Thursday, October 18, 2007

And where might this lead?

In 1995 a small book, more of a booklet with only 58 pages, was published by Guildford that consisted of historical research by Brian Taylor on the subject of the agreements of Bonn and Meissen with the Church of England and the Anglican Communion. Taylor documented a very important fact, namely that the Anglican motivation for the Old Catholic infusion in 1930 by means of co-consecration of Anglican bishops had nothing to do with Anglican uncertainty about the validity of its orders. Then Archbishop of Canterbury Cosmo Lang and the other major Anglicans stood by the 1897 apologetic work by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, Saepius Officio. The work by Taylor documents that the Infusion was sought in order to make Anglican orders more acceptable to Rome in the event of possible Reunion at some point in the future. Furthermore, when Archbishop Michael Ramsey met with Pope Paul VI in 1966, and the Pope gave the Archbishop his ring, it set in motion stronger ties and more serious efforts at Reunion that led to ARCIC.

Meanwhile, in an ongoing series of discussions between Anglicans and the Orthodox Church since the days of Lancelot Andrewes, things had reached a new high in 1922. Documents show, as can be seen on the Project Canterbury website, that between 1922 and 1936, Orthodox Patriarchs had, one after another, written to the See of Canterbury to recognize the validity of Anglican orders (in the fullest theological sense) and to work toward real unity: As the 1930 Christmas letter from the Patriarchate of Alexandria summarized the matter: "The Holy Synod recognizes that the declarations of the Orthodox, quoted in the Summary, were made according to the spirit of Orthodox teaching. Inasmuch as the Lambeth Conference approved the declarations of the Anglican Bishops as a genuine account of the teaching and practice of the Church of England and the Churches in communion with it, it welcomes them as a notable step towards the Union of the two Churches. And since in these declarations, which were endorsed by the Lambeth Conference, complete and satisfying assurance is found as to the Apostolic Succession, as to a real reception of the Lord’s Body and blood, as to the Eucharist being thusia hilasterios (Sacrifice), and as to Ordination being a Mystery, the Church of Alexandria withdraws its precautionary negative to the acceptance of the validity of Anglican Ordinations, and, adhering to the decision of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, of July 28, 1922, pronounces that if priests, ordained by Anglican Bishops, accede to Orthodoxy, they should not be re-ordained, as persons baptized by Anglicans are not rebaptized."

As these two discussions were underway with the serious intention of joining the Anglican Communion to Rome and to Orthodoxy, it seemed that a new definition could be given to the Via Media, no longer just a possible bridge between the Protestant churches of the Continental Reformation and Rome, but a bridge to join Rome and the Orthodox Church, ending the Great Schism that has, as its most consequential date, 1054; the year when Christianity was divided into two schisms each claiming to be the One True Church. The Anglican Communion presented to the whole Church of Christ its greatest hope
to work toward the real ending of its sad divisions.

Then came 1976, and the "ordination" of women in the Episcopal Church as well as in a few other churches of the Anglican Communion.

Immediately, Pope Paul VI canceled possible plans to rescind the 1896 Bull on Anglican Orders as no longer applicable to Anglican orders (indicating that Archbishop Lang and others had been realistic in 1930) . In 1978 Orthodox Archbishop Athenagoras remarked: “…the theological dialogue [between the Orthodox and the Anglicans] will continue, although now simply as an academic and informative exercise, and no longer as an ecclesial endeavor aiming at the union of the two churches."1 As a result of revisionists having their way and contradicting almost 2,000 years of Tradition and adherence to Scripture, the gains toward hope of true Catholic unity was reduced to a pile of rubble, and the talks carried on between the Anglican Communion and Rome, and between the Anglican Communion and Orthodoxy, have been nothing but mere polite formality with no real potential. Furthermore, the heresies in the official Canterbury Anglican Communion have continued to mount so that what is discussed these days among seemingly orthodox Anglicans (only "orthodox" by comparison to other Anglicans) has to do with gross sin and open rebellion, widespread acceptance of immorality and complete renunciation of all true beliefs.

None of these developments are a surprise to Continuing Anglicans. The issue of women's "ordination" that made the movement necessary was simply the opening of a door to rejection of authority, the authority of Scripture, Right Reason and Tradition. With that door opened, every heresy that can be taught must be taught, and every sin that can be justified and practiced will be justified and practiced. It is just a matter of time, and both recent history and current events prove our point.

The TAC and Rome

Jump ahead to this week's announcement. Comments have been veering in all directions. But, the questions remain unanswered as to what is really happening. However, the potential exists for something to resume that could bring the old hope of unity through a bridge church communion back to life. Yes, the TAC is much smaller than the Anglican Communion; but, if any serious body of Anglicans can be taken seriously by Rome, and one hopes eventually by Orthodoxy, maybe the bridge can be rebuilt. It remains to be seen. But, with God all things are possible- and does anyone really believe that Satan can have a victory against inscrutable providence?

