Sunday, February 03, 2008

Anglo-Papalism and Coherence

There has been much discussion recently on this blog of Anglo-Papalism, a tradition within Anglo-Catholicism, and whether it makes any consistent sense. This discussion has been prompted by the news that the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) is seeking full sacramental communion with Rome and has signalled, by its College of Bishops signing the Catechism of the Catholic Church, that the TAC has no doctrinal disagreement with the Roman Catholic Church (RCC). This action has caused a certain degree of consternation amongst many contributors to the blog, including members of the TAC, and defence of the action and the principles behind it by others.

The first thing I wish to suggest is that the TAC hierarchy has been unwise to restrict the substantive discussion of this move and the reasoning and planning behind it largely to its episcopal College. There is an undeniable “disconnect” between what the College is doing and what much of the laity and lower clergy are thinking. While the general intention of the bishops had been made abundantly clear, there appears to have been little or no attempt to explain the details or address through patient theological education and dialogue the inevitable and serious reservations or objections of many within the TAC. It is not enough for their Primate simply to state, as he has done in the past, that there are no differences in doctrine, especially when differences had appeared to exist in the past. It was incumbent upon the bishops either to explain precisely what had changed in the doctrine of the TAC or RCC, or to show that previously identified divergences in doctrine were in fact only apparently divergent, and that further theological clarification had achieved reconciliation. I think it is manifestly the case that this has not been done, and so an unfortunate impression has been created that the TAC hierarchy has acted more out of unreflective expedience than considered principle.

Now, I do not say this to attack the TAC or its ecumenical goals. Indeed, I happen to believe that the explanations necessary to address the abovementioned concerns can be made successfully. To make clear why I believe this I must deal more generally with the theology of Anglo-Papalism.

What is Anglo-Papalism? Simply put, it is the belief that all the (definitively held) doctrines of the RCC are true, including those affirming the Supreme Jurisdiction and conditional Infallibility of the Pope, and that it should therefore be the goal of Anglican Churches to acknowledge this and submit corporately to Papal Jurisdiction. Obviously, since Anglo-Papalists are by definition still Anglicans, the belief I have outlined is combined with the assertion that the Anglo Papalist is either obliged or at least permitted to remain Anglican and work for corporate re-union from that “side”.

But there are a variety of possible nuances and interpretations of the facts within such a theological position. And this is especially the case when it comes to the justification of the second element, continued Anglican membership. For example, an Anglo-Papalist might simply depict Anglican churches as schismatic or even heretical particular churches, but argue that he stays Anglican because the schism began corporately and so should be healed corporately, such that he is not obliged to leave a church he acknowledges as outside the One True Church (OTC) and join what he identifies instead as the OTC. Or he might instead see (still orthodox) Anglican churches in a more positive but ambiguous light, arguing that, despite their effectively embracing Protestant errors at the popular level of common teaching and belief, they did not actually initiate the breaking of communion, definitively embrace any heresy, or reject Papal Primacy as it is officially defined and understood by the best theologians, but that they rejected a Papal Supremacy that was (wrongly?) perceived to be claiming absolute temporal and spiritual authority. In the latter case an Anglo-Papalist could say that the Anglican churches were materially but not formally (or fully) schismatic, that the fault for this schism was not entirely their own, and so that his and his church’s present separation from the Pope was not a wholly accurate representation of the spiritual reality but at least partly an historical accident. Therefore, he might justify his continued Anglicanism as being not properly schismatic. Indeed, he could see himself as a papally obedient Catholic whose role was to help others in his church “become what they already are”, to quote a popular soteriological phrase.

Similarly, even the primary belief, that Rome has not erred in dogma (and can not do so) and the Pope has universal jurisdiction, admits of variations that affect the implications for Anglicans searching for re-union. An Anglo-Papalist could simply take the triumphalist, ultramontanist view and say, “The RCC’s right, everybody else is wrong, and the pope’s the boss and that’s that.” Or he might say that the dogmatic trustworthiness of the RCC would not mean all its common teaching was correct, or that the common interpretation of its dogmas is always correct. Indeed, he might posit that many such problems are compatible with asserting that Rome has not erred in dogma. He might even note that some of these problem areas for the RCC compared unfavourably with better theology or practice in “separated” Churches. Such an Anglo-Papalist might also note the many qualifications, some of which are not well known, made by RC theologians when discussing Papal infallibility, universal jurisdiction, and the obligation of obedience. And then, if he reasoned that his present lack of communion with and outward, objective submission to the Pope were at least partly the result of past papal excommunications or other decrees that were fallible in theory and flawed in fact, he could happily point to his subjective submission and ask that Rome would dismantle the unnecessary barriers erected from its side.

When pressed about his church’s (rather than just his own) acceptance or rejection of the Papal claims, an Anglo-Papalist could say that his church had erroneously rejected the Catholic doctrine. Or he could say that past disagreements were based partly on Rome and its apologists claiming and pushing for more than its dogma really justified or required, and that his church had not officially declared the Papal claims heretical and intended to follow the doctrines of Holy Tradition on this point, but needed time to receive the dogmas as properly understood.

The possibilities explored above are not exhaustive, of course, but they do give a considerable range of potential views within one school of thought. Some of these interpretations of Anglo-Papalism are disloyal (both to the RC and the Anglican tradition) and incoherent. Others are not.

