Saturday, November 14, 2009

When bishops roar

The Rev. Canon Charles H. Nalls, SSM

“I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”

- Susan from C.S. LewisThe Lion Witch and the Wardrobe.

Several weeks ago, I began a series of essays with text liberally “borrowed” from The Works of the Rt. Rev. Charles C. Grafton,1 the Anglo-Catholic bishop of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, at the turn of the last century. The occasion for the essays was the then-forthcoming, now-issued Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus which, as we all know, is directed to “reconciling” Anglicans, Anglo-Catholics in particular, to the Roman catholic Church, The Encyclical has evoked a maelstrom of comment from Roman Catholic triumphalists and self-identified Anglican enthusiasts effusing over the “generosity” of the offer, raging denouncements from folks I like to call “Angricans”, curious expressions from folks involved in the transaction claiming, inter alia, that there are additional “terms” to be negotiated that will mitigate all concerns, and all manners of inquiries from people who take the Encyclical at face value. These essays have been an attempt to juxtapose the writings of a saintly bishop against the storm of comment and the exact words of what I will call in shorthand “the deal.”


It has all proven to be an occasion for surprise and no small amount of reflection. I find myself almost dumbfounded by the level of vehemence in the correspondence I have received from those who would uncritically toss away their faith of years in favor of the deal whatever the end result might be. Indeed, Roman Catholic colleagues have, for the most part, proven far more charitable toward the issues raised and more objective in their assessment of the Encyclical.

No matter. We owe ourselves, our faith and the generations to come after us a critical review of the issues posed by “the deal”. The questions involved are precisely those which have been presented in the past, and we do well to rely upon the considered thought and work of Anglican bishops and theologians who have treated with these matters. We do even better to heed the concerns of these men when they have been provoked to raise their voices to a roar.


For, bishops and theologians occasionally do roar. They do so to protect their flocks against sin, or evil, or impending disaster. Such behavior is not popular now in the land of “nice”, where all must be correct, happy and deserving of respect. It is not appropriate to raise one’s voice at a time when bumper sticker mentality exhorts us to “Choose Civility.” (Of course, one must not be at cross-purposes with the “civility set” or risk losing life and limb for starters.)


The truly good bishops of the church, from time to time, have had to lay aside parlor manners and palliative statements throughout the life of the Christ’s Church. St. Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria for almost 47 years, was driven into exile not once, but five times, by four different Roman emperors. In his First Letter to Serapion, the saint set forth orthodox teaching in plain, unvarnished language: “It will not be out of place to consider the ancient tradition, teaching and faith of the Catholic Church, which was revealed by the Lord, proclaimed by the Apostles and guarded by the Fathers. For upon this faith the Church is built, and if anyone were to lapse from it, he would no longer be a Christian, either in fact or in name . . .” That is not only not nice, but downright “exclusivist”, to borrow from the spiritually-correct crowd.

Similarly, in his work Against All Heresies, St. Irenaeus of Lyons had less than genteel words when he called the faithful “to avoid their doctrines, and to take careful heed lest we suffer any injury from them…” Or, in addressing false teachers, the saint bluntly called them, “heretics of perverse minds, or as schismatics puffed up and self-pleasing, or again as hypocrites, acting thus for the sake of lucre and vainglory.”

St. Nicholas took a more direct approach, It is disputed whether he slapped him on the mouth, fed him a knuckle-sandwich, or boxed him on the ear, but one thing seems clear: Saint Nicholas most likely hit the heretic, Arius of Alexandria, during the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. Arius attacked the ancient and Apostolic tradition that the Logos (translated "Word" in John 1:1) was eternal and naturally equal with the Father who eternally begot him; that the Word was one in being with the Father. Essentially, this was a denial of the very divinity of Christ. Saint Nicholas, the model for “Jolly Old St. Nick”, full of righteous indignation over false teaching and having spent years in a dungeon during the Diocletian persecution for his faith in Christ, was not about to tolerate blasphemy from an arrogant presbyter. He was not about to stand idly by while Arius denied the full divinity of Christ and forced his false interpretation of Scripture upon a Church newly freed from persecution. So it was that Saint Nicholas’ zeal for Christ was felt by directly by Arius, probably accompanied by a roar.

The history of the Church is filled with such stories of the “episcopate rampant” and roaring like lions of Christ, and occasionally pouncing where necessary. It is a reason why we stand today as orthodox Anglican Christians, and why those parts of the Church where the Godly roar is no longer even an echo have lapsed into error or worse. So, we do well to pay heed when our bishops roar out to warn us of impending danger, even when that roar is across the years.

So we come to a point on which Grafton, in leonine persona, roared forth in plainly and clearly. Article 5 §1 of the the Apostolic Constitution provides: “The lay faithful originally of the Anglican tradition who wish to belong to the Ordinariate, after having made their Profession of Faith and received the Sacraments of Initiation …are to be entered in the apposite register of the Ordinariate.” Any way those who would spin the language of the Encyclical care to gloss plain words, “former Anglicans” will have to receive the Sacrament of Initiation, make profession and receive “First Communion”. That is as straightforward as it gets, and, to be sure, it has been the consistent position of the Roman Catholic Church.

Bp. Grafton, in his “Letter to the Oneidas” was similarly straightforward on these points in the following section which I have simply quoted with some emphasis:

My dear Sons and Daughters in Christ, it is a very great sin for any Churchmen to leave their own Church, where they have the true Faith and Sacraments, and join the Roman Church. Let me tell you why.

