Friday, August 17, 2012

How is that “Catholic” exactly?


The word “Catholic” is so misunderstood that I removed it from the parish road sign and website some time ago. It was one of the best decisions I ever made, because after that we began to grow in number again. People in this part of North Carolina assumed that “St. Benedict’s Anglican Catholic Church” just had to be tied to Rome. After some newspapers first reported the whole Anglicanorum Coetibus scheme in September 2009, and the public gained some sketchy knowledge of that in some vague sort of way, we had several visitors; but none of them were potential members. If anything, we appeared to them to be guilty of bait and switch, using the word “Catholic” without being in communion with Rome.
Of course, Anglicans have always used the word “Catholic.”  We have never accepted Rome’s claims to a monopoly on it. Neither have the Eastern Orthodox. When we say the Creeds, and mention the Catholic Church and the Catholic Faith, we are not speaking about somebody else. Retired Abp. John Hepworth of the TAC was completely wrong when he insisted that Anglicans “aspire” to be part of the Catholic Church. He, personally with a few others, “aspired” be Roman Catholic, apparently without having to follow all their rules. How that will all end up is not our problem (and it looks pretty bad for them). But, we use the word "Catholic" simply to mean that we believe the whole faith, and that we belong to the One Church established by Christ through His apostles. For, when all is said and done, that is what it means: According to the whole - the whole Faith and the Universal Church.
           But, the confusion that led to the sad spectacle of Anglicans “aspiring” to something they already possessed is a danger that still lurks beneath the surface. And, so it will until we have a firm and confident grasp of genuine theology, and can properly understand the Gospel and the Church. What I am about to write is not an exhaustive effort at that, for what I have written in my “Essays on ClassicAnglicanism” has set forth my humble efforts to that end. I will, however, in this spot challenge assumptions that endanger Anglicans who take too seriously the doctrinal developments of the See of Rome.


1.     The Patriarchates are not essential to the Church.
It was stated in Canon III of the First Council of Constantinople, in 381 AD: “Because it is new Rome, the bishop of Constantinople is to enjoy the privileges of honour after the bishop of Rome.” Many things were in those canons, some of which no church endeavors to keep because they lost their relevance after a period of time. Yet, for some reason, many Anglicans believe that the political structure of the Catholic Church is somehow static, not subject to change. This is spite of historical developments, such as the establishment of the Patriarchate of Moscow, or of Rome’s establishment of a Patriarch of Venice, and Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem. Both of the Two One True Churches have had no qualms about adaptation to the ancient structure.

2.     So Rome has no special authority
The reason so many people think there is something “Catholic” about trying to fit into the ancient structure of Patriarchates is simply because the Two One True Churches continue to make bold claims, as if there was something sacramental about Patriarchates. But, the claims they make are for purposes of exclusion, not evangelism and not edification. And, Rome’s claims exceed the others for sheer boldness and audacity. The system worked in ancient times, but has no revelation supporting it. If it keeps some order today, then it serves a purpose for parts of the Church, maybe. But, there is no evidence that part of the dogmatic doctrine of the Catholic Church is that every church must be under one of the five Patriarchates - or is it six?
            The Church has bishops and Apostolic Succession, both for valid sacraments and for order. This includes the need to be faithful to “the Faith once delivered to the saints.” It does not require adherence to some Patriarch in an ancient city just because, well, that’s how it was in the days of the Roman Empire.

             3.The order of Priest is bigger than celebrating the Eucharist.
That’s right. I hate to shock, shock the religious sensibilities of closet Romans who lack the will to convert; but, the reason our ordinal puts everything back into balance is because priests are not ordained only to celebrate the Eucharist; in fact not even primarily to celebrate the Eucharist. E.J. Bicknell wrote truly and in perfect consistency with the Scriptures, the Fathers of the Church and every ancient Ordinal used by the Church in the Patristic period, the following: “As we have said, the English word priest by derivation simply means 'presbyter'. But it has acquired the meaning of 'sacerdos'. The Christian presbyter in virtue of his office is a 'priest'. Priesthood is one of his functions.”
            You cannot be more “Catholic” than to be faithful to the Scriptures, the Fathers of the Church, and every Ordinal used by the Church in the Patristic period. You can, however, be more Roman and more Medieval. I prefer to be truly Catholic. So, I see the priesthood as not only the office that includes valid celebration; it is also a pastoral and teaching office, and requires exercising authority for the good of the people. 
            