What about the insistence of the RCC that those who recognise it as the Catholic Church must join it? It is not as simple as it looks. The RCC deliberately seeks corporate reunion with separated churches and what it calls “ecclesial communities” based on theological dialogue meant to result in doctrinal convergence. Does anybody really think that the RCC is saying that if such dialogue was successful in any particular case, unless it was accompanied exactly simultaneously by corporate reunion, all members of the other body would be obliged under pain of mortal sin to immediately abandon and dismantle their church and be simply absorbed into the RCC? This is clearly not what is intended by the RCC, so it would seem that there is implicit allowance for a transitional period once doctrinal convergence is reached when members of the other body my remain in it, waiting for corporate re-union to be finalised. But what if the doctrinal agreement is perceived by a member of that body to be actually present but not yet made completely manifest and explicit through the process of dialogue? Is that person obliged to repudiate his church even if he agrees with all the RCC and his own church teaches? What about the analogous situation where somebody is wrongly excommunicated and told they must repudiate something they have said as heretical or rebellious when they know it is not? Are they obliged to lie so as to ensure their restored membership to the RCC, with which they have no intentional or true material doctrinal disagreement? The RCC has not said that such situations are impossible, so it is clearly not true (absolutely and without exception) that a person recognising the Papal claims is thus necessarily obliged to do whatever is necessary to be a part of the RCC.

What is my position? I think that most readers will have detected that my sympathies lie more with the more “nuanced” versions of Anglo-Papalism outlined above than those that see the RCC as simply “in” and Anglican Catholics as simply “out”. Roman critics might see my position as a kind of dishonest and disrespectfully Minimalist Anglo-Papalism. Anglican critics are likely to think I am granting too much to Rome and fooling myself about the possibilities for complete convergence at the level of dogma. However, I have good reasons for thinking as I do, most of which I have outlined on this blog before.

Why, fundamentally, do I trust the RCC not to have erred in dogma? Because I don’t believe that God would allow the prime Successor of Peter and all those in communion with him to abandon the OTC either through utterly definitive and binding denial of any Catholic truth or through dogmatic affirmation of what is heretical. This “disbelief” is one of head and heart and is based on my understanding of Scripture and the Consensus of the Fathers.

Yet, on the other hand, I also don’t believe that the Bishop of Rome is the only Petrine successor, given the Petrine roots (acknowledged by ancient Popes) of Antioch and Alexandria, the fact that Jerusalem, “the mother of us all”, once contained the whole Church, with Peter as its Primate, and the fact that Constantinople was founded as “New Rome” and recognised as such by the Church. Nor do I believe that God would have or did allow the Eastern half of the Church (and its Petrine sees!) to leave the OTC in the middle ages. Or that the E-W schism was primarily the result of Eastern error or rebellion. Or that the said schism was complete or definitive. Or that Rome’s excommunications or condemnations in general, whether towards individuals or bodies, have always been fair. Or, thus, that the resultant schisms are proof that whoever is not in communion with Rome at any point in time must be outside the OTC. Or that the Church of England committed itself definitively to heresy or intended to be out of communion with the rest of the Church (E and W) in 1559 or since then until the defection over the ordination of women. Or that it rejected, then or since, Papal Primacy properly understood. Or that such primacy has often been fittingly understood on either side. Nor do I believe this set of “disbeliefs” is inconsistent with the pro-Papal one or dogmatically excluded by the RCC.

And so, I say once more, I remain a (coherently!) philo-Orthodox Anglo-Papalist.

33 comments:

poetreader said...

Thanks, Fr. Kirby, for bringing this front and center.

1. I am a lay member of TAC.

2. I do perceive a rather serious disconnect between our episcopate and at least many of our parishes and people on this issue.

3. "...the belief that all the (definitively held) doctrines of the RCC are true, including those affirming the Supreme Jurisdiction and conditional Infallibility of the Pope,..." is not a belief I can affirm, but rather feel I must deny with considerable passion, being convinced that it is, especially in those apsects copncerning the papacy, a novel view that discounts the views of the Eastern division of Christianity, has no real Scriptural support, and is certainly not reflective of the unanimous consent of the Fathers.

I don't want to get into debating the validity of those views at this time, but rather to point out that, IF in signing the RC Catechism, our bishops meant to signify that there are no genuine differences over any of those teachings as between Continuing Anglicans and Rome, they have not spoken for the churches they lead. Many, probably most, of us reject such a view of the Papacy, and would find it very difficult, probably impossible, to accept a union that required us so to agree.

It's a difficult situation, one that produces a great deal of pain. I fervently desire that Christians be one in apparent reality, not merely in the rather Protestant sense of an 'invisible church', but cannot affirm what I see to be false. I strongly fear that this process, if prosecuted in the way it seems to be going, will, rather than bringing about real unity, merely further fragment the hurting victims of the current Anglican crisis.

I love our bishops, especially my Urdinary and truly hate to be out of accord with the direction they seem to be movoing, but, alas, that is the current state of affairs.

May Our Lord lead us out of this quagmire. May He deliver us from the seriously negative outcomes that could well result.

ed

+ Ebbsfleet said...

I struggle with the concept of Anglo-Papalism relating to parishes and individuals living beyond the shores of England and Wales or, perhaps, Britain. For me there has always been the sense that Ecclesia Anglicana was fragmented and driven into schism by the politics of the sixteenth century and that those of us born and raised within the territorial fragment of the West that is accidentally Anglican and not Catholic have a duty to live and work to the mending of the broken vessel of Catholicism by living as Catholics within the fragment. I have always admired that part of Anglo-Catholicism - whether in the seventeenth, nineteenth or twentieth century - which has looked towards the contemporary Roman Catholic Church
and I have always been suspicious of the more self-sufficient 'Catholic Anglicanism' which has toyed with the Sarum Rite, talked up 1549 and not perceived the Petrine hole in Anglican ecclesiology.

For a fragment of a fragment to voluntarily glue itself on to the main bit of the broken vase (say) may minisculely help in the repair of the vase. Far better for that fragment to remain part of the fragment and patiently wait for the gluing together of the whole.

