Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Still I say Swim the Tiber without me

About Anglicans with an inferiority complex

As a contributing editor to a magazine that is "A Journal of Mere Christianity," and as a fellow blogger here at the The Continuum with members of the TAC, I am cast in a diplomatic and non-partisan role. But, despite this doubly diplomatic role and my eirenic nature, I see a need to rally and defend Anglicans who feel left behind by men who appear to be Anglo-Papalists of the worst sort: The kind who have an inferiority complex and want it to rub off.

Without revealing any sources or naming names, I will quote a portion of an email I received Monday. I make no claim that it is entirely accurate, and ask for more details and for clarification. Nonetheless, it is the view of a reliable man, according to another reliable man (forgive the double sourcing. And, I hope Ed and Sandra will still be talking to me-although their own commitment to Anglicanism has never been in doubt- but, I must speak out now). The email said this :

"[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."

Unfortunately, knowing that one of their bishops, Rt. Rev. George Langburg, was the man who said that line about a 450 year-old failed experiment, and knowing other facts that give context to that statement, I am saddened, deeply concerned, and feel that it is time to ask just what is really going on? If I have any facts wrong, to those whose position it is, please say so. Not for me, but to reassure your own people before you lose them.

Why should any Anglican have to doubt the level of commitment to Anglicanism held by his bishop and clergy? Should not these Anglicans be given some clarity about comments that Anglicanism is simply "English Culture" or "500 years of mistakes?" Is it unreasonable to ask for this clarity? Why shoud I, from the outside, be champion to worried and unhappy members of a jurisdiction to which I have never belonged? They write to me, and lay their fears and concerns out privately (And, please, before anyone quotes John 17: 21, should we really think that a few thousand people switching denominations-or creating a western Uniat- could amount to some sort of apocolyptic healing of disunity in the Universal Church? There are about three billion Christians in the world).

Keep your inferiority complex to yourself

Unfortuantely, in the last generation or so, education among some of the Anglo-Catholics in this Continuing movement has been very poor, and by no means does this problem belong exclusively to the ACA/TAC. Recently, I received an email from a man who told me this:

In my parish I've been told the 39 articles belong to a peculiar period of history and are no longer really relevant. They are too "protestant". I've also been told we do not subscribe to the 39 articles because they rule out adoration and procession of the sacrament, and this undermines the Oxford movement, etc.

The ignorance that this reveals is simply inexcusable. Anyone who wishes to be educated on why this ignorance is appalling needs only to go to the right on this page, and see the link to further links to my essays on Classic Anglicanism, including this detailed explanation of Article XXV that I posted only about a month ago. Those who read it for the first time, and learn from it, may begin to grasp that Anglicans who hold to Classic Anglican doctrine have nothing of which to be ashamed. I make a deliberate point of using Article XXV itself, the most misunderstood Article of all, to demonstrate that the English Reformers were the most true and faithful Catholics of their time. They were right then to reject the innovations of Rome, as we are right to reject Roman innovations now.

The best path back to the doctrine of the earliest Catholic Fathers and Bishops, that is, to the teaching that truly is Quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est, lies not through Rome, but through the English Reformers. Truly educated Anglicans of the Continuum, have no reason to feel inferior to their Roman Catholic brethren. Indeed, it is Rome that has learned many things from us, though they cannot admit it.

I say to you who have an inferiority complex regarding your Anglican affiliation and Rome, read my essays, as well as Fr. Kirby's Apologetics, and begin to learn. If not, you may swim the Tiber without me, and get buyer's remorse later.


Canon Tallis said...

This is another case of what will continue to happen as long as we in the Continuum continue to validate Romanism or Papalism and not Anglicanism. But I am afraid that my words will fall on the same deaf ears that will not hear, "read, mark, learn and inwardly digest" the superb writings of Fathers Hart and Kirby.

The sort of bishops and priests in Anglican orders who attack classical Anglicanism as it is expressed in our formularies seem to be of the type who as Bishop Gore said learned their theology from the penny pamphlets at Westminster Cathedral. They certainly did not learn it from Jewel, Hooker, Andrewes, Laud, Ken, Bull and others whose learning amazed the world in their time. Nor did they learn it from Dorothy Sayers or C. S. Lewis whom the Romans have been trying very hard to claim as their own. In due time they will attempt to claim even Father Hart as a closet papist who save for wife and children would have popped across the Tiber in an instant. Just wait and see. But I will stay here with the excellent father and all those not ashamed to be "mere Anglicans."

Sandra McColl said...

'should we really think that a few thousand people switching denominations-or creating a western Uniat- could amount to some sort of apocolyptic healing of disunity in the Universal Church?'

Not apocalyptic, but a start, and a huge improvement on mere submission by individual persons or parishes, if it can be done correctly (which has yet to be seen). It's sailing, rather than swimming. And it's also a huge improvement on proud isolationism.

Don't get me started, Fr Hart. In circumstances which I won't blab about here, I did more than my fair share of taking and giving offence lately--most of it at the sort of people whose attitudes would offend you--but I'm beginning to find strident negativity of any sort a bit galling. Let's start celebrating what Anglicanism is, and stop attacking what it isn't.

poetreader said...

