Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Not entirely daft

Because of recent attacks on Anglican Orders on the EWTN network, it seemed necessary to fortify the faith of those who have not been warned or taught properly, which is why I posted a brief piece (which you can access here) with links to more detailed works. As much as I hate to delve into the Papal Bull Apostolicae curae (1896), especially since Saepius Officio (1897) said what needed to be said right away, it seems necessary to clear up one bit of confusion that Rome has thrown our way. That is, they see in the 1662 Ordinal more than is really there, or, rather, they see less in the 1550 Ordinal than was really there. It is the same mistake either way.

Nonetheless, I want to quote something by the Church of England priest Fr. John Hunwicke, with whom I agree about many things, and disagree about other things. Writing from within the Canterbury Communion, what he expressed, in the following remarks back in 2006, is very close to the Continuing Anglican view:

I am not in favour of criticising and trying to unpick Apostolicae curae. That would simply put us in the same position as all those other people who are so totally loyal to the Holy See ... except in one particular matter. The only point I would make is that that the actual bull sealed for Leo XIII described the question as hoc caput disciplinae, and this is what was first officially published. It appeared to situate the question in the area of discipline and not of dogma. Pressure from the English RC hierarchy resulted in the removal from subsequent editions of the word disciplinae...Now, of course, we are nearly in agreement with Rome about the dubiety of Anglican Orders anyway. We believe that a large and growing percentage of Anglican Ordinations are invalid: the purported ordinations of women, and of both men and women by 'women bishops'. That is why, if we are to hang on in the C of E, we need a separate episcopate and clear mechanisms for the reordination of men who come to join us having been invalidlty ordained within the 'mainstream' Church.

Like Fr. Hunwicke, we also do not see the See of Rome as the judge or arbiter in this matter, but also see many current Anglican orders as invalid, due to the "ordination" of women in some Anglican churches of the Canterbury Communion. That is why we have already in place a "separate episcopate."

Nonetheless, one little bit of confusion may as well be addressed, if only to say "checkmate" and put the whole matter of Apostolicae Curae to rest, if only for the sake of our own people, Continuing Anglicans. That is because, after 1896, the Church of Rome conceded one by one over the years that all of their supporting arguments for the 1896 Bull were wrong, that is all but the one they hold to stubbornly. As Fr. Hunwicke also said in the same little essay, "Remember that in 1662 the C of E had made the formulae in presbyteral and episcopal ordination (which Leo [XIII in 1896] had asserted were insufficiently clear), more explicit." What he referred to is this.

At least as early as the thirteenth century, when the Church of England usually held ordinations on Sundays, they used the formula that began in each case Accipe Spiritum Sanctum for ordinations to the priesthood, and consecrations to the episcopate. This means "Receive the Holy Spirit." These words were followed by quotations of II Timothy 1:6,7 for the episcopate, and of John 20:22, 23 for the priesthood. The words were first translated for us in the first English Ordinal in 1550:

(In the form for consecration of bishops)

Then the Archebisshoppe and Bisshoppes present, shal lay their handes upon the head of the elect Bisshop, the Arohebisshoppe saying.

TAKE the holy gost, and remember that thou stirre up the grace of god, whiche is in thee, by imposicion of handes: for god hath not geven us the spirite of feare, but of power, and love, and of sobernesse.


(In the form for ordination of priests)

When this praier is done, the Bisshoppe with the priestes present, shal lay theyr handes severally upon the head of every one that receiveth orders. The receivers humbly knelyng upon their knees, and the Bisshop saying.

RECEIVE the holy goste, whose synnes thou doest forgeve, they are forgeven: and whose sinnes thou doest retaine, thei are retained: and be thou a faithful despensor of the word of god, and of his holy Sacramentes. In the name of the father, and of the sonne, and of the holy gost. Amen.

(Followed by words and actions:

The Bisshop shall deliver to every one of them, the Bible in the one hande, and the Chalice or cuppe with the breade, in the other hande, and saying.

