Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A worn out gotcha

Among the comments in this blog we saw another one of those "gotchas," manufactured by Polemicists R Us, that is guaranteed to make Anglicans throw their hands in the air, shake their pointed little heads, and beg to be forgiven for five hundred years of mistakes (or is that 450 years of a failed experiment?). The problem is, manufacturers guarantees are designed only to sell products, even products that were built broken and never did work.

I have seen this little "gotcha" before. Back when he was still deciding between the Two One True Churches, Fr. Al Kimel's blog featured it all the time. Here is what the polemical comment said:

The regula fide--under whatever form of his Branch Theory you might use--requires assent by both East and West, but the assent granted by both East and West is that Anglicans are not a part of the Church. But you will not accept that one ruling from them...

This reminded me of one of the "Pontificator's Laws" that said something to this effect: "When Rome and Orthodoxy agree on something and Protestants don't agree, Protestantism loses." Of course, that might make sense as long as the Two One Trues are also right on the particular subject, which is not a given; for, by any rules of logic, all such things must be demonstrated rather than assumed. Also, it requires that we define what and whom we mean by the word "Protestantism," which begs definition these days more than ever. It begs the question, as well, whether or not a restoration of Catholic truth is the same as what Fr. Al the Pontificator meant by "Protestantism."

More to the point of the particular "gotcha" quoted above, and the defect of the manufacturer's guarantee, it is not even true that Rome and Orthodoxy agree on the matter in question. At least two facts stand against the argument.

Orthodoxy has never made an official ruling on any Church except the Orthodox Church. However, the only rulings ever made by Orthodox Patriarchs about Anglicanism were far from anything that could be called agreement with Rome. Specifically, the Orthodox Church wrote of their recognition of Anglican Orders (no small matter) in several letters to the Archbishop of Canterbury beginning in 1922. Also, the meaning of this recognition was clear, inasmuch as the Patriarchs and Archbishops allowed Orthodox Christians to receive Anglican sacraments during a time when Orthodox churches and clergy were few and far between in many western countries, including the United States. This ended in 1976, only because of the heresy of women's "ordination"- a heresy we have rejected from its beginning. (Furthermore, concerning the United States, one Russian bishop's opposite opinion that dates much earlier, to 1904, is not relevant, as the date alone makes obvious.) All of the letters will appear in the appendix below.

I quote an earlier post:

In 1978, after it became clear that churches within the Anglican Communion were “ordaining” women and intent on spreading this untraditional practice, Orthodox Archbishop Athenagoras remarked: “…the theological dialogue [between the Orthodox and the Anglicans] will continue, although now simply as an academic and informative exercise, and no longer as an ecclesial endeavor aiming at the union of the two churches.”(1)

As you can see, the recognition of Anglican orders, and the permission granted to Orthodox Christians from their own bishops, that they could receive sacraments from Anglican priests, was part of an effort to become one Church.(2)

At no time in modern history have the Orthodox Patriarchs, Archbishops and Bishops allowed any of their people to receive the sacraments of Roman Catholic priests. The fact is, Anglican priests were given this honor, and Roman Catholic priests were not. To this day, even though Rome has opened the door to them, the Orthodox are forbidden to receive sacraments from the Roman Catholic Church. Nonetheless, if not for women's "ordination" the practice might still continue ("might" since many Orthodox churches have since been built where there had been none, eliminating the need to go to anyone else), and the goal of unity would have gone forward. How ironic this is for Continuing Anglicans, since we have never suffered women's "ordination" either.

The second problem with the "gotcha" is that it is basically untrue for an even deeper reason. This is also why the "Pontificator's Law" quoted above is irrelevant to this subject. The Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church do not agree about Anglicanism; rather they disagree with each other on which of the two of them is, in fact, Really and Truly The One True Church. Any effect this might have on their consideration of any other church is merely an extension of this, their basic disagreement with each other. This disagreement also rules out any validity to their respective doctrines of an exclusive claim to the title, The Holy Catholic Church. That is because it proves immediately that neither claim has Universal consent.

This also begs what I have called the Anglican solution. We look at them and wonder: Why are they blind to the obvious? They are both the One True Church, and so are we. The Anglican solution is summed up not by a Lambeth Conference, not by an ABC, and not even by our Affirmation of St. Louis. Rather, it is summed up by Saint Paul the Apostle:

If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary. -I Corinthians 12: 15-22

Not only does the body need the "two lungs" of east and west; we, the Continuing Anglicans are needed as well. Only by what we have taught all along can these two ancient communions realize that they are already part of One Church, like it or not (in fact, let's hope they learn all this at the Church of the Nativity before Christmas Eve- a little peace would be nice this year).

(1) As quoted in Anglican-Orthodox Dialogue: The Dublin Agreed Statement, (Crestwood, N.Y.: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1985), p.3
(2) The permission to receive the sacraments was an official way of treating the Anglican priesthood as completely valid in fact (which pretty much sinks a theory of Metropoltan Kaillstos Ware designed to make it all mean nothing).

Appendix.

Encyclical on Anglican Orders
from the Oecumenical Patriarch to the Presidents of the Particular Eastern Orthodox Churches, 1922

[The Holy Synod has studied the report of the Committee and notes:]

1. That the ordination of Matthew Parker as Archbishop of Canterbury by four bishops is a fact established by history.

2. That in this and subsequent ordinations there are found in their fullness those orthodox and indispensable, visible and sensible elements of valid episcopal ordination - viz. the laying on of hands, the Epiclesis of the All-Holy Spirit and also the purpose to transmit the charisma of the Episcopal ministry.

3. That the orthodox theologians who have scientifically examined the question have almost unanimously come to the same conclusions and have declared themselves as accepting the validity of Anglican Orders.

4. That the practice in the Church affords no indication that the Orthodox Church has ever officially treated the validity of Anglican Orders as in doubt, in such a way as would point to the re-ordination of the Anglican clergy as required in the case of the union of the two Churches.

The Patriarch of JERUSALEM, 1923

The Patriarch of Jerusalem wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury in the name of his Synod on March 12, 1923, as follows: To His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury, First Hierarch of All England, our most beloved and dear brother in our Lord Jesus, Mgr. Randall. Greeting fraternally your beloved to us, Grace, we have the pleasure to address to you the following: Yesterday we dispatched to Your Grace the following telegram: ‘We have pleasure inform Your Grace that Holy Synod of our Patriarchate after studying in several meetings question Anglican Orders from Orthodox point view resolved their validity.' Today, explaining this telegram, we inform Your Grace that the Holy Synod, having as a motive the resolution passed some time ago by the Church of Constantinople, which is the church having the First Throne between the Orthodox Churches, resolved that the consecrations of bishops and ordinations of priests and deacons of the Anglican Episcopal Church are considered by the Orthodox Church as having the same validity which the Orders of the Roman Church have, because there exist all the elements which are considered necessary from an Orthodox point of view for the recognition of the grace of the Holy Orders from Apostolic Succession. We have great pleasure in communicating to Your Grace, as the First Hierarch of all the Anglican Churches, this resolution of our Church, which constitutes a progress in the pleasing-to-God work of the union of all Churches, and we pray God to grant to Your Grace many years full of health and salvation.
(Signed) DAMIANOS

February 27/March 12, 1923 Official translation published in The Christian East, vol. IV, 1923, pp. 121-122. The Archbishop of the autonomous Church of Sinai expressed for his Church adherence to the decisions of Constantinople and Jerusalem.

The Archbishop of CYPRUS, 1923

The Archbishop of Cyprus wrote to the Patriarch of Constantinople in the name of his Synod on March 20, 1923, as follows: To His All-Holiness the Oecumenical Patriarch Mgr. Meletios we send brotherly greeting in Christ. Your Holiness – Responding readily to the suggestion made in your reverend Holiness' letter of August 8, 1922, that the autocephalous Church of Cyprus under our presidency should give its opinion as to the validity of Anglican Orders we have placed the matter before the Holy Synod in formal session. After full consideration thereof it has reached the following conclusion: It being understood that the Apostolic Succession in the Anglican Church by the Sacrament of Order was not broken at the Consecration of the first Archbishop of this Church, Matthew Parker, and the visible signs being present in Orders among the Anglicans by which the grace of the Holy Spirit is supplied, which enables the ordinand for the functions of his particular order, there is no obstacle to the recognition by the Orthodox Church of the validity of Anglican Ordinations in the same way that the validity of the ordinations of the Roman, Old Catholic, and Armenian Church are recognized by her. Since clerics coming from these Churches into the bosom of the Orthodox Church are received without reordination we express our judgment that this should also hold in the case of Anglicans – excluding intercommunio (sacramental union), by which one might receive the sacraments indiscriminately at the hands of an Anglican, even one holding the Orthodox dogma, until the dogmatic unity of the two Churches, Orthodox and Anglican, is attained. Submitting this opinion of our Church to Your All-Holiness, we remain,

Affectionately, the least of your brethren in Christ,
Cyril of Cyprus

Archbishopric of Cyprus. March 7/20, 1923 Published in The Christian East, vol. IV, 1923, pp. 122-123.

