough of TEC or COE to come to Rome as parishes, or in large groups, and keep their priests and parts of their liturgy.  Reappraiser reports to the contrary are inaccurate.

[10] Posted by Rick H. on 07-16-2008 at 11:10 AM • top

No matter what the Revisionists put out there as news and commentaries, the facts remain: The Pope is not on the same page with the Revisionists on the issues that are breaking the Anglican Communion - on any substantial issue, for that matter.
At the end of the day, it is not what the Press write that matters. We know what really matters. Yes, we do.

[11] Posted by Spiro on 07-16-2008 at 11:12 AM • top

I think Matt expressed the situation excellently.  There are very real theological differences between Protestant and Catholics.  But these differences arise from disagreements over what is actually in Scripture.  We read the same passages and come to different conclusions.  And most honest people would agree, a case can be made for both arguments. 

However to take something that is clearly condemned in Scripture and use weasel theology or appeals to cultural norms as a way to justify it, is a whole nother matter. 
There is just no way any right thinking Christian can read the Scripture and conclude that Herod would have been in the right if only he had given out abortificants.  There is no way to get around the fact that God does not bless sexual activity outside of life long heterosexual marriage.  There is no doubt that Scripture says salavation is through Christ alone.

To put it rather crudely the heteredox keep peeing on my leg and tell me it’s raining.

[12] Posted by Paula Loughlin on 07-16-2008 at 11:25 AM • top

Quoth Mickey:

Heh. Ironic. Conservative Evangelicals agreeing with the Pope on “fidelity to the Gospel”. Isn’t that the very accusation you’ve been throwing at Rome for 500 years?

So, because the 39 Articles disagree with well established Roman doctrines, this proves that Holy Scripture is subject to differing interpretations?  To my understanding, it’s never been a question of whether or not two Gospel-confessing Christians may disagree in their exegesis.  The question is, may we interpret the Gospel any way we freely choose?  “Let scripture interpret scripture,” I have often heard said by biblical scholars far wiser than I.  This tells us that the answer is “No.”

I can understand you disagreeing with the reasserting position on these issues.  I believe it’s your free will to do so.  But please don’t try to use the 39 Articles against us.  It won’t work.  I approve of and agree with the 39 Articles.  However, I am in communion with Anglicans who take a different position on the Articles.  I and they are bound together as a part of his Body by Christ Jesus’ sacrifice and love for us, because we are not in willful rebellion against his Holy Gospel.

[13] Posted by cmsigler on 07-16-2008 at 11:57 AM • top

Would it be rude of me to point out to my eerrrr…. friends on the HOBD listserve that from the Pope’s point of view, if 100,000 Anglicans left the Communion en masse for the purpose of joining the Catholic Church, that would not be schism, but reconciliation?

[14] Posted by tjmcmahon on 07-16-2008 at 12:03 PM • top

tjmcmahon, I think the HOBD may, in general, have some issues with the term “reconciliation.”

[15] Posted by oscewicee on 07-16-2008 at 12:05 PM • top

Matt+ and Paula do put it very well but I it could be said in another way. Catholics and Protestants have always moved on parallel tracks. The leap from one to the other seemed big in the past simply because it was a leap at all.

Revisionists instead seemed to be on a tangential track, moving ever greater distances from the starting point. The farther they go the greater the distance till now it’s reached a point much farther than that between the parallel tracks originally. For many Anglicans their original track seemed to be untenable and now it’s only a matter of which way to leap. It would hardly be surprising that having refused to go down the tangential track, they choose the parallel one which, unlike the tangential, at least seems to be moving in the same direction they had started on.

The truly surprising thing about this is the Anglicans have always been the unmitigated masters of the parallel track. Permitting small windings but yet keeping the direction true. It hard to believe there would come a time when they would just toss the compass and sextant overboard.

