The Unforeseen Consequence of Apostolicæ curæ?

Hensley Henson, Bishop of Durham, in his “Retrospect” writes of the 1930 Lambeth Conference: “The truth is that, under the description of the “Anglican Communion” there are gathered two mutually contradictory conceptions of Christianity. How long the divergence of first principles can be concealed remains to be seen.”

Sadly, it must be admitted that the same has for some time been true of the Roman Communion. In fact within her, the overwhelmingly dominant conception, triumphally instituted and blithely overseen by the post-Conciliar pontiffs (saints to a man, but for Benedict XVI, we are told!), represents a virtually absolute rupture with the Catholic past. Its doctrine and praxis is profoundly un-Catholic (not merely indifferent towards the True Faith, but often overtly hostile) and, in many ways, hardly recognisable as Christian at all.

The New Order is nothing less than a new religion.

This novel Man-centred cult represents, by orders of magnitude, a more profound theological and ecclesiological break with Catholic continuity than the comparatively mild disruption of the English Reformation. For the Conciliar Church, there is no honest, no tenable hermeneutic of continuity possible. All efforts to devise one have been in vain. There is only rupture, and only now are men of goodwill beginning to recognise the disaster.

The worst excesses of the English deviation were attenuated in time, and while Catholic truth was certainly long obscured, it was never totally extinguished. Moreover, the perversions were imposed from without, by the ungodly intrusion of an avaricious and overreaching State, in a time of profound political transformation and turmoil. In stark contrast, the suicide of the Catholic Church has arisen from within, from the obstinate “Non serviam” of the Bishops of Rome themselves, in a time of unprecedented peace and security, at the onset of what ought to have been a new golden age.

Roman controversialists have told us for centuries, culminating in a.D. 1896, that the English church was irretrievably damaged by the events of the Reformation, their highly-technical arguments being wholly dismissive of the (admittedly impaired) Catholic reality of the Church of England. “Anglican orders” were declared to be utterly null and void, the sacramental life of the church determined essentially dead. To Rome alone could we turn for that Life which had long since become extinct.

What is good for the goose, must now certainly be so for the gander, if intellectual honesty is to be maintained.

Either the churlish arguments of Apostolicæ curæ (which in view of the present crisis now seem as precious hair-splitting) should be re-evaluated and repudiated, or they and their consequences should be brought to bear — in all of their certainty and violence — against this New Church, gravely and thoroughly defective in both form and intent.

Either way, the realities of the disaster which has befallen the Holy Roman Church, Mother and Mistress, require us to find new paradigms and methodologies to understand the the nature of Christ’s Church Militant here in earth.

All Devoutly Kneeling

Portrait of John Cosin, Bishop of Durham, half length in an oval frame on a pedestal, wearing cap, collar and episcopal robes; coat of arms and mitre in upper spandrils, skull and lantern on pedestal; frontispiece to his 'Funeral Sermons' (1673). British Museum.
Portrait of John Cosin, Bishop of Durham, half length in an oval frame on a pedestal, wearing cap, collar and episcopal robes; coat of arms and mitre in upper spandrils, skull and lantern on pedestal; frontispiece to his ‘Funeral Sermons’ (1673). British Museum.

On the rubric “All devoutly kneeling” after the Creed:

Est acrior Tertulliani objurgatio in eos, qui sedentes orant. “Cum enim (inquit) perinde faciant nationes adoratis sigillaribus suis residendo, vel propterea in nobis reprehendi meretur, quod apud idola celebratur. Eo adponitur et irreverentiæ crimen, etiam ipsis nationibus, siquid saperent, intelligendum, siquidem irreverens est adsidere sub conspectu ejus, quem cum maxime reverearis et venereris; quanto magis sub conspectu Dei vivi Angelo adhuc Orationis adstante, factum illud est irreligiosissimum, nisi quod exprobramus Deo, quod nos oratio fatigarit.” Tert. de Orat., c. 12. Ubi ex tribus capitibus format reprehensionem: 1°. quod perinde faciant nationes, quas imitari, meretur in nobis reprehendi. 2°. quod etiam inter homines irreverens sit, coram et contra eum sedere cui debes venerationem; 3°. denique signum sit animæ languentis et oratione fatigatæ. The ancient Christians performed all their service standing or kneeling; sitting they allowed not.

— John Cosin, Notes on the Book of Common Prayer, Works, Vol. 5, Oxford (1860).

Quando orabas cum lacrimis, et sepeliebas mortuos, et derelinquebas prandium tuum, et mortuos abscondebas per diem in domo tua, et nocte sepeliebas eos, ego obtuli orationem tuam Domino.

Tob. xii. 12.

Apparuit autem illi angelus Domini, stans a dextris altaris incensi.

Luc. i. 11.

Et alius angelus venit, et stetit ante altare habens thuribulum aureum: et data sunt illi incensa multa, ut daret de orationibus sanctorum omnium super altare aureum, quod est ante thronum Dei. Et ascendit fumus incensorum de orationibus sanctorum de manu angeli coram Deo.

Apoc. viii. 3, 4.


The arms of Nathaniel Crew, Bishop of Durham and 3rd Baron Crew; both his coronet as baron and the earl’s coronet of the Bishopric of Durham are depicted; Church of the Holy Trinity, Sunderland.
Nathaniel Crew, 3rd Baron Crew, by unknown artist; National Portrait Gallery, London.
Red seal showing Bishop Nathaniel Crew as Prince Palatine with a fanciful depiction of the city of Durham in the background, British Museum.