Wednesday, December 23, 2009

An Eirenicon

I have been disquieted by the condemnatory and dismissive language exchanged between this weblog and The Anglo-Catholic over the Roman offer to Anglicans and our different responses to it. I offer the following as an attempt to diminish animosity, dismiss red herrings and focus the discussion towards genuine areas of difference where constructive engagement is possible. I hope that this Eirenicon is not judged to be as Pusey's was by Newman, who said to Pusey, “you discharge your olive-branch as if from a catapult”!

The Question of Gradual Corporate or Immediate Individual Submission

It has been frequently argued on this weblog that those in the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) who accept the Roman Catholic Church's (RCC) position that it is the One True (or Truest?) Church sin by not immediately submitting to it as individuals, because this is the quickest way to their necessary incorporation into 'the Church'. Thus the search for gradual or slower corporate submission is effectively portrayed as proof of sinful hypocrisy. Allow me to quote a contrary argument put some time ago here.

“What about the insistence of the RCC that those who recognise it as the Catholic Church must join it? It is not as simple as it looks. The RCC deliberately seeks corporate reunion with separated churches and what it calls “ecclesial communities” based on theological dialogue meant to result in doctrinal convergence. Does anybody really think that the RCC is saying that if such dialogue was successful in any particular case, unless it was accompanied exactly simultaneously by corporate reunion, all members of the other body would be obliged under pain of mortal sin to immediately abandon and dismantle their church and be simply absorbed into the RCC? This is clearly not what is intended by the RCC, so it would seem that there is implicit allowance for a transitional period once doctrinal convergence is reached when members of the other body my remain in it, waiting for corporate re-union to be finalised.”

It is not unreasonable for the TAC and Forward in Faith (FiF) to go over to Rome in the mode which Rome has not only permitted but encouraged through prior and present ecumenical statements. The Roman principle of respecting patrimonies, found even in Aquinas, applies. Additionally, Rome does not posit that those who have accepted its authority (or never rejected it) but are not yet “received” are properly schismatic or heretical. They are simply seen as in an anomalous, temporary situation in terms of outward, institutional structures. This, as I understand it, is roughly how the Maronites are seen before their outward reunion with Rome, since it is said they never actually left communion with Rome by choice. Also, given that the RCIA programme for individuals also takes time, even if the prospective member has already announced their ex animo adherence, we can safely say that it is not the case that the RCC teaches that strictly immediate entry is morally required upon a person becoming aware of the obligation, but instead accepts the permissibility and prudence of a transitional period of varying length.

We should, I believe, give up this line of criticism and the false dilemma it proposes: “either you accept the RCC's teaching and so must submit right away individually not wait for the corporate solution, or you don't accept it and so entering the corporate way would be hypocrisy”.

The Question of Jurisdiction and Absorption

As long as a jurisdiction does not abandon its people but carries them with it in the main, voluntary sacrifice of independence of jurisdiction is not obviously sinful. Just because autonomy as a distinct particular Church with validity of jurisdiction is defensible, does not mean that it is mandatory. The Roman offer in Anglicanorum coetibus may not be generous enough, but accepting it is not necessarily a betrayal of identity in itself, as long as a denial of previous ecclesiality is not required as part of the “deal”. See below for more on this key point.

So, insofar as the TAC had legitimate jurisdiction as a particular Church, it's hierarchy was not strictly obliged to maintain this distinct, autonomous identity upon reunion or demand this as a conditio sine qua non. Again, this is so only as long as it persuades and carries its flock with it on the way. This is where many of us perceive a failure, at the very least, of communication.

The Question of Who Contributed to and was the Focus of the Ordinariate Offer

The TAC claims regarding their part in the lead up to the Roman offer have been made publicly over the years, including in the Australian national secular press. Therefore, if they were mythological, they would have been called such by Rome already. Dr Tighe accepts the reality of TAC efforts and dialogue with Rome, and has important CDF and TAC contacts. The reference to worker priests in the documents makes more sense in the TAC than the FiF context. However, repeated reference to the Anglican Communion also suggests that the TAC was not primarily in view. As for the more recent question of whether there is anything specific to the TAC being worked out, it is not appropriate for us to “dogmatically” affirm this cannot be happening. I have heard strong doubts expressed before this offer from Rome came that anything like it ever would, and even suggestions that the TAC has never really talked to Rome on a formal basis at all. That the offer Rome is making is entirely finalised seems unlikely due to both suggestions in the text itself and one other interesting occurrence. Apparently the explanation given by one Roman theologian of the Constitution, which contained the assertion that re-ordinations would be absolute, was originally situated on the official Vatican site along with the other material. Then it disappeared from here and was relegated to another site.

The Question of Doctrine, Education, and Consistency

Formerly the TAC said in its official magazine, the Messenger (April 2005 & June 2004) that the Catholic Church subsists in TAC as well as the RCC, and also said this regarding a proposal that was being drafted to put to Rome: “The second document is a formal proposal from the TAC to the Holy See for the TAC to become an "Anglican Rite Church "sui juris" in communion with the Holy See".

We have since moved to present terminology which speaks of the Catholic Church “in the third person” so to speak, and similar language in a press release asking for funds and describing signing of Catechism of the Catholic Church and positive RC reactions. We find therein wording such as this regarding union with the RCC: 'those who dreamed that at last Anglicans were to become “Anglican Catholics”'. And this, quoted as expressing the “same view”, from the RC press: “The TAC has some 400,000 members; if a majority of these are received into the Catholic Church”. And this, also from the RC press: “for the first time since the Reformation, hundreds of thousands of Protestants are now knocking at our door”. We have, therefore, an apparent acceptance by the TAC hierarchy that their previous status was actually schismatic, heretical and merely Protestant.

There has been little or no attempt as far as I can tell to explain to their people that TAC's own principles allow affirmation of all Roman dogma (which can be plausibly argued with certain necessary qualifications, in my opinion: see my relevant apologetics articles) such that no renunciation is being made by them. Nor has there been an attempt to show that both sides have moved toward the other (without renunciation of binding doctrine by either) so that it is not a mere “return” by a repentant TAC. Instead, we hear talk of a “failed experiment” about their own heritage, acquiescence in “return to the Catholic Church” language contained in the proposed Constitution, and no suggestion that the separation was a result of any Roman fault. Criticism of these inconsistencies and implicit renunciations (without explicit admission of such) is surely reasonable, is it not? Is not the manifest failure of persuasion of very many TAC laity and their feeling of being misinformed a problem?

