Friday, September 12, 2008

Reply to the "Anglican Use Society"

This was sent us by a bishop of the Anglican Catholic Church.
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Many of my parishes and I have gotten a come-on from the Anglican Use Society which many of us have also found to be rather disingenuous and offensive. You might care to run that below which is, I think, a sufficient response, namely a juxtaposition of their mention of Eric Mascall with something actually by Father Mascall.
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This is part of twhat the so-called Anglican Use Society has in its unsolicited mailings:
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"Those of us who have entered into full communon with the Catholic Church have taken with us our Anglican/Episcopal heritage of faith and liturgy, devotion, hymnody and scholarship developed and matured especially as a result of the Oxford Movement and the Anglo-Catholic Movement as represented by figures such as...Dr. Eric L. Mascall....’

"From ‘A Message from Members and Friends of the Anglican Use Congregations in the Catholic Church of the United States to other Christians of the Anglican Tradition on Restoring Communion with the See of Rome’"

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From Father Eric L. Mascall. Corpus Christi: Essays on the Church and Eucharist. London: Longmans, 1965. 2nd ed. Pages 17f.

"...the Church, as a visible and tangible society, living in the historic process, needs a visible and tangible organ of its unity, though that union is, as I have emphasised, an interior and mystical unity and not a moral or political one. The Church is a visible and tangible society, but it is a sacramental one, and the organ of its unity will be a sacramental organ. This is why, as I see it, the apostolic Episcopate precisely fulfils the requirements for such an organ, for the episcopal character is conferred by a sacramental act. And this is why it seems to me impossible to locate the organ of the Church’s unity in the Papacy, for the papal character is not conferred by a sacramental act at all, but by the purely administrative and organisational process of election. Whether the Papacy has, by divine providence, a unique status in the Church and, if so, what are the functions which rightly attach to it are, of course, important questions, but by its very constitution the Papacy does not, so far as I can see, possess the nature which is required in the organ of the Church’s unity."
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I will add to the above that I have also received the same mail from the alleged Anglican Use Society. I call them "alleged" because their liturgy is not Anglican, and the changes that were made fit the Novus Ordo, but have no real essential meaning. Frankly, I find their changes more insulting than theological.
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As for Eric Mascall, he was greatly troubled by the idea that the Church of England might eventually "ordain" women, and he expressed his anguish to Dr. William Tighe in private conversation. Nonetheless, he died a Church of England priest. In his book The Recovery of Unity, he wrote at length his apologetic for the Anglican position, and with respect argued against the Roman teaching on the papacy as it has developed (the above statement is from a separate work, and summarizes part of the more detailed argument in the book). The same is true of the Dogmatic Theology series by Francis Hall, in which a defense of the Anglican position was skillfully written in light of theology and history.
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The AUS literature mentions others, including Dom Gregory Dix. He too died an Anglican priest, and had written a famous defense of Anglican Orders in 1944: The Question of Anglican Orders, letters to a laymen.
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The attempt to paint such men (including C.S. Lewis) as modern Anglo-Papalists and closet Roman Catholics is not accurate. From the writings we have, it is more honest to say that we are Continuing the faith they practiced and taught. They wrote respectfully of the See of Rome, but made their differences abundantly clear.

10 comments:

William Tighe said...

The three men mentioned here, Dix, Lewis and Mascall, were very different sorts of Anglicans. Lewis might well be described as a Via Media Anglican (even, if it is not oxymoronical to say it, a "conservative Broad Churchman") who adopted a number of practices traditionally seen, not wholly accurately, as "Anglo-Catholic," such as the regular practice of auricular confession.

Dix, on the other hand, was a true, if "nuanced," Anglo-Papalist. He defended Anglican Orders in his *The Question of Anglican Orders: Letters to a Layman* (1944), but he likewise defended papal infallibility in a long review, serialized in *Laudate* (the quarterly publication of the Anglican Benedictines of Nashdom Abbey) in 1938-39 of the anti-papal Anglo-Catholic B. J. Kidd's *The Roman Primacy to A. D. 461* (1936) -- a review that was published posthumously in 1975 as *Jurisdiction in the Early Church: Episcopal and Papal* (London: Church Literature Association); and other articles of his in *Laudate* in the 1930s savagely attack "National Catholicism," "Liberal Catholicism," and the "Elizabethan Settlement." (My friend, Fr. J. W. Hunwicke, was preparing an anthology of Dix's lesser-known writings for the centenary of Dix's birth in 2001, when he found that the RC journalist and ex-Jesuit Michael Hebblethwaite had been allowed to take out all of Dix's voluminous correspondence with Fr. Maurice Bevenot, SJ from the Heythrop College library shortly before his death in 1994, and that the letters were never returned, and are now either lost, stolen or destroyed.)

