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An Anglican View of the Papacy Post-Vatican II

  • Stephen Platten


This article provides a current view of Anglican attitudes to the Papacy. First of all historical background is examined in relation to mutual perceptions of Anglicanism and Roman Catholicism going back to the early church and then moving forward through the Reformation to the twentieth century. The period from 1966 onwards saw the visit of Geoffrey Fisher to Pope John XXIII which began to change perceptions. The establishment of the Anglican Centre in Rome in 1966 was a crucial development. The setting up of the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission, following the Malta Report in 1966 altered perceptions and understandings of Anglican and Roman Catholics mutually. There is still a variety of Anglican reactions to the Papacy.


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The Rt Revd Stephen Platten is Assistant Bishop and Rector of St Michael Cornhill in the City of London and Chair of the Council of the Anglican Centre in Rome.



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2. Lodge, David, How Far Can You Go? (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1982).

3. Wormald, Patrick, ‘The Venerable Bede and the “Church of the English”’ in Geoffrey Rowell (ed.), The English Religious Tradition and the Genius of Anglicanism (Wantage: Ikon, 1992), pp. 2021.

4. Bishop's oath of allegiance and homage.

5. MacCulloch, Diarmaid, Thomas Cranmer: A Life (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1996), p. 27.

6. MacCulloch, Thomas Cranmer, p. 29.

7. MacCulloch, Thomas Cranmer, p. 56.

8. MacCulloch, Thomas Cranmer, p. 89.

9. See most recently Sally N. Vaughn, Archbishop Anselm, 1093–1109: Bec Missionary, Canterbury Primate, Patriarch of Another World (Farnham: Ashgate, 2012). Cf. also Christopher Haigh, English Reformations: Religion, Politics, and Society under the Tudors (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993), pp. 6–8.

10. Cf. MacCulloch, Diarmaid, Tudor Church Militant, Edward VI and the Protestant Reformation (London: Allen Lane – The Penguin Press, 1999), pp. 2627.

11. McAdoo, Henry, ‘Richard Hooker’, in Geoffrey Rowell (ed.), The English Religious Tradition and the Genius of Anglicanism (Wantage: Ikon, 1992), p. 107, referring to Mandel Creighton, Queen Elizabeth.

12. McAdoo, ‘Richard Hooker’, p. 108.

13. Quoted in William Purcell, Fisher of Lambeth: A Portrait from Life (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1969), p. 271.

14. Chandler, AndrewHein, David, Archbishop Fisher, 1945–1961: Church, State and World (Farnham: Ashgate, 2012), p. 106.

15. Purcell, Fisher of Lambeth, p. 273.

16. Pawley, BernardPawley, Margaret, Rome and Canterbury through Four Centuries: A Study of the Relations between the Church of Rome and the Anglican Churches (London and Oxford: Mowbray, 1974), p. 335.

17. Chandler and Hein, Archbishop Fisher, p. 237.

18. See Stephen Platten, ‘Focusing a Vision: Affect and Effect in Ecumenical Dialogue’, in Clive Barrett (ed.), Unity in Process: Reflections on Ecumenism (London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 2012), pp. 95–107.

19. Hebblethwaite, Peter, Paul VI: the First Modern Pope (London: Harper Collins, 1993), pp. 125126.

20. Hebblethwaite, Paul VI, pp. 269–70.

21. Hebblethwaite, Paul VI, p. 271.

22. Hebblethwaite, Paul VI, p. 461.

23. See Frederick Bliss, Anglicans in Rome: A History (London: Canterbury Press, 2006), p. 94 n.

24. Platten, ‘Focusing a Vision’, p. 95; note the subheading of the chapter: ‘Affect and Effect in Ecumenical Dialogue’.

25. O'Donovan, Oliver, On the Thirty Nine Articles: Conversations with Tudor Christianity (London: SCM Press, 2011), p. 7.

26. O'Donovan, On the Thirty Nine Articles, p. 5.

27. Bliss, Anglicans in Rome, p. 94.

28. Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission II, The Final Report (London: CTS/SPCK, 1982), p. 115, para. 20.

29. Final Report, p. 97, para. 31.

30. Final Report, p. 89, para. 19.

31. See Paul Avis, Beyond the Reformation: Authority, Primacy and Unity in the Conciliar Tradition (London: T & T Clark, 2006).

32. Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission II, Church as Communion (London: Church House Publishing, 1991), pp. 35–36, para. 57.

33. Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, The Gift of Authority (London, Toronto, and New York: CTS/Anglican Book Centre/Church Publishing Incorporated 1999), p. 42, para.h 60.

34. Gift of Authority, p. 42, para. 62. See also Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ (New York: Morehouse Publishing 2005), especially pp. 55–63 on the Papal Definitions.

35. May They All Be One: A Response of the House of Bishops of the Church of England to Ut Unum Sint (London: Church House Publishing), 1997.

36. One in Hope: Documents of the Visit of Archbishop Robert Runcie to Pope John Paul II (London: CHP/CTS, 1989), p. 21.

37. See, for example, Martin Davie's essay ‘“Yes” and “No” – A Response to The Gift of Authority’, in Peter Fisher (ed.), Unpacking the Gift: Anglican Resources for Theological Reflection on The Gift of Authority (London: CHP, 2002), pp. 33–59.

38. Peter Hebblethwaite, The Runaway Church: Post-conciliar Growth or Decline (London: William Collins, 1975), especially ch. 11.

39. Hebblethwaite, The Runaway Church, pp. 125–26.

1. The Rt Revd Stephen Platten is Assistant Bishop and Rector of St Michael Cornhill in the City of London and Chair of the Council of the Anglican Centre in Rome.

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Journal of Anglican Studies
  • ISSN: 1740-3553
  • EISSN: 1745-5278
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