As posted on VirtueOnline
By David W. Virtue
Embattled Anglo-Catholics and Evangelicals in the Church of England, smarting from the recent Synod decision to consecrate women bishops, are licking their wounds and planning their exodus from the Mother Church.
Even though the Church of England prides itself on its inclusiveness and holding conflicting views together under one big tent, those policies failed when General Synod met in York recently and decided to ordain women to the episcopacy. A Rubicon was crossed.
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York's failure to cobble together a measure that would make special provision for those members opposed to women bishops only weakened Dr. Rowan Williams' overall authority which is now see an all time low in the Anglican Communion.
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The question we have to face, especially the Anglican Catholic Church Original Province (ACC-OP), is, what are we willing to do? If we believe we wear the mantle of genuine Anglican belief, and therefore carry the burden of the Christian mission that Canterbury has abdicated, then what we do in the immediate and near future will determine whether we assist Bishop Mead and the English ACC in taking advantage of what is, from one perspective, the current opportunity, or if we might even obstruct their efforts to grow to the extent that this hour of history offers. This opportunity is, at the same time, a great need on the part of English Anglicans who want to Continue to be faithful to the Catholic and Evangelical emphases of the true Anglican patrimony.
My own perspective comes from across the pond, and as such is somewhat that of a mere observer. Nonetheless, from over here it seems that we who are not living in England have saddled our church in England with an unnecessary burden. Whereas I count myself among those who find the Holy Communion services in the 1549 Book of Common Prayer, our American 1928 Book of Common Prayer, or the Scottish Non-Juror Book of Common Prayer, to be superior to the Holy Communion service as contained in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, it seems a small price to pay to accommodate English Anglicans who cannot abandon their Prayer Book. It is not as if the 1662 BCP contained any theological problem, and needed to be shut out. No one has charged error, nor could such a charge hold water.
It may be that the English Anglicans we have heard from on this blog (represented by one Fr. Edward) have an attachment to that one edition of the BCP that is more emotional than logical. But, that does not change the fact that they feel what they feel, and have let us know that they remain, at this time, unable fully to trust us. After all, we are talking about the BCP of William Wilberforce and C.S. Lewis (among so many, many names), the book that the actual Oxford Movement Anglo-Catholics defended and cherished, the book that had signaled quite clearly the triumph of Caroline Anglicanism over the excesses of Puritanism (even if some misinformed souls imagine it to have been the other way around). My own perspective tells me, from this distance, that we have heard rather frankly from a segment of the Anglicans in the native home of Anglicanism. It may not be a huge segment, but we have it on the Highest Authority that "one the least of the least" counts. I believe the issue needs to be reopened and that waiting for the Provincial Synod in 2011 may be too late to meet the current need/opportunity. Such a time as now may not come again.