The Patriarch of ALEXANDRIA, 1930

After the Lambeth Conference of 1930, the Synod of the Patriarchate of Alexandria found itself able to join in the recognition of Anglican Orders. The decision was announced in a letter from the Patriarch to the Archbishop of Canterbury as follows: To the Most Reverend Dr. Cosmo Lang, Lord Archbishop of Canterbury and Primate of All England, Greetings in the New Born Christ The Feast of the Nativity, according to the Flesh, of the Redeemer of our Souls being a most suitable occasion for us, as it were, to visit your Beatitude, our friend, by means of a letter, we come to you hereby with a heart that is filled alike with joy, that "unto us is born a Savior, which is Christ the Lord," and with fervent prayers both for your health and for the peace and stability of the holy Churches of God over which you preside. At the same time, together with our greetings for the Feast, we send you as our gift the news, which we are sure will be good news, to you, that having derived the greatest gratification from the accounts which it has received, both of the marks of honor which were rendered in London, alike by your Grace and by the general body of your Church, to the office which is ours, and also of the happy results which by the favouring breath of the Holy Spirit have emerged from the contact of the Orthodox Delegation with the Lambeth Conference, our Holy Synod of the Metropolitans of the Apostolic and Patriarchal Throne of Alexandria has proceeded to adopt a resolution recognizing the validity, as from the Orthodox point of view, of the Anglican Ministry. The text of that resolution is as follows: "The Holy Synod recognizes that the declarations of the Orthodox, quoted in the Summary, were made according to the spirit of Orthodox teaching. Inasmuch as the Lambeth Conference approved the declarations of the Anglican Bishops as a genuine account [1] of the teaching and practice of the Church of England and the Churches in communion with it, it welcomes them as a notable step towards the Union of the two Churches. And since in these declarations, which were endorsed by the Lambeth Conference, complete and satisfying assurance is found as to the Apostolic Succession, as to a real reception of the Lord's Body and blood, as to the Eucharist being thusia hilasterios [2] (Sacrifice), and as to Ordination being a Mystery, the Church of Alexandria withdraws its precautionary negative to the acceptance of the validity of Anglican Ordinations, and, adhering to the decision of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, of July 28, 1922, pronounces that if priests, ordained by Anglican Bishops, accede to Orthodoxy, they should not be re-ordained, as persons baptized by Anglicans are not rebaptized." We rejoice to see the middle wall of partition being thrown down more and more, and we congratulate your Beatitude that under God you have had the felicity of taking the initiative in furthering that work. May the Lord Who was born in Bethlehem give to you and to us the happiness of its completion. In Alexandria upon the Feast of Christ's Nativity, 1930 Your Beatitude's Beloved Brother in Christ
Meletios of Alexandria

In reporting this decision to the Oecumenical Patriarch Meletios emphasized that his Synod was acting on the basis that the statements made at Lambeth had removed their former hesitation "as to the teaching of the Anglican Church upon the mysteries and Apostolic succession," and could be held to have met the desire expressed by the Romanian Patriarch in replying to Constantinople in 1925, when he wrote, But in order to make a definite pronouncement, we desire especially that the Anglican Church herself should precise her doctrine concerning the holy mysteries and particularly concerning orders: does she hold it to be a mystery or not? Since that requirement had now been satisfied, wrote Meletios, It is proper that the validity of Anglican Orders should now be recognized by all Orthodox Churches. For that which, according to the same letter, was "one of the most serious obstacles in the way of the Union of the two Churches," has been "removed."

Letter published in The Christian East, vol. XII, 1931, pp. 1-6, with notes as above; the quotation in Note 2 is from No. 11 in the Resume of the Lambeth Discussions, reprinted below, p. 22.

FOOTNOTES
[1] The words in the Resolution of the Lambeth Conference are "sufficient account." [2] We transliterate the term, thusia hilasterios, and do not translate it by propitiatory sacrifice, or expiatory sacrifice, because, as generally used, these terms present conceptions which are not attached by the Orthodox to thusia hilasterios. The words used by the Anglican Bishops in their discussions with the Orthodox Delegation, as recorded in the Resume, and endorsed by the Lambeth Conference are: "… that the Anglican Church teaches the doctrine of Eucharistic Sacrifice as explained in the Answer of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to Pope Leo XIII, on Anglican Ordinations: and also that in the offering of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, the Anglican Church prays that ‘by the merits and death of Thy Son Jesus Christ, and through faith in His Blood, we and all Thy whole Church may obtain remission of our sins, and all other benefits of His Passion,' as including the whole company of faithful people, living and departed." Lambeth Conference Report, 1930,



29 comments:

The young fogey said...

The official Orthodox statements on Anglican orders must be understood as saying IF the whole Anglican Communion unprotestantised (with Dr Jensen on one end and Dr Schori on the other how likely is that?) AND became Orthodox (joined the Orthodox communion), these Orthodox would receive them in their orders and thus the Orthodox communion would recognise them economically. As that will never happen, the Orthodox then and now, just like Rome, ordain ex-Anglican clergy.

Allowing Orthodox to attend Anglican churches when no Orthodox church is nearby ended long before Episcopal approval of WO. Orthodox St Raphael (Hawaweeny), the Russian mission's bishop for Arabs in America, when he realised most Episcopalians weren't Anglo-Catholics, rescinded that permission about 100 years ago!

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Young Fogey:

I am surprised that you would question my grasp of the facts. You are completely mistaken about these details. It did not end until 1976, and all of this is in living memory of Orthodox people who received permission to attend Anglican churches, including Episcopal churches right here in Maryland, as late as the 60s and early 70s. This I know for an absolute fact. Furthermore, the Russian mission thing was only one bishop, and that was in 1904. The earliest of the letters in the appendix was written in 1922, overruling that one bishop.

As for the interpretation of these letters on that website, it is simply wrong. The Orthodox faithful were allowed to receive the sacraments from Anglican priests, making the meaning of the letters plain and clear. After 1976 it became an embarrassment, and so it has been subjected to an attempt to explain it all away.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, I suppose, Fr Hart, for reminding me of the Pontificator's "First Law" (that whenever Rome and EO agree they are bound to be right).
I suppose that the juncture in history, reinforced by many centuries following, when the Bishop of Rome and Patriarch of Constantinople mutually excommunicated each other would have to be an exception. They both agreed but evidently were not quite right.

Not to speak ad hominem of any blogster past or present, but I have noticed a tendency of people who gravitate toward "infallible" churches to presume a piece of such infallibility for themselves.
Infallibility such as that humbly exercised by JP II or Benedict 16 I could almost live with. But there is no infallibility like the infallibiity of an RC or EO troll!
Heaven deliver us all!
LKW

poetreader said...

Well said, Fr. Wells.

We've had our share of such. Some of them have managed to maintain good manners, and despite their having managed to make themselves a minor nuisance, are cordially welcome to join the discussion, and to attempt to teach us something. Who knows, they might even succeed to some degree.

Others, however, seem to have as their mission to be as disruptive and insulting as they can manage, and thus to drive us as far away from what they consider truth as can be done. I neither understand nor welcome them. The standards of behavior we expect of ourselves, we also expect of our guests, whether friends or 'trolls'.

ed

Michaël de Verteuil said...

Fr. Hart,

Perhaps you might enlighten me on why you feel the issue of Anglican orders has any bearing on the validity (or otherwise) of the "branch concept".

Even if Rome had fully recognized Anglican orders, it would probably still completely reject the idea that the Church consists of "branches".

Rome recognizes Eastern Orthodox orders, Oriental Orthodox orders, Old Catholic orders, and even the orders of the Assyrian Church of the East, but still does not see these separate communions as "branches" of the Church. In fact, not only Rome but all the Churches mentioned reject the whole notion that the Church consists of branches. The concept is unscriptural, untraditional, and a completely and uniquely novel Anglican invention.

In conventional and traditional orthodox ecclesiology, the Church is "one" and consists of dioceses linked "canonically" through regional or liturgical primacies, but "essentially" through mutually shared communion. Where shared communion ends, so does the visible boundary of the Church (which is not to say the Church might not extend beyond its visible boundaries, but here you enter the world of speculative theology and not doctrine, and this dealing with individuals -- not branches).

The example you offer of sacramental sharing between Orthodox and Anglicans sounds to me like a local abuse that was subsequently corrected once other Orthodox Churches got wind of it. It may be that WO helped highlight the "scandal", but I would very much appreciate hearing an Orthodox source verify the "facts" as you describe them. For the record, similar cases of local communion between Catholics and Orthodox communities can be attested to well into the twentieth century without either broader Church seeing them as anything but an abuse of liturgical canons.

On the separate issue of Orthodox recognition of Anglican orders -- an issue I know you hold to dearly -- intellectual honesty should really require you to consider and also cite contrary declarations such as that of the Moscow Patriarchate in 1948 which states "The Orthodox Church cannot agree to the rightness of Anglican teaching on the sacraments in general, and on the sacrament of Holy Order in particular; and so it cannot recognize Anglican ordinations as valid." A similar statement had been issued by the Russian Church in Exile at the Karlovtzy Synod in 1935.

Even the Ecumenical Patriarch's covering correspondence to the AB of Canterbury for the 1922 decision noted explicitly "It is plain that there is as yet no matter here of a decree of the whole Orthodox Church. For it is necessary that the rest of the Orthodox Churches should be found to be of the same opinion as the most holy Church of Constantinople", which demonstrably they are not as Anglican priests converting to Orthodoxy and wishing to retain their orders are still reordained.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Michaël de Verteuil wrote:

Perhaps you might enlighten me on why you feel the issue of Anglican orders has any bearing on the validity (or otherwise) of the "branch concept".

No one said it did. That is a separate matter.

The example you offer of sacramental sharing between Orthodox and Anglicans sounds to me like a local abuse that was subsequently corrected once other Orthodox Churches got wind of it.

Which proves your vast ignorance on this subject. This came from the highest levels.

...and also cite contrary declarations such as that of the Moscow Patriarchate in 1948 which states...

Actually, I don't regard that as significant. Joseph Stalin insisted on that decision, and it was to keep some distance from the fading British Empire at the start of the Cold War. That entire period is not one from which we should draw anything from Moscow as speaking for the Orthodox Church. The other Patriarchs and Archbishops did, in fact, act contrary to Stalin's state church.

Even the Ecumenical Patriarch's covering correspondence to the AB of Canterbury for the 1922 decision noted explicitly...

The other letters came and continued to come in the years that followed. The decision of Orthodox Patriarchs and Archbishops was to allow Orthodox Christians to receive the sacraments from Anglican priests, and it stood until 1976. That tells us how sincere they were in their recognition;they treated the sacraments of the Anglicans as sacraments indeed.