The Question of Orders

Apostolicae Curae is not clearly infallible and binding de jure within the RCC, despite the Note appended to Ad Tuendam Fidem which implied this. We can say this because both Cardinal Cassidy and the then Cardinal Ratzinger made statements relativising its significance. The former apparently said to George Weigel in an interview (Witness to Hope, pp. 836, 944) that there was a perception that the three categories of teaching were well defined but that perhaps not as much care had been taken in enumerating the appropriate examples in each category. The latter implied that this Note was not meant to close the debate on these issues. RC reporter Bill Broderick quotes him in this passage: 'With respect to the force of his own commentary, Ratzinger recently acknowledged that it was not "given a binding force"; that it was simply "an aid for the understanding of the texts"; and that "no one need feel an authoritarian imposition or restriction by these texts."' Its binding character is also certainly not obvious de facto, as many RC theologians have denied and do deny its conclusions without rebuke.

So, the argument that TAC willingness to enter the RCC of itself necessitates renunciation of the validity of their orders is probably unfair.

But the argument that absolute ordination is not to be objected to because Anglicans don't intend to make RC priests anyway is nonsense. If the lack of intention to make Roman Catholic priests was enough to justify absolute ordination, then Eastern Orthodox (EO) ordinations would not be recognised by the RCC either. The intention for Anglican Churches as well as for those of the East has always been to make priests of the Catholic Church, however that is identified in detail, the same as those of Early and Mediaeval Church, as proven among Anglicans by the Preface to Ordinal and our perpetual reception of RC priests in their orders. There is no need to intend to make “Roman” priests, nor has any RC theologian of note ever claimed so.

The argument that absolute re-ordination rather than conditional ordination is necessary to “allay doubts” is even worse. Conditional ordination is specifically designed to allay doubts. The alternative is only ever to be used in the Western context if there is no doubt whatever that previous orders are invalid, since otherwise sacrilege (and scandal to TAC laity in this case) is risked, as repetition of ordination is intrinsically uncanonical and sacrilegious according to constant Catholic teaching.

A real dilemma surely exists here, does it not? If absolute reordination is accepted, this certifies in practice that the RCC is morally certain of invalidity. If the TAC continues to celebrate sacraments, this certifies that the TAC is morally certain of validity. Therefore, either re-union requires admission of invalidity by TAC (and thus either sacrilege in continuing 'false' sacraments and idolatry when Eucharistic adoration is practised, or cessation of sacramental life) OR re-union hides a fundamental disagreement, which even if it is not definitely dogmatic (see above), is of great significance and undermines the claim of substantial unity. Surely this dilemma must be resolved before honest reconciliation can ensue?

PS: The Accusation of Anglican Jansenism

We have been labelled “Anglican Jansenists” by those members of the TAC defending the Roman offer. This is a very strange criticism. We are not Jansenist in soteriology, as strict Augustinianism and Calvinism, which are virtually identical to Jansenism in many respects, are a distinctly minority opinion among our commenters and not adhered to by the editors of this weblog, as frequent discussions here have made clear. It is difficult to detect a genuinely distinctive Jansenist ecclesiology, but it is our ecclesiology which appear to be the main target here. If Jansenist ecclesiology is taken by our Anglo-papalist critics to mean something like Donatism or Novatianism, the counter-evidence is not hard to find. My recent post (which was approved before and after posting by fellow editors Fr Hart and Ed Pacht), Anglican Catholic Ecclesiology, denied Anglican exclusivism and affirmed full Roman ecclesiality and catholicity as well as the full orthodoxy of the RC/EO consensus.

This does mean the Branch Theory “accusation” against us is valid (which, by the way, is inconsistent with the previous criticism), but Branch Theory criticisms are usually made while ignoring the fact that E/W agreement against the Branch Theory is actually just a side-effect of essential disagreement about who is the One True Church. Unless a distinct Dogma of Absolute Manifest Unity (DOAMU) for the Church is the commonality, this is no real agreement at all. The problem its that the DOAMU (once it is realised that such a “dogma” is needed to exclude Anglicans) is often simply put forward unreflectively without addressing the evidence against it being in any way binding or even plausible. See here.

Is there not room for a less accusatory and contemptuous approach to our disagreements from here on in?

40 comments:

BCP Anglican said...

Thank you for your Eirenicon, Fr. Kirby. The recent exchanges have indeed become disturbing. Obviously, there have been and are going to be disagreements on doctrine, liturgy and the interpretation of history between those who accept papal authority and those who do not. However, one would hope that honest differences could be expressed without belittling those who disagree and without obsessing about all the little details of disagreement. We Anglicans of the continuum have a long and unfortunate history of squabbling. Whatever our disagreements about the papal offer, let us not shed more anglo-catholic blood. Pax in terra.

George said...

I am not sure this totally applies, but i think it is connected. If TAC believes there is another set of norms or an extension of the original offer, why did Bp. Hepworth come across as saying this is exceeds what TAC wanted and asked for. On top of that Bp Hepworth wants to get ordinates setup as soon as possible? It seems to me by doing this the Vatican doesn't have to offer anything more than it already has based on the reaction TAC's Primate has given.

I am not persuaded by Roman's offer, but I believed TAC's original approach was one of dialogue of finding what would be needed to be done in order to achieve Sacramental communion with Roman. As this maybe unattainable because of Roman's belief Anglican orders are invalid and etc.., however, as Anglican we should continue to pursue different avenues to achieve some agreement without diminishing are faith.

Jakian Thomist said...

Thank you Fr. Kirby for your balanced appraisal!

The question of Anglican orders is an interesting one, and one that I am not qualified to discuss in detail.

I did read something interesting though, which I thought I might share with you.

It said that after Leo XIII had declared Anglican orders to be invalid that several CoE bishops had themselves re-consecrated either by Orthodox or by Old-Catholic prelates and that today every CoE bishop can trace his episcopal consecration to one or other of these re-consecrations. And this this was why Paul VI reopened the question of Anglican orders, because of the different line of Apstolic sucession.

Perhaps this provides a solution?

Fr. John said...

Fr. Kirby,

I agree. I think it would also be helpful if people would remind themselves, before they press the "send" button, that the medium of emails lends itself to misunderstanding and rudeness.

I am against deleting comments in Toto, but I don't like the use of name calling either. Isn't there a way we can edit out offensive names and adjectives? I can disagree with someone without labeling them "ignorant," and if the rude word were replaced with something like "!*&xx!" we might still capture the intellectual content of the post without the crassness. Might help the poster learn something about themselves too.

As for questioning the motives of individuals, let us pass on that too. However, I do believe it is permissible to review the quality, constancy, and efficacy of the leadership of any organization, and the individuals comprising the leadership of a given organization.

That is why I have called for the TAC bishops and clergy who support this ill advised move to Rome to resign their positions of authority immediately. Their continued quibbling about the meaning, status, and validity of Anglican orders is more than a scandal to us all. Since this is the second contemplated incidence of this type of sacrilege by the same leadership, we are entitled to question the benefit of continuing with such leaders.

It is no personal insult to suggest to such individuals that they should resign now, that which they intend to renounce later.

Whether they go to Rome now or later, or even never, is not the issue.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Fr. Kirby:

It seems to me that the whole foundation for much of your argument begins with and rests on this premise of yours, as a foundation:

The Roman principle of respecting patrimonies, found even in Aquinas, applies. Additionally, Rome does not posit that those who have accepted its authority (or never rejected it) but are not yet “received” are properly schismatic or heretical. They are simply seen as in an anomalous, temporary situation in terms of outward, institutional structures. This, as I understand it, is roughly how the Maronites are seen before their outward reunion with Rome, since it is said they never actually left communion with Rome by choice.

"Respecting patrimonies" simply does not apply in the case of Anglicanism, as you should know. To use your example, there is no similarity between the Maronites and Anglicans by Rome's officially pronounced teachings and its consistent practice of requiring Rites of Initiation (and their post Graham Leonard decision that even the Ana-ordinations will not never again be conditional). They regard Anglicanism as a schism, as a heresy broken off through rebellion. They do not offer recognition, nor a gradual process of anything resembling "reception."

Even though if some of them had their "druthers" (apparently even the Pope himself) they might revisit this notion, they are bound by precedent in a way we cannot appreciate.

Thus the search for gradual or slower corporate submission is effectively portrayed as proof of sinful hypocrisy.

Really? The most I have said is that the people are confused; the only ones standing between them and Rome are the TAC bishops themselves.

The Roman offer in Anglicanorum coetibus may not be generous enough, but accepting it is not necessarily a betrayal of identity in itself, as long as a denial of previous ecclesiality is not required as part of the “deal”. See below for more on this key point.

The loss of an illusion of separate identity might take more than one generation; but, it would be inevitable.

So, the argument that TAC willingness to enter the RCC of itself necessitates renunciation of the validity of their orders is probably unfair.

What part of "Absolutely null and utterly void" can we get around, then? Oh, I suppose that this would not be pronounced today; but, for now it stands as Law in the RCC.

The problem here is that your essay is built on the foundation of Rome respecting Patrimonies. Officially, whether their leaders themselves want to change it or not, they do not regard Anglicanism as having a valid patrimony, but as in schism from its rightful Patrimony. We can't have real ecumenical progress with Rome unless we begin with that fact and deal with it honestly.

This is why the TAC bishops will talk and talk as long as they can, but do nothing.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Jakian Thomist wrote:

And this this was why Paul VI reopened the question of Anglican orders, because of the different line of Apstolic sucession.

Perhaps this provides a solution?


(By the way, that applied to all Anglican Orders as of 1968.) The whole reason that the C of E received the Infusion was ecumenical, as conciliatory to Rome in the event of possible reunion, for the sake of unity should that miracle ever happen. This shows a generous attitude from the Anglicans. It was the Anglicans, willing to put up with insult and injustice, who made a peaceful gesture.

The problem with the idea is that Roman Polemicists assumed that Anglicans had doubted their own validity, and wanted to repair it. We know from the documents that that was simply not true at all. They never doubted their orders at all. The other problem is that Rome does not see it as a solution anyway. The whole "Dutch Touch" was a very generous effort by Anglicans, but it seems to have had no effect (after Graham Leonard, for what little that was worth, as any Ana-ordination is just wrong).

David Gould said...

Fathers and brethren: in regard to patrimonies and uniate bodies, to me it is clear that what is needed is consideration of what form of unity that is appropriate for Anglicans within the Western Church.

Is being Roman Catholics with an Anglican liturgical and cultural flavour enough? Is a fully autonomous Uniate Church the desired structure, like the Ukrainian Catholic Church? Does the Anglican "patrimony" possess the qualities of not being just an ecclesial body but a Church - a Catholic and Apostolic Church?

Does the Anglican Church possess a valid Catholic life of it's own? Is it only a sad separation from correctly being placed in the Roman Church?

If we can believe that the branch theory has validity - that there are 3 streams of valid Catholic Christian ecclesial community - Latin, Anglican and Eastern, then we can get somewhere.

Our problem is that Rome I believe sees us as a separated ecclesial community with invalid orders and not as a constituent albeit separated part of the Catholic Church as they see the Eastern Orthodox.

Our claims to the fullness of Catholic and Apostolic life will be better advanced by holiness that can be seen and felt by Romans and Orthodox alike. Perhaps that means more preaching and less blog grandstanding. Perhaps it means that when we see continuing Anglicans getting their act together and achieving our own corporate reunion then we will know we are getting there.

Our mission as Anglican Catholic Christians must be the pursuit of holiness and salvation, obedience to the great commission of Our Lord in St. Matthew's Gospel.

Charity, Christian compassion and humility, marked by prayer, by fasting ought to mark our discourses, whether we are Anglo-Papists or evangelicals.

