Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Roman Offer: Another Perspective

While I do not see the doctrinal differences between us and the Roman Catholic Church as starkly as Fr Hart, and indeed do not see any insuperable barriers once certain qualifications within the Roman tradition are taken into account, I do have two objections to the "Roman Offer" to traditionalist Anglicans as presented recently that I do not think have been discussed here yet. (These are not my only objections, as I agree to varying extents with others that have been discussed here.)

Firstly, while the Note makes positive reference to the phrase "reunited but not absorbed", the posited reunification is in fact an absorption, since it involves not re-establishing communion with pre-existing continuing Anglican bodies, for example, but dissolving them and having Rome create new jurisdictions for them ab initio. And these "Personal Ordinariates" will be subsumed in the Roman Catholic "Latin-rite" national churches. This offer involves a presumption that it is certain that no Anglican church interested in reunion exists as a "particular Church" presently (as otherwise something like a uniat-style solution would have to be on the table which respected present jurisdictional structures) and thus does not really involve corporate ecclesial reunion. That this is inevitable because of the present Roman position on Anglican Orders brings me to the second problem.

Throughout the Note there is a careful and pointed adherence to terminology which implicitly denies Anglican Orders, despite the fact the some former Anglican clergy have been re-ordained sub conditione by the Roman Catholic Church in the past. It is always "Anglican clergy" as against "Catholic priests". They are even careful to call our non-ordained folk "faithful" rather than laity, as the latter of these might be taken to imply the other class was not laic. The one apparent exception to this is very carefully phrased: "some Anglicans have abandoned the tradition of conferring Holy Orders only on men by calling women to the priesthood and the episcopacy". The insertion of the words "the tradition of" and the use of the words "calling ... to" emphasise that Anglicans, from this persepctive, could only "call" to Holy Orders, and could not abandon "conferring Holy Orders" itself (as they purportedly never have so conferred), but only the tradition of limiting Orders to men. This is a problem for two reasons. One, it is of course a continuation of the unnecessary and untruthful derogation of our Orders, which are in point of fact valid, as I and Fr Hart have argued at length here and elsewhere before. Two, it undermines the claim that this is a compassionate and courageous act by the Holy See. Why? Because either Rome is still sure Anglican Orders are invalid as a matter of infallible teaching, or it is not. If the latter is true, then the language of the Note is offensive without reason, and necessarily involves knowing and accepting the plausibility of Roman and Anglican defences of our Orders but pretending these are irrelevant and sending the message that all Anglican priests would be ordained absolutely rather than conditionally anyway. If the former, then honesty and charity would seem to require that Rome demand of these "converts" immediate cessation of all "mock" sacraments with their risk of material idolatry in Eucharistic Adoration and false assurance in absolution, for example, and would also demand ex fide repudiation of their previous claims to valid orders and ecclesial reality so as to ensure orthodoxy.

Please note that I am not saying the motives of those making the offer were bad or insincere. But there does seem to be some internal inconsistency, especially as very positive reference is made in a general way to ARCIC documents, despite these including the argument that the Roman rejection of Anglican Orders should be revisited and reviewed, and despite the fact that the CDF was very critical of ARCIC in the past.

Fundamentally, for those like myself who accept that the Anglican Churches remained, despite their faults, the native Catholic jurisdiction of the British Commonwealth and colonies and mission zones until their definitive defection from Catholic Faith and Order in the late Twentieth Century, and who believe that the Continuing Churches, particularly the ACC, APCK and UECNA, were and are the legitimate and canonical successors to the jurisdictions thus abandoned, our duty is clear. We must remain faithful to our Churches, since they remain orthodox particular Churches within the Catholic Church with not only valid orders but valid jurisdiction over us. The way forward ecumenically is to maintain our corporate identity and fidelity, and so engage in dialogue with fellow Catholic Churches from a position of both moral and organisational strength.


Deacon Down Under said...

Thank you Father Kirby for a resolute defence of Anglican orders, and for discussing the consequences of this for Anglican-Roman Catholic reunion.

I believe that the Holy See needs to be again asked about the validity of our orders. There is a huge moral and spiritual difference betweeen conditional reordination and absolute ordination. I also agree that every Anglican priest who wants unification with the Roman see needs to question the moral and spiritual consequences of denying every mass they have offered, and every confession that they have head. For that is the heart of the Roman reordination of Anglicans.

I agree with Fr. Kirby that the ACC, UECNA and DCTK constitute the bona-fide orthodox successor Churches to the apostate Canterbury communion churches.That we have "Pro-Cathedrals" is because our cathedrals serve temporarily until we regain the lost episcopal churches currently occupied by the apostate Canterbury churches.

That orthodox cathedrals and churches across the globe have been surrendered to the ordainers of women deeply saddens me. On one level, bricks and mortar only, bhut on another very symbolic. Ironic that we have to leave, we have to argue for our right to be, while the iconoclasts of the modern era denigrate the Catholic faith with the Gospel of secular relativism retaining churches, endowments and legal status.

