Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A Critique of the Anglican Federation

I share the following with you, posted by Fr Chad Jones of the Anglican Province of America. It is his response to an op-ed piece written in The Trinitarian, the magazine of the Anglican Catholic Church, by ACC Archbishop Mark Haverland. In it, the archbishop calls into question the Anglican bona fides of various members of the newly formed Federation of Anglican Churches in the Americas

I must say that I have been mildly troubled by FACA, because of its inclusion in its membership of jurisdictions whose orders are open to question (the Reformed Episcopal Church) or who purport to ordain women (the Anglican Mission in America and the Anglican Church of Nigeria). On the other hand, I have wondered if the federation might not serve as a useful forum for thrashing out these issues in a way that could lead to mutual agreement and recognition, and contribute to the goal of unity among traditional Anglicans in the fullness of the Catholic Faith.

As discussion is already underway at Fr Jones' blog, Philorthodox and at Fr Gordon Anderson's The Continuing Anglican Churchman, I would suggest continuing the conversation there.

Here is Fr Jones' comment, followed by Archbishop Haverland's piece:

A new epithet has been invented by some of our brothers in the Continuing Church to describe those orthodox Anglicans who are seeking to restore communicatio in sacris and practical cooperation amongst all who profess and embody the Anglican Tradition: neo-Anglicans. In the most recent edition of the The Trinitarian, Archbishop Mark Haverland of the Anglican Catholic Church issues a sharp criticism of the Federation of Anglican Churches in the Americas and its efforts to forge a new realignment in American Anglicanism. In the op-ed piece we 'Neo-Anglicans' are clearly implied to be the very antithesis of what we claim we are, orthodox Anglicans who maintain the fullness of the Apostolic Tradition. Why? Because of our sacramental relationship with the Reformed Episcopal Church and the Anglican Mission in America. Does our communion with these bodies render us innovators, un-Anglican and un-Catholic?

The Archbishop does not mention the 1941 Report of the Joint Commission on Approaches to Unity of the Episcopal Church led by the Anglo-Catholic Bishop Frank Wilson of Eau Claire, certainly held in the days of orthodoxy, which, taking into consideration the record of the 1888 Lambeth Conference, declares Reformed Episcopal Orders valid. Heresy, even regarding Apostolic Succession, does not invalidate Holy Orders, or so say Saint Augustine, Saint Thomas Aquinas and Saint Robert Bellarmine, to mention a few authoritative names. The 1941 Report unequivocally asserts: 'The Historic Episcopate has been preserved in the Reformed Episcopal Church and the episcopal succession has been carefully maintained from this beginning' and 'Therefore it is now proposed that the Statement to the Lambeth Conference of 1888 should be considered as a significant document of an earlier generation but with no current authority and that it should not be allowed to stand in the way of negotiations looking toward the healing of this particular schism.' In 1960, in the days of its orthodoxy, the Church of England published the findings of its Faith and Order Advisory Group (FOAG) which stated: 'It is clear that the orders of this Church [REC] derive from an Anglican bishop; and that its bishops have been consecrated in due succession and its priests ordained with the use of the Anglican Ordinal, though in a slightly altered form. We cannot regard these alterations as being in themselves sufficient to call into question the validity of the ministry.'

Archbishop Haverland also does not mention the critical fact for this discussion that the Anglican Mission in America (AMiA), perhaps for the first time in Anglican history, has reversed its previous position and as of July 2003 has ceased to purport to ordain women to the priesthood and episcopate. The Anglican Province of America consistently and repeatedly affirms the male character of the Sacrament of Holy Orders and sees in AMiA's decision a vitally-important first step back to Apostolic Faith and Order. God willing, the AMiA will in time come to embrace a fully catholic doctrine of the diaconate as well as of the priesthood and episcopate. A shared common doctrine of the sacerdotium has indeed finally enabled our Churches to restore sacramental communion, a precedent that should be encouraged for the whole Universal Church. It should also be noted that a dispute over the male character of the diaconate could be allowed, if pressed, to affect any jurisdiction's relationship with Forward in Faith United Kingdom, Forward in Faith North America and the majority of Anglo-Catholic dioceses and parishes worldwide. Most Anglo-Catholics have not allowed the dispute to be a church-dividing impediment.