TAKE thou aucthoritie to preache the word of god, and to minister the holy Sacramentes in thys congregacion[, where thou shalt be so appointed].)

By using the words of II Timothy 1:6,7 the office of bishop was identified. By using John 20:22,23, the office of priest was identified. The scholars of the era knew that Timothy was the first Bishop of the Church in Ephesus, and that the power to forgive sins, mentioned by the Risen Lord in John 20:22,23 was a charism given to all priests. Most of the laity did not know Latin and could not follow the service before 1550. But, for the educated, as early as the first use of these formulae in Latin centuries before the English Reformation, the identification was obvious. The words from Paul's Epistle to Timothy referred directly to the episcopate, and Christ's words recorded by John to the priesthood. The sacramental actions and words were seen as following the pattern of each. Because, by 1662, it had become necessary to refute the Puritans and put an end to their influence, the High Church Caroline designers of the new edition of the Prayer Book and Ordinal thought it wise to add the words, "...for the Office and Work of a Bishop in the Church of God..." and "...for the Office and Work of a Priest in the Church of God..." directly after "Receive the Holy Ghost," and before the rest of the old formula.

At present the Church of Rome concedes that the Form is valid, but the problem is that they say that it became valid, and attribute the lack of those additional words to a lack of Sacramental Intention between 1550 and 1662; then they conclude that the gap was too long, and no bishop in Holy Orders survived to keep valid Orders alive in the Church of England (ignoring the Italian lines of Archbishop William Laud, and the "Dutch Touch"-not that they really matter anyway; but still...).

Before we accuse the See of Rome of Biblical illiteracy, even though they throw themselves wide open to it, let us understand their dilemma. With priestesses in the Church of England and the Canterbury Communion in general, what else can they do? We sympathize with their problem. They have given in on every other point, and to admit now that they have no real argument for their 1896 Bull might encourage some of their own people to go into churches presided over by actresses, playing the role of men, in reality female transvestites in mock Holy Orders (and God knows what else goes on in those sacred sleazy joints). Better to leave the disciplinae intact without letting the facts complicate the matter.

But, much as we sympathize, we cannot let ourselves be affected by their solution to a problem that we, in equal measure, find appalling. The simple fact is, the 1662 Ordinal added nothing substantial; the Intention had been stated clearly all along, inasmuch as the men responsible for the whole thing knew exactly what they were doing and what it all meant in every relevant language, and therefore had an obvious Intention whether or not they expressed it to all the laity in the clearest of terms. Since the issue is Sacramental Intention, there can be no justification for the Roman point of view.

The Supreme Being

Nonetheless, why they zero in on the Accipe Spritum Sanctum portion is not clear. With Rites named to specify the meaning, with appropriate ministers of the sacrament (one bishop for ordination of a priest, three for consecration of a bishop), with prayers and examinations specifying priest or bishop, the Intention is rather obvious anyway. Sacraments are not magic, depending simply on a perfect "Harry Potter" type of formula. Sacraments are supernatural cooperation between man and God to give us a means of His grace.

In the English comedy movie Time Bandits, the Supreme Being is played by Sir Ralph Richardson, who appears near the end in an impeccable suit, acting like the definitive headmaster in an English Public School. When one of the dwarfs he has been chasing presumes to inform the Supreme Being about something, he replies in a dignified manner: "I know. I am the Supreme Being; I'm not entirely daft."

I sometimes think that the real God of heaven and Earth could say the same thing in response to the Roman position on Anglican Orders. As it stands now, they seem to be telling us that the Supreme Being (to use that objectionable term, though it is better than "the Man upstairs" I suppose) is daft, and He failed to understand the Intention because He needed it spelled out more clearly. Because the designers of the first English Ordinal did not inform God in very clear terms, and because the doddering old codger had forgotten the scriptures after all those centuries, He just did not know what to with that Matthew Parker chap, and there went Anglican Orders to heck in a hand basket.

Somehow, we find that hard to accept.


RC Cola said...

