Project Canterbury

Recollections of Malines
by Walter Frere, C.R.

[London: The Centenary Press, 1935 119pp]

at the Lambeth Colloquy, October 2, 1923

I think it absolutely essential that those who confer at Malines, should, so to speak, make their own Agenda Paper, and decide both what they are to discuss and what course of argument they would pursue. I emphatically abstain from dictating to them in the matter. At the same time my responsibilities in connexion with it are now so grave that I am anxious to state what would be in my judgment a wise course for them to follow, if the views I hold commend themselves to their judgment.

I do not think it would be advantageous to discuss again or in more detail the administrative question which was put on paper at the Conference last March. It is probable that at the ensuing Conference something more ought to be put on paper either by both sides or by the two sides separately. This might, if it is thought necessary, re-embody what was written down last March; but, if so, it ought to emphasize much more markedly the dependent character of the suggestions made—dependent, that is, on some measure of previous agreement having been reached on the great principles which sunder Anglicanism from the Church of Rome. It is not enough to say in a clause that such things must be considered. It ought to be clear that it is only after they have been considered, and some measure, great or small, of agreement reached, that the administrative suggestions, hypothetically put forward, could become of practical utility or of very great practical interest. My own hope therefore is that the Anglican delegates will feel it to be right to put forward these larger questions, and to ascertain, if that be practicable, how far the Roman requirements as to what is de fide are, so to speak, cut and dry for the Anglican Church simply to accept or reject. It would be absurd to suppose that these great questions in all their range could be handled even in outline; but it ought not I think to be difficult to find some outstanding points wherein the Anglican position and the Roman position are at variance, and to ascertain what is the rigidity of the Roman contention on such points. Of course all that could be ascertained would be the view taken on such a matter by the individual Roman Catholics conferring at Malines. They would not be the spokesmen of the Vatican in any adequate sense. None the less they may be able to simplify the issue by putting the requirements in the way that seems to them true.

If I may quote the words I have used in a private memorandum drawn up for my own satisfaction I would say, "It ought to be made clear on the Anglican side, beyond possibility of doubt, that the great principles upon which the Reformation turned are our principles still, whatever faults or failures there may have been on either side in the controversies of the sixteenth century. It would be unfair to our Roman Catholic friends to leave them in any doubt as to our adherence, on large questions of controversy, to the main principles for which men like Hooker or Andrews or Cosin contended, though the actual wording would, no doubt, be somewhat different to-day. What those men stood for we stand for still; and I think that in some form or other that ought to be made immediately clear."

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