Friday, February 10, 2006

Bishop Chislett on the TAC and Rome

At the inaugural meeting of the PATMOS HOUSE COMMUNITY on 23rd August last year, I concluded my address with these words: “ . . . at this point in the disintegration of world Anglicanism, for ‘fair dinkum Anglo-Catholics like us', the Anglican Catholic Church in Australia (and its parent body, the “Traditional Anglican Communion”), though small, is an entirely satisfactory regrouping of Anglicans to which we can belong, especially in the light of current conversations which many hope will lead to the TAC's becoming an “Anglican Rite Church” in full communion with the Holy See of Rome.”

Are we in cloud cuckoo land? Could this really come about? Surely we are overstating things!

I want to remind you of a few facts. There have been Christ-centred, Bible-believing, Gospel-driven, Catholic-minded Anglicans ever since the split in the 1530s who have prayed and worked for the reunion of all Christians (including the Church of England) with the Holy See of St Peter. These “papalist Anglicans” have been hated and despised by just about everyone simultaneously (including, strange as it may seem, other Anglo-Catholics). But through the centuries they prayed, and prayed and prayed.

In the early 20th Century these Anglicans played a major role in significant ecumenical discussion, and, indeed, with Abbé Paul Couturier, the establishment of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, believing such unity to be the will of Jesus for his Church. Following Vatican II it seemed that their prayers were being answered as the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) began to produce agreed statements as part of the journey to the reunion of Rome and Canterbury. Most Anglicans - even those who didn't really approve - were coming to accept that reunion was inevitable.

Then various member Churches of the Anglican Communion began to create NEW obstacles to unity. No longer content to accept the authority of Holy Scripture, or the Faith and Order of Catholic Christendom to which historic Anglican formularies had committed us, bishops around the world began to play fast and loose with just about every Christian doctrine, from the divinity of Christ to the Gospel itself, to Christian marriage, to the Holy Spirit's role in Confirmation.

With the purported ordination of women to the priesthood - and in some places the episcopate - arose the need for all clergy who were true Anglican Catholics to insulate themselves ecclesially, ensuring that they and their people were in receipt of valid sacraments.

Most recently, same-sex marriage has come to the fore as the issue most likely to end the Anglican Communion as we have known it.

Throughout this process, first world Anglicans desiring to proclaim the Gospel and maintain the Catholic Faith have had to regroup. Wherever possible this has been “just inside” existing Anglican structures (the use of “flying bishops” in England, and the adoption of parishes in the USA by “offshore” third world bishops). In many places, however, because of the intransigence and cruelty of liberal bishops, orthodox Anglican Catholics have had to regroup “just outside” existing Anglican structures into “continuing” Anglican Churches. At the international level the Traditional Anglican Communion is the largest of these bodies.

For 13 years, leaders of the TAC have expressed a desire to establish a relationship with Rome with a view to being “united but not absorbed” (Pope Paul VI's vision), believing that what became impossible for the Anglican Communion as a whole could be achieved by those Anglicans who remained demonstrably orthodox.

We have been encouraged by the response of many Roman Catholic leaders at various levels.
But on both the Anglican side and the Roman Catholic side there are others who are extremely unkind towards us. Nowhere is this more hurtful than when liberal Anglican and liberal Roman Catholic authorities collude to discredit us, presumably to try and maintain the Anglican status quo at all cost!

It will obviously take time and patience for the TAC as a community (together with other Anglican groups who might become part of the process) to make what John Paul II called the “arduous journey” to Christian unity. But because we are Catholic Christians who believe in the Petrine unity of the Church, and in the power of the Holy Spirit, we will gently and prayerfully persist, determined to overcome the obstacles before us.

Father Joseph Wilson, a Roman Catholic Priest of the Diocese of Brooklyn, USA, and a keen observer of Anglican affairs, has written about these things. I conclude with his reflections as published in The Messenger.

“. . . Ecumenical dialogue [i.e. between Rome and Anglicanism] is entering a more realistic phase. As the two churches diverged more and more, the “official dialogue” proceeded and issued optimistic statements; if the official communiques were to be believed, it seemed as though the two churches were growing steadily closer as doctrinal and moral differences between them multiplied.

