Saturday, March 28, 2009

That Terrible Trent

Recent discussion of a Statement of Faith of the Anglican Catholic Church (written by the late Abp Stephens, then Primate) led to disagreement over whether individual members or churches of the TAC could agree to it in good conscience. It was claimed that acceptance of Roman Catholic dogma, as has been signalled recently by the bishops of the TAC, was incompatible with acceptance of the Abp Stephen's statement. I support the position that there is nothing in the ACC's statement manifestly contradicted by RC dogma, since, in regard to the main purported contradiction, the ACC accepting Seven Ecumenical Councils is not, according to a strictly literal and grammatical interpretation, contradictory to also accepting other, later Councils as Ecumenical (unless the qualifier “only” is added to the “Seven”, which it was not).

However, during this discussion a more substantial point was made, namely, that one could not accept the authority of the Council of Trent and be faithfully Anglican Catholic. Given that, at the very least, I do not perceive Trent as anything like an insurmountable obstacle between us and the RCC, I thought it was important for me to explain why.

What has puzzled me about these claims of Tridentine error and offensiveness is how entirely non-specific they have been. That is to say, no actual example of doctrinal error has been given, instead we are told to have “no truck with Trent”. This echoes the approach of C. B. Moss, a famous High Church theologian, who made Trent the dividing line between Anglican and Roman Catholics, but only seemed to give one specific reason for this. And that reason was that at Trent the RCC had taught that dogma did not need Scriptural support, but could rely on extra-Scriptural Tradition alone. While this is certainly inconsistent with Anglican formularies and the Patristic Consensus, the RC theologian Tavard has shown that it is not a necessary interpretation of the Tridentine decrees. Indeed, at Trent it was actually suggested that it be said the Church derived its doctrines “partly” from Scripture and “partly” from Tradition. This suggestion was rejected, so the belief that binding doctrine is to be all derived from Scripture as interpreted by Tradition (i.e., the Anglican Catholic position) is not excluded by Trent. It is also worth noting that Newman maintained and defended this view of the relationship between Scripture and Tradition even after he transferred from the Church of England to the Roman Catholic Church, and without censure. So, no insurmountable obstacle there.

Is the Tridentine way of expressing this and other teachings entirely felicitous, or always the most suitable? Probably not. But even RCs are not obliged to say it is. All that is asked is that the parts of the Council's statements that are binding and de fide be accepted as without error. Not every part of these statements are binding in the same way or to the same degree, by the way. Many were disciplinary only. The dogmatic Canons with anathemas attached are binding, whereas, as I understand it, the long doctrinal Chapters of Decrees are to be accepted in their general sense (and in conformity with the Canons), with not every sentence necessarily infallible. So, to complain of Anglo-Papalists supposedly having to affirm all Trent's statements unreservedly (as wholly and absolutely infallible) would be attacking a straw man.

Now, it is pretty clear that much of the rest of Tridentine teaching is entirely consistent with Anglican Catholicism. We too affirm 7 sacraments, Eucharistic Sacrifice, the Invocation of Saints, the relative honouring of images, etc., etc. The areas I can see where apparent obstacles may be claimed are as follows: first, the Canon of Scripture; second, Purgatory and Indulgences; third, Transubstantiation; fourth, the legitimacy of withholding the chalice from communicants; fifth, the strict necessity to forgiveness of mortal sins of sacramental confession or the desire for it; and, sixth, the definition of Justification.

The first obstacle is very small indeed once one realises that the Tridentine dogma on the Canon of the Scripture does not say whether different parts have different levels of authority, as I think Pusey also noted. Since we include all the books the RCC does, though giving the Deuterocanonical books less authority (though they are quoted as the word of God in the Homilies of Article XXXV), there is no contradiction.

The second issue I have dealt with here, and resolution of apparent differences is possible.

As for the third issue, there have been a long line of RC theologians in good standing, both pre- and post-Tridentine, who define Transubstantiation, in non-materialistic ways that eschew pseudo-scientific accounts, as a real transformation of the fundamental identity and being (the “quidditas”) of the Elements into the Body and Blood through a spiritual presence, while acknowledging the persisting reality of the Elements in their material properties, this position being perfectly Patristic and compatible with Anglican Catholicism, as argued persuasively by many Anglican theologians, including the great Bishop Forbes of the 19th Century.

The fourth item on the list refers to Trent's affirmation that the Church had good reason for withholding the chalice and that denial of this is sinful. While it is hard not to criticise this position, the fact is that it is not really a dogmatic decree but a condemnation of those disagreeing with a past disciplinary, prudential decision. Dissenting from the Tridentine statements that the “holy Catholic Church” had “just reasons” to do this might involve the view that since the East never did this, the “holy Catholic Church” did not do it either, so the relevant canon defends an act which we do not condemn because we do not believe it ever occurred in the way claimed! Or, we might simply say that we differ on the justness of this disciplinary action (as we do on the justness of non-vernacular liturgies for so many centuries in the mediaeval Western Church), but in doing so merely dissent from a non-infallible, non-dogmatic decree and canon. (Trent's dogmatic argument that the communicant is not absolutely commanded by divine precept to communicate in both kinds is not a doctrinal barrier, since Anglicans have never condemned those communicating only in one kind for medical or other reasons.)

The fifth issue dissolves once one discovers that Trent also stated that the requirement for sacramental confession in particular circumstances was due to “ecclesiastical usage”. In other words, in itself it is not a matter of Divine law. (However, Scriptural, Anglican and Patristic teaching would imply that normally reconciliation of notorious sinners does intrinsically require sacramental confession and absolution for the sake of the Body. And the Council of Trent does say that the specific confession of all remembered mortal sins, public or not, is mandated by Divine right within sacramental confession, this position having roots in the Canons of the undivided Church.) Therefore, the relevant Tridentine statements on the necessity of sacramental confession for those conscious of mortal sin, no matter how contrite, before partaking of the Eucharist are actually historically conditioned disciplinary decrees, strictly peaking, not dogmatic, and thus are not irreformable.

As for the definition of Justification, and soteriology in general, I hope to write more on this issue soon and to do so in an eirenic context. However, there is certainly nothing in the Anglican formularies that absolutely forbids allowing the word “justification” to have impartational connotations as well as imputational ones. Indeed, one of the Homilies referred to in the Articles, “For the Rogation-days”, says: “To justify a sinner, to new create him from a wicked person to a righteous man, is a greater act, saith St Augustine, than to make such a new heaven and earth as is already made.” But it is only such a complete rejection of impartational connotations that is anathematised by Trent! As I have noted before, the intrinsic (and even, in some sense, causal) connection between the forgiveness and renewal aspects of salvation is explicitly taught in the Book of Common Prayer, when we pray that the baptised “may receive remission of sin by spiritual regeneration”. This is consistent with the Tridentine description of sanctifying grace as the “formal cause” of justification. (Ironically, Calvin himself, as I learned recently, taught that there was for Christians such a thing as a non-imputational aspect of salvation that could be termed “righteousness” or “justice”, which was conceptually and really, though not verbally, distinct from imputational justification. Hooker did the same, using the terms “first justification” and “second justification”.)

In conclusion, I contend, along with respected Anglo-Catholics of the past, that Trent is not so terrible after all (though far from perfect) and, if understood in the light of the larger Tradition, is entirely capable of Orthodox interpretation and as such neither proof of Roman heresy nor an insuperable barrier to reconciliation.


poetreader said...

Thanks, Father, for a well-considered and irenic approach. I do agree that the differences existing between the Anglican and the posttridentine traditions, though very real, are not necessarily insurmountable. I like youf inalk paragraph very much indeed:

In conclusion, I contend, along with respected Anglo-Catholics of the past, that Trent is not so terrible after all (though far from perfect) and, if understood in the light of the larger Tradition, is entirely capable of Orthodox interpretation and as such neither proof of Roman heresy nor an insuperable barrier to reconciliation.