It follows from this that the fragment may view the main bit of the vase as having been repaired, added to or maintained inadequately or simply wrongly. Hence an Anglo-Papalist, I suppose, could regard the developments of 1854,1870, 1950 as tragic and erroneous without ceasing to be a genuine Anglo-Papalist. More likely the Anglo-Papalist will regard the development of doctrine, secured by the magisterium, as authentic and therefore part of the tradition.

How the TAC or non-British Anglican provinces could be Anglo-Papalist rather defeats my understanding. I say this not to be critical but because we need a great deal of clarity at this time. Having said that, I have absolutely no view on the approach of the TAC to Rome. I am not sufficiently informed about the background, the personalities, the politics or the people. Anything which contributes to the unity of the Church has to be welcomed in principle.

+ Andrew Ebbsfleet

Fr. Robert Hart said...

In response to the above comment that appears to have been written by Bishop Burnham, I don't understand it. His Grace has lost me. Why would Anglicans outside of the British Provinces be in a different category than those within it? As an American, by birth, persuasion and inclination, I don't feel cut off from the Anglican spiritual and theological heritage at all (even though I do consider the current state of the Church of England to be a tragedy not unlike the Episcopal Church).

Fr. Kirby:

The only kind of Anglo-Papalism that makes sense to me is a kind that seeks these things: 1)Theological discussion with Rome that addresses genuine areas of disagreement, 2)restoration of a more balanced approach than has existed in 1000 years between Rome and the rest of the Church, and 3)definition of Papal Infallibility (an idea that will be protected by love for precedent) as the final stage of the Conciliar process. This presupposes that the Conciliar process would include the patriarchs and bishops of the East, and, frankly, that our own bishops would not be excluded.

Obviously, from Rome's perspective I want too much, at least if I want it all upfront. However, I say is that these are the things to be sought after as the result of a process of serious discussion, not as the beginning point.

What I don't know is how much of this the TAC hierarchy have even considered. I humbly suggest to their Archbishop that he, and the other bishops, consider all of it.

John A. Hollister said...

The Bishop of Ebbsfleet referred to "the territorial fragment of the West that is accidentally Anglican and not Catholic".

I iterpret this territory that is accidentally Anglican and yet is not Catholic to mean the British Isles, where all three native Anglican Churchs (those of England and Wales, of Scotland, and of Ireland) have, since the early 1990s, retained outward Anglican forms while in teaching and practice they have severed themselves from the Church Catholic, following the trail blazed in the early 1970s by PECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada.

John A. Hollister+

Sandra McColl said...

I recall his Lordship's attitude expressed in a slighly different form in the 1980s by a friend who was at the time a student at Oxford, subsequently proceeded to holy orders, was for a while, I believe, a priest under the authority of the Bishop of Ebbsfleet, and finally fulfilled his glorious destiny by becoming an RC layman. At the time, it was to the effect that the Church of England was the ancient form of Catholicism in that country, so it was the means by which the Faith could be delivered to the English people. He had a few doubts about whether it worked the same way for the Piskies in Scotland, and was adamant that there was no justification for a Catholic being Anglican outside of England (possibly Britain). Taken to its extreme, such a position appears to require English ships and all on board to become RC the moment they enter international waters. It also completely discounts the idea of British colonies. It was the C of E that brought Christianity to Australia, and while we have no established Church, that historical fact remains.

+ Ebbsfleet said...

I hasten to make clear, for it seems not to have been clear - for which I seek pardon , that I am not for a moment doubting the faith and integrity of the admirable Fr Robert Hart or of traditional Anglo-Catholics in general beyond Britain who live and work and pray for the reunion of the Catholic Church. Some will rightly focus on the coming together of the whole Church, East and West, others will seek (as I myself see as more realistic) corporate reconciliation of some sort with the Roman Catholic Church.

The distinction I was trying to make was between a position which is confessional, and held by many orthodox Anglicans throughout the world, and the particular circumstances of Anglo-Catholics in the Church of England (and therefrom Wales, Scotland and Ireland) following on from the political implications of Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, Charles II and William and Mary. Our parishes (though, ironically, not usually those of urban Anglo-Catholics) are places where the faith was fully celebrated> This is felt powerfully in those parishes where the rite seems essentially continuous with that celebrated there five hundred or a thousand years ago.

There was a glimpse of the coherence of Anglo-Papalism a quarter of a centruy ago when the ARCIC process was in its heyday, the Pope was at Canterbury, and Anglo-Catholic parishes were very largely celebrating the new vernacular RC liturgy. Things have looked gradually gloomier ever since, with the ordination debate, the sexuality debate, the (partly consequential) enfeeblement of Anglo-Catholicism and the hegemony, at least in the UK, of liberal evangelicalism.

As for John Hollister's suggestion that the British Churches, since the early 1990s, have largely gone off the rails, the point is therefore readily conceded. The job of a PEV is to work within the bits that are still on the track and in danger of going nowhere. How realistic that is and how long it will remain realistic so to work only time will tell.

+ Andrew Ebbsfleet

Hopeless Percy Dearmer Fan said...

Reading the Bishop's comments, especially "Anglo-Catholic parishes were very largely celebrating the new vernacular RC liturgy", I can't help but wonder again quite what the Vatican imagines the TAC actually wants to preserve, when they can see that Anglo-Catholics in England just act as if they were Roman Catholics already. There doesn't seem to be anything keeping them from taking the swim (without any of the niceties of preserving the liturgy), except possibly the little matter of stipends, fine buildings and shiny objects. Some of us out here in the colonies think there is actually something worth preserving, even if we have to have our services in funeral homes and people's houses, however incomprehensible and quaint that might appear to some in the Mother Country.

J. Gordon Anderson said...

On a related note, Yelton's book "Anglican-Papalism: A History" is supposed to be back in print.

http://www.amazon.com/Anglican-Papalism-History-Michael-Yelton/dp/1853118613/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1202152567&sr=1-2

Sandra McColl said...