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

I hope our readers will not mind me mentioning that I have addressed exactly this accusation at some length already on this weblog. See "Fr Kirby's Apologetics" under the Resources heading at the right of our page. Links C2 and C4 are the most relevant, especially the latter.

One key point that I will reiterate here is that while the common opinion in both the RCC and the EOC is that Anglican Churches have not been within the boundaries of the One True Church, this opinion is not universal or dogmatically binding in either. This is partly due to the fact that the state of separateness of Anglicanism is due to Roman excommunications, which are of themselves corrigible. The excommunication of the Patriarch of Constantinople and the cascade of following estrangements caused a separation from the East that Anglicans simply inherited de facto from Rome, but never definitively confirmed de jure from their side. The excommunication of Elizabeth I by Rome made our separation from Rome's communio definitive, not any Anglican action, since it was Roman Supremacy rejected explicitly and authoritatively by us, not Roman "ecclesiality" (whatever individual Anglicans may have opined).

So, since such excommunications have no infallibility claimed for them no matter how long they have been broadly accepted as the status quo, it is open to the Churches involved to annul them even retrospectively without that in itself threatening any dogma.

Also, it is more and more recognised that the canonical or institutional boundaries of the Church, however they are perceived, are not necessarily identical with the true spiritual boundaries, and that such boundaries and related "inclusions" may not be easily identifiable or known with certainty. Such reverent agnosticism is directly relevant to the questions of what is believed and what purportedly "must" be believed by members of the RCC and EOC regarding Continuing Churches.

And that is why if, say, an Orthodox theologian expressed the opinion that, for example, the ACC was in fact part of the true Church already (despite the present lack of outward communion) for the same reasons as the "Monophysites" are held by many Orthodox theologians to be -- the possession already of the same Faith and Order as the Orthodox in doctrinal and sacramental matters -- it is highly unlikely he would be excommunicated as a heretic. Therefore it is not true that it is mandatory for a member of the Orthodox communion to deny Continuing Anglicans' ecclesiality. And, as Fr Hart has noted, if they would recognise us as the legitimate heirs of Anglican Catholicism pre-WO, it is reasonable to expect that the more positive assessments of Anglican identity that had occurred not infrequently in the East before, might come our way in the present. I am aware of some signs of this in the past in the way a former Ordinary of mine was treated by the Greek Orthodox and in the fact that the Affirmation of St Louis has received praise from the Orthodox as well, despite not being widely known among them as far as I can tell.

Thus there simply is no "dogma of Anglican exclusion", whether appealing to the Vincentian Canon or other means to establish it.

monomakh said...

Good Heavens!I never expected this from this blog! Anglican orders was recognised by a man who occupied through brigandage the patriarchal throne! This man Meletios was a mere hireling, a nave, and many other things which prudence and politeness forbid me from mentioning here...It was his reforms of the orthodox calendar that led to those many splits in the Orthodox Communion.That man was a mason...no son of the Living Church of Christ, Bride of the Spirit of Life, he was a son of the widow...cut off from the fellowship of christians.I totally agree with Michaël de Verteuil. Local abuses and connivances against the rule of the Church, bringing scandal and offending the faithful. Please refer to this article from an Orthodox Priest, an Englishman, for the character of this "Patriarch". That man, Meletios, was just interested in money.Well, i better stop here. It's incredible though. Thankfully ROCOR and the Russian Church by and large condemns both the fallacious doctrines and practices. Beware against this illusion of union!

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Monomakh

All you do is demonstrate what I warned of in my article. You try to explain away history. "Local abuses" my left hind leg. How can the decisions of Patriarchs and Archbishops, resulting in an internationally applicable polity, be called "local abuses?" Sorry if history doesn't fit your neat theories.

John A. Hollister said...

1. "When Rome and Orthodoxy agree on something and Protestants don't agree, Protestantism loses." And, apparently, when Rome and Orthodoxy agree on something like imposing celibacy on the episcopate, and St. Paul doesn't, then by Fr. Kimmel's formula, St. Paul loses.

2. Monomakh wrote about one Orthodox hierarch: "This man Meletios was ... a nave [and] a mason...."

Come now, it must have been one or the other, not both. Please be precise: did he build church edifices, or was he one himself?

John A. Hollister+

"cluccar"

Sandra McColl said...

St Paul was a protestant?

Mine's 'teariese'. Is that a language?

monomakh said...

Because in Orthodoxy we don't believe in the infaillibility of Patriarchs but in that of the whole Church. Pray read Khomiakov. Meletios put pressure on the other patriarchs and bishops to comply to his whims. And if you really knew that much about the Orthodox people and not just Orthodox theology you would know that there is no other name more reviled and despised or even cursed than that of Meletios. The Patriarch of Constantinople is not the supreme head of the Church, he is just primus inter pares. A place of honour not of jurisdiction. Pray re-read Orthodox history.For such a thing as serious as the recognition of anglican orders it would require a council and the agreement of the whole orthodox people. Read the canons! Good heavens! History! May i remind you of the tractations between the Non-Jurors and the East and the unfruitful outcome of the same? In the 1920's most orthodox were in much danger considering politically instability and i consider any decision taken by prelates under political pressure to be binding. That would mean to spit on the sufferings of the underground christians during communist rule. Anyway if this goes on-what greater sign of the falling away? But the faithful remnant shall remain!

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Monomakh:

Thank you for your opinion-for what it's worth. I take it you are an Old Calenderist.

The Oecumanical Patriarch was not the only one writing these letters of course. We see other Patriarchs and Archbishops writing too. Perhaps you think they were all a bunch of jerks (maybe they needed the guidance of the Pope). Furthermore, I fail to see how Orthodoxy could have established anything without the Oecumenical Patriarch. Nor do I see why you reserve your venom for the Patriarch of Constantinople, and give Lenin's and then Stalin's man in Russia a free ride.

Perhaps you might also have some reason for considering a positive view of Anglicanism (as it was then, and remains among us) as a tragedy. I am offended by the assumption you make.

Unfortunately, it will be Monday before I can be sure of getting back to this blog, and of seeing what comments have come in.

The young fogey said...

I am surprised that you would question my grasp of the facts.

Why? People make mistakes.

Yes, intercommunion between Anglicans and Orthodox was a local abuse.

The founding first hierarch of ROCOR, Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky), IIRC believed in the recognition of Anglican orders I described (economic upon Anglicanism joining Orthodoxy). His successor, Met. Anastassy (Gribanowsky), once preached in St Paul's Cathedral. Before them both St Tikhon was good friends with the Episcopal Church's Bishop of Fond du Lac and happily sat in choir for the consecration of the latter's cathedral. Time was the American Orthodox bishops would come or send a priest representative to a presiding bishop's installation. Not the same as intercommunion but from a time when relations were truly friendly.

Recently talked to a Greek Orthodox priest of 50 years who did his post-graduate work at General back in the 1950s when even mainstreamish Episcopal clergy looked Catholicwards and thus liked and took the Orthodox seriously. He went to a reunion recently and was shocked and hurt by the changes.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I was not referring to intercommunion, which is a term with a very specific definition. What I have described was not a local abuse, but a fully accepted practice authorized at the highest levels. Orthodox Patriarchs and Archbishops wrote letters of permission to their own faithful, allowing them to receive the sacraments of Anglican priests, and to attend their churches. This met a need of the Orthodox at a time when their own churches and clergy were few and far between.

This was not a local abuse at all.

Michaël de Verteuil said...

Fr. Kirby,

I am actually an admirer of your contribution to this site, and wish you would post more frequently. That said, I would respectfully take issue in this case with a few of your observations:

"One key point that I will reiterate here is that while the common opinion in both the RCC and the EOC is that Anglican Churches have not been within the boundaries of the One True Church, this opinion is not universal or dogmatically binding in either."

While what you say is true, the issue is not necessarily an exclusively doctrinal one. Furthermore, even if any Catholics were to grant that some individual Anglicans might be within the spiritual boundaries of the Church, it doesn't follow that they would see Anglicanism (of whatever sort) as a "branch" of the Church. There is simply no place for "branches" in orthodox ecclesiology.

"This is partly due to the fact that the state of separateness of Anglicanism is due to Roman excommunications, which are of themselves corrigible."

Perhaps you might wish to elaborate on what you see as the significance of this remark. How does the "corrigibility" affect the Church's boundaries one way or the other, except insofar as they might be corrected.

"The excommunication of the Patriarch of Constantinople and the cascade of following estrangements caused a separation from the East that Anglicans simply inherited de facto from Rome, but never definitively confirmed de jure from their side."

So long as Orthodoxy sees fit to exclude Anglicanism from communion, why would Anglican de jure confirmation of the split be of any significance?

"The excommunication of Elizabeth I by Rome made our separation from Rome's communio definitive, not any Anglican action, since it was Roman Supremacy rejected explicitly and authoritatively by us, not Roman "ecclesiality" (whatever individual Anglicans may have opined)."

Actually Elizabeth's excommunication affected only her. Anglicans in general, however, are excommunicate on both doctrinal and disciplinary grounds, not from some original sin-like stain. I admit it gets more complicated given the recent splits in Anglicanism, but evangelical Anglicanism is still considered doctrinally unsound by both Catholics and Orthodox, and I don't know of any Anglican denomination that is purely Anglo-Catholic. Even with a purely Anglo-Catholic Anglicanism, there would still be doctrinal issues such as the objective real presence and recognition of the Magisterium's infallible teaching authority.

"So, since such excommunications have no infallibility claimed for them no matter how long they have been broadly accepted as the status quo, it is open to the Churches involved to annul them even retrospectively without that in itself threatening any dogma."