What do you think? Do you agree with the Anglican Catholic Church on this issue?

Be wary of 'Neo-Anglicans' by the Most Reverend Mark Haverland:

Father Lawrence Wells in Orange Park, Fla. has coined a term that I am recommending widely: "neo-Anglican." I continue to be asked why the ACC is not uniting with the folk currently leaving The Episcopal Church. The answer is that we can only unite with people who believe as we do about important matters of doctrine, worship, morals and order. Many people who joined The Episcopal Church in the 1980s and 1990s have had little or no expo­sure to the Anglican tradition. For such people the Affirmation of St. Louis and the ACC are not particularly attractive. Such folk are neo-Anglicans, with no commitment to the classical Prayer Books, the male character of Holy Orders, or the Anglican musical and literary patrimony. Canon John Hollister recently made a similar point about the "Anglican Federation of Churches and Ministries" (www.anglicanfederation.org), which is composed of the Anglican Church in America, the Anglican Mission in America, the Episcopal Missionary Church, the Anglican Province in America (sic), and the Reformed Episcopal Church. These various groups are by their federa­tion articles committed to receiving members from each other upon the mere presentation of Letters Dimissory. Canon Hollister has trenchant­ly observed that therefore each of these AFCM bodies has formally recognized the validity of the ministry of each of the other. Which is "neo-Anglican," not Anglican. The Lambeth Conferences in the days of their orthodoxy refused to recognize the ordinations of the Reformed Episcopal Church, which began with an explicit rejection of Apostolic Succession. Likewise the AMiA has women deacons, has "grandfathered" (or "grandmothered") in women already "ordained" as priests, and is under the oversight of an African Anglican Church which has women priests. All of the AFCM bodies have, therefore, effectively asserted that the ordination of women is NOT an essential bar to full communion and that the classical Anglican position on the REC is wrong. But these assertions are neither Catholic nor Anglican; only neo-Anglican.

Let me make clear that the ACC and I are not seeking to be separated from others. We desire the highest possible level of cooperation and communion. But the whole point of the formation of the ACC in the late 1970s was to assert that the creation of a new ministry (women priests) by The Episcopal Church was itself an essential error that demanded separation. Union of the ACC with people who accept that essential error on any level would be utterly disastrous. While I am alive—and I think I may speak for my episcopal colleagues in the ACC—the ACC will not infect itself with the disease we have purged ourselves of at great cost. "Unity" can come only when the AFCM, its member bodies, and similar groups, realize that the Faith is a seamless whole. We can­not pull out one thread without raveling the whole garment. The road from women deacons to Gene Robinson and Presiding Bishop Mrs. Schori is direct and short, and the happy coalition builders who are obscuring and compromising at the beginning of their enterprises will come quickly to grief.


poetreader said...

I've posted this on Fr. Anderson's blog as well, but I did want it here also. I tried posting it once, but it disappeared. Here it is again.

There are indeed some weighty matters standing between these various jurisdictions.

With regard to REC, the two positions quoted constitute an open recognition that the validity of their Orders is, at the very least, a debatable matter. Not all ACs would accept their priests/presbyters as valid. This being the case, a recognition of full communion with them becomes a declaration of less thsan full communion with other ACs. Moreover, since they have a tradition of accepting clergy, without ordination, from non-episcopal bodies, full communion requires either recognizing these also as valid or doing the detective work required to identify which is which, which is less than full communion. The fact that many of their bishops have cesased this practice does not eliminate this problem.

With regard to AMiA, the presence of a tiny number of female 'priests' prevents truly full communion, as there are clergy from whom traditional ACs cannot receive. My understanding is that some of the African jurisdictions (like Nigeria) do not ordain women, but that some do, and that those that do not will allow women ordained elsewhere to minister there.

Moreover, both REC and the newer 'orthodox Anglican' jurisdictions readily receive clergy from jurisdictions with female 'bishops'. Since these ladies have been around for a considerable time now, the additional necessity arises to determine, for younger priests, whether they were duly ordained by a real bishop.

