Friday, July 20, 2007

Are There Two Continua?

It appears to me that there have long been two connotations to the word "Continuum" in the traditionalist Anglican context. The primary and original meaning of the related adjective "Continuing" was "continuing Anglican orthodoxy and jurisdiction after Anglican provinces embraced heresy". But due to the multiplicity of the churches claiming to possess that adjective, the noun "continuum" has come to refer to the fact that these churches are still in some way connected to each other by either the links of intercommunion or of similar commitments. There now appear to be two "continua" in the latter sense that may be distinguished from each other, despite maintaining similarities.

First, there is the smaller original continuum consisting of the ACC, APCK, and UEC. They are all derived more or less directly from the body consitituted and defined by the Affirmation of St Louis and the following Dallas Synod. There exists full communion between these three jurisdictions, so that they may now be effectively considered one church in sacramental terms. Their doctrinal position may be descibed as philo-Orthodox, due to their united formal embrace of Scripture as interpreted by Holy Tradition, including the Creeds, Seven Sacraments, Seven Ecumenical Councils and, in general, the consensus of East and West.

Second, there is the numerically larger new continuum consisting of the APA, REC, AMiA, Lambeth Communion's African and other "conservative" Churches, CANA, FiF, TAC, etc. This grouping is the result of more recent re-alignments within and departures from the Lambeth Communion. (However, some of them also have a strong connection to the original Continuers, especially the ACC-Canada in the TAC, for example.) These bodies make up a continuum not because they are all in full communion with each other, but because they make up a chain of mediate communion, with every body connected to at least one of the others in some sort of intercommunion relationship. Too, they cover a broader range of theological positions and so may be described as comprehensive if considered over this whole continuum. This doctrinal continuum goes from anglopapist to Calvinist, with some ordaining priestesses, but some not.

At the moment the first Continuum sees itself as necessarily distinct from the second one and every church in it, due to the latter's apparent doctrinal and sacramental ambiguity. It feels that the best and most Catholic way to bring people out of heterodoxy is to present a clear witness and a clear choice to them, declaring that intercommunion with and/or official incorporation in formally heretical churches is not permissible.

Those who are doctrinally very close to the first continuum, while being in the second one, such as the TAC, perceive their intercommunion with particular orthodox bishops and others who remain in heterodox jurisdictions or communions as a charitable act of pastoral economy and hope to gradually wean them away completely. They also hope, I think, that re-alignment and rethinking will continue throughout the second continuum so that there will be a gradual evolution of the others towards their position and thus a strengthening and growth of orthodoxy and unity.

Now, while this disunity may be very vexing, it is not necessarily a disaster in the long run. After all, honest, patient, prayerful, thoughtful, and charitable discussion (and experience) may lead to resolution of differences in time, whether one side persuades the other or a synthesis is formulated. This need not be permanent division, so there is no need to panic or demand immediate solutions which ignore real differences. Instead, dialogue on those differences is clearly necessary. It is this the ACC desires.

And, let's face it, the existence of two identifiable continua is closer to unity and more credible than the appearance of an atomised, multiplicitous and incomprehensible "alphabet soup" of jurisdictions. So, let's accentuate the positive and over time maybe even eliminate the negative!

19 comments:

Fr. Robert Hart said...

the TAC, perceive their intercommunion with particular orthodox bishops and others who remain in heterodox jurisdictions or communions as a charitable act of pastoral economy and hope to gradually wean them away completely.

Once again, I seek clarification. Is this really the case? Are they really "in communion," or simply part of a group that is, practically speaking, one of negotiation and discussion? My understanding is that the latter is the accurate description.

Furthermore, the TAC is based on the Affirmation of St. Louis, and does come from the same source, and , until recently, was regarded by the APCK (if actions speak louder than words) as quite worthy of the same status as that of the ACC.

poetreader said...

We, the ACA/TAC pointedly refuse communion with those who do not accept the St. Louis principles. of all the bodies you listed, we are not in communion with any but the FIF, and have been very pointed at informing them that our relationship with them does not put us in communion with Canterbury and its sattelite churches. Even this limited situation is provisonal and will probably come eventually to an end.

Though sympathetic to APA, their status of full communion with REC and Nigeria has prevented us from being in communion with them.

Fr. Hart is, so far as I can see, quite correct. There is negotiation, there is discussion, and there is cooperation in practical matters, but there is not intercommunion.

It is not acceptable that two such bodies as ACC and ACA, differing not one whit in any of the doctrines of the deposit of faith, but only in matters of policy, should remain another day in out-of-communion relationship. Perhaps we can't fix it instantly, but if this is anywhere by=ut on the top of our priorities, we are failing the Catholic witness.

ed

(well, I did just post a comment that I sometimes disagree strongly with Fr. Kirby, in spite of my enormous respect for him. Guess I just illustrated that.)