If one joins the Roman Church he has to be confirmed again. He has to receive the Communion as if it were his first Communion. Now see what that means. When you were confirmed by the Bishop, you received the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

You cannot be confirmed again, any more than you can be baptized again. To be confirmed again is to deny that you have already been confirmed. It is to be a traitor to the Holy Spirit. It is to turn on the Holy Spirit and to deny Him. It is to say to Him, I have never received You in Confirmation. This is to sin against the Holy Ghost, and if we sin against the Holy Ghost, Christ warned us that such a sin, persisted in, could not be forgiven in this world nor in the next. This should make us careful not to commit such.

So, too, about the Blessed Sacrament. Christ the dear Lord has fed you with His own Body and Blood. To go over to Rome, and to receive your first Communion, is to say, in act, to our Lord, “I have never sacramentally received You.” It is like Peter's denial of our Lord. How it must pain His sacred heart! What a stab it gives Him! Those who go over to Rome thus run great risks of their final salvation. Be true to your Church, and you are safe. In it you have found Christ and been united to Him. Abiding in Him you are safe. Love your Church. Love each other. Stand together. Try and bring back the wanderers, and God will protect and bless you and yours.

To paraphrase Winston Churchill, blessed Bp. Charles Grafton was not the lion, but it fell to him to give the lion’s roar. These are the warning words of a godly bishop striking at very real questions that must be answered. Let us consider them charitably, seriously and make prayerful answer.


1. Based upon The Works of the Rt. Rev. Charles C. Grafton (Volume VII), edited by B. Talbot Rogers, New York: Longmans, Green, 1914, pp. 344-345. This is the third reflection based on Blessed Charles Grafton’s works. These essays are dedicated to the Reverend Canon David F.T. Rodier, SSM. Si Deus pro nobis quis contra nos?

44 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks to Fr Nall for bringing to us the intellectual clarity of a great bishop, who explained plainly what is involved in denying the efficacy of the sacraments we have received. The blessed Bishoop Grafton did not shrink from using the word sin.

I would simply ask, if it is a sin to ordained again, confirmed again, or even baptized again in the Roman Church, is it any less a sin to receive those sacraments again in some other Church? With the Romans, only conditional Baptism is required, and that is less true than was formerly the case. But we all know of Churches where the Baptism is absolute.
LKW

Anonymous said...

Fr. Nalls,

I'd like to know what the difference is in applying Blessed Bishop Grafton's logic by way of the ACC's novel idea of reconfirming Anglicans if they were confirmed using the 79'. I have heard some of the argument regarding 'intent' but find it mechanical and unconvincing.

What if someone was baptized using the form from the 79' which, if I am not mistaken, borrows heavily from Vatican II sources by way of Massey Shepperd. What if one was baptized using that 79' form by a priest who is now a member of the ACC?

Skeptical

leoxiii said...

Bp. Grafton had many kind words for the Orthodox: he was impressed with their fidelity to the early Councils and Fathers, and no doubt equally pleased with their inveterate hatred of Rome. "The enemy of my enemy is my friend," and all that.

Of course, the Anglo-Orthodox dialog back then was much more eirenic that it is now, or ineed has been for many years. In Grafton's day, it was possible to entertain the notion that one day the Protestant Episcopal Church -- or American Catholic Church, as I believe he called it -- could be reunited with Orthodoxy, and all Anglican sacraments could be (as it were) recognized retro-actively through oeconomia. No rebaptisms, rechrismations, first Eucharists or reordinations necessary. In other words: No Sacraments of Initiation.

But now? When any non-Orthodox Christian, converts to Orthodoxy -- yes, the Orthodox use that term -- nine times out of ten he is rebaptized and rechrismated (depending upon the Church -- I hear the Antiochians are the most "liberal" in this regard); and priests, having undergone a period of instruction, are reordained. Bishops certainly are not received in their orders; and if they are married, they won't become Orthodox Bishops someday, either. And someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but the Western Rite Vicariate has always been presided over by a Bishop who was never himself an Anglican cleric.

Much of this criticism of the Apostolic Constitution, then, seems to suggest a glaring double standard. I own this is especially so, Dr. Nalls, when we invoke Grafton's memory; for if the good bishop were alive today, no doubt he would still despise Rome -- but wouldn't he be just as critical of the Orthodox for their own negative assessment of the operation of grace outside of Orthodoxy? Why then don't we see more criticism of the Orthodox from the Continuum?

Joe Oliveri

Canon Tallis said...

Well done, Canon N. As a fan of Grafton's as well as the ante-Nicene fathers, we are all too often persuaded that something much less than they turn out to be when you read their own words and examine their acts. They certainly did not mince words and you seem brave enough to follow their example.

Fr. Nalls said...

Folks, I appreciate the comments, but I want to be clear. I am writing these essays via the prism of a bishop departed I have come to love and esteem through his writings. He has proven prescient.
That you are asking and debating these questions is what I had hoped and prayed for. Having thrown the initial bombs, I will leave the debate to you all and concentrate on the essays themselves. I will offer a couple of observations, though.
With respect to the Orthodox, I will note that in my own small experience, their dialogue has begun at the point at which the Apostolic Constitution has stopped. (This allows, of course, that claims of some that there will be special conditions, secret deals, waivers and definitions to permit all manner of things contrary to plain language of the Apostolic Constitution are true.)
Mr. Oliveri is correct that some Orthodox bodies have taken a hard stance. It is understandable given the collapse of "mainstream" Anglicanism and the brokenness of the continuing variety. However, I do note that some in the Orthodox side of the house are working through their own issues with generosity.
Time will tell whether we are able to recapture that golden moment years ago when we could posit intercommunion--a moment when Anglo-Catholics, the Orthodox and Old Catholics seemed to be on the same page. Let us pray that this will be the case again as Christendom confronts the secular crisis of the West.
In the meantime, the message of Bp. Grafton is to be assured of the veracity of our Sacraments, and to love and support our Church, evangelizing fearlessly and in confidence, whilst the Holy Spirit moves in Christ's Church to sort out the problems that so vex us. We honor Christ when we cooperate with this great work in charity and, especially, in truth even when it may be painful to face.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Skeptical wrote:

I'd like to know what the difference is in applying Blessed Bishop Grafton's logic by way of the ACC's novel idea of reconfirming Anglicans if they were confirmed using the 79'.