Two points for the Romans:

1) Leo XIII's declaration was a matter of discipline, not faith and morals, and thus not under the "charism of infallibility." If the phrase about discipline is in version of the Bull published in the AAS (although, back then it may still have been called the joke) then it is official.

2) The decision to accept the anaphora of Addai and Mari as valid shows clearly that "form" is not a mere matter of formula, but something more.
Does it not stand to reason that if the bread and wine can be changed into the body and Blood of Christ without the words of institution at all, then a man can be changed from a layman to a priest or bishop even if the laying on of hands does not happen at the precise moment a certain word or set of words is said.

3) Leo XIII himself said that the argument from authority is the weakest of all arguments. So why do Romans think that "Pope Leo said it, therefore it is true" is a sound or valid argument?

OK, that's three points. So sue me.

Fr. John said...

May I strongly recommend the movie "Time Bandits."

It is chock full of good theological points, as well as highly entertaining.

Anonymous said...

As much as it iritates me, I listen with profit to EWTN's radio edition and in fact I depend on it for much information. How else would I know about the Rosary march where I will be tomorrow, praying for the end of abortion and reversal of Roe v. Wade? I am more amused than iritated when I listen to their daily Mass, beginning and ending with Anglican hymns, and a homily which quotes John Donne, C. S. Lewis, but getting in the usual dig about Anglican orders. Talk about sawing off the limb whereon you sit!
Where woiuld they be if they did not have the Anglican well to draw from!

But everytime I listen to EWTN, I am in great awe of their PR and communications skills. The impact of that ministry is incalculable, in bringing RC's back to traditional faith and worship, taming liberal RC bishops (products of the 60's era of the Berrigans and Sister Corita), and quite frankly winning unchurched Protestants to RCism. They do a truly great job, within the limitations of their erroneous beliefs.

Why do we traditional Anglicans not have a similar outreach? Mother Angelica started out with not two nickels to rub together. But she had a slogan, "God has plenty of money." With our splendid work in Haiti, Africa, and elsewhere, we ACC people should be developing a bit of hootspa for what we can achieve for our blessed Lord. In the artistic and literary fields, we are (why be modest?) not untalented people. If the traditional liturgy celebrated in the EWTN chapel is impressive, I daresay the BCP Mass in quite a few of our churches would find an even greater following. Just imagine watching some of our leading lights preaching or holding forth on a panel discussion. I am confident the audience is there. The address which our Archbishop gave in Richmond at the Provincial Synod would be dynamite before a national audience. If EWTN, why not WBCP? We can do it, folks!

Bruce said...

"...presided over by actresses, playing the role of men, in reality female transvestites.."

Or as I like to say, gals that never outgrew playing dressup.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Fr. Wells:

We see things in the same positive light (as I wrote abiout in "The Yea Sayers" posting a few days ago). Not to sound like any particular politician, we could borrow a slogan for ourselves: "Yes we can," in our case based on mark 10:27: "With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible."

Ken said...

Wow, "Supreme Being" is an objectionable term?

Anyway, Time Bandits is a good movie, except the ending, which confused me a bit.

Finally, has anyone tried to place AC in view of the larger work of Leo XIII? If I recall correctly he had much to say on the relation between church and state and the Christian and state.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Wow, "Supreme Being" is an objectionable term?

Actually, to a degree, yes. The term is not from revelation, and does not appear in the Bible or in any Christian liturgy. For some it suggests a god who is of the same order as creation, merely the highest being in that order. Therefore, the term has the potential to give a completely wrong impression. Technically, the term is acceptable because God, though wholly other from every created nature, is one Being of three Persons, and certainly supreme.

Fr.Jas.A.Chantler TOSA said...