When I speak of opposition to Trent, I'm not really taking on the precise definitions of the council, as I admit cheerfully that my knowledge of the actual text is rather limited. It may indeed be so that the formal text was prevented, almost )or even actually) miraculously, from enshrining the prevailing views that do give me a problem. Rather, I see Trent as something of a watershed, in which many of those doctrinal stances I certainly see as non-patristic received at least apparent endorsement from a body that claimed the power to do so. AS a local council of the Western Church, this council simply did not have such an authority.

Without being able to dissect the actual wording of conciliar decrees, I can see what the prevailing teaching of the RCC has been, for which it has usually claimed the authority of Trent. Here is where I find a number of errors, many of which you mentioned above, enshrined in practice as tridentine teaching. Before Trent the insights of classic Anglican thinking were solidly within the range of what was then permissible doctrine. After Trent, the council could be and was quoted as denying such insights, whether this was an accurate understanding of the formal wording or not.

This brings me to what I see as the abiding principle of ecumenism: There are differences, very real differences, but they should not be seen as barriers, but rather as an invitation to deep and prayerful thinking and study, and as motivation for us to find agreement even when it seems difficult to find.


Anonymous said...

Trent is the Elephant in the living room of the falsely so-called "Continuum."

On one hand, Old High Churchman, Moderate Tractarians, and Prayer-Book or English-Use Anglo-Catholics stand with C.B. Moss and the old Anglican Society against THE Counter-Reformation Council -- Trent -- and its entire spiritual ethos as being contrary to the English Reformation. Their argument has considerable force: If you accept Trent and its entirely continental spirituality, then you accept the Counter-Reformation in full and, logically, should be going over the mountains and across the Tiber to Rome ASAP.

On the other hand, the successors of the Advanced Tractarians or Advanced Ritualists, which became the Victorian Anglo-Catholic Movement or what generally passes as mainstream Anglo-Catholicism in North America agree, with Fr. Kirby and Newman's Tract 90, that the English Reformation is is not inconsistent with the Counter-Reformation, the Council of Trent, or the entire Tridentine/Counter-Reformation spiritual ethos. The weakness of this argument is that Anglicanism has already settled against this theory even before Vatican I, hence Newman (and many others) defections to Rome.

Personally, I do not see how it is possible to be both Reformed (even in the moderate English sense) and Counter-Reformed at the same time. And, at a minimum, any such position is NOT a "continuation" of Anglicanism (nor is a Missal Mass a 1928 BCP service), no matter how much false advertising the "Continuum" jurisdictions engage in. Instead, a truth in religious labeling law would require the majority of the "Continuum" parishes to promote themselves as anachronistic English Old Catholics -- anachronistic because most of the Old Catholics ratified of the 14 Bonn Theses thereby coming down against Trent and agreeing to inter-communion with vast majority in historic Anglicanism, which has considered itself "reformed," if not "Reformed." (E.g, Jewel, Hooker, Caroline Divines, High Churchman, and all but a few Tractarians.)

In any event, the tension of trying to hold a center where no center can beheld has been holding back continuing Anglicanism for decades. IMHO, the Tridentines should go ahead and counter-reform, adopting Rome's Anglican Use or the old Latin Tridentine Mass, which is really their want anyhow; and the those truly continuing Anglicanism -- the Prayerbook and the Articles properly construed (see e.g., Bicknell or Moss) -- and purge themselves of the spikey dead weight. Otherwise, Third-World Evangelical Anglicanism is going to steal the "realignment" show -- its already got a huge jump.

Canon Tallis said...

What ever Trent meant for the Roman Church there is no way to disguise the fact that it was a rejection of the Church of the fathers, the Creeds, the Councils and of practically everything else up until the beginning of the sixteenth century. It provided a way that Rome could continue to prate of priestly celibacy while practicing fornication and homosexuality because the teaching of St Paul in Timothy and Titus was either disregarded or deliberately perverted. The liturgy ceased to be that at all, i.e., 'the action of the people,' and largely remained a theatrical production in which only the priest received communion. The major motive of Rome was political power over the Western Church and the rolling back of the Reformations largely because they reduced the income of the Church received through the sale of indulgences something which is still going on. And if it was in itself not quite heretical, it certainly paved the way for doctrines quite unknown to Holy Scripture and the universal church, i.e., the immaculate conception of the blessed virgin, her bodily assumption and papal infallibility, all of which came very, very close to a definition of Mary's role that would have practically incorporated her into the Godhead.

Those claiming to be Anglicans who have substituted Roman customs, liturgical and otherwise, for those intended by the rubrics of the classical prayer books and the historic canons of the English Church have had the effect of making the bishop of Rome and the Roman See the test of Catholicity. Not the Scriptures, not the General Councils, not the consensus of the Catholic fathers and bishops but one bishop and that of the most scandalous in the history of the Church, West or East which has been the mother of every totalitarian and autocratic state in the West.

The tragedy for Anglicans is that the Anglo-papalists have weakened the witness of the Catholic faith in and among Anglicans. The have tolerated the extreme loonies who have driven parishes to extinction because their behavior was, at best, intolerable. When the doors opened at Denver and Morse, Mote and Waterson walked out in Roman cassocks and Roman rochets they signaled that there would be little or no place for anyone except Anglo-papalists. It meant that a great number of the folks who were with us at St. Louis either went back into the ECUSA, to other churches or dropped religion entirely while others went to Orthodoxy or to Rome.

Rome itself has now largely turned her back on Trent. It didn't work and with the exception of those attached to the New Liturgical Movement who romanticize its liturgy for something which it is not and was not, i.e., the liturgy of the ancient Western church, they have moved on. Rome and the Vatican maintain themselves as a tourist attraction complete with toy soldiers and a toy state. But don't look too closely because you just might see something which we wouldn't want reported in the newspapers.

And in the meantime Western society becomes increasingly secularized and vulnerable to the slow onslaught of Islam.

Is it really too much to ask for those who claim to be Anglicans to act, well, like Anglicans;to use the appropriate Book of Common Prayer as it was intended to be used with vestments and ceremonial consistent with that of the Church before the Reformation while encouraging the belief in and the study of Holy Scripture as interpreted by the consensus of the ancient bishops and Catholic fathers, the creeds, the general councils and the consensus of the church of the first five centuries? Hasn't anyone noticed that the English and American upper classes which the flagrant adoption of Roman ceremonial and vesture was intended to scandalize have all but disappeared while there is still a world of unchurched and unconverted people out there who are in such desperate need of the faith of Jesus and the ordered worship of the Church, of the sacraments and a real knowledge of Jesus as their Lord and Saviour.

I appreciate Father Kirby's effort to justify Trent to us, but he failed to address the reasons that so many of those who still believe themselves to be Anglicans - and the most 'Catholic' of Anglicans at that - have rejected obedience to the Church of their baptism and ordination for that of one which at one time did not so much as believe them to be baptized and still rejects their status as deacons, priests and bishops. I may be entirely wrong, but I believe that it is only when the clergy of the Continuum accept the Anglicanism which they have rejected by their actions and make an internal and external peace with who and what they really are that they will begin to grow as they should have and find their intended place in the world. We need to be both honest with God and with ourselves and get back to the place which Anglicanism once had intellectually and spiritually in the English speaking world and beyond. But we will not be able to do it as long as some of us believe that we are or can be something we are not and were never intended to be.

When I was at school I discovered the Liturgical Arts Quarterly and was enthralled with the beauty which it was trying to return to the Roman Church. I was particularly moved by the witness of the Swiss nun who created the first modern conical chasubles. She told of the great faith of her parents and how they were constantly taking her to church where everything was so ugly. Her response was to recreate the beauty of the pre-Reformation vestments.