(1) As quoted in Anglican-Orthodox Dialogue: The Dublin Agreed Statement, (Crestwood, N.Y.: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1985), p.3




22 comments:

highchurchman said...

Surely the idea of a bridge church was never sought by Anglican Catholics , a bridge that connected Rome to protestantism. What was sought was a Church without protestant deletions and Romanist additions.

tdunbar said...

"What was sought..." sounds, to the Catholic, like "God, when you established the Church you got it wrong and didn't properly anticipate human sinfulness. We're looking for something better."

poetreader said...

Perhaps a bridge in this sense:
a community that can speak the truth of the Catholic faith in terms that can be understood by Protestants in a way that the pronouncements from Rome have not been, and also a community that can demonstrate the legitimate correctives the Reformation brought as against abuses that had begun to obscure the Catholic faith, and speak those from within a legitimate Catholic heritage in a way that Rome, perhaps can hear.

To be a bridge does not mean to accede to errors on either side, but rather to be able to provide a place of communication.

ed

Anonymous said...

Fr. Hart,

A very good and thought-provoking piece--work like this is the reason this blog has become so valuable. I had not given much thought to the state of play things had reached with respect to the Orthodox.

Also a nicely-put comment by poetreader.

In Christ,

Fr. Charles H. Nalls, SSM

Michael said...

I like poetreader's definition of a bridge church.

In reference to the connection with Eastern Orthodoxy, there is a piece of news, perhaps even more momentous, in the latest edition of the Messenger Journal, that I have not yet heard so much as a peep about in the blogosphere.

In an article on the death of Bp. Rhodes in South Africa, the Messenger Journal says that before his death, +Rhodes was involved in talks with Orthodox bishops, about intercommunion between TAC churches in Africa and the Patriarchate of Alexandria. Apparently these talks were very successful, and there was supposed to have been some announcement, but the bishop's death interrupted that. I do not know what the current status is on this. Does anyone know anything about it?

Sandra McColl said...

Satan can have victories--in the short term--and has them all the time. That's exactly what happened in 1976, and I think we can safely assume that the interval between has been to the Evil One exactly as short a time as it has been to the Almighty, to whom a thousand years--well, you all know the rest. Hope, pray, and take nothing for granted.

J. Gordon Anderson said...

The heretical "innovators" will certainly have hell to pay for derailing the great ecumenical progress that was being made!

John A. Hollister said...

To avoid misunderstanding, let me preface this comment by saying that, ceteris paribus, I favor institutional relationships with the Roman Church. How can one not, when that Communion contains half of all living Christians?

That said, however, I have some problems with what Fr. Hart wrote the senior Anglican leaders were attempting to accomplish (and which, on the available evidence, I accept as a true report): "The work by Taylor documents that the Infusion was sought in order to make Anglican orders more acceptable to Rome in the event of possible Reunion at some point in the future."

This search for something "more acceptable" was simply wrong-headed and demeaning. Any union with Rome, or even any relationship of mutual recognition short of actual union, would be a house built upon sand if it were to be constructed only by pandering to the misrepresentations and distortions that Hubert Vaughan and Rafael Merry del Val foisted on Leo XIII.

Any reliance upon the so-called "Dutch Touch" is simply an implicit acknowledgement that those two were correct in what they persuaded Leo to do. An honest relationship between the Roman Church and Anglicans -- and we should neither seek nor accept anything less than complete honesty -- must be founded on the recognition that (1) Leo simply did not know what he was talking about and (2) Paul VI voided sub silencio Leo's principal arguments about the matter of the Sacrament of Orders.

Any church body that is stuck on the erroneous concept that Anglican Orders were, between 1532 and 1992, not valid in the sense in which the wider Catholic Church understands validity, is simply a church that does not share the same Faith that we hold. If there is no common Faith, there is no ground for unity.

John A. Hollister+

highchurchman said...

Just to say that I think J.A.Hollister is ,'right on,' in his comments and attitude.We are honest and expect honesty in return.

poetreader said...

I'm pretty much in accord with Canon Hollister's thoughts on this, but would tend to caution against too much bristling against talk of the 'Dutch touch'.

Of course, as Anglicans we affirm our continuity with the historic Catholic Church and entertain no doubts as to the validity of our orders. (Those who do have such doubts trouble me. If they feel they are a part of something without Catholic continuity, perhaps they should leave Anglicanism and unite with something whose continuity they do accept.)

However, if there was no evil involved in inviting the participation of Old Catholics in Anglican consecrations, there seems no harm in allowing others (i.e. Rome) to interpret that as they will, providing them with a face-saving step along the way to a change of mind.

