Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Orthodoxy and Anglicanism in a road block

It is the hope of myself and of all who have the unity of the Church of Christ at heart that the agreements already reached may lead to further progress along the road to that full intercommunion between the Church of England and the Orthodox Churches of the East, which is the burden of our prayers and the goal of all our efforts.

-Letter of the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Rumanian Patriarch, 1937

(Pictured, Archbishop Meletios of Alexandria and Archbishop of Canterbury Cosmo Lang in 1930)

In 1978, after it became clear that churches within the Anglican Communion were “ordaining” women and intent on spreading this untraditional practice, Orthodox Archbishop Athenagoras remarked: “…the theological dialogue [between the Orthodox and the Anglicans] will continue, although now simply as an academic and informative exercise, and no longer as an ecclesial endeavor aiming at the union of the two churches.”(1) Looking back at this, in the context of many theological discussions, what comes as a surprise to many is the fact that the leaders of the worldwide Anglican Communion and the Patriarchs and other chief Bishops of the Orthodox Church had been discussing the prospect of joining into one church at all. It would be an understatement to say that reference to this historical fact often meets with incredulity. Nonetheless, the serious discussion of combining the Orthodox Church and the Anglican Communion of Churches as one Church began in earnest at least as early as 1922. Just how much hope one should have had in that endeavor, either in how practical it was or how long it would have taken in the most promising of circumstances, seems less important than the fact of the effort itself. What does it tell us that for decades the hope of union between Orthodoxy and Anglicanism was pursued, not by well meaning people on the fringes, but by the highest levels of leadership in both communions? And, why did it take only one issue, women’s “ordination,” to bring it to an end, so that only a mere “academic exercise” could remain as a sort of fossil that testifies to this extinct animal?

This process began as Orthodox Patriarchs and other Orthodox Bishops recognized, one by one, the validity of Anglican Orders and sent letters to the Archbishop of Canterbury to that effect. The first came in 1922, from Constantinople (as it is called when referring to the Patriarchate- instead of Istanbul). Soon after in 1923 came letters from Jerusalem, and then from the Archbishop of Cyprus. In 1923 came a letter from the Patriarch of Alexandria. In 1936, the Orthodox Church of Romania sent a letter, also recognizng the validity of Anglican Orders. (2)

The Orthodox Church has in it many people who are now embarrassed, some to the point of denial. The Anglicans of today have, in many places, earned a bad reputation, winking at more than mere innovation; approving of what the Bible calls "abominations." How can the scandalized Orthodox accept the fact that their Church, "the One True Church," was ever considering real unity with people like the Episcopalians- a church with priestesses, bishopettes and at least one Ordinary living in a same sex union? Well, the fact is that they were never considering unity with such people. The Anglicans that they were talking with up until 1976, had at that time approved none of these errors. In fact, the Anglicans were so highly regarded that here, in Amercia, when Orthodox Christians lived very far away from an Orthodox Church, they received special letters from the Orthodox Hierarchy giving them permission to attend the Episcopal Church and to receive the sacraments- including the Holy Communion of Christ's Body and Blood (and so throughout the countries where the Anglican Churches could meet this need). Today, with Orthodox Churches in most major cities and towns, this situation does not exist (Orthodox people who remember this are still alive).

Was this because the Orthodox Patriarchs were a bit thick, and carelessly allowed themselves to be duped by deceitful Anglicans, "Protestants in Catholic clothing?" Having too much respect for their diligence and godly character to imagine such a thing, we must believe that they understood what Anglicanism really was. Furthermore, the kind of Anglicans who were at the highest levels of leadership, and who were in direct communication with the Orthodox Church, believed in the same Catholic Faith as we who Continue the Faith of our fathers. The irony is obvious. Thanks to the same heretics who drove us out, into Athanasian style exile, it may be a long time before the Orthodox Church, represented by any of its Patriarchates, will be willing to enter into serious discussions with any Anglicans. But, when the time comes, they ought to talk to us, not to the Canterbury Club.

(In those decades the Church of England had begun an endeavor to seek Reunion with Rome, and to help make their Orders more acceptable to Rome in the hope of that eventual Reunion as a genuine possibility. If true unity could have been acheived, however long it took, think of the implications. No more Great Schism- talk about the Bridge Church was not empty rhetoric. More on that later.)

(1) As quoted in Anglican-Orthodox Dialogue: The Dublin Agreed Statement, (Crestwood, N.Y.: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1985), p.3

