Friday, May 30, 2008

+Haverland on HCC (AR), UECNA

The following was sent to me by Archbishop Mark Haverland of the Anglican Catholic Church with permission to publish:

Dear Albion,

In response to a comment by Caedmon on a Continuum thread concerning the HCC-AR and S. James', Kansas City, you wrote:

'I'm not sure the ACC, or any of the other continuing jurisdictions actually have spokesmen. Lacking such creatures, I would assume that the primate of each jurisdiction, called what he may be called, would more than suffice as the spokesman.

'Again, as for the ACC, that would be Archbishop Mark Haverland. It is for him to choose whether he speaks or not.'

Your first paragraph is correct. As for the second, I would say that the ACC does not now have, and in recent years has not had, a single, united mind about the HCC-AR. In fact, my own views on the subject have probably been in the minority. The ACC has collegial leadership. I do not attempt to force issues when there is no consensus among us.

In brief, I may say that beginning a few years ago there were contacts between HCC-AR clergy, including Bishop Kleppinger, and me. In fact I made a trip to Pennsylvania just to see Bishop Kleppinger. I concluded that there was a desire on the part of the HCC-AR to reconcile with the ACC. I approached my episcopal colleagues about the matter, and quickly concluded that we in the ACC had no consensus on the subject. If I had pushed for reconciliation on the institutional level, I would have undermined our own (ACC) unity. You dance with the girl you take to the dance and should not divide your own Church for the sake of unity with another (cf. Deerfield Beach and aftermath). So nothing much happened. However, I felt better about Bishop Kleppinger, and I hope he felt better about me, and that was all to the good.

When in 2006-2007 the ACC and UEC renewed our warm contacts, Bishop Reber (and if my fallible memory serves, also Bishop Michael) offered to conclude their HCC-AR contacts in respect for our sensitivities. I encouraged them not to do that, on the theory that uniting divided bits in the long-run would be good for everybody. I think, and in the light of subsequent events am inclined to hope, that my encouragement had little real influence on UEC policy.

Canon Hollister is an ACC official and a friend of mine. On the matter of S. James', he writes, as he himself has said, as a coffee, not a policy, maker. I am sure most of us support local congregational control of property and so regret the actions of Bishop Michael and the HCC-AR. I can say that in years past I have heard HCC-AR bishops - whatever their canons - bitterly lament such local control as a source of instability.

About the ACC and the UEC, there was and at present is no concrete proposal or timetable for organic and institutional union. Both bodies would have to make decisions and take actions in the future to effect such an outcome. I certainly hope for such decisions and actions, but will await both the pleasure of the UEC and the formation of a consensus within the ACC. My impression is that before Bishop Michael's consecration and then again after his departure from the UEC, the UEC's union with the ACC was more likely. My impression also is that Bishop Michael, while a bishop in the UEC, liked the idea of a continuing UEC as an institutional base for himself. But the ACC really did leave decisions concerning union to Bishops Reber and Michael, whatever our preferences Now the decisions rest with Bishop Reber and his synod.

The ACC is sincerely open to the UEC. I was personally and sincerely open to the HCC-AR, but to no avail. The ACC's public approach to - and questions for - the TAC remain on the table where they have been effectively ignored. Unity among 'Continuers' cannot be forced, but I think the ACC is trying. We have made good progress with the UEC and the APCK and have cordial relations with others, such as Bishop Paul Hewett. I am open to friendly suggestions for further steps.

+Mark Haverland
(The Most Reverend) Mark Haverland, Ph.D.


Anonymous said...

"The ACC has collegial leadership. I do not attempt to force issues when there is no consensus among us."

This is the voice of truly great leadership. This is why I admire Abp Haverland so much.
Laurence K. Wells

Canon Tallis said...

I would like to second what Archbishop Haverland has written. It brims with common sense and pastoral concern.

God bless him.

Michael said...

I think that the goal of contacts in the continuum depends, first and foremost, on a theological question:

Is unity within the church a matter of the good of the church, or is it a matter of the essence of the church?