Are there 500 years of mistakes? There sure are, on our side AND on that of Rome -- and I'll add in the Eastern Church for good measure. I have no problem with such a locution, unless one starts claiming that one of the great traditions of Catholic Christianity actually has it right and the rest don't. I agree with Sandra in strongly championing an endeavor toward corporate unity, and especially with her proviso, if it can be done correctly (which has yet to be seen. There is something very uncomfortable, dreadfully disturbing, in fact, about not being in communion with the Roman church. The fact that such a situation exists (however it came to be) is, to speak bluntly and fiercely, a direct affront to our Lord Jesus Christ and his expressed will. What blame there is falls on both sides. Both sides have committed grievous errors, a few of them official, most of them actually abusive by their own official standards. There is plenty of blame to go around. There is a lot of repentance to be done, on both sides. However, I cannot repent for Rome's sins -- they aren't mine -- but I can repent for my own, which are legion, and pray that my Roman brethren may do likewise. May we all do so, and thus find real unity in a God-pleasing way.

I don't know what the future holds. If abject submission becomes the only route to reunion, that's too high a price for most of us, and ACA would be badly split of such action were taken. For a proper reunion to occur, a definite change in attitude on Rome's part (seemingly unlikely, but with God all things are possible has to occur. Intercommunion without absorption, without submission, has to be the goal.

The route of submission is an unacceptable one, but so is the attitude that this separation is somehow acceptable in God's sight. It isn't. There are no easy answers, and we all need to be patient with one another in our respective errors. In fact, we, as Anglicans, meed to swallow our respective prideful attitudes and cease the very idea of separated 'jurisdictions'. If we cannot find a way to be united with one another, it may well be that we have forfeited our claims to legitimacy. There are no easy answers to the divisions among ourselves and between us and other Christians, but, if we are not earnest and intentional in seeking answers, we fail. And in all that, the right question is NEVER, "What has the other guy done to cause the problem?" but, "What can I do to help in its healing?"

A rather persnickety point of fact: +Langberg has never been an archbishop. When ++Falk stepped down as Metropolitan of ACA, the office itself was discontinued, under the idea that one archbishop is quite enough for the TAC. +Langberg became President of the House of Bishops. With his stepping aside, ++Falk has returned to assume that role (but NOT that of metropolitan) and retains the title archbishop only as a personal dignity, not as connected with his current office.

Anonymous said...

You would be surprised at how many Anglo-Papist continuum clergy that have written on various blogs that they prefer the Novus Ordo, instead of the BCP. I am filled with sadness, for them, and the continuum, every time I read such things.

As I have said before, is it any wonder that people swim the Tiber when "anglican" clergy use the Cathechism of the Roman Catholic Church to teach confirmation/membership classes?

I think the sad truth is that in the continuum we have some priests who truly want to be Roman priests. The only reason that many of them are in the continuum is that they don't want to have give up the right to marry, be married, etc.

Such men have been doing incredible harm to the continuum for 30 years and will continue to do so as long as our bishops continue to ordain such men.

At an ACC synod, a high-ranking official said, "The only thing the ACC has to offer the world is fancy liturgies and lots of smells and bells." Such a statement is absolutely ignorant of the faith that we profess to hold, and undermines the importance of the primitive catholic faith that the English Reformers sought to preserve.

In my opinion, we'd be better off if such clergy went over to Rome.
Unfortunately, not having proper schooling to Rome's high standards, Rome won't take them.

The danger is that such clergy, which is only some of our clergy, not all of them, can destroy us from the inside.

High Churchman

poetreader said...

Let me take off from Fr. Hart's title: I'm not about to swim the Tiber, with or without company. O would have to be convinced of the Papal claims to do so (If I were, I'd have already done so). However, I am extremely desirous that somehow a bridge be built across that mythic river, a connector between two coequal countries that would render them effectively one. Bridge-building requires a great deal more effort than does swimming.

To "High Churchman": I'm basically in agreement, but have to add that a dogged separation into ever more finely defined "purities" is just as destructive in the long run. If either unity or correctness is pursued in isolation from the other, the ultimate result is spiritual death.


Fr. D. said...

As a practical matter whether secular or ecclesiastical when the leadership begins to blow an uncertain note, confusion and ultimate chaos will often be the result. Those readers who have spent time in secular executive realms will instantly understand my point. Few events will dampen the spirit of enthusiasm and loyalty more than the rumors of an impending merger.

In the ecclesiastical realms the results can be much worse. Bishops and indeed all Christians are guided by the timeless truths of our Faith and I mean by Truth that is not muddled or affected by relativity or any of the whims and fads of any given time.

If any bishop, priest, deacon or lay person is convinced that the unique and in some instances latent claims offered up by Rome are true then they must without delay submit and not entertain any thought whatsoever as to whether they will be allowed to serve as a clergyman or not in the Roman Church. It seems to me at least that this is the only moral response.

Actually as has been often written on this and other Blogs Rome can not offer us anything that can make us more Catholic, if you will. At the same time I cannot perceive that there is any positive benefit whatsoever in even minute instances of Rome bashing! Rather we should be vigorously supporting them when they stand up for the Faith once delivered!

Forced mergers in the Continuum have caused more harm than good. Whether the Deerfield Beech effort to be more inclusive with a group that most in the ACC found problematic or the later minority led defections orchestrated by what is known as the Allentown Group because the ACC was “not Catholic enough” all have only served to further rent the Body of Christ. And now the leadership or at least the highest echelons of the ACA appear to be seeking to become a vassal of Rome.

I would be very surprised if Rome was even remotely interested in establishing a Western Uniate in order to bring in 10 to 20 thousand Continuers. Eastern Uniate Churches are becoming noticeably westernized. And then there is the non starter “Anglican Use” experiment.