Fr.Wells:I agree that Anglicans need something like EWTN only better. There was a fine program in Canada called 'Orthodox Voice' that ran for years which got me thinking that we ought to try to do something similar.When I discovered EWTN I began to wonder if an actual network might be possible for classical Anglicans.In addition to attracting the interest of traditional Anglicans it could: help lapsed Anglicans find their way home; show Anglicans who have been caught in the impaired Church or the neo-Anglican groups what real Anglicanism is; reach the unchurched; help Roman Catholic Christians understand that they aren't the only Catholics and very likely cause many of them to consider embracing traditional Anglicanism; rescue people from the various Christian sects; show Orthodox Christians who are now, culturally western, that there is a way forward in faith in the west for them and their children;etc; etc.It would require cooperation amongst the Continuing Churches.I would also suggest looking to involve some great Churchmen who remain in the Canterbury Communion such as Canon Arthur Middleton, Dr.Robert Crouse,Fr.Gavin Dunbar etc.This is,it seems to me, the right time to try something like you suggest. The TAC College of Bishops' misadventure has served as a catalyst for reunion amongst traditional Anglicans and we need to build on the momentum.Thank you Fr.Wells for bringing this idea up.

Anonymous said...

Fr Hart wrote, perhaps a bit hastily,

"Sacraments are supernatural cooperation between man and God to give us a means of His grace."

I would rather say that sacraments are those events in the life of the Church when God uses physical or sensible signs, appointed explicitly by His word or implicitly by example, to represent and convey His presence, love, and power. "Co-operation" between sovereign Creator and sinful creature seems to me a presumptuous idea, more than bordering on the "boasting" which Paul tells us is always excluded. At any rate, the expression "supernatural cooperation" is puzzling. Would that not require two supernatural beings?

"Supreme being" is a term redolent of Deism and Freemasonry. It is unacceptable in orthodox Christian usage, as it obscures the distinction between God as "esse a se" (self-existent Being) and man as "esse ab alio" (derived and dependent being).
The slang expression "Man Upstairs" is far more acceptable, as it contains a faint memory of the ascended God-Man. Such expressions are evidence of the Christ-haunted secular mind. I usually allude to it when I preach in Ascensiontide.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

The supernatural part is only from God's side, to be sure; cooperation was meant to suggest obedience that is active rather than passive.

A. D. Hunt said...

Do you have any idea where I could find a complete Latin text of the Saepius Officio?

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Try clicking here.

RC Cola said...

I'm with you, Fr. Wells. We ought to put some effort into broadcast evangelizing like EWTN.

These days it doesn't take a whole lot to put something together that is acceptable for YouTube or podcast.

For video, I don't know of any particular brand camera that is better than another. When I was doing an M.S. I had to record test subjects. I use an off-the-shelf Sony handheld, and an iMac with the off-the-shelf video editing software. Nothing special. I had no skills and was able to put together something passable. Someone who actually took time to edit well could put something on YouTube that would impress. With some practice, and perhaps with some donations from people who appreciate the free videos, we could get the money to record a BCP Mass for DVD. (The RC Trads produced one heck of a good video for the TLM some years ago. If we could do the same with the 1928 BCP, that would be awesome.)

As for podcasting, the company Blue manufacture good USB microphones that run about $100. They can make a recording of broadcast quality. Frs. Wells, Hart, et al., your sermons could easily be recorded and uploaded to iTunes.

Canon Tallis said...

Father Wells,

I have long advocated filming and broadcasting, even if only over Youtube the Book of Common Prayer communion service. The Church in Korea achieved great growth by a Sunday by Sunday TV broadcast of their communion service and I believe very strongly that we would be able to do the same thing.

There are, however, some dangers. Anglicanism's greatest weakness is its lacks of discipline over what and how the priest acts at the altar. Most here probably imitate Roman ceremonial which goes back no further than the early 16th century rather than doing liturgically what this blog seeks to do theologically, i.e., seek the practice of the earliest church. In short, the preference is for Ritual Notes rather than the Alcuin Club's Directory of Ceremonial; baroque Romanism lite over top Anglican liturgical scholarship in practice.

Nonetheless, seeing is frequently the first step engaging in a more intellectual process and a well done video of our American 1928 book service said or sung just might be the right thing to attract new people to the local Continuum parish. Done exactly right it might also instruct those who do not know real Anglican liturgics as to just what they and their congregations are missing.

