Friday, October 12, 2007

The Continuum, the TAC and Rome

A recent thread about the possible news to come from the latest TAC College of Bishops meeting caused some heated conversation. Comments included claims the creation of the thread was irresponsible, based on mere rumour, and malicious in intent. While these claims have been refuted well enough on the thread, I would like to say a little more here.

The reason the thread was created was that Albion was told by Abp Hepworth, Primate of the TAC of some potentially very substantial progress in the TAC's moves towards Rome. He was also told not to reveal the substance of this till Abp Hepworth had contacted him again from the Synod. That is why he only gave a general indication of something "historic and ground-breaking" coming up. Note the positive description. The foreshadowed communication, however, did not come, despite Albion's repeated attempts to gently remind his source of his commitment. In other words, Albion was only trying to reveal news fed to him by someone who had wanted it revealed. This information is sufficient to prove that the thread was neither irresponsible nor rumour-based.

The related claim that Albion's post or my comments were designed to condemn the TAC's attempts at re-union with Rome or steal the TAC's sheep for the ACC by encouraging dissatisfaction among the TAC's laity is both preposterous and vicious. Firstly, Albion's post, as noted above, presented the upcoming news positively. Secondly, the comments about how the TAC should or would not submit to Rome unconditionally by accepting Vatican I etc. were not made by me or Albion but either by members of the TAC or those strongly sympathetic to it. Thirdly, I happen to disagree that Vatican I is the insurmountable obstacle it is said to be, as I have clearly implied some time ago here. I think Rome needs to say more, not less, about the Papacy, but to do so in order to re-attain the more balanced perspective of the Undivided Church. I also think much of what needs to be said can be teased out of accepted RC sources! Fourthly, while I have reservations about the way the TAC has approached the problem, perhaps being willing to underplay the theological work that still needs to be done, I wish them success. Indeed, I have already said as much in private correspondence with Albion.

Too, I would like to address the oft-repeated nostrum that if one accepts Vatican I as orthodox, immediate submission to the RCC under the terms they presently offer is morally obligatory. I can see why people say this, but it is untrue. Both the initiation and continuation of the break in communion between the Roman and Anglican communions were and are primarily unilateral Roman acts premised on Anglican Churches being formally schismatic, officially heretical and not real churches. Since I firmly believe the premise is incorrect and based on historical judgements not necessarily infallible even by Roman standards, I cannot consider myself to be unorthodox or out of communion with the Pope from my side, so to speak, just because I belong to a jurisdiction he does not recognise at this time. In fact, if I believe the ACC to be orthodox and a legitimate, "canonical" jurisdiction, as I do, and have vowed obedience to it, as I have, I can not satisfy the RCC's present conditions for them accepting me from their side into communion without committing sin. Why? Because those conditions effectively include repudiation and dereliction of the ACC.

Does this mean I think the English Reformation was simply a mistake? No and yes. Much that the C of E protested against needed reproof, correction and separation from. However, much of the error it perceived in Rome was due to mistaking flawed theology for false doctrine. On the other hand, that mistaking was done by both sides, that is to say, Rome often claimed and demanded more than it was entitled to by its own principles properly applied. For example, it is clear that the Papal Primacy rejected by the C of E was not that described in more recent RC documents, but was instead an absolute supremecy in matters ecclesiastical and civil. But Unam Sanctum and the political component especially of the excommunication of Elizabeth I, for example, provided plenty of evidence that the misconception was Rome's true conception of itself, to be applied vigorously! Similarly, much that the RCC saw as Anglican heresy was either common opinion but not officially or definitively embraced, or it was easily capable of orthodox interpretation and given such orthodox interpretation by many of its bishops and doctors. Furthermore, the C of E's fundamental and official commitment to the consensus of the Fathers and the Church as the authoritative guides for interpreting Scripture and determining controversies made the Orthodox and Catholic reading of its formularies the only legitimate one.

But I have said these kinds of things before, e.g., here and here.


Albion Land said...

Thanks for your comment, Matthew.

An additional point. In my perhaps too hasty reading of some of the comments, I missed any claims, or insinuations, that there was a move afoot here to "steal sheep" from the TAC for the ACC.

If such a statement was made, I can only call it preposterous. Anyone who is remotely familiar with this blog should be well aware that one of its underlying principles is that of intra-CC ecumenism. One of our primary goals is to seek the full organic unity of all those jurisdictions who adhere to the Affirmation of St Louis.

