Maryology 101 and Pluralism

October 24, 2007

I’ve been focused on Maryology lately– the theology of Mary, the mother of Jesus.

This ENS article reports on a report just released by a joint council between Anglican and Roman officials hoping to bridge differences between our respective Maryologies.

I’ve always been a little resistent to an elevated view of Mary– in that resistance I’ve always thought of the Catholic “Immaculate Conception” which holds Mary out to be perfect.  The linked document does a good job of describing the difference between the Immaculate Conception and Anglican theology while allowing us as Anglicans to get a significant contribution from Mary that is helpful particularly to women, I think, but also to everyone as we see someone chosen by God for a particular task who says “yes.”

One of the most important pieces of this report, though, will not get credit or attention, and that is something I want to lift up for consideration regarding the diversity of theological perspectives within the household of God, also known as pluralism (or even inclusion!!):

  • “Among Anglicans there is a range of beliefs about the doctrines of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption, including acceptance of them.” (In other words, Anglicans do not have to agree to remain Anglican.)
  • “Communion between our churches might better be understood not as uniformity in doctrinal formulations but as an embrace of difference within a common faith.”  (A very Anglican concept– I wonder how the Roman Catholics agreed to this, or whether the Vatican/Pope would agree?)
  • “…the faithful of both our churches may deepen their understanding of the faith we hold in common while also recognizing the different ways we have received and practice that faith.”  (Again, very Anglican.  The last pronouncement from the Vatican sounded nothing like this, and if we submit to that pronouncement we undermine our own Protestant tradition in an effort to capitalize on our orthodox heritage; it is the via media that makes us Anglican.)

It is clear that the recent shift towards defining ecumenicism as unity with Roman Catholicism, diverting our attention away from Protestant and interfaith relations, would be much better served if we would take these three points to heart.

In fact, Anglicanism itself would be well served if we would take these three points to heart!



3 Responses to “Maryology 101 and Pluralism”

  1. FrMichael Says:

    If you hadn’t already noticed, ecumenism is a theological backwater in Roman Catholicism. Most of the time, our best and brightest are nowhere near these conversations. I see it as an opportunity for certain priests to spend expense accounts and/or get shipped out of the parish.

  2. Jeff Says:

    If I recall, Fr Michael, you’ve thought about leaving Catholicism yourself once the Anglican issues settle down, depending on the outcome.

    What are your views on ecumenism?


  3. FrMichael Says:


    I believe that you have confused me with someone else: the Anglican Communion, TEC, and the various “Anglican” splinter groups in the US have no appeal to me. My only potential place of refuge would be the Orthodox, but since I hold to Catholic orthodoxy when it comes to the role of the Bishop of Rome, even that’s not likely.

    My own views on ecumenism are based on having a parent who is a Protestant as well as Catholic Church teachings. I’m very much into “practical” ecumenism, praying and serving the poor with other Christians. I have attended many, perhaps dozens, of Protestant services of all types, from Pentecostal to Rite I TEC, as well as various Orthodox divine liturgies, and am glad to have done so.

    What I don’t appreciate is ecumenists watering down their own tradition’s teachings or denying obvious theological chasms between churches. I also don’t appreciate indifferentism, that the particular Christian church doesn’t matter as long as one is faithful to Christ by one’s own self-estimation. This is absolutely false in Catholic teaching and it drives me nuts to hear Catholic ecumenists parrot such pap.

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