            The real problem, of course, is that some Anglicans allow Rome to set all the terms, and that some of our people think we must “aspire” to “Rome or Orthodoxy.” I think we see less of that fantasy thinking, with its unrealistic romantic assumptions, and its bullying assertions, than we did a few years ago. Partly, we have helped to clear up the confusion on The Continuum. But, until we realize that our beliefs and way of life are founded on Christ and the Apostles instead of doctrine humanly developed (at best) , the danger is not over. The real message of the Oxford Movement, over all, was that Anglicanism already is Catholic, to the full extent that it should be. How did that idea become corrupted?

1.  A footnote in A Theological Introduction to The Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England, E.J. Bicknell took up the matter of Anglican orders when writing about Article XXXVI. 
.

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is what we need to hear, and to keep on hearing. Good to see you appear to be back on form Father.
Joe

Bishop Damien Mead said...

Father,

I think it's a shame that you removed 'Catholic' from your road sign. It was not that many years ago that the Provincial Synod of the ACC requested that 'Anglican Catholic Church' be the way we identified ourselves at all levels, including on the names outside our Churches.

You have done much on this site to put right erroneous interpretations of the term 'Catholic' and much of what is written I agree whole heartedly with. I also acknowledge this is "not an exhaustive effort" to address the issues you do. I do not entirely agree with your dismissal of the Ancient Patriarchates, partly because the vast majority of Christendom IS in communion with an Ancient Patriarchate and that fact for the sake of Christian Unity cannot be simply brushed aside. Although I must admit that there is much truth in what you write. I can't help but think that there is a danger for a "Third One True Church" mentality developing. Just as there may be "closet Romans who lack the will to convert" the attempts to goad them that have appeared on this site over the years, from some 'Traditional Anglicans', suggests to me that there may be just as many in other theological and ecclesial closets!

I have followed this site for many years now and have, as you know read much that has been directed at me and my Diocese, although admittedly not of late. I have, in the past, read patiently the comments made by those who think my Anglican Catholic Church Diocese is too 'high', too 'Anglo-Catholic'. We (I) have been hammered for being too Roman or not Anglican enough.; Yet - for the record now stretching back 2 or 3 years - not one person has approached me or accepted my invitation, made many times, to discuss these matters personally. Some have dismissed my invitation out of hand because it would seem their interpretation of Traditional Anglicanism is superior to mine or is beyond question or discussion.

On the other hand I have been regularly approached by those who wish to find out more about the 'Anglican Catholic' Church - under that title.

The term 'Anglican' means a lot to you and me both. However, here in the United Kingdom, 'Anglican' carries with it far more complications than even the term 'Catholic'. Using the Combination 'Anglican Catholic' isn't without difficulty, but it provides many opportunities for teaching and enlightenment.

+DM

Ioannes said...

Good post, Father Hart! Thanks! I am going to use this in my Sunday School class at the Orthodox Anglican parish where I am an instructor. We are going over the Church and the word Catholic right now in the Anglican Apologetics course I am teaching.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

For a whole year every local visitor we had was a Roman Catholic who was looking for something traditional, but also under the pope. They were welcome from our perspective, but not potential members because of their beliefs. Once we made the change on our sign and website, people realized what we were, and what we weren't. By clearing up the misunderstanding that word created, we gained new members. The change was undesirable, but necessary.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I also am not dismissing Patriarchates, because the structure exists and is an ecumenical reality. I am saying the ancient Patriarchates do not supply something essential to the Church, as does e.g. Apostolic Succession. Furthermore, it seems to be only Anglicans who imagine an unchangeable and static polity in the ancient structure, at the same time not giving thought to the changes that have occurred in it.