Do we want a united continuum because it will help us evangelize, or make us more visible, or just make things nicer? Then, perhaps we want a united continuum - or perhaps these goals might be better met some other ways. Some might argue that if organic unity is not theologically necessary, then perhaps some healthy competition helps. Each church can do what it does best, and have its own churchmanship, etc., while maintaining friendly contacts. And, if in time we want unity, then we'll have it when we're good and ready. To try to pursue it quickly might do more harm than good. Ultimately, if it is not a theological necessity, then perhaps a more congregational polity (even if maintaining episcopal sacramental order) is more prudent.

But if unity is a theological necessity, then more difficult questions must be asked. The question, of course, is not what is necessary for churches to come together in organic unity, but rather, the question goes the other way. What theological differences are severe enough to make a split acceptable, and not a sin against the unity of the church. Within this view, unless someone is apostate, clearly heretical, or excommunicated through public grave sin, it is difficult to justify the absence of organic ecclesial unity. Which means that there is an imperative for Continuing Anglican bodies to seek full unity, if they feel that they can be in communion at all. Merely to be "in communion", while guarding one's independence, is not good enough in the end. Unless sought as a stepping stone to a deeper unity, it may become an attempt to "have one's cake and eat it too", avoiding the pain of being out of communion, while simultaneously avoiding the need to fully "submit to one another out of reverence for Christ".

The problem is, if we are only allowed to have one continuing Anglican Church, are we allowed to stop there? Many sides of the debate over Anglican unity with Rome have been addressed, and many sincerely believe that the doctrinal differences are still too serious for intercommunion, let alone organic unity. And that's a fair concern. But sometimes it is viewed primarily as a political matter, with the need to preserve Anglican independence given primary importance. And therein lies the problem:

If we are allowed to have an Anglican church, independent and out of communion with other catholic Christians, then we should, following the same logic, be able to have different Anglican denominations, independent from each other. There is no theological imperative for Anglican unity without a similar imperative for broader catholic unity.

I would suggest that if unity among continuers is not part of the essence of the church - if it is not theologically necessary, then it will probably never happen, and if it does, it will be for the wrong reason. If unity isn't sought out of a desire to humbly submit to God's commands, then it will be out of a desire to make a bigger pie. But if it is out of desire to obey God, then we have to be willing to place a lot of questions aside, I think, and start getting on with it. Just my opinion.

And if it is a theological imperative, then, to the extent that we do not regard Roman Catholics as damned heretics, we must seek to be fully united with them. :-) I have, perhaps, some minor theological disagreements with Pope Benedict, but I do not regard him as a heretic. Therefore, I see a theological imperative to seek to be fully united with him. Whether or not he's willing to have me is up to him. But my responsibility in the matter seems quite clear.

Anonymous said...

Canon Tallis wrote:

I would like to second what Archbishop Haverland has written. It brims with common sense and pastoral concern.

God bless him.

Amen. Some needed light to counteract all the heat a few others and I have generated. Thank you, Archbishop Haverland.


LP said...

Comment #3, above, seems, to me, to raise a key point - isn't unity, for any sort of catholic, a prime desideratum. Certainly not the incoherent and self-contradictory heresy-is-better-than-schism nonsense of the head-in-the-sand Episcopalians, but rather the recognition that unity in Christ ought to be lived out by unity in the Church... and insofar as the Church is divided she is failing in one of her central missions.

This being the case, it seems to me that there are four possible approaches to the divided Continuum situation:

(1) To rush into declarations of union -- and attempts at institutional mergers -- without adequate preparation, theological coherence, or institutional consensus.

(2) To work pro-actively and seriously for reunion, but only "declare" or "implement" that reunion once all the prerequisites (theological, canonical, administrative, collegial) are solidly in place.

(3) To desire and generally tend toward reunion but to take no active or proactive measures toward it - nor have any on-going "official" efforts - but wait for it to emerge on its own.

(4) To resist (actively or passively) the reunion... for whatever reason (mistrust, empire-building, egoism, etc).


Now, the popular impression of the Continuum is that it is taking approach (4). And, with incidents such as the recent one in the HCC(AR) -- or the DHC splitting from the APCK, etc etc -- it's understandable why that impression has emerged. (Whether that impression is justified in either or those cases, or to what degree, I'm in no position to say).