Jakian Thomist said...

Dear Fr Hart,

"The whole reason that the C of E received the Infusion was ecumenical..."
I appreciate how from the CoE point of view this was generous on their part, but regardless of the reason, it did overcome the objection raised since the fate of Anglican orders is now tied to those of Orthodox.

From my basic knowledge of this area it would appear to provide the answer to your question:
"What part of "Absolutely null and utterly void" can we get around, then?

I had a quick read into the details surrounding Graeme Leonard. The related statement by Cardinal Hume can be read here: http://www.angelfire.com/nj/malleus/hume_statement.html . The question appears unresolved at present, it would probably require an infallible clarification. It is quite possible we will see this once the Apostolic Constitution begins to come into effect.

On injustices by the RCC in the past, Pope John Paul II did ask for forgiveness in 2000.

On a slight tangent, you mention the "miracle" of unity of CoE with Rome. As of 1994 this is impossible due to the Ordination of Women Priests, since Pope JPII infallibly declared that women cannot be ordained to the priesthood. The only Anglican congregations that unity is possible with would be your own (ACNA?) and other traditionalist Anglican groups which are accepting the Apostolic Constitution.

With every blessing this Christmastide.

poetreader said...

David,
Hear, Hear!

ed

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Jakian Thomist:

You seem to be confusing two separate matters. The Infusion was from the Old Catholic Union of Utrecht, long, long before they defected into heresy and apostasy. The Anglican relationship with the Orthodox involved recognition, by most of their Patriarchs and Archbishops, of Anglican Orders, even to the point of allowing their people to receive sacraments from Anglican priests when Orthodox churches were too far away (and some have tried to explain these facts away; but, they are documented quite well, and for some they are in living memory).

The ordination of women ruined official Canterbury-Anglican Communion)- relations with the only Utrecht Church (now formerly of the Utrecht Union) still worthy of consideration, namely the Polish National Catholic Church. It ruined also the ecumenical progress that was advancing between the Anglican Communion and the Orthodox Church.

You have mentioned the ACNA, and we hope they will come, in time, to reject women's ordination, and to embrace more of the Catholic Tradition. I do believe the remainder of your question gets to the real point.

Genuine ecumenical dialogue with both Rome and Orthodoxy would require patience on everyone's part, and also very realistic and honest "plain talking." The Anglicans who could enter into such dialogue with a reasonable expectation of achieving something good-perhaps the full healing with restoration of visible unity-would be Continuing Anglicans with the Anglican Catholic Church providing the largest and most stable, but not exclusive, presence.

The problem with this new constitution and the behavior of certain TAC bishops, is that their misrepresentation of what Rome has actually written and offered, merely slows down and obstructs any real work in the direction of genuine unity.

Jakian Thomist said...

I would also like to briefly comment on David's point:
"If we can believe that the branch theory has validity - that there are 3 streams of valid Catholic Christian ecclesial community - Latin, Anglican and Eastern, then we can get somewhere."

As a Catholic, I really cannot subscribe to this, although I think my frequent posting here does indicate that I do care for unity.

I could not be communion with a body which views ordination of women as valid. This has the hallmark of a separate religion to me. Perhaps I'm being selfish here but I would want my religous leader to agree with my faith 100% not just a lowest common denominator.

I am also uncomfortable with declaring the branch theory
"Catholic", I would have to endorse Newman's sentiment in his letter to Allies:

"It puzzles me that people won't call things by right names. Why not boldly discard what is no longer practically professed? Say the Catholic Church is not , that it has broken up, - this I can understand: - I don't understand saying that there is a Church, and one Church, and yet acting as if there were none or many."

I hate to say it but the branch theory strikes me as latitudinarian. If we believe separate things then surely we must recognise this?

May the light of Christ shine into our hearts this day.

Jakian Thomist said...

Thank you Fr. Hart for that very informative background. I would hate to think that people are misrepresenting the Apostolic Constitution, but I have not followed these matters in sufficient detail to determine if this is the case.

I guess a key point for Anglican Priests considering the Constitution is whether the Papacy recognises the grace afforded them in ordination. The statement from Cardinal Hume certainly indicates so: "the liturgical actions of their ministry can most certainly engender a life of grace, for they come from Christ and lead back to him and belong by right to the one church of Christ."

So where does this leave Apostolicae Curae? Speaking from a Catholic perspective, when Pope Leo XIII declared the existing Anglican succession invalid, Catholics consider the matter closed - we consider it is part of the loosing and binding of Peter's Keys. So that is why we consider the Infusion from the "Old Catholic Union of Utrecht" so important - it was part of another succession not implicated by Apostolicae Curae. There has not been another definitive statement of Anglican orders since - to my knowledge.

Because of the way Roman Catholics view the Papacy, certain decisions will never be changed. Women's ordination is a case in point. I'm sure there was plenty of debate about women priests before 1994 when Pope John Paul required that his "judgment is to be definitively held by all the church's faithful". But then the debate stopped - and the question is now closed. And this was in spite of Dr. Carey's claims that we would "eventually" ordain women.

It just makes me so sad to see the impact of liberalism on the CoE, I mean less than half of Britains consider themselves Christian, the RCC provided a home for Scottish Anglicans who were too "traditional" and unwelcome in their church, what would St. Augustine say?

Apologies for these idle thoughts. Although I don't think it does any harm to consider the wider picture in our discussions, we actually agree on so much.

Anonymous said...

I found this argument tedious and unhelpful. I think the prior arguments/posts demanded clarity and we should all continue to demand clarity albeit in charity.

I am a ACA layman. I want to get on with the business of the Church. If my Bishops are abandoning their Sees that is there business but they should do so quickly so those of us remaining can pick up the pieces and move on. I ask you ACA clergy and Bishops to declare your intent and time table.

I have expressed my concerns about the impact on parish life due to this offer and Fr. Hart used them in a post so no need to go through them again except to say this post seems to ignore all the problems presented to ACA lay people by this dilemma if we do not desire to become Roman Catholics. The article strikes me as one of clericalism.

I got news for you. We lay people foot the bills pay the salaries, tithes and build the buildings.

It upsets me that so many clergy have their collective heads up in the clouds on this (including Rome) that they seem to fail to recognize their are people with equally valuable souls whom you all are taking much for granted.



Alan

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Jakian Thomist:

I believe that whether or not one ascribes to the official Branch Theory, the obvious Branch Fact is undeniable.

I could not be communion with a body which views ordination of women as valid.

Neither can we; therefore we are Continuing Anglicans, no more in communion with the official Anglican Communion than is the Pope or the Ecumenical Patriarch.

Newman's sentimen..."It puzzles me that people won't call things by right names. Why not boldly discard what is no longer practically professed? Say the Catholic Church is not, that it has broken up, - this I can understand: - I don't understand saying that there is a Church, and one Church, and yet acting as if there were none or many."

It makes me wonder if Newman had read I Corinthians, or if he had ever dealt with an unhappy marriage in his congregation. He has created, as he often did, a false choice. We do not have to choose between his options. The truth is that there is one Church Catholic, and some its members need to be reconciled to each other, and to understand each other better. But, confusing one Church with one polity is the real error.

As for the other matter, it is of no consequence for us if the Pope recognizes our Orders, for we do not believe Leo XIII's Bull, we do not see the Papacy as having the Binding and loosing power beyond that of all the Bishops, including our own, and we regard the Dutch Touch as essentially unimportant. Our Anglican Orders, through Archbishops Parker have been valid all along.

Like you, I hold strongly to what I believe, and want to see genuine unity. This AC stuff is fine for people who simply want to join the Roman Catholic Church (and we want them to have God's blessing the whole way). But spinning it as something that allows one to be both Anglican and Roman Catholic at the same time only muddles communication, and sets back the cause of unity.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Alan:

I seem to do most of the writing, but as you can see The Continuum Blog is not one man with one opinion. I disagree with Fr. Kirby's essay too, as I have said. I do understand the plight of the ACA members who do not want to be Roman Catholic or to live in No Man's Land, and I seem to have become a champion who fights for their point of view. Frankly, I hope that if their bishops abandon them, bad perceptions about the ACC will fall away and real unity will embrace one Continuing Church.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Fr. Hart

I do appreciate the sentiment.

I suspect a factor in the delay for some clergy and especially for our 'bishops' is best summed up in this quote: Conscience in most men, is but the anticipation of the opinions of others. -Jeremy Taylor

Could it simply be that the delay is that our clergy are so far down this trail they are finally looking back to see if anybody is following?

I really despise indecision in people who are supposed to be leaders.

You or Canon Hollister mentioned a reasonable expectation of good faith by lay people of their episcopate. I cannot see how any of this squares with the ACA Canons. Presentments are in order but probably moot.

Alan

Anonymous said...

BTW

"I do understand the plight of the ACA members who do not want to be Roman Catholic or to live in No Man's Land"

Didn't Rome do away with Limbo?

Alan

Joshua said...

No, it didn't - the press coverage was (as usual) completely mixed up and erroneous.

highchurchman said...

Father Hart on the whole, as an ACC, priest this blog speaks for me!
Either we are Catholics who believe in the ancient faith, as laid down by Revelation, Scripture and Fathers,[ 7 Councils,] or we are not! In which case we should, or our bishops should, put right what we lack!
For myself, I get irritated by comments from Romans, who know nothing of what we believe, or at least have very great gaps in their knowledge. [Jakian,] Who raise molehills to the position of mountains, while at the sametime follow medieval additions without a qualm and accept definetly unorthodox teachings[ Inf, and Juris.] as perfectly acceptable and then quibble about the branch theory.
We have a duty to God and the Church to defend our position. Without being to mealy mouthed about it,without claiming we are the One True Holy catholic and Apostolic Church, we simply state we are a manifestation of that Body.
I have been taught that Anglicanism is Catholicity with an English face!

Canon Jerome Lloyd OSJV said...

"Could it simply be that the delay is that our clergy are so far down this trail they are finally looking back to see if anybody is following?

I really despise indecision in people who are supposed to be leaders."

Alan - I quite agree with your sentiments and it is a point I have pressed with FiF colleagues this side of the pond. The truth of the matter in the UK is that Anglo-Catholic parishes have not been teaching the faith for so long.

Yes, since 1992 they have indeed been teaching in earnest, the FiF publications have assisted that (though are in the main mostly politically based). But one can almost pinpoint the relaxation of teaching in Anglo-Catholic Parishes here when the craze to adopt VCII liturgy and theology took root.

The first of that generation left for Rome in 1993/4 and those that are left, stayed, for personal/material reasons (some understandably) but now, almost twenty years on, some are again being provoked to consider their next move.

Most of the present FiF heirarchy (largely made up of those who would've gone but didn't) are approaching retirement in the year coming and the next. They will be "free" then to choose as they please re "the future".

Trouble is, that the younger generation below them have much to consider re family provision etc and with the likelihood of losing alternative Episcopal oversight, are facing an uncertain future. A future the FiF heirarchy decided not to discuss at their last Assembly but instead "all hail" the Apostolic Constitution as "plan B".

"Plan B" is all very well if one has given up on "Plan A" - maintain a Catholic presence in the historic CofE. Which for so long was what FiF had been telling people to do right up until the AC was announced.

My point? It is a well known fact that Shepherd's herd their flocks from the rear - not marching away at the front - and for too long the Pastors in the UK have been marching at the front shouting back orders. Now, all of a sudden, the Pastors are off to pastures new/retirement and leaving their flocks behind.

Some Pastors are naturally vexed, the laity are particularly. But its no good starting to say that "Rome is home" when for so long one was deliberately selling an alternative! If "Rome was home" all along - why wasn't that clearly stated as the goal of FiF? Over twenty years, much could already have been done to catechise the faithful and to create the opportunity for such an offer as the AC. But it wasn't considered, it was only dreamed about and that by the clergy, not shared with the laity.

Anonymous said...

"Trouble is, that the younger generation below them have much to consider re family provision etc and with the likelihood of losing alternative Episcopal oversight, are facing an uncertain future. A future the FiF heirarchy decided not to discuss at their last Assembly but instead "all hail" the Apostolic Constitution as "plan B"."