The answer is easy. There are two problems: 1) Bishops consecrated in a church body that has denied true Apostolic Intention regarding Holy Orders by "ordaining" women, and 2) the '79 Confirmation Rite itself. That Rite was deliberately meant to "change the theology of the Church" according to one of its designers (boasting to my brother at Trinity seminary circa 1984). it is not the traditional Anglican Rite, but some new thing altogether that has no Form declaring Sacramental intention. The 1979 Confirmation Rite is not valid, lacking necessary Form to state Intention. We cannot recognize it.

And, why should we? That new book has no authority, and was introduced two years after we had formed.

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

Joe,

You ask some reasonable questions. Let me address them a carefully as I can. However, before I do, allow me to question two of your assumptions.

First, is your implicit claim that Bp Grafton hated the Roman Church, or loved the Orthodox because he believed they did, based on any evidence, apart from his opposition to Anglicans leaving what he saw as their proper jurisdiction and in the process denying their former receptions of grace? Can you not see that this opposition to what he saw as blasphemous was a reaction not necessarily to the Roman Church as such, but to "conversion" to it involving renunciation of the former Church?

Second, you also assume that Bp Grafton and Anglicans hoped for Orthodox recognition of their sacraments through a retroactive application of economy. However, since they already believed their sacraments were valid, what they in fact hoped for was mutual recognition of orthodoxy, ecclesial reality as sister churches, and therefore sacramental validity. Given that Bp Grafton's closest relations were with the Russians, your picture of what was being worked towards seems inaccurate. Surely you were aware that the Russians often had a quite different approach to sacraments outside the Eastern Orthodox Church than the "Nikodemite" doctrine of economy popular with the Greeks? That is, they did not necessarily think that all sacraments outside their Church were intrinsically null and void and would only become effective (whether then or retrospectively) upon “recognition by economy”. That is probably why Bp Grafton was once invited to co-consecrate an Orthodox bishop with Bp Tikhon, though illness prevented him from attending.

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

Now to the purported double standard. What are the differences between the approach of the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church to us?

Well, the first thing to note is that while the Roman Church has a quasi-dogmatic position denying outright our sacraments and related identity as a particular Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church has no such position. Instead, many have recognised our orders in theory as equivalent to those of the Roman Catholic Church in official statements, and some have recognised them in practice by allowing their people to resort to our altars in certain circumstances. It is also true that they re-ordain Anglican clergy coming to them. However, hardly any Anglican clergy did this before the Anglican defection over the ordination of women, so most of the cases since then prove little for our purposes, since they are tainted by the confusion introduced by this novum and its effect on Anglican-Orthodox relations. Anglican Catholics also re-ordain conditionally those ordained within the Anglican Churches since their defections.

The second thing to note is that the distinction between absolute and conditional sacramental acts does not seem to be used in the Eastern Orthodox Church much or at all. So, to call such ordinations “absolute” as some do is to claim too much, because the conditioning clauses seen as absent are not to be expected. Basically, it seems that in the East, if in doubt, simply repeat the sacrament or, if the Church prefers (on one theory), recognise its outward reality only “by economy” and thus provide the inward grace repetition would have supplied otherwise. The fact of re-ordination in this context, without any “conditional” nature being explicated, does not prove certainty is being asserted officially regarding the invalidity of the previous sacrament. There simply is no Eastern Orthodox consensus on this yet, so their actions are a rather inconsistent attempt to take the safer course, but without the subtle sub conditione safeguards the West is used to.

A third difference is that none of the Orthodox receptions of Anglicans referred to by you have involved an approach of one Church to another which was explicitly premised on a corporate request for reunion without absorption, a request made in response to a previous invitation of just that nature. That is to say, while both the Roman and Orthodox Churches have talked of reunion without absorption to Anglicans, the Orthodox have not followed this up with an offer that does not live up to this talk, whereas the Roman Catholic Church has.

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

So, there is an answer to your questions, “wouldn't [Bp Grafton] be just as critical of the Orthodox for their own negative assessment of the operation of grace outside of Orthodoxy? Why then don't we see more criticism of the Orthodox from the Continuum?” They are as follows: Yes, he probably would be critical of this position, but he would recognise, as you have not in the phrasing of this question, that this is not the “Orthodox assessment” simpliciter, but one influential position which is being progressively eroded by better theological work, as seen in the 1976 and 1999 statements on sacramental economy by The North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation . As for us, you will find Fr Hart has often criticised a certain anti-ecumenical strain of Eastern Orthodoxy which distorts the Patristic and Eastern witness of the centuries in order to maximise differences with the West, as well as that modern strain that soft pedal on “sanctity of life issues”. However, neither of these groups determine or define the overall official Orthodox position, which is still in the early stages of development anyway regarding Continuing Anglicans.

