No doubt, he has sent me excellent reading material because he expects me to find in it reasons for taking the plunge. In fact, my reading of books that have come my way, due to his generosity, probably has popped up to haunt him, because the evidence I see in them only strengthens my commitment to classic Anglicanism, and strengthens my apologetic for the same. His idea has been that Anglicans like me have many true and good beliefs (most obviously rejection of women's ordination), and that we need only to add to our convictions the true understanding of the papacy to be complete-sort of like the old expression that Jews need to become completed. His effort to help me become a Roman Catholic, or a Byzantine Catholic like himself, have been one of the features of our friendship. For a man who possesses such convictions, it is only reasonable and honest. But, how honest is it for self-proclaimed Anglicans to adopt his arguments as their own?
What does it mean, then, when he becomes a contributor to the Orlando Florida based blog that calls itself The Anglo-Catholic? Aside from the obvious damage its low standards of erudition and public expression could inflict on his reputation (and that I say quite seriously) it says nothing about Dr. Tighe. He is not an Anglican. He was raised Roman Catholic, and despite a brief flirtation with Anglicanism in the early 1970s, he has been only a Roman Catholic and Byzantine Catholic. As I have said, I am not at all critical of a man with his convictions making some effort to convert Anglicans to (and this is not a pejorative) Papist beliefs. Certainly, Dr. William Tighe is no Anglo-Catholic, yet he is one of The Anglo-Catholic bloggers now. What, then, does it tell us about the real intention of that blog? How do we diagnose them if they choose to call Dr. Tighe one of their own?
First of all, it confirms the criticism I have made concerning their choice of a name. They are not Anglo-Catholics, and their writing proves it. Anglo-Catholics, seeing that camp as taking its strongest shape with the Oxford Movement, were willing to express hope in some possible future reunion with Rome, yes. But, the greatest thinkers of the Anglo-Catholic movement never meant for that possible reunion to take place strictly on the conditions that the See of Rome would impose; rather they saw the possibility as the end of a process that had not yet begun, but that would include theological discussion in which Rome would undergo at least some amount of reformation and recovery of the Consensus of Antiquity. In this way, they merely picked up an idea so old that it was Richard Hooker himself who first proposed it. And, despite the attempts of the "Anglican (?)" Use Society to paint some of the later Anglo-Catholics giants as "wannabe" Roman Catholics, which we have addressed, Anglo-Catholics never accepted the current Vatican I position on the papacy. (Though Dr. Tighe himself has mentioned certain remarks made about the See of Rome by E.L. Mascall and Dom Gregory Dix that were positive, neither man accepted the Roman belief about the papacy; both wrote critical rejections of it, and neither man swam the Tiber.)
But, the bloggers down there in Orlando openly advocate full acceptance of all the Papal claims, and total submission. We suggest that The Anglo-Catholic blog reconsider the deceptive nature of their misnomer. We suggest they use an appropriate name that reflects the position they advocate openly, such as that suggested by Fr. Laurence Wells: The Former Anglican. In time, they might consider, The Roman Catholic, which even now would be a more honest and accurate name than what they choose to go by. These suggestions are quite reasonable, and should not be dismissed as insults; nor are they intended as such. Rather, we ask them to stop creating confusion by using a false label, a brand to which they have no true claim.
Second, it shows incoherence. Dr. William Tighe knows better than to agree with their view of Anglicanorum Coetibus. No doubt, he champions it; but, he is unable to say the same things about its meaning that they say in Orlando, and he knows perfectly well that the promises made by Archbishop Hepworth are, at best, overly optimistic. For example, Dr. Tighe has said many times over the years, that whatever it is that the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) hopes for, they will never be allowed to have married bishops if they come under the See of Rome. Also, he has made arguments (at least in email forums) for why it is that Rome has never permitted an Anglican "uniate" church to be formed, and why the idea is impossible. On these scores he has been right all along. His accurate diagnosis of that, however, contradicts the propaganda that his new blogging colleagues have been putting forth. They have been laboring to convince everybody that the new constitution will give them full "uniate" status with married clergy from among their own ranks, henceforth even forever, and preserve certain unique "treasures of Anglicanism" that neither they nor the writers of Anglicanorum Coetibus (with all its Norms) have, as yet, been able to identify. And, their assertions, if one knows Roman Canon Law, or bothers to take the writers of the new "Apostolic Constitution" at their word, are not based on any Roman offer and contradict the offer that has been made.