“Successive Archbishops of Canterbury and Presiding Bishops of the USA were ceremonially received by the Pope in Rome, all the while the official Anglican establishment in Britain and North America was getting loonier and loonier.

“Meanwhile, within the Episcopal Church of the USA and the Church of England, faithful traditionalist Anglicans were struggling to preserve their heritage, and continuing Anglicans, having left the official Anglican Communion to form their own bodies, were persevering against immense odds. With all of these, the Holy See certainly had more in common than with the Anglican Communion establishment with which it was dialoguing.

“But things have slowly been changing in the past few years. Bishops of continuing Anglican churches have been cordially received at Rome, and conversations quietly begun; and when those conversations encountered obstacles among some in the Roman Curia, those obstacles were overcome. Forward in Faith/UK, the traditionalist group in Britain, has been engaged in serious, cordial conversations with Rome.

“And Rome itself has said that it will no longer feel obligated to channel all of its Anglican conversations through the official channels of the Anglican Communion.

“And now there is reason to hope that we return to the Lord Jesus, who is, after all, the Point of it all. We return to the Lord Jesus, who prayed that we might be one. We return to the Lord Jesus and to his Gospel, remembering that the one thing needful is that we be faithful to him.
“. . . it seems that, after so long, there's not just a future to hope in, but to be optimistic about as well. Great things are about to happen, great things done by the Lord.”


This “. . . is a dialogue Anglicans began in good faith 39 years ago, and it is a dialogue that we [the TAC] are bound to continue, ‘that', as our Lord Jesus Christ said, ‘they may be one, even as we are one, I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me.' [St John 17:22b, 23]”

- The Rt Rev'd Peter Wilkinson, Diocesan Bishop of the Anglican Catholic Church in Canada.

Bishop David Chislett in The Messenger, Feb 10, 2006

20 comments:

The Common Anglican said...

This does indeed seem to be something even more real to all orthodox Anglicans, not just the TAC.

Dave said...

I was interested in TAC until I realised they were willing to accept heterdoxy in Roman Catholicism to have unity. That is what got Anglicanism into it's present position. I would much rather see the Anlicans reunite with the other Orthodox Patriarchs and then say to Rome, "Come Home!".

Then there would be real unity, not just external unity.

I have been assured by some Anglo-Catholics this reunion with Rome with not happen because the TAC primate is an Ex Roman Catholic that left the church to marry.

Also I love your blog. I look forward to checking it regularly.

James the Thickheaded said...

One would think that given the acceptance of the Western Rite - which is basically our AC Mass - by the Orthodox Church (Antioch), that there are fewer hurdles there than with Rome. I find the ecclesiology, the approach to theology, the acceptance of the important role of aesthetics, and the sense of mystery in the Eastern church just that much closer to that of the Anglocatholic way. But that said, I am an Occidentalist by culture more than an Orientalist. Finding a hospitable home is more important than the precise place of where it is located.

Antonio said...

"This ...is a dialogue Anglicans began in good faith 39 years ago, and it is a dialogue that we [the TAC] are bound to continue..."

39 years after the dialogue started, Roman Catholics will finally know who are they talking to.

(But now that I've heard that Forward in Faith - "consevative Anglicans" - has affiliated with the Anglican Network - with women priests - I'm starting to think that any Roman-Anglican dialogue is worthless).

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

Antonio,

I am no fan of those organisations that attempt to remain within heterodox churches as orthodox "clubs", such as FiF. However, two things should be noted. One, most Continuing Churches are not in the "Network" and have no interest in it. Two, even FiF's association is not communio in sacris, as I understand it, but cooperation in an attempt to change the Lambeth Anglican Communion from within. The ACC, to which I belong, considers this a long lost cause and a distraction.

Dave,

There is reason to believe the theological and ecclesiological positions of East and West are reconcilable, which would make the antithesis you draw a false or at least dubious one.

Also, the Primate of the TAC, Abp Hepworth, has indicated he would step down for the sake of unity with Rome.

James,

I agree that Anglican Catholicism is basically Western Orthodoxy, so to speak. However, because I do not believe that Rome is necessarily unOrthodox or that the schism between East and West is definitive (as I argued in an earlier post), I can hope for eventual re-union with Rome as well as the manifestation of an already existent underlying unity with the EOC.

