Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Internal Affair?

We've got several threads going here occasioned by the TAC/RCC discussions, and, I guess, this is yet another. I've heard comments that question some of what has been written here on the grounds that much of the comment comes from outside TAC, as if the whole thing were simply an internal matter of one "jurisdiction."

The suggestion was made that there ought to be "full disclosure" of who we are. Well, we've been very open and our affiliations have been discussed many times, but, if there be any doubts, here it is all in one place.

Poetreader (Ed Pacht, that's me) is a laymember of TAC/ACA
Albion (owner of the blog) is a Reader in the ACC, based in Cyprus.
Fr. Matthew Kirby is an Australian priest of ACC
Fr. Robert Hart has served in APCK, and is now with the Anglican Diocese of the Chesapeake.

Both fathers have written extensively and theologically about the discussion, and Albion has put his journalistic skills to work in looking at the events. All three, to my view, have been marginally overcritical of my jurisdiction, but have also raised questions and points that have already given me concern. It has been asked, "What business do these outsiders have telling us what we need to do?" This brings me to the point of this post.

The matter of the approach of a considerable part of the Continuum toward Rome is not and cannot be the internal affair of any one jurisdiction, or at least that is the case if we mean a fraction of what we say about the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. The problem is that there are "jurisdictions". There is no way to justify this fact without adopting an essentially Protestant world-view. We of Continuing Anglicanism have felt a freedom not granted by Our Lord, to separate from one another on whatever issues we determine to be important. That has to end. It simply cannot be justified without adopting false ideas as to what the Church really is.

Now, the reality on the ground is that all these separated outfits do exist, and that there are thorny problems involved in healing the rifts. However, if we mean what we say, we can't accept those divisions as reflecting a real separation. In other words, I am fully convinced that what we (TAC) do as a body is never an isolated internal affair. It belongs to the entire Continuum. In fact, we are plain wrong to do anything of great importance without the full knowledge and advice (whether we can accept the advise or not) of our brethren of other jurisdictions. If we are all Catholic Anglicans, it is the business of all of us. TAC, by the same token, is both allowed and obligated to comment on "internal affairs of, for instance, ACC.

I am an Anglican, an heir of a given tradition within the one single Church established by Christ. I am not a member of a separated sect and refuse to act as though I am.



Fr William Bauer said...

I am a priest in the EMC. I wish we were oficially with the TAC in this adventure - and an adventure it is.

Your post is needed and welcome.

Anselm Lewis said...

Poet i thought you were an anti-Papist or at least denied Papal Primacy. If the TAC comes into communion with Rome what does that mean for you?

poetreader said...

I certainly am not an anti-papist, but neither am I able to accept papal primacy as more than a primacy of honor.

If an intercommunion is worked out that does not require my subscription to those doctrines, I do not regard others' holding of them to be a communion breaking issue. Pn the other hand, an arrangement that requires subscription to those doctrines is not intercommunion but submission. Quite obviously I can't go there. If our bishops manage the highly improbable (but not impossible, as I firmly believe it is what God wants, and to Him all things are possible) feat of arranging the former, I will celebrate. If they, on the other hand, undertake submission, that will split the ACA. One can only wait and see. AS I said, I refuse to play the jurisdiction game, the mere fear of something that might or might not be done is no excuse for ratifying the sinful divisions that we have produced.


Fr. Robert Hart said...

I have not meant to be critical of the TAC, especially since most of my fellow former APCK friends who are priests belong to the American branch of it (the ACA). I respect their willingness to reach out to Protestant minded Anglicans by keeping open doors of communication that we can all too easily close. I have hoped, and still hope, that their approach to Rome will result in meaningful Anglican/ Roman Catholic discussion about the differences between all orthodox Anglicans and Rome, with a mind toward real unity.

But, I am critical of any approach to Rome that is based on a lack of knowledge and appreciation for the Anglican Way. My commitment to Anglicanism is a commitment to the Catholic Church of the creeds, based on a firm conviction that the Anglican Way is the best way to be Catholic. I see it all too often rejected out of ignorance, and that lack of education afflicts too many clergy as well as laity. When I have quoted long passages from Hooker, for example, it is my sad knowledge that many of the clergy have never even read so much as one page of the Anglican divines, and that many of them have absolutely no knowledge of, and appreciation for, Anglican formularies. They seem not to know about the intention of the English Protestant-Catholics (and I mean Traditional Anglicans) to be true to the scriptures and faith of the Church as it was taught before the Great Schism.

I must confess, however, that I am rather troubled by an Archbishop who makes public comments that suggest many varied possibilities, comments that tease us with these suggestions, that create questions in every mind, that cause a reaction of panic from some and hope from others, and who tells us we should not speculate. With all due respect, it is his enigmatic statements that cause all of the speculation, as well as both the hope and the panic. Therefore, I have asked for clarification.

Anonymous said...

Fr Hart, I agree wholeheartedly with your first two paragraphs. The second in particular further underlines the desperate need for Continuum ordinands to be taught some Anglican Things. As to the third, and its conclusion, I suggest that perhaps further 'clarification' might only serve to fuel a fresh round of speculation. There has been all too much speculation (no small amount of it--mea culpa--by me), much of it of necessity falling far wide of the mark of what will transpire in the fulness of time. And I fully suspect that, whatever does emerge from Rome by way of reply, there will be as many opinions and interpretations as people expressing them, and they'll be just as divergent. I could say more, much more, but I won't. We've been asked by those at the sharp end of negotiations not to speculate, and so, until Rome responds, on this matter I take a vow of silence, and I invite you, my friends, to join me.

poetreader said...