[16] Posted by Rocks on 07-16-2008 at 12:19 PM • top

Mick, to add to 8, conservative evangelicals have always valued honesty and forthrightness above false unity, so what’s your point? Do you think its somehow inconsistent of us to appreciate the pope’s honesty over the revisionista lack of it in covering this story (which was the point of the post, in case you missed it)? Please elucidate.

[17] Posted by SpongJohn SquarePantheist on 07-16-2008 at 12:47 PM • top

Here is Cardinal Ratzinger’s letter to the Plano gathering again.  You will note that twice in his message, he mentions unity in truth - and the GAFCON logo has those words, Veritas and Uniti, in Latin on the Cross.
The letter:

From Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
The Vatican, on behalf of Pope John Paul II

I hasten to assure you of my heartfelt prayers for all those taking part in this convocation.  The significance of your meeting is sensed far beyond Plano, and even in this City from which Saint Augustine of Canterbury was sent to confirm and strengthen the preaching of Christ’s Gospel in England.  Nor can I fail to recall that barely 120 years later, Saint Boniface brought that same Christian faith from England to my own forebears in Germany.

The lives of these saints show us how in the Church of Christ there is a unity in truth and a communion of grace which transcend the borders of any nation.  With this in mind, I pray in particular that God’s will may be done by all those who seek that unity in the truth, the gift of Christ himself.

With fraternal regards, I remain
Sincerely yours in Christ,
+Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

[18] Posted by Theodora on 07-16-2008 at 01:44 PM • top

Thanks for that reprint, Floridian.  I remember the roar and applause that went up in Plano when that letter was read.  We needed this encouragement and it was a wonderful blessing to receive it from then Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI.

We know where he stands on the issues dividing the Anglican Communion.  He would never say unity not based on truth is the path for Christians to take.  Thanks Matt for emphasizing the passage that sensationalist secular media would never think to emphasize.

[19] Posted by BettyLee Payne on 07-16-2008 at 01:53 PM • top

Fr. Matt:

I think someone from StandFirm should look into posting the newest story on Damian Thompson’s “Holy Smoke” blog: Ex-Anglican Communities To Become Catholic, Rome Confirms.

Seems like a big deal.

[20] Posted by Diezba on 07-16-2008 at 03:02 PM • top

Never mind—saw it got posted.

[21] Posted by Diezba on 07-16-2008 at 03:03 PM • top

Stress and Confusion make strange bedfellows, but I tend to think that the real theological areas that TEC has embraced that really push the orthodox towards Rome revolve around some new understanding of the Divinity of Christ.

Same sex blessings and ordaining practicing homosexuals pale IMHO when compared to shooting down “Jesus is Lord” or denying the Trinitarian Godhead, or trying to push Jesus back into the Human Social Revolutionary box or any other attempt to diminish His Divinity, equality with The Almighty, and necessity for salvation.  These are core issues that Evangelical Anglicans, Anglo-Catholics, and Rome all agree upon and hold very dear.

If TEC and the CoE want to drive the orthodox out most surely, continue down a path that continues to diminish Jesus as the Maker of our Feast, and our Light, and our Salvation.  That will finish the job.


[22] Posted by Mike Bertaut on 07-16-2008 at 03:37 PM • top

Same sex blessings and ordaining practicing homosexuals pale IMHO when compared to shooting down “Jesus is Lord” or denying the Trinitarian Godhead, or trying to push Jesus back into the Human Social Revolutionary box or any other attempt to diminish His Divinity, equality with The Almighty, and necessity for salvation.
I couldn’t agree with you more, Mike Bertaut. This is what is driving me away, what troubles my soul and hurts me like a physical pain.

[23] Posted by oscewicee on 07-16-2008 at 03:48 PM • top

#22 and 23: I am perhaps a worked example of exactly what you’re talking about.

Two years ago, when I was considering converting from Episcopalianism to Roman Catholicism, I wrote—as a check on my discernment process—an eight-page essay on why I felt the need to convert.  I mentioned sexuality once, in an aside on the first page.  The major, pressing reasons I felt I couldn’t stay Episcopalian in good conscience were all the kind of thing Mike Bertaut is talking about. 