As a postscript, I should also note that I am not certain of all of Bp Grafton's inferences, as I do not think he sufficiently distinguishes between the objective nature of these repetitions of sacraments (wrong and thus blasphemous), the subjective nature of the acts of the ministers (possibly not sinful due to not believing the validity of the previous sacraments) and the subjective nature of the acts of the recipients. The last acts are possibly not sinful due to an acceptance by the recipients that the minister acts in ignorance, as just said, so is not guilty of sin, combined with a belief that this makes the reception not sinful, even if unnecessary, since it is done to allay the sincere doubts or disbeliefs of others, not as a renunciation by the recipient before God of previous graces. I such a mental reservation sufficient? I don't think the answer to that is obvious. Is reception of a sacrament which you are certain is not necessary, but which you know the minister and church behind him sincerely believes, through innocent error, to be necessary, a sin? And if it is a sin, is it a sin due to objective sacrilege, even if you explicitly deny the objective necessity, or due to the sin of scandal, because you have perhaps communicated by your actions a belief in the non-efficacy of the previous sacraments? I do not know for certain, but I would counsel people considering such actions not to risk sacrilege or scandal, and to search their conscience in prayer in order to avoid this.

Mark VA said...

From the Roman perspective:

Regarding this matter, Archbishop Haverland wrote this:

"We have nothing to say against the pleasure such former Anglicans will feel in evidence of a benevolent interest from the Vatican. And we are certain that Pope Benedict by this Constitution intends to be generous, kind, and welcoming and even, in a sense, subjectively intends to be respectful towards and appreciative of some aspects of our Anglican heritage.",

whereas Bishop Grafton wrote this:

"My dear Sons and Daughters in Christ, it is a very great sin for any Churchman to leave their own Church, where they have the true Faith and Sacraments, and join the Roman Church".

Which of these statements is then intended for the departing Anglicans? A benevolent farewell, or a lightning bolt from on high?

Anonymous said...

Fr. Hart wrote: And, why should we? That new book has no authority, and was introduced two years after we had formed.

So, it's prefectly okay for the ACC to declare another church's rites invalid. However, it's not okay for the RCC to declare another church's rites invalid.

Truth be told, the re-confirmation of people by bishops of the ACC, as well as the stunning lack of charity among members in a local ACC parish, are among the reasons I left the CC movement.

Anonymous said...

Did Bishop Grafton really write:

"it is a very great sin for any Churchman to leave their own Church.."

Surely he knew to make singular pronouns agree. Or is this a p.c. redaction?

LKW

Fr. Robert Hart said...

So, it's prefectly okay for the ACC to declare another church's rites invalid. However, it's not okay for the RCC to declare another church's rites invalid.

It is right for the ACC and also for the RCC to declare invalid rites invalid. The problem with Apostolicae Curae is that it declares valid rites to be invalid. Concerning orders tainted by WO and other invalid sacramental rites, we are in agreement with much that the RCC says

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I find Bp. Grafton's view, that such repetition of sacramental rites is a sin against the Holy Ghost, to be far too severe. Those who act honestly and in good faith, and who are therefore by conscience bound to repeat these rites, must do so, or live with a bad conscience. That is never pleasing to God. Better to make a technical mistake then to live with a conscience that hardens against what one believes to be God's will. I would say the same thing about someone leaving Anglicanism to become a Baptist, and who takes the plunge because he believes he should.

"the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart." I Sam. 16:7

But, I agree with Fr. Nalls that posting these words is worthwhile, if only to discuss these matters.

Anonymous said...

"I would say the same thing about someone leaving Anglicanism to become a Baptist, and who takes the plunge because he believes he should."

Submitting to Immersion to become a Baptist is hardly the equivalent of submitting to Baptism to become RC or EO.

Baptists do not believe the rite is a sacrament and do not regard it as unrepeatable. I have known Baptists who get themselves immersed every year or so. The rite does not have sacramental significance for them but is regarded merely as an ordinance which displays self-dedication. This is hardly praiseworthy, from our various perspectives, but is not analogous to the rebaptisms sometimes inflicted on converts to EO and RCC.

Thanks to Fr Kirby for pointing out that EO has no concept of "conditional" administration of sacraments, as does Rome. It is obvious which view is more charitable toward us. He has convinced me that Joe is quite right in his contention of a strange double standard in our assessments of EO and RC theology.
LKW

Joe Oliveri said...

Fr Kirby, I appreciate your thorough response to my comment above. I am particularly grateful for the clarification regarding the Russian Orthodox view of economy, which I did not realize is distinct from the Greek.

Regarding Bp. Grafton and Orthodoxy: My words above were unhappily chosen, as they could suggest Grafton meant to strengthen Anglican claims of sacramental validity by having them underwritten by an Orthodox Church. Naturally, Bp. Grafton entertained no doubts whatsoever about the validity of Anglican sacraments, including Holy Orders. My point, rather, concerned the "Sacraments of Initiation" sticking-point (for Anglicans) in Anglicanorum Coetibus. I just thought it was ironic that we are discussing Bp. Grafton, who had such a gentle view of the Orthodox Churches... even though those same Churches, today, require exactly what is being decried in the Apostolic Constitution: i.e., re-chrismation/confirmation, "first" Eucharist, and -- for clergy -- re-ordination. And most Orthodox Churches throw re-baptism in there, to boot. I am sure that some ecumenical progress is being made in these matters; but as it stands, the Orthodox approach to reconciled Anglicans would seem to differ only in degree, not substance, from Roman praxis.

(continued)

Joe Oliveri said...