And I know the impression in parts of the Continuum is that the ACA/TAC has been guilty of approach (1) -- in its very origins (the rush to hook up with the soon-back-into-PEcUSA Clavier), in its various ambiguous affiliations across the Anglican spectrum, in its current apparent rush to Rome. (Again, I'm in no position to judge the accuracy of that impression -- I simply state that it seems to me that that impression is a common one.)


My concern, personally, is that there is far too much of #3 and not enough of #2.

Certainly, unsupported, unprepared or premature attempts to "force" bodies together often results in more disintegration than it does solidification. Indeed, the original break-up of the Continuing Church movement could be seen as an example of precisely this phenomenon.

But I worry that -- in an overreaction to that problem -- the issue of reunion has become, in practice, far too much of a "back burner" thing... everyone says "oh, wouldn't it be nice if..." but not much is done, proactively, about it.

Where, for example, are the regular meetings between designated officials of the major groups to affirm their commonalities, examine their differences, consult on how to (carefully and respectfully) overcome them? Where are the folks who have compared canon law, ordination requirements, liturgical norms, etc and drafted a report on which issues are adiaphora and which ones seem to present genuine obstacles? Where's the regular report to each group's conventions on the on-going ecumenical talks which both groups actively encourage and support? Etc


Now, I know there is at least some of this on certain issues (e.g. the ACC's position paper on its ab initio reservations about the ACA... or the APCK's invitation to its seminary of postulants from other jurisdictions) and I know that this sort of thing might be going on quietly in the background and judged inappropriate for public consumption.

(Though I think, if it is, it would be a mistake not to let the laity know, "officially", that the groups are in active, regular and on-going discussion, even if the details or particulars aren't a matter for general distribution... for such "notification" would be both an important part of the "move back toward union" process itself, and also an important way to reassure the laity, many of whom are both concerned and ashamed by the divisions, that serious and considered steps are being taken.)


So I guess my question is this:

(a) Is my impression that many groups tend toward taking approach "3" rather than approach "2" accurate?

(b) If so, are there compelling reasons to prefer approach "3" over approach "2"?



Albion Land said...

This from Archbishop Haverland:

Michael asks, 'Is unity within the church a matter of the good of the church, or is it a matter of the essence of the church?' Michael suggests that unity is a 'theological necessity', and that this necessity impels Continuers towards organic union with one another and then, further, towards union with the Roman Catholic Church - unless we view Rome as 'damned heretics'. [Though I do not presume that my opinion matters much, for the record I think that Rome is inclined towards innovation and teaches much that is erroneous: notably the Pope's universal ordinary jurisdiction and infallible teaching authority even apart from any other bishops or Council. But I do not at all believe that Roman Catholics are heretics, much less damned heretics.]

'Theological necessity' is a profoundly ambiguous term. It could mean 'unity is so necessary that where it is not present the ecclesial body in question in not a true Church at all'. Or it could mean 'working for unity is a spiritual necessity and duty so great that if we are not so working we are in grave spiritual danger. Or it could mean many other things.

Michael does not explain clearly what he means by the term, though I think he leans towards the 'absolutely necessary' definition. Michael also does not explain why the rhetoric of unity does not impel us all towards Orthodoxy, so that whenever he writes 'Rome' or 'Roman Catholic Church', he might with equal or greater justice write 'Eastern Orthodox Churches'. For that matter, without some clear criteria for catholicity and orthodoxy the rhetoric of unity could be used to imply a requirement for unity with any other Christian body whatsoever. In fact Michael silently assumes much. His silence delivers him from the burden of explanation and defense.

I gladly agree that work for Church unity is a spiritual necessity. I strongly disagree that the achievement of such unity is a necessity for an ecclesial body to be a Church: for if it were simply necessary, no Anglican body anywhere ever has been a Church. While triumphalist Roman Catholics might concede (or rather assert) both the 'theological [meaning absolute] necessity' of unity and also that Rome is the body with which such unity is necessary, classical Anglicans in general and Continuers in particular will not concede those points.