I think you may have hit on a reason to demand Celibacy.

While I understand a man has to provide for his family that provision generally comes if they are doing God's work where they have been placed and certainly the interests of having a family should not be over against the interest of serving the flock one believed they were called by God to enter Holy Orders so to do.

I'm afraid your comments do little to give me solace; I think what you are saying is that many clergy are simply looking out for number one. Where am I wrong here?

What you describe is simply lying. For someone to purposefully allow people to slip into ignorance in order to accommodate manipulation (in this case steering the sheep towards Rome) is a type of lying. I ask the FIF people; how is that any different than what the radicals did in the ECUSA? Same MO! It may be Papism rather than WO and other heresy, but the intent of the said clergy is the same- looking to change the way people think in order to accommodate an agenda! That is not herding from the rear that is steering through deception.

Perhaps though the sheep should be demanding psychological testing to weed out papists so they will not be left in the cold- having paid the salaries of people who had ulterior motives.

It amazes me that such clergy can even allow themselves in the same building as the Holy Sacrament much less presume to consecrate the host and read such as the statement “there is no health in us” with regard to the lay people.

None of this is about Catholicity. We have that and such Roman controversialists, as drone on about the OTC be damned, this (FIF , TAC etc) is about parading around like circus clowns in a big cathedral wearing 'exquisite' vestments play acting church because in the end that is what many of these people see as “Catholic”- they only see the garb! I know for a fact of these many clergy expect to be handed altars by way of unused RC churches- these people have no idea how to spread the gospel it's all about themselves. And they seem oblivious to the fact these properties ar being dismantled and sold to pay off the buggery lawsuits. If these clergy wanted real Christianity they would be doing the grubby down and dirty of evangelism.

I ask you all where is room for evangelism in any of this? And isn't it funny how the Roman controversialists spend so much time trying to convince us rather than the unchurched? The effort they expend betrays the lack of confidence they hide.

“Dreams”? Sometimes you get what you pray for and it’s not at all what one thought it would be.

Alan

veriword: inivertu

poetreader said...

Alan,
though I do agree with much of what you just said, I have to observe that you paint with too broad a brush, which is so often done, and is part of what makes this kind of conversation so damnably difficult (the adjective is deliberately chosen and no more than a slight exaggeration).

Merely one quibble among many: One of the most obstinate and difficult of the Pro-Roman polemicists in my acquaintance, whose activity for his cause does not win my admiration, most certainly does not fit what you say:

"If these clergy wanted real Christianity they would be doing the grubby down and dirty of evangelism.
I ask you all where is room for evangelism in any of this? And isn't it funny how the Roman controversialists spend so much time trying to convince us rather than the unchurched?


The person in question, quite to the contrary, does, in fact, put his major effort into evangelizing the unchurched, with a considerable level of success, I might add. I wish I would see that degree of evangelistic fervor more often among those with a healthier overall approach.

While strong and specific objections can be made in matters of theology, it is seldom appropriate to try to define another's motivation or to judge his character by what we see as his errors of teaching. Yhr discussion would be far clearer, less acrimonious, and more likely to accomplish something of merit, if we would all remember this.

ed

Fr. Robert Hart said...

High Churchman and Alan:

Glad to have you in my corner, as I am in yours. I will say one thing in defense of the person calling himself Jakian Thomist: He is polite and seems willing to learn some facts from us about our own identity. The arrogant polemicists are the ones that we have a problem with.

Someone has had to tell the truth, especially with the outright B.S. that we see on other blogs and on websites. I am saddened that one of my colleagues seems to blame me for causing strife. The ones who have caused strife and who have been offensive, are those who trash our Anglican patrimony, treat it with scorn and derision, and then simply lie about this new AC rather than admitting that it is not the answer they wanted. So, they ignore what it says, and try to rewrite it to gain sinfully and willfully ignorant followers, and to feed the gullibility of those already advanced in their ignorance. They threaten to lower the Continuing Anglican numbers to a level that cannot be sustained-or they would if they could (Jews call it extermination by assimilation, something they guard against) I, for one, plan to stand in the way and obstruct the efforts of Hepworth and company. My beef is with such pseudo-Anglicans.

Anonymous said...

My apologies for any misunderstanding. I am not referring in any way to Jakian Thomist but to another. It is other such that comb the internet for argument like a person who likes to start a fight in a room and then leave coming back to take advantage of the wreckage.

I have no issue with anyone who asks in earnest or contends for better understanding. What I dislike is the professional controversialist.
I also dislike a effeminate understanding of what it means to be Christian. While I understand we all occupy the feminine being a part of the Bride. There is no reason to mince words on important issues. Surely as long as we stay below the level of the first Apostolic Council in Acts we are still in the safe zone without having to render up manly and direct conversation. There is a lot at stake and I think if clergy take it for granted the laity will follow blindly and on the flimsiest of interpretation of the AC your likely to find yourself walking alone.
Alan

Anonymous said...

"They threaten to lower the Continuing Anglican numbers to a level that cannot be sustained-or they would if they could (Jews call it extermination by assimilation, something they guard against) I, for one, plan to stand in the way and obstruct the efforts of Hepworth and company. My beef is with such pseudo-Anglicans."

I think as my other posts including the ones Ed deletes suggest I am not just a talker but a doer. I don't believe in a zero sum game there are as many to reap in the field as could be hoped for. But one cannot do so without clarity and direction from their episcopate. If the Bishops doubt themselves who would be in such a church?

Alan

Jakian Thomist said...

I'm not sure how much of the commentary on "Roman controversialists" refers to myself, but let me say that I would be honoured to be considered among their league.

You see, my heroes are the controversialists, they see the world in a different light - while viewing it upside down as Chesterton quipped.

Of course the saints are the true controversialists - their Christian heroism makes them the biggest scandal the fallen world has ever seen!

May the Holy Family find a welcome in our hearts and homes this Christmas Eve!

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I don't believe in a zero sum game there are as many to reap in the field as could be hoped for. But one cannot do so without clarity and direction from their episcopate. If the Bishops doubt themselves who would be in such a church?

