Tuesday, July 13, 2010


After a period of thirty-three years, going back to The Affirmation of St. Louis in 1977, the Continuing Church has had its ups and downs. It has suffered infighting, civil wars and secessions, and various other divisions. Most of the divisions have been about personalities because of men suffering from "purple fever" who wanted power.1 The only division from those days that I see as based on principle was that of Bishop Doren early on, because he believed that the Continuing Church had been hijacked by one party of Anglicans, the Anglo-Catholics, and he could not agree.2

Nonetheless, after several years and much cleansing, it is clear that the Concordat between Bishop Doren's descendants, namely the United Episcopal Church North America (UECNA) with the Anglican Province of Christ the King (APCK) and the Anglican Catholic Church (ACC), is a concordat between Anglicans of like Faith who are determined to work out whatever details are necessary. A new respect for Classic Anglicanism, one that makes room for all who adhere to The Affirmation of St. Louis, including all who like their worship either High, Low or Mid (or Mid-High, or Mid-Low) has been developing in part, we like to think, because of The Continuum. We are finding a kind of unity that even the old Anglican Communion could not produce in its best days. The other big house on the block, however, the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) has no interest in unity with Continuing Anglicans.

We have traced TAC Romeward roaming for quite some time, especially since their various official organs gave a terribly misinformed spin to Anglicanorum Coetibus even before it was released, and for the first several months after its publication. Now, however, the bishops of the American branch of the TAC, the Anglican Church in America (ACA) are faced with a very divided response among the people they had thought, until recently, they could simply herd into Roman Catholicism. Meanwhile, in England the TAC faces its biggest obstruction as coming from the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) itself.

No wonder the present track of that blog we call The Former Anglican (known by the misnomer, The Anglo-Catholic) is concentrating on the choice to be made between the Church of England and Rome. News about the recent General Synod, and the inevitable consecration of women "bishops" to lady it over the people, have produced only those two options. The posted articles treat the solution for C of E Anglicans, of catholic conviction, as Roman Catholicism through the --as of yet unformed-- ordinariates. The idea of suggesting that the Continuing Church, based on The Affirmation of St. Louis, offers a solution worthy at least of consideration, has not been brought up at all. If the TAC considers itself to be, in any way whatsoever, a Continuing Anglican Church body, and if the Orlando blog pretends that it holds to the "Anglo" in its misnomer, then this absolute Rome or bust! line is a betrayal, spurning the "spirit of St. Louis" and the spirit of '77.

What it tells us is simply this: To those Anglicanorum Coetibus enthusiasts The Affirmation of St. Louis, with all of the doctrinal standards of the Book of Common Prayer, is dead and ready to be buried. In place of Anglicanism they hold to what they have called Anglican Patrimony, which, by their definition, is a far cry from the real thing. Boiled down to its actual ingredients, what they term Anglican Patrimony is nothing more than Elizabethan English and classier music than most RCC parishes have at present. The substance is missing.

This false choice, as laid out for the English Anglicans, is tantamount to saying that catholic minded Anglicans in the United States have only two real choices: The modern Episcopal "Church," or the RCC. Indeed, if one strips away the veneer, that is what the ACA bishops were saying only a few months ago, though more delicately phrased, slightly. But, they found that their people will not suffer such betrayal of their principles so easily (and we hope, finally, not at all).

Of course, what else could we have expected from a church body led by clergy whose education, for the most part, has been little more than brainwashing? They reject everything truly Anglican, but speak of "Anglican Patrimony"-- you know, all the thees and thous and a few beseeches (garsh! if that ain't real Anglican with all them pretty soundin' words)--and pretend that Rome, by accepting that, and maybe even preserving it, is saving our heritage (so, what would we need Shakespeare for?). What they do not get is that any actual substance from real Anglican Patrimony is unwelcome in Rome.

And, what about the clergy whose "education" has been a program of brainwashing? These are the kind who have taken a razor blade to the Book of Common Prayer and have removed the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, mainly because they cannot understand the foreign language, English, in which they were written; and, indeed, really, they cannot understand it. Now, the Stand-firmers and other Reasserters have sort of done the same thing, only from the opposite perspective. For, what they have done is to remove the Articles so as to transform them into a stand alone feature, removed from the genuinely Catholic context of the Book of Common Prayer, so that their meaning may be perverted and twisted to the furthest degree of misinformed imagination. The Reasserters, have never removed them physically by cutting them out; but, they have removed them mentally, to stand alone, where they may be converted into nothing more than a Reformed document in the Zwinglian sense.