Fr Kirby asks: [I]s your implicit claim that Bp Grafton hated the Roman Church, or loved the Orthodox because he believed they did, based on any evidence, apart from his opposition to Anglicans leaving what he saw as their proper jurisdiction and in the process denying their former receptions of grace? Can you not see that this opposition to what he saw as blasphemous was a reaction not necessarily to the Roman Church as such, but to "conversion" to it involving renunciation of the former Church?

Touching the question of conversion, yes, I can understand that Bp. Grafton's opposition would turn necessarily on the matter of the status of the Anglican/American Church and the sufficiency of grace to be found within her. Here I was speaking more generally, however. Bp. Grafton didn't like a lot of things about "Romanism," and he could probably have talked the prospective convert's ear off enumerating them.

You ask if my statement was based on any evidence -- a fair question, absolutely. I have before me a beautiful copy of Grafton's The Lineage of the American Catholic Church (1911), which I picked up in Juneau (of all places) on vacation a few years ago. I refer you to Chapter V, entitled "The Division, East and West." This chapter (pp. 120-147) is essentially a panegyric on the glories of Orthodoxy and its liturgy -- with which, we are reminded, the Prayer Book liturgy has much in common. There is a passing reference to the Roman Low Mass (the East having no equivilent); but no mention of Pontifical Masses with full ceremonial. In the following chapter, entitled "The Rise and Development of the Papacy," one can easily guess how that resume runs, what with subheadings like "Rome's Deceitfulness," "Mariolatry," and "Has God Blessed the Papacy?"

(continued) 

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I just thought it was ironic that we are discussing Bp. Grafton, who had such a gentle view of the Orthodox Churches... even though those same Churches, today, require exactly what is being decried in the Apostolic Constitution: i.e., re-chrismation/confirmation, "first" Eucharist, and -- for clergy -- re-ordination. And most Orthodox Churches throw re-baptism in there, to boot.

To be fair, most of the Orthodox churches that do this require the same initiation from former Roman Catholics-indeed they do.

I am sure that some ecumenical progress is being made in these matters; but as it stands, the Orthodox approach to reconciled Anglicans would seem to differ only in degree, not substance, from Roman praxis.

Two points need to made:

1) Much of the Anglican Communion is bad enough to justify these measures, and to a degree the ACC is sympathetic to the view of both Rome and Orthodoxy concerning those "new-fangled" Anglican churches.

2) The second point is the same point I made above: Such Orthodox churches require these same things from former Roman Catholics.

Joe Oliveri said...

Fr. Kirby writes: Many [Orthodox Churches] have recognised our orders in theory as equivalent to those of the Roman Catholic Church in official statements, and some have recognised them in practice by allowing their people to resort to our altars in certain circumstances.

I must confess that it is difficult to pin down a definitive Orthodox statement or position vis-a-vis Anglican sacraments. Balancing what you say above, for example, is this statement from the pan-Orthodox Conference in 1948: "The teaching of faith contained in the 'Thirty-nine Articles' of the Anglican Church definitely differs from the dogmas, faith, and tradition confessed by the Orthodox Church. . . Therefore, if the Orthodox Church cannot agree to recognise the rightness of the Anglican teaching on sacraments in general, and on the Sacrament of Holy Order in particular, neither can she recognise Anglican ordinations as valid" (quoted in Davies' The Order of Melchisedech, p. 41). See also this excerpt from Bp. Kallistos (Ware); search/scroll down to the phrase, "In retrospect".

Fr Kirby writes: [W]hile both the Roman and Orthodox Churches have talked of reunion without absorption to Anglicans, the Orthodox have not followed this up with an offer that does not live up to this talk, whereas the Roman Catholic Church has. To which I might reply: At least we're the ones making an effort! :)

Perhaps I should clarify here that I am strongly in favor of conditional (sub conditione) ordination of reconciled Anglican clergy, as this removes any risk of sacrilege. I have been writing about this subject for years now; and as a simple layman with no specialized theological training, I cannot for the life of me understand why the risk of sacrilege doesn't even seem to be on the radar for Rome when it comes to absolutely reordaining Anglican clergy in the present day. Annoyingly, this practice makes even less sense when you consider two exceptions -- exactly two -- were granted in the conditional ordinations of John Jay Hughes (in 1968) and Graham Leonard (in 1993), seemingly on the grounds of the Old Catholic lineage. As if, in all the Anglican world, only Hughes and Leonard enjoyed this felicitous advantage!

Joe Oliveri

John A. Hollister said...

Fr. Hart wrote, "That [1979 Confirmation] Rite was deliberately meant to 'change the theology of the Church' according to one of its designers (boasting to my brother at Trinity seminary circa 1984)."

I wonder if that was the same member of the Standing Liturgical Commission who later stated, in print, that of course the Commission lied when General Convention delegates asked if the proposed new texts effected any change in PECUSA's theology and the Commission members assured them that no such changes were being made.

Had the Commission told the General Convention the truth, then the Convention would not have voted to approved the revisions, he explained.

Apparently the changes were not just to PECUSA's sacramental theology but also to its moral theology, so that now its ends justify its means, whatever those means may be....

John A. Hollister+

John A. Hollister said...

Joe Olivieri, writing as "Leo XIII", said "When any non-Orthodox Christian, converts to Orthodoxy ... he is [usually] rebaptized and rechrismated ... and priests, having undergone a period of instruction, are reordained."

This, he said, makes it hypocritical for us to criticize the "Apostolic Constitution" on that same ground.

Well, for most of us it isn't hypocritical, it is merely being consistent, for the practices he cites are precisely why most of us will never convert to Eastern Orthodoxy any more than we will convert to Romanism.

