Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A 30 year old problem

This was published today in a Canadian publication, The National Post. The Rt. Rev. Carl Reid is a Suffragan Bishop in the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada, which is part of the TAC. Near the end of the article the term "the Catholic Church" is used without the qualifier (Roman Catholic, and/ or Byzantine or Eastern Rite Catholic) we use when we mean, specifically, that part of the Catholic Church that is in communion with the See of Rome. I assume that is due to the policy of the secular news outlet rather than Bishop Reid's opinion, simply one of those things we have to expect from the secular press. The main point of the article is absolutely right - spot on in fact. It is the difference between Continuing Anglicans and the CCP, CANA, etc. way of thinking. The penultimate paragraph is, of course, specifically and uniquely from the perspective of the TAC, and keeps things enigmatic.

A 30-year-old problem

Rt. Rev. Carl Reid, National Post
Published: Wednesday, February 20, 2008

In Chapter 16 of the Gospel according to St. Matthew, Jesus tells His disciples that He will be put to death by the chief priests and elders in Jerusalem. This was repugnant to his disciple, Peter, who took hold of Jesus, telling Him that such a thing was not going to happen. Jesus' response? "Get thee behind me Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men."

Sometime in the 1990s, Pope John Paul II reminded the Church in the West of the dangers of cafeteria style Christianity -- the idea that "I will choose to believe or accept the things that sit well with my current worldview, and reject the rest, even if they come from the mouth of God Incarnate." While he aimed his comments at Roman Catholics, they resounded in the minds of all orthodox-minded believers, regardless of denominational affiliation.

Was the episode with St. Peter the first example of cafeteria-style Christianity?

The current furor over same-sex blessings in the global Canterbury Anglican Communion is being characterized as a debate between orthodox Anglicans who oppose same-sex blessings and those who do not. But how orthodox are those Anglicans who are now considering leaving the Canterbury Communion to preserve their opposition to same-sex unions?

Thirty years ago another debate divided Anglicans, one that has a direct link to the debate today. In 1978 the issue was the nature of the priesthood. At that time parts of the Canterbury Communion voted to overturn revelation and to allow women to become priests, using sociological arguments about the equality of women. Feminism and its unisex views of the interchangeability of men and women trumped almost 2,000 years of revelation and tradition in the Anglican, Catholic and Orthodox Churches. Back then, as today, a small group of Anglicans found this departure from divine revelation troubling. They wished to remain orthodox, so they left the Canterbury Communion.

Father Carmino de Catanzaro who had been the Anglican parish priest in Ottawa established one of the first parishes in this new body. We now have parishes from St. John's to Victoria and are part of the worldwide Traditional Anglican Communion, with membership in over 40 countries. We are the largest group of Anglicans who have found it necessary to exist outside Canterbury.

Father de Catanzaro's comments in 1978 turned out to be prophetic. "Women priests are now an accomplished fact in both Canada and the United States. Why, then, resist? Because I am convinced with many others, that this is against God's will for His Church." He succinctly summarized his reasons: "It has no support in Scripture. It has no support in Catholic tradition. It creates theological confusion." He then went on to predict that the issue of same-sex unions would cause further confusion and destruction of the Anglican communion.

If it is permissible, based on sociological obfuscation, to alter the nature of one Sacrament (Holy Orders) and invent women priests, then why should it not be equally permissible for another (Holy Matrimony) and invent same-sex marriage? This was the danger Father de Catanzaro warned of. When sociology trumps Revelation, where can one possibly stop?

This only would I say to those who are contemplating breaking with Canterbury and seeking alternate Episcopal oversight: Are you behaving like cafeteria Christians when you effectively say, "We're with you on the nature of marriage, but so far as the priesthood goes, well, we think that we know a better way"? Are you prepared to examine all of your beliefs, even at the expense of discovering you are not quite as orthodox as you think?

With so many Canterbury bishops offering to serve inside the cafeteria, many Anglicans may continue to find the varied diet pleasing as long as it doesn't include same-sex blessings or actively gay bishops. Is this orthodoxy? It is more orthodox, but it is still inside the cafeteria.

The Traditional Anglican Communion left the cafeteria long ago and has grown tired of the wilderness. We want the full course meal served by the Communion of Saints from the very beginning of the church. Quite aside from our desire to remain steadfast to traditional Anglicanism, we desire just as strongly to do whatever small part we can in terms of healing the broken Body of Christ, His Church, to seek unity rather than division. That's why we have asked to come into full sacramental communion with the Catholic Church, with the Book of Common Prayer, married priests and our Anglican identity intact. At their invitation, we made our formal request in early October and await a reply from the Vatican. As our primate, Archbishop John Hepworth, stated -- based on our Lord's Prayer on the night before His crucifixion "that they may be one" -- "Unity with Canterbury is a pleasant device. Unity with [the Catholic Church] is an imperative."

To those still lingering inside the cafeteria, we offer you our prayers. You do not need to go to Africa or South America for episcopal oversight. Come join us for Anglican worship that is orthodox both in practice and belief.

-The Rt. Rev. Carl Reid is Suffragan Bishop for Central Canada in the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada.


An Anglican Cleric said...

Still, the proposed TAC "union" with Rome is shrouded in mist, and whenever one is asked what is on the other side of the mist the answer is simply "trust in your bishops. . ."