With all this who can seriously expect the ACA to be interested in unity amongst the Continuum when Rome is their goal?

However I still after 20+ years in the trenches remain an optimist.

Fr. D.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

What I see happening has nothing to do with unity at all. I see people leaving Anglicanism because of ignorance, misled about the nature of what Anglicanism is. They do not solve the division of the Church when they leap into the Tiber, but simply join a different denomination. They do this because they never learned properly, and often they are miserable later, pining for something they think they can no longer have because they have been fooled by phrases like "too Protestant," or they have bought Rome's ridiculous evaluation of Anglican sacraments. When they were Anglicans, they did not learn Anglicanism; so, they despise their own inheritance; but they sure do miss the experience.

I mentioned John 17:21, and I should say that what we learn from that verse is that the Church already is one in fact; the problem of division always gets back to something childish and carnal, according to what St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians. But, that does not mean that we who inherited the problem are, ourselves, culpable or guilty of creating the division. We did not create the problem, but rather have to live with it. Furthermore, if we desire genuine manifest unity, that would mean one visible Church recognized as such throughout the world. Even if all the churches of the west become reunified, the Great Schism would still exist.

So, let us be practical. Western Reunion would not be achieved by what has been discussed, let alone universal manifest unity. It would amount to a small rearrangement within the same old divisions. If there is, in the will of God, some reason why the Church must have an outward and visible unity throughout all nations, which would mean a universal polity in addition to the charity and mutual respect that should already exist, that will be the work of the Holy Spirit beyond what any of us can simply do.

Therefore, in trying to live with what we can actually do, we have the responsibility to know and to believe the truth. We have, as well, the responsibility to defend the truth. What we need is still the same thing Hooker himself wrote about all those years ago, about any potential unity with Rome.


We cannot afford to let the word "unity" become a sentimental buzz word, charged with emotionalism to a degree that destroys our ability to be practical. You and I cannot heal the divisions of the Universal Church, and neither can anyone. But, I believe that Classic Anglicanism always has had the best potential to promote true unity of the whole Church, and was moving in that direction when spiritual warfare was directed at it with intensity. Anyone who really wants to promote genuine universal unity has that as an added reason to learn Classic Anglican doctrine, and to be faithful to it. In the long run, it is the best way to promote real unity.

Anonymous said...

I am not opposed to communion with Rome. But, I wouldn't want to swallowed whole by Rome in a merger; in which the BCP, and the primitive catholic faith that we in the continuum hold dear (at least some of us hold it dear anyway), is lost.

The sad truth is that if a true Anglican man, with proper education and training in all ways, and who actually believed in the 39 Articles, the writings of Hooker and other great Anglican theologians, asked to be ordained, the majority of bishops in the continuum would refuse to ordain such a man.

Now if a man without any education or schooling, but who bad-mouthed the English Reformers, said the 39 Articles were rubbish, and made Anglo-Papist statments, asked for ordination, he would be ordained immediately by the majority of the continuum bishops.

Its a sad state of affairs.....

High Churchman

Anonymous said...

I truly believe that we have, in classical Anglicanism, perhaps the very closest faith and practice to the primitive Catholic Church of Christ and His Apostles. I believe that we must cling vigorously to that faith.

I certainly do not believe that the Roman Church is devoid of truth. However, there are many non-scriptural additions to the Roman Church. While I do not believe that we should attack, condemn, or criticize the Roman Church, or refuse communion with them, I do believe that we have a reason for existence and that we offer a purer form of the Catholic faith than does the Roman Church.

I turned down a five figure salary offer to playthe organ for the 3 weekend masses of a Roman parish a couple of weeks ago. Instead, I will continue to play the organ with no reimbursement or stipend in an Anglican mission so small that it didn't have an organ until I gave it one. The reason I turned down the job, was that to be able to receive Holy Communion, I would have to have joined the Roman Church. I could have taken the job without joining, but I would have been spiritually starved for the Holy Communion.

Further, I feel that there is truth in the classical Anglicanism of the 39 Articles, the English Reformers, theologians such as Hooker and the Wesleys, that cannot be found anywhere else but classical Anglicanism.

I don't condemn that Roman Church, and acknowledge that they have spiritual truth there, but in my opinion, not as much as classical Angicanism.

Classical Anglicanism is where I stand.

BCP Catholic

Anonymous said...

It is very easy to join the Roman Catholic Church, easier, in fact, than joining the Masonic Order, the Rotary Club, or the Daughters of the American Revolution. RCIA classes are offered (to speak hyperbolically) almost around the clock, and many RC pastors are willing to waive that requirement.
My sister became RC with no RCIA at all. Of course if there is a divorce in the background, you must purchase a "declaration of nullity," which can get expensive, but the whole process is still very simple.

If anyone truly and sincerely feels that being in obedience to the Bishop of Rome is extremely important, it is manifestly sinful to remain outside the Roman fold.
So what explains the desire to go through some long complicated process of mysterious top level diplomacy, dragging along many others who are unwilling to be dragged?

Many who favor the TAC project appear to entertain a wistful hope that Rome will join them in some corporate act of mutual repentance.
That would be amusing to the Vatican bureaucracy. To express myself with elegance appropriate to the theme, "It ain't a-gonna happen."