Well, not retrospectively, communion being an event that occurs in time. I don't quite understand how infallibility comes into play here, however. Excommunication or readmission to communion are disciplinary acts, not doctrinal pronouncements.

"Also, it is more and more recognised that the canonical or institutional boundaries [i.e. the visible ones] of the Church, however they are perceived, are not necessarily identical with the true spiritual boundaries, and that such boundaries and related "inclusions" may not be easily identifiable or known with certainty."

True, but it doesn't follow that one must be, or even be considered to be, within the spiritual boundaries of the Church simply by virtue of one's own assertion. The consensus Catholic and Orthodox view is that Anglicanism "as a whole" is deeply impaired by its inclusion of heterodoxy, and as such is not part of the Church. Individual Anglicans, however, who hold sufficiently orthodox views might be members of the Church (i.e. merely in schism), though still denied communion on disciplinary grounds (e.g. keeping faith with heretics).

"Such reverent agnosticism is directly relevant to the questions of what is believed and what purportedly "must" be believed by members of the RCC and EOC regarding Continuing Churches. And that is why if, say, an Orthodox theologian expressed the opinion that, for example, the ACC was in fact part of the true Church already (despite the present lack of outward communion) for the same reasons as the "Monophysites" are held by many Orthodox theologians to be -- the possession already of the same Faith and Order as the Orthodox in doctrinal and sacramental matters -- it is highly unlikely he would be excommunicated as a heretic."

True, but the "Faith and Order" in question precludes unorthodox ecclesiology and (as Catholics see it) the breach of apostolic succession. Perhaps the hang-up here relates to the use of the word "branch". You seem to be using it merely in the sense of "part of". If Anglicans want to consider themselves "part of the Church" in some way that is their affair. Catholics and Orthodox may or may not be sympathetic to such a view, but the "Branch Concept" entails more that just this (e.g. a freedom to unilaterally "decommit" on an institutional basis to past infallibly defined doctrinal teaching; to independently determine who to admit or not to communion without reference to the canons of the "rest" of the Church; to relativize the significance of visible unity or lack thereof). The Church cannot recognize such freedom as pertaining to any of its "parts".

"Therefore it is not true that it is mandatory for a member of the Orthodox communion to deny Continuing Anglicans' ecclesiality. And, as Fr Hart has noted, if they would recognise us as the legitimate heirs of Anglican Catholicism pre-WO, it is reasonable to expect that the more positive assessments of Anglican identity that had occurred not infrequently in the East before, might come our way in the present. I am aware of some signs of this in the past in the way a former Ordinary of mine was treated by the Greek Orthodox and in the fact that the Affirmation of St Louis has received praise from the Orthodox as well, despite not being widely known among them as far as I can tell."

Fr. Hart rather wishfully misreads the significance of these Orthodox declarations. As the Ecumenical Patriarch himself noted, the 1922 recognition could only be treated as provisional pending approval by all the other Churches. So far only the only Orthodox Church of any size to express a similar view has been that of Romania in 1936. Fr. Hart's thesis that broader recognition would have been forthcoming had it not been for some Stalinist plot (ignoring why Stalin would have held a view on the matter one way or the other) doesn't hold as the Russian Church in Exile actually took the initiative and was the first Orthodox Church to explicitly condemn Anglican Orders outright.

That said, I am not sure that Orthodoxy draws the same line as Rome in determining a body's "ecclesiality". The question tends to be treated as moot so long as the body in question is not deemed to be in full doctrinal conformity with Orthodoxy.

If I may return to the main issue Fr. Hart raised, if both Rome and Orthodoxy agree in rejecting a Protestant doctrine held by some Anglicans, this should very much pose a problem for Anglo-Catholics, even if they themselves do not hold the doctrine in question. Anglo-Catholics have to confront the fact that they cannot keep faith with heresy and be considered part of the Church by Rome or Orthodoxy. Fr. Hart, approach seems to involve doctrinal hand waiving and the throwing of a cloak over the Protestant elephant in the room. He isn't fooling any Catholics or Orthodox, however.

Michaël de Verteuil said...

Fr. Hart,

"What I have described was not a local abuse, but a fully accepted practice authorized at the highest levels. Orthodox Patriarchs and Archbishops wrote letters of permission to their own faithful, allowing them to receive the sacraments of Anglican priests, and to attend their churches."

Would you be so kind as to quote these letters and offer specifics as to who exactly wrote them? It might also help if you could provide us with the text of any letters offering reasons for "ending" the practice.

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

'While what you say is true, the issue is not necessarily an exclusively doctrinal one. Furthermore, even if any Catholics were to grant that some individual Anglicans might be within the spiritual boundaries of the Church, it doesn't follow that they would see Anglicanism (of whatever sort) as a "branch" of the Church. There is simply no place for "branches" in orthodox ecclesiology.'

Michael, this makes no sense, since what I said that you refer to as "true" was explicitly dealing with "Anglican Churches" not merely Anglicans.

'Perhaps the hang-up here relates to the use of the word "branch". You seem to be using it merely in the sense of "part of".'

Actually, I didn't use the word at all, though you have used it a number of times. Insofar as Anglicans have subscribed to a "Branch Theory" it has not had all the characteristics you then go on to ascribe to it, namely: 'a freedom to unilaterally "decommit" on an institutional basis to past infallibly defined doctrinal teaching; to independently determine who to admit or not to communion without reference to the canons of the "rest" of the Church'. The Anglican Church has never claimed these freedoms explicitly or implicitly till the WO defection, but had instead explicitly considered itself subject to genuinely and ecumenically authoritative dogma and canon law from the beginning. Like the EO, we did not accept as a matter of fact that all mediaeval Councils (especially exclusively Western ones), Canon Law and Papal decisions were necessarily binding or conformed to the Vincentian Canon, but this is not the same thing as you are saying.

One characteristic you identify with some accuracy is this one: 'to relativize the significance of visible unity or lack thereof'. Yes, insofar as we deny the purported Dogma of Obvious Manifest Unity (DOMA henceforth), we deny the absolute perfection of the Catholic Church's "visibility of unity". If visible unity is not absolute, it must be "relative" in that broad sense of the term. And that is our key disagreement. You effectively claim the DOMA is a true and binding dogma in the RCC and EOC. The point I am making is that it cannot be, for many reasons, some of which I gave above and you not so much criticised as queried as to their relevance to the question. To what do I refer? Well ...

'How does the "corrigibility" affect the Church's boundaries one way or the other, except insofar as they might be corrected.'

...

'"So, since such excommunications have no infallibility claimed for them no matter how long they have been broadly accepted as the status quo, it is open to the Churches involved to annul them even retrospectively without that in itself threatening any dogma."

Well, not retrospectively, communion being an event that occurs in time. I don't quite understand how infallibility comes into play here, however. Excommunication or readmission to communion are disciplinary acts, not doctrinal pronouncements.'

You are missing the main point here: if excommunications, including of ecclesial groups, are fallible (and the Church has never claimed otherwise), then it is undeniable that the resultant outward separations are not necessarily objectively correct or real exclusions of one side or the other. Therefore, DOMA is not only wrong as an absolute principle, but clearly inconsistent with the consensual teaching and practice of the Catholic Church, which has always recognised precisely what you say yourself, that excommunications are not infallible. For the rest of the evidence against DOMA, see link C4 in "Fr Kirby's Apologetics" under "Resources" on this blog. So, Anglicans believe visible unity is often imperfect, but that the Catholic Church can still be identified with sufficient certainty for salvation, even though the precise "limits" may be unclear. We do not think this relative disunity is pleasing to God or normative.

I will address your other points in a later post, but suffice it to say for now that much of what I need to say has already been said by me and Fr Hart here before. For example, see link C2 at the same place as abovementioned.

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

'So long as Orthodoxy sees fit to exclude Anglicanism from communion, why would Anglican de jure confirmation of the split be of any significance?'

Michael, the significance is very great. It means the state of separation was unilaterally determined, in a sense, and not evidence of a schismatic will by the Anglican Churches toward their Eastern Sisters. But it also is important because the East have never pronounced in binding fashion on the precise status of Anglican Churches per se. Instead they treated us as they had already treated us before our "exclusion" by Rome. But the way they had treated us when under the Pope's "two swords" Supremacy was due to previous Papal acts with which we were associated by default. So, once we disassociated ourselves from that Supremacy and criticised Rome's position with respect to the East (which we did very early), although we had inherited the material state of "schism" we had not inherited the formal state of schism, which would subsist in a willful rejection of the EO churches or their Faith. These facts would allow the East to recognise the faithful remnant of orthodox (Continuing) Anglican Churches as Sisters whose identity as such had not been sufficiently clear to them up to that point, so to speak, due to misunderstandings or mis-communications on both sides.

'Actually Elizabeth's excommunication affected only her. Anglicans in general, however, are excommunicate on both doctrinal and disciplinary grounds, not from some original sin-like stain. I admit it gets more complicated given the recent splits in Anglicanism, but evangelical Anglicanism is still considered doctrinally unsound by both Catholics and Orthodox, and I don't know of any Anglican denomination that is purely Anglo-Catholic. Even with a purely Anglo-Catholic Anglicanism, there would still be doctrinal issues such as the objective real presence and recognition of the Magisterium's infallible teaching authority.'

I'm sorry, but it is a poor legalism that says that Elizabeth's excommunication only affected her because it was only explicitly an excommunication of her. The excommunication included automatic consequences for all who did not disassociate from her in every sense, including ecclesially. As for what "Evangelical Protestants" who are Anglicans believe or have believed, this was of limited significance in the past since the Anglican Formularies did not commit Anglicans to Calvinism, etc., but are in fact inconsistent with this. It is clearly irrelevant for Continuing Churches who subscribe to the Affirmation of St Louis and authorise the Missals, such as the ACC and TAC, wherein the doctrine of the Real Presence is quite safe and the belief in the infallibility of the Catholic Church in matters of faith and morals is accepted in the same form as in the East: i.e., we accept the consentient teaching of Catholic bishops through the ages, what the RCC calls the Ordinary Magisterium, and we accept the determinations of certainly genuine Ecumenical Councils, specifically, the Seven.