Jonah Bruce said...

Thank you, Bishop Mead. The Archbishop of the Anglican Catholic Church has written (more than once, I think) that of the names in our title, "Anglican" is descriptive and "Catholic" substantive. To be catholic without being Anglican is still to hold the whole Faith. To be Anglican alone, apart from the Catholic Faith, puts one in the camp of the Canterbury Communion. To drop the substantive noun in one's own Church's title is to allow Rome to tell us what we are.

As Fr. Hart said, "The real problem, of course, is that some Anglicans allow Rome to set all the terms".

Canon Tallis said...

Father, since the Greek roots of the word 'Catholic' mean 'according to the whole,'a whole which must include Holy Scripture, the fathers, the Creeds and the Councils, it is well that you should remind us of those which are not to be found in the majority of those sources. There is nothing in Holy Scripture about the Papacy, the Patriarchs or even the office of archbishop. All of these things to a greater or lesser extent are man made. In the three creeds we believe in the Catholic Church and the Catholic faith, but not the Roman Church or the Papacy. For many of us the very title of the "Anglican Catholic Church" is too much like the contemporary usage of the churches of the Roman obedience and not enough like the ancient usage of the Western Churches. There it was the Holy Roman Church and the Church of England.

Our problem as Anglicans, as Catholics and as Christians is to get back as closely as we are able to the Church of the first five centuries (Bishop Andrewes' Canon) while fully living and worshiping up to the standards of the Book of Common Prayer and Holy Scripture. If we all take what you have written here very seriously, we have a real chance of accomplishing that.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Jonah Bruce:

I am following the example of our Archbishop. The sign in Athens, GA. says "St. Stephen Anglican Church." In an ideal world everyone would know what we mean when use the word "Catholic." But they don't. For most people driving by, looking for a local parish to join, Rome actually has set the terms, and there is nothing we can do about it. But, we can avoid shooting ourselves in the foot. To most people "Catholic" is a denominational word meaning "Roman" and "Papal." Clearing that up, and at the same time being wise to it, are reasons for my taking the time to write things like this.

Anonymous said...

Fr Hart, another great article! Your writings are one of the reasons I joined the Anglican Catholic Church a couple of years ago. Many thanks!

Michele said...

Dear Father Hart,

The sign in Athens has been there for a very long time- well before the College of Bishops urged parishes to identify themselves as Anglican Catholic. It is not a case of removing the term.
The term 'Anglican Catholic' actually clears up misconception: identifying ourselves as 'Anglican' gives rise to the idea that we are 'Episcopalian.' Removing the term 'Catholic' denies our identity and allows the Romans sole use of the term.

Fr. Doug said...

Dear Canon Tallis, I agree wholeheartedly with your conclusions, so this is just a friendly exhortation. Words such as Pope, Patriarch, etc. would not appear in Scripture because the did not exist at the time scripture was written. There could have been no example and/or point of reference. Many things exist today which are not written about in Scripture, including things we use in our forms of worship. Even clerical collars are not mentioned in scripture, for example. Now that being said, I agree with you that those things you mentioned are not necessarily required to be part of the "catholic" church. Just pointing out that our arguments need to be very solid if we wish to make our point. Again, I do agree with your conclusions.
Respectfully, Fr. Doug Mills (Archdeacon)

Bishop Damien Mead said...

Father Hart,

I don't think Archbishop Haverland 'removed' the word Catholic from the Church sign outside St Stephen's ... although perhaps you know something that I don't. If he didn't then it can hardly be said you followed his example. If he did I would also be disappointed.

Oh to live in an ideal world. I am encountering many people in their 20's who have never been taught the Lord's Prayer and many of all ages who do not know who Jesus Christ is, discussing 'Catholic' features in my contact with them but I have to say it is not the highest priority!