(2) Orthodox Statements on Anglican Orders

Encyclical on Anglican Orders from the Oecumenical Patriarch to the Presidents of the Particular Eastern Orthodox Churches, 1922
[The Holy Synod has studied the report of the Committee and notes:] 1. That the ordination of Matthew Parker as Archbishop of Canterbury by four bishops is a fact established by history. 2. That in this and subsequent ordinations there are found in their fullness those orthodox and indispensable, visible and sensible elements of valid episcopal ordination - viz. the laying on of hands, the Epiclesis of the All-Holy Spirit and also the purpose to transmit the charisma of the Episcopal ministry. 3. That the orthodox theologians who have scientifically examined the question have almost unanimously come to the same conclusions and have declared themselves as accepting the validity of Anglican Orders. 4. That the practice in the Church affords no indication that the Orthodox Church has ever officially treated the validity of Anglican Orders as in doubt, in such a way as would point to the re-ordination of the Anglican clergy as required in the case of the union of the two Churches. ================================================================
The Patriarch of JERUSALEM, 1923
The Patriarch of Jerusalem wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury in the name of his Synod on March 12, 1923, as follows: To His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury, First Hierarch of All England, our most beloved and dear brother in our Lord Jesus, Mgr. Randall. Greeting fraternally your beloved to us, Grace, we have the pleasure to address to you the following: Yesterday we dispatched to Your Grace the following telegram: ‘We have pleasure inform Your Grace that Holy Synod of our Patriarchate after studying in several meetings question Anglican Orders from Orthodox point view resolved their validity.' Today, explaining this telegram, we inform Your Grace that the Holy Synod, having as a motive the resolution passed some time ago by the Church of Constantinople, which is the church having the First Throne between the Orthodox Churches, resolved that the consecrations of bishops and ordinations of priests and deacons of the Anglican Episcopal Church are considered by the Orthodox Church as having the same validity which the Orders of the Roman Church have, because there exist all the elements which are considered necessary from an Orthodox point of view for the recognition of the grace of the Holy Orders from Apostolic Succession. We have great pleasure in communicating to Your Grace, as the First Hierarch of all the Anglican Churches, this resolution of our Church, which constitutes a progress in the pleasing-to-God work of the union of all Churches, and we pray God to grant to Your Grace many years full of health and salvation.
February 27/March 12, 1923 Official translation published in The Christian East, vol. IV, 1923, pp. 121-122. The Archbishop of the autonomous Church of Sinai expressed for his Church adherence to the decisions of Constantinople and Jerusalem.
The Archbishop of CYPRUS, 1923
The Archbishop of Cyprus wrote to the Patriarch of Constantinople in the name of his Synod on March 20, 1923, as follows: To His All-Holiness the Oecumenical Patriarch Mgr. Meletios we send brotherly greeting in Christ. Your Holiness – Responding readily to the suggestion made in your reverend Holiness' letter of August 8, 1922, that the autocephalous Church of Cyprus under our presidency should give its opinion as to the validity of Anglican Orders we have placed the matter before the Holy Synod in formal session. After full consideration thereof it has reached the following conclusion: It being understood that the Apostolic Succession in the Anglican Church by the Sacrament of Order was not broken at the Consecration of the first Archbishop of this Church, Matthew Parker, and the visible signs being present in Orders among the Anglicans by which the grace of the Holy Spirit is supplied, which enables the ordinand for the functions of his particular order, there is no obstacle to the recognition by the Orthodox Church of the validity of Anglican Ordinations in the same way that the validity of the ordinations of the Roman, Old Catholic, and Armenian Church are recognized by her. Since clerics coming from these Churches into the bosom of the Orthodox Church are received without reordination we express our judgment that this should also hold in the case of Anglicans – excluding intercommunio (sacramental union), by which one might receive the sacraments indiscriminately at the hands of an Anglican, even one holding the Orthodox dogma, until the dogmatic unity of the two Churches, Orthodox and Anglican, is attained. Submitting this opinion of our Church to Your All-Holiness, we remain, Affectionately, the least of your brethren in Christ,
Cyril of Cyprus
Archbishopric of Cyprus. March 7/20, 1923 Published in The Christian East, vol. IV, 1923, pp. 122-123.
The Patriarch of ALEXANDRIA, 1930
After the Lambeth Conference of 1930, the Synod of the Patriarchate of Alexandria found itself able to join in the recognition of Anglican Orders. The decision was announced in a letter from the Patriarch to the Archbishop of Canterbury as follows: To the Most Reverend Dr. Cosmo Lang, Lord Archbishop of Canterbury and Primate of All England, Greetings in the New Born Christ The Feast of the Nativity, according to the Flesh, of the Redeemer of our Souls being a most suitable occasion for us, as it were, to visit your Beatitude, our friend, by means of a letter, we come to you hereby with a heart that is filled alike with joy, that "unto us is born a Savior, which is Christ the Lord," and with fervent prayers both for your health and for the peace and stability of the holy Churches of God over which you preside. At the same time, together with our greetings for the Feast, we send you as our gift the news, which we are sure will be good news, to you, that having derived the greatest gratification from the accounts which it has received, both of the marks of honor which were rendered in London, alike by your Grace and by the general body of your Church, to the office which is ours, and also of the happy results which by the favouring breath of the Holy Spirit have emerged from the contact of the Orthodox Delegation with the Lambeth Conference, our Holy Synod of the Metropolitans of the Apostolic and Patriarchal Throne of Alexandria has proceeded to adopt a resolution recognizing the validity, as from the Orthodox point of view, of the Anglican Ministry. The text of that resolution is as follows: "The Holy Synod recognizes that the declarations of the Orthodox, quoted in the Summary, were made according to the spirit of Orthodox teaching. Inasmuch as the Lambeth Conference approved the declarations of the Anglican Bishops as a genuine account [1] of the teaching and practice of the Church of England and the Churches in communion with it, it welcomes them as a notable step towards the Union of the two Churches. And since in these declarations, which were endorsed by the Lambeth Conference, complete and satisfying assurance is found as to the Apostolic Succession, as to a real reception of the Lord's Body and blood, as to the Eucharist being thusia hilasterios [2] (Sacrifice), and as to Ordination being a Mystery, the Church of Alexandria withdraws its precautionary negative to the acceptance of the validity of Anglican Ordinations, and, adhering to the decision of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, of July 28, 1922, pronounces that if priests, ordained by Anglican Bishops, accede to Orthodoxy, they should not be re-ordained, as persons baptized by Anglicans are not rebaptized." We rejoice to see the middle wall of partition being thrown down more and more, and we congratulate your Beatitude that under God you have had the felicity of taking the initiative in furthering that work. May the Lord Who was born in Bethlehem give to you and to us the happiness of its completion. In Alexandria upon the Feast of Christ's Nativity, 1930 Your Beatitude's Beloved Brother in Christ
Meletios of Alexandria

In reporting this decision to the Oecumenical Patriarch Meletios emphasized that his Synod was acting on the basis that the statements made at Lambeth had removed their former hesitation "as to the teaching of the Anglican Church upon the mysteries and Apostolic succession," and could be held to have met the desire expressed by the Romanian Patriarch in replying to Constantinople in 1925, when he wrote, But in order to make a definite pronouncement, we desire especially that the Anglican Church herself should precise her doctrine concerning the holy mysteries and particularly concerning orders: does she hold it to be a mystery or not? Since that requirement had now been satisfied, wrote Meletios, It is proper that the validity of Anglican Orders should now be recognized by all Orthodox Churches. For that which, according to the same letter, was "one of the most serious obstacles in the way of the Union of the two Churches," has been "removed." Letter published in The Christian East, vol. XII, 1931, pp. 1-6, with notes as above; the quotation in Note 2 is from No. 11 in the Resume of the Lambeth Discussions, reprinted below, p. 22.

[1] The words in the Resolution of the Lambeth Conference are "sufficient account." [2] We transliterate the term, thusia hilasterios, and do not translate it by propitiatory sacrifice, or expiatory sacrifice, because, as generally used, these terms present conceptions which are not attached by the Orthodox to thusia hilasterios. The words used by the Anglican Bishops in their discussions with the Orthodox Delegation, as recorded in the Resume, and endorsed by the Lambeth Conference are: "… that the Anglican Church teaches the doctrine of Eucharistic Sacrifice as explained in the Answer of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to Pope Leo XIII, on Anglican Ordinations: and also that in the offering of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, the Anglican Church prays that ‘by the merits and death of Thy Son Jesus Christ, and through faith in His Blood, we and all Thy whole Church may obtain remission of our sins, and all other benefits of His Passion,' as including the whole company of faithful people, living and departed." Lambeth Conference Report, 1930,


Anonymous said...

Pastoral Letter of Bishop Raphael
To My Beloved Clergy and Laity of the Syrian Greek-Orthodox
Catholic Church in North America:

Greetings in Christ Jesus, Our Incarnate Lord and God.

My Beloved Brethren:

Two years ago, while I was Vice-President and member of the Anglican and Eastern Orthodox Churches Union, being moved with compassion for my children in the Holy Orthodox Faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3), scattered throughout the whole of North America and deprived of the ministrations of the Church; and especially in places far removed from Orthodox centers; and being equally moved with a feeling that the Episcopalian (Anglican) Church possessed largely the Orthodox Faith, as many of the prominent clergy professed the same to me before I studied deeply their doctrinal authorities and their liturgy—the Book of Common Prayer—I wrote a letter as Bishop and Head of the Syrian-Orthodox Mission in North America, giving permission, in which I said that in extreme cases, where no Orthodox priest could be called upon at short notice, the ministrations of the Episcopal (Anglican) clergy might be kindly requested. However, I was most explicit in defining when and how the ministrations should be accepted, and also what exceptions should be made. In writing that letter I hoped, on the one hand, to help my people spiritually, and, on the other hand, to open the way toward bringing the Anglicans into the communion of the Holy Orthodox Faith.

On hearing and in reading that my letter, perhaps unintentionally, was misconstrued by some of the Episcopalian (Anglican) clergy, I wrote a second letter in which I pointed out that my instructions and exceptions had been either overlooked or ignored by many, to wit:

a) They (the Episcopalians) informed the Orthodox people that I recognized the Anglican Communion (Episcopal Church) as being united with the Holy Orthodox Church and their ministry, that is holy orders, as valid.

b) The Episcopal (Anglican) clergy offered their ministrations even when my Orthodox clergy were residing in the same towns and parishes, as pastors.

c) Episcopal clergy said that there was no need of the Orthodox people seeking the ministrations of their own Orthodox priests, for their (the Anglican) ministrations were all that were necessary.

I, therefore, felt bound by all the circumstances to make a thorough study of the Anglican Church's faith and orders, as well as of her discipline and ritual. After serious consideration I realized that it was my honest duty, as a member of the College of the Holy Orthodox Greek Apostolic Church, and head of the Syrian Mission in North America, to resign from the vice-presidency of and membership in the Anglican and Eastern Orthodox Churches Union. At the same time, I set forth, in my letter of resignation, my reason for so doing.