'Anglicanism "as a whole" is deeply impaired by its inclusion of heterodoxy, and as such is not part of the Church'

If you are claiming that the mere toleration of the presence of materially heretical beliefs within a Church proves its de-Catholicising (without the said Church properly commiting itself definitively to them), you are up against Church history and present reality in a big way! The RCC for centuries not only tolerated but enjoined the use of torture for religious and social ends and tolerated even in its greatest theologians the teaching that the Cross was owed the worship of latria. As for what is tolerated now, you cannot fail to be aware that it is this that convinces SSPX and others that much of the RCC is effectively heretical and the Vatican complicit. Similar problems existed within the boundaries of the early Church for long periods of time. Even the EOC has had times when prelates and priests of dubious faith have been tolerated in large numbers. Think of the Russian Orthodox Church under Communism and the clergy who worked for the KGB or "theologised" for the benefit of an atheist state's political agenda.

As for the question of EO recognition of Anglican Orders, Michael, you ignore the fact that Constantinople was joined by Alexandria and Jerusalem, and a number of other jurisdictions. A majority of the Pentarchy is nothing to sneeze at within Orthodoxy! And not all EO subscribe to the view that all recognitions of Orders outside the EOC actually mean no recognition of grace or present validity but instead of a "potential" validity in the case of reunion. Indeed, it has been subject to searching criticism by EO theologians past and present.

'Anglo-Catholics have to confront the fact that they cannot keep faith with heresy and be considered part of the Church by Rome or Orthodoxy.'

We agree. And we did not face this problem in a definitive fashion until the WO crisis, at which point we Continuers refused to keep faith with heresy, i.e., remain in churches now committed corporately to false faith and order, and we obeyed the ancient Canon Law which said to renounce the fellowship of officially heterodox bishops and place ourselves under orthodox ones willing to receive us. That is why we are Continuing Anglicans.

Before that we had to coexist with materially heterodox people in Anglicanism, and this was indeed problematic. But it was not the same as "keeping faith with" them in their errors. Many even of them were probably not formally heretical, but merely misinformed. And up to the crisis, we were not committed by the Churches as such to these errors. Was the old Anglican ambiguity and indiscipline "good enough"? No: in fact it helped allow the crisis to develop. Was it, before the crisis, manifestly worse than all other problems in other particular jurisdictions, problems which have failed to un-Church them? No. So, for all our faults, Anglican Churches never left the Catholic Church until WO, when Continuing Anglicans chose not to leave.

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

Hmmm, how I got DOMA out of Dogma of Obvious Manifest Unity is a mystery. Let's try DOMU. Or even Dogma Of Absolutely Manifest Unity, DOAMU!

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Would you be so kind as to quote these letters and offer specifics as to who exactly wrote them?

The letters said that this or that specific individual or household was given permission to receive all the sacraments of the Anglican priests, and to attend Anglican churches-until such time as an Orthodox church is built, and an Orthodox priest is available, within a reasonable distance. The ones that still exist are tucked away in the homes of various individuals, among those who have kept them at all. The ones I have been allowed to see came from the Oecumenical Patriarch circa 1967, and the family was surprised that they still had it. A well-known Orthodox academic and writer had his from the Archdiocese of-hold your breath-Antioch. He attended church with my family many years ago. (Some appeared to have been ethnic specific, and did not treat fellow Orthodox as having the ability to meet the need). The whole point for having the letters expired in 1976, and this was announced in 1978.

These letters were not sent after 1976, and so there was no internet yet, that is, accept for certain scientists. The letters number in the thousands and were sent to individual Orthodox households, especially in the United States. They came from the Orthodox Patriarchs and Archbishops overseas. This is also in the witness of living memory. No one ever denied this well-known fact until a few ignorant bloggers, in recent years, just couldn't accept the truth. As for why it stopped, I have already quoted Archbishop Athenagoras several times, and see no reason to keep doing so. The whole thing was part of the effort to unify the Anglican Communion with the Orthodox as one Church, and we all know why that was discontinued. Please don't pretend not to know.

And, I am rather tired of hearing about the one bishop in 1904. That is not relevant, as should be obvious. The whole thing got underway in the 1920s, so any more mention of that one Russian Orthodox bishop in the U.S., many years earlier, would be idiotic at best.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

There is simply no place for "branches" in orthodox ecclesiology.

"And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you." - I Cor. 12:21

So long as Orthodoxy sees fit to exclude Anglicanism from communion, why would Anglican de jure confirmation of the split be of any significance?

I am not sure just how unanimous this idea is among the Orthodox, since they don't like to be painted into a corner. We don't confirm the split, at least not as legitimate,so Fr. Kirby has simply stated an obvious fact.

Actually Elizabeth's excommunication affected only her.

Unless Civil War and the murder of the Monarch can be ordered by the pope, with any moral authority, the action must be seen as the evil and malicious abuse that it was. It most certainly affected the whole realm, and all the "little people" in it. The people of England would have been subjected to the oppressions of war-burnt farms, dead families, men and boys lost- just because the pope wanted to please the King of Spain, in his efforts to compete with England.

True, but it doesn't follow that one must be, or even be considered to be, within the spiritual boundaries of the Church simply by virtue of one's own assertion.

It is not a mere assertion, but the correct conclusion from theology and history. According to the teaching of scripture as received in the Catholic Tradition, any contradictory opinion deserves and receives our condemnation.

Besides, and since it seems to be what matters to some, our patrimony is as ancient as any, dating apparently from the first century (in terms of a British Christian church).

The consensus Catholic and Orthodox view is that Anglicanism "as a whole" is deeply impaired by its inclusion of heterodoxy, and as such is not part of the Church. Individual Anglicans, however, who hold sufficiently orthodox views might be members of the Church (i.e. merely in schism), though still denied communion on disciplinary grounds (e.g. keeping faith with heretics).

"As a whole" you say? Look, we see that heresy has been tolerated by official churches of the Anglican Communion, and so we regard them as having separated themselves unless and until they repent and clean up the mess. So, to say, "as a whole" is simply not true. Don't you recall the name of this blog? Frankly, the meat and potatoes of your comment, without the "as a whole" bit (which seems self-contradictory anyway) reads as an argument for the Continuum.

The Church cannot recognize such freedom as pertaining to any of its "parts".

It is the Two One True Churches that created this very problem, so don't aim the criticism at us. Aim it where it belongs, with Rome and Constantinople. In the meantime, don't fault us for continuing to be the Church, as indeed we must be, since Christ has ordered it. We can't wait for Rome and Constantinople to repair their breach, and let the whole world and ourselves go to hell. We do not owe that to those ecclesiastical-political entities just because they have an inflated view of their own importance. They demand conformity to themselves, forbidding all else as devisive; and yet,due to this very attitude and assumption, they are the cause of division.

As the Ecumenical Patriarch himself noted, the 1922 recognition could only be treated as provisional pending approval by all the other Churches.

Excuse me for having noticed the history that followed instead of focusing exclusively on that one little passage.

Fr. Hart's thesis that broader recognition would have been forthcoming had it not been for some Stalinist plot...

Not a plot: A directive of Stalin to a puppet patriarch-and whose decision was treated by the other Patriarchs accordingly. They ignored him (funny how the post-USSR Russian Orthodox admit this, in fact how the Patriarch of Moscow admitted it to the whole world, while other Orthodox, notably in the west, have forgotten).

(ignoring why Stalin would have held a view on the matter one way or the other

On the contrary, I stated exactly why. It was all about international politics and Soviet enmity with the British Empire. Your statement about an exclusive excommunication affecting only Queen Elizabeth shows blindness to the whole corrupting influence of the world and its political realities. This has everything to do with maintaining an ideological view of the Church as depending on Patriarchates and other ancient imperial structures, as if they were of the essence of the Church. It is a loss of reality.

doesn't hold as the Russian Church in Exile actually took the initiative...

"Russian Church in exile..." Who was that? Who was their Patriarch? What did these people actually know about Anglican Orders? When, where, how, who and what?

Anglo-Catholics have to confront the fact that they cannot keep faith with heresy and be considered part of the Church by Rome or Orthodoxy. Fr. Hart, approach seems to involve doctrinal hand waiving and the throwing of a cloak over the Protestant elephant in the room. He isn't fooling any Catholics or Orthodox...

We do not keep faith with heresy. Your own words demonstrate why I am right, and that in two ways. We are the Continuum, not the Anglican Communion, and our open and obvious rejection of heresy should be obvious. Second: The very expression "Rome or Orthodoxy" proves that all they have done is exactly what I said; They extended their disagreement with each other, and so their view of Anglicanism is not agreement at all, but a mere consequence of the very opposite, their disagreement. And, this proves their lack of Universal consensus, and therefore their utter lack of any real authority concerning who is and who is not part of the Church of Jesus Christ. Until there is not any distinction between "Rome or Orthodoxy" they have nothing to say about us. It reminds me of Menachem Begin's line: "The world has nothing to teach us about morality." Similarly, the divided One True Churches have nothing to teach us about the nature and unity of the Church.

Michaël de Verteuil said...

Fr. Kirby,

Forgive me for taking a few days away from this discussion. I am going to drop the point-by-point response/rebuttal approach as the argument is getting so far ranging it risks becoming confused and incoherent. Instead I am going to try to wrestle with what I see as the key points. If you feel you have already addressed one of my observations and that I have ignored you, please feel free to restate your views.