The number of 'traditional' Anglicans considering us has dried up, I rejoice when Roman Catholics or other Christians come and worship with us. Some have actually joined us, the Roman Catholics among them, and have been most receptive to 'English Catholicism'.

I pray for the Pope as Patriarch of the West at every Mass. I also pray that one day he will realise that he is in communion with me. But that doesn't mean I am a closet Roman Catholic. But it means that I see Anglicanism as an historic development from 2 Provinces of the Western Patriarchate... and from which we are separated.

The Holy Spirit gives life to the Church and the establishment of, and order of things cannot all be said (or implied) to be simply a case of error, politics or other man made machinations. I believe we have much to offer the universal Church, but the Anglican Church is not perfect and has been guilty of much.
+DM

Fr. John said...

There is also a second sign that reads "Anglican Catholic" at St. Stephens.

I joined the ACC in 1981 because of the name Anglican Catholic. Many others have also.

I share Bishop Mead's disappointment with your unauthorized changing of the name of our jurisdiction. You are now flying under false colors. When I see a parish labeled as "Anglican" I assume that they are a stand alone operation. Such is almost always the case and accompanied by a strong spirit of congregationalism.

I have a few members of my parish who also want us to ditch the name Anglican Catholic. Thanks for making my job of educating them harder by your hearty recommendation of obscuring who we really are.

If your goal is to grow large then you might want to also ditch the moniker "Anglican" as well. "Bible Church" seems to be the brand that really brings them in these days.

When I was interviewing to be rector at St. A&M one person wanted to know if I could grow the parish. "We want a large parish" she said.

I replied, "I can get you a large congregation, it won't be pretty, but it will be large."

Most of the search committee understood what I meant.

Canon Tallis said...

Father Hart,

There is indeed something we can do about the Roman Church's misuse and, indeed, abuse of the word 'Catholic.' We can stop referring to them as anything other than 'the Roman Church' or 'papists' because it is the doctrine of the papacy which they have substituted for that of Catholicity. Why should we call them 'Catholics' when they are not and instead reject a good deal of the teaching of St. Paul in First Timothy and Titus about the nature of the offices of bishop, priest and deacon?

Doctrine, discipline and worship can not be separated and when we, as Anglicans, stop being ashamed of our own heritage which most of our people simply do not know because our clergy have been far too busy for far too long imitating Rome and making it 'The' authority for everything which the folks in the pew see every time they go to church. It is the Roman color sequence, decadent Roman vestments on the clergy, the 'big six' on the altar, Roman ceremonial first ordered in the missal of 1570, and a Roman way of speaking of the church and the sacraments that was essentially the work of the extreme papalist Society of Saints Peter and Paul. No wonder Anglicans keep swimming the Tiber; they are being pushed into it by Anglican clergy who know little or nothing of real Anglican ways and hatefully despise the little that they do.
I would not be surprised if more than half of the schisms in the Continuum were based upon being 'more papist than thou.' A friend of mine, a now departed English church historian' used to rail about English priest who closed their parishes by abandoning the English prayer book for services from the then modern Roman missal in Latin, something which one bishop of the APCK already comes uncomfortably close. Can we simply stop being this silly.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I never suggested that the Archbishop "removed" the word from the sign. Frankly, the overwhelming majority of ACC churches I've seen all have signs that simply say "St. - Anglican Church." In fact, this was the only curch of the ACC I ever saw with the full name, "Anglican Catholic" on the sign. It is standard wisdom that people over here, in America at least, think "Catholic" means "Roman." So, I am keeping the sign the way we have it now. We can teach them AFTER we have them in our midst.

Also, I believe that the major differences between religion in England and in America stem from the establishment issue in England. It creates a cultural and psychological difference.

Anyway, my decision has worked well here; I have seen the results, so opinions won't phase me.

Anonymous said...

"It is standard wisdom that people over here, in America at least, think 'Catholic' means 'Roman.'"