But our tactic, and remember we come from three different jursidictions, is not to achieve this by sucking dry any of them to the benefit of any other. It is, instead, to promote and foster growing ties among them, such as we have seen evidence of in recent months.

Not too long ago, we were the target of those who accused us of ACC-bashing. Now there are those who accuse us of TAC-bashing. There's a time-honoured adage in journalism, where matters of balance and fairness are concerned: if everybody criticises you, then you must be getting something right.

poetreader said...

Why. oh why. do we of the Continuing Churches seem to spend so much time sniping at each other? We do have our differences, but aren't we all on the same "side"? Can't we somehow find a way to support each other in the cause of Christ, even as we are working to solve these disagreements?

The ways in which I am in less than 100% agreement with ACC are well known, and I don't hesitate to speak of them when it is appropriate, and yet, I find myself often appalled at the depth of negativity toward ACC that I hear from members and clergy of my own jurisidiction. It's wrong, just as wrong as the accusations of betrayal I've heard from the other "side". We aren't enemies -- or at least we are not allowed, by our common Lord, to be enemies. The same is true as between us and the Roman See, or Orthodoxy. We are on the same side, regardless of the differences we need to work out. Let's put our efforts into working them out and stop this endemic badmouthing and suspicion.

The four of us, with our three different jurisdictional connections are trying hard to do just this. I look for the same spirit from our commenters as well. This is a place for good manners, and for an open airing of differences, for the sake of finding ways to come together, not for the sake of condemning one another.


Michael said...

Good grief... I'm not sure I picked up on that hint of TAC bashing, and my goodness, I am pretty hardcore TAC after all, and a big fan of His Grace ++JAH (BTW, do you notice that his initials spell one of the names of God?). :-)

If I didn't notice it, it must not have been there...

Fr Matthew Kirby said...


The kind of comments to which I referred were, for example:

"unless there is an intent to stir up controversy (Ooh, ooh, you'd better watch out, the papists are coming to get you!)"


"do we all simply like conspiracy theories and gossip about things which may or may not come to pass, particularly when we think we can score a few points on, or rustle some sheep from, those with identical origins, theology and sacraments?" [emphasis added]


"What exactly was the post trying to induce or to provoke or attempt?"

As Ed notes, it is sad that there is so much suspicion and willingness to interpret what is written in the least charitable manner. It happens on all sides, of course, and not just within the Continuing Anglicans, certainly. But it is sad.

May God have mercy on us all.

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

Strike "within" and read "among" in my previous comment, 2nd last paragraph.

Irenicist said...

We finally have a statement form hepworth on the TAC synod quote in The Chalenger:

"16th October 2007
Statement authorised by the TAC Primate
" The College of Bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) met in Plenary Session in Portsmouth, England, in the first week of October 2007. The Bishops and Vicars-General unanimously agreed to the text of a letter to the See of Rome seeking full, corporate, sacramental union. The letter was signed solemnly by all the College and entrusted to the Primate and two bishops chosen by the College to be presented to the Holy See.
The letter was cordially received at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The Primate of the TAC has agreed that no member of the College will give interviews until the Holy See has considered the letter and responded."
+ John"

This is quite a bold move and seems ot justify both the delay and the code of silence. If I understand correctly, Hepworth and two other bishops brought the synod's proposal to Rome personally.


Michael said...

OK, so we went and done it (so to speak)... there's a short statement on the Messenger website, saying that the College of Bishops (and Vicars General) solemnly signed a statement requesting unity with the Holy See, and that it was presented by two bishops to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican, and that they've agreed to wait until the Vatican responds before granting interviews.

So, it's now in Rome's hands. We've done everything we can, except to pray, and fast, and wait.


Anonymous said...

"So, it's now in Rome's hands. We've done everything we can, except to pray, and fast, and wait.


...except make peace with your own brethren in the Continuum and present a united orthodox Anglicanism to the Holy See and the successor of Peter.

How much more wonderful it would've been to hear from the TAC that the Bishops wanted to actively seek "full, corporate and sacramental communion" with their own folk.

It's a disgrace.

poetreader said...

Mr. "Anonymous"

I consider it extremely bad manners to throw such a sneeringly negative comment at someone without troubling to give even a pseudonym.

If it were not for your tone, and your anonymity, I'd be open to discuss the issue, as, while I am thoroughly unsympathetic to the attitude you show, perusal of my posts would show that I do indeed regard some of what you say as having substance.

However, discussion, under these circumstances, is not called for.