But, the brainwashed clergy, of whom I speak, are a purely modern (or post modern, if you must) new breed of so-called Anglo-Catholics, who know the Articles no better than the Reasserters do, and actually see them the same way (that is, as Zwinglian). They have been taught the following equation, drummed into their heads until they spew it back as their own conviction:

Anglican + Protestant = bad.

The brainwashing is designed to convince them of the following Universal "Truths" that are somehow quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est, even though they were unknown to anybody until the mid to late Twentieth Century. Supposedly, they form the basis for the Oxford Movement, even though the great Anglo-Catholic writers, from the Oxford Movement on, may be quoted in abundance to refute them-- oh the joys of Doctrinal Development.

1. All things "Catholic" are defined strictly by Ultramontane Papists.

With the help of this thinking, one need not study the Bible nor the Church Fathers. Carefully selected and provided sample quotations will suffice. One may pretend that the great Anglican thinkers (including Cranmer) never proved to be the fine Patristic Scholars that, in fact, their writings prove them to have been.

2. The highest duty of a priest is to celebrate according to all the most minute details of Ritual Notes.

Forget worship in spirit and in truth, compared to this much much higher priority. Forget pastoral duties too. It's all about correctly stepping in time in the keenest duds, a performance like Broadway never saw. Boy, won't they be the envy of RC parishes every which where!

3. Our Anglican Fathers were heretics who somehow gave us a splendid liturgy, fully valid, and their patrimony is still, somehow, a great treasure for the whole Church Catholic, despite their obvious and embarrassing heresies.

Never mind that a tree must bear its own fruit. Never mind taking the time to read the great early Anglican writers. Rome says they were heretics, and bothering to read all that olde English is too much work anyway.

4. It's a priest's duty to deliver whimpy, effeminate seven-minute homilies instead of preaching with power and conviction.

Contrary to this idea, I quote a great man whom I remember as a fine example for all Christian clergy: “How much more our words would burn as we preach . . . if, before preaching, we prayed for five minutes to the Holy Spirit for Pentecostal fire; if we kept the scriptures ever near us, that we might gird ourselves with their truth when mounting the pulpit.” Those words were written by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen 3-for all you youngsters who don't know, a dog of a papist but an ok guy anyway.

I could go on with more examples; but, methinks you have the idea. Is it any wonder that the principles of The Affirmation of St. Louis have been betrayed? With clergy like that, who needs detractors?

1. However, most of the divisions that followed the 1978 Denver Consecrations were among those who already had divided from what emerged as the major jurisdictions, and so their never ending strife should not surprise us, nor its rippling effects as they part from each other, treating division as the cure all for what ails. To be blunt, they just don't count, anymore than breakaway sects ever have counted to the Church. Freedom of Religion guarantees that we will continue to see all sorts of prelates and heirarchs with their own "Continuing Church," perhaps holding services in their own cathedral/garage (cathedral on Sundays), with their whole jurisdiction in attendance: Their bishop, Molly and he and baby makes three, along with Spot the family dog, and one or two very elderly folks who drive from out of town every once in a while, constitute the whole church. It is not fair to lump these in with the Continuing Church, as Anglicans Online does. Before Anglicanorum Coetibus came out, when I still entertained hope for unity that included the TAC, I wrote an essay that you may find by clicking here. It balances out the facts.

2. I am not taking a stand on this one way or the other. I say it was, I am told, his perspective.

3. Fulton J. Sheen, The Priest Is Not His Own, San Fransisco Ignatius Press, republished in 2005 (originally 1961).


Canon Tallis said...

Altogether an excellent post, Father Hart, but the TAC prelates had excellent examples for their belief that the Articles were truly Zwinglian or worse. Indeed both were very explicit in telling me just that. They were also entirely sure that the best way to maintain classical Anglicanism was to prefer all things Roman and papal to anything truly Anglican at all. The problem was that they had no Father Hart and might not have believed him if they did. They were that sure that they were entirely right and that anyone with a contrary opinion was a protestant heretic whom they would banish from the Continuum as quickly as possible.