Mascall's stance vis-a-vis the papacy is well-characterized by the excerpt here from the second edition of *Corpus Christi* (1965) and, more generally, in the last two chapters of his *Recovery of Unity* (1968). I do not wish to provoke controversy here, but from my many conversations with Mascall from 1978 to 1992, I think that it is fair to say that he came to believe that an "honorable reunion" with the Church of Rome was the only long-term hope for the preservation of an Anglican mode of Catholicity, just as he came to to believe that "Anglicanism" lacked theological coherence and ecclesiological integrity (this is clear from the opening and final chapters of his unpublished final book of ca. 1985, now in the archives of Pusey House in typescript form, entitled *The Overarching Question: Divine Revelation or Human Invention.*

In my last conversation with Mascall, early in August 1992 (he died on February 14, 1993) he made it clear to me that he would have to leave the Church of England if the measure to allow WO were to pass through the General Synod (it did pass in November 1992, but did not reach legal enactment and promulgation until February 1994). What he would have done had he survived longer and in health is anybody's guess, and I didn't ask him. Eric Kemp, the now-retired Bishop of Chichester, doubted that he would have left the Church of England, but thinks that he would have become Orthodox had he done so. Graham Leonard, the former Bishop of London and now a Roman Catholic monsigniore, thinks that he would have become a RC, had he not gone into a rapid mental decline in thre last four months of his life. Fr. Robert Gould, now a reired RC priest of the Archdiocese of Southwark, but for many years a priest of the Church of England and both friend and confessor to Mascall (who "poped" about a year before Mascall's death) told me that Mascall was convinced that he had to leave the Church of England, but not certain when to do it or where to go. Certainly, and sadly, he was convinced in his last years that his labors for Anglican Catholicism had been largely in vain.

I should add that on his last trip to America in 1977 (as he told me) he refused to communicate in the Episcopal Church, and was profoundly grateful for the "eucharistic hospitality" offered him at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Ohio, where he was a guest lecturer.

Anonymous said...

Gee, when I received that letter of the "Anglican Use Society," I thought it was just for me, as a token of gratitude for my contributions to their cause. Now I learn that they sent it to practically everyone in the phone book. I am crestfallen.

Seriously, I also noted their amazing suggestions regarding Eric Mascall, et al. People who can convince themselves that real Anglicans are closet RC's have a problem which I will refrain from diagnosing.

The Anglican Use Society has been about as successful as the Harold Stassen pursuit of the presidency.
It seems to exist largely on the internet, as a handful of nostalgic Tiber-swimmers come trolling around on various Anglican/Neo-anglican blogs.

Needless to say, its beguiling letter went immediately into my circular file.
LKW

Fr. John said...

All of these events of the past thirty years of the continuum exhibit an undeniable instability. The recent schismatic action of the APA's Diocese of the West is all too typical.

There were many different paths taken as people left the Episcopal Church. Anglican Use is one such path, although I agree their liturgy is not Anglican.

Every group wants to draw the others to itself, to follow the path they chose.

There will have to be some extreme humility shown to achieve any kind of unity amongst Anglicans.

I have in my own mind a fixed sense of who is right and who is wrong in each new division, and enjoy a sense of security by being in the ACC. But if only the ACC survives into the next generation, we will be the poorer for it.

Whatever the future holds for us, becoming Roman Catholic anything would be our death.

Matthew Nelson said...

Hmmmm. Though I do not know just how far up the food-chain the approval for the Anglican-Use brochure mailing came, I do know that Rome has always has a clever nose for marketing.

