Sunday, December 13, 2009

Anglican priests and the Universal Church

To treat the power of Holy Orders as limited, stopping at the door, is an absurdity. Sacramental theology knows of no partial Ordination or Consecration, no partial Absolution, and no partial Holy Communion. Properly educated Anglicans, furthermore, treat all divisions among the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church as essentially superficial, as theological delusions, incapable of limiting efficacy. Therefore, the concept of "incomplete orders" is a doctrinal error.


It appears that a recent essay posted here by Fr. Charles Nalls has stirred more endeavors of the minor leaguers from Orlando. My initial response is to warn them not to play with theology until they have more learning under their belts. I do not want them to hurt themselves. Furthermore, by playing with tools that are beyond their capacity, they may hurt others. I do not want to promote their blog, and do not want to lower our blog to their level by undue recognition; but, this is not recognition; it is a responsible act by an adult to undo misinformation and prevent potential damage (and I thank our friend who brought this to my attention). Possibly, the contributors to The Anglo-Catholic blog are more saintly than I in their private lives, and they might possess more of the godly virtues. I take it for granted that their motives are honest and sincere. But, I feel a duty to respond to doctrinal errors and misstatements of fact.

Taking e-pen in hand, their Rev. William "Doc" Holiday, in his essay, A Matter of Fullness, has quite obviously, attempted to take on the learned Rev. Canon Nalls. The entire essay assumes, as is to be expected, that the Roman Catholic Church and those particular churches that are in Communion with the See of Rome, constitute what properly may be called the Church. Therefore, we run immediately into the problem of genuine Catholic ecclesiology, a problem that exists no less when we contrast this view against Eastern Orthodoxy than when we contrast it against Anglicanism. Within Anglicanism, there exists no justification whatsoever for any such use of the term the Church, and therefore from an Anglican point of view, "Doc" Holiday has already left. What this may mean in his estimation, on a subjective level, carries no weight against the objective fact that he has renounced Anglicanism in this manner.

Furthermore, if he has identified the Roman or Papal Communion as the Church, then he has also confessed himself outside the Church, and willing so to remain for the time being. The problem with the entire argument that he presents, however, is that he is, from all the evidence, oblivious to that objective fact. This is a matter of compounded ignorance, compounded by propaganda instead of genuine learning. Therefore, his arguments (like those of the now RC Fr. Paul Sullins in Baltimore, and like those of the Orlando bunch in general) add to an existing state of ignorance and confusion. For that I blame the leaders he follows, those men who are trying, even after the publication of Anglicanorum Coetibus, to tell their people that if they will be patient just a bit longer, they can be both Anglican and Roman Catholic at the same time.

"Doc" Holiday tells his readers:

This practical theological approach I have sadly found lacking in much of the commentary offered by critics of the AC — commentary that has been presented from a strict, one-dimensional, either/or perspective. The matter of Holy Orders as it relates to Anglicans and the AC admits of none of these simplistic arguments which are often found wanting.

But, the truth sometimes is simple, and Holiday's leaders are making transparent matters into hopeless enigmas, out of fear that you, the people, will actually understand. They are trying to make the new constitution seem hopelessly mysterious, so that when it says black is not white, you might see only shades of gray, and depend on the leaders instead of employing Right Reason.

However, the first problem here is the oft repeated falsehood that we are critics of Anglicanorum Coetibus (AC). AC is a Roman Catholic document, and it is what it is. The criticism we are writing is criticism of those who say it is something other than what it is. Let us be identified accurately as critics of Abp. Hepworth and Co. For years they have said that they seek inter-communion, or a "uniate" status, in which they will be treated specially just like the Byzantine Catholics are in most places (and like they were once treated long ago in the United States before Rome broke its word to the American Byzantine Catholics). They have asked for special "Anglican" things to be protected forever.

When AC and its Norms failed to grant these things, they reacted by denying the truth of the matter, claiming that it guarantees those very things it never even grants, and that it could not grant. In many real ways, AC is the answer "no" to the 2007 petition of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) for "full corporate communion" with Rome. Instead, it promises only an extension of existing Roman Catholic polity for individuals who want to become former Anglicans by joining the Roman Catholic Church. The Pastoral Provisions are strengthened by taking obstruction power away from local bishops, and the "Anglican" Use is extended internationally. That is the full practical extent of it.

Anglicans and the priesthood of the Universal Church

We shall now get to the heart of Holiday's attempt to make an argument. In brief, picking up from Fr. Sullins' rather esoteric essay, Holiday has attempted to construct a new concept of sacramental validity-valid but not full, or valid but complete. "Irregular" is an old concept, and apparently not confusing enough to blow the necessary amount of smoke. So, he writes:

I was exposed to several works regarding the endeavors of some Anglican groups to ensure the validity of their Orders, and this sufficed.