Had it not been for that and the even more tragic posturing and power grabbing, the petty jealousies and back stabbings, the Continuum might yet be united and several times larger than it is. But far too many were very rudely pushed into other jurisdictions who were as loyal or more to the Affirmation that the big three or into the REC which is now seriously flirting with ACNA - which I believe to be a serious mistake, perhaps even more serious that Bishop Cummings original departure from the American Church.

Unfortunately none of us can change the past and few of us are willing face, acknowledge and attempt to correct our current failings. That means that we have to start from where we are now and the major necessity, as I see it, is that the bishops of the Continuum who intend to remain Anglican need to meet and reassure all those in the TAC that all will do as much as humanly and heavenly possible to care for those laity, deacons, priests and parishes of the TAC who are interested in becoming Romans. We need to all (and I do mean ALL) be in this together. That may result in the bruising of a few episcopal egos, but I hope that they accept that more easily than having to stand before God's throne of judgment and confess that they willfully failed His church. They don['t have to promise that they will do everything necessary, but only everything within their collective ability. It would be great to see Archbishop Haverland take the lead in this – and, perhaps, he already has, but if we truly love our Lord and Anglicanism, we can not fail these people.

Fr. John said...

The way I see it there are two choices. One may enter the Roman Church under any circumstances at hand and join the civil war raging there, or one can join the Continuum. BTW, see my blog for an expansion of the topic concerning the homosexual dominated Roman Catholic seminaries entitled "Sitting in Satan's Lap.

The TAC, born in an unnecessary schism, is tearing itself apart one more time in an effort to lead its laity into the tactical equivalent of the Alamo. What could they be thinking that would induce them to destroy a faithful remnant of Anglicanism in order to become the equivalent of a tiny squad of soldiers joining an already besieged garrison that has the options of capitulation, or of being overrun.

The best result they can hope for, if they are successful in corporately becoming part of the Roman Church, is to spend their time trying to survive the endless leftist intrigues that the American Roman Catholic hierarchy will hatch to marginalize them and render them irrelevant in much the same way they have the Latin Rite parishes.

We are the only honest game in town.

Andrew said...

"To be blunt, they just don't count, anymore than breakaway sects ever have counted to the Church."

Pot, meet kettle.

+Andrew of Ebbsfleet had it right in his April pastoral letter when he wrote:

"Whatever the result of the General Synod debate, the Holy Father's offer deserves to be considered in its own right. Whatever the result of the debate, those who cannot accept the ministry of Peter should not accept the Pope's offer. Amidst this, it is hard to see anything but a time of division, a 'parting of friends', though, thankfully, no one seems to be heading off to form or join anything new, or smaller: there are enough sects already."

The Shrinking Cleric said...

Very nicely put, Father Hart. It is a tragedy that more people don't see the Continuing Church for what it truly is: the only remaining vestige of Anglicanism.

I had to chuckle about your reference to Ritual Notes as it brought back a funny memory. Earlier this year in my former parish, I was talking to a parishioner about a reference in RN to the proper way to carry a censer in procession, gently swinging due to the walking motion of the thurifer. Any swinging of the censer at this time was considered by RN to be "pretentious." My parishioner commented, "How bad do you have to get for Ritual Notes to think you are pretentious?"

I will confess that I am still not a big fan of the 39 Articles, but I'm only 53 and there's still time for me to grow up like Father Wells! :-)

Anonymous said...

I loved the whole essay, but especially this sentence:

"Now, however, the bishops of the American branch of the TAC, the Anglican Church in America (ACA) are faced with a very divided response among the people they had thought, until recently, they could simply herd into Roman Catholicism."

That is surely the most stupendous feat of self-deception in the annals of stupidity.


Jack Miller said...

Very interesting post Fr. Hart... very interesting.

... and thanks.

where does it all lead?


Fr. Robert Hart said...

Fr. John wrote:

The TAC, born in an unnecessary schism, is tearing itself apart one more time in an effort to lead its laity into the tactical equivalent of the Alamo.

Or, perhaps, the Little Big Horn. I think of Custer leading his men into the Medicine Tail Coulee shouting, "Take no prisoners!" The role was played by Richard Mulligan in Little Big Man, but the role was made for Hepworth.