John A. Hollister+

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Joe Oliveri has pointed to an Orthodox conference in 1948 and its apparent condemnation of the Thirty-Nine Articles. Frankly, the same Orthodox churches that allowed their people to receive Anglican sacraments continued to do so right up until 1976; so, this conference seems not to have been fully authoritative. Also, the Orthodox who recognized Anglican Orders officially, beginning in 1922, seem not to have read the Articles in the same way as people at that 1948 conference.

I doubt very seriously that the view expressed in 1948, and quoted here, was made by a party that had any real grasp of the meaning of the Articles. When I consider the ignorance that so many Anglicans have expressed about the 39 Articles, especially the ignorance of extremists on both sides of the High Church/Low Church divide (Anglo-Papalists and Reasserters), I see that continuing to recommend E.J. Bicknell's book, and continuing to write about Anglican formularies, is work that does not let up. I shudder to think just how poorly the 1948 Orthodox conference members understood Article XXV especially. I must assume that they did not have a clue.

Anonymous said...

When Canon Hollister wrote:

"... for the practices he cites are precisely why most of us will never convert to Eastern Orthodoxy any more than we will convert to Romanism,"

I heaved a great sigh of relief.

What is or are the agenda in this twofold preoccupation with the badness of the RCC and the goodness of EO?

I have already once suffered the trauma of abandonment by a bishop who decided that EO was preferable to Anglicanism and was willing to walk out on his diocese to pursue his dream.

Various commenters here have shown how chaotic and incoherent EO is.

Fr Hart writes:
"I doubt very seriously that the view expressed in 1948, and quoted here, was made by a party that had any real grasp of the meaning of the Articles."

Surely true, but utterly beside the point. When has ANY EO spokesman ever praised the Articles, commended the theology of Whitgift, Jewel and Hooker, or acknowledged the theology of the Homilies? We recently observed how ACNA smiled obsequiously when Metropolitan Jonah denounced classical Anglicanism under the code-word of Calvinism. Somebody needs to say "Enough, already," and tell EO to back off. We all need to resist the blandishments of EO as firmly as we stand up to Anglicanibus coetis.

Fr John does not shrink from applying the term "blasphemy" to the unfortunate Deerfield Beach ceremony. How does that deplorable event differ in principle from the rebaptisms and re-confirmations and even re-marriages which regularly take place EO? While EO "seems to say" this or that at one time or another, can anyone cite a single instance in which EO has acknowledged a specific ordination or confirmation as fully and truly valid?
Their occasional permissions for their people in isolated circumstances to receive Holy Communion at Anglican is not evience of anything. I encourage my people, when out of town or on military deployment, to attend any Christian worship they can find. This hardly means I have signed off on anyone's "validity."

Again, I ask in all candour, what is the underlying agenda in this romantic fixation on EO?
LKW

Albion Land said...

Fr Wells scrobe:

"Again, I ask in all candour, what is the underlying agenda in this romantic fixation on EO?"

It would seem to me that Fr wells has a less-than-romantic fixation with dissing Orthodoxy.

John A. Hollister said...

Fr. Wells asked, "What is or are the agenda in this twofold preoccupation with the badness of the RCC and the goodness of EO?"

Like everyone else here, I can only answer for myself. That answer is that to me, the Roman Catholic Communion is, in most respects, no worse than any other, and the Eastern Orthodox Communion is, likewise in most respects, no better than any other.

Both share the supreme virtue of being surviving portions of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church that the Creeds describe and that was, at least in theory, a visible unity prior to 1054.

Both also suffer from the vice of having added beliefs and practices to the corpus of what that one, undivided Church believed and did. Their respective additions are different, but, at bottom, neither set is really more defensible than the other.

Nevertheless, each is actually a Catholic Church and therefore, in our eyes, a sister body. That neither of them happens to share that view does not alter the facts.

It is precisely their respective additions to the essentials of the faith that now serve to divide us from them, but that does not prevent us from hoping those barriers will be removed at some future time. Note, I said "removed", not "ignored"....

John A. Hollister+

John A. Hollister said...

Fr. Wells asked, "How does that deplorable event [Deerfield Beach] differ in principle from the rebaptisms and re-confirmations and even re-marriages which regularly take place EO?"

My take on it is that it does not. Because we accept "chrismation" as the equivalent of Confirmation, for anyone who has been validly confirmed to accept chrismation, even though that is presented as merely a sign of membership (like multiplicitous Baptist baptisms), I fail to see how that does not present a real and very worrying prospect of sacrilege.

It is all so neatly summarized by Fr. Hart's wonderful observation about "the Two One-True-Churches". That immense, and indefensible, self-satisfaction, both Roman and Constantinopolitan (but in the case of Deerfield Beach, also Matabelean and Torontan), is a principal one of those divisive "additions to the Apostolic Faith" to which I referred in an earlier comment.

John A. Hollister+
"hogread"

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I think what is relevant is that Bishop Grafton had a positive view of Orthodoxy because of his association in those days with men like St. Tikhon. Therefore, a recap of his writings will reflect that view. Having had my own debates with members of the EO Church, I have no illusions about them. I see their strengths and weaknesses, as I see the strengths and weaknesses of Rome.

I see our strengths and weaknesses too, but am glad to live with them in order to be in a genuinely Anglican portion of the O,H,C&A Church.

Anonymous said...