HPDF: Don't confuse FiF with TAC on the liturgical front (although if it were not for the good folk of North America, things would be a lot worse there, too). The bit of patrimony FiF hopes to preserve is clergy wives, of course.

As for me, the nearest FiF church is about 20 minutes drive away, while the nearest TAC church is another 15 minutes further (I pass the former to get to the latter). If I want a modern Roman liturgy, I can leave the car in the garage and be healthy and environmentally friendly, and within the time it would take to drive to FiF or TAC, walk to either of two places where the modern Roman liturgy is done authentically by the people for whom it was originally intended. And certain of the Anglican clergy and bishops wonder why the ordinary bum-on-pew feels alienated . . .

Fr_Rob said...

Clearly, part of the reason the American Continuers of today are less Anglo-Papal and more "mainstream Anglican" than those in Australia and England (and possibly Canada) is that those who helped establish, fund, and build the Continuing Anglican Church coming out of St. Louis were not all Anglo-Catholics. Many, particularly among the laity, were equally (or even more so) concerned to continue using the BCP as they were to maintain the traditional, all-male apostolic ministry.

I know in my own ACC Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic States there was and is at most only a couple of Anglo-Catholic parishes out of a total of 20 or so. And this has remained pretty much the case for the past 30 years.

From what I can discern regarding Australia and England, the CC there seems to be almost entirely Anglo-Catholic, and even Anglo-Papal. Perhaps this helps explain some of what Sandra has so wittily written about.

Anonymous said...

The old Anglo-Catholic interpretation of the Reformation is now in tatters and is not believed by any secular historian, or by the vast majority of religious ones. Haigh(a Congregationalist), Duffy (a Catholic), and MacCulloch (a liberal Anglican), have dealt it its death blows. The Church of England is clearly a state structure with several different religions within it, as described by Fr Nichols in "The Panther and the Hind" and the only sensible thing is to get out and hope to retain Anglican culture in a Pastoral Provision Church. The Bishops of the TAC obviously see this and are acting acordingly. I very nearly joined the TAC but drew back when I saw that I needed to agree to their Constitution which speaks of the 39 Articles as being agreeable to the Word of God, and Holy Scripture as containing all things necessary to salvation. I sincerely hope that out of the TAC negotiations with Benedict XVI there will emerge an Anglican church united but not absorbed.

Sandra McColl said...

Actually, Fr Rob, one of the reasons given by the founding Continuers in Australia was the failure of the Anglican Church of Australia to maintain the BCP. Many of the founders were, I think, from the Catholic end of the Prayer Book Society. Of course, BCP in this context runs as far as English Missal, and is possibly what a lot of people thought of when they said 'BCP', which, in Aus, had become frozen at 1662, because we were still C of E in 1928 and couldn't have what HM's Parliament Over There wouldn't let us have. At the time of the foundation of the Australian Continuum, deaconettes were a reality and priestesses hadn't yet happened. I recall the early Continuers saying such things as, 'it's not about the o of w, it's about the BCP'.

Sandra McColl said...

Actually, Fr Rob, one of the reasons given by the founding Continuers in Australia was the failure of the Anglican Church of Australia to maintain the BCP. Many of the founders were, I think, from the Catholic end of the Prayer Book Society. Of course, BCP in this context runs as far as English Missal, and is possibly what a lot of people thought of when they said 'BCP', which, in Aus, had become frozen at 1662, because we were still C of E in 1928 and couldn't have what HM's Parliament Over There wouldn't let us have. At the time of the foundation of the Australian Continuum, deaconettes were a reality and priestesses hadn't yet happened. I recall the early Continuers saying such things as, 'it's not about the o of w, it's about the BCP'.

Sandra McColl said...

And perhaps the failure of the 1928 book in the C of E is a reason why so many Anglo-Catholics embraced modern-language liturgy when it came along.

Anonymous said...

What could be better than the BCP (suitably amended as in the Book of Divine Worship) plus the Pope? Anglicans who already use the New Order Mass should be Roman Catholics anyway, those who use the BCP have a culture, a tradition of liturgy and scholarship, and a sacred language which would add to the existing Catholic Church.

John A. Hollister said...

1. The second anonymous Anonymous (or perhaps the same one back for a second round) wrote:

"What could be better than the BCP (suitably amended as in the Book of Divine Worship) plus the Pope?"

a. Almost nothing could be worse than the Book of Divine Worship, no matter how it be amended, because the BDW is based on the 979 horror, not on a legitimate Book of Common Prayer.

b. I quite agree with 2AA that "Anglicans" who use the Novus Ordo Missae have little excuse for not going totus porcus to Rome.

c. If 2AA had been writing about a real BCP plus the Pope, then the answer would be that it would be worth thinking about, provided that the Pope in question acknowledged the errors of his predecessor Leo XIII, permitted at least an Anglican Unia to follow the personal example of St. Peter in having married bishops, and gave the group in question at least as much autonomy as is enjoyed by, for example, the Melkite Church.

Now as to how likely that is to happen....

2. And again, "Anglicans ... who use the BCP have a culture, a tradition of liturgy and scholarship, and a sacred language which would add to the existing Catholic Church."

The problem is that Anglicans who use the BCP are already adding to the culture, tradition, and worship of the existing Catholic Church. The question on the floor is whether it will ever be made possible for them to do so after they place themselves within the Roman Obedience which offers them only one benefit: communion with the largest single group of Christians.

That is by no means a small thing, but it is not every thing. Nor, at least at the parish level in North America, if not elsewhere, is it an unmixed blessing.