Nathan said...

If the 39 Articles had never been written, how would we define the Catholic faith?


Canon Tallis said...

First, as I am sure all knew, I meant to put a "not" before "interested in becomeing Romans." Sorry.

Secondly, Andrew, anyone who sees anything resembling the ministry of Peter as set forth in the New Testament in the current Roman leadership has been smoking something quite powerful and it is not incense. Father John's comments are entirely relevant and I am more than happy to second them.

Canterbury Anglican said...

Perhaps this calls for a direct approach / statement from the ACC both Internationally and more locally in England? If the ACC can offer 'another way' to (real) traditional Anglicans in the CofE then now is the time to start outlining the vision! Perhaps an invitation in the Church Times to an open forum or an article in a UK PBS publication would be a good place to start?


AFS1970 said...

Another excellent article but with so many points to ponder.

As for England, well our brethren there will have a choice to make. While the offer from Rome has almost become the proverbial dead horse being beaten, it is one option. If the Continuum is going to play any role in England (and I think that is a pretty big if) it will likely be the ACC, as they have the only presence there. Some could of course do what the continuers did here and for a new jurisdiction, but as their own +Andrew pointed out there are enough sects already. The only other option is to stay put and accept the heterodoxy.

I respectfully disagree with the way the continuum is defined here. I agree that there are two groupings, but I have a different idea of what constitutes that second grouping. I do not think of the TAC/ACA as any more of a continuing church than I do of various others that either have roots in St. Louis or have accepted the Affirmation at a later date. Part of this is because of their history predating 1977 and part of this is due to their crawl Romeward. While there will be some of ACA left when the move finally takes place, I do not think those remnants will have any better claim to the continuum than say the DHC.

As I said at the start the Roman offer has been dissected and discussed about as much as it can be. The response from TAC/ACA to that offer is almost at that level. At some point we are going to have to realize that those who want to go will do so, and in doing so will cease to be Anglicans. Those that want to stay are going to stay, and they should be welcomed into the brotherhood that the continuum can and should be. In the mean time the big three and any smaller jurisdictions that are willing, need to sit down and talk about real unity. There will be hard subjects brought up, not everyone will come away happy, but hopefully everyone will walk in the same direction together.

Anonymous said...

I had thought the word "Betrayed" was a trifle strong until I read this paragraph from Bp Edwin Barnes on The Former Anglican:

"What are the main elements of the Anglican Patrimony you would like the Ordinariates to preserve?"

The holy man answers:

"Our fathers in the faith spoke of “reserve” in matters of faith. That is, a sort of quiet and simple spirit in the best of Anglican use. It has seemed to me a religious voice, a tone, in keeping with our national character. The language of our Prayer Book which introduced the vernacular into our worship five centuries ago seems to catch something of this plain, undemonstrative but deeply felt religious sensibility. But in truth, I think we cannot discover our Patrimony until we see it in a completely Catholic context."

This is the first time, to my knowledge, that anyone of that sect has ventured a definition of the "Anglican Patrimony." But this limp-wristed, pusilannimous bilge might as well be a description of Quakerism. I cannot imagine William Laud or Charles I losing their heads for an "undemonstrative but deeply felt religious sensibility." Nor can I conceive of the sacrifices of Samuel Seabury or Jackson Kemper for such a worthless substitute for Christianity.
If the "Anglican patrimony" is no more than Bp Barnes thinks it is, why would it require a special Ordinariate?

The pro-papalist Former Anglicans cannot get their stories straight. On the one hand, they tell us, Anglicanism is a vile and horrid thing, originating in in Henry VII's sexual appetite and Zwinglian heresy. On the other hand, there is something lovely about it which justifies special consideration by the Petrine Successor. That is the unreconciled contradiction in their entire movement.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Nathan posited the hypothetical question,

If the 39 Articles had never been written, how would we define the Catholic faith?

The answer is that we would do so by the same method that produced the Thirty-Nine Articles. The Articles themselves were written to emphasize or clarify issues of doctrine that needed the correction of Scripture as understood in Antiquity. In order for the Articles to relay their true and intended meaning, they must remain within the BCP, where liturgy helps explain them.

