Saturday, June 23, 2018

The English Reformation And Bp Barron

A visitor sent me a link to this article, which begins,
In 1991 Diarmaid MacCulloch famously argued that the English Reformation happened – in the face of a persistent myth which denied it. That much is perhaps now widely accepted.
This brought to mind an adult education session I had when I was still an Episcopalian, led by TEC Suffragan Bishop of Los Angeles Diane Bruce (no relation). Among the points she made were that the separation from Rome led by Henry VIII was political only, and not doctrinal. Clearly this would be in opposition to MacCulloch's point, which strikes me as the correct one. This fed a disquiet that led me to leave TEC within months. Both Anglican and Catholic divines appear to be behind the times here. The article I cited above says later,
The first plausible point we might want to mark as an anniversary, then. . . is 1525. . . .It is the year of the puzzling case of Roger Hachman, the Oxfordshire man accused of heresy for stating that ‘I will never look to be saved for no good deed that ever I did’ but only by merely asking God’s mercy: how Hachman came by such Lutheran-sounding ideas is a mystery, but a portentous one.
This, of course, marks the emergence of sola fideism and its variants in an "Anglicanism" separate from Catholic doctrine, which in fact are present in the text of the 1664 BCP and arguably in the Cranmerian prayers inserted in the Divine Worship mass. The separation of the Church of England is in fact doctrinal and not just political -- and it's hard to imagine it could be otherwise. Kings' powers are never absolute; Henry had his own deep state and needed its support if he was going to make a break from Rome.

This brought me to Bp Barron's most recent YouTube presentation, on Chapter 7 of Amoris Laetitia. He points out that Francis has been influenced by "virtue ethicists", who follow Aristotle and Aquinas in stressing the importance of developing habits of virtue.

As a recent convert, this strikes me as a central element of Catholicism vs Protestantism. Protestants insist that human nature is depraved, and we are saved only by some variant of grace, mercy, or faith. The Catholic view is that we are saved by both faith and works, and as our pastor pointed out in last Sunday's homily, we are called to holiness. We reach holiness by, as Bp Barron says, a long, constant process involving development of virtuous habits. We are assisted in this by prayer and the sacraments.

I continue to wonder how much of this the ex-Protestants whom Bp Lopes ordains after 30 seconds in the microwave understand -- indeed, if I ever had the chance, I would press the likes of Fr Hunwicke on whether the Anglican patrimony, which is essentially Protestant, exempts Catholics from the call to holiness and the imperative of developing virtuous habits.