J. Gordon Anderson, SSM said...

What about TAC's desire to unite with Rome as a uniate type of body? Is that still around? And if so, how would it effect communion/unity with the other groups (APCK, et.al.)?

Sandra McColl said...

Bishop Davies (The Murray: Anglican Church of Australia) and Bishop Kapinga (Ruvuma: whatever the Canterbury branch in Tanzania is called) took part in the consecrations of Bishops Moyer and Chislett. I think that counts as being 'in communion'. The purpose, at the time, was to provide a TAC/FiF bridge which would extend orthodox episcopal ministry into geographical Canterbury dioceses where orthodox episcopal ministry was not otherwise available. What happened, of course, was that Bishops Chislett and Moyer got themselves thrown out of their respective Canterbury jurisdictions.

FiF Australia, moreover, is getting more TAC by the minute. Its national council includes 3 TAC bishops (styled by the Bishop of Ballarat as 'ex-Anglicans'), all of whom were consecrated with the purpose of providing ministry to priests and people in both TAC and Anglican Church of Australia (see how good I am in not calling it ACA, and also in not calling TAC ACC, which it is here?).

After the Moyer-Chislett consecrations, Anglican Church of Australia bishops refused permission to FiF priests and Bp Davies to preach or celebrate in churches which had invited them. There has been some thawing since, however. Bp Davies celebrated the last FiF Chrism Mass in Melbourne, for example.

Some say that the FiF people should make a decision now. I go back to what I posted a while ago, and will say that some of us have been taking decades to wake from the nightmare of the collapse of Anglicanism. You have to remember that in Australia we are a good 10 years or more behind the USA in the introduction of communion-breaking innovations. The TAC's 'pastoral economy' is reasonable. If (and, I expect, when) on the FiF side it becomes obvious that a separate sacramental existence within the old administrative structure really isn't possible, the door will be open to priests and people to relocate to the TAC seamlessly, as I am doing at present.

There are also, in FiF parishes and dioceses, people who probably don't care much for FiF, certainly don't care much for the TAC, but who are still receiving authentic sacramental ministry as a result of the FiF-TAC concordat, and that can't help but open up a channel of grace. Demands to 'choose now' will leave a lot of ordinary Anglicans out in the cold, as well as those who still consider that they can make a principled stand in their present jurisdiction. Only to want the best and the bravest in the Church smacks, if not of Donatus, then possibly of Tertullian.

Anonymous said...

I believe that you will eventually see only three "Anglican" type churches in the U.S (of any size at least). There will be the TEc which will be basically Unitarians in vestments surrounded by "Christian trappings"...mostly because they "look pretty". Then there will be the Evangelical Protestant Anglicans that will be in the mold of AMiA and CANA....Then, you will see the more traditional Catholic Anglicans.

It's all kind of complicated right now. You see ACA and APA in FACA and churches really more similar to them (APCK, ACC, and UEC) circling the wagons. I think it will eventually all shake-out to be just a big three though.

D. Straw

Tony Ridsdale said...

I remember at the 1999 FiF meeting in Australia the Bishop of Fullham +Broadhurst making a joke when the TAC there went to discuss financial matters. "This will last 5 minutes". This was made in front of all present at the session after the TAC left the room. So it seems ironic that now the TAC almost runs FiF in Australia.

Tony

D Bunker said...

To call the REC one of the new kids on the block falls a little far of its historical origins.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

D.Bunker is right; but I think Fr. Kirby was really referring to the APA, and meant to mention their concordat with the REC. I suppose that the new alliance is "a new kid on the block" in that sense.

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

Fr Hart,

Re: your request for clarification.

The TAC is undeniably in a relationship of full communion with FiF, the Bishop of the Murray and the Bishop of Ruvuma at least, as noted by Sandra. These non-TAC bishops in turn must be presumed to be in communion with other bishops in the Lambeth Communion since they have never publicly repudiated their communion with all bishops and churches ordaining women or declared them ipso facto excommunicate for this heretical innovation. They have done nothing to clearly separate themselves sacramentally or otherwise from their Metropolitans or Primates or Provinces, all of which in each of the cases above ordain women. Therefore, we must assume the FiF and sympathetic bishops are still in communion with the heterodox as far as external and public acts and statements can show. Indeed, the FiF, as I have said before, explicitly states its desire to maintain the maximum communion possible with the rest of the AC.