Indeed, since authentic English- or Anglican-Use (a term of art in C of E liturgics) is so rare these days, were Rome to truly re-established it, Rome might have a broad appeal to the thousands of English-Use, Prayer-Book Catholics (formerly known as mere Anglicans) waiting in the wood-work for the "interregnum" of Romish Missal Masses and godawful 1979 Common Book of Prayer to end!

Still, we can hope that the stay-at-home, Prayer-Book Anglicans (following the good example of Churchmen after the English Civil War) will continue to do so, and "abjure" Rome, until such time that we purportedly "Continuing Anglicans" actually get around to the business of being Anglican: that is to English- or Anglican-Use of the Latin Rite, once commonly known as the Book of Common Prayer with ceremonial predominantly taken from the rich treasure vault of English-Speaking Catholic tradition and with the Ornaments Rubric honestly applied according to the constitutional formularies of our own church!

Fr. Robert Hart said...

William Tighe wrote:

but [Dix] likewise defended papal infallibility in a long review, serialized in *Laudate* (the quarterly publication of the Anglican Benedictines of Nashdom Abbey) in 1938-39 of the anti-papal Anglo-Catholic B. J. Kidd's *The Roman Primacy to A. D. 461* (1936) -- a review that was published posthumously in 1975 as *Jurisdiction in the Early Church: Episcopal and Papal* (London: Church Literature Association)

Bill, you gave me the copy of that very book that I still own, and that I have read. I find it very clearly to have set forth an ancient, indeed even Antenicene, concept of the See of Rome as having a kind of Primacy. But, I do not see it stating more than historical evidence for "appellete" primacy to help with local disputes when invited to give doctrinal aid at the invitation of other churches. It proves that this primacy was not due to Rome as the city of the empire, but it does not go so far as to argue for the modern Vatican I, or even Tridentine, notion of the papacy. A defense of Papal Infallibility from that book seems like a stretch.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I have in my own mind a fixed sense of who is right and who is wrong in each new division, and enjoy a sense of security by being in the ACC. But if only the ACC survives into the next generation, we will be the poorer for it.

The argument that each break from the Original Province was a break from the Continuing Church is actually quite a powerful argument, and I belive impossible to refute(with the exception of the UECNA, because that was based on principle, even if I don't go along with some Low Church ideas). However, I agree with you that recovering unity among the various jurisdictions is the right course of action, and I hopethis blog is helpful to that end (which is our goal).

Let us also remember that in addition to those breaks there are imitators, many and varied, because that is the price we pay for religious freedom.

Brian G. said...

But, Father Wells, surely you know that that Papa Bene is going to create an Anglican Uniate any day now, vindicating all eight A.U. Society parishes for their steadfast devotion!

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Brian G.

I would be sorely tempted to bet real money that it won't be in our lifetime; but, I would have no way to collect.

Anonymous said...

I fondly recall a clergy conference when on the last evening, when the bishop has relaxed the week-long silence, a group of Continuing Church priests, all ex-Baptists, brought out a Broadman Hymnal and began singing "Heavenly Sunshine" and similar ditties. It first I tought it was a joke, but as they kep it up, I could see Baptist nostalgia was at work in them.

Professor Tighe's information is always helpful and certainly accurate. But he omits one fact: whatever their views on this or that, Lewis, Dix and Mascall all died as Anglicans. Whatever Dix thought about the papacy, it was not enough to push him into the Tiber.

It is dangerous to speculate, but I believe that if any or all of the three had chosen to take the plunge, they would have joined the RC Church outright, without seeking to create some little nuisance ghetto defined by antiquarian sentimentality for the church they left behind and the orders they declared invalid.

Perhaps they might sing together from the English Hymnal (or Hymnal 1940 for the AUS types), but it would be only a stunt to entertain. Lewis didnt care for music in worship anyhow.
LKW

Brian G. said...

It is dangerous to speculate, but I believe that if any or all of the three had chosen to take the plunge, they would have joined the RC Church outright, without seeking to create some little nuisance ghetto defined by antiquarian sentimentality for the church they left behind and the orders they declared invalid.

Absolutely. B16 is a brilliant man and surely sees the illogicality of the whole "Anglican Use" phenomenon and its would-be expanders. I think those in the TAC who are looking for a papal deus ex machina will be sorely disappointed.