The news today of the impending Apostolic Constitution on a process for bringing into the Roman Catholic Church religious communities from within Anglicanism, complete with their peculiar practices, married clergy (but not bishops), and such, has been a downer.
This process is presented as part of the ecumenical hope for the reunion of Christians into one body, but it really is that hope made a dream, the Roman dream that all Christians might finally return to one church, the Roman Catholic Church. It is a dream of the past, not of the future. The ecumenical hope is not reunion with Rome, but reunion with one another in Christ. This thing is no part of it.
We are all dogs here. Those at the table were Jews, and if we were not so often anti-Semitic we would get it. In terms of the earliest table, we Gentiles get in because, like the dogs, even we get the crumbs that fall from the table. Our patron saint is the Syrophoenician woman who took Jesus on concerning this matter of just who got included in the circle.
We, like she, have no business being here asking for the miracle of healing, the miracle of the bread of life, we just ARE here. We, all of us, are so hungry for the bread of life that we will crawl over the bodies of the dead to get there. We will demand to be fed, even before the children are fed. We have no shame, no manners, no noble sentiments. We want life, and that abundantly. And we know that Jesus offers it.
The dogs are fighting over the scraps again. Rome has commandeered the table and has dropped some crumbs and we are all agog about the whole thing. Who gets the crumbs? How depressing! We forget that the Romans too are dogs, even if they seem to be dogs at table.
We have forgotten that we might do ecumenical work in a more, let us say, dogged fashion. From the perspective of Christendom, we are all beggars for life.
The depressing thing is, Anglicans have always regretted the break with Rome even when they were glad for what it otherwise allowed. If some of the dogs hadn't taken on airs, if they hadn't broken the backs of critical and inspired reformers, if they hadn't done a lock down on doctrine and development of the faith in the West, if, if... If at one juncture or another there had been a recognition of faithfulness (and faithlessness) on all parts, maybe the break could have been overcome. I would have rejoiced at some mutuality in an effort to move ecumenically, but no. Not this time.
This Apostolic Constitution (silly name) business is not about mutual recognition of faith or faithlessness. This is about some dogs throwing crumbs to other dogs and claiming table rights to do so.
Those who wish to eat the crumbs that fall from the master's table are free to do so. Just remember that no matter what the incumbant says, being Pope is not being master. Being Pope is like being head dog.