Yet, if Cardinal Muller himself, Head of the former Holy Office, spoke recently of a possible schism referring to the Synod, there is fear of it even more so after the 8th of September. There have already been signs of some very strident quarrels with some important cardinals at Santa Marta over the past few days. And the Synod promises to be explosive.
Socci: With Papally-Mandated "Catholic Divorce" destroying a Sacrament, Schism Looms Large on the Catholic Horizon
Today, their number has dwindled to about 1.2 million and no telling how many of that total are actually practicing their faith, whatever that means today for Episcopalians.
You would think that this would tell Catholics that liberalism and Christianity do not mix well at all. It was a deadly combination for the liberal Protestants of the 19th Century which led to the Fundamentalist movement in the early 20th century, so disgusted were many orthodox Protestants with the deconstruction of historic Christianity in Protestantism by those involved in the religious enlightenment of that period. Liberal Protestantism as proven by the Episcopal Church is an toothless beast.
And the toothless Catholics who had their heyday in the 1960's and 70's like sterile grandmothers and grandfathers, continue to invoke the Carma of that period of post-Vatican II spirit of liberalism a la the failed Protestant variety as the way forward for the Catholic Church today. Think of the those enamored with Fr. Hans Kung, the most radical of amongst those of that period and to a lesser extent, Cardinal Walter Kasper who continues on as the energizer rabbit well into his 80's.
Could the same thing happen to the Catholic Church? I don't know. Catholicism is not congregational as the Anglican Communion's dioceses and parishes are and there is no real obedience pledged by the bishops in this communion to the Archbishop of Canterbury who is merely a figurehead.
But there could well be an authentic schism coming to the Catholic Church (and by this I mean the SSPX are not in an authentic schism as they hold to historic Catholicism's doctrines and dogmas completely, although their attitudes about the current popes after Vatican II and of Vatican II itself is far from traditional). The schism will be the likes of the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century and will come from the same spot, Germany and those countries around it. It will be based upon the Anglican model of doing things in such a dysfunction way, as Archbishop Welby puts it in the article below and they will drag many Catholics throughout the world with them.
But the inevitable is about to happen to the Anglican Communion thanks to all the silliness their liberal leaders have created since the 1960's and much of that, believe it or not, as a result of our Vatican II!
Read for yourselves:
Archbishop of Canterbury plans to loosen ties of divided Anglican communion
- Justin Welby to suggest looser organisation of worldwide body
- New group would no longer be linked by a common doctrine
- Liberal US and conservative African churches argued over sexuality
The archbishop of Canterbury is proposing to effectively dissolve the fractious and bitterly divided worldwide Anglican communion and replace it with a much looser grouping.
Justin Welby has summoned all the 38 leaders of the national churches of the Anglican communion to a meeting in Canterbury next January, where he will propose that the communion be reorganised as a group of churches that are all linked to Canterbury but no longer necessarily to each other.
He believes that the communion – notionally the third largest Christian body in the world with 80 million members, after the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox churches - has become impossible to hold together due to arguments over power and sexuality and has, for the past 20 years, been completely dysfunctional.
A Lambeth Palace source said the archbishop felt he could not leave his eventual successor in the same position of “spending vast amounts of time trying to keep people in the boat and never actually rowing it anywhere”.
Welby believes that his proposal will allow him to maintain relations with the liberal churches of north America, which recognise and encourage gay marriage, and the African churches, led by Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria, who are agitating for the recriminalisation of all homosexual activity in their countries. Both will be able to call themselves “Anglican” but there will no longer be any pretence that this involves a common discipline or doctrine.
Asked whether this represented, if not a divorce, a legal separation, a Lambeth source said: “It’s more like sleeping in separate bedrooms.”
Instead, they may be able to cooperate on matters such as climate change and inter-religious violence, which are desperately important to many of the poorer churches. As well as the obvious religious tensions in the Middle East, 200 churches in south India were burned to the ground by Hindu extremists last year. These issues seem more urgent to the archbishop than the interminable wrangling about sexuality.
Welby’s decision represents a complete abandonment of the strategy pursued by his immediate predecessors, Rowan Williams and George Carey, both of whom were committed to getting the liberals and conservatives to work together globally.
The archbishop is determined to rescue what he can from the schism over sexuality. He spent much of his life before becoming a bishop working on missions of reconciliation in countries including Nigeria, and values very highly the unofficial low-level contacts between churches in different countries.
But the feuding over sexuality, which started in the US in the mid-90s, has become completely unmanageable.
All the Anglican bishops around the world are meant to meet up every 10 years in Canterbury at the Lambeth conference. Nearly 250 out of 800 stayed away from the last meeting, in 2008, in protest against the supposed liberalism of Williams. Welby has already announced the indefinite postponement of the next conference.
Welby’s decision is a gamble with high stakes. If the African conservatives, grouped in an organisation called Gafcon, decide to withdraw altogether, they will put pressure on English conservative evangelical churches to withdraw formally from the Church of England and align themselves with Gafcon.
Some smaller groupings have already done this. But the archbishop is betting that the conservatives, some of whom are personal friends with tight links to the church network where he was nourished, will draw back from churches such as Uganda’s, which support laws that would reintroduce the death penalty for gay sex.
A large, formal schism has already taken place in the US. The Anglican churches of Nigeria, Rwanda, and Kenya have all established what they call missionary congregations in America to take worshippers away from the liberal churches. American conservatives have been given jobs in the new organisations and have in some cases written the speeches and manifestos for the African conservative groups.
In his most controversial proposal, Welby will ask the American conservative grouping Acna, which has been locked in bitter lawsuits over church property with the mainstream liberal American Anglican church grouping, TEC, to attend the meeting in January, but not as a full member.
If the meeting goes well – and Lambeth sources put the possibility of catastrophic failure at about 25% – Welby appears determined to foster practical cooperation among the churches that are still speaking to him, if not to each other.
He hopes to hold a meeting of the new body in 2020. One member of his staff said: “If so few people want to come that we could hold it in a telephone box, fine, we’ll hold it in a telephone box.”
The Rev Andrew Symes, of Anglican Mainstream, the largest conservative grouping organisation in the Church of England, said: “There is a difference between an institutional unity and a confessional unity. It is not just the sexuality thing. There are underlying differences about our understanding of the bible and of God.
“Archbishop Welby is trying to square the circle. He can’t bring the thing together. This will strengthen the resolve of Gafcon to keep on the journey that they’re on.”
The Rev Sally Hitchiner, one of the most prominent gay members of clergy in the church, said: “The churches now have the opportunity to relate like grownup siblings. This is a positive move for all sorts of reasons. We can’t hold together from a place like England – where an archbishop of Canterbury could be in a gay marriage, possibly in my lifetime – to somewhere like Uganda, where they want to imprison people for gay sex.”
The bishop of Buckingham, Alan Wilson, said: “He can’t be planning to break the thing up because there’s nothing there to break up. It is all independent churches.”