Friday, 18 July 2014
Francis or Thomas? Thoughts on a catholic Anglican future
The above is an extract from +Stephen Conway's article, entitled 'Affirming a Liberal Catholic Future', in the Affirming Catholicism 2014 Review. It is a fascinating sentence, suggestive of how catholic Anglicanism is developing in a different manner than the title of the article implies.
The reference to Thomas Aquinas surely points us towards Radical Orthodoxy. In an overview of Radical Orthodoxy's first decade, John Milbank described the movement as a "return to Aquinas". In the RO reading of Augustine, Thomas looms large, restoring "an authentically Augustinian view". Milbank and Pickstock's volume on Thomas, of course, also restores an Augustinian reading of Thomas, a definitively Christocentric Thomas against the abstractions of Neo-Scholastic Thomism.
So, then, is ACF the RO wing of catholic Anglicanism? Bishop Conway's words perhaps imply this. If so, this does indicate the growth of an 'affirming' catholic Anglicanism more robustly and rigorously ecclesial, creedal, Augustinian, doctrinal than might be seen in a 'liberal catholic future'.
What also united the traditions of Francis and Thomas was the response of the secular clergy to the popularity of their communities. In his study of the religious culture of the Italian city states of the 12th and 13th centuries, Cities of God, Augustine Thompson, O.P., notes this response:
Secular priests went complaining to Pope Innocent IV about the laity's deserting their proper chapels to go to the churches of the mendicants: "these two orders celebrate Mass so well that the people turn to them".
The "more edifying liturgy" (Thompson's words) offered by the Franciscans and Dominicans, together with the spiritual direction they offered, their preaching and devotional life caught the imagination of a culture which had ceased to be surprised by a Church which had become banal, unimaginative, predictable.
Rather than contrasting Francis and Thomas, a catholic Anglican future shaped and inspired by the challenge and depths to which both saints witness, offers the potential of again capturing the culture's imagination with strange word of the Gospel.
Posted by BC at 21:42