Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Politics and Religion ca1754

The news in today's papers that the Vatican "announced it would make it easier for Anglicans uncomfortable with the Church of England’s acceptance of women priests and openly gay bishops to join the Catholic Church" brought to mind the meeting of the Virginia Anglican clergy in Williamsburg on this date in 1754. With George Washington's surrender of Fort Necessity to the French at the top of transatlantic concerns, Commissary Thomas Dawson recommended that the clergy meet in a convention to make a declaration of fidelity to George II and express in it "a sincere detestation of popery." The address subsequently adopted by the convention labeled the French and Indians as "professed enemies of religious and civil liberties" and declared their advance as "the unjustifiable encroachments of popish and arbitrary power." Robert Dinwiddie, Virginia's lieutenant governor, responded to Dawson's call for the clergy to meet by admonishing them to inculcate people with "great dangers we are exposed to, both as to our lives, liberties [and estates]...".

The 1754 meeting of the clergy reminds one that the historical tensions between Anglicanism and Catholicism have always been as much about politics as about theology.

1 comment:

Bird on the Wing Design said...

I'm curious how liberal Anglicans feel about this development. Maybe some will be glad to be rid of members who were uncomfortable with female priests and openly gay bishops. I suppose that doesn't provide much comfort to Catholics dismayed by the news like the person who left this comment on the NYT article: "How about a similar provision from the Anglican Church for Catholics who wish their church had women priests and openly gay bishops!"

It will be interesting to watch how the denomination evolves if a significant portion of the conservative demographic departs.