I find the Dutch Touch to be an irrelevance, and won't use it as an argument, but if erstwhile 'opponents' choose to use it as a crutch as they struggle back toward reality, I'm not about to argue. It's a good first step.

ed

Fr. Robert Hart said...

However, if there was no evil involved in inviting the participation of Old Catholics in Anglican consecrations, there seems no harm in allowing others (i.e. Rome) to interpret that as they will, providing them with a face-saving step along the way to a change of mind.

I think Ed well understands the thinking of Archbishop Cosmo Lang and other Anglican leaders in 1930. Rome is stuck with every precedent bearing Papal Imprimatur, and needs to "save face" in order to go forward. As I have said before, Apostolicae Curae is Rome's problem, not ours.

http://anglicancontinuum.blogspot.com/2006/04/
apostolicae-curae-is-not-our-problem.html

http://anglicancontinuum.blogspot.com
/2006/04/apostolicae-curae-is-not-our-problem_27.html


Paul VI voided sub silencio Leo's principal arguments about the matter of the Sacrament of Orders.

I would be very happy if Canon Hollister would expound further on this one line. It seems like something that could be very helpful if it is explained more fully. I would add that popes since Leo XIII have completely voided the arguments of AC over the years by accepting various orders as valid that, taken together, would have had all the alleged "defects" that were supposed to have made ours "absolutely null and utterly void." This was already mostly true in 1930; so, helping them save face was, to use my exact wording, "realistic" of them.

Michael said...

I have no doubt about the validity of Anglican orders (at least before the 1970s in the case of North America, and 1995 in the case of England). However, I think that mutual submission can be a helpful principle in the restoration of church unity.

If submission to an "infusion" from other sources clears up some of their doubts and reservations, we should be willing to respect their consciences. At the same time, we should be clear about our own position, again, without shoving anyone's face in it.

Instead of seeing the Old Catholic infusion as giving us validity, I would interpret it in terms of a restoration of communion with another branch of the catholic church that Rome recognizes. This relationship of communion doesn't provide validity (which we already have) but does work in some way to make our orders more "licit", if one accepts that churches are supposed to be in communion with each other.

The same thing applies with how Rome recognizes Eastern Orthodoxy - their orders are certainly valid, but suffer a "wound" due to their lack of communion with Rome (and of course, I would say that this, in some way, does the same thing to Rome as well - one could say that everything, even the Petrine Office, is sufferring from a sort of "wound" due to its severed communion with other catholics). Restoration of communion would not provide Orthodox valid orders, but it would still change something about how Rome views their ministry.

This is a somewhat rambling thing to say, since Old Catholics are not in communion with Rome... but, I'm making a rough sort of comparison to show how the "Dutch touch" is useful to how Anglicans view their orders, while making it clear that this infusion doesn't make Anglican orders "valid".

Anonymous said...

"Any church body that is stuck on the erroneous concept that Anglican Orders were, between 1532 and 1992, not valid in the sense in which the wider Catholic Church understands validity, is simply a church that does not share the same Faith that we hold. If there is no common Faith, there is no ground for unity."

"However, if there was no evil involved in inviting the participation of Old Catholics in Anglican consecrations, there seems no harm in allowing others (i.e. Rome) to interpret that as they will, providing them with a face-saving step along the way to a change of mind."


With all due respect this is, from a Roman perspective, hubris. Rome will not be the party to compromise as she sees no reason why she should. She may be generous but in the end any reunion with an Anglican jurisdiction will be on her terms not theirs. Rome believes the fullness of the Church of Christ subsists in her and as such she does not "need" Anglicans though she desires unity with them so as to obey Christ's will that all his believers be as one.

What will happen if an Anglican jurisdiction in talks with Rome makes demands on recognising their orders and revoking Apostolicae Curae? Easy. Rome will walk away. Anglicans of all stripes hugely over-estimate their importance to Rome.

Continuing Anglicans may not agree with this but it's the cold, hard facts. To use a crude analogy, the Roman dog will not be wagged by the Anglican tail.

If you can't accept this so be it, but please do not deceive yourselves into believing their is a hope of reunion as you envisage it. I do not say these things to be offensive, I'm just being honest. Do not have false hope.

Albion Land said...

To you whose comment this immediately follows:

I assume you are a new reader here, and you are most welcome. I would only ask that you have the courtesy to sign your comments, even with a pseudonym if you feel it necessary.

The reason is simple, aside from the obvious value of people having the courage to say publicly what they think: if everyone is posting as "anonymous" it is impossible to have a coherent conversation here.

poetreader said...

Mr. Anonymous,

Most of what you said may indeed be true, but it provides no excuse for a failure to work earnestly for what would indeed be a miracle. Whether you or I see any way that our hopes can be fulfilled or not, we have Our Lord's prayer, "That they all may be one", and our certaintty that there is nothing beyond the power of God -- He is indeed a worker of miracles. To give up hope for what God clearly desires is far worse than 'having false hope'.