I was also very moved by the illustrations in Fortescue and O'Connell's The Rites of Sung and High Mass where the vestments used looked much more like those that one would find at St Mary's, Primrose Hill under Percy Dearmer that those at Westminster Cathedral or St Mary's, Graham Terrace. It was only later that I chanced upon the illustrations of Martin Travers, the atheist architect and designer of the English Anglo-papalist movement and those of Clement Skillbeck for the Alcuin Club's Illustrations of the Liturgy. The later still looks real while Travers's work looks dated and effeminate. Maybe it is a matter of taste, but I think it also a matter of honesty, an honesty which we must continually make our own and which is escaping us new.

highchurchman said...

I must say that I disagree with most of what Father Kirby says regarding Anglicans and Trent. That Council was a watershed where the Bishops of Northern Europe, or their representatives, allowed themselves to be stampeded in to abandoning their apostolic responsibilities on to the shoulders of the Papacy. They abandoned Tradition whilst at the same time giving verbal support to the principal and in doing so caused a rupture in the Church. Besides which it questions their veracity or at least their sense of responsibility. Trent enhanced the claims of the Roman See in the eyes of much of Europe and has been the cause of much hurt and trouble. It is this latter question that is paramount, against the claims of the Papacy which were enhanced beyond measure by this Robber Council, everything else pales.

tdunbar said...

While not cheap, The Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils are, I think, an essential reference for a "knowledge of the actual text." The second volume contains Trent, Vatican I & II.

Brian Gold said...

I'm only an ignorant layman, so it's probably of little consequence, but the linked discussion of Purgatory just doesn't cut it for me.

This text fails to address that Purgatory--like many if not most Christians' idea of Heaven--has more in common Platonism that the Biblical and Creedal faith, which emphasizes our physical resurrection to life in the restored/renewed creation: the new heavens and the new Earth.

I don't agree with N.T. Wright on everything, but as he is fond of saying, "Heaven is important, but it isn't the end of the world." The idea of Purgatory or any intermediate state or ante-chamber to Heaven fails because Heaven itself is the intermediate state before the resurrected life in the healed, expanded, new world God will provide.

Diane said...

Fr. Hart,
Cannon Tallis wrote:
....provided a way that Rome could continue to prate of priestly celibacy while practicing fornication and homosexuality...

...very close to a definition of Mary's role that would have practically incorporated her into the Godhead...

Isn't it time to reign this guy in?? He continues to spew forth outright hatred towards a Church that in your own words, is a valid church....and ya'll allow it.

He can states his differences with my church all day long, but for him to distort official dogma on Mary in the way he does and to speak as if sexual evil is the domain of Catholics only is unacceptable and you should do something about it.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Canon Tallis --

The only credible Anglo-Catholic movement is one that maintains her Anglican principles to preserve genuine catholicity.

If a papalist feels Trent and the subsequent councils best represent catholicity, then he should move with haste into that communion.

I for one hold to the Affirmation of St. Louis and all that it entails within a genuinely Anglican milieu. Simply saying the word "Anglican" while abandoning its essential character is not helpful for proper ecumenism.

I'm all for dialogue with Rome. We need to strive to heal the breach within Christendom, but it has to be on historically and theologically honest terms, and not sweep under the carpet the real and manifest roadblocks to unity.

Honest Catholicity is as important as Unified Catholicism.

In Pax Christi,
St. Worm

Anglo_Papalist said...

Once again we find members of the ACC attacking the Faith of the Roman Catholic Church as well as the ACA/TAC for the attempt at church unity.

The council of Trent should be regarded as the best summary of the Catholic Faith the church had received up to the point of the council. Perhaps Trent is a bit harsh but they were fighting against the Lutheranism, Calvinism, and the Radical Reformation. Trent needed to define dogmas in a radical way so one could know and not be ignorant of the true faith.

Anglicanism is at best odd as it allows for variations in the faith. This is why some Anglicans do adhere to the true faith while others are off following Dr. Schori and her band of demons.

It is necessary for TAC and other true Anglo-Catholics to seek union with the Holy See so that we may be united in our faith this will put an end to the in-fighting in the Anglican world. There is no reason why there should be so many jurisdictions such as ACA,APCK,ACC, UENCA, APA, HCC-AR, and the Roman Catholic Church. What separates us is not major differences in our faith but pride on the part of many bishops and priest and laymen. While many if not most of us desire unity a few are more interested in keeping the positions and power than the unity of the church.

William Tighe said...

If I recall correctly, I gave my spare copy of *The Council of Trent and Anglican Formularies* by H. Edward Symonds, C.R. (Oxford, 1933) Fr. Hart some years ago. Perhaps, if he has read the book or when he is able to read the book, he might care to comment on it.

Symonds, by the way, was not an Anglo-Papalist, as his later book, *The Church Universal and the See of Rome* (1939), demonstrates.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Anglo-Papalist wrote:

Once again we find members of the ACC attacking the Faith of the Roman Catholic Church as well as the ACA/TAC for the attempt at church unity.

Actually, Fr.Kirby is a priest of the ACC,and some of his colleagues in the ACC have openly disagreed. That should indicate a healthy state of affairs.

The council of Trent should be regarded as the best summary of the Catholic Faith the church had received up to the point of the council.

Why? Ir is chock full of inexcusable innovations unknown to the ancient Fathers of the Church, and was in no way respectful of Quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est.

Anglicanism is at best odd as it allows for variations in the faith. This is why some Anglicans do adhere to the true faith while others are off following Dr. Schori and her band of demons.

The Anglican Communion with the Archdriud of the Vacant See in Canterbury deserve this insulting remark; but Anglicanism does not. Every apostasy is first and foremost a rebellion against the very church in which the apostates build their heresy and resentment.

It is necessary for TAC and other true Anglo-Catholics to seek union with the Holy See so that we may be united in our faith this will put an end to the in-fighting in the Anglican world.

Not unless and until that is theologically possible, and not unless and until Rome would not impose the same self-destructive polity it has afflicted its own people with. Furthermore, how can you be blind to the "infighting" within the RCC itself, and resentment that has created a wide gulf between the Latin Rite and the Eastern Catholics?

There is no reason why there should be so many jurisdictions such as ACA,APCK,ACC, UENCA, APA, HCC-AR

Well, at the risk of causing offense (by being both polite and robust), it is because I agree with this specific thought that I am in the ACC. Nonetheless, to run these together, "APCK,ACC, UENCA," seems a bit self-contradictory if someone is trying to present a picture of dis-unity. Or, had you not heard?

What separates us is not major differences in our faith but pride on the part of many bishops and priest and laymen. While many if not most of us desire unity a few are more interested in keeping the positions and power than the unity of the church.

Perhaps some of us believe we can name names of those who caused disunity simply because of purple fever (again, this is why I am in the ACC, informed by the facts). Nonetheless, Rome has no magic solution of polity for such a problem.

My disagreement with Death Bredon is this line:

...(nor is a Missal Mass a 1928 BCP service), no matter how much false advertising the "Continuum" jurisdictions engage in.

A Missal Mass is nothing more than an embellishment of the Holy Communion service from the Book of Common Prayer. There are parts of the Missal I will never use (e.g., the Ash Wednesday prayer that says we make atonement-an inexcusable error); but, in general, an Introit, the Gloria up front, etc., are not another service at all. And, nothing is left out.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Hart,

Perhaps our disagreement is illusory. The use Sarum minor propers nor translation of the Gloria have never been considered inconsistent with the Prayer-Book Tradition.

But, the various Missals' interpolations in the Ordinary of the Mass are very objectionable because they were expressly designed by the Romanizing, Victorian Anglo-Catholic framers of the Missals to reintroduce Tridentine theology into the Anglican communion service.

Fr. Robert Hart said... reintroduce Tridentine theology into the Anglican communion service.

Are you speaking of rubrics about elevations, and certain post-communion prayers? Frankly, I have never seen anyone use everything in the Missal (if only because the service would last all day if they did-like "The song that never ends"). This stuff was pre-Tridentine, but it was also not Patristic, and not English, I admit.