As I see these questions on the one issue of Apostolic Succession, it becomes clear to me that, whatever any jurisdiction may proclaim, full intercommunion is presently a simple impossibility. Inevitable barriers are currently in place, and won't be overcome by ignoring them. Someone will be excluded, unless we end up setling for the squishy approach ECUSA has taken in accepting Lutheran clergy without episcopal orders as if they were fully priests. I've met two of these, one male and one female, and there are no barriers to their full scaramental ministry there. Do we wish to accept this pattern? Or are we willing to live with the uncertainty of having to decide, case by case, who is real and who isn't?

Having said all that, I still declare loudly that the various Anglican jurisdictions of varying degrees of dogged 'orthodoxy' absolutely must find ways of cooperation in every way possible, under these constraints, and absolutely must open up honest and forthright discussion of matters such as this that enforce a division. We can't turn our backs on each other. That is not an option our Lord leaves us.

ed pacht

Anonymous said...

It was my impression (from some of Fr. Anderson's earlier posts about FACA) that FACA was basically an umbrella organization for the associated jurisdictions to discuss just these questions with a goal of reaching an understanding of what level of communion might be possible between them. Perhaps this has changed into a full-scale intercommunion but that would seem rather unlikely (particularly given the issues involved in the REC/APA projected merger).

Certainly, there are many obstacles involved but unless the three Continuing Churches learn to get along and lead the way back to full orthodoxy (Anglican and Reformation--not Anglo-papist) they will be relegated to a footnote in North American Anglican history. Whilst we may not agree with the AMiA on many points one must admire their mission organization and their zeal for ministering to the beleaguered. Thirty years on the ACC, APCK and UECNA remain divided and our ministry country-wide remains crippled by duplication of effort/lack of resources.

So let us give thanks that God has stirred our "neo-Anglican" brethren to search for orthodoxy. May He give the Continuing Church the courage and humility to mend its wounds. And, may we all come into a fuller life together as faithful, orthodox children of the English Reformation and the Ecclesia Anglicana.

Anonymous said...

Should ECUSA also be invited to participate in FACA? If it is only a discussion about whether intercommunion is possible, then I'm sure ECUSA leaders would be happy to discuss the matter.

I believe that more has to be done than simply talk. I also think there must be some basic fundamental doctrinal agreement. Maybe the jurisdictions that are currently in FACAn have agreed to those basics. However, if they can't agree on such critical issues of women's ordination and the prayer book liturgy, I suspect they haven't really agreed on very much as a starting point for discussion.

The ACC and UECNA are working together to firm up an intercommunion agreement. In fact, Bishop Leo Michael (UECNA) has stated, "Currently talks are underway recognizing the mutual intercommunion between Anglican Catholic Church and United Episcopal Church of North America." It is my understanding (though I do not have firsthand knowledge) that the APCK has not been in favor of any intercommunion agreement with the other two bodies.

Albion Land said...

Fr Daniel,

Could you email details of what you have on Bishop Michael's statement (address under my profile), as I would like to contact him and try to do a news story on this.


Anonymous said...

My thoughts:

1. I don't think it's helpful to quibble on the details of holy orders. One could probably nitpick the orders of any Anglican clergy if one was so inclined.

Such disputes are among the reasons us continuing Anglican are less united than we are.

2. I'm familiar with the history of the REC. And to say we rejected apostolic session, explicitly or otherwise, is just not accurate.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Albion, could you invite some Bishops of the Continuum to write for your blog on why Continuum churches should be the first considered by Episcopalians jumping off TEC's sinking ship? Also, it would be helpful if there were a listing of Continuum churches so that people could find one near where they live.

Albion Land said...

Thanks for your suggestion, Alice.

Interestingly, I would say there is perhaps a bit of trepidation within the continuing movement about being swamped by ex-Episcopalians, though I don't think anyone expects a major wave.

The reason, as you can no doubt appreciate, is that we are talking about different kinds of Episcopalians than we would have been 30, 20 or, perhaps even, 15 years ago. These are people who have "grown up" with the 1979 "prayer book," who are likely to consider WO to be a settled issue and who have who-knows-what ideas about Catholic doctrine.

That said, there is very much a need to reach out to people, while making clear to them that they are not welcome to bring their "baggage" with them.

Fr. Robert Hart said...