Very good point. In my first nine months at St. Benedict's we have grown, with 22 new members and others starting to attend frequently. We could not see this growth if I had anything less than absolute and clear conviction that our way is good, right and true.

How do Anglicans express confidence in our particular way? It begins with refusing to apologize for the Prayer Book, and instead defending it with apologetics. Follow it with conviction, and mean every word.

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

Fr Hart,

You stated: "I am saddened that one of my colleagues seems to blame me for causing strife." I am sorry if that is the impression given, but the article was not targetted at you personally.

It is true I disagree with some of the arguments against the Constitution and the TAC hierarchy's approach to it and do not accept the necessity or justice of effectively declaring those in favour of these as stupid, dishonest or ignorant. And some of your posts and comments seem to be in that vein.

However, when I talked about the relationship and language exchanged between the two blogs, I was making a far broader reference. I consider each blog as a kind of "household" of people (Gk: oikos, a word I have also heard applied to the concept of a "sphere of influence"). We are perhaps the stewards of the household, the regular commenters are effectively members of it, other commenters are more like visitors or guests. When I referred to what each weblog was saying about the other, I was talking about oikos to oikos, not individual to individual. And I was definitely talking as much about the other blog as ours! I thought this would be apparent from my non-personal terminology and by comparing what each oikos had been saying to what I had criticised. Clearly, my assumptions, especially about how broad a group the word "weblog" denotes to most, were wrong. I apologise for any offence caused.

I agree with the need for clarity, but not for ad hominem criticisms except when unavoidable.

Pax et bonum,

MK+

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

Now, as to criticisms of the argument of the post ...

Fr Hart,

You imply my whole argument rests on Rome's principle of accepting patrimonies. However, the very same paragraph has other evidence brought forward with the words "Additionally" and "Also", even ignoring the previous paragraph detailing other arguments for my case in the first section. In other words, I presented converging lines of evidence all pointing the same way: Rome does not in fact demand that those submitting to its claims must seek to be incorporated by the absolutely quickest possible route, since by submitting and choosing to begin the journey into communion with Rome they are already considered not properly schismatic or heretical.

The other sections are independent, and do not depend on the patrimony-respect principle at all.

But is there anything wrong with me appealing to the aforementioned principle? Not at all. You stated:

"Respecting patrimonies" simply does not apply in the case of Anglicanism, as you should know. To use your example, there is no similarity between the Maronites and Anglicans by Rome's officially pronounced teachings and its consistent practice of requiring Rites of Initiation (and their post Graham Leonard decision that even the Ana-ordinations will not never again be conditional). They regard Anglicanism as a schism, as a heresy broken off through rebellion. They do not offer recognition, nor a gradual process of anything resembling "reception."

Even though if some of them had their "druthers" (apparently even the Pope himself) they might revisit this notion, they are bound by precedent in a way we cannot appreciate.


First, my example was put forward as an example, not an archetype to which all other examples must conform. Of course there are differences between the Maronite and Anglican cases, as well as similarities, from the Roman perspective. However, the Maronite case is sufficient to show that Rome does not universally and unconditionally posit that those not in outward visible communion with it at any point in time are necessarily truly outside the Church then. Indeed, and this is the second point, the Maronite example was not given to illustrate the principle of respecting patrimonies but this different point, though it is of course an example of respecting patrimonies as well. Third, you seem to assume that Rome teaches that a once schismatic or heretical group (from its perspective) should never have its patrimony respected, or could not have such a patrimony. But this is simply untrue. Rome does not teach this, and never has to my knowledge. Explicit statements about the "Anglican patrimony" in the Constitution and in papal statements of last century, and the respect shown centuries ago to the patrimonies of, for example, formerly "Nestorian" Churches, are sufficient proof that prior separation from Rome is not enough to convince it a "returning" Church has nothing to offer from its period of separation.

The question of how far and how fairly the RCC is willing to respect the Anglican patrimony in reality is a separate question.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Nonetheless, the Maronite example (among others) does not apply. The very treatment of Anglican Orders is one obvious, legal fact. We are not in that same category at all.

The fact remains that this AC constitution is nothing even close to what Abp. Hepworth, Abp. Falk, Bp. Campese, etc. have said that it is. It is not a generous "yes," to their request for "full corporate communion." What it really amounts to is, "No, however, here's what we can do..." Still the TAC episcopacy spin it as "inter-communion," ignore its specifications, and analyze it with pure isogesis to fit their agenda. They refuse to admit that it says what it says, and they keep promising their people many things that it does not say.

This matter is not merely academic, but quite real. By all observation, Alan speaks for most of the lay members of his jurisdiction.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

The question of how far and how fairly the RCC is willing to respect the Anglican patrimony in reality is a separate question.

I meant to reply to this too. Quite obviously, the constitution they have created is designed for Anglican influence to die out within the RCC.

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

Alan,

You stated: "I found this argument tedious and unhelpful." Well, fair enough, but wouldn't it be helpful to further the discussion if you said what parts of the argument were wrong and why? After all, isn't the important thing about an argument whether it is true or not?

You also said: "this post seems to ignore all the problems presented to ACA lay people by this dilemma if we do not desire to become Roman Catholics. The article strikes me as one of clericalism." My article was not about the issue you raise, though I acknowledge it is important too. I was instead desirous of addressing those who do want to go (such as those clergy and laity at "The Anglo-Catholic") in a way that was not critical of them as persons, avoided unfair or overly dogmatic assertions, but still challenged what I sincerely feel are essential inconsistencies in their position.

To be honest, I think the solution to the dilemma you mention for ACA and other TAC laity who do not wish to deny their Anglican Catholic heritage and identity is the one Fr Hart has already given. I pray the ACC/APCK/UECNA will be worthy of it and graciously welcoming, and I believe they indeed will be so.

As for clericalism, note these sentences from the original article: "So, insofar as the TAC had legitimate jurisdiction as a particular Church, it's hierarchy was not strictly obliged to maintain this distinct, autonomous identity upon reunion or demand this as a conditio sine qua non. Again, this is so only as long as it persuades and carries its flock with it on the way." The word "persuades" is significant. Even more significant is the clear implication that the hierarchy had no right meekly to accept absorption if it did not so persuade its laity. Which, to a large extent, it clearly did not. How is this limit on the rights of the bishops clericalism?