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

What I find disheartening about much of the response so far (with the exception of Ed's) is that it continues the generality of condemnation combined with complete absence of evidential specifics which prompted my post in the first place. The only exception so far has been Brian, whose opposing view of the intermediate state for Christians -- making it simply equivalent to Heaven -- can lay no claim to being Anglican Catholic at all, never mind Tridentine.

Instead of identification of purported Tridentine errors in doctrine properly speaking, we have: talk of "continental spirituality"; vague assertions such as "I do not see how it is possible" and "trying to hold a center where no center can be held"; and astonishingly extreme (to the point of being self-refuting) accusations that Trent effectively conspired to deliberately facilitate sexual sin and that Marian teachings such as the Assumption (which refers to a process -- resurrection and transfer to glory -- which we all believe will happen to all the Faithful eventually) demonstrate an attempt to make Mary properly divine or almost so. We have strident and unqualified assertions that Trent "was a rejection of the Church of the fathers, the Creeds, the Councils and of practically everything else up until the beginning of the sixteenth century", that it "abandoned Tradition" and was "chock full of inexcusable innovations unknown to the ancient Fathers of the Church, and was in no way respectful of Quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est." A rejection of "Practically everything", including the Creeds? "Chock full of inexcusable innovations"? "In no way respectful" of the Vincentian Canon? How can such language be defended? And if it can, why is there no attempt to do so with even a sliver of relevant fact? If Roman interlocutors treated our formularies in such a roughshod, heedless fashion, would we not be offended? Indeed, since we have seen this actually happen, were we not offended? Is it right for us to mirror such careless animosity?

I appeal to you brethren, knowing that you are committed to "speaking the truth in love", let our arguments be both full of substance and graciousness.

Fr Matthew Kirby said...


While I am willing to criticise statements that are unreasonable or beyond the pale, I have never deleted any comment or banned any poster on this weblog. I do agree that Canon Tallis' comments were unjust and exrteme and have said as much in my previous post. However, if I remember correctly what he has said before, his reaction to the RCC is strongly influenced by certain experiences in it that were deeply scandalous in the technical (and not just the modern) sense.

I am genuinely sorry for the offence caused.


As it happens I do not know to what Church most of the contributors to this thread belong. They may or may not be members of the ACC. However, it should be noted that the outright rejection of the Missals as heretical that is expressed by two of those posting is in open defiance of the Canon Law of the ACC, which authorises the Missals as orthodox liturgies. While anybody can have scruples about the wording of certain prayers in any liturgy, to openly repudiate as fundamentally unfaithful to Tradition official Eucharistic liturgies of a Church does not seem to be compatible with belonging to or remaining in that jurisdiction.

St Worm,

You said:

"I'm all for dialogue with Rome. We need to strive to heal the breach within Christendom, but it has to be on historically and theologically honest terms, and not sweep under the carpet the real and manifest roadblocks to unity.

"Honest Catholicity is as important as Unified Catholicism."

But the point is that I have not tried to sweep anything under the carpet. I have tried to deal explicitly with each "roadblock". If you believe I have failed, should you not say how and why, rather than merely imply this attempt is not "honest"?

poetreader said...

Ever since the Reformation there has been a radical divide in Western Christianity which is defined not so much by what one believes as by what one opposes. It would appear that RCs feel themselves obligated to be constantly in the attack against Protestants, and that Protestants define themselves by what they proest against. This is most unappealing. The one unanswerable objection I encounter in attempting to lead people to Christ is the example of how Christians appear to hate one another.

Yes, there are differences, and it would be foolish to ignore that fact, but how easily we forget to notice that, after all, we do agree on a great many things -- almost everything, if the truth be rightly seen. Yes, much of what we disagree on is important, needs to be discussed, and needs to be resolved, but why can we not start with a loving acknowledgement of our brotherhood in Christ and work from there?

I cannot see Trent as having authority over me, as it was a council of a Roman Church which, by then, included neither the Christian East nor Christian England. I therefore find it impossible to relate to its being quoted as if it did have authority over me. I do find myself out of accord with some of its pronouncements, feeling them not to be in accord with Scripture and the Fathers. However, I also have very little sympathy with those who condemn the council in the uncompromisingly angry terms one sees in this very thread. There is much of truth in its pronouncements also, much that one must accept or cease to consider oneself Christian.

Trent and the 39 Articles have one distressing thing in common: that each spends much time and effort in denouncing the other, often without really hearing what the other was saying -- and that is just what I've been seeing in much online discussion, both here and elsewhere. We spend a lot of time talking past one another, a lot of effort on denouncing what the other has not actually said, and such attitudes tend only to deepen divisions.

Please, let us learn how to present our own insights with reason and grace. If we can get past the necessity of denouncing one another, we may even find that our positions are not so incompatible as we think them to be. Newman's Tract 90, though flawed in many ways, and needing a great deal more discussion, was at least an attempt (one of the few made) to find this common ground and defuse the rancor of opposition between RCs and Anglicans. I think we can learn a great deal from such an approach.


a PS to Diane: I do agree that Canon Tallis was overly forceful and perhaps prejudicial in the way he addressed those issues, but. please, examine your own statements. If I were to begin reigning people in for overstatement and prejudicial remarks, I'm afraid yours would be among the first posts to go. A number of times I've refrained from answering you as your misstatements and the accompanying attitudes have been so offensive as to anger me. I haven't wanted to begin ranting on line. Please, of you are calling on others to moderate their comments, figure out how to do likewsie with your own. OK?


Anonymous said...

Fr. Kirby,

My comment wasn't aimed at you in particular. It was an out-loud thought pointed at certain tendencies by some AngloCatholic brethren to oversimplify the complexities of our history, and make a virtual identification (or extremely close proximation) with Tridentine praxis/theology with Anglican intent or pardigm.

Let's by all means work fervently to reconcile with Rome and the East. Let's rejoice in our commonalities and shared convictions ... I was only cautioning against a erecting a false sense of closeness based on a not-too-careful reading of history.

I'm an ACC churchman, and I am among the most ecumenical Anglicans you'll meet. I uphold the St. Louis Affirmation without qualification. But I *AM* an Anglican, and that because I believe our existence has real and substantial justification, and furthermore Rome is in error in significant ways. If this were not so I'd be beating down the door of my local RC parish begging to join an RCIA class.

So, again, I wasn't critiquing you or anything you said, just commenting about the whole enterprise of dealing with Rome on historically honest grounds.


St. Worm

Fr. Robert Hart said...

In the past I have written many things in defense of Anglicanism itself, and in doing so I thought I had been specific about the Council of Trent (usually through the writings of great Anglicans of the past). However, I have also posted a piece with quotations of Pope Benedict XVI, that although written before he was pope (or even a Cardinal) have defined even "Transubstantiation" in a manner that is acceptable to us, and that can be reconciled to the teaching of Catholic of Christianity from the beginning. So, I can accept the concluding paragraph of Fr. Kirby's article: There is a possible interpretation to the various things in the Council of Trent that may be conducive to ecumenical progress.

In the context of its history, however, it asserted things that were not understood by anyone at the time as they may be interpreted today. The Council was taken to mean that only those who are in the pope's communion could be saved, that the bread and wine were obliterated and replaced by the physical realities of Christ's flesh and blood, that souls could be saved by merits of saints earned through supererogation, etc. None of these things can be considered orthodox Christianity at all. Today the theologians of Rome, including the pope, have broader and more orthodox minds than to teach such things; but, being in an infallible church (one of the Two One True Churches), they have to interpret Trent, rather than openly correcting anything in it that may seem to need correction (making its biggest problem the claim to be setting forth dogma with authority).

Frankly, that is alright with me, and is why one of my early Touchstone articles was about the ecumenical potential of the papal document Dominus Iesus (frankly, with my history of published articles as well as postings on this blog, I do not think I need to be restating specific details here). The ecumenical potential of rethinking Trent, however, requires strained interpretation because such potential was not the intention of the those who actually were at that council. I believe we can agree on that fact of history.
Also, please remember that the word "Protest" has a modern connotation that is the exact opposite of what the related word "Protestant" meant in the 16th century. We use the word for a statement against a thing. How odd that is: The word is not A-test (as in against something), but pro-test, as in for something. In this case, it meant they were for-in favor of- the Testaments of Scripture.

poetreader said...


