February 28, 2009

One More Time

Over at Thinking Anglicans, someone has opined that the departure of individual dioceses from The Episcopal Church is analogous to the departure of the Church of England and the See of Utrecht from the Roman Catholic Church.

These are not properly analogous, however, and not simply as matters of scale. The diocese -- all claims to the contrary notwithstanding -- is not self-sufficient in the Catholic tradition, in part because it can only obtain a bishop with the consent of the bishops of other dioceses of the province of which it forms a part (or, in some places, the metropolitan or archbishop). If it is a "unit" is like a cell of a body, or brick of a building: not self-sufficient on its own.

The historic actions in the 16th and 19th centuries, whereby the Church of England and the See of Utrecht severed their ties with Rome relate both to their original autonomy and to the understanding that these bodies represent "churches" rather than simply dioceses. (This is what having an archbishop is about, in part, and having metropolitical or provincial status.) The "national church" or province was the minimal defining entity as a "church" in the Christian (i.e., Orthodox) tradition until Rome began to assert a universal primacy. Individual dioceses have no authority to withdraw from their province unilaterally; national churches do have the right to assert their autonomy from the central hegemony of Rome. Two different things.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG

5 comments:

Grandmère Mimi said...

Two different things.

Thanks for a simple and clear explanation of the difference.

Marshall said...

Or, as I said in my response at Thinking Anglicans, whatever "continuing Catholic" might mean, neither the Church of England nor the Old Catholic Church of Utrecht claimed to be continuing Roman dioceses; nor was Rome confused about appointing bishops, not for new sees, but to fill existing, vacant sees.

Br.Jay said...

Thanks for explaining this. Very well said. I am not sure I would have been able to explain the difference, but you have made it easily understood. Thanks again.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

There's that Sesame Street song that could be helpful here: One of these things is not like the others...
You know how it goes.

Grandmère Mimi said...

The Sesame Street explanation. I love it! Thanks for tonight's laugh.