Thus the TAC is in communion with FiF, which is in communion with heterodox AC bishops. That's what mediate communion means. I do not claim that this means the TAC is really in full communion with the indubitably heterodox. Mediate communion is not communio in sacris. However, the TAC is in full communion with bishops who, by the very facts abovementioned, have rendered their orthodoxy doubtful, since Catholic teaching demands public and sacramental separation from formally heretical churches. (It does not demand separation from merely sinful churches or churches that harbour heretics without committing to their errors definitively. That really would be Doantism.) Also, the TAC is effectively implying it is possible and permissible to remain in a formally heterodox church and exist as a legitimate Catholic enclave. The problem with that is that it is the specific denial of that permissibility that accounts for the existence of Continuing Churches, including the TAC!

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Okay, but we heard from one of their own, our own Ed Pacht in another comment somewhere else on this blog, that this is not exactly the case. So, maybe he could help us again, or someone else in the TAC could give us their perspective ("their" as in some formal statement we can find from the TAC, perhaps something that was stated by ++Hepworth or someone who really speaks for the jurisdiction in an official capacity).

Nonetheless, it has never been made clear that bishops still in communion with bishops of the Canterbury Communion should be treated the same as heretics. This is an interesting principle that requires a fuller theological definition based on Scripture and Tradition, not just modern ACC Canons. One thing is clear; it was not a hindrance in the eyes of the APCK in the Fall of 2004, and so why would they accept this spefically ACC standard after publicly doing the very opposite not so long ago? It was not only the ACA that received Communion alongside the FIF bishops at Fond du Lac; the APCK had them all come forward and receive. I quote the news story from the time:

"Not only that, the prelates were joined by the Rev. David Moyer, head of the Episcopal Church traditionalist organization, Forward in Faith, North America; and the Rev. David Chislett, Vice President of Forward in Faith-Australia."

http://www.challengeonline.org/modules/news/article.php?storyid=47

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

Fr Hart,

I agree personally orthodox bishops still in the AC should not be treated simply as heretics. And I believe it is justified to offer them communion in certain circumstances. But that is not the same as being in full communion with a body to which those bishops belong, even to the extent of co-consecration of bishops. Similarly, the RCC is not in communion with the EOC or us, but would accept members of the same to communion in certain cases. Therefore, when the APCK or the ACC give communion to members of other churches (which both have done, be assured), this does not prove full communion exists with those other churches by any means, though it is undeniably a sign of unity in Christ.

Now, Ed has admitted the TAC is in communion with FiF, but that this is qualified by an explicit denial of being in communion with heterodox bishops. I have accepted this denial and noted that I only claimed mediate communion linking the TAC with the AC anyway. Also, Sandra's mention of the co-consecrations, which were specifically to provide bishops for FiF among others, is absolutely conclusive. There is full communion between the TAC and FiF, including the bishops of Ruvuma and the Murray.

So, we have established that the TAC is in full communion with bishops who still officially belong to formally heterodox churches and are still under the authority of heterodox superiors. The fact that this is not permissible and Catholics are obliged to repudiate such jurisdiction was the justification of the whole Continuing movenment and was firmly based on good theology and Canon Law from the Ecumenical Councils. Therefore, the TAC is in full communion with people and institutions that either reject (or doubt) these principles, which are foundational to the existence of the Continuing Churches, or accept tham but do not choose to practise them. This is a problem. And it must be faced.

poetreader said...

"This is a problem, and it must be faced" Fr. Kirby, that is right on.

Being merely a back pew layperson in the ACA (that not entirely by choice) I have no official standing to speak for my jurisdiction and wish someone weighter would do so. The following is merely my own take on it all.

All the arrangements of the Continuum are merely provisional, including the various denominational structures by which our jusrisdictions operate. Nothing of permanence has been evolved, which is much as things were in St. Athanasius' day. There is a body of Traditional Catholics struggling to find authenticity and stability in their opposition to horrid distortions that have crept into the churches from which they come. No one, no, not ACA, and not ACC, nor any of the others, has developed a structure and presence that really stands up under examination. We are all trying. As we try, we do make mistakes, sometimes lesser, and sometimes very costly indeed.

ACA has taken the stand of maintaining communion with FIF, but not with other Canterbury Anglicans, as a provisional thing, not a guaranteed permanent arrangement. Sooner or later the FIF churches will have to work themselves free of the unacceptable connections they have. I (we) believe they are ultimately on that road, and desire to help them to find it, while maintaining the closest bonds of brotherhood possible. I champion that intercommunion for those reasons, for so long as it continues to fulfill that function. I do, however, feel that a mistake was made in consecrating +Moyer and +Chislett, as it seems to imply a degree of permanence that is not really intended. This has produced a it more uncertainty and instability and should not have happened. However, it's not a viable thing to just reject the whole thing, but rather a solution to the problems produced becomes imperative.