I shudder to think what he may consider to be "the endeavors of some Anglican groups to ensure the validity of their Orders." If he is referring to the "Dutch Touch" - that is the infusion of Old Catholic Orders into Anglican Orders by co-consecrations - he needs to do some unlearning of non-sense before he can learn the truth. As I wrote in June:

Unfortunately, some of our Roman Catholic detractors have assumed, wrongly, that the Anglicans sought co-consecration because Rome considered Old Catholic Orders valid, and this meant that Anglicans could supply what was missing, or fix their allegedly bad and defective orders. But, as documented by Brian Taylor 1 from correspondence between Archbishop of Canterbury Cosmo Lang and other high ranking Church of England officials, the expressed, written and recorded motive was ecumenical. Not only was it to serve as a way to improve relations with the Old Catholics, but to make Anglican orders "more acceptable to Rome in the event of some future Reunion." 2

The "Dutch Touch" was not sought by Anglicans in order to ensure Anglican Orders, but as an ecumenical gesture, and nothing more. The official Anglican response to Rome's 1896 Bull Apostolicae Curae was, and is, Saepius Officio. There have been no "Anglican endeavors to ensure our Orders" beyond the simple continuation of Apostolic Succession and our own Ordinal, for nothing else has ever been needed. Endeavors to defend our Orders, yes; none, however to ensure them.

Misrepresenting everybody

Holiday's concept of a valid but less than "full" sacrament has no practical application in the real world. It may create a warm fuzzy feeling about ecumenism, and it may get around the unpleasant fact the Roman Catholic Church has not rescinded the conclusion of Apostolicae Curae (even though, curiously enough, backing down on every supporting argument since 1896), that Anglican Orders are "absolutely null and utterly void."3 As we have seen here, that is a category we have never assigned to any Christian body, inasmuch as it is step beyond "invalid." But "Doc" Holiday has invented (or, rather, someone has invented for him) a new idea, a partial sacrament.

Holiday goes on (and this is the heart of it):

However, as I progressed in my understanding of ecclesial matters, I became more and more convinced that although valid, my Orders were not complete. Not incomplete in a theological sense, but deficient with regard to their context. My orders were not expressed in the visible communion of the whole Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches:

1552 The ministerial priesthood has the task not only of representing Christ – Head of the Church – before the assembly of the faithful, but also acting in the name of the whole Church when presenting to God the prayer of the Church, and above all when offering the Eucharistic sacrifice.

“In the name of the whole Church.” I knew that I was not acting in the name of the whole Church. If a priest is not in communion with all Catholics, he does not minister in the name of the whole Church. Consequently, there is a deficit. Those of us who desire to avail ourselves of the AC’s provisions endeavor to correct this deficit. It is a grave matter of conscience.

He has misrepresented Anglicanism

This morning, as on all Sundays, I celebrated the Eucharist twice. Both times I was most certainly doing what poor "Doc" Holiday never saw himself as doing, that is, the ministry of the priesthood. As a matter of fact I was acting in the name of the whole Church, which is how every Anglican priest is supposed to understand his ministry. In the words of the service I said, "Therefore with Angels and Archangels, and with all the company of heaven," which includes the Church Triumphant. I also said, as all Anglican priests say, "...most humbly beseeching thee to grant 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 (emphasis mine)." Then, "humbly beseeching thee, that we, and all others who shall be partakers of this Holy Communion, may worthily receive, etc. "

In the service itself we describe our actions thus, acting as priests for the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. We have identified ourselves as belonging only to that Church in the Creed, and in our celebration have said that we are acting for God's "whole Church," both Militant and Triumphant. In no way whatsoever, at God's Holy Altar, have we presumed to be the One True Church all by ourselves, nor have we stained our presence at His Holy Altar by asserting our particular identity in place of the Church of Christ. In no way, whatsoever, are we merely priests for Anglicans when we offer the Eucharistic Sacrifice; and what we say (Lex Ornadi lex Credendi) represents the Universal Church. For, at the Lord's altar, we dare not presume to mention the carnality of divisions, or appear as less than, simply and with full power, Catholic priests.

So states the Ordinal with its Preface:

It is evident unto all men diligently reading holy Scripture and ancient Authors, that from the Apostles' time there have been these Orders of Ministers in Christ's Church; Bishops, Priests, and Deacons...And therefore, to the intent that these Orders may be continued...

Not Anglican Orders, but "Orders of Ministers in Christ's Church." It is these Orders in Christ's Church, that we exercise. Anglicanism has never taught that our Orders are simply Anglican orders. Therefore, we do not re-ordain Roman Catholic or Orthodox ministers, when they enter our Church, as a condition to do the same ministry of Bishop, Priest or Deacon. We receive them in their Orders.

Elevation of carnal divisions, and invalidating all orders

The good "Doc" writes, "If a priest is not in communion with all Catholics, he does not minister in the name of the whole Church." Therefore, it becomes necessary to ask him exactly which priests are those who, after 1054, have been "in communion with all Catholics?" Forgetting the schismatic exclusivity of the Two One True Churches, only one portion of the Holy Catholic Church has ever considered itself "in communion with all Catholics," because it is the only portion to embrace humility rather than making an exclusive, bloated claim. That portion is the Anglican portion, to which we who Continue alone lay genuine claim. Therefore, by leaping into the Tiber, he will cease to have any reason for believing that can be a priest of the whole Church. If you or I enter his church after that leap, we cannot have Communion there; but, if he enters ours, he may have Communion here.

The Anglican position is, and always has been, that we are part of the One Church Christ established. "Doc" Holiday has revealed the fact that his own education has been deficient in this matter. For, in assuming that we or God honor man-made divisions to such an extent that those "sad divisions" have the power to limit the full sacramental power of the priesthood, he has misunderstood all along the sacrament of Holy Orders. No one has ever been ordained merely as an Anglican Priest, Bishop or Deacon; Bishops recognized by Anglican churches have ordained and consecrated ministers in Christ's Church, and, sadly, the See of Rome has chosen not to recognize the objective sacramental reality of those Orders. This, however, is their problem; it does not stop an Anglican priest from acting on behalf of the whole Church, even though some do not appreciate the fact.