I did not publish your last comment. I would prefer to say this personally, but as you've not provided contact information, and the only contact we have is your postings on the open board, I need to answer it publicly here.
This board is not a place for personal attacks, even if you feel they are merited. I will simply not publish such remarks if they come to my attention.

You criticized another, perhaps rightly, for being overly abrasive. I asked you to consider whether you yourself were overstepping your bounds, not with what you are saying, but with the attitudes you've displayed. Your response was simply to heap venom on the other while expressing only self-justification for yourself.

We do differ on several matters, perhaps strongly, but I must admit I get as tired of being told what I believe by someone who does not trouble to know what I believe as you do.

I ask once again that you work hard to find a way to express your views with some consideration for the listeners, and that you do that before you being demanding that action be taken against any other person. Yes, we are here to discuss issues on which we differ, but good manners in doing so are mandatory.


Sandra McColl said...

"open defiance of the Canon Law of the ACC"

What does that get them, excommunication latae sententiae?

Fr Kirby, I find myself in tune with you on many things. I'm not sufficiently specifically knowledgeable to provide a sensible substantive comment in response to your main post, which is why I've remained silent thus far.

I'm a Missal type myself, as I've said earlier. Nevertheless, I understand the discomfort of those who have inflicted on them by their bishops and clergy liturgies which are outside the bounds of what they consider Anglican. In my experience, clergy are in many cases all too keen to play with what's new and exotic, and 'spiky' bishops have been known to authorise all manner of exotic liturgies in apparent protest against the watering down of liturgy in the Anglican Church of Australia's 'official' books. My own personal discomfort these days arises from those who seek to water down the English Missal by introducing elements from the Roman novus ordo (or nervous disorder, as my TAC parish priest so beautifully puts it). The whole mess recalls to me something I once learnt, which was that the 19th-century catholicising influences in the C of E were generally clerical, and left a somewhat bewildered laity scratching its collective head in the pews. Where I encounter people like Death Bredon and St Worm, even if I disagree with their conclusions, I respect the fact that, unlike many of the laity of today, at least they've developed enough interest in the subject to have an opinion. I also have come to a point of holding Canon Tallis in high regard, even where I don't quite agree with what he says or the way he says it.

But if holding an objection to a rite that the ACC bishops have decided is 'orthodox', whether your argument is because it is 'heretical' (which I'm not sure is what is really being said here) or whether it is because it is outside the boundaries of what is accepted as 'Anglican', is 'open defiance of the canon law of the ACC', I find that jolly scary.

There is a perception from without the ACC that the ACC is all too hung up on canon law. In fact, it might be said that in that respect the ACC out-popes the TAC (of whose canons I remain blissfully unaware).

Fr. Robert Hart said...

That is not my experience. I am impressed by the old fashioned Anglican flexibility I see in the ACC. The Low churchmen and the High churchmen are all respected and given room for the piety that suits them. The theology is the same, whether expressed in a Low or High fashion.

You may have noticed that Fr. Wells and Fr. Kirby are both in the ACC.

poetreader said...

Thanks for an intelligent comment. (yours tend to be).
I think what Fr. Kirby is getting at is not so much the dislike for the Missal - after all, though the canons of both ACA and TAC specifically allow for it, they deliberately do not require it, an choice is deliberately allowed - but rather the angry denunciation of its use, even though it has been endorsed. Again, the canons do allow for choice. One is not required to approve someone else's choice, but what I was hearing myself in those posts was very close to a declaration that one who would choose otherwise from their preference deserves condemnation, and is not to be considered a real Anglican. That's no better than the old AngloCatholic view that omeone who does not use the Missal is therefore not really Catholic. Both attitudes are simply wrong and out of place.

Now, to Fr. Wells, Canon Tallis, and Death Bredon, I'll give an invitation: by all means do your best to convince me that a straight Prayer Book celebration is better. I will respect your opinion, will listen and will consider. But please don't try to tell me that doing what my church permits makes me not an Anglican. Sorry, I know better. If you think you can lead me to be a better Anglucan, however, give it a try. I know I need to improve, as do we all, and maybe you will help me.


Sandra McColl said...

Fr Hart, it seems that we are fated to misunderstand each other. I wrote 'hung up on canon law' and you respond by saying that there is room for liturgical diversity. I fully imagine that is because the canons allow it, as Ed suggests.

I was sparked to make the comment by Fr Kirby's rather forceful appeal to canon law, and by the fact that the ACC is the only continuing jurisdiction I know of that offers its Code of Canon Law in a sturdy volume in its online bookshop, and even by your remark some months ago now that having canon law was an indispensable criterion for consideration when choosing a continuing jurisdiction (shortly after which you 'came out' as ACC). Now, I'm sure the TAC has canon law, but I manage to function quite happily as a member of it without being bothered by canons.

Perhaps my perception, though, is a particularly Australian one, borne out of best forgotten local ACC-TAC differences, in which the bush lawyers appeared to be on the former side, so perhaps I'd better shut up.

And, Ed, you say the sweetest things. I am indeed trying to keep a civil pair of hands on the keyboard.

poetreader said...

Boy, I don't often get told I say "sweet things". I'm more used to being called crotchety and oversensitive. Just got done handling a comment like that on my other board. So, thanks. That means a lot.


Anonymous said...

Fr. Hart,

I respectfully disagree that Victorian Anglo-Catholic piety and Prayer-Book Catholicism share identical theology. The former are Tridentine and the latter are patristic. While I acknowledge that a low mass and a solemn mass within the same genre of churchmanship can express a single theology, the dictum that the rule of faith follows the rule or worship and visa versa refutes the notion that two inconsistent churchmanships can express a single faith.


My appeal is not to the 30-year-old canons of some 30-year-old "Anglican" jurisdiction, nor is it a claim that the orthodox Anglican Churchmanship of the Caroline Divines is the best. Rather, my appeal in defining authentic Anglicanism is to the whole history of the Settlement in English Reformation as expressed in constitutive formularies. Indeed, "continuing" jurisdictions and there cannons on worship are a dime a dozen and any one can polemical claim to have a legitimate churchmanship. But, the Anglican formularies and their history define what is authentic Anglicanism.

Indeed, when the Victorian Anglo-Catholics first started interpolating the Tridenitne Missal into the Prayerbook communion service (essential creating a mass within a mass or a double-mass) in the late 19th century, the Evangelicals did make certain initial legal challenges. But, after the initial canonical decisions began to make it clear that both Missal-Mass types (who were expressly and openly claiming to ape Roman liturgical traditions and disregard English traditions) and the Evangelicals (who ignored the ornaments rubric and were openly allied with the continental Reformation) were boout of bounds of the historic formularies and that only orthodox High Churchman were the faithful to the Anglican tradition (The BCP, the ornaments rubric and English usages), a quick truce was agreed between the Anglo-Caths and the Evangelicals.

Hence, it is true that from about 1870s on Missal Catholicism has been a de facto form of churchmanship within broader Anglicanism, it is also the case that it is a churchmanship in contravention of the distinctively Anglican Formularies (and intentionally so at that) and that, at its peak, it only manage to secure allegiance of about 15% of Anglicanism. Hence, as a matter of Anglican Constitutional history, I stand by my claim that advertising Missal Catholicism as anything other than a precious sect of wanna-be Romans is misleading, whether knowingly and intentionally or not. Its just as misleading for the Third-World Evangelical "Realigners" to claim to conform orthodox Anglicanism. Indeed, at best, the Anglo-Catholics, the Liberals, and the Evangelicals have all been illicit, but charitably tolerated sects within the perhaps overly generous comprehensiveness of historical Anglicanism.