One of the major problems with the Continuum as I see it as that so many of the clergy have no sense of Anglicanism or its riches. Perhaps they aren't even interested, but I think that the revelation of seeing a classical Anglican service done right just might help them appreciate the "brand" in a way in which at the moment they do not.

Long years ago I was visiting St Mary Magdalene's, Paddington, when I was joined by a Roman Art professor. He spent our time together pointing out the glories of what Anglicans did architecturally as a result of the revival which we call the Oxford Movement and lamenting the inability of Romans to do the same. We were able to do so because those doing it believed in what they were doing and what was to be done. They were building churches in the English Catholic tradition rather than copying Rome. That, unfortunately, came later. They were going back to the roots and we need to do the same thing.

Jackie said...

I'm not sure exactly where to get it, but there was a recording done when Archbishop Haverland was instituted (is that the correct word?). I haven't seen it, but I'm sure it would be quite impressive in it's pomp and ceremony.

A. D. Hunt said...

Thanks for the link Fr. Hart!

David said...

I am somewhat confused here, Father.

Are you saying that the formulae used in the 1550/51 Ordinal were used in the pre-reformation English church since about the 13th century?

How would this have been done? Would they have replaced the words in the Pontifical at this point? Why have I never heard this before?
How would the fact that ordinations were on Sundays make a difference?

I must say that before I read your suggestion as to why Rome might not want to concede this I thought, "But how can Rome admit this without trashing her credibility on the question of the attempted ordination of women?"

I suppose that if the word "discipline" is used the first time the Bull was published in AAS an easy way out might be provided.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Are you saying that the formulae used in the 1550/51 Ordinal were used in the pre-reformation English church since about the 13th century?

Accipe Spiritum Sanctum, etc...Receive the Holy Ghost, etc...That whole portion goes back at least as far as the 13th century, yes, with the, laying on of hands. Paul Bradshaw made mention of it in his book about the Anglican Ordinal.

David said...

I'm afraid I wasn't clear, Father. I know that the Receive the Holy Ghost is very ancient and universal, at least in the western church but did you say that the verses from Timothy and John were used in the pre-reformation rites as part of the form or as in any way referring to the Order being conferred?

The verses from Timothy obviously refer to bishops but the verses from John could be either bishops or priests.

Fr. Robert Hart said...


You asked:

did you say that the verses from Timothy and John were used in the pre-reformation rites as part of the form or as in any way referring to the Order being conferred?

The answer to your question is "yes." The 1550 ordinal translated the Accipe... in full, and the verses of Scripture were meant to identify the specific office of bishop or priest.

You wrote:

The verses from Timothy obviously refer to bishops but the verses from John could be either bishops or priests.

You have hit onto an interesting fact with implications. First of all, the issue of Sacramental Intention places primary emphasis on what the verse was taken to mean; and by that time in Church history the power of Absolution was universally recognized as belonging to the priesthood (and, of course, every bishop already is a priest). But, there is something more to it worth looking at.

Back then, at least in the west, the prevailing theory of Holy Orders was that every priest had all the sacramental powers of a bishop; but, to observe a right order in the Church, it would have been wrong for any priest other than a bishop to presume to use powers of ordination or of confirmation. And, of course this is not about the authority of the office, but about the sacramental powers of each order. St. Thomas Aquinas believed this, as did very many people in those centuries. The idea is, in a sense, preserved in the beliefs about ordained ministry still held in Lutheran theology, and also in Presbyterian theology (which actually teaches Apostolic Succession, but not as we understand it; for they make no distinction between bishop and presbyter, thinking that view to be consistent with Scripture. It is easy to see why they think so, but also easy to correct).

Therefore, it seems likely that the use of John 20:22,23 originally reflected this view, demonstrating the power to Absolve sins as Apostolic; suggesting that the priest has those full powers, but drawing a line as to what he is expected to do. If this was meant to be reflected by the use of this passage from John, it is somewhat ironic. For, it was the Anglicans who appear to have been the first to restore a clear distinction between what a priest can do and cannot do sacramentally, as opposed to what he simply may do, or not do, in terms of authority.