To treat the power of Holy Orders as limited, stopping at the door, is an absurdity. Sacramental theology knows of no partial Ordination or Consecration, no partial Absolution, and no partial Holy Communion. Properly educated Anglicans, furthermore, treat all divisions among the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church as essentially superficial, as theological delusions, incapable of limiting efficacy. Therefore, the concept of "incomplete orders" is a doctrinal error.

Conclusion

I do not know how much longer the Orlando bloggers will be able to do mental gymnastics. It depends, obviously, on how long they will be blown about by winds of doctrine rather than cracking open good books and learning. I believe however, that they follow the leadership of men who strain the credulity of most ACA/TAC members, and so they simply will not follow. Nonetheless, to rescue innocent people from the dangerous waters of confusion, we are willing to clarify and correct what is, in the case of Holiday's essay, false doctrine. We consider it a necessary service to those in need of the truth.
___
1. In his 1995 paper, published in Great Britain, Accipe Spiritum Sanctum.

As our reader who goes by the name of Canon Tallis also pointed out in a comment months ago:

"Marc Antonio de Dominus, sometime Archbishop of Spaleto and Dean of Windsor, participated in Anglican consecrations in the Caroline age before he made the mistake of returning to Rome and their so kind ministrations? I think someone in the Continuum needs to reprint Littledale's The Petrine Claims and make it required reading for both postulants and the clergy."

2. This possibility was never rejected by Anglicans. See this older post analyzing a section of Richard Hooker's Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity.

3. If not for AD TUENDAM FIDEM, someone might argue that the conditional ordinations of John Jay Hughes and Graham Leonard had set the precedent. However, any such concept of a precedent has been canceled. We do not blame Rome, inasmuch as the confusion in the official Anglican Communion made it seem to them necessary to back down from the appearance of recognition, just as it caused our separation on the same kind of principles.

21 comments:

John A. Hollister said...

If Papa Doc Holiday has, indeed, written the things that Fr. Hart quotes -- and I have not the slightest doubt that he has -- then he has simply attested to what has been said several times in various comment threads on this blogspot.

That is, P.D.H. has asserted that one can be a Catholic Priest only when one is in communion with the Bishop of Rome, and is acknowledged by him to be so.

Where P.D. has not yet submitted himself to Roman authority, but has merely proclaimed his belief in that authority, he is not in fact, in Roman eyes, in communion with Rome. Therefore, he is, by his own confession, not a Catholic Priest.

Under that circumstance, it is a scandal that he is, for the nonce, still using the title, and presuming to exercise the functions of, a Priest in the Church of God.

This sort of imposture is as dangerous as it is demeaning. Nor is there any reasonable excuse for it on the basis of "confusion" or "uncertainty" because he is the one who has said he is not what he previously purported to be. Would we excuse a man who continued to vote in the political elections of a country, the citizenship of which he has already renounced?

What can one say to a man who is, by his own implicit admission, still passing himself off as something he has declared he is not? The only words that seem at all adequate are those of the man who did more than anyone else to try to destroy the Anglican expression of Catholic Christianity -- and who, in the end, utterly failed to do so:

"You have sat too long for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!"

John A. Hollister+

Anonymous said...

Fr Hart said....
Therefore, we do not re-ordain Roman Catholic or Orthodox ministers when they enter our Church, as a condition to do the same ministry of Bishop, Priest or Deacon. We receive them in their Orders.

Fr Hart
Thank you for this article. I have a question. Can you please tell me why then in the ACC your bishops ordain sub-conditione,transfer clergy from the TAC, especially when it can be proved that they have valid Anglican Orders, especially as you do not for the Orthodox and RC. It seems to me that what you are saying about Anglican Orders is not true for the ACC, when Anglican priests come to your jurisdiction from another perfectly valid denomination.
I am interested to hear your rendering on this.

Anonymous said...

Mr Holiday objects to the "either/or" thinking on the matter of Anglican orders and validity. He needs to learn that Christianity is simply replete with "either/or" propositions, beginning with the First Commandment, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me."

A sacrament (and this includes an Ordination) is either valid or it is not. "Either/Or" is quite in order here.

If Rome accepted such a weaselly notion as "valid but incomplete" it could have stated that with more learning than Mr Holiday, in Apostolicae Curae or elsewhere. If AC were a dead letter and no longer in force, it could be buried along with the Donation of Constantine. But the brute fact is that the recent document, Anglicanorum coetibus, in which the Orlando coterie takes so much pleasure, goes out of its way to emphasize AC, pointing out with great emphasis that the ordinations of "former Anglican priests" will be absolute, not sub conditione.

Just as the TAC bishops signed the CCC, they and their followers should sign Apostolicae Curae. Or if they cannot sign it or will not sign it, the Vatican authorities should take appropriate measures in dealing with them.

If they can sign it and yet continue to function as priests, they are brave men indeed. I seriously question whether they have yet read or even heard of Apostolicae Curae.
LKW

poetreader said...

I just posted a version of the following as a comment in the thread, "Did You Mean it?" following a comment that likened the current situation to a difficult divorce. What I said there seems to apply here as well.