If it had been otherwise—if the problems in the Episcopal Church had been limited to sexuality—I might perhaps have stayed put as an Episcopalian.  Once I became convinced that the Episcopal Church no longer held to an orthodox Christology, though, it was clear to me that I had no practical unity left with the Episcopal Church.  The necessary foundation of shared truth was gone; it was time to leave.


[24] Posted by Peter Brown on 07-16-2008 at 11:46 PM • top

Now, if we could just get the Main Stream Media to understand what the difference is between Symptoms and Diseases, people could really begin to understand what is at stake in this “War for the Soul of Anglicanism”.

Diseases:  Confused Christology, Denied Divinity, Sullied Scripture, Confunded Church.

Symptoms:  Spong, Schori, Beers, SSB’s, Clown Liturgies, Gaia Worship, Muslim Priests, Va. Lawsuits, Declining ASA, Banished Bishops, I could go on and on.

Let’s make sure we are recognizing the diseases, and not just screaming about the symptoms.


[25] Posted by Mike Bertaut on 07-17-2008 at 12:00 AM • top

Mike Bertaut,

Add, ‘Polluted Polity’ where procedures, laws and canons are made the servants of social-political agendas, power-mongering, etc.  Law and canon are big for some purposes, but are expendable for other purposes.

My pet gripes:
- Doctrine and theology are put up for popular vote and/or negotiated and compromised.
- people without Biblical qualifications, but with rabid unscriptural agendas are ordained and consecrated and are teaching in seminaries.
- sexual agendas come before Scripture.

[26] Posted by Floridian on 07-17-2008 at 06:23 AM • top

Same sex blessings and ordaining practicing homosexuals pale IMHO when compared to shooting down “Jesus is Lord” or denying the Trinitarian Godhead, or trying to push Jesus back into the Human Social Revolutionary box or any other attempt to diminish His Divinity, equality with The Almighty, and necessity for salvation.  These are core issues that Evangelical Anglicans, Anglo-Catholics, and Rome all agree upon and hold very dear.

There are revisionists and then there are Revisionists.  It is an error (I believe a serious one) to distort the Church’s teaching on morality.  It is another to completely jettison the Church’s world view.  One could believe that Jesus is Lord and make some kind of analogy to Pentecost and the book of Acts that what was formerly unclean (e.g. eating pork) is now clean.  God’s circle of blessing is extending to all kinds of outcasts—women, Samaritans, homosexuals.  I would disagree with this exegesis, but this a bit more than a stone’s throw from Bp. Spong.

A lot of the “policy changes” that have come our way have occurred seen not to have come because Revisionists are the majority, but because they find common cause with people who see a biblical/theological case for the change.  Take WO.  For some, this was about justice and equality above biblical theology.  Some of those believed in all that ancient stuff about the Trinity and some didn’t.  Then, others were primarily persuaded by theological arguments.  Others didn’t want to rock the boat and voted to agree with the loudest voices.  Not everyone who voted to change TEC policy on WO was Revisionist.  Many of those who voted in favor of VGR believe in the resurrection.  If you take him at his word, so does VGR.  I believe Bps. Robinson and Schori are not only on different planets from Bp. Iker.  They may be on different planets from each other (but make good partners in crime nonetheless).

[27] Posted by Via Mead (Rob Kirby) on 07-17-2008 at 07:54 AM • top

RK #27, I appreciate your analysis, if you substitute for “Social Justice” the words “Tyranny of Feelings” then I think we’ve got the revisionist agenda pretty well pegged.  Feelings trump everything, and it disturbs me that they somehow have come to think that the example of Christ’s Life has as it’s defining characteristic NOT hurting people’s feelings. 

That’s madness….KTF!...mrb

[28] Posted by Mike Bertaut on 07-17-2008 at 08:32 AM • top

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