I am convinced that the doctrinal teaching and practices, as well as the discipline, of the whole Anglican Church are unacceptable to the Holy Orthodox Church. I make this apology for the Anglicans whom as Christian gentlemen I greatly revere, that the loose teaching of a great many of the prominent Anglican theologians are so hazy in their definitions of truths, and so inclined toward pet heresies that it is hard to tell what they believe. The Anglican Church as a whole has not spoken authoritatively on her doctrine. Her Catholic-minded members can call out her doctrines from many views, but so nebulous is her pathway in the doctrinal world that those who would extend a hand of both Christian and ecclesiastical fellowship dare not, without distrust, grasp the hand of her theologians, for while many are orthodox on some points, they are quite heterodox on others. I speak, of course, from the Holy Orthodox Eastern Catholic point of view. The Holy Orthodox Church has never perceptibly changed from Apostolic times, and, therefore, no one can go astray in finding out what She teaches. Like Her Lord and Master, though at times surrounded with human malaria—which He in His mercy pardons—She is the same yesterday, and today, and forever (Heb. 13:8) the mother and safe deposit of the truth as it is in Jesus (cf. Eph. 4:21).

The Orthodox Church differs absolutely with the Anglican Communion in reference to the number of Sacraments and in reference to the doctrinal explanation of the same. The Anglicans say in their Catechism concerning the Sacraments that there are "two only as generally necessary to salvation, that is to say, Baptism and the Supper of the Lord." I am well aware that, in their two books of homilies (which are not of a binding authority, for the books were prepared only in the reign of Edward VI and Queen Elizabeth for priests who were not permitted to preach their own sermons in England during times both politically and ecclesiastically perilous), it says that there are "five others commonly called Sacraments" (see homily in each book on the Sacraments), but long since they have repudiated in different portions of their Communion this very teaching and absolutely disavow such definitions in their "Articles of Religion" which are bound up in their Book of Common Prayer or Liturgy as one of their authorities.

The Orthodox Church has ever taught that there are seven Sacraments. She plainly points out the fact that each of the seven has an outward and visible sign and an inward and spiritual Grace, and that they are of gospel and apostolic origin.

Again, the Orthodox Church has certain rites and practices associated and necessary in the administration of the Sacraments which neither time nor circumstances must set aside where churches are organized. Yet the Anglicans entirely neglect these, though they once taught and practiced the same in more catholic days.

In the case of the administration of Holy Baptism it is the absolute rule of the Orthodox Church that the candidate must be immersed three times (once in the name of each Person of the Holy Trinity). Immersion is only permissory in the Anglican Communion, and pouring or sprinkling is the general custom. The Anglicans do not use holy oil in the administration, etc., and even in doctrinal teaching in reference to this Sacrament they differ.

As to the doctrine concerning Holy Communion the Anglican Communion has no settled view. The Orthodox Church teaches the doctrine of transubstantiation without going into any scientific or Roman Catholic explanation. The technical word which She uses for the sublime act of the priest by Christ's authority to consecrate is "transmuting" (Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom). She, as I have said, offers no explanation, but She believes and confesses that Christ, the Son of the living God Who came into the world to save sinners, is of a truth in His "all-pure Body" and "precious Blood" (Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom) objectively present, and to be worshiped in that Sacrament as He was on earth and is now in risen and glorified majesty in Heaven; and that "the precious and holy and life-giving Body and Blood of Our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ are imparted" (to each soul that comes to that blessed Sacrament) "Unto the remission of sins, and unto life everlasting" (Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom).

Confirmation or the laying on of hands, which the Orthodox Church calls a Sacrament—"Chrismation"—in the Anglican Church is merely the laying on of hands of the Bishop accompanied by a set form of prayers, without the use of Holy Chrism, which has come down from Apostolic days as necessary.

Holy Matrimony is regarded by the Anglican Communion as only a sacred rite which, even if performed by a Justice of the Peace, is regarded as sufficient in the sight of God and man.

Penance is practiced but rarely in the Anglican Communion, and Confession before the reception of Holy Communion is not compulsory. They have altogether set aside the Sacrament of Holy Unction, that is anointing the sick as commanded by Saint James (see James 5:14). In their priesthood they do not teach the true doctrine of the Grace of the Holy Orders. Indeed they have two forms of words for ordination, namely, one which gives the power of absolution to the priest, and the alternative form without the words of Our Lord, whosoever sins ye remit, etc. (John 20: 23). Thus they leave every bishop to choose intention or non-intention in the act of ordination as to the power and Grace of their priesthood ("Ordination of Priests," Book of Common Prayer).

But, besides all of this, the Anglican Communion ignores the Orthodox Church's dogmas and teachings, such as the invocation of saints, prayers for the dead, special honor to the blessed Virgin Mary the Mother of God, and reverence for sacred relics, holy pictures and icons. They say of such teaching that it is "a foul thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the word of God" (Article of Religion, XXII).

There is a striking variance between their wording of the Nicene Creed and that of the Holy Orthodox Church; but sadder still, it contains the heresy of the "filioque."

I do not deem it necessary to mention all the striking differences between the Holy Orthodox Church and the Anglican Communion in reference to the authority of holy tradition, the number of Ecumenical Councils, etc. Enough has already been said and pointed out to show that the Anglican Communion differs but little from all other Protestant bodies, and therefore, there cannot be any intercommunion until they return to the ancient Holy Orthodox Faith and practices, and reject Protestant omissions and commissions.

Therefore, as the official head of the Syrian Holy Orthodox Catholic Apostolic Church in North America and as one who must give account (Heb. 13:17) before the judgment seat of the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls (I Pet. 2:25), that I have fed the flock of God (I Pet. 5:2), as I have been commissioned by the Holy Orthodox Church, and inasmuch as the Anglican Communion (Protestant Episcopal Church in the USA) does not differ in things vital to the well-being of the Holy Orthodox

Church from some of the most errant Protestant sects, I direct all Orthodox people residing in any community not to seek or to accept the ministrations of the Sacraments and rites from any clergy excepting those of the Holy Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church, for the Apostolic command that the Orthodox should not commune in ecclesiastical matters with those who are not of the same household of faith (Gal. 6:10), is clear: "Any bishop, or presbyter or deacon who will pray with heretics, let him be anathematized; and if he allows them as clergymen to perform any service, let him be deposed." (Apostolic Canon 45) "Any bishop, or presbyter who accepts Baptism or the Holy Sacrifice from heretics, we order such to be deposed, for what concord hath Christ with Belial, or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?" (Apostolic Canon 46)

As to members of the Holy Orthodox Church living in areas beyond the reach of Orthodox clergy, I direct that the ancient custom of our Holy Church be observed, namely, in cases of extreme necessity, that is, danger of death, children may be baptized by some pious Orthodox layman, or even by the parent of the child, by immersion three times in the names of the (Persons of the) Holy Trinity, and in case of death such baptism is valid; but, if the child should live, he must be brought to an Orthodox priest for the Sacrament of Chrismation.

In the case of the death of an Orthodox person where no priest of the Holy Orthodox Church can be had, a pious layman may read over the corpse, for the comfort of the relatives and the instruction of the persons present, Psalm 90 and Psalm 118, and add thereto the Trisagion ("Holy God, Holy Mighty," etc.). But let it be noted that as soon as possible the relative must notify some Orthodox bishop or priest and request him to serve the Liturgy and Funeral for the repose of the soul of the departed in his cathedral or parish Church.