Indeed, we have had Romans come to our ACC parish and actually commune, thinking we are a Roman Church. And this despite the fact that our church sign and our worship bulletin contain the descriptor "Anglican Catholic".

The Embryo Parson

Fr. Robert Hart said...

That's because they heard some news about Rome and Anglicans and something to do with ordinariates (or marionettes, or something ecclesiastical), and think we all swam the Tiber, Prayer Books in hand. Upon finding out we are not Roman, some get disappointed because they believe they can't join, some feel guilty because they took communion, and some outright accuse us of Bait and Switch.

Meanwhile, genuine prospective members think they have to choose between TEC or the ACNA, as if we didn't even exist.

Shaughn said...

Are we really disputing candles on the altar and vestments? I wasn't aware we'd stepped into a time warp where it was now PECUSA circa the 1870s, where faithful clergy were harassed for wearing chasubles and using candles. Good heavens. Will we be debating whether to sing the Agnus Dei now, too, since it rests outside the arbitrarily chosen 5th century (apparently post-Chalcedon, I suppose?) boundary?

The invective behind those comments is also absurd. My "decadent" vestments, to include the stole, maniple, burse, and veil cost less than the average sport coat or pair of running shoes. This sort of argument over adiaphora and liturgical purism on either side, which seeps into conversations at every possible opportunity, is what drives people away -- more so than an adjective on a sign's presence or absence.

I am wary, though, of an excess of utilitarianism in liturgy or naming conventions. It stinks of Martin Bucer's general attitude of "Well, they don't understand that stuff anyway. Just get rid of it, rather than catechize properly." His influence on Cranmer is abundantly clear in the 1552 BCP.

RC Cola said...

Did any of you see that Saudi Arabia is suing so that the Vatican may not lay claim to the domain name "catholic" stating that other churches also have claim to it?
The Saudis! Very interesting.

Fr. Wells said...

Church labels are necessary evils, arising from the sins of heresy and schism. In the earliest times the simple term "the Church" was all that was necessary when Christians spoke to or about each other or the community which they regarded as the Body of Christ and Ark of Salvation. The adjectives "one, holy, catholic or apostolic" were/are not denominational handles but descriptions of the Christian community.

Each Christian jurisdiction is compelled, unfortunately, for less than holy reasons, to adopt some kind of moniker. The name used in offficial usage need not be identical to the name on a church sign. If anyone presumes to tell me what to put on our parish sign, he may expect to have the sign-painter's bill sent to him. "He who pays the sign-painter dictates the language."

Personally speaking, I am happy with "Anglican Catholic Church" as our "name of primary usage," as our Constitution decrees (while allowing other equally official names. But sad to say, it is a fact that any two-by-four sect, any episcopus vagans, any religious quack, any mercenary rogue, can put the hallowed term "Catholic" on a sign, and most of them do so. On occasion I have had to explain, "No, we are not a Roman Catholic Church." But far more frequently, many people are turned off by what seems to be a rather exotic and contrived name. When we erect a sign, are we inviting people to share in the Body of Christ, or are we trying ("in your face") to rub in a theological point? Why have a sign anyway?

Kristopher Williams said...

Fr. Hart did not suggest that Abp. Haverland altered a sign in order to remove "Catholic" from it. Moreover, he did not state that the jurisdiction's name be altered.

In a perfect world, people would investigate what is meant before forming an opinion. Most people, however, are not going to do so because of the word "catholic."

Fr. Hart is correct in noting that most (90%?) people see catholic, whether with a big "C" or a little "c," and immediately think of the Roman church in communion with the pope. Regardless of the truth of the matter, it repels many. People can be more effectively catechised after they have attended a service (or two) rather than looking at a sign and deciding NOT to investigate because it says "catholic" out front.

LK Wells is right in noting that an exotic name, for the uninitiated and uninformed, sounds contrived and fake. My favorite is the African Methodist Episcopal churches I have seen on occasion. I personally have no desire to discover more since the tags within the name seem schizophrenic.

