Project Canterbury

Recollections of Malines
by Walter Frere, C.R.

[London: The Centenary Press, 1935 119pp]


The starting-point is the Lambeth Appeal.

The present objective is to make out a preliminary case for the holding of conferences between Roman Catholics and Anglicans, with some real, though at first informal, encouragement from the highest authorities on both sides.

Detailed discussion about points of difference had better be deferred to later conferences : but some must take place now, in order to pave the way for them.

I. The Lambeth Appeal opens a new chapter: its opportunity is great. See the trend towards unity prevalent in civil as well as ecclesiastical world.

Two features—one general and one special.

(a) General: It points to a type of external unity in the future which does not yet exist.

i. Not a mere federation,
ii. Not submission of any part to another.
iii. But a reincorporation of parts into an united body, larger and richer than any of the existing parts,
iv. A policy therefore not of surrender but of revision and mutual enrichment.
v. Old controversies to be reconsidered in this spirit.

(Lambeth Encycl., p. 12 : Appeal, Section 4.)

(b) Special: The offer of Anglicans in regard to Holy Orders. It depends upon prior satisfactory adjustment.

(Lambeth Appeal, Section 8.)

2. Is there sufficient common ground to make Conference fruitful? Lord Halifax's memoir shows in general a considerable agreement even about points where division is supposed to be sharp.

The disagreements also to be taken into view. But not embark on discussion of all.

3. Take first, "What is fundamental in doctrine?"

It should be possible to distinguish the primary from the secondary: and to base hopes of reunion on the primary.

Roman Catholics have clear conception of the de fide requirement. Anglicans not so clear: but see Articles XX and XXI; i.e. they agree that some dogmas are essential.

Roughly what is required of Anglicans is:

(1) Creeds—especially the two: because recited by all.

(2) Catechism, because preliminary to confirmation and first communion. To these may be added as less explicit:

(3) The Holy Scriptures as interpreted by the Church and the Catholic doctors, being the test of de fide doctrine.

(4) The rites of the Prayer Book: lex supplicandi = lex credendi.

(5) The dogmatic decisions of the General

Councils—4, 6, (or 7) in number. Distinguish from the fundamentals three classes of other Statements.

(a) Secondary doctrines efficiently taught.

(b) Opinions of theologians.

(c) Views widely held by the Faithful without discouragement. How far can such a distinction be accepted?

4. If (provisionally) accepted—

First determine what are the essential dogmas to serve as a common basis.

But observe difference of habit between Roman Catholics and Anglicans (perhaps more racial or temperamental than confessional.)

Roman Catholics tend to put maximum amount as fundamental, even to stress the non-fundamentals (a) (b) and (c).

Anglicans tend to aim at a minimum of fundamental experiment: and to stress "libertas in dubiis," i.e. a maximum of questions left open.

Lambeth has made suggestions as to a common basis. (Lambeth Appeal, Section 6.)

5. Where a direct clash emerges, explanations on either side may do much to remove it. The Church which is most apt to define should be most ready to give further explanations such as definition entails; but Anglicans must be ready also.

Such explanations may make some Roman Catholic definitions acceptable to Anglicans, which are not so now.

Not as authoritative (for them they have not the authority of the whole Church) but as in themselves admissible and true.

In this sphere also distinguish between essential and non-essential. Probably some things which Anglicans treat under this head Roman Catholics will place under head of necessary doctrine. Then how far is it possible to agree in action but differ as to the reasons for it, e.g. Papacy?

6. The Uniat discipline is capable of further application: and its precedents suggest future possibilities.

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