I have the highest regard for Benedict XVI (and his worthy predecessors) as the Petrine Successor, Patriarch of the West, dynamic Christian leader and world class theologian. I have read the CCC carefully and agree with about 95% of it. I am in perfect love and charity with dozens of RC friends. I have fantastic and delightful chats with the RC padre in my neighborhood, whom I see regularly when I walk my dog. I have been treated with consummate courtesy and friendship with the ladies at the RC supply store where I have bought candles and hosts for nearly 30 years. I even enjoy a Novus Ordo Mass from time to time (although out of respect for the Holy Father, I abstain from receiving communion). My conscience is very clear with regard to John 17. So I can only express total rejection of the suggestion that I need to "repent."

Why do I not become RC? I probably accept more RC theology than the average monsignor. But there is still that nagging, gnawing articulum stantis aut cadentis ecclesiae, the great gulf fixed between us. God will bridge that gulf in His own way and in His own time.

poetreader said...

Fr. Hart,

I wholeheartedly stand on the same principles as do you. The riches of our Anglican heritage, and its thorough grounding in the Ancient Faith, must be defended and preserved; but I have serious objection to one statement in your last comment.

But, that does not mean that we who inherited the problem are, ourselves, culpable or guilty of creating the division. We did not create the problem, but rather have to live with it.

Are we truly without fault? Is there nothing we are doing that tends to keep the barriers up? I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that both historically and presently there have been and are things done by both sides of this unfortunate division to produce and continue the division. I am continually finding attitudes and convictions in myself that are not helpful -- and I am convinced that each one of us individually, and the bunch of us collectively, have such things to discover and correct.

We may have to live with it while we are earnestly working to solve it. The extant divisions will not yield to easy solutions, but can we live comfortably with what is objectively wrong?

Our separate existence is an objective wrong. Rome's separate existience without us and without the East is an objective wrong. The separate existence of Eastern Orthodoxy without either is an objective wrong. Yes, we are, in the way that matters most, already one -- nut it is objective sin that we do not manifest it in our lives. There are no easy answers, but without deep and sincere repentance on all sides, we remain in the state of rejecting God's will.

Sorry if this sounds harsh on my part, but so far as I can see anything less is strictly subchristian.


Carlos said...

Anglicans should never settle for Novus Ordo... ever.

Fr. Robert Hart said...


I mean only that none of us were alive in 1054 or in the 16th century either. That is all I meant. However, I believe a lot of us have done many things to increase understanding and charity, and that is about the most that we can do, or try to do, within the reality of who each of us is, and the limits of our reach.

Deacon Down Under said...

It is so encoraging to finally find Anglicans who embrace the validity of the branch theory of Catholic Christendom - that the Roman, Eastern and Anglican Churches possess all the marks of being part of the sadly split One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

When I look at the liberalism in the Roman Church in Australia, the US, and much of the UK and Continent, at the resistance to the new liturgical movement, to the restored Tridentine mass, and the desire of many non-habit wearing nuns to be ordained, I rejoice in the solid patristic faith of the Anglican Continuum.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Actually, I have not written this post about Church unity, but about a travesty perpetrated on those who have been rendered helpless by ignorance, and by misinformation. As long as Anglo-Papalists (including people outside the Continuing Churches, such as Fr.John Hunwicke,etc.) continue to spread their ideas, and as long as so many Anglicans are ignorant and misinformed, what we really will continue to see is individuals, both lay and clergy, joining the RCC for completely invalid reasons, and more often than not to their detriment. They will think that the Articles are "too Protestant," without any idea what the word "Catholic" should mean to Anglicans in light of the standard of Universal Consensus and Antiquity.

The entire discussion about one jurisdiction making pro-Roman noises in reality has nothing to do with a possible merger (which simply is not going to happen anyway), but everything to do with opening a trap door through which many individuals continue to fall. It prevents discussion of what could to lead to real unity, namely a united Continuum-something genuinely possible in our lifetimes, though less ambitious than all that talk about healing the Great Schism. Also, it keeps making that damned trap door pop open so that people fall through it.

Education can close that door, and closing it is a great service that ought to be rendered.

acalayreader said...

Father Hart,

Thanks for you fine post.

Anonymous said...

There has been a fad of making high-sounding apologies for things like African slavery, abuse of Native Americans, the whaling industry, the Norman conquest, and goodness knows what other events and tragedies of remote history. This is usually practiced by the panjandrums of the Far Left, for example KJS or BHO. It is surprising to find the same kind of simpering sentimentality applied to the Great Schism of 1054 or the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century. This is an unhelpful and meaningless exercise, whether practiced by those on the political left or the religious right. I refuse to join in a guilt-trip because God has seen fit to bless more than one branch of His Church and continues to do so richly.

I am also old enough to recall the proposal of Dr Eugene Carson Blake, Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church USA, which he delivered in Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, as guest of Bishop James Pike. The year was 1963. That "Blake-Pike Proposal" led to COCU, which eventually led to nothing at all. But it is amusing to hear the very same cliches, the same appeal to John 17, the same threadbare rhetoric all over again. It was empty and fatuous then, and it has not improved with age.

Anonymous said...

"Our separate existence is an objective wrong."

This is neither self-evident or axiomatic. I reject this assertion altogether. It seems oblivious to Paul's well-known analogy of the Body and its many different parts with different functions. We commonly apply this to the various human members of the Church. But it is with equal propriety applied to different religious orders. Is it "objectively wrong" for Jesuits to be drastically different from Carthusians, or Dominicans from Paulists? The original reasons for separation in many cases were truly sinful. But it does not necessarily follow that the resulting situation is "objectively wrong." If it were, we could not account for God's ample blessings on the rich variety of "all who profess and call themselves Christians."