As to Holy Matrimony, if there be any parties united in wedlock outside the pale of the holy Orthodox Church because of the remoteness of Orthodox centers from their home, I direct that as soon as possible they either invite an Orthodox priest or go to where he resides and receive from his hands the Holy Sacrament of Matrimony; otherwise they will be considered excommunicated until they submit to the Orthodox Church's rule.

I further direct that Orthodox Christians should not make it a practice to attend the services of other religious bodies, so that there be no confusion concerning the teaching or doctrines. Instead, I order that the head of each household, or a member, may read the special prayers which can be found in the Hours in the Holy Orthodox Service Book, and such other devotional books as have been set forth by the authority of the Holy Orthodox Church.

Commending our clergy and laity unto the safekeeping of Jesus Christ, and praying that the Holy Spirit may keep us all in the truth and extend the borders of the Holy Orthodox Faith, I remain.

Your affectionate Servant in Christ

Bishop of Brooklyn,
Head of the Syrian Greek Orthodox Catholic Mission in North America

Accuracy of translation and fact of the above prescriptive direction and pastoral instruction being still in force and authority, unabated and unmodified, now and for all future time in this jurisdiction, certified April 27, 1927, by:

Archbishop of Brooklyn,
First Vicar of the Russian American Jurisdiction,
Head of the Syrian Greek Orthodox Catholic Mission in North America

From "The Most Useful Knowledge for the Orthodox Russian-American Young People," compiled by V. Rev. Peter G. Kohanik, 1932-34. This was reprinted in Orthodox Life, Vol. 43, No. 6, 1993.

Anonymous said...

From: "My Journey to Orthodoxy" by Bishop Kallistos Ware of Diokleia:

I came across the correspondence between Alexis Khomiakov and the Anglican (as he was then) William Palmer, Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford. Palmer had sent Khomiakov a copy of his work A Harmony of Anglican Doctrine with the Doctrine of the Catholic and Apostolic Church of the East. Here Palmer took, phrase by phrase, the Longer Russian Catechism written by St Philaret of Moscow, and for every statement in the Catechism he cited passages from Anglican sources in which the same doctrine was affirmed.

In his reply (November 28, 1846), Khomiakov pointed out that he could equally well have produced an alternative volume, quoting other Anglican writers — no less authoritative than those invoked by Palmer — who directly contradicted the teaching of Philaret's Catechism. In Khomiakov's words:

Many Bishops and divines of your communion are and have been quite orthodox. But what of that? Their opinion is only an individual opinion, it is not the Faith of the Community. The Calvinist Ussher is an Anglican no less than the bishops (whom you quote) who hold quite Orthodox language. We may and do sympathize with the individuals; we cannot and dare not sympathize with a Church ... which gives Communion to those who declare the Bread and Wine of the High Sacrifice to be mere bread and wine, as well as to those who declare it to be the Body and Blood of Christ. This for an example — and I could find hundreds more — but I go further. Suppose an impossibility — suppose all the Anglicans to be quite Orthodox; suppose their Creed and Faith quite concordant with ours; the mode and process by which that creed is or has been attained is a Protestant one; a simple logical act of the understanding... Were you to find all the truth, you would have found nothing; for we alone can give you that without which all would be vain — the assurance of truth.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

The Pastoral letter of Bishop Raphael was his own independent act, and he wrote it in 1904. After that, the Orthodox Church formally rejected his opinion, as my post has proved. Also, since the link to this is available, it could have been used.

If his charges of sheep stealing are true, then he had a valid complaint. But, his opinion of Anglican Orders and of the nature of Anglicanism was overruled by the Patriarchs and Archbishops several years later.

Nice try, but no cigar.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Re: the second anonymous comment, here again, the Patriarchs and Archbishops came to the opposite conclusion. I could very easilly present unOrthodox statements by Orthodox Christians, no less authoritative than others (especially a liberal spin about the sin of contraception). So what? See my earlier piece called "Deviants and Formularies." Ware made a point that was no point at all.

If you are unhappy that the Orthodox Church understood Anglcians like us at one time, there is really nothing you can do to change the facts.

Anonymous said...

Again, Bishop Kallistos:

In the past forty years a number of Orthodox Churches have produced statements concerning the validity of Anglican Orders. At a first glance these statements seem to contradict one another in a curious and extraordinary way:

1) Six Churches have made declarations which seem to recognize Anglican ordinations as valid: Constantinople (1922), Jerusalem and Sinai (1923), Cyprus (1923), Alexandria (1930), Romania (1936).

2) The Russian Church in Exile, at the Karlovtzy Synod of 1935, declared that Anglican clergy who become Orthodox must be reordained. In 1948, at a large conference held in Moscow, the Moscow Patriarchate promulgated a decree to the same effect, which was also signed by official delegates (present at the conference) from the Churches of Alexandria, Antioch, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Georgia, and Albania.

To interpret these statements aright, it would be necessary to discuss in detail the Orthodox view of the validity of sacraments, which is not the same as that usually held by western theologians, and also the Orthodox concept of ‘ecclesiastical economy;’ and these matters are so intricate and obscure that they cannot here be pursued at length. But certain points must be made.

First, the Churches which declared in favour of Anglican Orders have not apparently carried this decision into effect. In recent years, when Anglican clergy have approached the Patriarchate of Constantinople with a view to entering the Orthodox Church, it has been made clear to them that they would be received as laymen, not as priests.

Secondly, the favourable statements put out by group (1) are in most cases carefully qualified and must be regarded as provisional in character. The Ecumenical Patriarch, for example, when communicating the 1922 decision to the Archbishop of Canterbury, said in his covering note: ‘It is plain that there is as yet no matter here of a decree by the whole Orthodox Church. For it is necessary that the rest of the Orthodox Churches should be found to be of the same opinion as the most holy Church of Constantinople .’

In the third place, Orthodoxy is extremely reluctant to pass judgment upon the status of sacraments performed by non-Orthodox. Most Anglicans understood the statements made by group (1) to constitute a ‘recognition’ of Anglican Orders at the present moment. But in reality the Orthodox were not trying to answer the question ‘Are Anglican Orders valid in themselves, here and now?’ They had in mind the rather different question ‘Supposing the Anglican communion were to reach full agreement in faith with the Orthodox, would it then be necessary to reordain Anglican clergy?’

This helps to explain why Constantinople in 1922 could declare favorably upon Anglican Orders, and yet in practice treat them as invalid: this favorable declaration could not come properly into effect so long as the Anglican Church was not fully Orthodox in the faith. When matters are seen in this light, the Moscow decree of 1948 no longer appears entirely inconsistent with the declarations of the pre-war period. Moscow based its decision on the present discrepancy between Anglican and Orthodox belief: ‘The Orthodox Church cannot agree to recognize the rightness of Anglican teaching on the sacraments in general, and on the sacrament of Holy Order in particular; and so it cannot recognize Anglican ordinations as valid.’ (Note that Orthodox theology declines to treat the question of valid orders in isolation, but considers at the same time the faith of the Church concerned). But, so the Moscow decree continues, if in the future the Anglican Church were to become fully Orthodox in faith, then it might be possible to reconsider the question. While returning a negative answer at the present moment, Moscow extended a hope for the future.

Such is the situation so far as official pronouncements are concerned. Anglican clergy who join the Orthodox Church are reordained; but if Anglicanism and Orthodoxy were to reach full unity in the faith, perhaps such reordination might not be found necessary. It should be added, however, that a number of individual Orthodox theologians hold that under no circumstances would it be possible to recognize the validity of Anglican Orders.