I will reiterate that I have no particular animus toward EO. Any even-handed approach to both EO and to RCism is all I ask for. But for starters: we regularly protest against the habit of using the word "Catholic" as if it were the exclusive property of the branch of Christendom belonging to the Papal obedience. Should we not mount the very same protest against the habit of allowing the Eastern Church to commandeer the term "Orthodox." Surely, we are orthodox Christians, with Filioque, leavened bread, Gregorian kalendar, papal Easter, weak Epiclesis, married bishops, and all. We do not need to accomodate ourselves to any other Church to qualify as truly Orthodox Christians.
LKW

Anonymous said...

"lacking necessary Form to state Intention."

I am not defending the 79' but your point on intention seems mechanical.

I would think the same argument would apply to baptism- intention, form etc.
So how do you treat St Alban under this teaching? His was a "baptism in blood"- how do establish intent differently? Can one be a Saint if never confirmed?
Alan

Fr. Robert Hart said...

The difference is that "Catholic" appears in the Creeds as a name for our Church and our Faith. Using "Orthodox" as a name instead of a descriptive word is simply not in the Tradition. (Of course the real name of the EO churches includes the word "Catholic").

Fr. Robert Hart said...

So how do you treat St Alban under this teaching? His was a "baptism in blood"- how do establish intent differently? Can one be a Saint if never confirmed?

Baptism in Blood (martyrdom before baptism) or baptism by desire, are what they are because in these cases the Church has no opportunity to administer the sacraments. When we do, we must do right; what we cannot do should cause no despair. Perhaps, also, these links may help answer the question.

http://anglicancontinuum.blogspot.com/2008/02/grace-of-sacraments.html

http://anglicancontinuum.blogspot.com/2009/06/grace-and-sacarments-part-iv.html

The second has additional links to the first three parts.

Anonymous said...

"The difference is that "Catholic" appears in the Creeds as a name for our Church and our Faith. Using "Orthodox" as a name instead of a descriptive word is simply not in the Tradition."

So are you saying that when the EO's refer to themselves as "The Orthodox Church," it is without prejudice against the rest of us? That would hardly work with their customary language about "converting to Holy Orthodoxy," etc.
LKW

poetreader said...

While I do prefer, when I can, to refer to the "Eastern" church, since small "o" "Orthodox" is a surprisingly nonspecific term (witness the Anglicans who ordain women so denominating themselves) I don't have a problem with letting the East refer to itself as big "O" "Orthodox". I don't refer to myself that way. However, I do refer to myself as "Catholic" with both kinds of "C", a usage enshrined in the Creeds, the BCP in general, and in classic Anglican divines. Thus it is that, though I do not correct "them" in their usage, I do not adopt Rome's use of "Catholic" as referring to them alone.

That said, "converting to Holy Orthodoxy" strikes my ear as badly as "converting to the Catholic Church". Both are wildly prejudicial.

ed

Anonymous said...

"That said, "converting to Holy Orthodoxy" strikes my ear as badly as "converting to the Catholic Church". Both are wildly prejudicial."

Yes. Equally offensive, equally incorrect. But what about the EO canard, "The Pope was the first Protestant." Chew on that one. Or the lovely suggestion from some extreme sectors of Russian orthodoxy, that non-orthodox Christians are simply "devil-worshippers." (I was told that by a WR ROCOR priest.)
LKW

John A. Hollister said...

Alan wrote, "I am not defending the '79 ['BCP'] but your point on intention seems mechanical. I would think the same argument would apply to baptism--intention, form etc."

It does. Those who left the Episcopal Church in 1977 were concerned with a number of problems in the then-proposed new Prayer Book, of which one was the amiguity in its new baptismal rite.

And we have seen that ambiguity bear fruit, as PECUSA/ECUSA/TEC "baptizes" into a "baptismal coventant" that does not eschew the world, the flesh, and the devil, but does adopt the worship of the United Nations and all its works.

"Baptism by blood" is a concept that has ever only applied to martyrs, not to the generality of the Church's membership, who have had the opportunity to receive valid baptisms in the normal form.

So it is, indeed, wise pastoral practice to rebabtize sub conditionae those who were "baptized" with that '79 rite.

John A. Hollister+

John A. Hollister said...

Ed Pacht wrote, "'[C]onverting to Holy Orthodoxy' strikes my ear as badly as 'converting to the Catholic Church'. Both are wildly prejudicial."

I lived for more than a decade in Northeast Ohio, where a century ago large numbers of immigrants came from Eastern Europe to work in the mines and mills. As a result, I was surrounded by parishes and people from most varieties of both Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy.

So, especially when I was out and about wearing clericals, I was often asked, by one group, if I were "a Catholic priest" and, by the other, if I were "Orthodox". So I found myself frequently explaining Continuing Anglicanism.

I always told the Romans that we are Catholic, but not Papal, and the Easterners that we are orthodox in all meaningful respects although we are not in formal communion with SCOBA.

John A. Hollister+

Anonymous said...

Fr's Hart and Hollister,

Thanks simple answers are sometimes the best. Intention is cited here on behalf of Alban and while I agree the 79 is defective and thus the form and possibly the intention of the clergy, your answer seems to allow for the intention of St Alban but not some one in our age. If St Vincent got it right then what applies then applies always for all- shouldn't it? Because that book is poor because the Celebrant is unworthy are you saying the means of Grace is defeated by men? Does that mean as LKW points to as our "weak" Epiclesis and alleged weakness in the Ordinal are Anglican sacraments are to be questioned?

I am being persistent not because I do not believe you but because if you are correct we all should be able to articulate the reasons why.

Alan

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Alan:

By all means, be persistent in asking questions. I wish more people would ask real questions.

