Wednesday, December 01, 2010

No, we haven't forgotten

Some of you may wonder if I have forgotten about the people who want to roam Romeward via some sort of ordinariate with all that Anglicanorum Coetibus jazz. The truth is, giving a great deal of thought and effort to the whole subject has been necessary only to accomplish two things. First, for the benefit of people who do not want to be dragged, pressured or pushed into the Roman Catholic Church, it has been necessary to supply a defense for their point of view. The other thing we have needed to accomplish is to correct the false statements, mostly by TAC spokesmen, that have misrepresented the whole so-called "generous offer" from Rome.

This we have done. So, if ever an ordinariate gets up and running, those who think that the Roman Catholic Church will protect "Anglican patrimony" may try to live with their delusion. It is a pathetic sight to behold them, at present, like a bunch of self-defeated refugees from a land of freedom and plenty (having no idea what they leave behind) standing on a dock, waiting for a magic ship to carry them to Shangri-La. Will the ship arrive? Does Shangri-La exist?

As time has gone by, less and less of the TAC people have proved willing to abandon the truth of Anglican theology, the power of genuine (as opposed to "A.U.") Anglican liturgy, and the principles of the Affirmation of St. Louis. We hope, therefore, to see complete unity between them and the Continuing Anglicans of the Concordat churches (all the chatter about the Anglican Province in America notwithstanding). This we want for them, including unity with their old allies and brethren of the ACC, without recriminations by anybody, and without old war stories about a distant past and big personalities absent these several years. None of that should matter for the future, if we want to be one Continuing Anglican Church as envisioned in the beginning.

The sight of the people on the dock, however, is most tragic. We must wonder, very simply, why. Why, when the moral reputation of the Roman Catholic Church is at an all time low, due entirely to self-inflicted damage, are these folks on the dock expecting "the Holy Father" and "the Holy See" to create for them an infallible solution to whatever problems they imagine?

They report that traditionalist Roman Catholics are saying, "we need you." How so? If the roamers on the dock consider Anglicanism so weak a thing that they keep only its thinnest outer shell (daring to call their perception of that shell "Anglican patrimony" -- the real substance of which they cannot discern from their own posteriors), what are they going to offer by lending the tiny drop of their presence to so vast an ocean? But, if "the Holy Father" and his "Holy See" are not sure of their own health, what are a few thousand (if that many) former Anglicans presuming to accomplish?

The problems of the Roman Communion are obvious. Their legal liabilities, and bad reputation, are entirely the fault of their gigantic bureaucratic system. At a time when it has proved to be broken and corrupt through and through, why are some former Anglicans so taken with its arrogant claims? At a time when the shepherds have failed to protect their weakest members from the wolves, and when many of the shepherds have proved to be the wolves, why are the roamers so impressed by the theories of the papacy, by what it claims to be rather than what it has shown itself to be? Why are they impressed by symbolic gestures and promises of reform, when even the chief spokesman of the new constitution, Cardinal Levada, is himself a shepherd who, as everybody knows, clothed the wolves? The system protected the predators, and gave their children to be the prey.

Why, then, is anyone enamored with Rome at the present time?

Anyway, I have not forgotten. But, I prefer to work with Fr. Wells on our Layman's Guide to the Thirty-Nine Articles, and to spend most of my energy teaching the wonderful and positive things we have in our meritorious treasury of Biblical truth.


Anonymous said...

Excellent post. These Romeward bound Anglicans seem to think that the recent transgressions of the Anglican Communion and the problems with unity in the continuum have somehow done away with the original arguments against the "Roman option." Namely, the theological innovations and outright heresy that the Roman communion teaches. (e.g. Papal supremacy and infallibility) The original Anglican critique of the Roman Church in these these matters has not been answered. Now they think they can brush these important matters aside. I don't think it is that easy.

AFS1970 said...

It seems to me that those who are leaving are hanging all hopes on one relatively small aspect of Rome, the papacy. I say small because even if all claims are true, it does not stop all the other issues one may have with Rome from also being true.

As for the traditionalists need the former Anglicans, how can that be, why would anyone in the "one true church" need members of a schismatic order, made up of utterly null and void clergy? It would seem that they need the exact opposite. It all reminds me of a quote from one of the Star Trek movies: "What does God need with a Starship"?

But I agree that at this point we should focus on our own positives. The work of explaining why Rome is not the answer is largely done at this point.

As for Anglican unity, I thin the TAC/APA cooperation will be a good thing for that. I can see both groups coming into greater unity with the ACC/UECNA/APCK churches. With two unified groupings coming together into greater unity, it really opens the door for many of the smaller groups to find a unified home.

Joseph said...

I have a student in my Anatomy and Physiolgy class who said "for an Episcoplian you know an awful lot about the Catholic Church"

With this type of thinking among the laity. Do these people going to Rome really think that anything will remain of their "Anglican Patrimony" after a few years?

(I will be showing her my copy of the 1928 BCP tonight in class. And explain Catholic does not automatically equal Roman Catholic)

Anonymous said...

Richard Hooker in the 'Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity' in a striking passage I have seen quoted in at least one of Father Hart's articles (see 'LEP'III.i.10)contends that 'Rome', even in its (her?)indispositions to reform, has not ceased to be part of the visible Church, together with the Church of England,though he does not think it right to be in active Communion with her as things stand. I do not think this was - or is - an unusual position.

I do not know much about varieties of 'Anglo-Papalism' (if that's a correct term)- including to what (if any) extent any 'Anglo-Papalists' share Hooker's judgement.

But I can imagine that various sorts of 'Canterbury Anglicans' are coming to conclude that the 'world-wide Anglican Communion' in some of its un- or insufficiaently reproved Provinces have already - or seem quite likely soon to have - erred de facto or even (something very like) de lege more drastically than 'Rome' has ever formally done.

Why that would incline anyone to a false either/or, 'Canterbury' or 'Rome', I do not know. But it seems to be so.


[Word verification: 'caturoo': a potential insulting term for one or another sort of 'self-describing Catholic'?]

Fr. Robert Hart said...

The irony is that the TAC is supposed to be a Continuing Church, not a Canterbury Church. Therefore, the whole appeal of ordinariates cannot be to meet a need, but because people have fallen for Rome's boastful claims.

RSC+ said...

Fr. Hart,

I suspect many of the folks who are going to Rome are doing what many who decided to stay with Rome during the Reformation did. In many contested areas, Rome said, "Trust the church. Trust the sacraments. If it turns out that we are wrong, it will be on us in the hereafter, not you."

Hooker, in a weird kind of way, confirms such a belief in his sermon on Justification when he more or less excuses 90% of the laity and clergy of the RCC and levels most of the blame and condemnation on the bishops, cardinals, and Popes who should (he says) know better or are (he says) knowingly deceiving others.

If a person is at the point where he's willing to trust the Barque of St. Peter, as it were, it's a psychologically very pleasing feeling. They're set. They trust in The Church, which they have, for better or worse, identified with Rome. Good luck rationalizing a true believer like that out of his faith. Either they are there for good, and we should wish them well, and they are there until the day when (not if) they are burned, or something happens which causes doubt. At that point we should welcome them back lovingly, as we are largely doing with the TAC folk who continue to balk as they realize what conversion actually means.

Anonymous said...

To be honest, I am unsure whether we need to pursue the topic of the the Ordinariate scheme any further. Anyone who peruses the Former Anglican and its splinter-blog the English Papalist will quickly detect that this business is now dead in the water. Whereas its most fanatical advocates less then two years ago were claiming that 700 thousand adherents of TAC were about to submit to Rome, now it appears that only a handful of their tiny congregations will pursue this route.
My guess is that there will be a continuing ACA, purged of the Orlando Mafia and other phantasists. Once regrouped, ACA can recover itself as a Continuing Anglican body, and, I should hope, begin to work toward unity with the rest of us on the basis of the historic Prayer Book and Affirmation of St Louis.

On the other hand, I somehow feel there is much yet to be said about this whole crazy affair. While Hepworth may carry only a handful across the Tiber, perhaps he will force us to look more deeply into the real Anglican patrimony, the Reformed Catholic theology which has kept us going for a half of a millenium and which is our strong tap root into the Faith which is 2000 years old.

Is Anglicanism just an esthetic, or is it a doctrinal posture? If only an esthetic culture, then it will be easy to build a few ceremonial theme parks here and there, tolerated for a few years by RC hierarchy. But if it is a distinctive way way of proclaiming and handing on the Gospel, it surely has not run its course.

Anonymous said...

Dear Father Hart,

I was thinking more of, e.g., people like the Bishop of Fulham, the Rt. Rev'd. John Broad­hurst, and the parish of St. John the Evangelist in Calgary, Canada.

Do you - or does anyone - have any idea what, if any, future decisions (however unlikely they may now seem), might open the possibility of reunion between 'Canterbury', or any other Provinces now still in communion with Canterbury, and any Continuing Churches?


AFS1970 said...

I think any and all ships have sailed long ago that would have brought about reunion with Canterbury. First and foremost Canterbury was uninterested in this in the 1970's but then in the 1990's decided that orthodoxy was not something they wanted any party of. It is very hard not to see bonds of affection become bonds of pity these days.

Brian Davies said...

What is left out of this and similar discussions elsewhere is the dilemma of the 'orphans'. People like me. Over 50 years believing and acting like a catholic within the CofE. Now fate takes me to the diocese of SC (Mount Pleasant). The nearest TEC church uses real bread, is unconcerned about the fate of the crumbs in the sanctuary and does not reserve. My non-contentious questioning of the practice was first met with incredulity and later a marked frostiness by the deacon charged with welcoming newcomers.

Other local TEC or ACNA churches are even more presbyterian. So we go to the nearest RC church, the service is all but identical with that in churches we left behind in England and we are assured we are welcome at the altar to receive communion. Either I swim the Tiber or can go to mass on the two or three Sundays in a year I find myself in Ealing, London.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

The issue is not whether or not there are good Roman Catholic Christians and parishes. The issue is why is the RC system seen as the magic answer, and to what crisis? I say, and to what crisis, because the general crisis of the Canterbury churches has nothing to do with Continuing Anglicanism. In fact, we exist as the solution to that crisis.

Ordinariates may work for Episcopalians and C of E people, but the Affirmation of St. Louis people already have the problem solved. We don't need Rome as a solution. In fact, the Roman Catholics need to get their own house in order. We hope they do.

Anonymous said...

This comment may be out of order but I would affectionately refer Shaughn to drive the Cooper River bridge over into the Holy City where he will find Church of the Holy Communion. And a short distance further, just off Highway 17, he will come to St Timothy's Anglican Catholic Church. The abuses he complains of will not be a problem in either place.

I recall the thrill of finding a RC priest who would gladly give me Holy Communion. Soon I was horrified that he would give it to Jews and Buddhists with equal generosity.

AFS1970 said...

I once spoke with an RC Priest that I consider a friend, and who was my chaplain. I was speaking of the fact that when I was married the RC priest would not allow a Mass because I was Anglican, and my wife was RC. So this Chaplain told me that he would have no problem giving me communion.

However as the conversation progressed, it became clear that this was in fact based on a misconception of his, that as an Anglican I believed in transubstantiation just like the RCC did.

I have been at RC masses where I saw Baptists come up to receive and they were not turned away. This was largely because the Priest did not know them and with such a large group the communion is more assembly line than it is a religious occurrence.

I kind of think that the various standards that abound in the RCC for who can and can not receive communion are in fact an outward sign of that house not being in order or at least not as much as some folks think it is.

This is not as bad as TEC giving communion to dogs, but it shows that there is no real consensus.

Anonymous said...

Your complaints about the Roman Catholic Church may or may not be true. Your assessment of Anglicanorm coetibus may or may not be accurate.

However, despite its weaknesses, failures, and despite all the misunderstandings and misconceptions about the Roman Catholic Church, it does, in fact, proclaim to the world that Jesus Christ is Lord, and that He offers salvation to all who believe and put their trust in Him.

This truth is absolutely undeniable.

Anonymous said...

Dear Father Hart,

Further to something like Brian Davies' comment (8:28 PM - or does that vary with a reader's time-zone?) extrapolated, and your comment (8:44 PM): what do "Affirmation of St. Louis people" suggest for those in no practical proximity to one of their existing parishes, and even unsure how many ecclesiologically like-minded folk in a similar boat there are in their own area?

E.g., who could form a parish and how? Could a couple people seize upon a third (as we read of having occurred - more multitudinously - to St. Nicholas of Myra) and suddenly 'axios' him into Holy Orders?

I put it lightly, but it seems a serious matter!


Fr Tom said...

Brian and Semi-Hookerian,

I would be happy to send you a copy of "Evangelism in Action" a booklet put together by the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic States of the ACC. It has been used by several groups to establish ACC parishes.

Write to me at: tomthedoctor (at) msn (dot)com