In the case of divorce, the moral theology is clearcut. Regardless of the gravity of the reason behind it, Divorce is the breaking of a most solemn vow, the rending apart of a bond that God himself has made. The weakness of humanity makes such a horrible choice often appear to be inevitable, and we, in our kindness, tend to look for ways to say that it is OK. It's not. Objectively speaking it is always sin. While God knows (and His Church speaking for Him recognizes) the weakness of humanity and our propensity to sin, he does forgive, The Cross stands before us and the Sacraments are given to proclaim and administer this very forgiveness; but still sin is sin, and, though forgiven, is never endorsed. Attempting to apply this model to the current controversies is fraught with logical and moral perils.

We do need to approach these serious decisions with understanding, patience, and gentleness. Both sides have been expressing a lot of judgment and anger, and have been disparaging one another in rather uncharitable terms, and somehow that needs to end, but the issues are still clear, and there still is something decidedly discomforting about the stance of those who seek to join a church that claims their orders to be void and yet remain comfortable with continuing to exercise them where they still are.

All I can see is that this breech of unity should never happen. There is a breaking of vows involved, a dissolution of bonds I believe to have been brought about by God. But there is perhaps a bit more in this image: It has often happened that a husband seeking divorce continues to live with his wife, continues the appearance of a marriage he is already denying, and yet carries on a romance with another woman. If his mind is made up, and the separation is already decided, would it not be better for him to do it quickly than to prolong the pain of pretence?

I'm not being bitter or dismissive in urging those who are decided in favor of AC to get on with it quickly, and in the meantime to make a clean break. I do urge, however, for their own good (as they place their own conscience in a difficult position), for the good of those of us who will continue (as our work is being distracted by all this controversy), and for the good of the unbelievers around us (who are certainly neither edified nor drawn by all the bitterness and confusion of this "muddle") - that they end the appearance of wavering and of double loyalty and get on with it as quickly as possible.

ed

Jakian Thomist said...

Fr. Hart wrote:
"To treat the power of Holy Orders as limited, stopping at the door, is an absurdity."

I don't think that you're alone on that one! Here's a quote from Anglican blog, linked below:

"Bishop J. Jon Bruno, of the Diocese of Los Angeles, said that a baptized horse had every bit as much right to become a bishop as he, a divorcé, did."

Now, I have to admit that I think that limits on the Holy Orders of Priesthood are a good thing or else I fear it is our faith that becomes the absurdity.

I pray you all every blessing this advent season!

http://accurmudgeon.blogspot.com/2009/12/caligula-converts-makes-his-horse.html (contains satire)

John A. Hollister said...

The anonymous Anonymous wrote:

1. "Can you please tell me why then in the ACC your bishops ordain sub-conditione, transfer clergy from the TAC"?

First, the only transfer clergy who have been conditionally ordained are those whose orders originated within the TAC itself, not those who were ordained in some other, undoubtedly Catholic, body such as the APCK.

Second, and this is an issue which has been rehashed at length in previous threads on this blogspot and elsewhere, where there is a probable doubt about the validity of Orders, then pastoral responsibility would require such doubts to be resolved, even where there were strong evidence favoring a conclusion of validity.

The cases of the Roman Church and the Eastern Orthodox, on the one hand, and of the TAC, on the other, are not even remotely comparable. No reasonable person has ever raised questions about the validity of Holy Orders in either of the former communions while a number of people have significant doubts about the latter one.

There can be essentially no question that, prior to 1991, the AEC, which was the principle antecedent of the TAC, was -- we are talking here about the origin of claims to Apostolic Succession of the episcopate here, not criticizing the membership of an organization -- a purely "vagans" body.

The ACC has always ordained conditionally clergy who have come to it bearing vagans orders. A prime example of that was our late, sainted, and much-beloved Metropolitan, Archbishop Michael Dean Stephens -- whose history of ecclesial memberships and ordinations, prior to his joining the ACC, had much in common with that of A.F.M. Clavier, among others.

Reasonable men and women may differ as to whether anything occurred in late 1991 that would have altered the TAC's situation. (And those differences are precisely what creates the doubts previously referred to.)

However, those who argue that something positive did occur in 1991, and that the post-1991 TAC organization possesses a valid Anglican succession, need to remember that much of their information about critical events was relayed to them by Louis Wahl Falk and Anthony Forbes Morton Clavier, neither of whom was a disinterested participant, and evaluate that information accordingly.

And, I must add, this is one of the questions that would undoubtedly have been discussed had TAC Archbishop Hepworth responded officially to the letter ACC Archbishop Haverland wrote him several years ago, proposing talks on outstanding issues between the two groups. As is widely known, however, Abp. Hepworth did not respond formally to that overture but, instead, seems to have flipped the letter into the trash bin.

From that action, the reasonable conclusion would seem to be that the TAC had no interest in resolving the problem.

2. "[I]t can be proved that they have valid Anglican Orders".

That statement is what is technically known as "assuming the truth of the matter which remains to be established". Anyone who is interested can refer to those earlier threads for fuller information on the arguments pro and con.

3. "It seems to me that what you are saying about Anglican Orders is not true for the ACC, when Anglican priests come to your jurisdiction from another perfectly valid denomination."

As to the "perfectly valid denomination", see paragraph 2 immediately above.

As to "what you are saying about Anglican Orders is not true for the ACC", there seems to have been either a lapse of logic here or else a typo omitted something from the sentence that might have made it actually say something.

John A. Hollister+

Joe Oliveri said...

Lest this blog become a vehicle for the defamation of Fr. Holiday's character (the snide and oft-repeated 'Papa Doc' Duvalier link is really too much), let me offer a few words in this man's defense.