Pax et bonum,

MK+

Jakian Thomist said...

Fr. Hart,

I have to admit that I am shocked to read the following and I would be very grateful if you could elaborate on it:

"Quite obviously, the constitution they have created is designed for Anglican influence to die out within the RCC."

I think it is obvious that you have never been subjected to a "folk mass". No, coming from my perspective, Anglicanorum Coetibus is a major part of the Liturgical Revival within the RCC, particularly in the Anglophone world, both inside and outside the Anglican Rite. No, the AC and the forced reintroduction of the Latin Mass are attempts by the Holy Father to combat the "Spirit of Vatican II" which has infected large parts of the RCC and only generated a spirit of irreverance towards the Holy Eucharist.

If you want to read my initial reaction to AC you can see it here, it could not be more different to yours: http://theduhemsociety.blogspot.com
/2009/10/that-enduring-rock.html

If married clergy was the only "Anglican influence" then you might have had a point, but it is really so much more than that.

St. Stephen the Martyr, pray for us.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I would be quite happy for the RCC to recover traditional liturgy, but not at the price of seeing part of the Continuing Anglican churches disappear. Frankly, you can drain our blood donors of all they have, but the type isn't even right. The AC might provide a pretense for a few men to lead a larger number into the RCC in its current condition, and that is the danger. The real number of the TAC might be as high as 10,000 (certainly nowhere near the artificial 400,000 count, which was always just plain absurd), and maybe half of that might go with bishops who plan to enter the RCC by way of the AC. That number inside a communion a billion strong is not going to give you anything, and it may just bleed those souls of anything they might have to offer.

They need to recover their own strength, and live a while. Anything Anglicanism may offer to the RCC will have to come via proper ecumenical dialogue, not this constitution for conversion.

Jakian Thomist said...

Dear Fr. Hart,

I understand your sentiment about the future of Traditional Anglican Communities and you are correct that AC can be called a "constitution for conversion". However, only those who want to join with the RCC will do so and I pray that they do not do so under false pretenses because from my perspective I want them to revel in the God's grace and not be unhappy.

I wouldn't endorse your "blood donor" terminology to refer to ordinaries, it sounds rather sinister. Instead I would view it that they are receiving of God's grace but yet have a bounty to bring to the fold which is to be treasured.

I hope that my previous post allayed your fears that they would be "swallowed up". While the RCC does have a billion members there are only 4m in England where the Anglican Rite is particularly expected to flourish. Besides the existing Anglican Use parishes are thriving and supported by local Latin Rite communities - Fr. Longenecker has a blog for his parish and it can be viewed at gkupsidedown.blogspot.com

By the way, I have no longing for Continuing Anglican Communities to disappear. Indeed I hope that you continue to attract those from the more "Protestant" wing of your communion to appreciate Church Principles and actual Christian morality. I pray that you all are in receipt of God's grace.

Fr. John said...

Those in the TAC/ACA need to understand that the AC language lends itself to placing the new RC Anglican Use parishes under the partial, if not complete, control of the nearest Roman Ordinary. Former Anglicans of a traditionalist mind set will find themselves chagrined at having to take part in whatever left wing activity the local Roman ordinary dreams up. The formerly Anglican parish's own ordinary will be a part of a Roman council of bishops. That means he will have a whole new peer group to mold and form his opinions and actions.

The organized left within the Roman Communion is eagerly awaiting the death of Benedict XVI so that they may devour the minority traditionalist element, and go down the same road as the Episcopal Church.

Anglicans who accept this papal offer will be in the belly of the beast, and relive the horrors of what we endured in the 1960s and 70s in ECUSA.

Lord have mercy!

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Jakian Thmist

I am sure you are a very nice fellow, but you are hardly in a position to reassure us about anything. Of course the Tiber swimmers will be absorbed, or lose their identity. That is, if their current bishops ever allow them actually to move on into this AC thing instead of stalling.

Jakian Thomist said...

Dear Frs. John and Robert,

Any convert is only expected to hold firm to the catechism, the "left-wing activities" are not necessary for salvation.

Anyway, the "organised left" or "Tabletistas" as they are sometimes called had their hayday around Vat II, do you remember Paul VI's tears on almost being deceived by them? Who would have imagined that that was over 40 years ago and the Papacy still adheres to Humanae Vitae! Most of the hard left have already gone the way of Fr. Matthew Fox.

I mean look at the two likely contenders for Pope after Benedict XVI, Cardinal Schonborn and Cardinal Levada, one spearheading reunion with Orthodox and the other the AC. Besides as I said previously, Pope JPII has already declared on Women's Ord, all these "equality in baptism" arguments don't hold here.

I don't think the argument that the AC will be "swallowed up" and ignored can hold while they have a seat at bishops conference. They would have the right to a say as any other.

I can appreciate that the present uncertainty about AC is unsettling but it will not last for much longer. Decisions will have to be made.

Thank you for your kind remarks Fr. Hart. Do you remember by first post, where I mentioned the agnostic Nuala O'Faolain? She was also very nice with a kind heart. But I guess the key questions are, Am I saved? Why have I been shown God's grace? Am I in the Church? Niceties are wonderful but we must never be afraid to dig deeper.

Be assured that I remember you all in my prayers as my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I can appreciate that the present uncertainty about AC is unsettling but it will not last for much longer. Decisions will have to be made.

Oh, it will drag on just as long as Abp. Hepworth and co. can keep it dragging on. Decisions have to be put off.

John A. Hollister said...

Jakian Thomist said there is cause for hope because "look at the two likely contenders for Pope after Benedict XVI, Cardinal Schonborn and Cardinal Levada, one spearheading reunion with Orthodox and the other the AC."

For all I know, Cardinal Schonborn may be tolerable to traditionalists but we here in the United States know all too much about Cardinal Levada. He is one of the poster children for promoting child molestation and would be a disaster as Pope.

Nor was his tenure as a diocesan ordinary in this country particularly reassuring to traditionalists.

John A. Hollister+