The notion that Christian unity must be expressed in one monolithic organization is not Biblical, feasible, or even spiritually wholesome.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Obviously, my fellow bloggers may demonstrate disagreement of the "robust if polite" kind, because we are not obligated to be in perfect agreement. We may serve the Continuing churches better by disagreeing with charity, because certain things need to be discussed.

So, I will state my truest opinion. If we are going to have meaningful unity it must start in a realistic context, and have a realistic goal. We cannot bring Rome and Constantinople together, but we can bring the Continuum into a state of unity. But, how can we bring the Anglican Continuum into unity (beyond the ACC/APCK/UECNA concordat) if one of the larger jurisdictions is looking away from Anglicanism altogether?

Others are free to jump in and tell me why I am wrong, and we can discuss it. But, all I see coming from this new brand of Anglo-Papalism are these things:

1) The above mentioned inferiority complex
2) The above mentioned combination of ignorance and misinformation about what Anglicanism actually is, and about its teaching
3) A hole through which many individuals are lost to us, and for no good reason.

My conclusion, with which anyone is free to debate, is that the TAC/Rome issue is hurting the Continuum, and harming individuals who need the truth that our patrimony gives. The Anglican Continuum is losing people, and those distinctive features by which we may be a blessing to the larger Catholic Church, are in danger of being forgotten.

I do urge unity, workable and practical Anglican unity. I see no other way to even help forward the cause of any larger kind.

I am willing to be told if or why I am wrong.

RC Cola said...

Having recently swam this way across the Tiber, I cannot imagine for the life of me why any Anglo-Catholic priest would prefer the Novus Ordo Missae over the BCP.

It is insipid and vacuous. The ICEL English used is banal at best; it has very meaningful mistranslations in it, which caused me to doubt the orthodoxy of those who put it in place.

I know that some Anglicans like the NOM because it is a departure from the historical Missale Romanum, and thus seems a victory against the Catholic Reformation--as if Rome admitted it was worshiping wrongly all along. But it is no victory at all. I fail to be enthusiastic about any and all departures from historic liturgical texts, especially the Tridentine Missal which can very easily trace its way from edition to edition back to the Gregorian Sacramentary. The NOM is based on now out-dated research and the false sense of antiquarianism. The NOM is an anachronism because it claims to be modern, updated and "relevant" while at the same time being a "return" to the worship of the primitive Church. Horse manure.

A non-historic liturgy is no real liturgy at all. And the victory of a non-historic liturgy is cause for lamentation, not sneering delight.

Being one of the few non-bitter ex-Romans that I know of, I am more sympathetic toward Anglicans who wish to cross the Tiber and enter the RCC than many other Anglicans are. I know the draw that Rome can have on one's heart--especially with a Pope like Benedict XVI. It's hard not to be drawn toward Rome. And the problems I have with Rome, are not the historic problems that Anglicans have.

My beef with Rome is strictly disciplinary and ecclesiastical. Basically, the RC bishops need to be poisoned Borgia-style and an entire new level of "middle management" be put into place. The sexual scandals were systematized by bishops like Rembert Weakland, and the current crop is simply perpetuating a culture of sodomy in seminaries while sweeping the human detritus (a.k.a. victims) under the rug. Let's put it this way, a priest at my seminary had a protege-sodomite studying at another seminary. The priest was assigned as the Vatican inspector to that seminary and naturally gave it a bill of good health. So the Vatican, through the USCCB, assigned the very priests that they needed to root out to do the rooting out. All that happened was men that made the mistake of speaking out to the inspectors about problems ended up getting run out on a rail.

And they want to join this? Ay ay ay!!!

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

While I agree that certain forms of Anglo-Papalism are disloyal and incoherent, I do not agree this is universally the case, as I have argued before in essays included in my Apologetics link to which reference has already been made.

Also, one will find in the same resources my opinion repeatedly made reasonably clear that a number of English Reformers were in fact materially heretical in certain areas, but that their heterodoxies were not, by the grace of God and the influence of the more orthodox, imposed definitively upon our formularies. So, I am not enamoured of the position that asks me to access Holy Tradition via the English Reformers unless the Tradition is used to filter them (rather than the other way around) and we include under the title English Reformer all the High Churchmen (and sympathetic monarchs) from Elizabethan times till the 1662 Revision of the BCP.

Two more points:

1. The question of whose Catholicism is better or more pure is, in my opinion, of little worth. Here is a place where comparisons are truly odious. After all, Catholicism is as Catholicism does. While our patrimony has much of genuine Catholicity and spiritual value, are we willing to pronounce that, here and now, our jurisdictions manifest Christianity in a way undeniably superior to and healthier than the Eastern Orthodox or Roman Catholic jurisdictions? And if we treat these other jurisdictions as Catholic sister churches for our part, as we have claimed, we cannot (coherently) simultaneously accuse them of definitive heresy, whatever weaknesses or deficiencies in teaching or practice we may perceive in them. And have we none of our own? So, it comes down to the duty of uncovering and unfolding an underlying dogmatic unity and resolving differences patiently and humbly.

2. The 39 Articles, though intrinsically defensible and within the realms of orthodoxy if interpreted on Anglican
Catholic principles, did in fact include among their authors those of heretical opinions and bear the marks of their ambiguous provenance. We are under no obligation and do not need to idealise either them or their authors. And they are not, in fact, among the binding formularies of the ACC, not being mentioned at all in the Affirmation, Constitution or Canons.

acalayreader said...

