Zealous fanatical hatred
Before getting to the real point I want to make, I must deal with unpleasant business.
I suppose it means that I have hit the big time, that someone went out of his way to write a hit piece about me, personally, a real hatchet job. In it I have acquired the title "infamous." I have never been infamous before, and maybe should feel flattered. Among the several lies-the only word to use-in that piece (lies about the size of our readership, about the size of the ACC, about what is written here on The Continuum, etc.), the writer, a certain Mr. Campbell, included this:
"The entire staff of the [Continuum] blog (and the few remaining regular commenters) are all affiliated with the ACC (which has now become the spiteful, twisted corpse of a once legitimate Continuing Anglican jurisdiction) and, as Fr. Hart, the principal contributor, has himself admitted, its only object is to oppose (what they perceive to be) the agenda of Archbishop Hepworth as he leads the TAC into full communion with the Catholic Church. The Continuum is, for all intents and purposes, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the ACC and their “Metropolitan” — Archbishop Mark Haverland — posts on the site with some frequency."
Please notice the pure malice that has been expressed, malice against the entire Anglican Catholic Church; in other words, it is not enough to kill me; my whole family must die. The image of them killing us off was added to when another writer on that blog called the poison "necessary herbicide." Zealous fanatical hatred is what I expect from certain kinds of Muslims, not from Christians. In my disagreements with the direction of the TAC bishops about Anglicanorum Coetibus, and about the heritage of our common Anglican patrimony that deserves respect and protection, I would never even begin to characterize their jurisdiction in such hate-filled terms. Malice does not come from the Holy Spirit, and is not consistent with charity. Anger can be consistent with charity, when it calls sinners to repent, or when it opposes oppression and injustice; and even then it is the opposite of malice, and has no room for hatred. Where we see malice, we see the presence of Satan.
To set the record straight, in fact, Archbishop Mark Haverland has never posted anything on this blog. He cannot anyway, as only the contributors have the internet "key." I have posted statements that came from him. But, we have always had the policy of posting whatever a Continuing bishop in a recognized jurisdiction is willing to offer, including (as he knows) Archbishop John Hepworth of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC), to whom we gave the floor in 2008, for whatever he had to say. Every bishop in the TAC, as well as every bishop in the recognized Continuing jurisdictions, was sent a standing invitation to say what they wish to say. That has never been retracted. As for, Archbishop Haverland, he has never used his position as the Metropolitan of the ACC, or as my Diocesan Bishop (as of my transfer into the Diocese of the South, ACC-OP, in March 2009), to run this blog at all. Furthermore, he is too busy for such a thing, doing real work in a real archepiscopal capacity, with a schedule that would kill most men (it would do me in).
My own agenda is not what Mr. Campbell has said: "...as Fr. Hart, the principal contributor, has himself admitted, its only object is to oppose (what they perceive to be) the agenda of Archbishop Hepworth as he leads the TAC into full communion with the Catholic Church." I challenge Mr. Campbell, or any of his friends, to produce such a statement by me. My only objective? Most of what I write is educational, to restore, explain and defend the Anglican Patrimony that is too often and too easily dismissed, misrepresented or distorted. I also present my sermons to teach, edify, and to reach consciences everywhere with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Furthermore, I would never call the big Tiber Swim, "[leading] the TAC into full communion with the Catholic Church." What it is amounts to nothing so grand. It is about a few people offered an easier way into Roman Catholicism under slightly revised rules, people who were in the Catholic Church of the Creeds already, and many of whom want to be left alone to live by the principles of The Affirmation of St. Louis, not by the Catechism of the [Roman] Catholic Church (with all due respect to the fine book that it is, with which we mostly, but not fully, agree). There, I am doing it again, stating my position-but, whose position can I state honestly if not my own?
What is truly infamous is the expression of anger, hatred and malice, producing lies, slanderous and libelous, to which I, personally, have been treated, and that has been dumped on the whole ACC. Everyone knows that I have criticized the public statements of Archbishops Hepworth and Falk, as well as statements by Bishop Louis Campese and Bishop George Langburg. At no time has this been done with contempt, malice or with insults. They have made public statements, and therefore have no right to assume that they can say whatever they please without a challenge (nor am I aware of any of them claiming to have such a right). They chose to be public figures by accepting consecration, and by speaking publicly they have chosen to be refuted in an honest and open atmosphere. Mr. Campbell owes them an apology, more than he owes one to me, for making them appear to be petty.