MK+

Pontificator said...

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Padre Jose said...

I am intrigued by the constant desire to re-invent the wheel. Don't these folks know there is already an "Anglican use" in Rome (Joe Wilson certainly does). There are functional--and exciting AU parishes in a number of dioceses. All it takes is diving in, and accepting what the HS offers, w/o looking back to Sodom, and turning into a saltpile! Ut Unum Sint is already underway for more then 80 of us.

Padre Jose said...

I am intrigued by the constant desire to re-invent the wheel. Don't these folks know there is already an "Anglican use" in Rome (Joe Wilson certainly does). There are functional--and exciting AU parishes in a number of dioceses. All it takes is diving in, and accepting what the HS offers, w/o looking back to Sodom, and turning into a saltpile! Ut Unum Sint is already underway for more then 80 of us.

albion said...

Querido Padre Jose,

Welcome as a commentator at The Continuum. Might I gently suggest that you might be overstepping the bounds of reasonable Christian discourse by apparently insinuating that the Anglican Way is to be compared with Sodom, or have I misunderstood you?

De todos modos, espero verte aqui con mas frecuencia.

En Cristo,
albion

Mother Wendy James, SSC said...

As a member of the TAC in Canada (Anglican catholic Church of Canada)we are praying for

Mother Wendy James, SSC said...

As a member of the TAC (Anglican Catholic Church of Canada) I am praying fervently for a fruitful outcome of the talks between the TAC and Rome. Many do not realize that the Anglican Use Pastoral Provision is not available outside of the USA. The TAC has Provinces, Dioceses and parishes around the world, already in place.
(Please forgive the partial post previously!)
Mother Wendy James, SSC
www.TheSacredCross.org

Antonio said...

Mother Wendy James:
Thank you very much for writing.
As a Roman Catholic, I'm very happy to hear that there are fervent prayers "from the other side".
May God leads us into full communion.

Alice C. Linsley said...

I fervently pray that Ango-Catholics may come under Rome's wing. All that is precious to me in Anglicanism has come from Mother Church through England, but developments in ECUSA are so frightful that I have broken all association with that body.

Alice C. Linsley said...

I fervently pray that Ango-Catholics may come under Rome's wing. All that is precious to me in Anglicanism has come from Mother Church through England, but developments in ECUSA are so frightful that I have broken all association with that body.

Alice C. Linsley said...

I fervently pray that Ango-Catholics may come under Rome's wing. All that is precious to me in Anglicanism has come from Mother Church through England, but developments in ECUSA are so frightful that I have broken all association with that body.

Cecil_K said...

The TAC is going to split and the Vatican will be blamed. If these people want to be Catholic they should swim the Tiber

albion said...

cecil_k,

Thanks for your comment.

Could you perhaps elaborate on your assertion that the TAC is going to split?

Also, just for the record, they already are Catholic, though they may not be Roman Catholic.

Anonymous said...

Well, Albion, when Cecil was asked to put up, he seems to've chosen to shut up instead.

Dave said...

So Rome will give up the teaching of purgatory, Merit of the Saints, Universal Jurisdction, etc, etc, etc.?

I am afraid (from experience) Fr. Matthew that the Orthodox would not roll over on these issues. The Roman Catholics are still often reffered top as heretics at worst and heterdox at best, at that is amongst Antiochains. If the East reads the cathechism of the RC church they are going to be appalled. I guess there is hope of reconciliation, when Rome comes around. If that reconcilliation happens without agreement in theology you'll see a split in the Eastern Churches. That I have been assured of.

Here is the problem the TAC primate is a primate in his (and TAC peoples minds only). He can't be a Bishop according to Rome. He might as well call himself the King of the Australia. it is only valid within his own little world). That isn't my thinking. I absolutely believe he could be a Bishop but if I neasure him by the ruler of RC or EO he can't be.

I guess I would be more inclinded towards TAC if would stand on it's own two feet without need for approval of Rome. Rome is heterdox. Do we need their blessing? The Orthodox and the Protesant both agree on that.

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