You wrote:

Because that book is poor because the Celebrant is unworthy are you saying the means of Grace is defeated by men?

First of all, these are two different matters. The poor '79 book is so very poor in the Confirmation Rite that it contains no Form that states Intention. Therefore, it betrays a lack of Intention having suddenly been adopted by a church that already corrupted the Sacramental Intention of Holy Orders three years earlier. How important is Form stating Intention? Let me ask you this: Were you to witness a supposed baptism in which the motions were carried out, but you never heard the words, "I baptize thee [or "you"] in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost [or "Spirit"]," would you not insist that something was wrong? If a priest went through all the motions at the altar, but did not say "This is My Body...This is My Blood," how comfortable would you be going forward to receive? On the other hand, if later it was discovered that a priest who did all things properly had been living in adultery secretly, would you therefore the sacraments that had been administered?

These are not the same issue then. To the issue of unworthy ministers, our Article XXVI speaks in terms that are perfectly consistent with what the Church taught in the most ancient times in accordance with Scripture.

"XXVI. Of the unworthiness of the Ministers, which hinders not the effect of the Sacraments.
ALTHOUGH in the visible Church the evil be ever mingled with the good, and sometime the evil have chief authority in the ministration of the word and sacraments; yet forasmuch as they do not the same in their own name, but in Christ's, and do minister by His commission and authority, we may use their ministry both in hearing the word of God and in the receiving of the sacraments. Neither is the effect of Christ's ordinance taken away by their wickedness, nor the grace of God's gifts diminished from such as by faith and rightly do receive the sacraments ministered unto them, which be effectual because of Christ's institution and promise, although they be ministered by evil men.
Nevertheless it appertaineth to the discipline of the Church that inquiry be made of evil ministers, and that they be accused by those that have knowledge of their offences; and finally, being found guilty by just judgement, be deposed."

These issues are separate.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Fr. Wells wrote:

Yes. Equally offensive, equally incorrect. But what about the EO canard, "The Pope was the first Protestant." Chew on that one. Or the lovely suggestion from some extreme sectors of Russian orthodoxy, that non-orthodox Christians are simply "devil-worshippers." (I was told that by a WR ROCOR priest.)

What about Protestants and Greek Orthodox monks who call the Pope the Antichrist? What about Romans who still insist that all non-Roman Catholics will go to Hell? We could make mention of what the kooks and screwballs in every corner of the Church say, including some fussy, ignorant and effeminate Anglo-Catholics who make all High-Church Anglicans look bad. We all have our lunatics, and they do not speak for their respective traditions, just for the kook brigade.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

By the way, I do not agree that the American Epiclesis is weak. It is perfectly in accord with Cranmer and Hooker, and that makes it soundly Catholic. I will explain more in a coming essay.

John A. Hollister said...

Alan asked, "[W]hile I agree the '79 ['BCP'] is defective and thus the form and possibly the intention of the clergy, your answer seems to allow for the intention of St Alban but not some one in our age."

I think Alan's confusion on these points springs from mixing together two different meanings of the word "intention".

In the case of "Baptism of Intention", as applied to martyrs, the "intention" referred to is that of the subject of the baptism, in this case the martyr. The idea is that the person concerned intended to be baptized, or accepted the Faith in a manner that equated to an intention to be baptizned, and was only prevented from fulfilling that intention by his or her intervening death -- a death which, in fact, testified to that very Faith.

That rule was valid in St. Alban's time and it remains valid in our own. In fact, we seem to be in the midst of an upsurge of martyrdoms, in South America, in Africa, and most certainly in the Mideast.

When we speak of the normal and usual administration of any Sacrament, however, the "Sacramental Intention" of which we are speaking is that of the celebrant of the Sacrament, not of its recipient. Further, we look to that celebrant's objective intention, not his subjective state. The principal evidence of that objective intention -- "to do what the Church has always done in this Sacrament" -- rests in the wording of the rite used.

That is why the questionable wording of the 1979 Baptismal and Confirmation Rites calls into question the "Sacramental Intention" with which they are administered and, therefore, the ultimate validity of the Sacraments that are purportedly confected according to those rites.

Ordination presents precisely this same problem -- the '79 Rite is objectively intended to effect the ordination of women as well as men -- and that is indisputably NOT something the Church has always done.

This combox won't give me enough room to explain why, but a related vice would infect any ordination performed by an ECUSA bishop after 1976, even if the 1928 Rite were used by him/her/it.

John A. Hollister+

Anonymous said...

"What about Romans who still insist that all non-Roman Catholics will go to Hell? "


STILL??? I havent heard of any of those being around anymore. Wasn't that settled when Fr Feeny was excommunicated?

The RC's of my acquaintance tend strongly toward quasi-universalism, with an overly generous interpretation of "Baptism by desire."

Again I point out the mistake of comparing a past error in one quarter with a present error somewhere else.
Or should I bring up Archbishop Laud's use of torture on the Puritans?
LKW

poetreader said...

Those RCs who make such extreme assertions are, thank God, somewhat rare today, but they do exist. I have met and been ranted at by more than one. Fr. Feeney's movement, incidentally, still continues, alive and well, though small, in two divisions: one still outside the official church and unrelenting in all its distinctives (and much visited by New England "Traditionalists"), and the other reconciled to the RCC but still pretty extreme, and making a spin on "non salus extra" that is just short of what was condemned in the 50s.

Though they do exist, Fr. Wells is quite correct in asserting that the equally heretical opposite error of universalism is so common among RCs as to be almost standard.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Yes, but the kooks in EOC are rare too.