What is the chief obstacle to reunion between Anglicans and Orthodox? From the Orthodox point of view there is one great difficulty: the comprehensiveness of Anglicanism, the extreme ambiguity of Anglican doctrinal formularies, the wide variety of interpretations which these formularies permit. There are individual Anglicans who stand very close to Orthodoxy, as can be seen by anyone who reads two remarkable pamphlets: Orthodoxy and the Conversion of England, by Derwas Chitty; and Anglicanism and Orthodoxy, by H. A. Hodges. ‘The ecumenical problem,’ Professor Hodges concludes, is to be seen ‘as the problem of bringing back the West ... to a sound mind and a healthy life, and that means to Orthodoxy ... The Orthodox Faith, that Faith to which the Orthodox Fathers bear witness and of which the Orthodox Church is the abiding custodian, is the Christian Faith in its true and essential form’ (Anglicanism and Orthodoxy, PP- 46-7). Yet there are many other Anglicans who dissent sharply from this judgment, and who regard Orthodoxy as corrupt in doctrine and heretical. The Orthodox Church, however deep its longing for reunion, cannot enter into closer relations with the Anglican communion until Anglicans themselves are clearer about their own beliefs. The words of General Kireev are as true today as they were fifty years ago: ‘We Orientals sincerely desire to come to an understanding with the great Anglican Church; but this happy result cannot be attained ... unless the Anglican Church itself becomes homogeneous and the doctrines of its different constitutive parts become identical’.

Anonymous said...

Lastly, His Grace, Bishop Kallistos:

...there is one field in which diversity cannot be permitted. Orthodoxy insists upon unity in matters of the faith. Before there can be reunion among Christians, there must first be full agreement in faith: this is a basic principle for Orthodox in all their ecumenical relations. It is unity in the faith that matters, not organizational unity; and to secure unity of organization at the price of a compromise in dogma is like throwing away the kernel of a nut and keeping the shell. Orthodox are not willing to take part in a ‘minimal’ reunion scheme, which secures agreement on a few points and leaves everything else to private opinion. There can be only one basis for union — the fullness of the faith; for Orthodoxy looks on the faith as a united and organic whole.

Speaking of the Anglo-Russian Theological Conference at Moscow in 1956, the present Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Michael Ramsey, expressed the Orthodox viewpoint exactly: ‘The Orthodox said in effect: ‘…The Tradition is a concrete fact. Here it is, in its totality. Do you Anglicans accept it, or do you reject it?’

The Tradition is for the Orthodox one indivisible whole: the entire, life of the Church in its fullness of belief and custom down the ages, including Mariology and the veneration of icons.

Faced with this challenge, the typically Anglican reply is: ‘We would not regard veneration of icons or Mariology as inadmissible, provided that in determining what is necessary to salvation, we confine ourselves to Holy Scripture.’

But this reply only throws into relief the contrast between the Anglican appeal to what is deemed necessary to salvation and the Orthodox appeal to the one indivisible organism of Tradition, to tamper with any part of which is to spoil the whole, in the sort of way that a single splodge on a picture can mar its beauty (‘The Moscow Conference in Retrospect,’ in Sobornost, series 3, no. 23, 1958, pp. 562-563).

In the words of another Anglican writer: ‘It has been said that the Faith is like a network rather than an assemblage of discrete dogmas; cut one strand and the whole pattern loses its meaning’ (T. M. Parker, ‘Devotion to the Mother of God,’ in The Mother of God, edited by E. L. Mascall, p. 74).

Either Churches are in communion with one another, or they are not: there can be no half-way house. Such is the standard Orthodox position.

It is sometimes said that the Anglican or the Old Catholic Church is ‘in communion’ with the Orthodox, but this is not in fact the case. The two are not in communion, nor can they be, until Anglicans and Orthodox are agreed in matters of faith.

Anonymous said...

Re: "Nice try, but no cigar...there is really nothing you can do to change the facts."

Your take on past Orthodox-Anglican relations is very interesting. As common as this point is among orthodox/continuing Anglican/Episcopalians, this take is (and was) unsupportable by the Orthodox Church.

True, there is nothing that I can do to change the facts, but there is nothing that you can do(wishful thinking notwithstanding) either.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

The simple facts is, when cutting through the equivocations, that the recognition of the Catholic validity of Anglican Orders by the Patriarchs and Archbishops is a historical fact that I have documented, thanks to Project Canterbury. Also, the high level talks between the highest of Orthodox Patrirachs and Bishops and the Highest of Anglican Primates, Archbishops and Bishops, with a goal of uniting into one Church is a matter of record. It happened. It did not come crashing down until 1976, and that was because of women's "ordination." This too I have documented. Trying to explain it all away in retrospect is futile. History is what it is. However, the roadblock to unity that stands between Orthodoxy and Anglicanism is no more real than the roadblock between Orthodoxy and Rome.

Also, the decision not to reordain Anglican clergy "coming over to Orthodoxy" was stated in the documents that I have provided. Clearly stated in those letters is the fact that Anglican clergy would not need to be ordained because it was seen as unnecessary. I am unaware of any Anglican clergy "converting" in that period, however. Perhaps it happened, but I know of no case. Even so, the letters from the Patriarchs and Archbishops are plain enough. Did they not mean what they said?

The fact that Orthodox were allowed by the Orthodox Church (through specific letters)to receive Anglican sacraments is also a matter of record and of the testimony of living witnesses. I have even met and spoken with Orthodox people of my generation and older who were allowed by their own Church to receive communion in the Episcopal Church. To write some paper about why what happened did not really happen just won't fly.

Kallistos Ware, like Newman before him, is the kind of convert who tends to make his own criteria, and to reject very fully his own past; the feeling of "I once was blind, but now I see" is what comes across. But, here are the good points in his statement, and points which I do not argue with at all. The problem of Anglican comprehensiveness is the major obstacle. In fact, the discussions between the two Communions always had to do with clarification.It seemed as if this one issue would go away, back in the 20s and 30s. All the signs were there.

The other point that is obviously true, namely that the doctrine of the Church must be commonly held throughout the entire Communion (obviously as the normal standard of belief, since nothing else is ever possible)is not only a good Orthodox complaint aginst official Anglicanism; It is ours as well. We, Continuing Anglicans, reject comprehensiveness no less than the Orthodox Church does.

Which brings me back to main point. Orthodoxy, and Rome too for that matter, should not waste time on "ecumenical dialogue" with Canterbury, York, and New York. The Continuing Anglicans are not held hostage by comprehensiveness; We are the ones to talk with.

Anonymous said...

Equivocations such as: "The Pastoral letter of Bishop Raphael was his own independent act..." and "Kallistos Ware is the kind of convert who tends to make his own criteria..." coming from someone who claims to speak on behalf of "The Continuing Anglicans" are reason enough to conclude that any talk of union between the Orthodox Church and the segments of the Anglican Communion ("orthodox" and/or "Continuing) are impossible. St. Raphael of Brooklyn and Bishop Kallistos of Diokleia are not Protestants. From the point of view of an Orthodox, these equivocations are libelous and hardly an incentive for continuing dialogue with those who Continue to be Anglican (Via Mediating one's way to True Faith
through a Protestant mode and process).

In short, by virtue of his position in the Church, Bishop Kallistos of Diokleia can speak with authority about the attitude that the Church has had in the past towards the Anglican Communion as well as its present sentiments. You cannot.

To reiterate:

"Most Anglicans understood the statements made by [the various Patriarchs that you cited] to constitute a ‘recognition’ of Anglican Orders at the present moment. But in reality the Orthodox were not trying to answer the question ‘Are Anglican Orders valid in themselves, here and now?’ They had in mind the rather different question ‘Supposing the Anglican communion were to reach full agreement in faith with the Orthodox, would it then be necessary to reordain Anglican clergy?’"