Father Hart,

I agree with your comment about unity within the Continuum. I am a member of a church which was once part of APCK. Returning from a weeks vacation one year, I discovered that the parish had moved to the ACA. I still don't fully understand the reasons why this was done. The result was not, however, unity.
Shortly after this change, TAC/ACA made their approach to Rome. Sunday attendance was on a upward swing prior to the switch to the ACA and has been steadily downward since.
The way that information regarding the approach has been presented, or "leaked", has not been reassuring.

Sandra McColl said...

Wow, Fr Kirby! You've said it all. I can go back into my hole for a while.

Deacon Down Under said...

Fr. Kirby hits it on the head! The 39 Articles were written at a time when Anglican Catholicism was under significant threat. While the Articles can be interpreted in a Catholic light, as Fr. Kirby notes, the association with heretical protestant reformers is there, and the Continuum has little to gain by highlighting this somewhat anachronistic and non-binding formulae.

The plethora of acronymns and episcopal hierachies that consitute the Continuum need to reduce division if the Continuum is to be credible. The ending of divisions and schisms would give the Continuum credibility. How can we talk of swimming the Tiber or reconciliation with the East when we cannot reconcile with each other.

It may be that the continuing expression of English Catholicism which is the Continuum will be better served when those who doubt the validity of Anglican Catholicism cross the Tiber to the Roman Church.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with Fr Hart and especially with his last post. While the TAC's Roman project may be well intended
(that is not for me to judge) it has been demonstrably divisive. It has driven a wedge between the TAC and the other portions of the Continuum. It has also been the occasion of much turmoil within the TAC itself. I count at least 11 parishes of the ACA which have jumped ship since this project has been in the works. This divisiveness makes the unity rhetoric seem rather hollow and the appeal to John 17 quite disingenuous.

poetreader said...

I was struggling to find ways to say fundamentally what Fr. Kirby has said better than I could. While I am in substantial agreement with most of what Fr. Hart says on these matters, I'm uncomfortable in couching description of our heritage in terms that sound as though I am being competitive with other Catholic traditions, or as though I believe myself and my tradition to be absolutely pure in teaching. Frankly, I know that latter not to be the case. One opinion that humility requires me to hold (though, alas, all too loosely most of the time) is that I myself, personally, though unaware, hold firmly to notions that should be termed heretical. I do not have it all right, never have, and never will, this side of the grave. I'm always in need of learning, always in need of correction, and so is my own little branch of Christendom -- and this is true for every other part of Christ's Church.

I'm not an RC, and cannot see how I could be one, but they are indeed my brethren, and it is not impossible that there are truths to be found there that I've missed. The Roman
Church is, to my mind, at least as much and probably more a teacher as an antagonist. Benedict, without actually saying so, has demonstrated that he has found correctives among us for his teaching, and that is as it should be.


Fr. Robert Hart said...

I can think of no body of Christian men that has been pure of bad ideas, if only because records everywhere show internal conflict and debate. What matters is the conciliar result. The formularies of Anglicanism have been so perfectly balanced, and carefully worded, that I most certainly do see them as teaching the most pure and accurate Catholic doctrine that best fits the requirements of Universal Consensus and Antiquity. This includes the 39 Articles.

The problem is not that Anglicans in the Continuum are blindly following those few Reformers; the problem is that they are almost completely ignorant of what they really taught, and why their teaching is more in line with the Fathers of the Church than what Rome taught then, and what Rome teaches now. Until an appreciation for the English Reformation is restored, with the aid of writers like E.J. Bicknell, it is counter productive to look for heresy in them.

Furthermore, heretics by what standard? The standard of Universal Consensus and Antiquity, or the standard of Medieval or modern Rome? For example, Cranmer and Hooker's refusal to identify the point in the service at which the elements are consecrated, and their refusal to say how they are consecrated (i.e. the spiritual mechanics, so to speak, of what exactly happens and when), was heresy by the standard of Trent. But, that is because what Trent meant by "transubstantiation" was nothing more than a human speculation. And so on and so forth.

Anonymous said...

When Jesus prayed that they may all be one, I think he meant one in the essentials of faith and belief.

I really don't Christ is concerned about hierarchy and bishops in a one church worldwide system.

I think to assume that Jesus meant that there must be only one church, under a worldwide dictatorship, is a very wrong assumption.

BCP Catholic

poetreader said...

OK, but to assume that to be "one" implies that one can be even slightly content with the existence of a whole raft of groups who are not in communion with each other is nothing short of ridiculous. You are not one in any visible sense with people on the other side of such a formidable barrier. In such a case there is real and palpable division. You are correct that He was not thinking of organizational structures, but He was thinking of a oneness of heart and mind such that separate altars would be unthinkable. Nothing short of that fits with any of the rest of what He taught. We do not have that kind of unity, and thus fall short of His expectations.


poetreader said...

And again, to repeat Fr. Hart's admonition, this thread has little to do with the desirability of unity among Christians. No one can rationally defend the current state of affairs as right in God's sight.