Fr. Holiday wrote: I became more and more convinced that although valid, my Orders were not complete. Not incomplete in a theological sense, but deficient with regard to their context. My orders were not expressed in the visible communion of the whole Church.

He clearly says: Not incomplete in a theological sense. So it is clear that Fr. Holiday still considers himself a priest of the Catholic Church.

Although Fr. Holiday puts emphasis on the word communion, above, I think he should have stressed the word visible, for this is closer to what Rome holds regarding the necessarily visible nature of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church; and from the gist of his post, I believe this is what Fr. Holiday means by the deficient "context" of his priestly status.

My impression is that TAC clergy see their status right now as little different from that of clergy in the Society of St. Pius X. From Rome's point of view, SSPX clergy are illicitly but validly ordained; Society priests lack jurisdiction; and, while priests (and bishops) of the Catholic Church, they lack visible communion with the Holy See. Even if the SSPX is in formal schism (and there is no consensus on this point), her ministers are perfectly valid, as are those of the Orthodox Churches (which are in schism from the traditional Roman point of view). So it is misleading and false to insist that any TAC clergy looking to be reconciled with the Holy See under the terms of Anglicanorum Coetibus have ipso facto renounced their Orders.

(Cont'd)

Joe Oliveri said...

Fr. Hart writes: Furthermore, if he has identified the Roman or Papal Communion as the Church, then he has also confessed himself outside the Church, and willing so to remain for the time being.

Again, this is simply untrue. Rome certainly does not teach that anyone who is not in full, visible communion with her is "outside the Church." Rome holds that visible communion -- i.e., unity -- is necessary as pertaining to one of the four marks of the Church: i.e., One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic. But the note of exclusivity completely disregards the magisterial teaching that the Church founded by Christ subsists in the Roman Catholic Church; and it is in fact more of a Feeneyite argument than anything.

If not for AD TUENDAM FIDEM, someone might argue that the conditional ordinations of John Jay Hughes and Graham Leonard had set the precedent. However, any such concept of a precedent has been canceled.

You are referring to then-Cardinal Ratzinger's Commentary on that document, in which he cites Apostolicae Curae as an example of a teaching to which is owed a firm and definitive assent (see nn. 6 and 7). But again, Pope Leo stated that Anglican Orders "have been, and are" (fuisse et esse) -- in 1896 -- null and void. He did not say they always would be; nor is it strictly necessary, in assenting to the judgment he reached in Apostolicae Curae, to believe so.

Moreover, the very existence of sub conditione ordinations does establish precedent, by definition. The only way to categorically rule out further sub conditione ordinations would be to make the odd case that the circumstances of Hughes' and Leonard's Anglican ordinations were unique in all the world. Obviously, no one in Rome has argued this -- not to my knowledge, at any rate. Anglicanorum Coetibus simply upholds the rule of ordaining absolute (a rule which I personally think flirts dangerously with sacrilege); but this in itself does not prevent a change in the rule at some point in the future.

Veriword: "baffl"

Fr. Robert Hart said...

An official answer from the ACC follows:

TAC Orders

Fr Hart said....
Therefore, we do not re-ordain Roman Catholic or Orthodox ministers when they enter our Church, as a condition to do the same ministry of Bishop, Priest or Deacon. We receive them in their Orders.

Fr Hart
Thank you for this article. I have a question. Can you please tell me why then in the ACC your bishops ordain sub-conditione, transfer clergy from the TAC, especially when it can be proved that they have valid Anglican Orders, especially as you do not for the Orthodox and RC. It seems to me that what you are saying about Anglican Orders is not true for the ACC, when Anglican priests come to your jurisdiction from another perfectly valid denomination.
I am interested to hear your rendering on this.

----------------------------------
The term ‘perfectly valid denomination’ is entirely unfortunate. ‘Denomination’ is a non-theological term with little usefulness when discussing the matter at hand. The TAC claimed to be a Church, not merely a denomination. Now those in the TAC inclined to accept Rome’s offer seem to acknowledge that in fact the TAC was not a Church but only, as Roman Catholic theology would have it, an ecclesial body with some elements of Church life. ‘Perfectly valid’ is also unfortunate. A sacrament is valid or not valid: the category is not subject to degrees such as ‘more’ or ‘perfectly’. A sacrament may be more or less regular or perfectly recognizable, however, and perhaps that is what the questioner meant.

In any case, the ACC deals with TAC ordinations on a case-by-case basis. It is not true that the ACC always views TAC ordinations as questionable or always requires conditional repetition of episcopal sacraments upon reception into the ACC.

In 2007 the ACC attempted to begin a dialogue with the TAC. The subjects the ACC wished to discuss with the TAC included the status and purposes of the TAC’s Rome initiative, the TAC’s ecclesiology, and aspects of the TAC’s origin and history in relation to the ACC. When in the past TAC bishops approached the ACC to suggest a dialogue, we consistently raised similar subjects for discussion in the belief that we could not otherwise discover whether or not we were essentially in agreement in our ecclesiology. Our offer of dialogue in 2007 was never taken up by the TAC. And indeed in retrospect it appears that many leaders of the TAC had no real interest in dialogue with Continuing Anglicans: there were Roman fish to fry and the ACC and other Anglicans were in fact perceived as an annoying problem and little else.

So the ACC can hardly be blamed for not knowing if our concerns about the TAC were or were not appropriate. We asked questions which went unanswered, and we asked for a dialogue which never began.

