20 May 2009. Vigil of the Ascension
Dear Bishop Duncan,
I thank you for your invitation to attend as an observer the inaugural Provincial Assembly of the Anglican Church in North America, which is to gather in Bedford, Texas, from June 22nd to 25th. I congratulate those who will assemble on their movement out of the Episcopal Church. Whatever else we agree or disagree about, we believe that that movement is correct.
Those of us who left the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion a generation ago believe that the ordination of women was then the central problem in the Canterbury Communion. The notion that women can receive the sacrament of Holy Orders in any of its three parts constitutes, in our view, a revolutionary and false claim: a claim false in itself; a claim destructive of the common ministry that once united Anglicans; and, finally, a claim productive of an even broader and worse consequence. That worse consequence is the claim that Anglicans have authority to alter important matters of faith and order against a clear consensus in the central tradition of Catholic and Orthodox Christendom. Once such a claim is made it may be pressed into service to alter any matter of faith or morals. The revolution devours its children. Many of the clergy represented at GAFCON and now joining the ACNA seem to us to accept the flawed premise and its revolutionary claim in one matter while seeking to resist the application of the premise in the matter of homosexuality. This position seems to us to be internally inconsistent and impossible to sustain successfully over time.
In brief, then, we would suggest that the only sound basis for Continuing Anglican life is something akin to that already established in the Affirmation of Saint Louis with its clarity concerning the subordination of all Anglican authorities to the central tradition of Christendom.
We make this suggestion with a strong recognition of our own personal and ecclesial failures. But the failure of the Continuing Churches to unite and grow sufficiently does not at all alter the cogency of our observations about your own fundamental principles. Our own history teaches us that anything other than clear agreement on all significant doctrinal issues at the outset will lead eventually to division and decline.
To put matters another way, already now at the beginning of your enterprise, your dioceses and bishops are only in a state of impaired communion with each other. Some of your bishops do not recognize the validity of the priestly ministry of a significant body of clergy in other dioceses. Such divisions and problems at the beginning will not resolve themselves in time, but rather will grow. Ambiguity, or local option, or silence cannot undo the damage of essential disagreement concerning Holy Orders and authority in the Church.
In summary, then, we see in the ACNA the fundamental alterations in traditional Anglican faith, worship, order, and practice that led to the formation of our own Continuing Church in 1978. We would be glad to establish conversations with your ecclesial body in hopes that you may, having freed yourselves of the Episcopal Church, continue further on the same path by decisively breaking from a corrupt Anglican Communion and by returning to the central tradition of Christendom in all matters, including the male character of Holy Orders, the evil of abortion, and the indissolubility of sacramental marriage. We recommend to your prayerful attention the Affirmation of Saint Louis, which we firmly believe provides a sound basis for a renewed and fulfilled Anglicanism on our continent.
We suspect that any Anglican body that permits the ordination of women, or otherwise fails to return to the central tradition of Christendom, will soon move from what we might call neo-Anglicanism, which is already removed in ministry and worship from classical Anglicanism, and will eventually merge into the general stream of evangelical Protestantism. While faithful Protestantism of that sort is far preferable to what the Episcopal Church has become, it is not the Catholic Faith which we hold, it is not the Anglicanism that formed us, and it does not seem to us to have a bright future.
We have already communicated with persons in the ACNA about the Anglican Catholic Church's prior use of the name you have adopted (ACNA). We are certain that this matter can be successfully resolved to our mutual satisfaction, but pending such resolution we do note our prior use.
I fear that this letter in response to your kind invitation may seem somewhat abrupt. I do not mean it to be such. I wish instead to indicate clearly that our first principles seem to be very different. A fruitful dialogue would need to begin with those principles, and the plans outlined in your letter for the Bedford meeting do not seem to encompass such fundamental questions. I would be happy, however, to assist in the establishment of such dialogue in the future if the ACNA is not wedded to its position on the ordination of women and the authority of Anglican bodies to alter matters of faith and order.
With all good wishes, I am,
Faithfully yours in Christ,
(The Most Reverend) Mark Haverland, Ph.D.
Acting Primate, Anglican Catholic Church
This TAC/ACA layman joins, I am sure, with many others in affirming that the Archbishop speaks for us also in this letter. It is to be highly applauded.
But unless I missed it, the good archbishop has not said whether he will attend as an observer.
Do we need to know that before the fact?. If he should decide to do so, we will know under what6 basis he would be attending. If he should decide not to, then we will be able to surmise why not. Were it me, under those conditions, I'd remain indecided until the very last moment.
No, Ed, we don't need to know, but one might expect it, given that the letter appears to be a response to an invitation.
FWIW, though, here is Virtue headline:
Anglican Catholic Church Primate Declines Invitation to attend ACNA Provincial Assembly
Ordination of Women is stumbling block
I hope that he will attend and I pray that he will be heard.
Unfortunately, until these Anglicans understand that the ordination of women as priests touches directly on Christology and therefore on salvation, they will not reconsider their position. Were they to objectively view the facts about this innovation in TEC they might see the devil's hand. They should ask why the devil expends so much energy on defacing the Priesthood.