Related to this, Andrew Brown uncovered recently some correspondence between Bishop Andrew Burnham (Diocese of Ebbsfleet, Church of England) and Australian Roman Catholic Bishop Peter Elliot, mentioning "Archbishop Hepworth ('clearly a charming man … but not everything he says … synchronises fully with what we know from other sources')." The revelations we gather from these messages, that have fallen into Brown's hands, are useful. But, Brown himself needs to pay more attention to Bishop Burnham's caveat about Archbishop Hepworth. For, swallowing whole the propaganda that the TAC leader has been spouting, Brown writes: "Anglicanorum Coetibus is the pope's plan to allow disaffected Anglicans to convert as a group, and to keep their own bishops." Finding that hard to stomach, I posted the following comment:
"Interesting that Andrew Brown wrote: 'Anglicanorum Coetibus is the pope's plan to allow disaffected Anglicans to convert as a group, and to keep their own bishops.' Nothing in the constitution offers any such thing, and in fact makes their bishops into laymen who may or may not be accepted as postulants to the diaconate. 'Disaffected Anglicans' is also a most curious phrase for TAC people-isn't that who the Affirmation of St. Louis was written for? Disaffected, among Continuing Anglicans, by what?"
My own disagreements with Dr. Tighe always have been part of our friendship, even when over a Beer and lunch on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, or dinner at his home in Pennsylvania years ago. His view of Anglicanism is that it is entirely, first to last, a Protestant church. In a sense, we agree on that; Anglicanism is Protestant. What we do not agree on is what that means about Anglicanism being, at the same time, fully Catholic in every genuine and charismatic (χάρισμα) way. He believes that the English crown subjugated the Church of England so completely that it became simply an arm of the State, an Erastian religion. I believe that the King of Spain subjugated the Church of Rome to the same extent that Henry VIII managed in England; Spain maintained dominance over the papacy into Elizabeth's time, if only by threat of assassination, having demonstrated earlier its power by jailing a pope to show who was boss (a machismo "show-off" flexing of the muscles). The Church of England was certainly tied to the State in the 16th century, no less when Mary Tudor was Queen than when Elizabeth Tudor was Queen. In the struggle between Elizabeth I of England and Phillip of Spain, we see the one "act of God" most undeniably visible when the armada sunk, bringing to mind the words, "even the winds and sea obey Him." (Matt. 8:27)
Frankly, all the churches in Europe were State churches, and the mixture of politics and religion had been a source of corruption since after the reign of Constantine, certainly since the reign of Theodosius I (11 January 347 – 17 January 395), his grandson. The political realities of the time in which the Tudor monarchs reigned, as with any time, presented challenges particular to that era for the bishops whose responsibility it was to teach and care for the souls of the people. That they found a way to make the best use of the circumstances is to their credit, no matter how much the glory may rub off on the State to whatever degree it is or is not deserved, or no matter how much politics cannot help but stain the Church if only by reputation. What I have been writing here, for four years now, defends and even praises the English Reformers and Anglican Divines for their accomplishment as theologians, teachers and pastors. The legacy they left us is an authentic expression of the true catholic religion of the ancient bishops and doctors.
Whatever the motives of a tyrant named Henry, the English Reformation that flourished under Elizabeth, and that continued to develop in the generations that followed, restored true Catholic Faith to England, and eventually allowed it to prosper in other lands. The fruit of those English teachers lives even now among us. And, if the relations of Church and State are to be considered, it was no Erastian religion that gave the Church of England its power over the throne in 1936. For not the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, but the King of England, had to abdicate when the constitutional crisis of marriage to a divorced woman, with no grounds for annulment, placed him outside of the Church's communion.
No, the Professor and I will never agree about Anglicanism.
And his presence among the Orlando bloggers only adds to the transparency of their purpose. Their purpose is to convert Anglicans into Roman Catholics. For Dr. Tighe, that purpose is honest and honorable; for the rest of the crew, it is neither honest nor honorable, at least until they stop calling their blog and themselves by a misnomer.