And, let's face it, today we have to catechize people AFTER they come into a church. Very few do their research before. People (most) are attracted and stay at a church because they feel welcomed and loved; these are the people that you catechize and train up in the faith.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I don't know why the issue of our sign has been so controversial. First of all, the new sign brings us into conformity with most of the ACC churches, at least here in America. It was simply a lead in to the mistaken notions people have about what a frequently used word actually means.

It would be healthy for us to understand the word "catholic" accurately for its ancient theological implications, rather than simply generating an emotional and partisan attachment to it, or partisan reaction against it. Now, by saying that I am addressing an in-house Anglican problem.

Shaughn said...

In point of historical fact, since the issue came up, the AME churches have their name because they were historically black churches that formed alongside the Methodist Episcopal Church (ca. 1816). The ME Church merged with the Methodist Protestant Church to become The Methodist Church, which in turn merged with the Evangelical United Brethren to become today's United Methodist Church.

Anonymous said...

When I was a seminarian in the ACC I wrote to my college alumni magazine letting them know that I was preparing to become a priest in the "Anglican Catholic Church." It clearly confused the person who wrote the update, because when the magazine came out I found that I was preparing to be be ordained in the "Anglican Church!"

ACC is a good name, but in my opinion sort of confusing to the uninitiated... like PECUSA... it is technical, and accurate, but confusing. So for your average church sign or publication I think "Anglican" is best to use.

JGA

Anonymous said...

If we are truly attempting to affix a "nom du guerre," for our Anglican beliefs, then let us coin, "Cathostants," as the label most assuredly fits. Our charge is to attract the unknowing to the Church and bring them to Christ.

Acknowledging the confusion of the descriptive "Catholic" is bowing to the need for education, clarification and the societal pressure of "Big Brother" down the street.

This is not as though we are representing ourselves as Baptists, Evangelicals, Eastern Orthodox, or even Lutherans. Being called an "Anglican" is descriptive enough. If the label "Anglo=Catholic" refers to churchmanship, then get over it, as there is an internal minority who even know what this means and has little to do with expanding the Anglican ethos.

Anonymous said...

It would probably be fruitful to button-hole visitors - and other folk (one's neighbours, in a wide sense of the word) - in the friendliest possible way, to see what their actual perceptions are as to church signs.

For example, what do the remaining words in "St. Benedict's Anglican Church" say to them?

Does "Anglican" say anything? Such as "not in communion with the Holy Father"? Or "presumably in communion with Gene Robinson"?

Does "St. Benedict's" say "Popish" or "High" - whether attractively or repulsively?

What, if anything, would the effect be of adding, below the name, "I believe in [...] the holy Catholick Church" or "I believe one Catholick and Apostolick Church", or some post-1660 (plural) analogue?

Semi-Hookerian

Bruce said...

There are some in the Continuum who want to make it as broad and “inclusive” as possible to inflate their numbers and help pay the bills. This includes attracting Roman Catholics who might be looking for a smaller church whose liturgy remind them of Church when they were young i.e. pre-Vatican II. Some clergy are intentionally vague about their teachings/ beliefs so as to be as “inclusive” as possible and the laity are perfectly willing to go along with it.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

In this area a wave of people are just waking up to how bad it has become in the Episcopal Church. With some, it isn't that they were unaware before, but rather that they made the mistake of feeling safe in their particular parish. With others it seems to be the grace of God at work, awaking them from sleep, converting their hearts and minds. Others have finally had enough.

It is not for me to judge anybody for "taking so long." It is not for me to convert Low Church people into "Anglo-Catholics" either. Here they receive the combination of true teaching and valid sacraments (which the ACNA church in Durham doesn't offer). That is what I am supposed to provide. That is what "catholic" really means.