First to Fr. Daniel. For the sake of accuracy it should be pointed out that, according to my information, the AMiA have no women trying to serve as priests anymore. However, I am afraid they still believe in women as deacons
(no doubt the usual confusion in terms based upon a lack of education as to why the deaconesses of the ancient Church were not clergy at all, that is, they were not women deacons. First Council of Nicea, Canon 19).

2. To Wannabe Anglican: I must reject your first point. Our confidence in the orders we have are based on our strict belief in the rightness of Saepius Officio and the Doctrine of Holy Orders. I must stand in doubt of your second point, because Apostolic Succession is more than a relay race. The Declaration of Principles in the REC is a formal doctrinal statement of that denomination, and it may override the possibliblity of a correct Intention on the part of an Ordinary or Consecrator. I have written about this before a fewmonths ago here on the Continuum. The orders of the REC are manna orders. You may recall that manna means "what is it?".

3. Alice Linsley: Such a Directory comes out once every two years. It is never, therefore, up to date. For example, it lists me as being in Easton Maryland at Saint Andrews, but I have been here in Arizona in an APCK church for over a year and a half.

poetreader said...

I, for one, am very favorably inclined toward REC as it has been developing in recent years. I feel that seeking to reach union with it is a desirable goal, one which still has obstacles, but obstacles, I believe, that can be overcome.

The validity of REC ordinations, though recognized by Nigeria and others, is widely questioned by Anglo-Catholics, and with a great deal of credence. The central issue is the Declaration of Principles, an official statement of REC doctrine, which is very difficult to interpret in any other way than as a denial of the historic episcopate and priesthood. Frankly I am convinced that taking that document on face value is a clear statement by the denomination at the time it was adopted that there was no intention to continue the Catholic ministry. That, at the very least, raises doubts.

Union with REC would seem to require two things:

1. Rescension of the Declaration. If it stays in place too many doubts are raised.

2. Conditional ordination. This is not an admission that "I am not ordained", but a charitable recognition of this sort: "Some of you think I may not be ordained. In humility I am willing to do what it takes to remove those doubts. I fail to see how a Christian could refuse to do this.


Anonymous said...

"Conditional ordination. This is not an admission that "I am not ordained", but a charitable recognition of this sort: "Some of you think I may not be ordained. In humility I am willing to do what it takes to remove those doubts. I fail to see how a Christian could refuse to do this.

If this were an easy pill to swallow, certainly the entire Anglican Communion had opportunity to employ the Old Catholic bishops of Utrecht to conditionally re-ordain them after Apostolic Curae... Certainly the OCs were involved in many consecrations leading to "Dutch Touch" speculation... but TAC, to my knowledge, never saw whole-sale re-consecrations sign of "good faith" or to "render the question moot".

The only comparable act I can think of occured in 1997 when bishops of the Charismatic Episcopal Church (which uses the BCP but makes no claim of connection to TAC) submitted to conditional ordination. They sought it from Igreja Catolica Apostolica Brasileira (ICAB), the Brazilian Catholic Apostolic Church. ICAB’s line of apostolic succession comes through its founder, former Roman Catholic bishop Carlos Duarte Costa of Brazil, who left the Roman Catholic Church in 1945.

It has occured to me in the past that the PNCC and most continuing Anglicans are in the same boat viz their original founding communions. Why is it that closer ties to the PNCC or even to the Antiochan Western Rite seem to not be sought? One wonders if the possibility of having to swallow pride, and possibly trade in one's mitre for a biretta, isn't at the heart of this matter.

poetreader said...

It's an interesting test of faith, isn't it? One side has to say, if you will accept conditional ordination, we will lay down our own pride and seek whatever correction the Lord shows us. The other side has to lay down enough pride to accept the conditional ordination. In both situations, there is plenty of blame to go around. There always is. I am convinced that there is one cause and one only for the divisions of Christianity, and that is a sinful and ugly pride that leaves us all more interested in throwing disapprovals at others than in trying to find a truth-respecting way out of the scandalous division. We need to find out, first of all, where we agree, and celebrate that; and only then begin to examine the differences, some of which are major, with a view to fixing the problems, with the Lord's help. It's much easier to sit back and gloat that I;m right, and they aren't, but I don't believe God accepts that approach.