We are however, talking about what we bring to the table, about the understanding of the one Faith which we have inherited as Anglicans and the degree to which our historic insights are essential to a balanced theology in a putative reunited church. I can't be as convinced as Fr. Hart that our way is necessarily so far superior to other understandings. I believe that we, like Rome, and like the East, and, yes, like Protestants-commonly-so-called, still have a great deal to learn, and misconceptions to be cleared up. But we also have a great deal to teach that seems to have been forgotten by other groupings of Christians. To jettison our Anglican heritage, the writings of Hooker and others, and take on the emphasis of another church in its totality is not only to deprive ourselves of much of value, but to cheat other Christians of what we have that they need.

We, and all the others, do need to learn and to change, but our need to preserve and to teach is just as strong. I'll be bold enough to say that Rome needs us and our heritage at least as much as we need them.


Canon Tallis said...

It seems to me that the comments on this post have wandered all over the place without focusing on those who, while calling themselves Anglicans and having accepted Anglican ordination, absolutely refuse to stop bad mouthing the relevant prayer books and the rest of the classical Anglican formularies. These are the bishops and priests whose clothes, churches and liturgies make them look and sound more like Romans and papists than English churchmen and churches ever did before the sixteenth century and the Reformation.

To me the only solution to this problem is to ask each and every cleric whether they intend to be and appear to be Anglican rather than a Romanist of any stripe. My admittedly fundamentalist attitude may be the result of my time in the military where we all knew that to wear the uniform of another country opened you to charges which could result in your death by firing squad. On the other hand it may be that I find most of the specifically Roman stuff ugly and . . . . worse!

I knew the Roman Church only too well long before I had any idea that the Book of Common Prayer and Anglicanism existed. My opinion of it then was not high and has not improved any since. I knew many fine, moral folk who were Romans, but there were those other . . . things which I simply don't want to discuss and which will not be solved in the Roman Church until they completely abandon what St Paul as called "the doctrine of devils" and return to the practice of the earliest Church.

I think that folks who want to be papists should cross the Tiber as quickly as possible and never look back. I am tired of those who have done so spending time crying in the back pews of classical Anglicanism as Newman was said to have done.

We are never going to be able to face our own evangelical challenge until we have shed those who are sue that they would be much happier elsewhere. We need priests and bishops who, having put their hand to the plow, will look at the furrow in front of them instead of letting their eyes stray to the next field.

I particularly commend Father Hart keeping to his argument and the comments of R C Cola, High Churchman, BCP Catholic and Father Wells.

Anonymous said...

A good friend of mine, who happens to be a Roman Catholic priest, once explained to me that it is not snobbery by which non-RCs are not permitted to receive the Eucharist in the RCC, even though they are baptized Christians and confirmed by a bishop, such as Anglicans as myself.

The reason is that in the Church of Rome, as he explained it, when you receive the Eucharist it is more than just receiving the Body and Blood of Christ as we Anglicans believe. As he explained it to me, in the Church of Rome, receiving the Eucharist has another meaning attached. By receiving the Eucharist in the RCC you are affirming that you embrace all of the teachings of the RCC.

When hearing it explained that way, I wouldn't want to receive their communion. I have attended their classes on their Cathechism, and I cannot in good conscience embrace all of their teachings.

I am not attacking the RCC at all. I do embrace much of what they teach, but I definately do not embrace all of it.

Yet, I still have fellowship and prayer with them. I play the organ for their Saturday evening Mass, and pray with them. I do feel totally "one with them in Christ". Many RC friends join together to sing in the choir in our Anglican parish for Evensong. They feel that they are "one in Christ" with us too.

The Eucharist is not the only sign of Christian unity. It is only one sign of it. Prayers, singing, baptism, Bible Study, and too many more reasons to name exist to show that we are one in Christ.

I still think that Christ was not concerned with heirarch and bishops when He prayed that we should be one. Personally, I think Christ would find the hierarchies/governmental structures of all churches to be at odds with the loving shepherds that He intended the bishops to be.

We have turned the loving shepherds that Christ wanted into "bean counters" and administrators in too many cases. The smallness of the continuum allows are bishops to at least be somewhat closer to being shepherds than other churches.

BCP Catholic

Will said...

I would agree with Fr. Hart about the 39 Articles. They are actually a good statement of faith and doctrine, and Bicknell's approach is good. I would say the problem with Anglicans today (and this includes the Continuum) is largely that they can state what they are against but they cannot articulate what they are for.

To me this is how the Articles can be used: to be a positive statement of what we believe. Rather than pretend they don't exist, or attack them on some grounds as being "too Protestant", serves no useful purpose. If one thinks the doctrine expressed in the Articles cannot be reconciled with modern Anglicans, why not use them as a base for a modern statement of faith, and actually teach people a theological understanding of what they believe? But I would say the Articles are still good for us, even now.

Canon Tallis said...

When Anglo-Papalists complain about the Thirty Nine Articles, I always wonder if they know that a book by Fra Francisco de Santa Clara (born Christopher Davenport) in which he affirmed that the Articles were completely in accord with the decrees of the Council of Trent received the approval of the Vatican. This was long before Newman and Tract 90.

And I thought they had such high respect for the pronouncements of the Roman See.

As for receiving communion in the Roman Church, I and a fair number of other Anglicans I know have done so on occasion. In my case it was at a Roman monastery where I was told that the monks would be very offended if I did not receive communion with them. They stressed that we both understood and believed the Creeds with the same faith. So there are Romans out there who don't accept the teaching of PB Catholic's priest friend. And, yes, Benedict XVI would probably be very upset at what they had done, but considering some of the actions of John Paul II, a little less than quite a few Romans are upset about some if not many of the things which he did - and not with Christians either.