The first woman to be ordained a priest once the canon had been changed was Ellen Barrett in 1977, who was ordained by Bishop Paul Moore in New York, and was publicly known to be a lesbian. In ordaining her, the Episcopal Church effectively broke the back of catholic orders. Ellen also became the first co-president of Integrity which maneuvered ECUSA to where it is now, with gay bishops and same-sex ceremonies. The ordination of women has been used to advance the agenda of gay activists. They say things like, “This is God doing a new thing. The first woman priest was Chinese, the first woman bishop is African-American (Barbara Harris).” It is easy to see that this is about Civil Rights and has nothing to do with Holy Tradition. They’ve cast the priesthood as a civil right that right should extend even to the impure.
I've spent 30 years researching Genesis and one line of investigation involves the origins of the priesthood, verifiably the oldest religious institution. It was preserved by God through thousands of years among a people who observed a unique pattern of intermarriage and the emphasis was always on purity.
It’s very simple. Ontologically, women aren’t priests. You can give something a name, but that doesn’t make it fact. When the Episcopal Church chose to call me “priest,” that didn’t make me a priest. When humans name something, that doesn’t produce an ontological change. Only God’s Word can do that and God’s Word never contradicts itself. That is why there is no contradiction between Holy Tradition and the Bible. The contention over women's ordination will continue until Anglicans come to a better understanding of what the Bible and Holy Tradition reveal about Jesus Christ, the Great High Priest.
Thank you for your inspiring witness and words spoken in spirit and in truth. It would be wonderful if you could compile all of your researches into Genesis and the priesthood, combined with your own experience as an Episcopal priest(ess). I give thanks to God for your current prophetic ministry.
Fr. Robert Whitaker
St. John's ACC, Virgina Beach
Thank you, Father. You will find all this research at http://jandyongenesis.blogspot.com
The site is easy to use. Click on INDEX to see the topics. They are listed in alphabetical order. There are listings for the Priesthood and for Holy Tradition.
If our continuing churches were to enter into any kind of a relationship with the ACNA (my own parish, St. Hilda's ACC Atlanta was a member parish of the original ACNA in 1977)I fear it would invite TEC to find a way to file a law suit against us.
Perhaps they would seek to have us charged under the RICO statute and classified as corrupt organizations for aiding and abetting the ACNA in misappropriating TEC funds and property.
In my essay "Critique of Pure Dread", which was reprinted on this site, I verbalized my apprehensions that we have not been forgotten by TEC, and that they do not wish us well.
That my Archbishop received such an invitation demonstrates that we have not been forgotten, for good or for ill.
These certainly are days for prayerful caution, but the moment will come when The Continuum must cast its lot, and do so boldly.
I'll be satisfied as long as we continue to cast our lot boldly with the central tradition of Catholic and Orthodox Christendom.
I don't see how our Continuum could possibly benefit itself or the larger church by becoming part of this conflict. I do not think any other branch of the apostolic churches will be tempted to take part in this fight either.
First, TEC is not through with them yet. More law suits are being filed almost monthly. Now they are trying to claim attorney's fees and asking for grand jury investigations into the handling of trust funds by departing clergy and vestries. It may seem fantastic to suggest that we could also be sucked into court by simply associating with the new ACNA, but a lot of fantastic things have emanated out of TEC over the past thirty years. TEC would love to shut the Continuum down if it could.
Second, at some point the new ACNA will have to come to grips with its own ambiguity over the issue of W.O. I pray that they make the right decision, but if they make the wrong one it would make any efforts on our part at best a waste of time and resources, and at worst create problems of separating out because of close ties that might develop before such a resolution of the issue.
Third, the new ACNA wants to be in communion with Canterbury and already is in a round about fashion. They crave to be in communion with the archbishop of Canterbury. I can't believe that any significant portion of our clergy or laity want to be in communion with Canterbury.
Why not wait and see how they resolve their internal contradictions before jumping in?
I am rooting for them though.
Bp. Duncan has announced he will be "ordaining" four women at this meeting. There is no way Archbishop Haverland would dignify that with his presence.
That certainly appears to be a definite throwing down of the gauntlet by Bishop Duncan, doesn't it? What other than arrogance would possess a man to fly so directly in the face of those with whom he declares brotherhood? It's a clear sign that "ACNA" has no intent of returning to real orthodoxy.
Not only that, but I see from old mail that arrived at St. Benedict's in February (I came here in early March) that the ACNA was inviting each congregation separately, approaching them directly. The people here had been sent an invitation to attend. What kind of polity does the ACNA understand? How can they simply bypass the bishops of each diocese?
Fr. Hart asked, "What kind of polity does the ACNA understand? How can they simply bypass the bishops of each diocese?"
Where the new ACNA is emotionally and culturally still situated within PECUSA/ECUSA/TEC, and where most of the "bishops" of PECUSA/ECUSA/TEC are the problem, not the solution, I suppose it was natural for them to disregard the diocesan structures and appeal directly to the parishes.
Nor, since they seem to know nothing of substance about the Continuing Churches, does it surprise me that they would use the same illogic with regard to our local congregations.
It's just one more evidence that, while the (new) ACNA is disturbed by some of the same errors as are we, it still has fundamental divergences from us in the way it views the Church. That, of course, was the whole point of Abp. Haverland's letter.
John A. Hollister+
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