(To be continued)

Fr. Robert Hart said...

(Continued from above)

At present the ACC’s position is as follows:
– The TAC has consistently been much looser about matters which impinge on sacramental validity than has the ACC. In particular the TAC has regularly accepted as certainly valid some confirmations and ordinations which the ACC does not so accept. The ACC by canon does not accept confirmations and ordinations performed in the Lambeth Communion Churches after certain definite cutoff dates, while the TAC has recognized many such confirmations and ordinations. The TAC at some times and in some places has also accepted ordinations by bishops whom most Anglicans, including the ACC, would view as episcopi vagantes. The ACC does not know how far these divergences in attitude reach. But such divergences do exist and seem reason enough to reject a policy of automatic acceptance of TAC clergy by a simple transfer involving no further examination.
– The ACC, however, also has determined internally that it can accept as certainly valid TAC ordinations in some TAC Churches. Some such bodies antedate the formation of the TAC, and in some of these we see a consistent ecclesial life. An example would be the ordinations of the TAC body called the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada (ACC-C). Another example would probably be the TAC body in Guatemala. However hostile the TAC may or may not have been towards the ACC, there is no reason to think that that hostility ‘un-churched’ the ACC-C. In the cases of the TAC clergy now in the process of joining the ACC in Canada, therefore, there will be no conditional ordinations, except when we find that the ACC-C accepted a post-1975 Lambeth Communion confirmation or ordination.
– TAC clergy ordained in Churches whose Orders are viewed as certainly valid by the ACC also would be received without conditional ordination.

Other cases might require conditional ordination in the ACC. The ACC always assumed that this issue would arise as part of a serious ACC/TAC dialogue. In such a dialogue the ACC and TAC would no doubt have explained our ecclesiological intentions in the 1990s, presented our reasons for accepting or rejecting Lambeth Communion episcopal acts, and otherwise clarified matters of mutual concern. Such dialogue might still be possible between the ACC and those parts of the TAC which do not become Roman Catholic. However, in the absence of clarifying information, the ACC will continue to take the morally safer path and, when doubt exists, conditionally ordain. We have an institutional interest in making it as easy as possible for people to join us. But we also will not sacrifice sacramental certainty where loose TAC policies create problems. Such problems seldom arise in cases of Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox clergy joining the ACC, which is sufficient to distinguish the cases about which Father Hart has been questioned.

Apart from answering the question asked, it may be helpful to note the above publicly. In the last few weeks the ACC has received more or less all of the TAC clergy and people in Congo (DRC) and Cameroon and a large group in South Africa. In the coming weeks more clergy and people have already indicated an intention to take the same path. It would appear that the ACC has now surpassed the TAC as the largest Continuing Church, for whatever that is worth. If current trends continue, it also seems likely that more people who were in the TAC in 2008 will find themselves in the ACC in 2011 than will find themselves in the Roman Catholic Church. In any case, it is certain that the ACC will receive far more TAC clergy without conditional ordination than will Rome.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Joe Oliveri:

There has been no intention of defamation of "Doc" Holiday. Obviously, he really believes what he says. But, when I come upon these kind of explanations I see the hand of arch-episcopal kerygma that is about to be propagated. In taking it on, I believe it would be irresponsible to elevate the status of the writer (at this time-later maybe) or to give the argument itself more status than it deserves. Ignoring it would also be irresponsible. All things are not equal, and finding a solution to answering without elevating, in people's perceptions, is not easy.

Because the blogspot limits the characters we may put in a comment, I will reply to your points in following comments.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

He clearly says: Not incomplete in a theological sense. So it is clear that Fr. Holiday still considers himself a priest of the Catholic Church.

If he had left it at this, I would not have made the same criticism of his essay. But, he went on:

"I knew that I was not acting in the name of the whole Church. If a priest is not in communion with all Catholics, he does not minister in the name of the whole Church."

Therefore, it became necessary to clarify the Anglican position, which could not be done without contradicting him. Furthermore, his writing indicates that he is still trying to think this through, because the two statements (which you quoted, and then that which I have quoted) suggest some confusion, inasmuch as they are self-contradictory.

So it is misleading and false to insist that any TAC clergy looking to be reconciled with the Holy See under the terms of Anglicanorum Coetibus have ipso facto renounced their Orders.

The objective facts, RCC Canon Law and AC, drain your distinction of any practical meaning. Nonetheless, I believe those TAC clergy are mostly confused, and are being misinformed.

But the note of exclusivity completely disregards the magisterial teaching that the Church founded by Christ subsists in the Roman Catholic Church; and it is in fact more of a Feeneyite argument than anything.

An article of mine published several years ago is enough to demonstrate my understanding of the phrase "subsists in." The only practical test of weighing my interpretation against the current propaganda of the TAC is the Communion test-and I mean Holy Communion, as in the sacrament. By the Canon Laws of the RCC we may not receive this sacrament in their churches (even though many simply go up and do so anyway). We, however, do not exclude members of the RCC from receiving the sacrament, though we advise that they act in accordance each with his own conscience. What is meant by "subsists in" must have practical application, and Communion is where the warm, fuzzy ecumenical definition breaks down.

Regrading AD TUENDAM FIDEM, what it really meant was that the conclusion of the 1896 Bull is not dogma. I know that; and I blame the Anglican Communion for making it seem impossible to the RCC to rescind it (for, truth is, they wanted to back in the days of Pope Paul VI).