It's that simple and quite straightforward and has never been a stumbling block the former Episcopalians in my parish who have sought and found union with the Orthodox Church by being received into the Church on the Church's terms.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Well, was the Patriarch of Constantinople a Protestant who lacked authotiry to speak for the Orthodox Church? Does that Patriarchate not exceed mere bishops in authoritative pronouncements on behalf of Orthdoxy? Should we have disregarded the Patriarchs in favor of a lower level bishop somehwere?

Granting, for the sake of argument, the accuarcy of the words of Bishop Ware ("But in reality the Orthodox were not trying to answer the question ‘Are Anglican Orders valid in themselves, here and now?’ They had in mind the rather different question ‘Supposing the Anglican communion were to reach full agreement in faith with the Orthodox, would it then be necessary to reordain Anglican clergy?"), certain facts still remain. First, that is nothing but his interpretation of their words, and one that was not the undertanding of some other Orthodox bishops (or was Orthodox unity with those Orthdox bishops also impossible?). Second, Bishop Ware casts as a question what was, in fact, a statement. The Orders of Anglican clergy were not being questioned, but rather a judgement was made in favor of their validity. This judgement was followed by the permission given to Orthodox Christians to receive their sacramental ministry as priests(in exceptional circumstances of need).

Anyway, the point that I have been making is not something that you ought to find so troubling. The point is that the path to Unity was broken by women's "ordination" just as Archbishop Athenagoras had said.

Fr Matthew Kirby said...


There are three things to note about Bp Raphael's letter. First, it was written in 1904 to change a previous policy of economic intercommunion. Second, his withdrawal of the relationship notwithstanding, such economic intercommunion was re-established by EOCs in certain areas later, implicitly making this letter a "dead" one. Third, this impassioned tome contains a number of factual errors. For example, the author incorrectly posits a contradiction between the Homilies and the Articles over the phrase "five others commonly called Sacraments", which is ascribed to the former and said to be denied by the latter, whereas it is the Articles that contain the phrase! Similarly, he states that the numbering of the Sacraments as 7 is something "[t]he Orthodox Church has ever taught", which is simply historically false, as you should know as a reader of Bp Ware's works. I could go on identifying the errors, but see no point. There are some criticisms here which would also unchurch the RCC, by the way.

As for the attempt to use Bp Ware's works to qualify EO recognition of Anglican Orders, it comes up against the historically inconvenient fact that economic intercommunion existed with approval during the Twentieth Century, which would have been blasphemous on the part of the Orthodox hierarchs involved unless they accepted the validity of Anglican Orders in an actual rather than potential sense. Also, slavic Orthodox theologians have tended to be less enamoured of the "no real sacramental grace outside the EOC" interpretation of economy that is popular among the Greeks and underlies Bp Ware's analysis.

Finally, the criticism of Khomiakov ignores the fact that the evidence for Catholicity and Continuity of Anglican Churches derives not merely from a catena of Catholic opinions by isolated hierarchs and teachers, but from Catholic epistemological presuppositions enshrined in the Prayer Book, Articles, legal acts and canon law foundational to the Church, as well as official statements by authorised apologists for the Church. See my article on the Catholicity of Anglican Churches at this blog.

Anonymous said...

Dear Frs. Hart and Kirby,

Personally, were I an Orthodox Bishop, I would probably receive convert clergy from the Continuum with conditional (re)ordination--leaving full ordination for Cantuar Anglicans (after proper catechism, etc.) But, methinks such a progressive view would not be popular in Orthdox circles.

Indeed, as far as I can tell, the Orthodox Church has uniformly 're-ordained' Anglican clergy when they are received into Orthodoxy. This is true of pre-priestess and Continuum ordinands as well as contemporary 'offical,' Cantuar clergy.

Worse, this seems to be the case as far back as anyone can remember. In fact, I can't find any mention anywhere or a single Anglican clergy ever being recieved into the Orthodox clergy without 're-reordination.'

Perhaps Orthodox Bishops do not read Project Canterbury. :-)

Anonymous said...

Re: "Perhaps Orthodox Bishops do not read Project Canterbury."

Perhaps they should! Someone pull their collective heads out of the sand and put a stop to their provincial "Bishop Raphael said this, Bishop Kallistos said that." Let them be schooled in Catholic epistemological presuppositions enshrined in the Prayer Book, Articles, legal acts and canon law foundational, as well as official statements by authorised apologists for the Anglican Communion. That'll learn them good! Validity, Schmalidity! Who needs the approval to the poor benighted Orthodox Bishops who don't even understand the words of their own Patriarchs? Continuing Anglicans RULE!

Fr Matthew Kirby said...


Your snide sarcasm does not hide the fact that you have done nothing to repudiate what I said. Bp Ware's views on the significance of Orthodox recognitions of Anglican Orders are based on a basically Nikodemean view of sacramental economy. On this view ALL sacraments outside the Orthodox Church are accepted as valid only in an outward, canonical sense, but possess no inward grace or no certainty of it. When somebody or a Church converts to Orthodoxy, so the theory goes, the Church supplies the grace to the "empty forms" so that repetition of sacraments such as Baptism or Ordination are not necessary. This is the most popular theory in the later Greek tradition.

However, it is, as I stated, NOT universally accepted and much less popular in the slavic Churches. If you don't believe me, believe Patriarch Sergii Stragorodsky of the Russian Orthodox Church, who wrote this article in 1935:

Or perhaps, closer to our own time (1999), you might read this statement on Economy by EO theologians in America, which deals directly with Baptism, but has arguments against Nicodemean thinking that would apply across the board:

Therefore, I have every right to question both Bp Raphael's and Bp Ware's statements and I have every right to state the FACT that the theological understanding underlying their statements is not universally accepted or authoritative in the Orthodox Church. Thus your attempt at irony, "Who needs the approval to the poor benighted Orthodox Bishops who don't even understand the words of their own Patriarchs?" only shows that you do not know (or refuse to acknowledge) the range of theological opinion in your own Church. You also continue to ignore the FACT (as did Bp Ware) that the Orthodox often allowed their laity to receive Anglican Sacraments when isolated from the ministrations of their own Church, including the Communion and Marriage. If they believed Anglican Orders were invalid or doubtfully valid, they would have thus been deliberately and knowingly allowing their people to commit idolatry at the Eucharist and adultery after their weddings. You thus implicitly accuse a multitude of former Orthodox hierarchs of mortally sinful dishonesty and blasphemy.

So, who's disrespecting the Eastern Orthodox episcopate?

As for your quotation of my words in this context, you have missed the point entirely. My reference to "Catholic epistemological presuppositions enshrined in the Prayer Book, Articles, legal acts and canon law foundational, as well as official statements by authorised apologists for the Anglican Communion" was not even dealing with the question of validity of Orders, but whether Khomiakov's and Ware's appeal to the existence of heterodox opinions co-existing with orthodox opinions among bishops in Anglican Churches proved they were not Catholic. It does not because at the level of binding dogma or definitive teaching no heresies exist, and the necessity of Tradition, including the consensus patrum, consensus ecclesiae and Church Authority in Doctrine, is declared. Thus only those Anglican opinions with the backing of Tradition have any intrinsic authority by Anglican principles. That deliberate ambiguity and an unwritten law of comprehensiveness undermined this in the past is undeniable. Which is precisely why Continuing Churches such as the ACC have officially rejected doctrinal comprehensiveness. Which is precisely what Bp Ware declared necessary for re-union, according to the very passage you quoted!!!

Therefore, while we do not claim to "rule", as you so graciously implied we did, we not unreasonably think that appealing to the past positive statements of Eastern Orthodox hierarchs and theologians about us and doing what they have asked of us to achieve ecclesial reconciliation are grounds for seeking unity in truth. That this has merited nothing but your contempt is a shame, but it is not our problem. God be with you.