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

Fr Hart,

I understand what you are saying a little better now, and apologise if I did not sufficiently "contextualise" your comments using what you had said before in this and other fora. But could it not still be fairly perceived that some of your earlier comments on this thread were overstated and sounded too much like an unreserved, general condemnation of Trent?

As for what was going on in the mind of the Tridentine bishops when they made their statements, there are two problems with that interpretive approach. First, we know they disagreed among themselves in certain areas and these disagreements had a subtle impact on what was not said. Two, it has never been the practice to interpret Church decrees and canons according to the opinions of their framers unless those opinions have been explicitly incorporated into the text. The fact is that we seldom know the opinions of every person approving the text (and it is in the approval as much as the writing that the authority lies) and we cannot be sure that such opinions were ever meant by their holders to be imposed as obligatory unless they actually do so manifestly. And then there is the over-riding hand of God to be taken into account. And that is precisely the way we have always interpreted the Anglican Formularies, which also have their difficulties! Therefore, it is the words themselves we must attend to, not any popular but not strictly necessary interpretation of them.


Ed has perfectly expressed my point. Canon Law is a servant of the Church, not its master. But when the law of the church says "this liturgy is authorised for use" this has always been understand as having doctrinal implications, as well as obliging the proper participation of those present at such liturgies. "The law of praying is the law of believing". So, outright condemnation of a canonically authorised rite is not a trivial matter and does affect church membership.

As for the Australian reference, I think I know what and who you are talking about, and agree with your discomfort with the activities of the person probably referred to, who is no longer alive. Enough said.

Sandra McColl said...

Fr Kirby: Holding and expressing an honest belief that a form of service authorised by a canon should not be so authorised, on whatever grounds, and no matter how stridently expressed, is not a 'violation of the canon' and does not affect church membership. A violation would be to use a form of worship not authorised.

I am, as I expect you to be, a citizen of the Commonwealth of Australia. I violently disagree with some of the laws operating within the States of said Commonwealth permitting things which I belive to be downright evil, although, to my shame, I probably do too little to express that disagreement. That does not affect my citizenship, nor my fundamental loyalty to my country of citizenship or to those of its Courts of which I am an unworthy officer.

Canons are not the Mosaic Law. They can be amended, repealed, re-enacted, and so forth. Disagreement is not violation. Violation consists of deliberately doing something they prohibit or not doing something they require.

Mark said...

As our Lord once remarked, it is better for us to be hot or cold. He also said blessed are the peacemakers. He wants us to be one.

It seems to me that the passions of the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation are very much alive today. I view of what has been written here, I strongly agree with Poetreader and Father Kirby - the devil is in the details, and they should be engaged one by one, with patience and charity. Sweeping generalizations, while perhaps gratifying to the ego, only inflame the unproductive passions and discord among us. May they be anathema.

Anonymous said...


Just for the record (not that it matters much) I'm a Missal Anglican myself. I will defy any here who think they're higher church than me. I simply believe the anchor of our tradition is the Prayer Book, and a deficient love for the BCP and a greater love for the Missal (I DO LOVE THE MISSAL!) concerns me on some levels.

All I've ever asked of any Anglican is to not confuse Romanism for Anglo-Catholicism. We're not simply catholics without a Pope.


St. Worm

Canon Tallis said...


Actually the first interest in the Church of England in matters ritualistic were undertaken by laymen rather than clerics. Here I am thinking of the Cambridge Camden Society whose researches were finally collected and published under the editorship of the Reverend Vernon Staley.

Secondly, the first celebration of the eucharist in full obedience to the rubrics of the 1662 BCP and the relevant canons of the CofE was initiated and arranged by a group of laymen. Vestments, incense, sung lessons, etc., the whole thing as an experiment which they never expected to see repeated in their lifetime. That it caught on with the clerics and then with a more educated group of people in the pews was probably a mater of surprise to everyone. I suspect that the first folk to seek a full obedience to the BCP those very widely read in the history of the Church and knew at what cost the events surrounding the so-called Glorious Revolution meant to the English and Scots Churches and to Churchmen.

Diane, I don't hate the Roman Church. I simply know it all too well having come from a family which moved between it, Orthodoxy and middle American protestantism. Oh, we had been Anglicans in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries until we crossed into Tennessee and the Church failed to cross with us. I learned to serve the Tridentine mass as a teenager and did so for an American cardinal called to the curia for my favorite uncle, a Roman by birth and religion. My uncle and aunt's house and the houses of their cloest friends were always open to the Roman clergy, monsignori and bishops, who were frequently witty and delightful persons. But they were also, as are we all, human and sinners. And I am not going to go any farther than that with the exception of saying that for the last thousand years they would have done considerably better if they had read St Paul more closely and followed his advice.

You must remember that the bishops of Rome are also only men. My uncle who had known Pius XII from boyhood cordially detested him - not as pope but as a human being. Humans are like that. I never quite understood that since he was an exceptionally good man, a faithful husband and a devout churchman who was probably far more generous with the Church than many of his friends.

I am also, as a very high churchman, as much a devote of the Blessed Virgin as an Anglican can be. But it was my Roman friends and relatives who were distressed by what they feared would be Rome going to far in terms of defining a Marian dogma which even they felt to be unacceptable. As an Anglican (and young), I didn't think I had a dog in the fight. It took me a while to realize that all of us, in fact, did.

I realize, also, that you would like all of us to accept the peculiar teachings and claims of the Roman Church or refrain from open criticism. Now I have no idea of where in the English speaking world you live, but such is not a very American attitude. Nor would I ask that you refrain from criticism of me or my opinions. Your faith in Rome is clearly deeply held; I hope your faith in Jesus is as strong and as intense. If it is so, I won't worry about anything else.

As for the issue of Church unity, I feel that it must be pursued by all of us with the greatest charity possible, but it is also equally important what whether Roman, Orthodox or Anglican that we get the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Church, the one Church to which we all belong by virtue of our baptism as right as possible. We must also look to our own faults first and let me be the first to confess that it may seem to others, especially Ed and Father Kirby, that I have not always done that, and work and pray to see that they are in as much conformity with Catholic faith, Apostolic order, Orthodox worship and Evangelical mission as we can possibly bring them. And in saying this, let me also be very clear, that Rome, in the person of Benedict XVI, Cardinal Kasper and others have worked very hard to bring Anglicans back to their own best vision of themselves. I am sure that they have offended a great many of their co-religionists in so doing, but they acted with courage and charity and in their own best vision of the historic role of the Roman See. We would do well to also live up to their example - in this case.

But in my own mind, the best way that Anglicans can respond to the bishop of Rome and his suffragans is for us to be the best possible Anglicans and not attempt to ape Rome in its Tridentine or more modern modes. That does not mean that we have to give up the use of the best of the missal prayers for the purpose of private devotion or even of preaching, but whether in the streets or at the altar, at the mass or at the office, we should not be ashamed to look Anglican, sound Anglican and even smell Anglican - I recommend a high quality of pure frankincense - remembering that during the Cromwellian interregnum, Anglican celebrations stunned the French court with the beauty of their vestments, their profound bows and the clouds of incense which accompanied their worship.

poetreader said...

Thank you all. I just want to comment that I am proud to have just published the last five comments. I don't agree with every detail of what the commenters have said, but I thoroughly appreciate the spirit in which they all post and the calm reason they all bring to the discussion. I've got a reputation for always carping about tone, attitude, and manners, and felt I needed to declare it openly when I'm pleased, as I most certainly am.


Brian Gold said...

Father Kirby,

Maybe my view would not fit neatly within the normal bounds of Anglican Catholicism, but I would very much like to see evidence that is unbiblical. The thrust of so much of the New Testament is plainly eschatological, and the locus of that is what God is do here on Earth, including Our Lord's prayer that God's Kingdom come "on Earth as it is in Heaven."

We have to acknowledge that much of the church as moved away from this understanding, and an emphasis on the eschaton and the resurrection of the dead, favoring a view that emphasizes going to Heaven when you die above all else.

I suppose "Paradise" would be a more accurate description of the pre-Resurrection state, but that's just not how Christians that I have known speak.