I assume you will agree with me in ruling out any possibility that the Anglican Communion as currently doctrinally constituted could be considered by either Rome or Constantinople as lying wholly within the spiritual boundaries of the Church. We could have an interesting discussion, I am sure, on whether the Anglican Communion, as Fr. Hart implies, could have been so considered by Rome and Orthodoxy prior to WO. I would prefer, however, to focus this discussion on the Continuing Churches rather than on Canterbury, as the Continuum as what this site is about.

My objective here is not to establish that Rome is right and that the Continuum is wrong in their respective doctrinal positions on, for example, the sacraments or ecclesiology. Instead I want to explain why Rome, at least, is still not in a position to accept the Continuum in toto as part of the Church. Here the distinction between the movement, vs. individual members of that movement, is critical. Individual members of the Continuum may (in fact, I am sure quite a number do) hold doctrinal views that Rome can consider sufficiently orthodox as to allow for classification of those holding them as schismatics rather than heretics. This is not true for the Continuum as whole, however, even setting aside the vexing issue of Anglican Orders. Now I want to make clear here, that I am not referring to some form of objective heresy, but merely to heresy as perceived by Rome (and implicitly by Orthodoxy).

I also don't want to minimize the extent to which the Continuum has attempted to clean house doctrinally and free itself from the theological "vacuity" of contemporary "mainstream" Anglicanism (again, as seen by Rome), or the deep personal pain and sacrifices this necessary rupture within Anglicanism has caused you and other Continuers. It is traumatic to watch, even from the outside. All this having been said, the Continuum still doesn't have the doctrinal coherence to be accepted by Rome as connected to it in the same way as, for example, the Eastern Churches. Continuers who believe otherwise (i.e. that Rome can so see the Continuum but doesn't out of ignorance or spite) have, from Rome's perspective, simply become tone deaf to Rome's theological concerns. The major flaw with Anglicanism's claim to orthodoxy (and both Rome and Orthodoxy have been repeating this for centuries), is its theological diversity and comparative indifferentism. Granted that the Continuum projects greater (and more orthodox) clarity than Canterbury, do all Continuing bishops teach the imperative necessity of visible unity, or are some content with the comfort of "invisible" or "unreciprocated" spiritual unity the Branch Theory argues exists? Do all Continuing bishops teach the absolute indissolubility of sacramental marriages as a strict issue of doctrine, or are some willing to go along with the sanctification of serial monogamy that predates WO by several decades? Do all Continuing bishops teach the objective Real Presence, or are some willing to go along with Cranmer's consubstantiationism? In essence, Rome still sees the Continuum as keeping faith with sacramental heresy, not in the sense of the Continuum actually teaching it as binding doctrine, but in tolerating it within its episcopate. I strongly suspect these issues will figure as part of Rome's broader response to the TAC's request for guidance regarding prospects for corporate reunion.

Note that this does not involve as you claim some DOMU. Either there is visible unity, or there is not. There is no such distinction as "absolute" or "relative" visible unity. The Catholic Catechism teaches that the "Church, constituted and organized as a society in the present world, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him." It describes the bonds of unity as profession of the apostolic faith, apostolic succession, and communion. Those spiritual communities that wholly maintain either or both of the first two have some claim to consideration as lying within the Church's "invisible" boundaries (as spiritual parts, not as branches); but the third bond defines the "visible" boundaries of the Church, and can be denied on disciplinary grounds, not just doctrinal ones as you seem to suggest. This why I cannot see the relevance of your observation regarding the corrigibility of the split. If the Continuing Churches were one in faith with Rome and had incontestable apostolic succession, that would still not make them "visibly" part of the Church (as far as Rome is concerned) until the disciplinary obstacles to communion had been overcome, though Rome would be hard put to deny them the status of "sister Churches" with which it shared some bonds of unity....

You stated that "if excommunications, including of ecclesial groups, are fallible (and the Church has never claimed otherwise), then it is undeniable that the resultant outward separations are not necessarily objectively correct or real exclusions of one side or the other." Excommunications are not doctrinal statements. They are neither fallible or infallible, but are merely disciplinary acts aimed at maintaining the good order of the Church. They are not "objective" determinations that can be either correct or incorrect.

You seem to be arguing that because you think the breach in communion is/was unjustified, it never really happened or had no real effect. From the Catholic perspective, the Church of England breached canonical order, opened itself to a slew of ecclesiological and sacramental heresies, and colluded in the persecution of faithful Catholics. For these reasons, whether you agree with them or not, communion was denied to those members of the Church of England who refused to return to their earlier obedience. As the Catholic Church believes that the one Church of Christ subsists within it, those without it must, by this definition be beyond its visible boundaries.

Now one can take for granted that Anglicans of whatever stripe will see matters differently. This is a given. Indeed, if they didn't, choosing to be Anglican would make little sense from an individual perspective. But you and Fr. Hart appear to go further than this in trying to argue that by Rome's own doctrinal standards, it doesn't have the doctrinal authority to determine who it will or will not be in communion with and thus, by its standards, determine who is or not a visible member of the Church. This strikes me as just breathtakingly arrogant. No Catholic would presume to argue with an Orthodox that Orthodoxy's denial of communion to Catholics is somehow fallible, invalid, incorrect or not real and so should have no bearing on who is or is not a visible member of the Church as Orthodoxy defines it. Catholics and Orthodox simply agree to disagree on where they think the Church subsists. You and Fr. Hart appear to be arguing that Catholicism and Orthodoxy are "visibly" part of the same Church, while both know full well that they are not, whatever the "invisible" bonds between them. Catholics and Orthodox disagree on who lies within the visible boundaries of the Church, but they do agree on the nature of the Church and on what those visible boundaries mean.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Michaël de Verteuil:

Your last paragraph is simply not right. Rome and Orthodoxy may decide whatever they wish about their exclusive claims. The only relevance of that entire paragraph to the thread is that it confirms my basic point: Rome and Orthodoxy do not "agree" about Anglicanism. Rather, they extend their disagreement with each other (and thus demonstrate that neither claim has ever had universal consent).

The concept of "Anglican comprehensiveness" is blown out of all proportion in your comment, and that is typical of Rome and Orthodoxy too. The standard of the Formularies, including the Book of Common Prayer, are not quite as broad as you think. Anglicans have, rather, allowed questions and speculation, generally about what the Tradition has taught from the beginning, and to an extent not uncommon among Catholic thinkers before the Reformation. That has not created quite the doctrinal diversity that is often assumed, at least not until modern times with the Cantuarians.

About what Continuing bishops teach, and Continuing Anglicans believe, Fr. Kirby and I would answer according to the statements of the ACC, and Ed Pacht is with the TAC. We have no theological differences that I am aware of.

But you and Fr. Hart appear to go further than this in trying to argue that by Rome's own doctrinal standards, it doesn't have the doctrinal authority to determine who it will or will not be in communion with and thus, by its standards, determine who is or not a visible member of the Church.

We don't accept what Rome thinks about who is and who is not in the Church. The pope has no right to tell us whether or not we are in the Church, having no authority to write us off. You may call that arrogant if you want to. We really don't care about that either, except insofar as Rome hurts the unity of the Church by its presumption of an exclusive claim to the fullness. That is what we see as arrogant.

Michaël de Verteuil said...

"Michael, the significance is very great. It means the state of separation was unilaterally determined, in a sense, and not evidence of a schismatic will by the Anglican Churches toward their Eastern Sisters. But it also is important because the East have never pronounced in binding fashion on the precise status of Anglican Churches per se."

I can see your reasoning, but even if I were to accept it, it doesn't take you very far as Orthodoxy doesn't need to pronounce on the precise status of Anglican Churches to question, in binding fashion as it does now, the validity of Anglican sacraments. Much hinges on whether the East can in fact recognize the Continuing Churches as faithful orthodox remnants. This may ultimately be possible for Orthodoxy (or for Rome), but my feeling is that we are not there yet as the Continuing Churches would have to disown more than just WO. My feeling is that the TAC might be willing to do so, even at the cost of losing its evangelical minority, but we shall have to see once Rome spells out in detail what its remaining doctrinal concerns are and, if these prove too onerous for the TAC to overcome, how far the East will recognize itself in a spurned TAC.

"I'm sorry, but it is a poor legalism that says that Elizabeth's excommunication only affected her because it was only explicitly an excommunication of her. The excommunication included automatic consequences for all who did not disassociate from her in every sense, including ecclesially."

Well, yes and no. What I meant was that Elizabeth's excommunication did not necessarily involve subsequent excommunication of all those having dealings with her. It certainly didn't substantiate schism in and of itself. Elizabeth wasn't the first monarch excommunicated by Rome, and in none of the previous cases did such a monarchical excommunication ipso facto establish a schism that extended to all that monarch's subjects. You have to trace the formal schism to the wholesale supplanting of the English episcopate.

"As for what "Evangelical Protestants" who are Anglicans believe or have believed, this was of limited significance in the past since the Anglican Formularies did not commit Anglicans to Calvinism, etc., but are in fact inconsistent with this."

The key for Catholics and Orthodox lies not in the limited binding doctrinal content of the Anglican formularies, but in what individual Anglican bishops in good standing were actually allowed to teach. The fact that more orthodox Anglicans might be less infected by heresy doesn't change the fact that they stayed in willing communion with bishops who, from the Roman perspective, transparently taught heresy. This is what Rome and Orthodoxy mean by "keeping faith with heretics." Now, you are in a better position than I am to judge how far such heresy still subsists within the Continuum (and I mean more than just resistance to the Papal claims), but bland assertions by you and Fr. Hart that ravings by some heretical bishop you still share the communion cup with need not be taken too seriously because you don't particularly share his beliefs doesn't create much of a doctrinal comfort zone for Catholics.

"It is clearly irrelevant for Continuing Churches who subscribe to the Affirmation of St Louis and authorise the Missals, such as the ACC and TAC, wherein the doctrine of the Real Presence is quite safe and the belief in the infallibility of the Catholic Church in matters of faith and morals is accepted in the same form as in the East: i.e., we accept the consentient teaching of Catholic bishops through the ages, what the RCC calls the Ordinary Magisterium, and we accept the determinations of certainly genuine Ecumenical Councils, specifically, the Seven."

