An investigation into the images of the Virgin Mary held by select Anglican women clerics in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, with respect to selected historical developments in Mariology.
This exploratory study examines the question of Mariology in the Anglican Church in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. It focuses on how Anglican women priests relate to the Virgin Mary within the patriarchal structures and African context of the Anglican Diocese of Natal. It aims to ascertain the perceptions of the Virgin Mary held by a sample group of ordained, doctrinally informed, Anglican women. The premise is that because the Anglican Church is closer to Roman Catholicism than other Protestant churches, these clerics might be more open to the dogmas of Mariology as proclaimed by the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church. The depths of the subjects‘ knowledge of Marian dogma are ascertained, as well as the extent to which their spirituality and devotions are affected by this. An attempt is made to establish the potential advantages of an enhanced Marian presence in The Anglican Church in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. This study is intended not merely to establish the dogmatic similarities in the Anglican and Roman Catholic traditions and underscore those issues which inhibit Marian veneration among local ordained Anglican women. Its intention is to elicit the effects of dogma on spirituality and worship, and to discern whether the subjects feel an affinity with Catholic Marian dogma and see any possibility of ecumenical progress between the two Churches. Roman Catholic Marian dogma is elucidated and examined. The four main dogmas are presented: the Theotokos, her Perpetual Virginity, her Immaculate Conception and her Assumption into Heaven. The Protestant and Anglican reservations regarding these dogmas are examined, and ecumenical dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and Protestant Churches is discussed, including the bilateral ARCIC discussions with the Anglican Communion. Nine Anglican priests are interviewed, and the data and its implications for Anglican-Roman Catholic ecumenism are examined. The findings indicate that the subjects do not subscribe to Roman Catholic dogma and praxis on Mary. It is proposed that Marian dogma per se is not a hindrance to ecumenism, but the fact of the dogmas reflecting the teachings on more fundamental theological issues such as the nature of sacraments, the trinity, the nature of grace and eschatology in the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches.