Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Greener on the other side


For the last eleven months we have found numerous reasons to address the subject of Anglicanorum Coetibus and how it may affect the lives of many people who have no desire to be torn away from Continuing Anglicanism. Our analysis comes from careful research and our own educational backgrounds, by which we mean to clarify simply this: We know the meaning of this new Roman Catholic constitution. We have been able, therefore, accurately and honestly to correct the mistaken impressions and erroneous interpretations that some have applied to the text. Most of the writing on this particular subject has come from Rev. Canon Charles Nalls and me. Our qualifications for accurate interpretation of the Papal document should be a mystery to no one who has any knowledge of our respective histories.

Two convictions have under girded what we have written. One is that Continuing Anglicans have no need to become Roman Catholic, and that the new constitution does not present any great eschatological fulfillment of universal unity in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. It is nothing more than the newest terms by which former Anglicans may convert to Roman Catholicism. Indeed, it is not about unity, but about leaving one branch of the Church for another, and nothing more. It extends the Pastoral Provisions, but does not significantly alter their substance and rules.

In the months that followed the public announcement and presentation of Anglicanorum Coetibus, the Archbishop of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC), the Most Rev. John Hepworth, along with his trusting followers, including certain bishops of the American TAC branch, The Anglican Church in America (ACA), began to spin the meaning of the new constitution in order to fit it into an agenda of their own. The result was confusion, as they tried to turn Rome's new extension of the Pastoral Provisions into everything from inter-communion to a complete overhaul of Rome's longstanding beliefs and practices, including their (completely erroneous) condemnation of Anglican Orders. But, none of this radical revision is even implied by the contents of Anglicanorum Coetibus; at least not when read by those of us with the education it takes to understand what it says in light of their existing Canon Law. In fact, the constant references in the document to existing Canon Law renders the true meaning of the document not only clear, but obvious beyond a reasonable doubt.

Shortly after this all started, the blog that calls itself The Anglo-Catholic (which is about as Anglo as it is Baptist) featured a daily barrage of postings to misinform their readers along the lines of Hepworth's spin, sparing no opportunity to try their best to discredit us. In fact, their blog administrator, Mr. Campbell, wasted about two hours of my life (which, at my age, I want back) trying to persuade me, over the phone, that the Hepworth interpretation just had to be spot on.

Now, after several months, that blog, headquartered in Orlando, Florida, clearly reflects the fact that we were right all along about the Hepworth spin. However, they have increased their defense of Anglicanorum Coetibus itself, and of the premise that Anglicans should all take advantage of it, and so place themselves under the Pope. One of the most loyal Hepworthians has left their blog to create his own. What they disagree about is the Archbishop of the TAC.

Clarifications
The result is that both factions still see us as the enemy. If only our criticism was aimed at Rome itself, for creating their new constitution, their work would be easy. In fact, we have analyzed Anglicanorum Coetibus, but we have never damned Rome for creating it. It was designed, as was the Continuing Church, in response to the crisis in churches of the Anglican Communion. As such, it offers an alternative to people who are awaking to the fact that their church heritage was stolen away while they slumbered. The people in Forward in Faith (FiF) have, in their estimation, lost the battle. The Church of England, in their latest General Synod, have allowed the consecration of women to be "bishops," making the old problem of women priests unavoidable, while adding to its destructive effect (and I predict, in light of the political correctness that has made England safe for gun slinging criminals and soon to be "marital" homsex, but unsafe for the faithful, that the next "Archbishop" of Canterbury, once this latest change worms its way through the system, will be a woman). In this light, Rome becomes for them a real option.

But, for Continuing Anglicans, having seen the crisis in 1977 and having set up an Anglican alternative, Anglicanorum Coetibus is not, and never could have been, an answer to any crisis whatsoever. Indeed, it was not written for them, but in response to the needs of FiF people, and in anticipation of this year's latest twist and turn on the Canterbury Trail. Hepworth's attempt to fit the square peg of the new constitution into the round hole of the TAC's Romeward Bound advertising campaign, was an act of desperation. They did not consult him, and even announced it publicly; so, they almost exposed the emperor's newest apparel to scorn.

That Hepworth was aided in keeping up appearances early on, by overly polite FiF leaders, cannot be denied. They allowed him to take their stage for the longest brief comment in history. But, now that the cat is out of the bag, it should become clear that the effort to make Anglicanorum Coetibus into some wonderful magic kingdom for Continuing Anglicans, has served no good purpose for anyone. People who actually want to go to Rome, but who have been waiting for the TAC/ACA hierarchy to declare the pot of gold golden enough, have been stalled to no honest end.

Made to doubt the validity of their own sacraments, but not allowed into the Land of Promise, they have been forced to wonder as they wander, having no means to satisfy their consciences about the efficacy of the sacraments they either use, or pretend to use? not knowing what the case may be. People who have the good sense to stay loyal to their sincere Anglican convictions, and to what they saw in the Affirmation of St. Louis, have been condemned openly as standing in the way of some elusive and alleged "unity." They have been placed in this no man's land by despicable and heinous pastoral neglect, and condemned for their adherence to conscience and to truth. In the case of Canadian clergy, some have been fired and even excommunicated for asking honest questions in a fair and balanced manner.

To those who want to be clear in their minds and consciences about sacramental validity, either be Anglican Catholic or Roman Catholic. You ought not to deny your consciences the comfort they need. If you buy the propaganda of the Roman Catholic Church, well, at least you are remaining Christian; so, go if you must. If you do not buy it, then be reconciled fully to your fellow Continuing Anglicans. After all, it is logical and right to pursue an achievable goal of actual and practical unity.

I offer one caveat, however, to those who want to go to Rome. The acres look greener now; but the grass will look its true color after much time on the other side of the fence. It generally proves to be the case that converts to Rome have buyer's remorse after a few years.

21 comments:

William Tighe said...

A slight correction, if I may. What the Church of England's General Synod did in July of this year was to approve (by a simple majority in all three "houses," of bishops, clergy and laity) the general shape of the legislation which will be embodies as the "Women's Ordination (Bishops) Act." This act must return to the General Synod -- a new General Synod is to be elected this Fall, and it is that new synod that will convene in November of this year -- for pro forma approval, and then it must go to each of the Church of England's 44 diocesan synods for debate and approval, in the course of which alterations and amendments may be proposed for forwarding to the General Synod. Then it must return to the General Synod for final approval (during which alterations and amendments mat be proposed and debated), probably sometime in 2012, for which final approval a two-thirds majority in favor must be achieved in each of the three houses voting separately (and it is possible, if not altogether likely that at this point it may fail in the House of Laity). If it passes the General synod, it must be approved by both Houses of Parliament, after first being deemed "expedient" by an "Ecclesiastical Committee" composed of members of both the House of Lords and the House of Commons -- it was the likelihood that this committee would have deemed further consideration by Parliament of the "Women's Ordination (Priesthood) Act" in 1993 to be inexpedient (in which case it could not proceed further to debate in parliament) that impelled the General Synod to enact the scheme that produced the "flying bishops" (Provincial Episcopal Visitors) and the possibilities for parishes to pass various resolutions that made them "no go" areas for female clergy and for bishops who ordain women. And when it passes through both Houses of Parliament it must receive the inevitable "Royal Assent" form the monarch and then be formally "promulged" (promulgated) a the first session of the General Synod after receiving that Assent.

The earliest point in which the legislation could come into effect, assuming it passes through all these stages, would be 2014; if it were to be defeated (as I have speculated that it might be) around 2012 by failure to attain a two-thirds majority in the House of Laity, it could be reintroduced only after the election of a new General Synod in 2015 -- in which case it probably could not come into effect, assuming that it surmounted all the aforementioned hurdles (which would have to be gone through all over again), until 2020 or 2021 at the earliest. In any event, even if the present Archbishop of Canterbury chooses to retire before reaching his mandatory retirement age on June 13, 2021, he will most likely be succeeded in his office by a male.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Let me see if this flies: Once they have female "bishops" it will be the PC thing to do.

William Tighe said...

Undoubtedly, Fr. Hart -- but it will, most definitely will, take time.

Nathan said...

Be it now or 2021, the CoE no longer attempts to remain Catholic.
The horse is dead. Kick it no more.

Anonymous said...

Our qualifications for accurate interpretation of the Papal document should be a mystery to no one who has any knowledge of our respective histories.

A few of your readers (such as myself) may not have such knowledge. May one courteously ask to know more on this subject (assuming, of course, that you are speaking to us)?

This is not a challenge, simply a request for more information on an issue that you yourself have raised.

Anonymous 20100908/01

Anonymous said...

On the 16th of December 2009 Cardinal Levada wrote to Archbishop Hepworth officially providing him with a copy of Anglicanorum coetibus and the accompanying Complementary Norms, together with a commentary on both of the documents by Father Gianfranco Ghirlanda SJ (which had been published in L’Osservatore Romano on the 9-10 November 2009). In this letter the Cardinal said that the AC “constitutes the definitive response of the Holy See not only to your original request, but also to the many others of a similar nature which have been submitted over the last years”.

See also the statement made by the English FIF + Broadhurst at their October meeting:

"We in 1994 asked a Catholic question,'How are we reconciled to the Holy See?' and what we got in 1994 was ... a Protestant answer 'I'll be nice to you'. The Catholic question has remained there and I am very grateful to the TAC, ... They have asked the question on behalf of all of us and thank God they have, because the answer that we have got this time is an ecclesial answer."

-ANJ

Ken said...

Dr. Tighe,

What would be the affect of a large number of laity and clergy leaving the CoE for an RCC Ordinariate in 2011?

Fr. Robert Hart said...

ANJ wrote:

On the 16th of December 2009 Cardinal Levada wrote to Archbishop Hepworth officially providing him with a copy of Anglicanorum coetibus and the accompanying Complementary Norms, together with a commentary on both of the documents by Father Gianfranco Ghirlanda SJ (which had been published in L’Osservatore Romano on the 9-10 November 2009).

December 16th you say? Of course, it was posted on the internet, at the official website of "the Holy See," a month earlier. So, in December 2009, after the whole world had read it and after we were engaged in commenting on it, someone from Cardinal Levada's office did send a written copy, yes; and that was after a certain blogger for the The Continuum suggested to the right ears (behind the scenes) that Hepworth needed to read everything you mentioned, because he was giving out false information

"...I am very grateful to the TAC, ... They have asked the question on behalf of all of us and thank God they have, because the answer that we have got this time is an ecclesial answer."

As I said in my essay, they were overly polite at that point in time-and Hepworth was in the room about to use 25 of 5 minutes allotted him to speak. When Cardinal Levada met Hepworth face to face, after that, he asked him, "and which Anglican group are you with?"

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Anonymous 20100908/01

A few of your readers (such as myself) may not have such knowledge. May one courteously ask to know more on this subject...?

Fr. Nalls' professional expertise in Canon Law is well known, his formal education from Dominicans in Washington DC, not to mention his former position as a TAC Canon to work on details between them and Rome (including direct contact with Abp. Di Nioa, in fact when he was simply Fr. Di Noia) give him a lot of insight. About the position of Canon, I was in Timonium Maryland when Abp. Hepworth appointed Fr. Nalls to be a canon for the "ongoing communications" with Rome. Afterward, Hepworth told me how happy he was to have Fr. Nalls as a canon. Afterward, when Fr. Nalls was letting me know it all had been much ado about nothing, Hepworth went around saying that he had never appointed Fr. Nalls as canon--but he forgot to kill all the witnesses first, including me.

My study of theology, my personal reasons for learning everything relevant about the Pastoral Provisions (having a brother who became a RC priest under the Pastoral Provisions), my position as a contributing editor for Touchstone magazine, have been part of the picture in my case.

In our numerous essays on this very subject, we have demonstrated our familiarity with the relevant portions of canon law in the larger context of the whole body of it, knowledge of RC theology, and in the context of history.

I was being groomed to take over as editor of The Christian Challenge in 2007 and 2008, by Auburn Traycik. I was on top of
events to report on them (not merely to read the news, but to write it), and I interviewed Abp. Hepworth himself for over 90 minutes. It was obvious, when I reflected on it, that all of the documentation was created from the TAC side, addressed to Rome. Nothing was from Rome.

He was, by the way, soliciting donations for the whole project while globetrotting with his personal assistant, who received the huge bonus (about two hundred and fifty thousand dollars) for all her hard work, after the sale of church property in Australia.

Anonymous said...

The quotes provided were simply to demonstrate that this sentence is false:

"Indeed, it was not written for them, but in response to the needs of FiF people, and in anticipation of this year's latest twist and turn on the Canterbury Trail."

It is written for both (and others besides). However, quibbling over facts seems a fruitless venture here.

By the way, why does this eat at you so much? You've made your rhetorical position clear, but to be put into such a state of near-constant public indignation for almost a year is a remarkable feat.
-ANJ

Anonymous said...

Fr. Hart,

I was a TEC priest who was left with no choice but to leave TEC. Part of the reason was my parish was out of money, the other reason was the corruption of theology, doctrine and teaching of TEC.

Please believe me when I say that I looked seriously at the Continuum. I found no place for a married man with two young children to support. Maybe I didn't try or look hard enough.

I ended up swimming the Tiber and am now in the Pastoral Provision.

You have stated on more than one occasion that the Anglicanorum coetibus is no grand exodus and is hardly a significant movement in catholicism or Christianity. Well, your numbers in the ACC aren't much better. Is there some viable parish in the ACC somewhere in need of a priest? Can they support a family of four?

I'll bet there are plenty of others in the same situation as me. Can the ACC accomodate an incoming tide of displaced Anglicans better than Rome?

I can live with some of the Roman doctrines I once ingored or felt were redundant. I know they seem extra-biblical, but I don't find them anti-biblical. I don't believe that the Roman Catholic Church in 2010 is the same as it was in 1500. I think it's possible to convert without believing in things contrary to what I believed as an Anglican. For instance, I don't believe anything that Hooker would have a problem with, and yet here I am.

Is the ACC interested in taking former Episcopal priests? Are there ACC parishes in need?

Not everyone enjoys the same luxuries of choice in these matters.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

ANJ wrote:

The quotes provided were simply to demonstrate that this sentence is false:

"Indeed, it was not written for them, but in response to the needs of FiF people, and in anticipation of this year's latest twist and turn on the Canterbury Trail."


I said who it written for, not who it is open to. The sources who have confirmed that the TAC was a mere afterthought are from the Roman side.

By the way, why does this eat at you so much? You've made your rhetorical position clear, but to be put into such a state of near-constant public indignation for almost a year...

Don't you wish it was about indignation? Then you could dismiss my critiques. But, face it, this is really about hard hitting and spot on analysis. You just can't stand it.

To the the former TEC priest:

The simple fact is, you could not have looked carefully at the ACC and have concluded that no parishes could support a priest with a family. We have parishes that not only can, but do. My work at St. Benedict's is full time.

You have stated on more than one occasion that the Anglicanorum coetibus is no grand exodus and is hardly a significant movement in catholicism or Christianity.

I have stated that it is no grand step forward in Church Unity. The numbers are not part of my analysis, and would, as a topic, serve no apologetic purpose. Nonetheless, it is my observation that the TAC's numbers were more than greatly exaggerated, whereas the ACC's numbers are consistently under reported.

What I cannot understand is how you can see no conflict between Anglicanism and Roman Catholicism. Granted, we have a lot in common. But, even knowing what Hooker said about the papacy (and that long before the pope became infallible in 1870), how can you think he would have no problem with RCism today?

J. Gordon Anderson said...

With regard to the former TEC priest:

I think he was asking about "open" parishes. We (in the APA) have parishes that are able to support one full time priest, but they are all taken. The same is probably true in other jurisdictions as well.

That said, the Roman Catholic Church doesn't (I am told) have a great support system for married clergy who come in under the pastoral provision.

So I guess it is tough wherever you go. Anytime one leaves his "community" he also leaves his support system and network.

William Tighe said...

Ken wrote:

"Dr. Tighe,

What would be the affect of a large number of laity and clergy leaving the CoE for an RCC Ordinariate in 2011?"

My expectation is that a fairly significant of the clerical leadership of FIF/UK will indeed leave, beginning in 2011, but only a fairly small trickle of laity -- but that this trickle will increase (among both clergy and laity) after the "Women's Ordination (Bishops) Act" comes into force in 2014 -- assuming it does so. If it is defeated in 2012, it will probably return again in 2015 and be passed in 2020 or 2021, this time without even the whispy gossamer appearance of any "protection" of parishes and clergy opposed to it.

Of course, others may wish to specualte on its effect on and within the Roman Catholic Church in England.

FIF/UK itself will doubtlessly continue under a new leadership committed to staying indefinitely in the church of England, perhaps adopting a version of the retrospectively farcical motto of the ECM/ESA/FIFNA, "no desertion, no surrender" -- only like, or analogous to, FIF/NA to end up in a completely compromised and incoherent ecclesiologcal position.

Btw, I have learned recently that in the Episcopal Church of Scotland (NOT the established and Presbyterian Church of Scotland) the legal sitiation is that parishes are the absolute owners of their premises, and that they could choose to leave if they would desire to do so -- but only 2 to 4 would be likely to move towards an Ordinariat. In England, the "Church Commissioners" own all church buildings, and the notion is, that if and when an entire congregation choose to leave with its priest(s) the Church Commissioners might be willing to lease the premises to them for a certain period of time, so long as the congregation is willing to assume the responsibilities for repairs, upkeep and the like.

Fr. Aidan Nichols, OP considers some of these issues here:

http://www.trushare.com/0183August%202010/04-6%20lead_story.htm

Christian Year said...

Dr Tighe is mistaken about the ownership of church buildings in England. They are held in trust by the Vicar while he is in office; and during an interregnum they are held in trust by the Bishop.

Few if any Bishops are likely to allow the use of their property by departing congregations. The number of churches handed over after WO in 1992 was precisely zero.

The Bishop will simply appoint another incumbent (frequently a woman) to replace the one who has poped, or if the church is no longer viable, sell it.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Christian Year:

I see no difference in fact between what Dr. Tighe said and what you are saying. Are you disagreeing about the possibility that, "when an entire congregation choose to leave with its priest(s) the Church Commissioners might be willing to lease the premises to them for a certain period of time, so long as the congregation is willing to assume the responsibilities for repairs, upkeep and the like"?

By the way, I do not expect to see any eventual ordinariate in England, if one is ever established, leading to the departure of entire congregations. That happened in America with the Continuing Church, but the situation is very different.

Christian Year said...

Fr Hart

The Church Commissioners do not own parish churches, and therefore do not lease them.

If the parish is in interregnum because the former Vicar has resigned, the property is held in trust by the Bishop, who holds all the cards. If he does not want a former congregation or a former Vicar to have the property, they will not get it, however much they might offer in rent or to purchase.

The Bishop has full authority to appoint his own candidate as priest-in-charge once the Vicar has resigned.

If the Bishop decides to declare the property redundant, it may eventually be possible to sell it, but such buildings only go to approved purchasers, and at market rates.

CY

William Tighe said...

Yes, well, "Christian Year" some churches could be sold off, I suppose, when its Vicar goes, with much if not all of the congregation, if the church is modern or Victorian - like (to give not-so-random examples) St. Stephen's, Lewisham; but what if the building is an ancient historic one, like St. Thomas the Martyr, Oxford, that cannot be demolished and which, if it becames an empty barn, the church commissioners would have to maintain indefinitely a ttheir own expense? A "lease option" might look attractive to both sides.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Christian Year:

What Dr. Tighe said about ownership seems to have been meant to show the difference between the rules in England and Scotland. I do not think he meant to suggest that any of the commissioners in the C of E actually hold title to the property.

Relative to the concerns of Continuing Anglicans, if i am reading him right, it seems our own property clause in the Affirmation of St. Louis has a Scottish precedent.

Christian Year said...

Dr Tighe

I don't know why you are so preoccupied with the Church Commissioners, who have never owned parish churches.

If a church is no longer to be maintained as a place of worship, it is declared redundant, and responsibility for maintaining it falls upon the diocese concerned.

If it has no particular architectural significance and is in a poor condition it can be demolished and the site sold. If it is in a good condition, and another approved Christian denomination wants to buy it, the diocese can sell it at market price. No property came into the hands of the TAC in this way after the 1992 WO vote as they were not permitted to buy or to use former CofE churches.

Historic churches which are not sold to other Christian denominations tend to wind up in the care of the state, effectively as museum pieces. With the permission of the Bishop, occasional services can be held in them, but not regular use.

All forms of church sharing agreement require the consent of the Bishop, whether they work informally or on a formal lease.

You will see that the chief obstacle to any use by the forthcoming Ordinariate of CofE churches is the local Bishop.

There is another obstacle, however. The Roman Catholic bishops in England are busy selling off church buildings, even historic ones. They are unlikely to agree to the acquisition of former CofE churches, with all their expensive maintenance bills. In the absence of any known funding for the Ordinariate, it will be their decision as to whether or not to acquire property. The answer will be No.

St Thomas the Martyr in Oxford is likely to end up as a place of worship for some other denomination; or failing that in secular use; or even in the care of the state.

ALLtoJesus said...

The grass is evidently not all that green on the other side of the Tiber:
http://ncronline.org/news/hidden-exodus-catholics-becoming-protestants

The ordinariate may be a desperate measure on the part of Rome as well.