Well, that may be. It was only a few weeks ago that Fr. Hart was defending Cranmer's eucharistic theology, however, so I am yet to be convinced. Granted, Fr. Hart isn't a bishop, and perhaps he misread Cranmer.... But better theological minds than mine will be looking into the matter.

"If you are claiming that the mere toleration of the presence of materially heretical beliefs within a Church proves its de-Catholicising (without the said Church properly commiting itself definitively to them), you are up against Church history and present reality in a big way!"

You can, of course, find heresy in any communion, if you look hard enough. Where Catholicism and Orthodoxy draw the line, however, is with the episcopate. You won't find Catholic or Orthodox bishops spouting heresy with impunity.

"The RCC for centuries not only tolerated but enjoined the use of torture for religious and social ends and tolerated even in its greatest theologians the teaching that the Cross was owed the worship of latria."

I think you might be confusing the cross with the crucifix. This is, in any case, a terminological issue, not one of doctrine. It is only with Augustine that the term latria came to be reserved in a technical sense to worship due to God. I believe you will find earlier Latin fathers like Ambrose and Jerome also using it in reference to the veneration due to angels and saints. No one retroactively accused them of idolatry for it. It's a matter of context.

"As for what is tolerated now, you cannot fail to be aware that it is this that convinces SSPX and others that much of the RCC is effectively heretical and the Vatican complicit. Similar problems existed within the boundaries of the early Church for long periods of time. Even the EOC has had times when prelates and priests of dubious faith have been tolerated in large numbers. Think of the Russian Orthodox Church under Communism and the clergy who worked for the KGB or "theologised" for the benefit of an atheist state's political agenda."

You can be a KGB agent and orthodox at the same time. Point to where you can find a Catholic or Orthodox bishop teaching heresy, however, and we might have a case to discuss.

"As for the question of EO recognition of Anglican Orders, Michael, you ignore the fact that Constantinople was joined by Alexandria and Jerusalem, and a number of other jurisdictions. A majority of the Pentarchy is nothing to sneeze at within Orthodoxy! And not all EO subscribe to the view that all recognitions of Orders outside the EOC actually mean no recognition of grace or present validity but instead of a "potential" validity in the case of reunion. Indeed, it has been subject to searching criticism by EO theologians past and present."

The fact of the matter is that no Orthodox jurisdiction integrates any Anglican clergy without absolute reordination -- not even those that subscribed provisionally to a favourable view of the validity of Anglican Orders. Othodox practice in the matter is even stricter than that of Rome which at least allows for the possibility of conditional ordination, if the Dutch Touch can be proven. The Church of Greece even rebaptizes Anglican converts. Now, I will grant that the Edwardian ordinal does not explicitly figure in the rejection of Anglican Orders by the Russian Church, for example. Perhaps you are correct in assuming that the Continuing Churches have freed themselves of enough of their Reformation heritage for Orthodoxy to have a new look at the Orders issue. This wouldn't be enough for Rome, however, and Orthodox recognition of Anglican Orders would risk turning into a further obstacle to East-West reunion. Fr. Hart can continue claiming that the Catholic objections to the Edwardian ordinal have been conclusively addressed till he is blue in the face, but there isn't a single Catholic canonist (all far more learned in the matter than he is) who agrees with him. The Catholic view is that the 1922 Constantinople provisional ruling was based on an incomplete evidentiary base. No effort was made by the Phanar at the time to consult the Vatican archives on the matter or to hear the case against Anglican Orders. As the ruling was also explicitly offered as provisional and has never been acted upon, Rome has chosen not to make an issue of it, and ignores it -- just like the Russian Church does.

"And we did not face this problem in a definitive fashion until the WO crisis, at which point we Continuers refused to keep faith with heresy, i.e., remain in churches now committed corporately to false faith and order, and we obeyed the ancient Canon Law which said to renounce the fellowship of officially heterodox bishops and place ourselves under orthodox ones willing to receive us. That is why we are Continuing Anglicans.

"Before that we had to coexist with materially heterodox people in Anglicanism, and this was indeed problematic. But it was not the same as "keeping faith with" them in their errors. Many even of them were probably not formally heretical, but merely misinformed."

That might wash for laymen, but a bishop cannot be so misinformed. It is his mission to preach the truth, and to protect his flock from error by inter alia breaking communion with heretical brother bishops. I am by no means an expert on the theological predilections of all Continuing bishops, but Fr. Hart has certainly defended what strikes me as eucharistic heresy (though I must state up front that I don't have enough to come to a conclusive judgement on the matter; I may have misunderstood him or he may have misunderstood his sources). I have also had a tussle with at least one TAC member who, to my amazement, denied the infallibility of the Church. It may be that all TAC bishops are, in fact, fully orthodox, however. Certainly they appear to want to be so considered by Rome. We shall see.

At any rate, let me conclude by expressing my appreciation for the way in which you have engaged me on my concerns. You have done so fairly, attentively, with integrity, courtesy and without heat or histrionic bluster. In this day of vitriolic Internet polemics, this should not pass without both thanks and recognition.

Michaël de Verteuil

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Michaël de Verteuil:

Orthodoxy doesn't need to pronounce on the precise status of Anglican Churches to question, in binding fashion as it does now, the validity of Anglican sacraments.

Let me use this one phrase to answer several similar points: The Orthodox are strictly forbidden to receive any sacraments from the Roman Catholics, which is why Vladimir Soloviev had to repent of the "sin"of taking communion from a RC priest. That absolute ban has never been lifted. So, here again you imagine some agreement between Rome and Orthodoxy about us, when all there is is the old "East-West" schism. That is not our fault, and we look at the Two One True Churches argument with scorn and derision, not with respect.

...but my feeling is that we are not there yet as the Continuing Churches would have to disown more than just WO.

It would help if you did your homework. Obviously, we have disowned a whole host of things.

It certainly didn't substantiate schism in and of itself. Elizabeth wasn't the first monarch excommunicated by Rome...

It most certainly forced schism. She was not simply excommunicated: The pope wanted to please his Spanish master, and so he called for the English "faithful" to remove her (i.e., have a dynastic civil war, and execute her).

...but in what individual Anglican bishops in good standing were actually allowed to teach.

As if Rome has not looked the other way at heretical and even immoral bishops, including during the time of John Paul II. What period are you talking about? What false teaching do you mean to suggest?

...they stayed in willing communion with bishops who, from the Roman perspective, transparently taught heresy.

I doubt very much that you can draw accurate lines between heresy as defined after Trent, heresy through a modern lens, or acceptable ideas that had been debated before, during and after the Reformation. Obviously, the Continuing Anglicans do not tolerate heresy at all, though we don't go by "a Roman perspective," but rather a Biblical and Patristic one.

...but bland assertions by you and Fr. Hart that ravings by some heretical bishop you still share the communion cup with need not be taken too seriously because you don't particularly share his beliefs doesn't create much of a doctrinal comfort zone for Catholics.

Exactly what "Heretical bishop" do you mean? Please name one, just one, that any ACC priest (since you mention Fr. Kirby and me by name) has communion with. Otherwise, cut the crap. You should know perfectly well that this is a bogus point to raise, so why even bring it up?

It was only a few weeks ago that Fr. Hart was defending Cranmer's eucharistic theology...

If you mean the 1549 Book of Common Prayer, then it was simply Catholic Eucharistic Theology that was under discussion, and the Anglican emphasis on reception, and the teaching that this sacrament is one of two that are "generally necessary to salvation." Otherwise, Cranmer's personal views are enigmatic. He was all over the field, trying, it seems, to make sense of the various opinions and writings of ancient and contemporary writers. These days it is chique' to say his Eucharistic Theology was Calvinist, or even Zwinglian if one wants to be super-chique'. Frankly, I think he weighed various writings of his contemporaries and was trying to figure out everything right up until he died.

I think you might be confusing the cross with the crucifix.

Would that justify Latria? Be careful before answering to make sure you do not commit heresy, at least as the Fathers of the Church defined heresy and idolatry, and how they saw it very differently from what Rome was teaching in the later centuries before the 16th century.

You can be a KGB agent and orthodox at the same time.

What? Are there no moral implications in your view of orthodoxy?

The fact of the matter is that no Orthodox jurisdiction integrates any Anglican clergy without absolute reordination...

The fact is, the Orthodox Church absolutely and without exception forbids their faithful to receive the sacraments of Roman Catholic priests, which merits a great big "so what?" in reply to your point.

Perhaps you are correct in assuming that the Continuing Churches have freed themselves of enough of their Reformation heritage for Orthodoxy to have a new look at the Orders issue.

I sure as hell hope NOT.

Nonetheless, your blanket use of such a phrase as "Reformation heritage" is probably very misleading anyway. The typical modern looks at the whole thing through a lens that blocks out the realities of that age, and draws strict lines between "Catholic" and "Protestant." I have tried many times to reintroduce to my own contemporaries the fact that Anglicanism, more faithful to Antiquity than any other body, has always defied that neat, but false, dichotomy.

The Church of Greece even rebaptizes Anglican converts.

The Church of Greece officially forbids that practice (and always has), and applies excommunication as the penalty. Nonetheless, the abuse goes on anyway. The same is done, as if you didn't know, with converts from Roman Catholicism, and in fact, every western church body.

Fr. Hart can continue claiming that the Catholic objections to the Edwardian ordinal have been conclusively addressed...

Actually, the Roman objections have been so thoroughly shot down that I simply don't take them seriously. No one should.

...but there isn't a single Catholic canonist (all far more learned in the matter than he is) who agrees with him.

