Foreword and Preface

[From Catholicity: A Study in the Conflict of Christian Traditions in the West (Dacre Press, 1947)]


This report should serve a useful purpose. It is an honest attempt to bring into one view the chief elements in the separate Christian traditions and to show how they have suffered by separation. Readers may wish to alter some of its proportions and to dissent from some of its judgments: but they will profit by the survey.

The larger part of the report consists of analysis. When it comes to synthesis, it shows perhaps more of anxiety to avoid wrong methods than of ability to elaborate a right method. But the general description which it gives of the right method will command general consent. ‘That unity’, it says, ‘which must be reborn will include something of all the patterns, not in their falsities and negations but in those elements of devotion and conviction, of dogma and discipline which they contain. As the strength of these traditions in their isolation has lain in their convictions, so the only motive that can truly unite them is a common conviction about the truth of the Gospel and the Church’.

In that sentence the report expresses what has been the real strength and motive force of the oecumenical movement in recent years. As ‘tensions’ created the disastrous divisions, we must expect ‘tensions’ no less in overcoming the divisions. Our aim must indeed be to recover the ‘wholeness’ of the Body of Christ, recognizing gladly that it will always include ‘many varieties of function, practice and theological emphasis’ if the Church is to present to the world all the riches of Christ, the whole treasure, in its earthen vessels.




In November 1945 your Grace invited Dom Gregory Dix to convene a group of Anglicans of the ‘Catholic’ school of thought to examine the causes of the deadlock which occurs in discussion between Catholics and Protestants and to consider whether any synthesis between Catholicism and Protestantism is possible.

In January 1946 the group was constituted with the following members:

The Revd E. S. Abbott, Dean of King’s College, London, and Canon of Lincoln.
The Revd H. J. Carpenter, Warden of Keble College, Oxford, and Canon Theologian of Leicester.
The Revd Dr. V. A. Demant, Canon and Chancellor of S. Paul’s Cathedral.
The Revd Dom Gregory Dix, Monk of Nashdom Abbey.
T. S. Eliot, Esq.
The Revd Dr. A. M. Farrer, Fellow of Trinity College, Oxford.
The Revd F. W. Green, Canon and Vice-Dean of Norwich Cathedral.
The Revd Fr A. G. Hebert, of the Society of the Sacred Mission.
The Rt. Revd E. R. Morgan, Bishop of Southampton.
The Revd R. C. Mortimer, Regius Professor of Pastoral Theology in the University of Oxford, and Canon of Christ Church.
The Revd A. M. Ramsey, Van Mildert Professor of Divinity in the University of Durham, and Canon of Durham.
The Revd A. Reeves, Rector of Liverpool, and Canon Diocesan of Liverpool.
The Revd C. H. Smyth, Canon of Westminster and Rector of S. Margaret’s; Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.
The Revd Dr. L. S. Thornton, of the Community of the Resurrection.

Canon Ramsey was elected Chairman, and Dom Gregory Dix and Fr Hebert secretaries. During 1946 three sessions of the group were held, two of which lasted for three consecutive days, and there has been much interchange of papers and memoranda. A final session was held in January 1947. Intervening meetings of a drafting committee facilitated our work.

We now beg leave to present our Report to your Grace, which we do with complete unanimity, hoping that it may be of service in the fulfilment of the prayer of our Lord for the unity of His disciples in the truth.

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