I myself cannot accept the Universal Ordinary Jurisdiction of the (Roman) Pope as a divine dispensation but Benedict the XVI does and so, at least in theory, do his subjects. The Roman Church in the US, at least, would benefit greatly from his more vigorous exercise of that jurisdiction to visit, inspect, and reform innumerable Dioceses, Parishes, and Seminaries.

John A. Hollister+

Anonymous said...

"A fond thing, vainly invented" is how I would describe this notion that an elusive ill-defined "Anglican culture" can be grafted onto the true Papal vine. What does this "Anglican culture" consist of? Vestments from Wippell's and Almy's? Music from Kings Chapel? Sonorous liturgical prose from the 16th century?

Roman Catholics of my acquaintance (and I have known more than a few) are likely to find Anglicans precious, effete, snobbish, and silly. While the theological issues are tough enough (and I strongly feel they have not be more than superficially addressed), the cultural issues are far tougher. RC's don't have coffee hour; Anglicans don't play bingo. Can you imagine a Catholic Youth Organization having a boxing match in an Anglican parish hall? What would the Altar Guild have to say about that? How many crusty old-fashioned Vestrymen would care to join the Knights of Columbus? It's fun to dream of "Anglican culture" surviving in some small chapel (a converted brom closet, maybe) at St Philomena's RC Church, along with the relics of Polish and Filopino culture. But that's all, just a dream.

I find it fascinating that those who swim the Tiber still have to continue their quest for the "right sort" of parish, looking for one which has a Latin Mass, or sings from the Adoremus Hymnal, or one where the sermons are not mostly about overthrowing the laws against illegal immigrants. Perpetually unhappy people, they will not enjoy sitting beside a bunch of "undocumented immigrants."

If I were a RC pastor and had a bunch of people approach me with an offer to bring some "Anglican culture" into my parish, you can imagine what my response would be.
The concept is exceedingly condescending and theologically frivolous. The Holy See has been far more gracious than this silly notion deserves.
Laurence K. Wells

Hopeless Percy Dearmer Fan said...

By way of illustrating the way some in the Vatican view the C of E separately from the rest of the Anglican Communion (and arguably, by extension the continuum), I quote from an address given by Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council on Christian Unity to the House of Bishops of the C of E, June 2006, on the subject of the ordination of women to the episcopate:

"Three provinces within the Anglican Communion have already ordained women to the episcopate; several other provinces have authorized such ordinations, though none have taken place in the latter to this point. These developments already stand as a major obstacle in Anglican-Catholic relations. But the Catholic Church has always perceived the Church of England as playing a unique role in the Anglican Communion: it is the church from which Anglicanism derives its historical continuity, and with whom the divisions of the 16th century are most specifically addressed; it is the church led by the Archbishop of Canterbury who, in the words of the Windsor Report, is “the pivotal instrument and focus of unity” within the Anglican Communion; other provinces have understood being in communion with him as a “touchstone of what it was to be Anglican” (§99); finally, it is the church which we in continental Europe directly associate with Anglicanism, in part because of your many Church of England chaplaincies spread throughout the continent. For us, the Church of England is not simply one province among others; its decisions have a particular importance for our dialogue, and give a strong indication of the direction in which the Communion as a whole is heading."

Not surprisingly, the TAC proposal was submitted to the Congregation For The Doctrine Of The Faith. I hope that they, and Pope Benedict, take a more "catholic" view of Anglicanism.

As a TAC layman, I do hope and pray for sacramental unity with the RCC, but a unity that respects the fullness of our tradition, not an Anglican equivalent of the Ambrosian Rite of the Latin Church, which is what the "Anglican Use" is.
To give the Holy See a great deal of credit, they have a very robust policy of de-latinization toward their Eastern Rite Catholic churches, that is, when western practices such as Stations of the Cross, the Benedictine rosary, etc creep in, they are strongly discouraged, and that gives me hope.

PTB+ said...

"Anonymous" said:
--and the only sensible thing is to get out and hope to retain Anglican culture in a Pastoral Provision Church.--

This has been tried and has failed.
It is solely up to each diocesan bishop to determine if they will allow Pastoral Provision parishes or not. Since its implementation in 1980 the majority of RC diocesans have rejected it.
At the time of its implementation the largest number of converts were in the Diocese of Los
Angeles. The Archbishop wholly rejected the PP and dispersed all the converts into existing parishes.
So long as only portions of the Continuum approach the RCC individually, why would they (the RCC) do any differently? Sure, a handful or so larger parishes might be brought in wholly, but they will be relatively few. And, once the priests in those churches retire, no provision will be made for new clergy to be trained.
The only hope for the Anglican Catholic heritage (doctrine, liturgy, spirituality) to survive something like the PP is for the Continuum to unite *first*.
Prior to approaching Rome it needs to be determined more clearly who we, as Anglican Catholics (the Continuum), are and more specifically, what is the heritage we are trying to preserve.
Once we have placed our own house in order, it could determine if, for the sake of the unity of the Church, it would be best to approach the RCC as a whole and work towards Uniate status, and negotiate the terms necessary to preserve our Anglican Catholic heritage.
I think the TAC's decision to approach the RCC on its own was rash, and if accepted by Rome will only result in more dispersing of Anglican clergy and laity into the existing RCC.

Paul Beutell+

Anonymous said...

William Oddie's book "The Roman Option" is very pertinent to this discussion. He says "Pope John Paul II, in one of the early acts of his reign, authorised for their (those Americn Anglican congregations who retained their Anglican ways and clergy) a Catholicised but still recognisably Anglican liturgy, the traditional language version of which may well be the most sumptously beautiful varnacular Mass in existence" (p. 10.

Sandra McColl said...