And, Fr. Hart,
Your posts have been both needed and welcome, and, other than minor tweaking, say very well just what I'd like to say.

As to "jurisdictions", if one has to choose one (and I suppose ine does), I'm perfectly content with ACA, fully appreciaying the willingness to reach out in both directions, toward Rome and toward Protestants. However, though I hate to be overly critical of my archbishop, I agree in being a bit discomfitted by the way certain matters have been pursued, and find myself wishing for a somewhat wiser leadership.


poetreader said...

(important sentence accidentally left out)

As for the future, I don't know what may come to pass and will have to deal with it when it does -- as He saith, "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."


Albion Land said...


I fully respect your decision to take a vow of silence on further discussion of the ACA/Rome question, but I cannot agree with it, nor will I do so.

There are two reasons for this.

Firstly, as I have already stated, if there are to be any meaningful discussions toward a unification of the continuing jurisdictions, each of us has a right to know who it is we are negotiating with.

Secondly, if the TAC is ultimately to abandon the Anglican Way and submit to Rome, the people of the ACA who might be unwilling to follow suit -- be they clergy or laity -- have a right to be treated with in good faith and to react according to their consciences.

I cannot consent to elitism in secular politics, where only our lives and fortunes may be at stake. Even less can I do so in ecclesial politics, where our souls are also in play.

If I had reason to believe that the hierarchy of my church were negotiating a pact with the Devil, you can be more than sure that I would not sit quietly by and do as I am told. I don't mean for a moment to impute any such motives to John Hepworth and Co, but I cannot understand this need for secrecy.

Believe what you say; and say what you believe.

And quite frankly, if as we are often told, Rome needs such kid-glove treatment, then there is something wrong with Rome.

poetreader said...

Rome is not the devil. Your metaphor seems a bit of overkill. I agree that these matters need to be discussed, and, all respect to Sandra, don't agree that keeping silence is going to help anything.

However, while I believe the strategies of our leadership to be a bit misguided, I think it extremely unjust to act as though there are hidden motives. There need not be. What certainly looks like secrecy can just as easily (and likely in their minds is) taken as discretion. It's a very easy thing to attribute motives to people which they do not have -- I know only too well, having been on the receiving end of such treatment more times than I can count, and also (mea culpa) having, more than once, been guilty of perpetrating it.

My call is not for silence, but for openness coupled with moderation, charity, and patience. If we do our best with what we are able to perform, our God is more than able to make up the inevitable difference between that and what is really needed.


Albion Land said...


I did not mean for a moment to suggest that Rome is the devil; I am an anglo-catholic, remember? I was just using that as a metaphor for the leadership negotiating something contrary to the faith.

Nor, Heaven forbid, did I mean to suggest, nor have I ever suggested, that Archbishop Hepworth is up to anything wrong.

poetreader said...

We're on the same page. I just knew that we have readers who might have taken the precise wording wrongly and run with it. I knew what you meant, but some might not have. Hope I didn't seem to be spanking you, good friend. That wasn't the intent.

I think we agree 100% that Rome is not the devil and ++Hepworth is not doing nefarious deeds, but we can certainly question whether everything is being done wisely.


Albion Land said...

No problem, Ed.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

It may well be that discretion is necessary. In that case, however, it might have been better for certain comments that have been made by the Archbishop of the TAC not to have been made. It seems to me that he has invited the very speculation that TAC members have been asked to refrain from, and that it is not realistic or reasonable to expect that half statements, pregnant with implications, should have produced anything else. People have more than a right, indeed, a duty to be vigilant.

Anselm Lewis said...

Poetreader you seem to set a double standared. If things go the way you want them to go then it i the will of God. If they don't its the will of men.

Albion Land said...

Mr Lewis,

On behalf of the editorial team here, of which I am the chief editor, your point, please?

I published your latest comment so as to afford me the opportunity to make a comment. The purpose of the combox is to discuss the subject at hand, to advance the conversation to the benefit of God's kingdom, not to comment on the personalities of others.

poetreader said...

Thanks, Albion.

Mr. Lewis,

It's no double standard. If I am correct in my thinking, and I hope I am, what I am doing is refusing to prejudge what I do not fully know. I'm expecting that what is being done is what I believe to be God's will. If the outcome is otherwise I may well have to reevalute what I see on that basis.
If it is an attempt to lead me where conscience cannot go, well, I can't go there unless my conscience is convinced, can I? If it is actually a movement in the very direction my heart hopes it is, well, then, it would be silly not to follow, wouldn't it?

I sense that you are seeing me as some kind of spoiled brat, ready to take my ball and bat and go home if I'm not made captain. I am a sinner and sometimes unreasonable, but I hope you are wrong in that. Either way, however, that has little to do with the arguments at hand.


Alice C. Linsley said...

In these uncertain times it is difficult but necessary to follow our Lord's exhortation to be as gentle as lambs and as cunning as serpents.