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

CORRECTION: In the above post of mine, replace "repudiate" with "refute" and "adultery" with "fornication".

Albion Land said...

To Anonymous:

Please read my post "Comment on Comments" and then proceed accordingly.

Also, please take note of the banner of this blog, which speaks of "robust, if polite discussion ..."

Anonymous said...

re: "The fact that Orthodox were allowed by the Orthodox Church (through specific letters)to receive Anglican sacraments is also a matter of record and of the testimony of living witnesses. I have even met and spoken with Orthodox people of my generation and older who were allowed by their own Church to receive communion in the Episcopal Church."

I too have met and spoken with "living witnesses." As I was being prepared to be received into the Orthodox Church, I was joined in the catechumenate by a young Lebanese-American.

His parents were from the Old Country (immigrated to the U.S. in the 1940s). He was "Made in USA" and was baptized and chrismated into the Orthodox Church.

There were no Orthodox Churches in the area where the parents eventually settled.

They had received instructions from their Bishop in Lebanon, that if there were no Orthodox Churches that they could attend, then the Anglican Churches were the next best alternative. Therefore, my friend was raised Episcopalian.

Long story short, the Comprehensiveness of the 1990s drove him to seek his roots.

Since he has "reverted" he is ashamed of the misguided actions of his Bishops (it seems that some Orthodox of Arab descent did not get St. Raphael's letter).

The shame he feels is the key to understanding why there is not much in the press about these actions of the past:

There are shameful. The memory of such actions is shameful. They were a betrayal of the Orthodox Faith.

"Mistakes were made." Repentance was made. The Orthodox who gave instructions to their flock for the sake of expediency (let's face it, becoming an Episcopalian was, at the time, a sure step on the ladder of upward mobility) rather than principle, have repented.

To argue that such a past deviance is some sort of unacknowledged, orthodox and catholic "Rule of Faith" that must needs to be brought to light for the sake of the poor benighted Orthdox Bishops of today(and their flocks)is silly.

Of course, I have addressed a painful episode in the history of the Middle Eastern Orthodox Christians in the U.S. (cf. Pastoral Letter of Bishop Raphael) and not the issue re: the favourable statements put out by a certain group of Patriarchs which
must be "carefully qualified and must be regarded as PROVISIONAL in character, wishful thinking notwithstanding.

Anonymous said...

Patriarch Sergii Stragorodsky:

"...the late Archbishop Hilarion answered an Anglican professor: 'Stop wrestling with the question whether you have (sviaschenstvo) valid orders or not. Come directly to the Church. She will receive you without any humiliation, without re-baptism, without re-ordination, and will give you, from her plenitude, a place in the bosom of the Universal Church of Christ, valid (blagodatnoye) priesthood, and everything.'"

Fr Matthew Kirby said...


You quote the article from Patrairch Sergii without noting that this is the very view he was quoting to argue AGAINST. Hence the very next words, which you did not quote:

"We do not however, have the Catholic principle by which a dogma determines history. We Orthodox cannot close our eyes to the witness of the latter. Seeing a conflict between dogma and history we must first ask ourselves whether we correctly understand the Church's dogma. In the present instance what history shows is not in favor of the present understanding."

By simply quoting the section you did under the Patriarch's name you clearly give the impression he agrees with this view. You thus risk appearing either flagrantly dishonest or, more likely, incapable or unwilling to actually read the article properly. Instead, you read to the part that looks like it is line with your own thinking and then stop, it would seem.

But, unfortunately, there is clearer evidence in your comments of a lack of consistency. At first you berated us for daring to contradict TWO Eastern Orthodox bishops. You studiously ignored the precedents we pointed to set by many more than two other EO bishops. Then, when you finally address the issue, you admit that these economic intercommunions occurred, and berate the bishops who permitted this for committing acts that were "shameful" and a "betrayal". In other words, the bishops who agree with you were good and the true interpreters of Orthodoxy, the ones who didn't are bad and traitors. The Protestants would love you.

And yet your argument gets even worse.

You imply that the reason economic intercommunion existed was because not enough bishops read what Bp Raphael had written in the early part of the Twentieth Century. As if nothing of ecumenical note happened after that between EO and Anglicans and reading that one letter would have cancelled out the multitude of positive later decisions. As if the intensive theological and historical discussions within Eastern Orthodoxy that led to these decisions over the validity of Anglican Orders, permission for economic intercommunion and the Apostolicity of our Churches never happened, or were as nothing compared to one short letter by one EO bishop. You seem to have a very low opinion of the mental acuity and competence of a significant number of your Patriarchates.

You also imply that the episcopal permissions that were given were given so that middle-eastern EO lay people could rise in American social status. What an atrocious accusation based on no evidence apart from post hoc propter hoc.

You thus ignore the fact that this practice was not confined to the USA anyway and was not restricted to Middle Eastern EO. And such resort of EO to Anglican priests for the sacraments was officially noted in 1928 in the fortnightly publication of the Patriarchate of Alexandria as permissible and as having been already in operation for some years even then. So, we are not talking about something done in a corner or accidentally allowed for a couple of years. Such common, long-standing "deviance"! You really do have a low opinion of your own Churches.

You recount the shamefulness of your acquaintance remaining in ECUSA till the 1990s, forgetting that we Continuing Anglicans believe ECUSA departed from the Catholic Church in the 1970s. Of course he was right to get out. He waited twenty years too long!

You draw an incoherent distinction between the recognition of Orders and economic intercommunion at the end of your second to last comment, as if the issues are separable. Do you really think that such permissions to EO laity to resort to Anglican clergy for the sacraments would have existed without the prior recognitions of Anglican Orders? Since nobody in their right mind can claim this, one is forced to accept that the two issues are related as cause and effect, though validity of Orders was not the only causal factor.

In summary, you accuse us of wishful thinking for believing something about historical Anglican-Orthodox relations that two EO bishops would qualify or deny and of being "libelous" for making our disagreement with those two bishops explicit. Then you admit (eventually) the existence of a modus operandi among a significant number of EO bishops supporting our thesis and dismiss this as evidence that all these other bishops were guilty of "betrayal". But we're the libellers, apparently! Meanwhile you tell a story about an ECUSA-to-Orthodoxy refugee which actually supports our position on how ECUSA has changed and how this impacts on ecumenism!

Anonymous said...

The unfortunate deviations of the past have (thankfully) never become the rule in the Orthodox Church.

There have been mistakes in the past, un-Orthodox compromises, heresies that have arisen, yet the letters that you have cited from the Patriarchs of the 1920s do not rise the level of heresy, since they were obviously PROVISIONAL in character and greatly misunderstood by the Anglican Communion in the years following.

Anyway, what progress has been made in ecumenical dialogue between the EC and the Anglican Communion(s)? What is the fruit of such efforts? Nada. The rule of prayer is still the rule of faith in the Orthodox Church and the Anglican Communion(s) are still not permitted to partake at of the Holy Gifts in an Orthodox Church. Orthodox Christians automatically excommunicate themselves if they partake of the eucharist of the heterodox (including the Anglican Communion(s)).

If you are proposing that the EOCs open dialogue with the Continuing Anglicans, may I suggest that the CAs get their own act together so that there is actually an ecumenical body of CAs with which the ECs can parley?

In the meantime, Archbishop Hilarion exhoratation and invitation still stands: "Stop wrestling with the question whether you have (sviaschenstvo) valid orders or not. Come directly to the Church. She will receive you without any humiliation, without re-baptism, without re-ordination, and will give you, from her plenitude, a place in the bosom of the Universal Church of Christ, valid (blagodatnoye) priesthood, and everything."