Our solution to these problems may not please a purist, but we firmly believe it is undertaken for identical reasons as the objectives subscribed by ACC, and in the same spirit that Athanasius seems to have maintained a rather flexible and changing network of connections until the Church had been rescued.

ed

Fr. Robert Hart said...

The fact that this is not permissible and Catholics are obliged to repudiate such jurisdiction was the justification of the whole Continuing movenment and was firmly based on good theology and Canon Law from the Ecumenical Councils.

But, the beginning of the Continuing movement was the Affirmation of St. Louis, which says: "The continuing Anglicans remain in full communion with the See of Canterbury and with all other faithful parts of the Anglican Communion, and should actively seek similar relations with all other Apostolic and Catholic Churches, provided that agreement in the essentials of Faith and Order first be reached."

The See of Canterbury was in Communion with the Episcopal Church and other Anglican churches which were already "ordaining" women. So, this interpretation of the Ecumenical Councils and of the Catholic Tradition was not present in the understanding of the first Continuers in 1977.

Furthermore, we really need the TAC to explain its own position.

John said...

Can I ask this robust body of intellects, what happens to this tiresome argument "who's on first" in communion with who if they are in communion with them but may just be cooperating, etc., when the AC is unraveling and may in fact be dead?
If the AC ceases to exist in Sept. who cares?

John

Fr. Robert Hart said...

But, the Continuing Church has already said its goodbye to the AC. We're the orthodox Anglican alternatives.

Unifying among ourselves is a job no less significant, and no more, than it is among the various ethnic flavors of the Orthodox Church.

Fr. S.J. said...

Although I don't have a horse in this race at all, I feel a great deal of sympathy for the Continuum. However, there is a point which I have hardly ever seen addressed. Granted that purported ordination of women can be understood to destroy apostolic succession, what is the effect of the relationship with the ELCA? Since many Lutheran pastors were grandfathered without episcopal ordination and are allowed to serve in TEC parishes, it seems to me that this totally finishes any claim to apostolic orders in the TEC. They have formally equated their orders with the Lutherans, who make no claim to maintaining apostolic succession. Furthermore, the ELCA is, I believe, in a pulpit and altar sharing relationship with some of the Reformed Churches, which make no pretense of having bishops; so this is a form of mediated communion between TEC and the Reformed. Since even bishops who do not ordain women are formally in communion with the ELCA (and through it with some of the Reformed), it seems to me that they have no possible claim left to apostolic succession. This should invalidate any communion between the Continuum and the current Anglican Communion and should make it impossible to accept clergy, regardless of who ordained them in TEC, without proper apostolic ordination in the Continuum.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Fr. S.J.

Except for those occasions in which CC jurisdictions bring in clergy from the Episcopal Church, the ELCA and priestesses are not our problem. But, your conclusion may go too far. If a priest was ordained By Bp. Jack Iker, for example, who will not have women "priests" or ELCA clergy in his diocese, we cannot assume that his ordination was invalid (even though Bp. Iker does "ordain" women to the diaconate, or so I have been told; and we don't recognize their "orders"). Some of these problems really are not easy to resolve.

John A. Hollister said...

fr. s.j. commented:

"Granted that purported ordination of women can be understood to destroy apostolic succession, what is the effect of the relationship with the ELCA? Since many Lutheran pastors were grandfathered without episcopal ordination and are allowed to serve in TEC parishes, it seems to me that this totally finishes any claim to apostolic orders in the TEC. They have formally equated their orders with the Lutherans, who make no claim to maintaining apostolic succession."

I couldn't agree more. Further, I would point out that this issue actually arose as long ago as 1970. From 1948 until 1970, the Lambeth Communion excluded the Church of South India, on the basis that the CSI was a pan-Protestant merger (although one that had been encouraged by the Church of England) in which clergy who were not episcopally ordained were "grandfathered in" under a sort of "creeping Apostolicity" scheme.

For more than twenty years, the Lambeth Communion correctly saw this as a rejection of the sacramentality of Orders. After the Church of North India was formed on the same pattern as the CSI, however, and at a time when mindless "ecumenism" was even more in vogue than it had been in the late 1940s, both the CNI and the CSI were admitted to the Lambeth tea party as recognized Provinces.

(Very oddly, at that same time, the actual Church of India was quietly dropped from the Archbishop of Canterbury's invitation list, apparently being punished for the sin of remaining orthodox.