If you, on the other hand, want to call the eschatological realization of God's promises "Heaven," I'm not going to stop you, but it's hardly accurate at best and at worst leads to an interpretation that is essentially gnostic: that Christ allows us to escape the material world for a spiritual Heaven. Such an understanding seems to undergird much of protestant evangelicalism, but it's not consistent with the God who called his creation good and then deigned to enter into it Himself.

(Veriword is "dedulia." Is that like hyperdulia?)

Sandra McColl said...

There you go, Ed. All you have to do is get a bit crotchety, and then start saying the sweetest things, and we all behave ourselves.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Sandra wrote:

your remark some months ago now that having canon law was an indispensable criterion for consideration when choosing a continuing jurisdiction...

That sounds like something I would say. Frankly, I have learned from experience that without Canon Law that is actually followed and enforced, bishops and archbishops can do whatever and whenever, to whomever.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Death Bredon wrote:

I respectfully disagree that Victorian Anglo-Catholic piety and Prayer-Book Catholicism share identical theology. The former are Tridentine and the latter are patristic...the dictum that the rule of faith follows the rule or worship and visa versa refutes the notion that two inconsistent churchmanships can express a single faith.

As Ed said, you may present your case. Demonstrate that the Missal is Tridentine, and that it contradicts the Book of Common Prayer to use the Missal for Holy Communion.

Let me introduce the terms "a Missal Holy Communion," and "a Prayer Book Mass," just to contradict a generally accepted pairing that I find misleading. Embellishment is not contradiction, and Introits, Graduals, Tracts, Communion sentences, etc., are mostly from the Book of Psalms, which was not written by Tridentine authors. I especially like this, from the Missal:

"Pray brethren, that this my sacrifice and yours, may be acceptable..." When I say these words I place just a bit of special emphasis on the words, "and yours."

How can these things be unacceptable to Anglicans?

Nonetheless, I am very critical of some things I see in the two major editions of the Anglican Missal, none of which need interfere with my celebrations at a church that is accustomed to the historic usages. I have said what those things are many times, including my criticism of one of the Ash Wed. prayers in a comment on this very thread.

Fr.Kirby wrote:

Two, it has never been the practice to interpret Church decrees and canons according to the opinions of their framers unless those opinions have been explicitly incorporated into the text.

That is why I have said that efforts at an orthodox interpretation have ecumenical potential. But, as we know from centuries of practice, such is a reinterpretation. Pope Benedict's definition of "transubstantiation", to date one of the best examples, is still a redefinition with a corrective element built in.

And that is precisely the way we have always interpreted the Anglican Formularies, which also have their difficulties!

I am not so sure that, as a body, these writings have genuine difficulties. I think I have spent a ton of e-ink demonstrating just how truly Catholic and Patristic the Formularies are, especially in light of the intentions of the writers in their historic context.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Hart,

1. Minor Propers:

The BCP tradition has always expected that the Ordinary of the Mass may be supplemented by Minor propers -- Introit, Grail (Gradual is the Roman term), Communion Sentence, etc. -- or by hymns and anthems that serve the same purpose.

BUT, The Missal employs the 19th Century Roman Usages regarding minor propers. These are largely theologically unobjectionable, nut they are not within the British tradition. Why use Byzantine propers instead? A good example of just what an Anglican approach to the minor propers -- assuming that you don't want to use hymns, which has been the predominant Anglican way -- can be found in the last tradition edition of the BCP: The 1962 Canadian Edition.

2. Interpolations in the Ordinary

The REAL stinking point with the Missals, however, is their interpolations in the Ordinary of the Mass. For example, the Peoples Anglican Missal, specifies the following additional prayers all taken directly from the 19th C. Roman Missal: Judica me, Deus; Confiteor; Indulgentiam; "Nine Salutations;" Aufer a nobis; Oramus, te; Munda cor Meum; Jube, Domine. Dominus sit; Suscipe, sancte Pater; Deus, qui humanae substantiae; Offerimus tibi; In spiritu humilitatis; Veni, sanctificator; Per intercessionem; Incensum isrud; Dirigatur, Domine; Accendat in nobis; Lavabo; Susicpe, sancta Trinitas; Orate, frates; Suscipat Dominus;Commemaratio pro Defunctis; Libera nos; Haec commixito; Domine Jesu Christe, Fili Dei vivi; Perceptio Corporis tui; Panem caelstem; Domine, non sum dignus; Quid retribuam; Anima Christi; Domine, non sum dignus; Quod ore sumpsimus; Corpus teum, Domine; Placeat tibi; In principio. Additionally, various rubrics and ornamentations, which have no precedence in British tradition, but rather Roman, are also typically combined with Missals -- for simply example, Roman Vestments and Color sequences.

Admittedly, some of these interpolations are optional or said silently, and if they don't cause the service to drag are unobjectionable. But many were intentionally omitted or replaced by the framers of the BCP for the reason stated in the Preface of the BCP. Hence, to reinsert them, sometimes causing liturgical and redundancies, is certainly contrary to the BCP tradition. They may be theologically sound, but they are not Anglican because loyalty to the BCP is a constitutive formulary of Anglicanism. Additionally, employing Roman ornaments and ceremonial usages is also contrary to the Ornaments Rubric, which is again is an Anglican formulary.

3. Are the Missals Tridentine?

Even a cursory skimming of the Introduction to the People's Anglican Missal makes express that the whole point of the various English-Language Missals is an attempt to conform, as much as possible, the BCP Mass to that of the post-Tridentine Roman Missal. Virtually any history of the Victorian Anglican Catholic movement (John Shelton Reed's or Knockle's being among the best), which published the various Anglican Missals in the early 20th century, indicates that the whole point of this form of "churchmanship" was to be, as much as possible, ROMAN CATHOLIC within the the Anglican Communion even if Anglican traditions, customs, and canons must be abandoned or contravened. In contrast, the Prayer Book Catholic movement of which C.B. Moss, Vernon Staley, and the Anglican Society and Alcuin Club were at the vanguard, was responsible for the BRITISH CATHOLIC revival.

In sum, to mix the Anglican Missals with the "mere Catholicism" theological school of Anglicanism, the latter being the obvious import of the Anglican Formularies, is proverbial mixing of metaphors and completely anachronistic. Indeed, in todays England, the successors of the Victorian Anglo-Catholics are completely consistent with their historic aims at aping Rome have abandoned the Missals for the Novus Ordo, Apparently, the colonials didn't get the memo.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Death Bredon:

I know of no Continuing church, whether ACC, ACPK, UECNA, ACA, that has the People's Missals in the pews. Everywhere I have been it is the same. In the pews are the Hymnal and the Book of Common Prayer. The only Missal in the church is on the altar, for those churches that have missals at all. The Missal in such a case does only what I have said: It embellishes the Holy Communion Service of the Book of Common Prayer in ways I cannot find objectionable (neither can I find them to be necessary, except to meet the expectations of people in congregations).

The people in the pews have the Book of Common Prayer to draw from, therefore, not The People's Missal (the little Red Book- "But when you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao..." Oh well, that joke is a little too obvious).

As such, when used, the Missal takes a place that is completely subordinate to the Book of Common Prayer, limited very much to the few things I had mentioned before. Indeed, the Canon of the ACC mentioned by Fr. Kirby can be understood only in this way: The Missals that are approved have that approval for use only because they may be used in conformity to the Book of Common Prayer (implying that if any part of them cannot be so used, that part should not be used at all).

Neither is it an Anglican principle that customs cannot vary according to the needs of various places (and by logical implication, times), as long as the theology of the church, the word of God, dictates the practices rather than any other influence, ideology or spirit.

As Article XXXIV says, "It is not necessary that traditions and ceremonies be in all places one or utterly alike; for at all times they have been diverse, and may be changed according to the diversity of countries, times, and men's manners, so that nothing be ordained against God's word."

