Second: What are we discussing?
However, as I have kept my megaphone, I will not apologize for choosing to use it.
Let us ask, what do we know about the purpose of Archbishop Hepworth? (The Archbishop may comment here any time without fear of editing or deletion; if he does not trust me, he may send his comment to Edward Pacht.) We are told that he wants to preserve Anglicanism's distinct rich heritage, and that he believes that without the strength of Rome it cannot survive. The internal pressures of the Anglican Communion disable it from that purpose, and the Anglican Continuum is too small and fragmented. At least, that is what he told me last Summer in our approximately ninety minutes of face to face discussion in Timonium, Maryland. There is, we must grant, a certain logic in that.
Anglicanism is not burdened by ambitious claims to be infallible, and therefore not excessively burdened by having to treat every specifically Anglican precedent as if it were part of the Tradition of the Apostolic Church. Neither are we burdened by a "One True Church" theory that limits the boundaries of God's Holy Catholic Church to our own little portion of it, indeed our own branch (yes, I said "branch"- branch, branch branch). However, Rome is burdened with every specifically Roman precedent, whether or not it can be drawn out of "the Faith once delivered to the saints" as understood through Scripture by means of Universal Consensus and Antiquity. And, Rome is burdened by its own version of the One True Church theory, i.e., that without the See of Rome an ecclesial group, or even a true particular church, does not possess the "fullness" of the Catholic Church.
Therefore, if Rome decided to come to the rescue of Anglican distinctives, that rescue would create a precedent that must be defended forever as having been infallible, unless a later decision, whether conciliar with papal assent, or simply by papal decree or "infallible utterance," overturns it, assuming it had never risen to the level of dogma (are you following this?). So, with great care taken by Rome, some measure of Anglican distinctives could be preserved; and, of course, with Rome's help, given its great strength and sheer size, Anglicanism would have a happy home.
Here I will state my robust if polite objections.
Why would the See that produced Apostolicae Curae, which (on the basis of scholarship so poor that it does not rise to the level of pathetic), condemns Anglican orders as "absolutely null and utterly void," have any intention of preserving Anglicanism's rich distinctive heritage? If we have learned anything from the Anglican Use experiment, it is that even when Rome tries to be nice to us, they demonstrate a level of truculence and arrogance, or invincible ignorance, that is truly offensive to those who know and love the Anglican Liturgy. The evidence suggests that "Anglican" Use exists in order to disappear; not to disappear as something separated into a recovered unity of the Church; but simply to disappear. However, "Anglican" Use may well disappear for all we should care, for it is about as Anglican as Italian Opera.
I believe that the See of Rome is interested in absorbing Anglicanism, if only to make it disappear, by converting all of us one at a time if necessary. Frankly, given their doctrine of the Church, I expect this of them, and believe that the motivation of many individuals among their number is truly charitable. But, as the old prayer goes, "God save me from my enemies, and from my well-meaning friends." I know that the motto of those TAC bishops who follow Archbishop Hepworth is "inclusion, not absorption," and I am not about to argue that they are anything less than sincere. Of course, for all we know, this whole thing may prove to be merely academic anyway.
Because I said so
But, here is what I was addressing in the other post. I will quote, therefore, once again from an email I received:
"[This man] had been a delegate to the ACA Diocese of the Midwest Synod _this_ summer. This man has been an Anglican for many years and said he was simply, 'appalled' by the presentations at the synod. He stated they basically came out and declared Anglicanism a failure and that the Romans had it right."
The problem has less to do with communications between Archbishop Hepworth's trusted advisers and Rome than with what is happening on the home front. As soon as the TAC bishops had sent their 2007 letter to Rome, requesting Communion between their jurisdiction and "the Holy See," we were informed that no interviews would be given. I was criticized, along with others on this blog, for allowing speculation to be expressed. Some of that speculation was fearful, some was exuberant, some was apocalyptic and messianic about recovery of unity (as if a rearrangement further dividing the Anglican Continuum would be a fulfillment of John 17:21-as if that was a prophecy, which it is not, etc.), and some was even scornful and derisive. Nonetheless, just what did they expect? The command was sent through the ranks, right down to the laity, not to speculate; and that was entirely unreasonable.
I spent many years as a layman, and was a father of four before I was called "Father" by men old enough to be my father. I know how Anglican people feel about their churches and about the teaching and traditions that have been handed down, and that they want to hand down to their children and grandchildren. On that basis, I say that the order to laity in the TAC not to speculate was not only unreasonable, but unintentionally (I am sure) downright cruel. Anglicans, like the Eastern Orthodox, do not consider the Church to be the property of the clergy and hierarchy. The Church belongs to God, and belongs to all of us too. We do not "Pray, pay and obey." To condemn that, as some might, as "too Protestant" or "too democratic" is to condemn the love we have for our churches, for our children, for the truth and for God Himself. To conceal the details of a new model of automobile, or military plans, until it is time to reveal something completed, is understandable. But, the Church is none of those things; the Church is the people who belong to it, with their convictions, their practice of devotions, and their hope for the future. Blind trust and acceptance of "come what may" will never happen, and that should have been understood and foreseen two years ago. If such secrecy is required by Rome, does this not also show something that is, for now, more evidence of a measure of incompatibility?
What began turning up in my email and in my snail mail, was more than weekly appeals from various lay members of the ACA/TAC, to help them understand where their bishops were planning to take them, their churches, their children and their future. Well, I certainly had no answer that I could give to anybody. And then lines about "500 years of mistakes" and "a failed 450 year-old experiment," coming from Archbishop Hepworth himself, and from Bishop Langburg respectively, could not have been timed better by an absolute adversary to their cause.
The trap door
Furthermore, as if Anglo-Catholics have not been culpable in the last generation for spreading misinformation and ignorance (with help from the opposite side of the spectrum) about Anglicanism itself, even in general about the very meaning of words like "Protestant" and "Catholic," treating the See of Rome like the magic answer to the woes of modern Anglicans, has had, really, only one real effect in a Romewards direction: It has caused many individuals to leave Anglicanism due only to ignorance, and misinformation. I have observed that most of these people become miserable, and miss the richness they left behind. The real motion is not between jurisdictions and communions, but the motion of innocent people falling through a trap door that responsible parties need to nail shut.
If all this makes me come across as an enemy to the leaders of the TAC, let me say only that I am an opponent of what I perceive to be happening; but not an enemy. Furthermore, those leaders may have the floor to set me straight, along with other comment writers, if they choose. Indeed, they may send an essay to any one of us (I suggest to Ed). Essays and comments from bishops will be posted in their entirety. This is the issue right now in the Continuing Church, so we may as well discuss what is already on so many minds.