Anonymous asks what could be better than the BDW? Well, the English Missal for starters. Indeed, any BCP-based liturgy that doesn't involve cut and paste jobs from the modern Roman liturgy. Plus the Pope? Well, plus a restoration of unity, even if only partial. Then Anonymous suggests that Anglicans who use the New Order Mass should go and be RCs anyway. There is something very attractive about this last proposition.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Anonymous (please use a name or handle to avoid confusion) wrote:

The old Anglo-Catholic interpretation of the Reformation is now in tatters...The Church of England is clearly a state structure with several different religions within it, as described by Fr Nichols in "The Panther and the Hind" and the only sensible thing is to get out and hope to retain Anglican culture in a Pastoral Provision Church.

Some of the over-emphasis and neglect on the part of some Anglo-Catholic historians does not justify accepting wholesale the equal and opposite reaction, which some people use to draw silly conclusions. Every church, from the time of Constantine and the edict of Milan, was a state church until the U.S. Constitution. Even under the Pope, the European churches of the middle ages were very much under the power of each state.

Nor was the variety of theological supposition and theories novel to England or merely post-Reformation. None of the controverted opinions or questions (except the Presbyterian, or Genevan Discipline of Calvin that the Church of England rejected) about various subjects, including the nature of Eucharistic Sacrifice, and whether priests and bishops were the same order distinguished by degree, were new. They were not Protestant questions, but very old- centuries old- Catholic questions and theories. Various opinions were acceptable within the Church throughout the Medieval period. Thomas Aquinas believed much that could be considered a Lutheran view of ordained ministry, or a Calvinist view of Predestination, but for the fact that he came before them. That these questions were still buzzing about after the Reformation proves very little, and does not justify a rejection of one overwhelming fact of Anglican history.

No matter how it is painted today, the fact is, state Church or not, it was the majority of bishops who prevailed in essential matters, especially about the sacrament of Holy Orders. Trying to dismiss the significance of this as Parliamentarian is just plain wrong. The bishops held to their views for reasons clearly written and stated, and this is why the Church of England's Laws never deviated from one consistent approach. The years when Cromwell and his presbyterian thugs were in charge met with such reaction (as in rejection) as to prove the point I make.

As for "Anglican Culture," due to the worldwide reality of Anglicanism this "culture" is as diverse as Roman Catholic culture. I reject the whole idea.

The same or another Anonymous wrote:

What could be better than the BCP (suitably amended as in the Book of Divine Worship) plus the Pope?

Under what circumstances? A pope with absolute power of Universal Jurisdiction? A pope considered Infallible in all utterances ex cathedra without the full Conciliar process? No thank you.

Pilgrim said...

What evidence have you that any of Elizabeth's bishops believed in a "sacrament" of Holy Orders? The Articles certainly do not.The bishops all accepted the orders of other Protestants ordained in Europe, and bishops as merely a convenient form of church government.As for faith, some looked at the fathers, but only as interpreters of Holy Scripture .What prevailed in the Elizabethan Church was the Queen, who was responsible for ignoring the hierarchy in place at her accession,had the last word concerning the Acts of Supremacy and Uniformity, dismissed Archbishops at will and issued instructions on her authority as Supreme Governor in all matters spiritual as temporal. Like any other Godly Prince in Europe she in fact had the last word in matters of doctrine. Her Church was regarded by all other Protestant Churches as one of them.

Throughout the 18th Century the Bishop of London ordained the ministers of the Calvinist Church now in Soho Square. One I looked at had his theological training at the Seminary in Geneva ,and his ordination papers came from there.
As late as 1817 a Revd. Mr Johnson, in Lutheran orders, was appointed as CMS missionary to Sierra Leone.
Edward Norman, speaking at a meeting at the last Lambeth Conference, pointed out that "Those whom the Tractarians believed to be the successors of the Apostles, in the 1840's, rushed into print (in the form of published episcopal charges) to deny that they were" (WS Bricknell(ed)"The Judgements of the Bishops upon Tractarian Theology" Oxford, 1845).

I look forward to two churches in England, a Catholic one in communion with the Pope containing
all catholic minded Anglicans, and a Protestant one fulfilling the traditional vocation of Cranmer, Latimer, Ridley, Jewel, Hooper, Whitgift, Grindal,and the bishops of Newman's time, by uniting Anglican Evangelicals, Methodists, Baptists, Congregationalists, etc in a Comprehensive Church of England. The Queen can thus continue to promise to defend "the Protestant Reformed religion of the Church of England". It could even be established.
Thank you for your suggestion that I acquire a name, I have not used one hitherto because of laziness.Please forgive me. Heine said "Once I thought I had a Fatherland, it was a beautiful dream". Substitute "Church" for "Fatherland" and you can see how some of us appreciate the history of the C of E. We wish to gather up the fragments that remain that nothing be lost.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Pilgrim:

Hogwash!

After the Restoration of Charles II, and because of the confusion caused during Cromwell's brief usurpation, (and as we know now for a fact) no Protestant minister was allowed to function in the Church of England without Episcopal Ordination (as had been the case before. Earlier, Lancelot Andrewes always argued on the grounds of validity, a criteria everyone was in the habit of accepting by the time he was writing and speaking. The sacramental meaning involved in using this word at all is obvious). This the documented fact. Just to be clear, the requirement of Episcopal Ordination was made into Law by Parliament at the urging of the bishops. The issue was validity, and those who won the battle for this view were merely clarifying what had been the only thing allowed in England, the years of Cromwell having been a violent interruption. Rumors to the contrary persist with no evidence to back them up, and much to prove their impossibility.

You wrote:
Throughout the 18th Century the Bishop of London ordained the ministers of the Calvinist Church now in Soho Square. One I looked at had his theological training at the Seminary in Geneva ,and his ordination papers came from there.
As late as 1817 a Revd. Mr Johnson, in Lutheran orders, was appointed as CMS missionary to Sierra Leone.


That is simply not true.