Too often "catholic" is a word used to force Roman affectations and Roman culture on people. That is a game I will not play. If a former RC wants to pray the rosary, we have room for that. If someone else is completely uncomfortable with that, we have room for him too. I'm not willing to limit the membership of this church to only one churchmanship party. Catholic faith and practice, in the true sense of the word, yes. But, mainly that's what I have to teach. I have had people join who saw nothing wrong with WO, but who now understand the truth. If I had used such things as a litmus test, like a gatekeeper or underwriter, I would have failed them, and failed in my pastoral responsibility.

Fr. Wells said...

The more I reflect on this, the more I think we have got it all wrong. We have argued that the word "Catholic" be muted and de-emphasized because it is misunderstood by "hoi exothen," those outside our closely knit and tightly bonded fellowship. But perhaps the real problem is that it is WE OURSELVES who do not understand what "catholic" means.

Catholic (1) is not a denominational label and (2) is actually undermined by inept imitations of pre-Vatican II Roman Catholicism. It has nothing to so with tackiness in cheap statuary or hideous vestments. True Catholicism exists where the doctrines of the Creeds are painstakingly preached and devoutly believed--not where people count the number of candles on the Altar or cultivate a prissified ceremonial in Shinto fashion. Until a parish is genuinely catholkic in the Creedal sense, it frankly is false advertising to put that word on a sign.

Bruce said...

“Here they receive the combination of true teaching and valid sacraments (which the ACNA church in Durham doesn't offer).”

Please explain, father. They have a parish near us but I’m not familiar with their church. What invalidates their sacraments?

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I am not claiming to know that their sacraments are ineffectual, only that with women "priests" (no matter how few) they have a problem, to put it mildly. We hope for the best, and pray to that end for them. There is still a lot of modern TEC to be free of.

Canon Tallis said...

Father Wells is precisely right in that it is "we" who have not understood the meaning of "Catholic." Rather than understanding it in terms of "according to the whole" too many of us have limited to what the churches of the Roman obedience have done since the pontificate of Alexander VI and have wanted to do just that but little or no more. That had the satisfaction of both outraging the establishment (at least for a while) while leaving you as a priest with time you didn't need to waste on saying daily Morning and Evening Prayer or preparing sermons from the doctrine taken from Holy Scripture as interpreted by the "ancient bishops and Catholic fathers."

The hardest part of being truly Catholic is in the sticking to the essentials and not getting lost in the incidentals. If you look at the You Tube postings of the ACNA they are awash with miters, copes and other things we most associate with Catholic Christianity, but the local ACNA clergy don't know how to say the office out of the '79 book and had to turn to a lay woman for instructions. I wish it were otherwise, but they really seem to be TEC minus openly homosexual bishops.

Anonymous said...

"Too often "catholic" is a word used to force Roman affectations and Roman culture on people. That is a game I will not play. If a former RC wants to pray the rosary, we have room for that. If someone else is completely uncomfortable with that, we have room for him too. I'm not willing to limit the membership of this church to only one churchmanship party. Catholic faith and practice, in the true sense of the word, yes. But, mainly that's what I have to teach. I have had people join who saw nothing wrong with WO, but who now understand the truth. If I had used such things as a litmus test, like a gatekeeper or underwriter, I would have failed them, and failed in my pastoral responsibility."

"Catholic (1) is not a denominational label and (2) is actually undermined by inept imitations of pre-Vatican II Roman Catholicism. It has nothing to so with tackiness in cheap statuary or hideous vestments. True Catholicism exists where the doctrines of the Creeds are painstakingly preached and devoutly believed--not where people count the number of candles on the Altar or cultivate a prissified ceremonial in Shinto fashion. Until a parish is genuinely catholkic in the Creedal sense, it frankly is false advertising to put that word on a sign."

Preach it.

"Wherever the bishop appears, there let the people be; as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church." (St. Ignatius of Antioch)

The Embryo Parson

Bruce said...

Father Hart,

When I first joined our (APA) church, our sign read “Biblical Anglican Catholic.” When we became part of the ACA, the “Biblical” was dropped from the new sign.

Canon Tallis said...

This is a little late but I want to applaud the Embryo Parson's post. It was quite on point.