Thursday, September 30, 2010

A few more thoughts

"A bishop who cannot teach what the College has defined (and what is the universal teaching of the East and the West) has only one option, and that is to stand aside until he can teach in accord with the Church." From Archbishop Hepworth's Open Letter.

"Because it is new Rome, the bishop of Constantinople is to enjoy the privileges of honor after the bishop of Rome." First Council of Constantinople (381 AD), Canon 3.

It would seem that Abp. Hepworth has a peculiar notion of Universal Consensus. If he is going to berate and bully the three ACA bishops who, true to their consciences, cannot plunge into the Tiber under the terms of Anglicanorum Coetibus, he could at least abstain from fantasy. What he calls the universal teaching of East and West, in the context of his letter, does not exist. The bishops of the Orthodox Church could no more agree to the terms of the new Roman Constitution than could any knowledgeable Anglican. Of course, not the parts about Holy Orders and Absolute or Conditional Ordination which do not apply to them as individuals, but the underlying idea that the Papal Communion (i.e., the Roman Catholic denomination together with the "Uniate" churches under the Pope) is The Catholic Church, or that the Pope has Universal Primacy other than the purely honorary recognition given to Rome during the Post Constantine era of the Roman Empire (yes, Virginia, the empire was the issue), as expressed in the Councils of Constantinople [I], Ephesus and Chalcedon (but not in the Ecumenical Councils that followed, nor in Nicea I).

Neither could the Eastern bishops agree to some of the other doctrines in The Catechism of the Catholic Church that was released under the Papal imprimatur of John-Paul II, such as, for example, the Treasury. If Hepworth is going to imply that anyone is guilty of heresy for not agreeing with some College of Bishops that teaches "the universal teaching of the East and the West," he must stand accused himself. For, all he has done is choose the West over the East.

His reference to some universal teaching of East and West, however, cannot include distinctive doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church, inasmuch as Anglicans, and only Anglicans, teach
"the universal teaching of the East and the West." That is because we know the boundary lines of what truly constitutes "universal" without having to insist on any later additions and partisan innovations. Helping both Rome and the Orthodox rediscover that universal teaching is our own gift to the wider Catholic Church, a gift that Hepworth's agenda would forever destroy (Are you reacting inside? If so, why do you hang your head in shame? Who told you, dear Continuing Anglican, that your place in the Church Catholic is inferior? What? Did you not believe that being an Anglican was worthwhile?).

In his Open Letter, Hepworth went on also to say: "The Traditional Anglican Communion is not a Protestant ecclesial body. In a television interview in Canada several years ago, I said that the most difficult thing that each of us would face in the pathway to unity would be shedding ourselves of the question 'What do I think?' and instead asking, 'What does the Church teach?'”

This, though worded ever so smoothly, is actually an out and out attack on Anglicanism itself, charging it with being a sectarian movement outside of the Church altogether. He has reworded the sentiments of Newman the convert, rehashing the old silliness about some thing called "private judgment." In fact, anyone who has no "private judgment" cannot be a Roman Catholic anymore than an Anglican, or for that matter any kind of believer, because he cannot have a functioning mind. That is because, without skepticism we can have no genuine faith, but only a robotic anti-intellectualism that faces no honest question, and that faces no question honestly.

Furthermore, discerning what the Church Catholic teaches requires that we discern what it taught from the beginning, and a willingness to discard innovations that contradict or obscure the genuine Apostolic witness of the ancient Church. This brings us to Hepworth's line, "The Traditional Anglican Communion is not a Protestant ecclesial body."

One anti-intellectual, anti-educational bit of prejudicial idiocy that I have addressed here several times (especially here and here), is a modern brand of "Anglo-Catholic" (as opposed to real Anglo-Catholic) knee-jerk reaction against the word "Protestant." Like most of his bullying pontificating, Hepworth's offensive and bigoted use of the word "Protestant" merely shows that he has no idea of what constitutes the ABCs of Anglicanism. No wonder he can dismiss it all, and try to find his way back to where he came from (but only on some terms that he finds agreeable to the life he has chosen).

For educated Anglicans, however, the kind of Protestantism we embrace is the truly Catholic kind, "more Catholic than the Pope." It is to return to the teaching that truly is Universal because it is ancient and Biblical, the true witness of the Apostolic and Patristic eras. And, it is truly Catholic, for it is genuinely According to the Whole revelation from Heaven.

For now, as long as Abp. Hepworth remains in a church that is western and non-papal, he is a Protestant himself. He may not like it, and if he does not like it, he needs to act on his convictions. But, his stated ignorance about Anglicanism, which ignorance has become offensive due to his repeated public misstatements, should cease to be an influence on people who got into this whole thing because they embraced The Affirmation of St. Louis. They do not need some ex-Roman Catholic priest beating up on the Anglicanism they Continue, and insisting that they all convert to the denomination he himself left decades ago--apparently to get married as a priest without laitization.* If he has buyer's remorse, let him go back where he came from, and accept his laiticized status gracefully, instead of beating up on people who have resolved to be Continuing Anglicans due to honest conviction.

Historical context
The quotation of Canon 3 from Constantinople I (above) is often taken out of its historical context. It sheds light on the whole idea of Rome being first in honor, which grew into the idea of Universal Primacy that was rejected by the Church in 1054, and clung to only by Rome.

The notion of "The See of Peter" is historically dubious inasmuch as his arrival there appears to have been a visit to a fully functioning Church, an established Church to which St. Paul had sent an authoritative Epistle (you will find it in the Bible), and to have constituted a brief visit before his martyrdom around the same time as Paul's martyrdom in the same city. Neither of these two Apostles founded the Church in Rome, and, obviously, somebody had been pastoring the Roman Christians before either Apostle showed up. There was no See of Peter in Rome, neither was there a "double Apostolic foundation" inasmuch as both men visited an established Church.

Canon 3 of Constantinople I, therefore, should be read in its historical context, and should also shed light on the whole idea of Rome's position as first in honor. What honor? The honor of the Church for spiritual reasons? If so, why was the new city of Constantinople, built by an Emperor and named after him, given a position of honor as "the new Rome" rather than for a spiritual reason? Only in the political context of the Empire was it the new Rome. The whole context and the wording of Canon 3 indicates a historical association in a political structure that no longer exists, not some eternal order established by God for His Church to be carried on until Christ comes. We have good reason to question the entire idea of Rome remaining first in honor as if the notion was a doctrine that had been revealed from Heaven, or as if it was any sort of doctrine at all. It seems quite clear that such an idea had nothing to do with the meaning of the bishops who met in Ecumenical Council.

* Earlier, in my haste, I had said "without going on unemployment." This was too harsh in how it came across. We should have no moral objection to a RC priest looking good and hard at Continuing Anglicanism because he is faced with the dilemma of choosing between marriage and a life of celibacy that he no longer believes he is obligated to. If the Anglican solution fits his conscience, in terms of what he has come to see about life, about himself and about God's commandments as opposed to man made traditions, then he ought to practice his ministry in a manner of life that can be lived righteously before God without undue temptations. This ought to include the conviction that Anglicanism is a valid way to be Catholic.

The problem in Abp. Hepworth's case is that this conviction appears to have been lacking all along. His public statements about Anglicanism demonstrate that he has no true understanding of it, which in turn means that he could not have had the necessary conviction from the start. His words are not those of a man who once learned (about Anglicanism) and forgot, but of a man who did not learn.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Open response from Rev. Canon John Hollister

Yesterday, Archbishop John Hepworth, Primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion, published an admonitory “open letter” to the Bishops of the Anglican Church in America who are currently meeting in Belleville, Illinois, some of whom have recently expressed reservations about the proposed Roman Catholic “Ordinariates” for former Anglicans. The text of Abp. Hepworth’s letter is given below, interspersed with some personal observations by an observer who is a member neither of the ACA, the TAC, nor of the Anglican Continuum editorial board.

Traditional Anglican Communion

Office of the Primate – Archbishop John Hepworth

28th September 2010

By Facsimile:

Bishop Williams

Bishop Strawn

Bishop Marsh

cc: Archbishop Falk, Lay Canon Woodman, TAC COB.

Dear Fathers,

I write in reference to the letters that you have published recently concerning the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus and its implications. I am also conscious of the various statements that you have published on Diocesan Websites and elsewhere on the same matter.

Since you have published your comments prior to any discussion in College, I am making my response also public.

I have discussed with Archbishop Falk the possibility of action being taken concerning your published statements on unity and your actions in seeking what one of you has described as a “merger” with another Continuing Church in the United States, the Anglican Province of America. I am aware that Bishop Grundorf has publically rejected the Apostolic Constitution, as has Archbishop Haverland.

The power to intervene in disciplinary matters concerning members of the College of Bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion is enunciated in section 6.3 of the Concordat, which each of us is sworn to uphold in the Consecration Oath made by bishops-elect. It specifically enables the College to deal with “any credible allegation of dereliction of consecration vows in the life or teaching of one of its members”.

This could be read as a threat of disciplinary action as a way of interfering with the ACA’s internal deliberations. Archbishop Hepworth is certainly aware that bishops and dioceses unhappy with their Primates can and sometimes do vote with their feet, as happened when the ACA’s own Diocese of the Eastern United States converted itself into the independent Anglican Province in America. As a retired Army officer once put it to me, “If you’re going to lead a parade, you’d better look over your shoulder every so often to make sure the troops haven’t turned off at the last intersection.”

So one might expect the reaction of the loyal ACA Bishops to be something along the lines of regret that Abp. Hepworth has prematurely and unnecessarily referred to the institution of disciplinary actions and that they will not permit such unhelpful references to alter their plans to shepherd their flocks as the Holy Spirit gives them light to guide them. What would be helpful would be for all concerned to refrain from bellicose statements while the people of the ACA peacefully and rationally to make up their own minds about their ecclesial futures without anyone’s attempting to preëmpt their discernment and decisions.

When William Cardinal Levada wrote to each of us last December stating that the Apostolic Constitution was “the definitive response of the Holy See … to your original request”. The Cardinal went on to note “I am only too aware of the delicate process of discernment that will no doubt be embarked upon by many of our Anglican brothers and sisters, and no less of the many practical issues that will need to be faced”.

A “process of discernment”, if it be a legitimate one, necessarily implies that such discernment may ultimately lead to a negative conclusion on the matter at issue rather than a positive one. To imply that true “discernment” can have only one predetermined outcome, as Abp. Hepworth seems to do, is to place such “discernment” into the same category as the Lambeth Communion’s bogus “process of reception” of women’s “ordination”. That is, in plain English, “We’ll agree to give you time to think it over but only if you’ll agree to decide as we have told you to decide.”

The College of Bishops has been committed to seeking unity with the Holy See since the inception of the Traditional Anglican Communion. I accompanied my predecessor, Archbishop Falk, in conversations in the Vatican a short time after the TAC was promulgated. I have been at every meeting of the College, and at every meeting the policy of seeking full, corporate reunion with the Catholic Church has been reinforced. Details of these decisions have been regularly highlighted in the publications of the TAC. I say this because you are the three most recently consecrated bishops of the TAC.

At the Portsmouth meeting of the College in 2007, this policy took a more concrete form in two ways. A formal petition seeking unity in clear terms was unanimously approved, and after several days in which concerns could be raised (but none were) was signed by each bishop on the altar in the midst of the Holy Sacrifice and committed to me and two of our fellow bishops for conveyance to Rome. Secondly, exercising the powers noted in the Concordat that ”the final authority to determine questions of Catholic Faith and Apostolic Order (which authority resides by virtue of the nature of the episcopal office in the College of Bishops)…” the College with equal unanimity stated that “We accept that the most complete and authentic expression and application of the catholic faith in this moment of time is found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and its Compendium, which we have signed together with this Letter as attesting to the faith we aspire to teach and hold.” These two matters are binding on members of the College.

The Petition of the TAC also makes a very clear statement about the nature of the Church, which each of you have contradicted in your public statements this year: “We accept that the Church founded by Jesus Christ subsists most perfectly in the churches in communion with the See of Peter, to whom (after the repeated protestation of his love for Jesus) and to whose successors, our Divine Master gave the duty of feeding the lambs and the sheep of his flock.”

Reports, both at the time of the Portsmouth meeting and since, have suggested the decisions there were reached based upon the express assurances of the TAC’s Primate that what the TAC was seeking was “intercommunion with” the Roman Catholic Church and not “absorption by” that Church. It was never reported that the ACA Bishops had agreed that “whatever Rome sends us, we will accept without question”.

And it would have been almost inconceivable that they would have done so. At that time, there was no structural or institutional blueprint on the table; all that was yet to come. It is now becoming increasingly clear that the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus was not, as the TAC leadership has represented, the Vatican’s response to the TAC’s overture but, instead, to long-standing petitions from Forward-in-Faith U.K. and other similarly-minded bodies. That alone constitutes a significant change of fact from the situation in which the Portsmouth consensus was reached. Another and equally significant such change is that the Apostolic Constitution clearly envisions the dissolution of the TAC’s structures and institutions and the complete absorption of the TAC’s clergy and people by new Roman Catholic structures.

These structures, as laid down in Anglicanorum Coetibus and its accompanying Norms, will, for many years after their initiation, not be staffed by former TAC clergy. This is because whichever of those TAC clergy may ultimately be accepted for Roman ordination, current experience shows that acceptance and ordination process will take any individual man an average of five years or more to complete and by no means will all the TAC’s present clergy complete it. In the interim, therefore, these Ordinariates must by default be staffed and administered by personnel who are assigned there from current Roman Catholic clergy and not by former TAC personnel. Thus there will be a lengthy break in continuity of leadership for the TAC people who enter the new Roman Ordinariates.

This fact, which may not have been known by all at Portsmouth, could by itself justify a reëvaluation of the Roman option, constituting as it does what lawyers term “a material change in circumstances”.

With even more significance to your published statements, the Petition also makes very clear the faith of the bishops of the TAC concerning the source of authority in the Church: “We accept the ministry of the Bishop of Rome, the successor of Peter, which is a ministry of teaching and discerning the faith and a “perpetual and visible principle and foundation of unity” and understand this ministry is essential to the Church founded by Jesus Christ. We accept that this ministry, in the words of the late John Paul II in Ut Unum Sint, is to “ensure the unity of all the Churches”.

The question of the moment is not whether the Bishop of Rome is the senior Bishop of the Church Catholic; all Catholic Christians have accepted that since the Seven Œcumenical Councils. Nor is the question whether all Catholic Christians should seek not just unity in the Faith but institutional unity with the Roman See. Since the late 19th Century, Anglicans in particular have worked continuously toward that end, with their efforts increasing in frequency and depth right up until they ground to a halt with the disaster of women’s “ordination” in the late 1970s.

The question now before the ACA’s Bishops and their people is, rather, whether the particular proposals now offered by the current Bishop of Rome, great and holy a man as he is, provide for the spiritual and ecclesial needs of those people. Those Bishops are bound by their Offices to do their utmost to protect and assure the proper, orderly, and complete satisfaction of those needs. If, after examination, the current proposals are found not to protect and provide for them, then it would be a dereliction of their duties to urge their people to rush headlong into an unsatisfactory situation.

It has taken thirty years since the debacle of women’s “ordination” for the current proposals to come forth. It would be asking a great deal to demand that the ecclesial and spiritual lives of the ACA’s people be put on hold for some indefinite further period while they wait to see what else may be offered.

More than thirty years ago, the Vatican issued a set of guidelines for Anglicans transferring to Rome which were entitled “The Pastoral Provisions”. A few traditional Anglicans, such as Canon Albert J. DuBois and some members of the American Church Union, joined the Roman Church under those Provisions and today their successors form a total of eight (8) “Anglican Use” congregations in the U.S.

The recent Apostolic Constitution is, in almost all aspects, simply the extension to the rest of the world of the arrangements laid down for the U.S. in those old Pastoral Provisions. The only significant difference now being made is the partial separation of the new Ordinariates from the daily jurisdiction of the usual Latin Rite diocesan bishops.

If the ACA had found the Pastoral Provisions a satisfactory answer to its needs, it could have joined the Roman Church under them at any point during the past 20 years. Because it did not find them sufficiently satisfactory to warrant that step, it should surprise no one, and especially not Archbishop Hepworth, that it likewise may not find those Provisions’ modest amendment, in the form of Anglicanorum Coetibus, satisfactory either.

Whatever the doubts and difficulties of a bishop, he is bound to teach the faith received from the Apostles and proclaimed by the Church in every age. It is to the Church that a bishop looks for the source of his teaching, not to his own doubts and fears.

I am sure the ACA Bishops’ response would be that they have taught “the Faith once delivered to the Saints” and, by God’s Grace, will continue to do so. That Faith certainly includes the Bishop of Rome’s primacy of honor among the five ancient Partriarchies, even though he himself has unaccountably abandoned that title of Patriarch of the West. Nowhere, however, does that Faith require that the ACA or its people submit to any specific geographical division or bureaucratic allocation of administrative functions.

In the three years since the submission of our petition, most of us have made sure that our clergy and people have become familiar with the Catechism. It has been a careful process of teaching and leadership. In the TAC, as in the Catholic Church and the Churches of Holy Orthodoxy, truth is not reached by democratic means.

The distinction drawn here suggests inescapably that Abp. Hepworth does not view the TAC as being truly “Catholic”. Perhaps that is the root of the problem for the ACA which, so far as one can tell, has in typical Anglican fashion viewed itself as, and represented itself to be, a branch of the Catholic Church.

It is not reached by the recreation of some golden moment of history. Our Petition also states that: “We understand that, as bishops separated from communion with the Bishop of Rome, we are among those for whom Jesus prayed before his death “that they may be completely one”, and that we teach and define matters of faith and morals in a way that is, while still under the influence of Divine Grace, of necessity more tenuously connected to the teaching voice of catholic bishops throughout the world.”

Very clearly, you have renounced this understanding of your fellow bishops, and no longer teach with the same voice as them. Equally clearly, you have not taught and led the people committed to your care with that one voice of a united College. Each of us has started from the same position as that which you have confronted. Tragically, I am forced to the conclusion that some have led their people, others have followed them.

Actually, so far as an outsider can judge, it may not be the loyal ACA Bishops’ understanding that has changed but instead the understandings of some of their fellow Bishops and, apparently, most especially the understanding of the TAC’s Primate. According to the contemporaneously published reports, he repeatedly assured them that they were seeking intercommunion and not absorption; but the document from Rome speaks only of absorption. According to those same reports, he repeatedly assured them that their Anglican heritage would be respected and preserved; but the document from Rome demands that the Ordinariates’ future clergy receive their formation in the present Roman seminaries with their dubious record of performance and that the Ordinariates’ seminarians submit to the nonScriptural discipline of universal mandatory celibacy. He was reported repeatedly to have assured them that the terms of the TAC’s relationship with Rome were still being worked out; but the Apostolic Constitution under which the Ordinariates will be formed turn out not only to be essentially set in stone, but were crafted primarily for people in one specific country [England] who have already, in most important respects, abandoned Anglican distinctives such as the Common Prayer liturgy and have already become, in all respects except intercommunion, extramural Roman Catholics.

May I make some observations about the way forward?

Communion with any other ecclesial body requires the consent of the College of Bishops. Any act of Communion without the consent of the College betrays the College and puts its own unity at peril.

There is no urgent pressure on individuals to join an Ordinariate. Individual discernment and a response in conscience undergird the corporate reunion that is at the heart of Anglicanorum Coetibus. There is no such luxury permitted to bishops, who have the sacred obligation by virtue of their office itself to teach in such a way that clergy and people form a true conscience. A bishop who cannot teach what the College has defined (and what is the universal teaching of the East and the West) has only one option, and that is to stand aside until he can teach in accord with the Church.

From this, it seems Archbishop Hepworth currently believes in a form of “Episcopal Collegial Infallibility”. In that case, it will not be much of a step for him to return to accepting the Papal Infallibility that pertained during the earliest phase of his clerical career. Others, however, might in good faith see the matter differently than he does.

The Traditional Anglican Communion is not a Protestant ecclesial body. In a television interview in Canada several years ago, I said that the most difficult thing that each of us would face in the pathway to unity would be shedding ourselves of the question “What do I think?” and instead asking, “What does the Church teach?”

So does this mean that Canadian television is now a customary or reliable channel of Revelation?

We are not a body that allows each member to approach the Scripture alone and discern a private truth. We understand that the Church is a Divine Gift in which God is present to His People – Teaching, Sanctifying and Creating. We partake of Divine Truth – we do not create it.

As you meet with the other American bishops this week, you must know that you have the prayers and the hopes of your Communion around the world bestowed upon you. You carry the dreams and the destiny of Anglican and Catholic people.

Anglicanorum Coetibus is the first mutual attempt to heal the unity fractured between Rome and Canterbury over four centuries ago. You also bear the burden of history.

With my blessing,

John Hepworth, Primate

Editorial note from Fr. Hart: Anglicanorum Coetibus is by no means "the first mutual attempt to heal the unity fractured between Rome and Canterbury over four centuries ago." Talks between Canterbury and Rome began decades ago, and are still ongoing. But, they were drained of substance when some churches began to "ordain" women, especially when it was made official in 1976. The TAC has not resumed those attempts at genuine Reunion, inasmuch as they are advocating a plan that is nothing more than terms of surrender - or conversion. And that brings us to the second reason why Hepworth is wrong. This conversion offer, that may be embraced by a few people, has nothing to do with genuine efforts at ecumenical progress. It has no such potential. But, it can get in the way.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Fr. Well's bulletin inserts


In 1 Peter 1:12 we find a fascinating reference to the theme of today's feast: “which things the angels desire to look into.” The inspired apostle was expounding the glory of the gospel, revealed only in a limited degree to the prophets of the Old Testament, of “the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.” His point: those who know Christ are privileged to an amazing degree, surpassing those who came before Christ and even surpassing the angels themselves. Peter strongly suggests that (hold your breath!) it is better to be a Christian than to be an angel!

C. S. Lewis devoted an entire novel to this theme, in his delightful work Out of the Silent Planet. I hope you will read it.

Why? Because angels are sinless. On every other saint's day, we can develop an entire sermon on the template “Every saint is a redeemed sinner, and whereas St. ---- was once a sinner, you too may be a saint.” But that sermon does not work today, as angels are sinless. They do not need a Saviour and will never experience the joy of salvation. They are bound to be curious and amazed at what God has done for our rescue and rehabilitation.

The story of Michael in combat with a huge throng of rebellious angels is the first reading today. Although the Biblical text itself seems to leave this account in unspecified time, a strong Christian tradition views this as taking place before creation. But the intriguing and unanswered question in this passage is what prompted the rebellion of the angels who followed the mysterious dragon. What started this mutiny of some (not all) angels against their Creator?

We have no clear Biblical answer. But an ancient Christian insight speculates that the angels had heard a rumor in heaven that God would shortly create another, lower, material being, that He would love this human race enough to redeem it from sin, that He would even become flesh Himself, and even die on the cross for our salvation.

Certain angels felt this was beneath God's dignity. God, they believed, should not stoop so low for a worthless and undeserving creature. So they rebelled and began a war in heaven. But, thanks be to God, they “prevailed not.”

Why is it better to be a Christian than an angel? Because Christians have been blessed with a far greater measure of God's love. Jesus Christ, God Incarnate, has loved us enough to die for us. How can the angels not be curious and amazed?

The angels who remained holy and obedient now join with us in adoration of the Lamb who was slain, not for them, but for us. “Therefore with angels, and archangels, and with all the company of heaven....” LKW

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity

Ephesians 4:1-6 Luke 14:1-11

People today love to use the word "spiritual” as a substitute for genuine religion that makes moral demands. Saint Paul uses the word “spiritual” to mean overcoming the temptations of the world, the flesh and the Devil by walking in the Holy Spirit. The most practical thing we see in today’s Gospel and Epistle is that humility is essential for those who want to be spiritual. Also, since humility is necessary in order to be spiritual (as Saint Paul uses that word), it is also the key to peace among believers. Not only that, but it is the key to remaining orthodox. It is the element of character that we must have in order to bend our ears to hear, to be able to learn. The Hebrew word for hear, and for obey, is the same word: That word is Sh’mai. It takes humility to hear, and it takes humility to obey.

Long ago in a sermon I told you that I would not feed you my own ideas, but only the word of God. You see, the word “heresy” comes from a root that means “opinion.” Yes, the word “heresy” carries the ideas of false doctrine and of church division. Yet, all of that destructive power, unleashed by a terrible combination of carnal and demonic motivation, comes from the exaltation of one’s own opinion above the revealed truth of Scripture as known by the Church, built upon the Rock of revelation that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Against that Tradition of revealed truth, you and I can choose our own ideas. But, when we do that, it is pride, both in its base carnality and in demonic motivation. Pride welcomes the spirit of error into the heart and mind. "The works of the flesh" are not only sexual lusts, drunkenness or gluttony, but also many other things, including sins of ecclesiastical politics, which include the use of manipulation. Pride is one of those “works of the flesh” that wars against the spirit and the knowledge of God. It desires glory to be given to oneself. It desires power and prestige, position and honor. But, in order to hear and obey God we must be humble. We must take up the cross and follow Jesus Christ.

So, humility is also the key to peace among believers, to peace in the Church. Divisions are not always caused by false doctrines. Many times they are caused by strong and imposing personalities, by uncharitable deeds and words, by politics and gossip. All of these things are works of the flesh, and they are also tools of demons and the lure of the world. When they find their way into the Church, it is, more often than not, due to pride. The words we have read today tell us why we must strive to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. It is because “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” The Church is one Body with one doctrine and one God. There is only one Body of Christ and One Holy Spirit.

When Christ prayed that “they all might be one” this was one Person of the Trinity speaking to another Person of the Trinity. The Son asked it, not of us, but of the Father. And, as Saint Paul’s words tell us, there is only one Church. But, just as a man and wife are one flesh, and are made one flesh by God Himself, it is no guarantee that they will have the love and humility it takes to get along with each other. Where pride motivates us to seek our own satisfaction in life, love is cast aside. Indeed, many churches have been built because of doctrinal errors due to the very thing I have mentioned, the exaltation of opinion over the faith that was revealed once for all to the saints. And, we cannot pretend that these things do not matter. But, in addition to the problem of bad theology, we must avoid those other things that divide the Church; politics, gossip, ambition and so forth.

Our life in the Church should be one of a positive mission to the world around us, not of a negative drain on our energy due to a constant battle against error. Look at where we came from. Many of us awoke one day to the terrible fact that the official Episcopal Church- or Anglican Communion- had left us behind. We had not left it; it had left us. It was all because of that terrible combination of carnality and demonic motivation. Because of pride, that very first sin of the Devil that caused his fall, many of the leaders of that once solid Church, that for many years had upheld the best of the Catholic Tradition and the best of the English Reformation, began teaching their own ideas in an attempt to be chique’, and to be acceptable to a fallen world that hates God. Doctrine became more a matter of being fashionable than of being true and faithful. Many of us held out until we saw that it was a waste of time. For me, the truth hit hard when I came to see that any person that I might evangelize into the faith of Christ, I could not, in good conscience, bring into my own church. Not even the Parish I was in; yes, it was still fighting the good fight (or trying to). But, ultimately, it could not win because of the power of apostate bishops. How could I, in good conscience, bring anyone into that? But, now we have found that, by God’s grace, our faith still lives just as it was taught to us from the beginning; that others can keep the endowments, the real estate and the social position that came with being Episcopalians. We will keep the faith.

But, let us take heed that we learn a few lessons in light of the scriptures we have read this day. I suggest that we must unlearn some bad lessons that we learned from being in a constant battle, before realizing the futility of wasting our allotted time in this world. The first lesson to unlearn is about the whole idea of what a diocese is. In our old days, a diocese was simply a legal entity which gave us a legitimate existence as a local church, and it became for many of us a necessary evil. The reason is obvious. Bishops were the enemy. More often than not, we just did not trust them. As C.S. Lewis said about the clergy and the laity, in the Middle Ages the laity were sure the priests were more orthodox than themselves; but now, they are sure that they are more orthodox than the priests. Well, over there and back then, Lewis' observation applied double for bishops.

But, if we go back to the Bible we see apostolic ministry as a gift that was appointed by God, the extension in this world of Christ’s own ministry. If we look at Saint Paul’s Epistles to Timothy and to Titus, we see that he had laid his hands on both of those men in order to make them into shepherds of the flock, and to be his successors in the apostolic college with the authority to ordain men for the priestly ministry. The Apostolic Succession is in scripture, described rather than explained, but clearly in scripture nonetheless. And, we can read about the ministry of the bishops in great detail, in epistles to various churches, by Saint Ignatius of Antioch (Bishop and Martyr), who wrote in the very early years of the Church.

I remember a very unfortunate and inaccurate TV presentation about Church History in which the unfortunate Elaine Pagels was theorizing that St. Ignatius of Antioch wrote his epistles in order to add to his own power as a bishop. The truth is, however, that he wrote them after being sentenced to death while on his way to Rome in chains to die in an arena, expecting to be killed within a very short period of time; so I am not sure how his teaching on the subject of the episcopacy, that is the office of bishop, was supposed to increase his power as Pagels would have us believe. These letters were his legacy, given to the whole Church out of love. He tells us in those letters that where the bishop is present, there is Christ; and where Christ is present there is the Catholic Church. We need bishops for that reason. That is why we belong to a diocese. It is so we can belong to the Church, and so we can have valid sacraments. The Apostolic Succession is more than a legal matter of canons, and more than a relay race. It is the continuation of apostolic ministry; it is not a necessary evil. It is a blessing.

If you want to see chaos it is easy to find. You can find crazy doctrines and personality cults tearing apart churches all around us. We need to be humble if we want to avoid those things; that is, we need the humility of which St. Paul wrote in the Epistle appointed for today.

Of course, the great example of humility is that of Christ Himself. While always being equal to God, He took human nature into his Person, and humbled Himself to be, as the scripture says, "obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." He had, as a Man, always an ear to hear the Father’s voice and the heart to do His Father's will. So, He humbled Himself as a servant and took away the sin of the world, and was exalted after His resurrection, revealed to be the Lord of all heaven and earth. That is the most astonishing thing. God the Son had an ear to hear. Humility was good enough for God. How can it be less so for us?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Fr. Wells - a belated bulletin insert

I must apologize for posting this a few days late. It was in my email, but I overlooked it until now, Fr. Hart


Sept 21

The feast-day of St. Matthew comes with a double punch because we celebrate him as both Apostle and Evangelist. As an apostle, he was one of the “twelve valiant saints” chosen by Christ to be eye-witnesses of His earthly ministry and particularly of His resurrection and ascension. These twelve (and the number is symbolic) were the patriarchs of the New Israel. Although the “holy Twelve” have long since left this earth, the promise of Jesus written down by Matthew remains secure: “Lo, I am with you always, even until the end of the world. Amen.” These are the final words of Matthew's Gospel, words which hint that the Apostles will have their successors in the ongoing ministry of the Church.

We celebrate Mathew moreover because he was what the Church's liturgy calls an “evangelist.” That term means that he, along with Mark, Luke, and John, was the human author of the book which bears his name, “The Gospel According to St. Matthew.” We must stress human author, since the ultimate Author of these books is God Himself. Just as the Twelve were instruments of Christ in proclaiming His message, so the four Evangelists were instruments of the Holy Spirit in writing down the very Word of God.

St Matthew's Day is a time to reflect on the nature of our Faith as Gospel. Religion, generally speaking, is man's quest for God. The numerous religions of the world are a long sad series of human attempts to seek out and find God, not entirely lacking some small blessings which come through God's universal grace, but consistently winding up in frustration. “For although they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks unto Him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools....” (Romans 1:21-22a). All religion, as a quest for God, winds up in failure and despair. It is a dead-end street.

But the Gospel is the true story of God's relentless and victorious quest for man. It began when God went walking in the Garden of Eden in pursuit of Adam and Eve. It continued right on until the day when Jesus came to Matthew, “sitting at the receipt of custom,” and said, “Follow me.” Matthew was not searching for God; he was only going about his daily business of a rather contemptible sort. But God in Jesus Christ was seeking Matthew. Matthew went on to write down the good news that God's quest “to seek and save that which is lost,” even publicans and sinners, is a successful and triumphant enterprise. And as Jesus found Matthew, we rejoice that He has likewise found us. And having found us, He will be with us, “even until the end of the world.” LKW

Bishop attacked for having a backbone

The Former Anglican blog has reacted harshly against Bishop Steven D. Strawn, Bishop Ordinary of the Diocese of the Missouri Valley, ACA, for daring to remain an Anglican. For writing about why he, Bishop Strawn on behalf of himself and the Diocese, will not seek to enter any Roman Catholic Ordinariate, Mr. Campbell has denounced the bishop as "breaking his oath" and rationalizing it. Whether or not Bishop Strawn is breaking an oath is not really important. The Portsmouth Declaration that TAC bishops signed in 2007 may be considered an oath, or maybe not. That question is followed by another question, namely whether or not Anglicanorum Coetibus is or is not an answer to the TAC petition to seek inter-communion and unity.

The answer to the second question is clear: If Anglicanorum Coetibus is an answer, the answer from Rome was, in effect, "no; but here is what we offer instead." In the mind of Bishop Strawn, the only commitment he made at Portsmouth was an old Anglican commitment to work for larger unity in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. At that time, our position here was only to remind everyone that Anglicans had sought unity with both Rome and Orthodoxy long before the Affirmation of St. Louis was written, and that picking up where the official Canterbury Communion had left off was a natural effort for Continuing Anglicans to try to make (see
this essay that I wrote on October 18, 2007).

Such an effort cannot be done in the manner that Archbishop Hepworth has tried to steer the TAC since Anglicanorum Coetibus was released. We now know and can verify that his strategy has been to take the advice to "give the theologians nothing to discuss." Giving the theologians nothing to discuss in serious talks between Anglicans, Rome and Orthodoxy, would be a dishonest and fruitless affair, with somebody merely setting terms for conversion by some small number from another church (which is what the Roman constitution is all about). Therefore, that is a far cry from picking up where Canterbury left off.

Several months ago we removed our link to the TAC/ACA because they seemed to have made up their minds to roam Romeward via Anglicanorum Coetibus, and we could not advertise conversion to Roman Catholicism. It is evident now that the ACA is divided more than we could have verified back then. We knew that a large number of the people had no intention of swimming the Tiber, and almost one year ago Bishop Rocco Florenza was received in his orders into the ACC-OP. Now that three more ACA bishops (Marsh, Strawn and Williams) have made concrete moves toward unity with the APA, it is obvious that the ACA will retain an Anglican identity, but that some of its people and two of its bishops (Falk and Campese) will certainly continue to promote the new Roman constitution, and to join an Ordinariate.

In fairness to the
Former Anglican blog, Mr. Campbell did publish all of Bishop Strawn's letter, but under the derogatory headline, "Another ACA Bishop Rationalizes the Violation of Oath." Then he proceeds to act as a prosecuting attorney, charging Bishop Strawn with violating some promise that must be interpreted as acceptance of Anglicanorum Coetibus, released two years later. The text of Bishop Strawn's letter makes Mr. Campbell's prosecution look silly, since his explanation was rational, and Campbell's attack was not. Furthermore, what would it matter if Campbell's complaint had any merit? Even if Bishop Strawn were to have changed his mind, what matters now is that he is following his conscience and speaking honestly.

Campbell (whose padded cell awaits) summarizes his hysterical prosecution in these words: "And, just like 'you've read on the blogs,' Bishop Strawn is most certainly seeking to 'join the APA.' Which silly acronym graces the home page of the bulk hosting provider's rented web page matters very little. The APA is the most latitudinarian and decidedly Protestant of the 'Continuing Church' sects; alignment or 'intercommunion' of any ACA bishop with this outfit is nothing more than a slap in the Holy Father's face." (Apparently, we are supposed to cringe with horror at the "P" word. The use of the word "Protestant" as derogatory in and of itself is evidence of an anti-educational and anti-scholarly stand).

Mr. Campbell reveals that he will make a good Roman, but a bad Catholic, placing party line and legalism ahead of conscience. He may denounce Bishop Strawn for having backbone, and for following his conscience all he wants, but it is doubtful that a certain Christian who has adopted the name Benedict XVI would be comfortable with that approach. More likely, it is Campbell's attitude that might feel to such a gentle and rational soul as "a slap in the face." It is more likely that the current Pope would prefer the honest approach of Bishop Strawn, and the approach this blog has taken all along, that doctrine does matter, and that conscience is not to be trampled upon and thrown away for the sake of a false and oppressive misuse of the word "unity."

The Text of Bishop Strawn's letter

In what follows, our readers will see that the expressed beliefs of Bishop Strawn more closely match the views expressed on The Continuum by its panel than they do the expressed opinions of Abp. Hepworth. In Bp. Strawn's stated desire to forge stronger unity between the remaining ACA and the APA, we see hope for more unity in the Continuing Church. However, we sincerely hope it does not stop there. True reconciliation and unity must include efforts to return to the intention of having one and only one Continuing Anglican Church. Therefore, we hope that the ACA bishops who remain Anglican, together with the APA bishops, will respond to the three churches in concordat (ACC, UECNA, APCK), and discuss reconciliation and unity with Archbishops Haverland, Robinson and Provence. That is what is needed, a true effort to have workable unity without forced and awkward conversions that compromise people's consciences.

Anglican Church in America

September 23, 2010

Dear Clergy and Faithful of the Diocese of the Missouri Valley.

Just under three years ago the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) met in Portsmouth England, drafted, and unanimously approved a petition seeking “full and visible unity” with the Roman Catholic Church. Of course, since the Anglican Church in America (ACA) is a jurisdiction of the TAC, we too were included in that petition. While I was invited to attend as a bishop-elect, I felt it best to remain here as we were busily preparing for my consecration a week later. However, by all accounts it was a very good meeting, and the signing of the petition was a joyous occasion in which all in attendance felt the presence of the Holy Spirit guiding them as they took this historic action.

Indeed, a few weeks later, I was consecrated as Bishop Coadjutor for our diocese and ultimately became the Bishop Ordinary upon Abp. Falk’s retirement in January 2008. I remember, prior to the consecration, I was asked if I supported “full and visible unity with the Roman Catholic Church.” Of course, I answered that question with a resounding yes, thus joining myself with all of those who signed the petition the week before my consecration. After all, in the Affirmation of St. Louis it is clearly stated that “We declare our firm intention to seek and achieve full sacramental communion and visible unity with other Christians who "worship the Trinity in Unity, and Unity in Trinity," and who hold the Catholic and Apostolic Faith in accordance with the foregoing principles.” Certainly this includes the Roman Catholic Church. Not to endorse the Portsmouth petition would seem counter to the expressed intent of that document. That is exactly why I could affirm and support the Portsmouth petition, specifically the portion that reads:

“…we must now in good conscience bring to the attention of the Holy See, we seek a communal and ecclesial way of being Anglican Catholics in communion with the Holy See, at once treasuring the full expression of catholic faith and treasuring our tradition within which we have come to this moment. We seek the guidance of the Holy See as to the fulfillment of these our desires and those of the churches in which we have been called to serve.”

By supporting the petition I also felt I was affirming the portion that reads:

“Recognizing that obligation, and with great confidence in the Lord and in the power of the Holy Spirit, a worldwide community of Anglican Christians have united under the name “The Traditional Anglican Communion” for three main purposes:

To identify, reaffirm and consolidate in its community the elements of belief, sacraments, structure and conduct that mark the Church of Christ, which is one throughout the world

To seek as a body full and visible communion, particularly Eucharistic Communion, in Christ, with the Roman Catholic Church, in which it recognizes the fullest subsistence of Christ’s one Church and

To achieve such communion while maintaining those revered traditions of spirituality, liturgy, discipline and theology that constitute the cherished and centuries-old heritage of Anglican communities throughout the world.”

Since the delivery of the petition and my consecration, the consistent mantra had been that we are seeking full and visible unity with the See of Peter in such a way that we would be in “Eucharistic Communion” with the See of Peter while at the same time maintaining our own heritage, polity, and structure.

Last fall the Vatican released the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus making the last year a most challenging time for all of us, especially as we tried to determine the implications of the Constitution. Many felt this Constitution was the answer to our petition. Initially, I had reservations as to whether or not this was the case. Since then I have attempted to keep an open mind while listening to all the reasoning as to why it was. However, in the end, I have concluded that, while the Constitution uses some of the language of our petition, it does not appear to be a direct answer to our petition. Rather, it appears to me that Anglicanorum Coetibus may be an answer to the call for unity by many Anglican groups throughout the world, first and foremost, within the Church of England.

When I first read the Constitution, I felt that this historic document was offering much more than we had sought, certainly much more than Eucharistic communion. But the question I kept coming back to was, “is that what we really hoped for?” Everyone agrees that the Holy See has been very generous in forging a way for Anglicans to become “Catholic.” And I think therein lies the problem. I am already Anglican Catholic. Whether or not I become part of any Anglican Ordinariate of the Roman Catholic Church will not change that. I have been an Anglican Catholic all of my life.

That is because Catholicism is our Faith and we practice that Faith in the Anglican Tradition. Make no mistake about it, those choosing not to join the Ordinariate will still be Anglican Catholic. Simply put, Anglicanorum Coetibus does not “create” Anglican Catholics nor does it recognize Anglican Catholics to the extent that full communion is realized, which was the intent of our petition. Rather, it allows a way for Anglican Catholics to become a part of the Roman Catholic Church while retaining elements of their liturgy and vestiges of their heritage. That is very generous for those who desire such union. However, Anglican Catholics who do not desire such and choose not to take advantage of that do not cease to be Anglican Catholics.

You may ask why I refer to Anglicans becoming Roman Catholics when they join the Ordinariate. We have been told repeatedly that this was corporate reunion and not absorption and that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) was careful not to use the term “Roman Catholic” but Catholic only. The simple fact is that the Roman Catholic Church does not recognize any other type of Catholic in the Western world. Therefore, every reference within the Constitution to becoming Catholic means, in their minds, becoming Roman Catholic.

That is why you see terms in the Constitution referring to our Clergy as “ministers” that will become Catholic Priests. They see us as “imitators” of the Catholic Church. Therefore, we have to become “Catholic” Clergy and the laity must become “Catholic.” But make no mistake about it, they mean Roman Catholic. This interpretation is consistent with everything that has been written by Roman Catholic theologians and those in authority. Specifically I would note Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta, a canon lawyer who serves as Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.

Bishop Arrieta presented a paper at the Anglican Use Conference last spring making clear his understanding of the implementation of the Apostolic Constitution. With this concrete evidence as well as my own understanding of the Constitution, I have a hard time seeing Anglicanorum Coetibus as anything other than absorption. Indeed, the Vatican will develop some sort of liturgy that will have “elements” of Anglican liturgy in it. But it will be developed by the Vatican and it will be uniform liturgy throughout the Ordinariate.

So, while I am sure the liturgies we treasure will still be permissible for use until the Vatican develops an Anglican liturgy for the Ordinariate, once that is developed I would expect that the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, Anglican Missal, and/or American Missal will not be permitted.

Additionally, many other questions concerning provisions of Anglicanorum Coetibus have been raised. We have tried to get answers to those questions. Initially we were told that we need to understand how Rome writes such documents and that we essentially have to “read between the lines.” Since that time we have been told all sorts of things about the Constitution and how it would be applied to the TAC. We have been told that they would be highly flexible in applying both the Constitution and the Norms. We have been told to just trust the CDF, if there is an issue, they will make it right.

It was almost as if we were being told that they will ignore some provisions of their own Constitution and their own Canon Law because the Pope wants this to work. I just do not understand how this can happen. In the end, it seemed that any explanation and/or answer to one question seemed to generate more questions. It also seemed that more and more we are getting conflicting information. What was explained one way on one occasion would be explained completely differently at another time.

There has also been an unexplained secrecy that has surrounded this process. Rome has issued documents and statements, but we have been asked to keep silent. I have followed this directive from Archbishop Hepworth until this time. Now the time has come to be forthright and speak, explain our actions and future plans.

As you know, the House of Bishops met in March in Orlando. We all agreed to request the implementation of the Ordinariate in this country and the ACA joined hands with the clergy and parishes of the Pastoral Provision (Anglican Use Roman Catholics). All Bishops signed the letter to Cardinal Levada requesting the formation of an Ordinariate in the United States. I have been asked why I would sign something if I were opposed to it.

First, let me say that I am not opposed to the implementation of the Ordinariate and at the time I had not made any decisions as to what I would do with respect to joining the Ordinariate. Secondly, even if I were not to go into the Ordinariate, I would never stand in the way of those who desire to do so. I still feel that way today. Also at that meeting we generated a list of questions that have come from all over the world, many of which you have asked. We were told that only the formation of an Ordinariate would allow these questions to be answered fully.

These questions were to be covered when the delegation from the TAC met with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). We were told by Abp. Hepworth that the CDF had set aside a whole day for such a meeting. It was in that meeting that I, and others, hoped to finally get many of our questions answered. We were very disappointed that the group only had one hour with the CDF, thus very few questions were answered. The ones that were answered, I shared with you at Synod last June. But even some of those answers have changed since. As a result the many questions you had asked regarding the implementation of the constitution remain unanswered to this day.

I have decided to stop waiting for answers and start seeking my own. So I started with the Vatican itself. I didn’t have to look long before I found the above mentioned paper written by Bishop Arrieta. In reading this text, and talking with others who are far more knowledgeable on this document; I have concluded that my first impression of Anglicanorum Coetibus appeared to be the most accurate assessment. Based on what I know as of today, the only determination I arrive at is that the Apostolic Constitution is not the answer to our request to be in communion with, but an answer as to how Anglicans can become Roman Catholic while retaining elements of their liturgy and polity and vestiges of their heritage. It does not appear to me to be what we were seeking at all.

Therefore, at this time, I will not apply for entry into the Ordinariate. I simply do not believe that Anglican sacramental acts or our Holy Orders are invalid. I cannot deny my orders. I know it has been said that we don’t have to deny or renounce our orders, but to submit to absolute ordination would have the same effect.

Additionally, there remain elements of Roman Catholic Dogma which are not found in God’s Holy Word, the Bible that is unacceptable for me to hold or to teach as necessary for salvation. While I do use the Roman Catholic Catechism as a teaching aid, I do not subscribe to the entirety of its teaching. It has been said that many Roman Catholics do not either. But to be ordained into the Roman Catholic Church without accepting all of the Catechism in its entirety would not be something I could do.

For these reasons, I must announce that I intend to honor my commitment to the ACA and I will remain as Bishop of the Diocese of the Missouri Valley (DMV) and continue as servant leader of the people within this Diocese and the ACA at large. For those whose conscience leads them to remain with me in the DMV/ACA, it will be time to refocus on the Mission of the Church. The Apostolic Constitution and discussion concerning the implementation have been an enormous distraction to our work as we seek to proclaim the Gospel. It is now time to start focusing on our common life of greater commitment to our Lord with respect to stewardship, ministry and mission.

It is also my intent to join other Bishops of the ACA, who also will not be joining the Ordinariate, not only in maintaining our National Church, but in moving toward the reality of a mission minded Church. We simply cannot maintain the status quo. We have to find ways to move forward to ensure the future of the Church.

It is apparent that the ACA House of Bishops is divided on this subject. Some are ready to enter the Ordinariate as soon as it is formed as are some clergy and parishes. I certainly support their decision to follow their conscience and it is my intent to do all that I can to continue to minister to them until they begin their new ministry within the Ordinariate. I also pledge my support and assistance in helping them make the transition to the Ordinariate in any way I can. I also want you to know that the House of Bishops is committed to make this transition as smooth as possible for everyone out of respect to all those to whom we have ministered, whether they will join the Ordinariate or remain in the ACA. Many years of work, ministry, and prayer have gone into building the ACA. Indications are that only a small number of clergy and parishes will be joining the Ordinariate, so we want to ensure the continuation of the ACA.

At the same time, the ACA must continue to seek unity where possible. This may be the time when we will be able to focus on the question of unity with like minded Anglicans who share the same theology, Tradition and practice. Perhaps once we accomplish that, we can seek unity with larger bodies in Christendom.

Now regardless of what you have read on the blogs, I am not “joining the APA.” However, it is my desire to begin the process of unity of like minded Anglicans now. I plan to join with other ACA Bishops in proposing intercommunion with the Anglican Province (APA). We hope that the full House of Bishops will support this proposal. As many of you know the APA was once a part of the ACA, leaving about twenty years ago. It seems logical that any unity effort we seek begins with the APA. It is my hope that once we achieve this intercommunion, reunification of the ACA and APA will follow at some point in the future.

While we are working towards greater unity among Anglicans and we will seek unity with other Anglican bodies, I also want to reassure that this is in no way an attempt to undermine the effort to establish an Ordinariate for Anglicans that desire to enter it. In fact, I pray that it will be established soon. However, I do join with my fellow brother Bishops who desire to support and minister to those who wish to remain in the ACA with appropriate Episcopal oversight and work to heal the divisions in the Continuum.

This letter may surprise some of you, others it will not. It may even anger some. I hope and pray that this is not the case. It is not my desire to criticize any of the decisions you have made with respect to the Ordinariate, rather I want to respect those decisions and move forward in love and charity as we seek to serve those to whom God has called us to minister. I can assure you that I did not come to this conclusion of my own accord, but after much prayer and study. I have also informed the Standing Committee of this conclusion. Many will agree with my assessment. Some will not, but I hope we can agree to disagree while loving one another as brothers and sisters. I do ask for your prayers and you may be assured of mine now and in the future.

In the Service of Christ and His Body the Church

+Stephen D. Strawn

II Bishop of the Missouri Valley (ACA/TAC)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

News of the Weird

Now that Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington to steer the efforts of those who want to turn the legal language of Anglicanorum Coetibus ideas into some sort of reality, the Cathedral of the Incarnation in Orlando, Florida, has responded. The Cathedral belongs to the Anglican Church in America (ACA) of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC), and its Rector is Bishop Louis Campese, Bishop Ordinary of the Diocese of the Eastern United States (DEUS). The Diocese covers territory that spreads from Alabama in its western portion, and up the east coast to Pennsylvania. On the Diocesan website it lists 24 churches.

This begs the question, why has the Cathedral parish made this announcement on behalf only of itself, and not on behalf of the whole Diocese, or even on behalf of any other churches in the Diocese that might be willing to go along?

The statement reads as follows, and may be found on the Former Anglican blog:

Cathedral of the Incarnation
Diocese of the Eastern United States
Anglican Church in America

Orlando, Florida

September 8, 2010
The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

With profound gratitude and filial respect to the Successor of St. Peter [editorial sneer: What hath Rome have in common with Antioch?], the Chapter of the Cathedral of the Incarnation warmly receives the Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum Coetibus, of His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI.

Having prayerfully considered the aforementioned papal legislation, along with its associated Complementary Norms, and with due regard for the accompanying canonical commentary by Fr. Gianfranco Ghirlanda, S.J., Rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University (all published under the auspices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on November 4, 2009) and recognizing in the Holy Father’s most generous response to the pleas of various Anglican groups our common desire and holy commitment to achieve the reconciliation of our small flock with the Catholic Church in a corporate fashion and with due regard to our own precious Anglican Patrimony, the Cathedral Chapter now unanimously resolves:

1. that the Bishop of the Diocese of the Eastern United States, the Dean of the Cathedral, and Officers of the Chapter be authorized to communicate directly with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) or its authorized liaison for the territory of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) on behalf of the Cathedral of the Incarnation to the end that the Cathedral parish (emboldening ours) eventually be received in its integrity into the full communion of the Catholic Church through an Anglican Personal Ordinariate as envisioned by Anglicanorum Coetibus; and,

2. that the text of this Resolution be published immediately on the parish web site and the online journal, The Anglo-Catholic, with copies to be posted directly to the Holy Father, William Cardinal Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and the authorized liaison for the United States of America.

It is signed by all the clergy, or remaining clergy, of the cathedral, and by the wardens.

So, might we presume that Bishop Campese does not possess confidence to make this announcement on behalf of his shrinking diocese of the shrinking ACA? If we do presume that, it is because no such announcement from a mere parish, even a cathedral parish, amounts to much. That is not a criticism in itself, for if the people and clergy of a parish want to roam Romeward, who may presume to say they may not?

But, such an announcement from the Cathedral, merely as the cathedral parish, suggests that they travel alone.

Life imitates satire
Although that page on the Former Anglican blog looks like satire, it is meant to be taken seriously. The word "Anglo" instead of "Roman" at the top, is mismatched by a Latin formula that recognizes the Pope in all his Roman Catholic majesty, with his picture. To the side we see the words, "Catholic Faith and Anglican Patrimony."

Catholic Faith and Anglican Patrimony is a redundant phrase, when the words are understood seriously by intelligent and educated readers. But, for the kind of people who create self-satirizing embarrassments, it really means, "Roman doctrine in all its exclusiveness and with all its baggage, expressed in Elizabethan English, but absolutely nothing particularly Anglican in substance." Not even the liturgy will be Anglican, if the so-called Anglican Use serves as an example of Rome's best effort to show some respect for the Book of Common Prayer--what little they chose to show.

Gettin' down and under
Meanwhile, if the Orlando Cathedral is headed to Rome, what is the all the friction about between them and their Archbishop, the Most Rev. (the mostest with the hostess) John Hepworth? Perhaps it is because they have exceeded his wild claims. Hepworth has boasted that the TAC has a mere 400,000 members, but the Orlando website has increased that baseless claim to "some half million members." Of course, when records are not kept properly, and the numbers are not reported publicly at some sort of provincial synod,
what is a hundred thousand, more or less? Just write in any amount.

But, take warning from the prophecy of Groucho: "You've left out a Hungadunga. you've left out the main one, too."

However, it is more likely that Hepworth provides a different sort of embarrassment. A few months ago he was running around the frozen North, telling Canadians of the TAC that Rome would make him some sort of Archbishop in an Ordinariate. But, in light of Rome's Canon Law, the only real question, about the twice-married Hepworth would be a paraphrase of the question asked by the Sadducees: "In the Ordinariate whose husband will he be?" The answer, for those who can read Article VI of the new constitution without omitting Section I, is that, after the first generation of converts has exhausted its pool of potential married clergymen, priests in the Ordinariates will neither be married nor given in marriage.

But, for Abp. Hepworth, we might suggest a third possibility by the time any of this might turn into something real.

This brings us to the possible embarrassment caused by the spectacle of an Archbishop who travels the world on church donations always with his attractive assistant by his side, whose hard work has earned her an approximate $250,000 bonus after the sale of church property in Australia. Of course, only a low life, mean-spirited, no good varmit would imagine that Hepworth's own indiscretion, at least in appearance unbecoming a clergyman while the second Mrs. Hepworth remains at home, is the cause of tongues that wag, or even of jaws that bite and claws that catch.

Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun the frumoius bandersnatch.

And think no evil of the man, even when his behavior cries out for it, and he has no one but himself to blame. It's not his fault, but yours for thinking such obvious, excuse me, I mean, dirty rotten thoughts. You ought to be ashamed of himself.

And, that may be the cause of the estrangement between Orlando and Adelaide. But, it probably has nothing to do with it. It would make too much sense.