Tuesday, May 15, 2007
What are Vagantes Bishops?
Since my last post resulted in questions from a sincere man who wants to know if his orders are legitimate, I am giving the only answer I can. I really do not have an answer about each individual bishop out there who calls himself an Anglican. The best way to obtain a good answer about validity is to ask a bishop if you can read the account of his Apostolic Succession. This really ought to be posted in whatever church serves as his cathedral. It helps, as well, to know with whom he is in unity, to whom he gives any sort of account. What are the Canon Laws of his church and diocese? Furthermore, to those who see the importance of the principles of The Affirmation of St. Louis, a direct question about the Affirmation ought to be answered easily. Is he for it or against it? Such questions should be asked politely, with the assumption that they can be answered. But, if they cannot be answered, or if they create an unreasonable anxiety or defensive posture on a bishop's part, you have every right to be suspicious.
Furthermore, a vagans (="wandering") bishop may be validly consecrated, and able to ordain. But, if he has no actual ministry, then he fits the definition of a bishop with a vacancy. In this case there is no vacant See, but the reverse; a vacant office. The vagante are bishops with no diocese; they have no church. Look at a bishop's membership, and see if it consists only of his wife, his neighbor and his neighbor's dog. Usually, the smaller the church the larger the title: "Archbishop of North America" (or "the Paraclete of Kavorka"). My favorite title was that of an "Orthodox" rather than Anglican vagans. He called himself "Shepherd of shepherds, and Master of the Universe." This sounds like he may have trespassed on a copyright from the Marvel Comics Group. It certainly would have offended Orthodox Jews, to whom "Master of the Universe" is a jealously guarded Name.
And, then the question of education comes up.
But, as I said before, this vagante problem is distinct from a problem of disunity. It is not so much a matter of fragmentation as it is of imitation. The need to be vigilant about this is the price we pay to maintain a free society.