Let me annoy some by referring again to Deerfield Beach, precisely because these same theological questions and this same rhetoric circulated then and were not then clarified by reasoned, theological discussion and ecclesial consensus, but rather led to ecclesiastical force and schism. Before Deerfield Beach the ACC was also told that unity (meaning then not union with Rome but ACC union with the small American Episcopal Church) was a theological necessity. It was so necessary, we were told, that its pursuit justified the violation of oaths of allegiance by bishops and priests to their own Church and then further justified schism. Pursuit of theoretical unity justified actual schism. The result of this rhetoric was that two fairly strong and rapidly growing bodies (the ACC and the AEC) rearranged their membership to the advantage of the AEC. Within a few years, however, the new AEC (now called the ACA) split and split again producing the ACA, the APA, the Corpus Christi Fathers, and a few other tiny bits, with one of the original ACA archbishops going off still another way to the Episcopal Church. The rhetoric of unity slid through this unfortunate process like a greased pig, but at the end of the day no reasonable person could think that Church unity was in any degree advanced.

Ideas have consequences, and the idea that 'unity is necessary' is so important an idea that it cannot be allowed without clarity of terms and careful application. That pursuit of unity is necessary I agree. Belief in the need for such pursuit has led to the ecumenical policy that I noted at the end of the post to which Michael replies. I remain open to friendly suggestions as to how we can continue that pursuit in a way that serves both truth and love.


poetreader said...

On LP's distinctions,

I am convinced that #1 is always folly and usually ends up working against true unity. There are genuine problems, whether real or illusory that need not to be ignotrd, but to be faced honestly and dealt with.

I am certain that #4, unless one's own body is in actuality all that there is to the Holy Catholic Church, actually amounts to a wilful denial of the expressed wishes of Our Lord and of the NT writers.

#3 reminds me altogether two much of the son in Our Lord's parable who says YES to hid father's desire, but does nothing about it.

That leaves #2. I believe we must desire and work towards the unity of Christians, first of the various continuing bodies, . then with both Rome and the Orthodox, and ultimately of all who honestly call upon the Name of Christ.

Yhe question is, "How?" and that is not easy to answer.

Certainly there should be friendly and serious talks, honestly facing differences, with a settled purpose that resilution of these problems is imperative. If this is not happening (and, mostly, it seems that it's not) we will all have questions to answer at the Last Judgment. If it is happening, however, we may or may not actually succeed. If we do not, in spite of giving it our best effort, that is not failure. Results belong to the Lord. We are responsibility only for our own actions.

Our actions in that direction, however, are not optional.

Thank you, Archbishop Haverland, for two very fine statements here. I'm in ACA, and have almost gotten used to the bad blood between our jurisdictions. Almost, but not really. We have to find a way to get past the mutual carping over differences and harping over differing views of history, and start earnestly seeking ways to heal this ugly wound. You've gone a long way toward that.

ed pacht

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Disunity in the Continuing Churches is strictly episcopal. When I was serving as a priest in the APCK in Arizona, I had no qualms directing people to ACC and ACA churches, including members of my congregation who moved from the Phoenix valley to somewhere closer to Tuscon. I forget the exact place, but it had an ACA church. I kept it simple; when I was asked, "are they the same as us?" I said, "yes." The difference was only a matter of who the bishop is.

Unity will be found in theological discussion. That would not be true if we were talking about a group that includes Prebyterians, Baptists, or even other Anglicans like members of the AMiA. But, it is true for us.

As much as I could not help but love and respect Archbishop Robert Morse, and enjoyed our conversations, the painful fact is that when he explained why he went off separately from the original ACC in 1978, there was no "there" there. He built a jurisdiction with fine priests, well educated (the ones I knew). But, why couldn't he work with the other bishops?

The echoes of the first split have been endless, partly because we have freedom of religion, and any clown (as has been demonstrated over and over) can start a church. But, for those of us who are serious Tradtional Anglicans, the disunity has never been theological, and therefore it is unexcusable.

But, it also means that it can be healed. We begin by saying together the words of the Nicene Creed.

Fr Odhran-Mary TFSC said...

On 9 June in Belleville, Illinois, the Fellowship of Concerned Churchmen will tackle the reaons for Continuum disunity. The reader can still get a room (most likely).

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Caedmon wrote:
Some needed light to counteract all the heat a few others and I have generated.

Speak for yourself sir. I cannot retract any portion of the news I have reported here, at VOL and the Christian Challenge, nor can I alter my analysis. I stand by it all, and the need for disclosing it. It was very unpleasant, but it was my responsibility to report it.