Far more learned my left-hind leg. If those who hold to that view are "more learned" they hide it very well. And, by the way, you are wrong. The 1896 Bull is an embarrassment to the well-learned ones, as some of them have written quite clearly,and as others have said in private conversation. The issue is no longer the Edwardian Ordinal, but only and always WO-that is, when you find out why the damn Bull was not rescinded, as planned, in 1976. (The fact that I have information, and from the best sources, that you do not have, must be because I am so poorly learned).

No effort was made by the Phanar at the time to consult the Vatican archives on the matter or to hear the case against Anglican Orders.

They knew the case, inasmuch as the idiotic Bull was published for all to see. Exactly what was in the archives that was not in the Bull? It must not have been important, since it was not included, and also since the Bull is riddled with factual errors anyway. Don't you know that Roman scholars began dismantling the arguments within only a few years? In short, AC is a conclusion with no supporting arguments left. At this time it rests on nothing but a fiat.

The Catholic view is that the 1922 Constantinople provisional ruling was based on an incomplete evidentiary base.

Right. It lacked all the non-sense that Rome wrongly concluded, inaccurately stated, and it included all the facts that Rome did not choose to know.

As the ruling was also explicitly offered as provisional and has never been acted upon...

In the cases, as I have mentioned hundreds of times, where the Orthodox needed local assistance, it most certainly was acted on. We know the history in living memory as recited by witnesses over and over again. You seem to think that if you don't like a fact, you can simply wish it away.

Rome has chosen not to make an issue of it, and ignores it -- just like the Russian Church does.

Rome was about to rescind the 1896 Bull (Pope Paul VI had it all drawn up, ready for signature). Then came WO. By the time the Russian Orthodox had thrown off the Communist shackles (admitted to by the Patriarch himself-maybe you are the only person in the world not to know this) the whole thing had become moot. For the same reason, we also are not in Communion with the Episcopal Church or with Canterbury-which makes this whole discussion ironic.

It is his mission to preach the truth, and to protect his flock from error by inter alia breaking communion with heretical brother bishops.

Do you even have any idea at all what Continuing Anglicanism is? Have you even so much as th slightest notion of our history? Of the Affirmation of St. Louis? Of the sacrifices made by priests who left behind their security and, in some cases, their pensions? Please, point to one, just one, heretical bishop with whom we are supposedly in communion. Point to even one, and I will eat my hat in front of witnesses of your own choosing, at at time and place to be named by you.

I am by no means an expert on the theological predilections of all Continuing bishops, but Fr. Hart has certainly defended what strikes me as eucharistic heresy...

What are you talking about? Do you even know? If I have defended "eucharistic heresy" then so has Pope Benedict XVI. Regular readers know why.

I have also had a tussle with at least one TAC member who, to my amazement, denied the infallibility of the Church.

That hardly matters. Ever heard of Hans Kung? Or of Bishop Weakland (one of your heretical bishops by the way)?

In this day of vitriolic Internet polemics, this should not pass without both thanks and recognition.

Speaking for myself, making room for Fr. Kirby, you have brought out my polemical side, as you can tell. This long comment of yours has been quite insulting.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

By the way, when I say "that hardly matters," I mean that one person's daft opinion is nothing more than just that.

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

Michael,

You said "Fr. Hart can continue claiming that the Catholic objections to the Edwardian ordinal have been conclusively addressed till he is blue in the face, but there isn't a single Catholic canonist (all far more learned in the matter than he is) who agrees with him." But the question is primarily one for theologians, not canon lawyers. If you believe there are no respected RC theologians with a low view of Apostolicae Curae (or at least an opinion that it was non-infallible and quite possibly actually flawed), you are seriously misinformed.

"You can, of course, find heresy in any communion, if you look hard enough. Where Catholicism and Orthodoxy draw the line, however, is with the episcopate. You won't find Catholic or Orthodox bishops spouting heresy with impunity. ... You can be a KGB agent and orthodox at the same time. Point to where you can find a Catholic or Orthodox bishop teaching heresy, however, and we might have a case to discuss."

I'm sorry Michael, but there have been bishops who have taught serious error or been notoriously unbelieving and not been deposed, excommunicated or silenced in both the RCC and EOC. KGB agents informing on their flock and fellow clergy may be presumed not to have been Christian believers but planted fifth columnists in many cases. Yet this kind of thing was still known and not dealt with by the EO. At one time, astonishingly, much of the French episcopate were infidel rationalists. Before this erroneous RC views on the legitimacy of torture to obtain confessions of heresy were not only widely held and taught by theologians but by Popes and bishops. In modern times RC bishops have opined that the traditional stance on WO and other issues was wrong or inevitably to be "reformed" but not been censured.

"I think you might be confusing the cross with the crucifix. This is, in any case, a terminological issue, not one of doctrine. It is only with Augustine that the term latria came to be reserved in a technical sense to worship due to God. I believe you will find earlier Latin fathers like Ambrose and Jerome also using it in reference to the veneration due to angels and saints. No one retroactively accused them of idolatry for it. It's a matter of context." No, no, no. You have the wrong period of history. Long after the careful nomenclatural distinctions of the St John of Damascus and the Seventh Council latria in its full meaning was said to be legitimately given to Crosses, fragments of the "True Cross" and Crucifixes, as well as to other images of Jesus. Read your Aquinas! And his teaching on this was standard, not exceptional. (And I say that as one with great respect for the Angelic Doctor, despite this error.)

"in none of the previous cases did such a monarchical excommunication ipso facto establish a schism that extended to all that monarch's subjects. You have to trace the formal schism to the wholesale supplanting of the English episcopate." No, the public, definitive and binding command to those faithful to the Pope not to communicate at C of E altars was in 1570, not at the time the bishops' bench was changed (again -- as Queen Mary had already done that once before in Rome's interest). That is why so many of Roman obedience had continued to take communion until 1570, despite opinions having been expressed already averse to taking Anglican sacraments. The excommunication put under curse those associated with Elizabeth's religious policy.

Michael, you have defended ecclesiological exclusivism as being essential to the RC and EO position in the following excerpts: "do all Continuing bishops teach the imperative necessity of visible unity, or are some content with the comfort of 'invisible' or 'unreciprocated' spiritual unity the Branch Theory argues exists?
...
"If the Continuing Churches were one in faith with Rome and had incontestable apostolic succession, that would still not make them "visibly" part of the Church (as far as Rome is concerned) until the disciplinary obstacles to communion had been overcome
...
"Excommunications are not doctrinal statements. They are neither fallible or infallible, but are merely disciplinary acts aimed at maintaining the good order of the Church. They are not "objective" determinations that can be either correct or incorrect.

"You seem to be arguing that because you think the breach in communion is/was unjustified, it never really happened or had no real effect."

It is here that our key disagreement lies. I am not arguing that the lack of communion at present between Anglican Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholics does not affect visibility of unity. Of course it does. But I am arguing that a visible disunity can hide an objective unity in Faith and Order, a unity which includes the presently "divided" churches in the One Church. Your argument that even if an excommunication was unjustified the excommunicated group would still be really excluded from the One True Church is patently unreasonable, as it means a particular church can be genuinely excluded from the Catholic Church without having actually committed either a properly schismatic or heretical act.

Many excommunications, by the way, do implicitly make doctrinal and factual claims as well as perform disciplinary actions because they ascribe certain errors to an individual or group and use this as the basis for a ruling. To say they can be be neither correct or incorrect is to treat them in nominalist fashion: as if to say "you are excommunicated because we said so, our justifications being in the end irrelevant since the final anathema makes the fact in and of itself". This is not the traditional argument of either the RCC or the EOC. Instead, they have often appealed to the DOMU to assert that visible outward disunity proves that only one of the divided bodies is the Church and the others are really outside it (not just nominally or definitionally, or merely in a legal or canonical sense). However, at the same time, their actions and statements have not always been in accordance with the DOMU. It is not arrogant to point out such inconsistencies, nor is it arrogant to put forward opinions that are opposed to the majority opinion in another church while claiming such an opinion is still "within the pale" of that church's theological boundaries as long as evidence of the opinion can be found within that church among members of good standing. Propositions manifestly inconsistent with the DOMU can in fact be so found within both the RCC and EOC among theologians not censured. Therefore the accusation of arrogance is unfounded.

"Do all Continuing bishops teach the absolute indissolubility of sacramental marriages as a strict issue of doctrine, or are some willing to go along with the sanctification of serial monogamy that predates WO by several decades?" The ACC's teaching is identical to the RCC's teaching in this matter, which is why we have annulment procedures. Both the Affirmation and our Canon Law explicitly teach the indissolubility of the sacramental marriage bond.

John A. Hollister said...

From Fr. Kirby's excellent comment, I extract just one sentence with which to cavail: "The ACC's teaching is identical to the RCC's teaching in this matter [the indissolubility of marriage], which is why we have annulment procedures."

I very much object to the common, but erroneous, use of the term "annulment" and, on every possible occasion, urge our clergy and laity to use the more cumbersome but far more accurate "declaration of nullity".

Calling the Church's decision in a marriage case an "annulment" suggests, quite falsely, that the Church can undo something that previously was valid. While the RCC has, in some cases purported to do precisely this, such by creating as a requirement for a sacramentally valid marriage the witness of a priest, the Anglican Churches have never presumed to do any such thing.

What the Church does is to investigate a prior relationship to see whether, despite its being a valid natural and civil marriage, it also rose to the more stringent status of a sacramental one. The Church does this in its capacity as judge of the Sacraments, a capacity conferred on it by Our Lord.

If the Church finds that the prior union was not sacramental, it pronounces that. If the Church finds that the prior union was sacramental, then it declares that. In no case does the (Western) Church find that the prior relationship was, indeed, sacramental and then disregard that finding so as to give the petitioner a "pass" to permit him or her to remarry anyway.

John A. Hollister+

The veriword is "mandown", which takes me right back to my mispent youth as a police patrolman....