Russell Shaw has a thought-provoking essay at The Catholic Thing (a daily stop for me in the blogsophere), where he looks at the use of the word “paradigm shift” to describe what is going on with the papacy of Pope Francis in light of what happened at the Lambeth Conference of 1930.
It is at Lambeth the Anglican world opened the door a crack to allow for artificial contraception. Well, we know what happened after that, and if there is anything “Anglican” about what happened, we would certainly want to jettison it as not part of the Anglican patrimony we wish to preserve in the Ordinariates.
In Eliot’s astute and occasionally acerbic evaluation of the 1930 Lambeth, one section particularly caught my eye: a five-page treatment of Resolution 15 in which the Anglican bishops, for the first time ever, extended guarded, conditional approval to the use of contraceptives by married couples in cases where there is both “a clearly felt moral obligation to limit or avoid parenthood” and “a morally sound reason for avoiding complete abstinence.”
Let me quote the relevant passage in Eliot’s text lest there be any doubt whether I am representing him accurately:
To put it frankly, but I hope not offensively, the Roman view in general seems to me to be that a principle must be affirmed without exception; and that thereafter exceptions can be dealt with, without modifying the principle. The view natural to the English mind, I believe, is rather that a principle must be framed in such a way as to include all allowable exceptions. It follows inevitably that the Roman Church must profess to be fixed, while the Anglican Church must profess to take account of changed conditions.
What Eliot says about the “Roman view” would no doubt have to be reconsidered today in light of what Pope St. John Paul II’s encyclical on moral principles, Veritatis Splendor, says about absolute moral norms.
But the fact remains – and this is the point I’m making here – that what he says about the Anglican mind (“a principle must be framed in such a way as to include all allowable exceptions”) could serve as a concise statement of what the paradigm shift advocated by Cardinals Kasper, Parolin, and others proposes to bring about.
Well, assuredly not among those of us in the Ordinariates. You will not find among us the same divisions on say Humanae Vitae that you might find in the Roman Catholic parish down the street where the majority ignores the teachings on contraception. We had to sign on that we believed these teachings in order to come into the Catholic Church.
The aim of the Christian life is to have “that mind which was in Christ Jesus” and leave behind the mind of the carnal old man, including such things as the “Anglican mind” that has led to doctrinal chaos and disunity in the Anglican Communion.
However, perhaps for Shared Treasure, it would be interesting to explore on a scholarly level how the difference in an English approach to law vs. the Roman approach could possibly be patrimonial in terms of political governance in the Anglosphere and what makes a society with rights recognized as held by individuals different from those governments of Catholic colonies that did not. What is the contrast between the English common law tradition vs. the top-down Roman law approach? Where does the Magna Carta fit in? Any takers for an article in our journal?