I stand by my criticism, because I believe that their interpretation of Anglicanorum Coetibus is not only wrong, but harmful. It stirs up hope in a fantasy, not hope in a reality. To date, no argument presented to defend their position has persuaded me in the least. The same is true of my colleagues who also see the Roman constitution as offering nothing more than an extension of the existing Pastoral Provisions and "Anglican Use" experiments. Rome has not acted wisely, furthermore, in sending the message by the hand of Cardinal Levada, for reasons quite unpleasant and well-known (a bit of an elephant in the living room, I am sorry to say).
Rome, however, has not done anything wrong in offering the constitution, inasmuch as they believe that entrance into the Roman Catholic Church is best for everyone, an old position with which we cannot agree, but which is for them a matter of Faith. And, if they believe it, then the highest of virtues, charity, may be behind their offer. Furthermore, the state of the official Anglican Communion, the requests of the Forward in Faith (FiF) people and of the TAC, were such that we may infer that Pope Benedict XVI acted out of compassion. This is the position we have taken on this blog all along (despite certain other disinformation to the contrary, charging us with being "anti-Catholic"). Nonetheless, Rome's apparent good faith does not justify Enthusiasm and triumphalism, and certainly not the mistaken interpretation of the constitution offered by the above named TAC bishops. Nor does my dissent and open challenge to their interpretation justify the malice and dishonesty of Mr. Campbell.
I do not call on Mr. Campbell (and others) to apologize to me, but to repent before Almighty God, and seek His mercy. This is something I have to do all the time myself, because I am a sinner, and therefore have the necessary experience to offer advice on to how to do it.
What could have been
One of my earliest articles in Touchstone, before I was "elevated" to the position of contributing editor, was about the neglected opportunity presented by the document Dominus Iesus in 2000, under the imprimatur of Pope John-Paul II. Even though the Anglican Communion was never mentioned directly, then Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. George Carey, reacted against Rome's repetition of its long held and well-known position on the papacy and the churches in communion with the See of Rome. Of course it was exclusivist; but it was also no surprise. I went on to say:
"On one of my weekly radio broadcasts I read a large portion of the document. Many of the listeners to the station were Evangelicals, quite appreciative of the document’s emphasis on the statement of St. Peter: “Neither is there salvation in any other. For there is no other name given under heaven among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).” Apparently the disappointment of the morning for some people was that this powerful affirmation of Bible truth had come from the Vatican...
"Dominus Iesus received undeserved bad press. Treating all Christians, and indeed all people, in accord with their inherent dignity—a dignity that requires that one be honest when one thinks others are in error—it has, nonetheless, been characterized as unecumenical, triumphalistic, and insensitive. This is a very great shame. At the very least, it ought to be studied for its profound defense of the Gospel and the mission of the Church.
"Dominus Iesus has been a very neglected opportunity for all Christians to forge stronger ties with each other and to study the meaning of our shared mission to the nations as believers in the same Christ."
What I said there about the Papal Document, Dominus Iesus, I can say with little alteration about The Continuum Blog. Six months ago this blog was half-owned by members of the TAC, and no one asked either of them to leave. Nonetheless, in accord with words on our masthead (assuming that is what it is called on a blog), this forum is exactly the place where the whole issue of Anglicanorum Coetibus, and every other issue between Continuing Anglicans, could have been discussed openly, politely, even if forcefully and passionately. So far, from late 2005 until now, this blog has been for many people, including those who disagree with much of what has appeared here, a neglected opportunity. When people get behind walls, it is there they feel free to make their own rules, to answer only to each other, and to hurl abuse at all who disagree. This blog was intended to be the one place where no one was safe behind such walls, and therefore the most constructive opportunity to unify the Continuing jurisdictions.
Frankly, I do not know if it is too late or not to address the subject of unity with the TAC. I know that this is one place for everyone who is committed to the principles in the Affirmation of St. Louis. Maybe that is the place to begin, for those who dare to try.