Yesterday, the collect for Our Lady of Atonement was as follows:
O GOD, who dost gather together those that have been scattered, and who dost preserve those that have been gathered: we beseech thee, through the intercession of the most Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of the Atonement; that thou wouldest pour out upon thy Church the grace of unity and send thy Holy Spirit upon all mankind, that they may be one; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
Our clergy and people took unity seriously, as an imperative, not an option as we made our journey into full communion with the Catholic Church. Jesus’ prayer to the Father “that they may be one as we also are” was our lodestar when the journey became difficult, or confusing, or required ever more deeper conversion and surrender to Christ.
Unity and Communion were, we came to understand, came by the power of the Holy Spirit—it was not something we could accomplish on our own by forcing consensus from the outside in, but by openness, docility and willingness to say, “Thy will be done,” not ‘my will be done.’
Thus when I saw this passage from the recent document from the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) I had to shake my head:
On the need for more open conversation, the quality of conversation at parochial and diocesan levels of the Catholic Church “could be enriched by learning from Anglican experience of open and sometimes painful debate while the church is in process of coming to a common mind.” (101)
Hmmm. So, how is the process of “coming to a common mind” through “sometimes painful debate” working out for the Anglican Communion? It has led to disintegration, schism, impaired communion, and women bishops, women priests, to say nothing of the elevation of immoral sexual activity as equivalent to the “marital act.”
One can work towards an artificial consensus through pressure by people in authority, through group think, through acquiescence to the worldly zeitgeist but will this “common mind” have anything in common with the “having the mind that was in Christ Jesus” and the unity and communion to which He calls us?
I don’t think so.
It bothers me that so much of the news on this document in Catholic circles, such as Crux, seem to focus on what the Catholic Church can learn from the Anglican Communion.