Nor are we excused from the divine command for humility. If it indeed be hubris for Rome to insist that it alone constirutes the true church, it is equally hubritical for us to say, "We are Catholic and it makes no difference what they think." No, they can't make us less Catholic, but that does not remove the horrible lessening both they and we experience from the continuing division. If humbling ourselves moves our hearts closer to where they neeed to be, then we need to humble ourselves, regardless of what response may come. Humility is not a tool for accomplishing something -- it is a bsic requirement of walking as a Christian.

ed

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Dear Anonymous:

About the position you have stated, we have heard all this before; and with all due respect for you, I can only quote Rhett Butler: "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn." I want unity, yes; but it will require a different approach. The Communion of Rome is not the whole Church.

Thank God, the pope himself, even if he believes exactly what you have said, approaches people outside of his large communion with charity and humility; and following the lead of his predecessor, he is willing to put some of these topics on the table for discussion.

Anonymous said...

Sorry I forgot to sign off before I posted. If what I said sounded unnecessarily brusque I apologise. Being a poor and slow typer means erudition in text would not be my strong point.

What I stated, is basically what seems to be the bottom line on what is acceptable to Rome. I can't forsee any real softening of it's requirements. Any oecumenical talks have to be undertaken with this in mind, not merely for Anglicans but for Catholics too.

What I meant by "false hope" was that trying to bridge the divide must be done with full openess and clarity as to the respective parties positions. Talks must be approached with hope for what is realistically achievable as opposed to what we wish to be achievable - this is the "false hope" I warned against.

Personally and to my sorrow I cannot see any real hope for unity at this point. Rome requires what Continuing Anglicanism cannot give. Indeed I believe Orthodoxy would require more than CA could give too.

We all must have hope for unity, but we all must be brutally realistic as to the chances of unity at any time in the foreseeable future.

Your brother in Christ and wretched sinner.

Conor

John A. Hollister said...

Father Hart quoted my statement that "Paul VI voided sub silencio Leo's principal arguments about the matter of the Sacrament of Orders." He then said, "I would be very happy if Canon Hollister would expound further on this one line. It seems like something that could be very helpful if it is explained more fully."

What I was referring to was the Bull by which Paul VI promulgated his new Roman Ordinal. In that Bull, he expressly cited the same early Christian sources as Canterbury and York had and then, on that basis, carefully defined the "matter" of the Sacrament of Order as being the laying on of hands, with prayer.

Notably, in Paul's new Ordinal, the laying on of hands itself takes place in silence, so the "prayer" connected with it must be the other prayers that permeate the rite. This, however, is just what Leo said one cannot do, i.e., look to the whole context of the rite to determine what it is trying to accomplish.)

Paul's definition -- the laying on of hands with prayer -- agrees with what the Archbishops of Canterbury and York stated in their response to Leo XIII and disagrees with Leo's concept of the essential "matter" of that Sacrament -- the "tradition of the instruments".

Of course, Paul did not refer in any way to "Apostolicae Curae", to the Anglican response to it, or to those Archbishops or to Pope Leo by name. He simply made a categorical assertion that completely contradicted Leo's theory.

When a statute or an appellate decision similarly undoes an earlier statute or decision, without mentioning the precedent that is being overturned, lawyers call the result "overruling the precedent 'sub silencio'".

John A. Hollister+

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Conor:

I misunderstood your motivation. I think, however, you are not giving enough credit to the pope. In no way can I picture Pope Benedict XVI holding to a legalistic or intransigent approach to ecumenism. Instead of seeing an Anglican perspective as "hubris," he would see it as another perspective. Furthermore, before Pope John Paul II passed away then Cardinal Ratzinger took over the discussions with the TAC from Cardinal Kasper (or so I was informed at the time, from an ACA priest). I do not know if he was able to meet with them before his elevation.

Michael said...

Fr. Hart,

I don't know whether Cardinal Ratzinger ever met with someone from the TAC between the time the file was passed to CDF and his election to the pontificate, but I do know that a number of Canadian TAC clergy were scheduled to meet with him the week of the conclave.

poetreader said...

conor,

I also thank you for clarification. I remain firm, however, that realistic hopes are not sufficient when dealing with the providence of God. Of course we must have realistic objectives as PART of our bundle of hopes, but, if we cease to expect (not demand) miracles, we cease to trust our God as He has informed us we may. I cannot forsee the coming of real unity, but I do know, in the light of what Jesus prayed, that God does foresee it, in His own way and at His own time, but surely. As surely as He is coming, His Church will be 9ine.

ed

Anonymous said...

Per highchurchman:

"Surely the idea of a bridge church was never sought by Anglican Catholics , a bridge that connected Rome to protestantism. What was sought was a Church without protestant deletions and Romanist additions."

Hear, hear!

-- Caedmon