Perhaps the strangest response to the recent Roman Catholic offer of transition and incorporation for disaffected Anglicans is this from the group Reform. They alert us at the head of their site that they very rarely issue press releases, so this is a rarity. Perhaps a second draft might have been advised, to avoid the apparent disconnect between the two final paragraphs (emphasis mine):
“If priests really are out of sympathy with the C of E’s doctrine (as opposed to the battles we are having over women’s ministry and sexuality), then perhaps it is better they make a clean break and go to Rome. However, when they do, they will have to accommodate themselves to Rome’s top-down approach to church life, whereas the C of E has always stressed the importance of decision making at the level of the local church.”
“It is illusory to pretend that this development is an outcome of ecumenical dialogue. It illustrates the difficulties the C of E faces and the need for stronger leadership, rather than the ‘softly softly’ approach so far taken to those holding liberal views who are splitting the church.”
So, let me get this straight, or at least decently and in order: Top-down is that unpleasant Romish thing, and local discernment the English, but the problem with the C of E is that very lack of a top-down imposition of control from the leadership. Which leads me to suspect that if Rome actually enforced all that the Reform folk agreed with, they too would fly to her bosom.
Which is just another example of "I like strong leaders and tough enforcement when I agree with it" — the tautology of tyranny and the unassailable rule of private conscience writ large.
No thanks. I'll stick with subsidiarity, even when it's upside-down.
Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG