Friday, July 29, 2011

After the noise of battle and yawn

It is sometimes impossible to believe what we have witnessed in the last two years, even though we could see it coming from a few years away. Not more than a few months ago, we had people in Anglican churches, at least in name (many of them clergy), simply assuming that Anglicans everywhere were “just dying” to become Roman Catholics. The idea that Anglicans anywhere might like the church of their affiliation was, it seems, unthinkable.
In the Fall of 2009, when I went all the way to Delaware to read a paper at a gathering of the Fellowship of Concerned Churchmen, an elderly Monsignor was present to read a paper on the history of “Anglicans Looking to Rome.” When I stood up directly following his presentation to read my paper (someone with a sense of humor must have arranged it), which I entitled “Anglican Identity,” I could tell that he was utterly astonished to hear my affirmation of genuine and classic Anglican tradition as we Continue the same. Someone must have led the poor fellow to believe that all Continuing Anglicans were Anglo-Papalists, all champing at the bit to leap into the Tiberian depths. I am afraid I gave him a terrible shock, poor d..poor fellow.
After reading about the Anglican position of the Reformers from Cranmer to Hooker, then about Andrewes, Laud and the Caroline Divines, and about the contributions of Tractarians, etc., leading right up to the Continuing Church, the Monsignor asked which group of Anglicans I was speaking about. Gee-hard to answer that one (it's like discussing the Declaration of Independence and then being asked which party in the Continental Congress it represented. The answer would be, everyone except John Dickenson, as my answer was, everyone except the apostates).
We may be quite forgiving when a Roman Catholic wrongly assumes that all serious Anglicans are just itching to enter his Papa’s house, especially those of us whose liturgy tends to be High, and whose level of tolerance for innovation tends to be low (more so than the floor). But, what we saw coming out of Adelaide, and out of Orlando here in the United States, was the spectacle, not of Roman Catholics, but of self-proclaimed Anglicans who were “shocked, shocked” that anyone would not want to go, and that anyone would dare not to go. They actually expected all their people to line up at the door begging to be let in.
After all; all their bishops (the TAC bishops in 2007) signed a book – without any explanation of what the gesture was supposed to mean. But, they did it, giving the big guy in Australia a card to hold. So, when Rome dished out the ultimate insult to Anglicanism itself, Anglicanorum Coetibus (because, after all, every Anglican is really a homeless waif), we were all supposed to say how “generous” the Italian M…, uh, I mean the Roman Catholic Church was in “offering” conversion with even more "generously" undefined terms of surrender. When some of us stood up to defend Continuing Anglicanism as something to, putting it succinctly, continue, the squeak of outrage from Orlando was heard all the way around the world. 
Only a few months ago, the Archbishop of the Anglican Catholic Church (ACC), my own bishop, the Most Rev. Dr. Mark Haverland, made news simply by saying (again really) that after all the noise, smoke and confusion, the largest and oldest of the Continuing St. Louis Affirmation churches have proved that we are “happy to be Anglicans.” In our circle the whole Roman “invitation” was simply something to inspire a yawn. What is hard to understand, looking back from the calm climate of normalcy that has come about in the last few months, is that Anglicans "happy to be Anglicans" made the news. No one should have expected it to be otherwise.

12 comments:

Glenda Lough said...

Nice one Fr Robert. By the way, following the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament debacle, the Crypto Romans have been caught with their fingers in the till again. Go to the English Church Union site for a rather intriguing statement......

Fr. Wells said...

If the Former Anglican is any sort of index, we may conclude that the Hepworthian project has already been dropped into the dustbin of history and is quickly headed for the shredding machine. That estimable blog reports mostly Vatican obituaries. To date we have not heard of a single TAC cleric or congregation actually received into the RCC. Did someone once mention a "failed experiment"?

When Cardinal Wuerl made a presentation to his fellow American RC bishops, he admitted that he is clueless as to what "the Anglican patrimony" is all about anyway. But he did reveal that Episcopal/Anglican clergy applying for this arrangement fall into three categories: those who need some special training, those who need lots of special training, and those who do not fall into either of the above categories. Go figure.

John A. Hollister said...

The Church Union website that Glenda Lough noted reveals an intriguing anomaly. The opening page is a farewell statement by the Union's President, who titles himself "Father Edwin Barnes" (who is, of course, the Church of England's quondam Bishop of Richborough) but who uses a portrait that shows, ever so discretely, the chain of a pectoral cross and who signs himself "+Edwin Barnes".

Of course, both those items are customary indicia of episcopal status. Yet "Father" Barnes has rather resoundingly declared (by the nature of his reception into the Church of Rome, which included ordinations as a Roman Deacon and a Roman Priest) that he is not, and indeed never has been, a Bishop in the Church Catholic. So is there not something just a tad schizophrenic about his reluctance to relinguish the insignia of the former office that he now effectively claims he never held?

I wonder if, in the secrecy of his dressing room, he sometimes tries on gaiters and apron, just to remind himself what it felt like when he was acknowledged (socially only, of course, because he necessarily now gives full credence to "Apostolicae Curae") as a Bishop? Sort of a drag to have to give all that up, if one will pardon the pun....

John A. Hollister+

Brian said...

No one should be surprised that few Continuing Anglican clergy are unwilling to submit to non-conditional ordination--not least in light of Rome's incredibly mixed approach to offering conditional ordination. In the early 1930s, for example, Rome gave ordained sub conditione one Dr. W.E. Orchard. For those who don't recognize the name, Orchard was colorful character had been a Congregationalist minister at the King's Weigh House in London, and he (with the agreement of what must have been an unusual Congregationalist parish indeed) said Mass every Sunday from a hodgepodge Missal of his own devising. He claimed priestly orders from the vagante "Order for Corporate Reunion," which had weaseled episcopal orders out of the Dutch under false pretenses.

Anonymous said...

To be fair to Bishop Edwin, I think the "+" and the pectoral cross are more to do with the hopelessly un-updated Church Union website than trying to have his cake and eating it.

Jacob Hicks

Brian said...

After consulting my copy of Brandreth's "Episcopi Vagantes in the Anglican Church," I need to amend my statement about Dr. Orchard: He was actually consecrated not by the aforementioned "Order" but the vagans Vernon Herford, a man who claimed orders derived from the so-called St. Thomas churches of India, but whose orders Utrecht subsequently declined to recognize. Herford apparently never had a following, save for ordaining nonconformists like Orchard on the sly.

Fr. Wells said...

To be fair to Fathe-Exbishop Edmund, who has publicly stated that his previous ordinations were null and void, I recall some language in Anglicanorum Coetibus which allows former Anglican bishops within the Ordinariate to retain some of their previous habiliments. I had a parishioner once, formerly a Baptist, who wore every Sunday to our church his medals for perfect attendance at his Baptist Sunday School. They meant a lot to him and I could only be thankful for the fine knowledge of the Scriptures he had gathered there.

John A. Hollister said...

I appreciate the thrust of Fr. Wells' (second) comment, but I think the situation of his former Baptist parishioner is a bit different from that of ex-Bishop, now-Fr.Fr. Barnes.

When that parishioner joined an Anglican Church, that act was far from denying that he had previously been a Christian. (Quite the contrary; in my experience, Baptists make excellent Anglicans.)

And while "Anglicanorum Coetibus" certainly does make some reference to former Lambeth Communion non-bishops' retaining some of the insignia of their non-episcopal status, that is just more evidence of the schizophrenia to which I referred. It is certainly possible that a man may become convinced that pre-1992 Lambeth Communion Orders are/were "absolutely null and utterly void" (after all, an acute student of human nature once observed that such an "one is born every minute"), well and good, let him become a Roman. But it is absurd for him to become a Roman while still togging himself out in the feathers of his prior, crypto-avian status.

That makes him a bit of a sheep in orlon or acrylic fleece, rather along the lines of a wonderful ad. I once read, that touted the glories of a piece of furniture that was said to be upholstered in "genuine imitation Naugahyde".

John A. Hollister+

Fr. Wells said...

Fr Hollister: You ae absolutely right. My analogy is incorrect. The ex-Baptist was accepted as validly baptized. He was asked to disavow nothing. The skewed analogy was only intended to point up the incongruity of Father ex-bishop Barnes use of episcopal indicia, which was your point.

Bruce In Iloilo said...

Fr. Wells does not accurately characterize Cardinal Wuerl's comments. The Cardinal does indeed mention three categories for those who want to be priests in the Ordinariate: (1) those who need a little bit of training beforehand; (2) those who need a lot of training beforehand; and (3) those who fall into neither category because they will never be priests in the Ordinariate. It is the latter that Fr. Wells misses. This third category are for those ineligible to become Ordinariate priests, for a variety of reasons, which we can speculate about but which discretion prevented Cardinal Wuerl from mentioning.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I assure you that Fr. Wells has always been aware of the third category. One thinks of a certain Australian archbishop, for example.

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