Jack Miller said...

One writer states:
The Articles were not written primarily as a reaction against Rome, but rather as a definitive expression of the English commitment the creedal faith of the pre-divided Church. The identity of the English Protestant Church was not that of a new Church caused by Henry VIII, but rather that of the restored ancient Church of the first five centuries.

I think it is often way-over-stated that the Articles are too difficult to understand and/or they relate mostly or only to the Papist/medieval doctrinal innovations. They are a concise (though not exhaustive) confession of the scriptural and early church faith as understood by Cranmer and the other reformers in England at that time.

Fr. Hart:
I would rather say that the Articles inform the BCP liturgy (although there is a back and forth), rather than the other way around. I think the danger of misreading the liturgy (as to its meaning) rises in proportion to the greater affinity one has for a "Roman" view as opposed to a reformed-catholic theology. The Articles, properly read, guard one from that slide; especially in that they endorse specifically the Homily on Salvation (Justification) which bears directly on the Eucharist service. Gregory Dix, Anglican Benedictine priest and liturgical scholar and "no lover of the BCP... had to admit the excellence of its communion service as a statement of justification by faith."

Thanks again for your thoughtful and helpful articles/discussions.

Canon Tallis said...

Father Hart, I made a small bet with myself as to how you would answer Nathan's question and you came through for me like a champion. I only wish I could share the bottle of champagne with which I am going to reward myself for so precisely anticipating your answer. I hope to sometime in the near future share such a bottle with you and your lovely bride.

Rev. Dr. Hassert said...

Excellent post.


Let me also say that someone else seems to have taken my blogger name--the other An Anglican Cleric isn't me.

Deacon Down Under said...

Downunder in Australia where the ACC in tiny in comparison with the American Church, we are celebrating the reception on Trinity VI of Fr. Derek Pryde and the TAC parish of St. James Mermaid Beach(Gold Coast into the ACC. This is the first of Archbishop Hepworth's parishes to leave the TAC, for them ending the schism which was so damaging to the Australian Church.

For anyone in Queensland here are the parish details:
St. James Anglican Catholic Church
32 Dolphin Avenue, Mermaid Beach, QLD 4218
Rector: The Rev’d Derek Pryde, Th.L (Aust.); Dip. Div. (UK); Ch.L. (USA)
Tel. 07 5578 6881
Associate Priest: The Rev’d Reg Mills, Th.L (Hons)
Tel. 07 5534 2319
Sundays: 9.00 a.m. The Parish Communion and Healing Service
Thursdays: 10.00 a.m. Mass & Study/Discussion at the home of Fr. Reg 1/54 Sarawak Avenue, Palm Beach, QLD
Saints’ & Holy Days: Mass celebrated in the homes of parishioners
T.V. Programme: “Meditation Medication” each Sunday on Brisbane Channel 31 at 11.00 a.m.

See also the Diocesan website: www.accdanz.org.

Rev'd. David Gould
Annunciation of Our Lady Anglican Catholic Church Mission - Hobart, Tasmania

Michael said...

What you published, Father, would seem laughable to anyone present at the ACCC synod in Vancouver this week - even the few who were opposed to the Apostolic Constitution.

Our bishops stressed the theological inheritence of the Anglican Church; our Primate urged us not to be hung up on minor details in the liurgy, and to focus on evangelism; some of our more Evangelical brethren talked about prayer and spiritual warfare. The sermons were longer than seven minutes, and they were darn well not wimpy.

I know you disagree with us, and that's honourable. I know there are lots of things you dislike about what we're doing. We have many faults - you don't need to make up ridiculous stuff - it just makes you look stupid.

Fr. Robert Hart said...


When you get to be my age, you will not mind looking stupid. I am glad to hear your report, and I hope this means that Canon Sinclair will be reinstated, and receive the full apology that, if your report is true, they must be most eager to give him.

Nathan said...

In order for the Articles to relay their true and intended meaning, they must remain within the BCP, where liturgy helps explain them.

Heavy use of footnotes citing Scripture, the Councils, Doctors and Fathers from whence they were derived, a pocket guide to 'Navigating the Articles to Their Catholic Sources' and Fr. Hart's cell phone number might help to explain them also.

Canon Tallis, By all means, Drink!