Many of your co-religionists and even recently, even one of your own bishops (Continuing Anglican) have acted on this invitation, mooting many of your arguments.

Patriarch Sergii Stragorodsky's warning still stands as well:

"The heterodox group have a great advantage who have preserved Apostolic succession in that the Church still considers them "of the Church" (ek tis ekklisias), "not yet foreign to the Church". She still preserves "a certain order of communion" with them, on the same level as she has with the sinners and those under penance. However if this impaired and hopeless communion does not lead to full unity with the Church in the one Eucharist, then all the advantages of such heterodox organizations fall away without any benefit. (Rom 9:4-5; 10:4)."

Acolyte4236 said...

As for the facts, they seem irrelevant at this point. Mainline Anglicanism is dying and the continuing Churches are fractured and continue to do so.

As for the "no comprehensiveness" line in the ACC, I know this firsthand to be false. One of the major splits of the ACC was just over this point. Some of the bishops didn't either believe in as a doctrine of the church or thought of as only a pius opinion, that the BVM was perpetually a virgin. The delcining clergy and bishops wanted to be more comprehensive so as to foster union with the TAC and specifically the ACA. They split between the ARHCC and the ACC, with the former clearly affirming the perpetual virginity and the latter ambiguously permitting it as an opinion.

So I find it very hard to believe, as someone who lived through that mess that the Continuing groups have rejected "comprehensiveness." Most of the continuing churchmen I knew and know simply think of themselves as episcopallians. Some parishes have morning prayer 3 out of four sundays and are rather dismayed to find others who have the eucharist more than once a week.

Albion Land said...

Dear Anonymous,

Perhaps you overlooked my comment above on people identifying themselves.

Please read it and act accordingly in the future.

If there is some reason why you feel you should not be identified on this blog, then please email me privately and we can discuss it.

From Thursday, all future comments by anyone named Anonymous will be deleted.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Dear Anonymous:

I am glad that the Orthodox also adhere to Lex Orandi Lex Credendi, as we do.

Bishop Hillarion's invitation would be quite welcome if we actually believed that we sustain any lack or suffer want. Our sacramens are valid, and our place in the Holy Catholic Church is full. What we lament is the outward, political and superficial disunity of the Church, which is One Church nonetheless. Your people cannot take any sacraments outside of the EO these days, not even from Roman Catholics. So, the lamentable outward disunity goes on.

As for the one time Anglican bishop of whom you speak, I had spoken with this man over a year ago, and found him to be quite incoherent, confused and confusing. I hope his "conversion" to Orthodoxy will bring every good thing to him.

Dear Acolyte:

I do not endorse in general something called "Contiuning Anglicanism," especially since any fool can start a church in his garage. The serious jurisdictions have more than Apostolic Succession; they have sanity and stability. I am quite impressed by the APCK, and by its Archbishop, Robert Morse; and I don't get impressed easilly or often. In all of our Churches Mary remains ever-virgin and the Mother of God. The very idea of controversy over these two facts about the Blessed Virgin is unthinkable.

Fr Matthew Kirby said...


The main problem with your view of the schism from the ACC of which you speak is that it is simply false. At no time has the ACC denied or doubted the perpetual virginity of Our Lady.

There was a book written by the Fr (now Abp) Haverland which said it could not be called a dogma but a pious opinion, though he also said that pious opinions could be quite true yet not binding as doctrines necessary for salvation. This statement was clearly unfortunate and patient of misinterpretation as a denial of the certainty of the teaching. The author soon clarified his position in the controversy that followed, admitted he chose a poor example to illustrate a "pious opinion" and affirmed the truth of the teaching. I know this because I was a critic of this passage in his book and corresponded with him on this and related matters, as well as seeing other relevant correspondence.

That was not the reason for the schism. The schism had its seeds sown when one of the bishops to leave us claimed to be the Senior Bishop Ordinary (SBO), despite his valid consecration having been after that of another bishop. This minor but straightforward canonical point should not have been important, but it was to this man and his friends, especially since the illness of the then Archbishop put the SBO next in line if the Abp was declared incapacitated. Acrimony that developed led to one of the pretended SBO's bishop-friends striking another bishop at a meeting. By ancient Canon Law this meant ipso facto excommunication. The refusal of some bishops to accept this and their attempts to declare the Abp incapacitated without seeing or speaking to him led to their excommunication by the Abp.

None of this has anything to do with Mary, yet these were the only reasons for the excommunications. At one point during the fateful meeting at which the blow was struck a document dealing with Marian issues was presented for ratification. Contrary to the claims of the excommunicated bishops, this document was not rejected but tabled until others could check the accuracy of its quotations and arguments from the Ecumenical Councils. However, the rogue bishops then cut themselves off from the ACC by their violence and rebellion, so the document became a dead letter.

Since the ACC has committed itself to the Seven Ecumenical Councils and Holy Tradition, all Marian truths are implicity included. However, at least one of the departing bishops wanted the Assumption and Immaculate Conception effectively raised to the level of binding doctrine or dogma. Since the Eastern Orthodox have refused to do this, the ACC does not feel it is appropriate to do so either. This is not comprehensiveness but ecumenically sensitive and soteriologically sensible behaviour. Nevertheless, the Missals containing these doctrines are officially authorised by our Canons. Lex orandi, lex credendi.

The proof that the story you have been told is false is contained in the fact that while the ACC is not in communion with the TAC, partly because of Protestant and "comprehensive" tendencies it perceived within it in the past, the 3 American bishops who left us have since approached the TAC for membership!!!

As for Morning Prayer parishes, yes, I am told some have existed, but in direct opposition to our Canons, which demand that the Eucharist be the chief service! This is either a failure of discipline or a case of the attempt by bishops to be patient and pastoral and work gradually.

If you think similar inconsistencies or failures to match theoretical standards do not occur in the RCC and EOC you are being very naive. For example, the teaching of the Fathers, the ancient Canons and universally agreed Catholic principles all unite in demanding that Christians attend the Eucharist every Sunday and communicate, at least whenever possible. What proportion of RC and EO laypeople actually do? Are they normally rebuked for not doing so? Told that failure to do so is tantamount to self-excommunication, like the Early Church told its people? Hardly ever, if ever. Don't forget that when you point the finger at others, three are pointing back at you.

In summary, your accusations against the ACC are false and misleading.

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

I am exercising administrative prerogative at this point and turning comments off. Our interlocutors have now resorted too often to ignorant accusation, snide and contemptuous comments and inconsistency and incoherence. Every one of their points has been refuted, but instead of addressing the refutations they resort to repetition.

If the EOC itself really had this attitude toward us, I could understand these commenters. But I know that in the past my former Bp Ordinary was presented with gifts from the local Greek Orthodox Abp at his consecration, including a Pectoral Cross. The relationship was very friendly in other ways as well. The same ACC bishop was invited to come over to the Rumanians by a priest who told him he would not need to be re-ordained, "you would only have to swap your vestments!" Another Anglican priest I know of was told by the Orthodox bp who did "re"-ordain him that he did so despite being quite assured himself that the man's Orders were valid.

And my own Church has had both formal and informal ecumenical discussions with EO bishops and jurisdictions, some explicitly with a view to establish communio in sacris. Why did these EO even bother if their dogmatic position is "you must simply disappear as an Anglican Catholic jurisdiction and enter into our communion by absorption"?

So, while all of these positive signs are only a beginning, they give the lie to the claim that the EOC and its hierarchy shares the contempt for us displayed by "Anonymous" and Acolyte.

Which is why I am saying enough is enough.

Fr Matthew Kirby said...


To be fair, it is only "Anonymous" who has resorted to repetition, not Acolyte, obviously. The plural in the last sentence of the first paragraph is thus unjust. The rest I stand by.