No Lutheran minister was ever allowed to function in the Church of England in 1817 unless he was ordained first by a bishop. You have presented utter fiction (which I assume was fed to you). The very laws themselves rule it out as nonsense. I call your bluff.

As for the Article on sacraments, as I have explained often, the division between the two sacraments of the Gospel (instituted by Christ) and the five sacraments from the Old Testament is explained in the Anglican Catechism. Unlike modern English, the phrase "commonly called" was used only as an affirmation, that a thing was, as it is commonly called, that very thing indeed. All other instances of its usage demonstrate this, so the Article cannot be a case where it meant something else.

You asked:
What evidence have you that any of Elizabeth's bishops believed in a "sacrament" of Holy Orders?

Whether or not the queen herself was thinking of the word sacrament is hardly relevant. I see no reason to suppose that she, and the bishops, had any intention other than to do what the Church has done from the beginning. First, the evidence is in everything they took care to do. Second, the evidence is in the laws of the Church of England that followed. Third, the evidence is in the Form Accipe Spiritum Sanctum, an obvious fact that is overlooked, and overlooked without excuse. Even those who argued against that as "the correct form" (as if there ever had been such a thing) seemed, against all common sense, to pay no attention to what it clearly means about the need for the Holy Ghost, and therefore the charismatic nature of the ordained ministry (a point that is obvious). Finally, no Anglican formulary ever redefined the three orders. The only relevant formualry is the Preface to the Ordinal; and what it actually says is that these three orders have existed from the beginning and are being continued. I know people love to say that's not enough. Well, yes it is enough. It means what it says. To say something else, to try to redefine the Orders, is what would have caused a problem. What we actually have in the Preface can only mean assent to "what was believed always, everywhere and by all." For, it states nothing new.

Read The Anglican Ordinal by Paul Bradshaw, and read Saepius Officio. Then you may have some appreciation of what really happened. But, this fairy tale world that some Roman Catholics live in, regarding Anglican history, won't work with me. And your tale about the 18th Century is, as I said, hogwash. It belongs with the Nag's Head Tavern tale.

Anonymous said...

I believe that Fr. Wells above has a very good point:

"A fond thing, vainly invented" is how I would describe this notion that an elusive ill-defined "Anglican culture" can be grafted onto the true Papal vine. What does this "Anglican culture" consist of? Vestments from Wippell's and Almy's? Music from Kings Chapel? Sonorous liturgical prose from the 16th century?

Articulating Anglican culture is exactly what the TAC must adequately do and it is just what they have, up until now, not fully addressed. That culture is very much worth "grafting to the true Papal vine" because it is that Papal vine that is likely to be the only thing that might ultimately save Anglican culture.

Anglican culture properly understood is not that "vain thing" that Fr. Wells describes and that we all surely recognize. It has little to do with Almy, Wippell's or the King's College choir. It has much to do with the common law and with those "little platoons" that make up much of English speaking society - or at least did until the last 50 years or so. It has to do with Shakespeare, Eliot, Lewis and Tolkien. It is the men of the Birkenhead. It is the defense of private property and a sovereign, whether king or president, that rules by the consent of the governed. It is those "permanent things" held dear by the English speaking peoples. It is conservatism as practiced by those English speaking peoples and it is on its deathbed. Anglican liturgical practice is just a part of it. The whole has been articulated and defended by Burke, Eliot, Kirk, Orwell, Roger Scruton and others.

Up until the last century this culture was able to defend itself fairly well. Somewhere along the way though it became suicidal. The TAC needs to look beyond just the liturgical or the theological and define for Rome (and for the people of the TAC) what exactly is worth saving and why they believe the bishops of Rome are the ones to protect and defend it.

Most ACAers likely do not fully embrace the Catechism - hell, most Roman Catholics I know have never picked the thing up. But if Rome is truly the only force that can ultimately save the things the TAC wishes to save (which is likely very nearly the things all on this list wish to save) and those things are indeed worth saving then would accepting certain teachings be too high a price to pay?

-Mark

Fr. Robert Hart said...

"Accepting certain teachings" must come from the persuasion of the mind, or it violates the conscience. I really don't see Rome as the only ones who can pull Anglican fat out of the fire. Why not simply hold to what we believe?

poetreader said...

Actually, Rome's desire or ability to be the preserver of such things is highly questionable. Whether Anglicans remain separated or find a way to march in concert with Rome, preservation of the heritage God has given to Anglicans will have to be preserved by Anglicans. If this responsibility is entrusted to others, it will not be fulfilled, and the acceptance of things that run against conscience would be absolutely destructive to the effort.

ed

John A. Hollister said...

Pilgrim wrote: "What prevailed in the Elizabethan Church was the Queen, who was responsible for ignoring the hierarchy in place at her accession,had the last word concerning the Acts of Supremacy and Uniformity, dismissed Archbishops at will and issued instructions on her authority as Supreme Governor in all matters spiritual as temporal."

1. "What prevailed in the Elizabethan Church was the Queen, who was responsible for ignoring the hierarchy in place at her accession...."

Why does Pilgrim think it was permissible for Mary to require her bishops to be loyal to her personal theological views and to burn bishops who had never expressed the slightest disloyalty to her government, but not permissible for Elizabeth to allow those bishops who could not accept her government to retire in peace?

2. "[T]he Queen ... had the last word concerning the Acts of Supremacy and Uniformity...."

If by "last word" Pilgrim meant that these Acts required the Royal Assent, then she most certainly did. And every other sovereign in Europe vigorously enforced uniformity with his or her personal religious affiliations. So what?

3. "[T]he Queen dismissed Archbishops at will...."

If Pilgrim is speaking of Bloody Mary's dismissal of Abp. Cranmer, then his statement is true. But, pray, which Archbishops were dismissed by Queen Elizabeth?

John A. Hollister+

highchurchman said...