Canon Tallis said...

I went back to read the post again (yes, I do think it is that good) and was reminded of a quote which I only vaguely remember about Christianity not being tried. In this case, the ACA synod, I think it can be affirmed that these folk have never actually tried Anglicanism. They, as many others of their ilk, have been doing something else entirely and only calling it Anglicanism. It is what they have substituted for the faith and practice, the doctrine, discipline and worship of Anglicanism as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer, that has failed. But there is no way that THAT is Anglicanism.

Anonymous said...

There will always be people who feel a need to become Roman Catholics. It would take a long article to list all the reasons, theological, emotional or just personal (like a desire to attend church with one's grand-children). I doubt there is much we can do about this; it's hard to convince someone not to run away from home or get into a bad marriage.

But much harm has been done by a certain type of Anglo-catholic who tries to make his church look as Roman as possible, either pre- or post-Vatican II. We have fostered the impression of being "Catholic-lite," Catholics who smile on artificial birth-control, who don't charge money for annulments, where priests can get married.

I have no hesitancy in stating frequently that the classical Anglicanism of the 1549--1928 Common Prayer Tradition, of the Articles and the Homilies, the religion of Jewell, Whitgift and Hooker, is the MOST faithful to Holy Scripture and the ecumenical consensus of the first 1500 years of the Christian era. I intensely resent the repeated allegation that the authors of the 39 Articles were closet heretics, especially when those 16th century Anglican worthies affirmed the full Trinitarian and Christological dogmas of the anicent councils. It is so easy for arm-chair theologians and internet warriors to hurl anathems at men who experienced exile, persecution and sometimes the stake for a Biblical and thoroughly Patristic faith.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I don't know that all of the TAC has failed to practice Anglicanism, because I would have to know what all of them have been doing. And, I still retain a very high regard for Bishop Rocco Florenza. But, it seems clear that a good number of the TAC clergy, including bishops, fail to appreciate Anglicanism, and have swallowed the propaganda of Anglicanism's detractors, hook, line and sinker.

It is fair to criticize Rome to the point where we bring the truth into focus; and, frankly, only that far. They are not infallible on their own, because they are not the whole Catholic Church. They ought to stop saying to other members, "we have no need of thee...thou art not of the body" (and, Anglo-Papalists need to stop saying, "Because we are not Roman, we are not of the Body"). Their doctrines still obscure the good simplicity of the Gospel, and sometimes seem very much to contradict it. In terms of polity, they enforce self-destructive rules that Anglicans ought not to burden themselves with. In terms of discipline, their failure amounts to a horrifying scandal.

The Anglo-Papalists, including those trying to lead the TAC into the Roman Communion, seem to me like a fellow who is in love with an odious, ugly woman with a social disease. We ask ourselves, what does he see in her? When Rome has demonstrated that new policies of internal discipline have cleaned up the homosexual clergy problem, and the pederast scandal, and is willing to come to a table to discuss old theological debates, she may seem a lot more attractive. But, time is required on all these points.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Fr. Wells wrote:

I intensely resent the repeated allegation that the authors of the 39 Articles were closet heretics, especially when those 16th century Anglican worthies affirmed the full Trinitarian and Christological dogmas of the anicent councils. It is so easy for arm-chair theologians and internet warriors to hurl anathems at men who experienced exile, persecution and sometimes the stake for a Biblical and thoroughly Patristic faith.

Unless I am very much mistaken, the alleged heresies boil down to something having to do with the Sacrament of Holy Communion. Most probably, the supposed heresies are because Anglicans never tried to define and describe the Sacrament beyond the actual limits of revelation as understood by the Church in the times of the Fathers. Frankly whether or not some Anglo-Catholics like Cranmer's Eucharistic theology (as repeated and somewhat expanded by Hooker), it simply cannot be called heresy by any true standard. heresy it was not-not at all. And, frankly, I strongly affirm their emphasis on the saving grace of the sacrament when it is received with faith as the only truly Catholic doctrine of the Sacrament, and that concerning which we may be certain.

Will said...

Fr. Wells,

I am in awe of your way with words. I hope you don't mind but I swiped the last paragraph of your 5:32 comment and posted it on MY blog - it is that good.


Anonymous said...

Canon Tallis: I have on occasion, and not for over 20 years, received Holy Communion from RC altars. I did so on a regular basis when I was organist in a RC church. But is it spiritually healthy to receive communion with people who defy the discipline, stated in unmistakable language in the front of the missalette, of their own Church? I too have known RC's who would be "offended" if you do not go to communion. But they were just as eager to share the Lord's Body with unbaptized and unbelieving Jews and Buddhists. If your monastic friends were offended, that's tough. It is sometimes wrong to give offense, and sometimes wrong to take offense.

One more thing which makes me skeptical of ecumenical discussion and proposals with the RCC is that I always wonder which RCC are they talking about? The Church of Benedict XVI or the Church of the USCCB? The two are hardly the same.

Anonymous said...

Fr Hart: you may be right about the alleged heresies of the Anglian Reformers, but I was thinking it had something to do with the doctrines of Original Sin, Predestination, and Justification by Faith Only, taught in Articles IX through XVIII.

It is far easier to hurl out blistering invective than to learn what Biblical teaching and the Ecumenical consensus really is (singular verb deliberate).

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Yes, it could be those things. It is so easy to react to such doctrines without evaluating them. It is easy to mistake them for new ideas in the 16th century.