In Compromise Trumps Apostolic Tradition , George Weigel examines the collapse, through the Anglican insistence on innovating in ways contradictory to the Apostolic tradition, of the “once-promising dialogue” between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. “As I discovered when researching the biography of Pope John Paul II,” he writes in today’s second “On the Square” article,

a theological Rubicon seems to have been crossed in a 1984-86 exchange of letters among Dr. Robert Runcie, the Anglican primate, Cardinal Johannes Willebrands, the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and the Pope . . . .

Dr. Runcie’s attempt to explain why the Church of England believed it could proceed to the ordination of women demonstrated that Anglicanism and Catholicism were living in two distinct universes of discourse, one theological, the other sociological. For Runcie advanced no  theological arguments as to why apostolic tradition could be understood to authorize the innovation he and many of his Anglican colleagues proposed; rather, he cited the expanding roles of women in society as the crucial issue. Sociological trends, Runcie’s letter implied, trumped apostolic tradition—which was not, of course, something the Catholic Church could accept.