WHY NOT SIMPLY HOLD TO WHAT WE BELIEVE"?

Fr, Hart has it in a nutshell. This is the answer to me!
Over the years we have, bobbed and weaved trying to be nice chaps, always looking over our shoulders at someone else. Years ago, I was told by an Orthodox scholar that the first thing an Anglican asked him was,"do you believe in our orders?". He always said in reply," the answer has been given by our bishops, accept it and work on it."

One thing I find as an English Continuer is that on the whole the, "Outremur" Anglicans have a much better grasp of essentials than those at home.

In the past we have suffered from a surfeit of such as +Ebbesfleet.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Fr.Hollister asked Mr. Pilgrim:
If Pilgrim is speaking of Bloody Mary's dismissal of Abp. Cranmer, then his statement is true. But, pray, which Archbishops were dismissed by Queen Elizabeth?

I think this pilgrim fellow has demonstrated an aptitude for creative historical rewriting no less impressive than Mr. Just a Thought.

Perhaps it would aid these creative writers to understand that the Canon Law of the Church of England was backed up by civil law. In the case of the Queen, a Royal Edict is the basis for the American legal instrument called an "Executive Order."

In the case of anyone presuming to minister in the Church of England without episcopal ordination, a prison sentence was the punishment. In the case of someone presuming to operate as a bishop without being consecrated, the punishment was also imprisonment. Now this we know. About these matters of law there is no room for any debate at all; therefore, these wild tales insult everyone's intelligence.

AirForce_Padre said...

I am going to make my arguement for unity with Rome this time from a secualar prospective:

I believe that there is always a price that has to be paid as nothing is free.

Mark: Your post was very well written and explains what is worth saving in Anglicanism beyond liturgy and raises important questions.

We live in an age where labels and sound bytes mean everything to a lot of people. By uniting with the Roman church we will be labelled as a church that holds to certain beliefs that are consistant throughout church history.

By remaining independent and not seeking union with the holy see we are defined by what others perceive that we are. We are not large enough to get enough media coverage or wealthy enough to buy advertising to be able to create our own image and we are stuck with what others attach to us. I am not saying that this is a good thing at all, but it is a truth of our society.

Often, we are thought of as angry Episcopalians who reject gays(this is true, but traditional Anglicanism is much more the renouncing the homosexual agenda and culture).

Others, view us as being just another protestant church, the same as Lutherans, Presbyterians, Methodist, etc. which are clearly outside of the Catholic faith. While this is untrue it is a stigma that many on the outside attach to us.

Union with Rome would at least rid us of these dreadful problems. While adhearance to the papacy may be hard for some to swallow I believe it is a price that must be paid in order for us to grow as a movement and to preserve our Anglican heritage.

There is only so long that one can wander in the desert and we have been wandering for nearly 30 years now. It is difficult to attract new people to such a movement. We are far too small with at most 20,000 members in North American (that is if you combine the various jurisdictions: ACA, ACC, APCK, APA)to be able to define ourselves as those belonging to the Catholic faith. This is why from a secular aspect union with Rome is a must for our long term survival.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Airforce Padre:

Wanting unity without principle and conviction means that individuals are asked to compromise in matters of conscience. Genuine unity will not be possible without more common ground in theology than currently exists between Traditional Anglicans and Rome. Anglicanism is more than simply an ethos, and certainly larger and more varied than "English culture." It is a set of beliefs and practices that is consistent with the Church of the First Millennium in ways that Rome has abandoned for innovations every bit as strange to the doctrine of the early Church as Protestant innovations. I am concerned about why matters of theology, which must be matters of conscience, are of such little importance in your estimation.

Furthermore, nobody has a census telling us the number of Continuing Anglicans in America. World wide, the TAC alone claims to have approximately 300,000 members, and it is only one jurisdiction. Nonetheless, being small is not a problem, as long as we have a mind to evangelize.

Public perception of Christianity has suffered a lot due to attacks by the world and demonic propaganda (our fathers were accused of cannibalism during the time of Roman persecution under the Caesars). But, in recent times it has also suffered due to the clergy scandals by sexually immoral priests, and neglect by the very See you want to be associated with formally. People rightly blame the See of Rome for having allowed it to go on, and bishops in America for having looked the other way in order to protect the predators and their strange system of required celibacy in a clericalist sub-culture. I do not see how your proposal would improve our image at this time.

Nor do I see Rome as having earned our trust. In addition to the scandal that will will take time to live down even after a firm resolve to cleanse the House of the Lord, the example of betrayal of Byzantine Catholics in North America, forced to accept the Latin Rite discipline of required celibacy (never a part of the Eastern tradition) despite promises to the contrary, as yet unresolved, adds to the distrust of Rome that some of our people have already described.

Again, at the heart of this are matters of theology, and therefore conscience, that seem to allude you. This worries me for your sake.

John A. Hollister said...

Airforce Padre wrote that "By uniting with the Roman church we will be labelled as a church that holds to certain beliefs that are consistant throughout church history."

He must be referring to a different Roman Church than the one with which I am familiar. That one has shown a marked tendency through history to alter many second-tier beliefs, and even some first-tier ones, sometimes by altering their substance and often by adding to them in ways that weaken them or change their significance.

That malleablility of doctrine -- often for fiscal or political reasons -- is one of the fundamental reasons for the present disunion between the Roman Church and the Holy Catholic Orthodox Church (that's the one we often refer to in shorthand as the "Eastern Orthodox").

Just picture a line of winsome cheerleaders, each dressed in the "school colors" of yellow and white and holding up a large card showing a letter, which together spell out "D-O-N-A-T-I-O-N O-F C-O-N-S-T-A-N-T-I-N-E" or "T-R-E-A-S-U-R-Y O-F M-E-R-I-T-S".

John A. Hollister+