But again, Pope Leo stated that Anglican Orders "have been, and are" (fuisse et esse) -- in 1896 -- null and void. He did not say they always would be...

Of course, we say they never were.

Moreover, the very existence of sub conditione ordinations does establish precedent, by definition...The only way to categorically rule out further sub conditione ordinations would be to make the odd case that the circumstances of Hughes' and Leonard's Anglican ordinations were unique in all the world. Obviously, no one in Rome has argued this...

Actually, if they were willing to make this a precedent then all of the former Anglicans would be ordained sub conditione. For, by 1968, all Anglican Orders had the same "special circumstances." So, they mean to drop the whole sub conditione precedent, and Fr. Nalls explained the problem.

Furthermore, the basis for sub conditione ordinations is all wrong; it is based on the "Dutch Touch," which had no real significance at all in terms of sacramental validity. It added nothing to our Orders.

Canon Tallis said...

And Mark might well consider that the destruction of the French diocesan rites was probably more of a trama to French Churchmen than the reforms were in England.

Canon Tallis said...

These arguments put forth by the Anglo-papists of TAC make it clear to me that they are essentially functionally illiterate - and especially when it comes to The Book of Common Prayer. Look at the Bidding Prayer on page 47: "Good Christian People, I bid your prayers for Christ's holy Catholic Church, the blessed company of all faithful people, . . ." Of course, those who have the missal on the altar have probably never looked at or read that bidding to his people. But the truth is, as our good Father Hart has made abundantly clear, the whole of the classical prayer books are not drawn up with anything less than the faith and practice of the universal Church before the divisions of East and West which why I have become convinced that just as my parish priest insisted that I read every (yes, every) word of it and then do it again, so should everyone one in orders make that something which they should do at least once a year.min

David Gould said...

Fr. Hart's explanation of ACC sub-conditione ordination and re-ordination demonstrates the maturity and spiritual wisdom of the ACC hierarchy.

The ACC has two Metropolitans and a presence in all continents. It simply cannot afford to have vagantes in lace and mozettas casting any doubt on the rock solid authenticity of Anglican orders.

Anglican inability to decide what we believe got the Church into the mess that led to the schism of PECUSA ordaining women priests.

Those Anglican Communion churches and diocese that ordain women priests lost the validity of their orders the moment they participated in or accepted those invalid and illicit ordinations as valid.

Without the stand of the ACC what would we have? Vagantes metropolitans, the ACNA with some accepting women priests and others not, and the TAC lacking all moral leadership of the issue of Anglican orders, prepared to abandon their orders in order to convert to the Latin Church.

poetreader said...

As one of four co-owners of this board, I continue to hang in here because so much of what is said is very wise and right. However, I am outnumbered three to one in the management, and, it seems, more strongly than that among the readership, in that I am a member of ACA (and was invited to join because I am ACA); but have become very much aware that "my" blog has become largely an organ of ACC. This is mostly not a bad thing, but it leaves me unable to speak in defense of the orders of my own church without being immediately set upon by arguments I find it difficult even to follow. I'm not going to try to debate this issue -- that is for discussion at the eventual reunion of jurisdictions after this AC debacle has finally settled down into whatever results it will have. I merely want to observe that I, no matter how hard I try, cannot find a significant difference between what the RCC says about Anglican Orders and what ACC says about ACA orders. If I could accept ACC's stand on this matter, I would have little problem with the issue of RCC reordination. Yes, I know that the one says "conditional" and the other says "absolute", but both justify their action in almost identical terms, and both require action that, at least in appearance, requires a public admission that there is some question as to validity.

Please take note that one of the results of the promulgation of the AC has been to invrease, not lessen, disunity among Christians. ACA itself is being divided and the opposition between ACC and ACA has been sharpeened and hardened. I continue my witness that this has to cease.

I've tried to address this issue and have found it impossible to go anywhere on this blog with this discussion, but have, instead reaped a condescending assumption that my jurisdiction is and always has been something less than a legitimate body. I'm done trying to argue against such a solid front and am made uncomfortasble by the constant necessity that some seem to feel to bring this up over and over again. I won;'t argue on this forum, but will state categorically that I am a member of a jurisdiction whose ministry is unshakably Apostolic, receiving sacraments that are indubitably valid, and desire only to work closely with those holding like precious faith. The currwent mood is making that desire a bit less easy to perceive, but here I remain with brethren I love, but with a tension that is simply uncomfortable.

ed

David Gould said...

Dear Poetbreader - I am sorry if I have contributed to you feeling marginalised in any way.

The sincerity of many within the ACA is no less than that found in the ACC, and even those advocating the move to Rome are doing so with faith in Christ, and a desire for unity in the Lord.

I cannot claim to know the minds of the ACC hierarchy in this business of conditional reordination, but I do trust them and it is my deepest prayer that the Holy Ghost will impell the churches of the continuum to unite, because the divisions wound us all, and to the extent that the ACC is deprived of the ministry of many holy priests and our fellowship with many wonderful laity is also impaired.

Anonymous said...