It is not unusual for TAC publications to refer to the Roman Church as "the Catholic Church," for I think many of the leaders of TAC believe it to be so. Also, the implication of the article is that Anglicanism can be reduced to the use of the Book of Common Prayer and having married priests. If this be all that the Church of England once stood for, then indeed there is no reason at all for the remnant of the TAC to submit to Rome. It would be better that they fall from the fence to one side or the other. With one hand their American branch signs onto FACA and affirms the Articles, with the other hand the TAC bishops sign the Roman catechism (which is sometimes denied and sometimes proudly affirmed, and then if affirmed nobody knows exactly what it really meant). If this is the true state of affairs, at some point both hands must realize they are reaching in opposite directions.

John said...

Good point to a degree.

We live in a time that does not accommodate blind trust in any man or group of men. Most of us in whatever diaspora we happen to be in have been burnt multiple times. Taking the 'Episcopal" hierarchal model for granted will only cause further divisions. If the CC has proved anything it has proven that. Move without the laity at your own risk. I trust in the Vincentian Canon seems to be the only way to navigate safely. A gift from God for the layman to protect him or herself from dreamers and schemers.

Hepworth's comments regarding the 'mistake of 450 years' gives him no credibility to this ACA member.
My understanding is the Reformation took place because the Roman, not the Catholic Church, the Roman Church had warped Catholicism with it's many man made additions. Admittedly this was further complicated by the warping in other directions by the Calvinists after the fact.
I am an Anglican and a Catholic I need no ones blessing for this except the Lord Jesus. While it would be a work of the Holy Ghost for Catholics to stop being Roman, Anglican and Orthodox and just 'Catholic' it is not likely without direct Godly intervention. I cannot say the Roman way is the right way having left error in TEC I cannot see right thinking in the promotion of leaving one body of error for another. And it is unlikely the Rome will ever confess it's errors in a humble and contrite and charitable way to enjoin others. They are blinded by their own greatness and size. At some point the retention of man made dogma's can only be attributed to pride stemming from power. And that alone is reason enough to think the appeal will go nowhere. They need not be charitable they are hoping to pick us all off one by one- wit the number of their apologists on this list splitting hairs on bald heads. But if the TAC Letter does move forward and if we must become Romans than I will go somewhere else unless there is provision for matters of conscience regarding certain doctrines and dogmas.

As to FACA it seems to be a failure anyway. The only reasonable use for such an association with bodies that have similar views but incompatible on the area of Sacraments might be to endeavor to secure health and other benefits for clergy and to support common seminaries and publishing houses because without those we are all gone in a generation or so anyway.

Reaching is reaching. Paul reached out in many directions, that is the Gospel imperative. It is one thing to reach out it is another to speak for others as a leader and say something to the effect that 'sorry we were all wrong and we have your catechism'. That is a classic case of leading by running ahead of the crowd and walking out in front and making a spectacle of one's self.

The problem is that kind of leader will continue to walk in that tangent while the crowd adjusts course behind him.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

"An Anglican Cleric" mentioned the FACA, which states as its first principle:

"1. FACA is a Federation of Anglican Provinces or Jurisdictions in North and South America which hold to the primacy of Holy Scripture, the Ecumenical Creeds and Councils, adhere to the 39 Articles of Religion, and the principles of the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral. Each member jurisdiction has adopted one of the historical Books of Common Prayer (as the primary standard for worship)."

That certainly sounds like a commitment to Anglican principles, and not to the exclusive ecclesiology of either of the two One True Churches.

Anonymous said...

The problem began in 1559 not 30 years ago. Thank God the TAC ie taking measures to return to the ancient allegiance. No doubt acceptance of the Catechism of the Catholic Church renders obselete the Articles, and other items in the existing Constitution of the English branch of the TAC. Let us look forward to when the work of the English State in passing the Act of Supremacy and the Act of Uniformity is undone.

John said...

ANON says"Let us look forward to when the work of the English State in passing the Act of Supremacy and the Act of Uniformity is undone."

If this be so and it may be by Anglicanism's own hand then what is ahead? It is easy to criticize from a far or at least the perception of being 'afar' but reality says something different.
If the TAC and ACA are absorbed into the RCC what would we expect?
Well we could say there is an institutional stability but is that true?
We could say that we have rejoined Catholicism but is that true?
We could say we would no longer suffer from inadiquate or heretical seminaries but is that true?
We could say we would gain a source of trained clergy but is that true?

The facts are readily available to those who wish to find them and then actually absorb.

Catholicism is slipping in the USA and has fallen behind evangelicalism , what ever that is. The institution cannot control itself, wit Universities such as Georgetown and TV outlets like EWTN who regularly broadcast heresy such as Mary being 4th Person. The RCC still practices much personal piety as dogma thereby still not having repented of those things which it has caused schism. As to the seminaries they are hotbeds of homosexuality and lesbian/feminist nuns are running many parishes and blocking young men from entering the priesthood in order to advance their own claim on Apostolic Orders. Clergy steal millions from their flocks wit Fr. Rodney in Richmond VA (Fr Robme to the locals).

So we can say we are acting on the Scripture and seeking those things St John teaches but if it is not a two way street what has been accomplished?

Before we write off Anglican Formularies I think it wise for those who snipe from RCC quarters and elsewhere to get their own house in order.

John said...

Oh, and by the way the problem began in 1050 and then again in the Middle Ages and led directly to an untenable situation demanding reform in the 1500's But the problem began in Rome on both occasions. In a magesterium the buck stops on the Popes desk, after all he is infallible.

An Anglican Cleric said...

Well said, John.

An Anglican Cleric said...

Well said, John.