So I, myself, would argue that the "Orders" of the Lambeth Communion should be rejected as of 1970, rather than as of 1976, when PECUSA and the Ang.Ch. of Canada fell over the cliff of women's "ordination".

Fr. Hart responded to Fr. S.J. by writing, "If a priest was ordained By Bp. Jack Iker, for example, who will not have women 'priests' or ELCA clergy in his diocese, we cannot assume that his ordination was invalid (even though Bp. Iker does 'ordain' women to the diaconate, or so I have been told; and we don't recognize their 'orders')."

This, of course, undercuts the entire raison d'etre of the "Continuing Church" movement. There is but one Sacrament of Orders, therefore those who purport to "ordain" women to the diaconate cannot shelter their defective intentions behind the claim that they do not ordain women to the priesthood or the episcopate.

This insight is the very issue over which the Continuing Churches left PECUSA in the first place.

In addition, even if Bp. Iker does not in fact "ordain" deaconettes, something about which I have no information, there remains the problem that he is a constituent part of PECUSA/ECUSA/TEC or whatever, that in its official formularies does maintain that such "ordinations" are legitimate and proper. Thus, too, he remains in communion with that same PECUSA which says that the ELCA's Protestant ministry is the sacramental equivalent of PECUSA's (something with which I heartily agree, for the reasons set forth above).

It is simply irrational to attempt to hunker down within one little set of geographical boundaries and claim, "But WE don't do that here", when one's partners in communion DO do it.

Nor, to my mind, does the notion of "mediate communion" fly any farther than the end of the runway. The Church is a network of Bishops, united by their mutual states of personal intercommunion. To say that one can be "in impaired communion" or "only in mediate communion but not in full communion" is like saying one can be partially pregnant.

If "communion" means anything, and is not simply a term empty of content like the revisionists' "natural", then it means that when two people are in communion, each has accepted the other's sacramental acts, in all respects, as his own. And thus he has similarly accepted all of the sacramental acts of all those with whom his partner-in-communion is in communion....

That's why "We don't do that here" won't fly. If it COULD fly, then the "Continuing Churches" would have either to go out of business or to admit they have no legitimate reason, other than a purel aesthetic one, for their existence separate and apart from the Lambeth heterodox/heteroprax.

John A. Hollister+

John A. Hollister said...

Mr. Pacht wrote:

"We, the ACA/TAC [are not] in communion with any [Lambeth body] but the FIF, and have been very pointed at informing them that our relationship with them does not put us in communion with Canterbury and its sattelite churches."

At least for me, this formulation raises a number of significant questions:

1. FiF is not a church, but instead a para-church organization of people and bodies that are themselves organic parts of particular churches. So how is it possible to be "in communion with" something that is not a church?

For example, could the OEcumenical Patriarch declare that he is in communion with the Knights of Columbus, or with the Opus Dei, but not with the Roman Catholic Church as a whole? This simply makes no sense to me.

2. Where the members of FiF are individuals and bodies that are constituent parts of other churches, how is it possible to be in communion with just those individuals and bodies and not with the larger organizations of which they are organic parts?

That seems rather like saying, "Joe's hand is my uncle's hand, and his left foot is my uncle's foot, but Joe is not my uncle, in fact, he isn't related to me."

3. Then there is the problem inherent in saying that "We are in communion with FiF but not with all the Provinces and Dioceses to which FiF's members are subjects".

That's like saying, "Well, Joe may be my uncle, because he's my father's brother, but his son Sammy is a stinker and his brother Lenny is a snorrer, so they aren't really members of MY family."

You just can't define it that way. And while a person can sometimes pick and choose which relatives he will meet and greet, church bodies that are bound by sacramental ties cannot: they can only cut themselves off from a network of communicants which persists in retaining the heterodox.

Nor, in today's situation, can we rely completely on the ways in which the ancient Church dealt with its heretics. Then, the issues were either the nature of the Christ who acts in the Sacraments or the scope and reach of those Sacraments, such as the ability to forgive post-Baptismal sin. None of those old heretics claimed that Christ was not the actor or that the Sacraments were not effectual, however. Thus they could in fact claim to be doing "what the Church has always done", they just misunderstood a part of the foundation for what the Church has always done in that case.

The modern heretics, however, know perfectly well that they are doing things the Church has never done; their argument is simply that the ancient Church did not know what it should have been doing. The new heresies seek to destroy the very ministry that administers Christ's Sacraments, regardless of any technicalities about Who Christ was and where He fits within the economy of the Trinity. Thus there is a qualitative difference between tolerating today's heresies and heretics and way the Church tolerated those of the Fourth through Eighth Centuries.

John A. Hollister+