Ed, there is surely a difference which you can appreciate between the conditional ordinations of some clergy and the absolute ordinations of all clergy. An absolute ordination says, "You are a layman and this rite will make you a cleric." A conditional ordination says, "You may well be a priest, but we are making sure."There is also a difference between saying that all Anglican orders have been invalid for nearly half a millenium and saying that certain Anglican orders have been doubtful for less than a generation.Get it?Probably a majority of clergymen currently serving in the ACA were originally ordained in either the ACC or in TEC, before the 1976 cut-off date.No problem there. The rising level of animosity between other Continuing Churches and TAC/ACA is entirely regrettable, and if I have contributed to it, I humbly apologize. The ACA is made up, for the most part, of wonderful priests and wonderful parishes. It grieves us that the bishops of the TAC have chosen to turn their backs on the Continuum and to squander their heritage as Anglicans for a scheme which does not look workable in the long run. We believe that you have been poorly served by your bishops. We are pained that good faithful Anglican laity are being sold a bill of goods.If you are looking for a pretext for remaining outside the ACC, then our policy on conditional ordinations will serve you for a while. Then I am sure another excuse can be contrived.LKW

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Fr. Wells has commented from personal experience and humility. He followed the example of St. Chad. It is done, when it is done, quietly, simply and without pain.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Ed wrote:

If I could accept ACC's stand on this matter, I would have little problem with the issue of RCC reordination. Yes, I know that the one says "conditional" and the other says "absolute", but both justify their action in almost identical terms, and both require action that, at least in appearance, requires a public admission that there is some question as to validity.

But the terms are not even close to being identical. I cannot even see a similarity between Rome's position and that of the ACC, certainly no common ground or similarity concerning Anglican Orders. The ACA/TAC has men serving as priests who were ordained by bishops of the Episcopal Church, or other Canterbury churches, after 1976. Surely, they knew from the date of their separation from the ACC that these ordinations had never been acceptable in their former Continuing Church jurisdiction.

And, I have yet to see any priest who ever felt humiliated. But, this, that was sent to me (which I posted in an above comment), is simply a statement of fact:

The TAC at some times and in some places has also accepted ordinations by bishops whom most Anglicans, including the ACC, would view as episcopi vagantes.

How should we solve problems of orders that go back to Clavier or Dees, or men we cannot even identify? If you have a suggestion that may help us come up with a better solution, what is it? But, the ACC polity is perfectly consistent with Anglican tradition, and does not rest on a flimsy house of cards, and is nothing like Rome's position.

As for your objection that "both require action that, at least in appearance, requires a public admission that there is some question as to validity," we may ask Fr. Wells just how it plays out in practice. Was it really all that bad? Did it cause offense, or provide certainty?

What do we do with the fact that we actually do see a possible matter of doubt in some cases, and that based on terms that Anglicanism has always embraced? How should we solve it? Is there a better way? Can we just ignore it for a thing we call "unity?"

But, for years we have all known that our blog's campaign for unity would lead to a crossing of this particular bridge, sooner or later. We have sort of danced around it until now. The time has come that the bridge is right in front of us. This was not our doing; it has been caused by other forces. I say we make the most of it, turn it into an occasion for healing and unity, and solve it among all of us who are committed to the Anglican principles Affirmed at St. Louis.

Let the rest go their way to Rome (if they really going, which I think is not the real game after all; that is a another subject).

Anonymous said...

Ed wrote:

" but both justify their action in almost identical terms, and both require action that, at least in appearance, requires a public admission that there is some question as to validity."

Ed, my brother, that is the most factually incorrect statement I can recall reading for a great long while.

Rome's practice of ordaining absolutely is grounded in its sweeping denial of any validity whatsoever to Anglican orders. The ACC's practice of sometimes ordaining conditionally is due to its concern over irregularities and to vagans ordinations. That concern is not frivolous.

When I served on the Board of Examining Chaplains in an ACA diocese, I saw up close the irresponsible and carefree manner in which all sorts of ordinations were accepted with no questions asked. Men (who were not bad people, by the way) previously ordained in the Southern Episcopal Church, Reformed Episcopal Church, Charismatic Episcopal Church, or recently in The Episcopal Church were received with no more ado than a handshake and a name added to the mailing list--much to the chagrin of the Chaplains. The procedure was so slipshod that three out of five chaplains resigned in disgust with the bishop. (The other two eventually left the diocese for the APA.)

Fr Hart wrote:
"As for your objection that "both require action that, at least in appearance, requires a public admission that there is some question as to validity," we may ask Fr. Wells just how it plays out in practice. Was it really all that bad? Did it cause offense, or provide certainty?"

Since I have been through the procedure of a "conditional ordination," I am happy to respond. My original ordinations, nearly 30 years ago, were at the hands of A.F.M.Clavier. Personally, I am satisfied that these ordinations to diaconate and priesthood
were sacramentally valid. God bountifully blessed my ensuing ministry. But there were glaring irregularities, both in Clavier's line of succession and in the Ordinations he bestowed on me. The procedure was so casual that he even got the wrong date on the Ordination certificate!

Archbishop Haverland required that I have a conditional ordination to both orders. This was done discreetly in his cathedral parish on week-days. Most assuredly, I was not asked to make any public or private admissions whatever (Ed is egregiously misinformed on this point) nor was it even vaguely implied that I was not already a priest. The whole matter was handled with the utmost pastoral kindness and Christian diplomacy.

I chose then to look upon it as a necessary procedure for clearing up a cloudy title, to use a realtor's term. If there is a cloud on my title to the real estate I own, small as it is, I would be happy to do anything whatever to remove that cloud. In fact I would thank the person who had helped me.

When the Archbishop handed me the certificates of my "new" ordinations (which plainly stated that these were "sub conditione"), I thanked him profusely and drove from Athens to Jacksonville feeling that a great burden had been lifted.
LKW