In 1995 a small book, more of a booklet with only 58 pages, was published by Guildford that consisted of historical research by Brian Taylor on the subject of the agreements of Bonn and Meissen with the Church of England and the Anglican Communion. Taylor documented a very important fact, namely that the Anglican motivation for the Old Catholic infusion in 1930 by means of co-consecration of Anglican bishops had nothing to do with Anglican uncertainty about the validity of its orders. Then Archbishop of Canterbury Cosmo Lang and the other major Anglicans stood by the 1897 apologetic work by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, Saepius Officio. The work by Taylor documents that the Infusion was sought in order to make Anglican orders more acceptable to Rome in the event of possible Reunion at some point in the future. Furthermore, when Archbishop Michael Ramsey met with Pope Paul VI in 1966, and the Pope gave the Archbishop his ring, it set in motion stronger ties and more serious efforts at Reunion that led to ARCIC.
Meanwhile, in an ongoing series of discussions between Anglicans and the Orthodox Church since the days of Lancelot Andrewes, things had reached a new high in 1922. Documents show, as can be seen on the Project Canterbury website, that between 1922 and 1936, Orthodox Patriarchs had, one after another, written to the See of Canterbury to recognize the validity of Anglican orders (in the fullest theological sense) and to work toward real unity: As the 1930 Christmas letter from the Patriarchate of Alexandria summarized the matter: "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 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 (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."
As these two discussions were underway with the serious intention of joining the Anglican Communion to Rome and to Orthodoxy, it seemed that a new definition could be given to the Via Media, no longer just a possible bridge between the Protestant churches of the Continental Reformation and Rome, but a bridge to join Rome and the Orthodox Church, ending the Great Schism that has, as its most consequential date, 1054; the year when Christianity was divided into two schisms each claiming to be the One True Church. The Anglican Communion presented to the whole Church of Christ its greatest hope to work toward the real ending of its sad divisions.
Then came 1976, and the "ordination" of women in the Episcopal Church as well as in a few other churches of the Anglican Communion.
Immediately, Pope Paul VI canceled possible plans to rescind the 1896 Bull on Anglican Orders as no longer applicable to Anglican orders (indicating that Archbishop Lang and others had been realistic in 1930) . In 1978 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 As a result of revisionists having their way and contradicting almost 2,000 years of Tradition and adherence to Scripture, the gains toward hope of true Catholic unity was reduced to a pile of rubble, and the talks carried on between the Anglican Communion and Rome, and between the Anglican Communion and Orthodoxy, have been nothing but mere polite formality with no real potential. Furthermore, the heresies in the official Canterbury Anglican Communion have continued to mount so that what is discussed these days among seemingly orthodox Anglicans (only "orthodox" by comparison to other Anglicans) has to do with gross sin and open rebellion, widespread acceptance of immorality and complete renunciation of all true beliefs.
None of these developments are a surprise to Continuing Anglicans. The issue of women's "ordination" that made the movement necessary was simply the opening of a door to rejection of authority, the authority of Scripture, Right Reason and Tradition. With that door opened, every heresy that can be taught must be taught, and every sin that can be justified and practiced will be justified and practiced. It is just a matter of time, and both recent history and current events prove our point.
The TAC and Rome
Jump ahead to this week's announcement. Comments have been veering in all directions. But, the questions remain unanswered as to what is really happening. However, the potential exists for something to resume that could bring the old hope of unity through a bridge church communion back to life. Yes, the TAC is much smaller than the Anglican Communion; but, if any serious body of Anglicans can be taken seriously by Rome, and one hopes eventually by Orthodoxy, maybe the bridge can be rebuilt. It remains to be seen. But, with God all things are possible- and does anyone really believe that Satan can have a victory against inscrutable providence?
(1) As quoted in Anglican-Orthodox Dialogue: The Dublin Agreed Statement, (Crestwood, N.Y.: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1985), p.3