Canterbury Cousins: The Eucharist in Contemporary Anglican Theology by Owen F. Cummings
(Paulist Press, 2008, 174 pages)
Canterbury Cousins is a unique book. It is an overview of Anglican contributions to Eucharistic theology in the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Owen F. Cummings is a Catholic priest, and his intention in offering this overview is to show just how close Anglican and Roman Catholic views of the nature of the Eucharist are to one another. Cummings hopes that by demonstrating just how “Catholic” contemporary Anglican Eucharistic theology is, he can contribute to the search for unity between the two communions.
Each chapter gives a summary and analysis of one or two Anglican theologians. The chapters are fairly brief, and Cummings acknowledges that the scope of the work means that no figure receives anything like a full treatment on the subject. However, by surveying so many different theologians (he deals with thirteen theologians and various statements from the Anglican Church on the Eucharist) Cummings is able to give a sense of just how widespread the agreements between Rome and Canterbury are on this important issue. He offers critiques, but the tone, even of those critiques, is unfailingly appreciative. The issues of the real presence of Christ in the sacrament and the sacrificial nature of the sacrament are the two major focal points, the unifying threads that connect Cummings’ analysis of various figures in contemporary Anglicanism.
One of the great ironies of Christian history is that many divisions in the Church have centered on the Eucharist. The fact that Cummings, as a Catholic, can offer an appreciative account of the Anglican tradition and show a willingness to learn from its strengths is a helpful sign. This kind of book should serve as a model for theologians working in other areas who have a similar ecumenical intention.