The use of colors, the selection of vestments, etc., had evolved over the years to allow for the kind of ecumenical hopes that became a priority in the early 20th century. As such, the use of a chasuble that is white, green, red or violet conforms to Article XXXIV (violet, I say: Purple, I am told, is for bishops).

I cannot get excited about vestment controversies, inasmuch as they are quite nice, expected by the people, dignified for use at the altar, but wholly unnecessary for any theological or spiritual reason. They give the service a timeless quality that makes fashion irrelevant, and add to the festive quality of worship. Other than that, whether a chasuble or surplice and stole, is not worth fighting about. I see no reason to believe that God really cares about it. The Fathers celebrated in chasubles, and that was because everyone wore chasubles in the ancient Roman Empire. It was the suit and tie of its time. So, let's approach the subject of vestments as symbolic, festive, nice for the timeless quality they add, and beyond that as of no real importance. I don't care if they are English, Roman or Greek.

Anonymous said...

"Neither is it an Anglican principle that customs cannot vary according to the needs of various places (and by logical implication, times), as long as the theology of the church, the word of God, dictates the practices rather than any other influence, ideology or spirit."

True -- and this qutation proves my point: By definition, local customs must the custom of the locale -- not some imported, nonnative, foreign system.

Indeed, the artificial and nonorganic importation of Roman Usage into traditionally English-Speaking locales is plainly a violation of Anglican's local custom principle. One might as well import Byzantine propers, ornaments, and ceremonial as that of a 19th Century Roman Catholic tat museum into North America (though B16 seems to turning those 'museums' back into 'going concerns.')

If you do either, your church may still be Catholic, but it most certainly wouldn't be Anglican.

If you want to be a Anglican-Roman hybrid (the "via three-quarters"), have at it. But don't pretend to be "mere" or "continuing" Anglicanism. Victorian Anglo-Catholicism wasn't authentic Anglicanism in 1870 and it still isn't today -- not anymore so than present GAFCON neo-Charasmatic Evangelical "Anglican" Realignment or the ascendant Liberal Catholics running the show in today's Cantuar Communion.

Anonymous said...

Father Hart,

I can personally attest as an ACC churchman that we do in fact have a People's Missal in the pews at my home church of St. John the Theologian's.

I don't know if anyone actually follows along in the book because the liturgy is usually included in the bulletin.

St. Worm

poetreader said...

I'm sorry, Death, but you're barking up the wrong tree altogether. Local usage is the usage of local people, wherever their customs have come from. Either sociologically or liturgiologically, it is nonsense to claim that any body of customs has developed strictly locally without importing aspects from elsewhere. It doesn't happen. There is no such thing as a pure local way of doing things unsullied by outside influence. Every culture and every liturgical rite borrows from those it comes in contact with. Rites change and develop in response to what goes on around them, and that is not only inevitable, but desirable.


Anonymous said...

I do have to agree with Brother Ed re: change in rites and customs. I think it possible to keep a BCP priority while introducing complimentary elements in its liturgy. The debate of course is what constitutes a proper and appropriate addition to our BCP?

I think the beauty of the ACC is that we can have a little flexibility in this regard without corrupting the spirit of the BCP. Anglicanism has to be rooted in the BCP for it to have any meaningful definition, yet I believe the BCP was arranged with the idea of flexibility within its service.

St. Worm

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I can personally attest as an ACC churchman that we do in fact have a People's Missal in the pews at my home church of St. John the Theologian's.

The exception that proves the rule. I hope that the BCP is there too.


Except in Jerusalem, it is all imported.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Hart,

Yes, we have a BCP (1928), People's Missal, and a 1940 Hymnal in every pew.

Fr. Brookshire is a fine Anglican priest and would cringe at the thought of a BCP-less Anglicanism.


St. Worm

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Rites change and develop in response to what goes on around them, and that is not only inevitable, but desirable.

Within the limits of orthodoxy (and good taste) that is the basic meaning of the words, "the diversity of countries, times, and men's manners..."

I believe the motivation to use some of the Roman appearance, especially in vestments, was to state clearly to the RCC and the public that our minsters are, in fact, deacons, priests and bishops in the full sense of each word. We can debate if this approach was wise, or always wisely done; but the basic idea needs to be kept in mind or the whole subject cannot be discussed accurately. By the 1930s the goal of trying to begin a process of unity (both with Rome and the Orthodox) was, on the part of Canterbury, a clearly established fact of Anglican life.

It is obvious that this went too far in affecting the minds of some Anglo-Catholics, and in causing embarrassing and misleading affectations;* even more importantly, in importing a combination of ignorance with an inferiority complex, about which I have written much. So, I am mostly on Death Bredon's side.

But, I see no harm in using the Altar Missal.

* If the day comes when I find Anglicans burying statues of St. Joseph to sell a home, or asking St. Anthony to find their missing keys, I will know they have converted to Roman Catholicism in the most knowledgeable sense, with the deepest theological understanding of mother-in-law.

Nathan said...

I believe there is a wide gulf between Anglicanism and Anglicanist.

Sandra McColl said...

Fr Hart, are you suggesting that there is something unAnglican about my keeping an Infant Jesus of Prague on top of a 10c piece on the sideboard?

Anonymous said...


"Local usage is the usage of local people, wherever their customs have come from."

So, in other words, for Anglicanism, "local customs" includes "foreign customs," even those popularized by the Counter Reformation? Under this view, almost anything, then, could be considered authentically Anglican, from Praise Bands to Snake Handling. Name it and claim it.

Fr. Hart,

"Except in Jerusalem, it is all imported."

I believe you are conflating ceremonial Customary with the Liturgy itself, which of course orignated in the upper room.

Indeed, save for Holy Week, when both the East and West have generally tried to copy the Jerusalem Pilgrim Rites and Customs (which the locals did not use), the vast majority of local customs have never shown their respective faces in Jerusalem.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Deth Bredon

The point is that the Article does not allow us to freeze the details of liturgy in one time. Furthermore, Anglicanism has become worldwide. Fr. Kirby is Australian, and I am American. To what degree are we bound to stay within the limits of English culture and the 16th and 17th centuries of that culture's development?

poetreader said...

"Local usage is the usage of local people, wherever their customs have come from."

So, in other words, for Anglicanism, "local customs" includes "foreign customs," even those popularized by the Counter Reformation? Under this view, almost anything, then, could be considered authentically Anglican, from Praise Bands to Snake Handling. Name it and claim it.

Now, come on, Death! You're grasping at straws here. I count you far too intelligent to think that there's no difference between adopting 'foreign' practices that fit into what one is doing, and adopting willy-nilly anything novel, whether it fits or not. That's entirely unfair and a rhetorical low blow indeed.

We can indeed discuss whether a given practice actually does fit or not. The development of liturgy through the centuries has been the accretion of structural and devotional elements from various sources, some of them absolutely pagan, onto the very simple outline found in Scripture, and doing so in such a way as to heighten the expression of the Gospel in those rites in a way that can be received by those who (as ancient formularies put it) 'stand around'.

There is not, and never in the history of Christianity has been, a pure rite that cannot be enriched or altered -- but, of course, EVERY addition or alteration must be judged as to its conformity with truth.


Mark said...


It seems to me that at least three elements are weaving themselves in and out of this discussion:

First, the organic growth of the liturgy within its own cultural setting, with little or no outside influence. Historians among us may or may not agree that in the life of cultures there are sometimes "quiet" periods, conducive to such growth. I wonder if England, being an island nation, has experienced such occasional quiet periods. I assume here that there is indeed a historic connection between English culture and Anglican liturgy;

Second, what we call on the Roman side, the element of inculturation. The lively, and often unnerving, interaction between a culture and a new religious element introduced into it. Here, St. Paul on the Aeropagus comes to my mind as an early example of inculturation in action;

Finally, as you astutely observed, all this "must be judged as to its conformity with truth". I couldn't agree with you more, except that being somewhat obsessive about details I would have capitalized "truth". What are your thoughts on these musings of mine?