The aspiration to unite all Christians in the West under the Patriarch of the West is a noble one. Such unity though cannot be made merely on the basis of sentiment or nostalgia.

In Russia after the revolution, for almost 10 years the Bolsheviks courted the Living Church - a modernised liturgically and doctrinally Russian Orthodox Church that failed to win over all the bishops, priests and laity. It fizzled out when the Soviet state realised that it was a lost cause.

For orthodox Anglicans the Canterbury "churches" are that Living Church - apostates who have ordained women, repudiated Catholic faith and order, replacing it with a secular Gospel. The validity of their sacraments has to be questioned. (To Part 2)

Deacon Down Under said...

Part 2 - Not so the Anglican Catholics who repudiated apostasy to remain faithful to the Catholic faith. Our orders remain valid. Our sacraments remain intact. Our mission remains clear. To be the living Catholic Church of the English peoples - which means the British Commonwealth, the United States and anywhere elese that the dear old Church of England evangelised.

For Anglican Catholics the logical reunification should be Uniate status - similar to the Ukranian Catholic Church, with an Anglican patriarch with geographical jurisidictional status that corresponds to the ACC, DCTK and UECNA.

Logically these three continuing Churches - the soul of the Chambers consecrations need to have legal and organic unity to speak with one voice, one Metropolitan, one Synod and one mission statement for orthodox Anglican Catholics.

It is a pity that the TAC has usurped the voice of Anglican Catholic orthodoxy, at least in the popular press. The concept of the TAC is not so bad - the need for the continuing Churches to have one primatial voice and unity.

Now is the time for the bishops, priests and laity of the ACC, UECNA and ACC to attain one voice, one unity and one synod to reach out to conservatives within the Canterbury communion, and to those within the TAC and elsewhere who choose not toi swim the Tiber with their bishops.

Those conservative Anglicans whether Anglo-Catholic or evangelical who remain within the official Anglican communion must come out, seeing the heresy that their churches have adopted. To that extent, better to swim the Tiber than to drown in the cess pit of Canterbury.

Better still to come out and contribute to the mission of Anglican Catholicism which retains it's heart and soul in valid sacraments, in the Word, in a mission to continue to share the Gospel with the world.

Do we as Anglicans have a valid place within Catholic Christendom alongside the Latin Rite and Eastern Rite Churches? If the answer is a resolute "yes" then let us all repent of our divisions, and ensure that Anglican orthodoxy has one voice, one synod, one primate and one heart. As I shake my head at yet another jurisdiction, Archbishop Duncan's no women priests and yes women priests ACNA I do not mean that the continuum should found yet another organisation. Somewhere, somehow the will has to be found to surrender egos and merge into an existing Anglican Catholic Church

Fr. Robert Hart said...

...some former Anglican clergy have been re-ordained sub conditione by the Roman Catholic Church in the past.

The only case I know of is Graham Leonard, and unfortunately only because of the Old Catholic Infusion. Granted, once is enough to make the point; but, regarding the Dutch Touch, we do better by having proved Rome's argument against classic Anglican Orders to have been flat out wrong all along; and, indeed, we have proved the Roman argument wrong.

They are even careful to call our non-ordained folk "faithful" rather than laity, as the latter of these might be taken to imply the other class was not laic.

That is a very good observation. There are a lot of subtle problems with how they express themselves, and we do well to pay attention to just how deeply insulting they are, even at their best. Of course, they do not mean these little digs as insults; but, we do well to pay attention, because these things reveal their true intention: The complete destruction of Anglican patrimony. This is how Archbishop Hepworth believes Anglicanism would be protected; and this is why I must raise my voice to object. This is "protection" in the same way as being swallowed and digested.

poetreader said...

I don't want to seem combative, but this piece forces me to bring up matters I've avoided heretofore.

I really like Fr. Kirby's piece and find him raising many of the same concerns I have. I share much of his discomfort with the Roman proposals for much the same reasons.

However, I'm afraid that his bringing these issues up raises a not altogether unrelated problem within Continuing Anglicanism, and that is that very similar issues arise in any effort to unite the Continuing Churches.

Though many do not agree with the position taken (including, I believe, Fr, Kirby himself) the official position and/or prevailing opinion in his own jurisdiction is that ordination conferred in the ACA is, if not invalid, at least doubtful. I have been told that the transfer of an ACA priest to ACC requires a "conditional" re-ordination, thus erecting a very similar roadblock to traditional Anglican unity. I passionately desire that our competing little sects (to deliberately choose a rather snarky term, as we are all trying to deserve it) be reunited, but ACC is asking something nearly as huge as is the RCC in insisting that such a union requires the tacit admission that the Eucharist I received this morning may indeed have been invalid and my adoration thus formally idolatrous.

That's not all that much easier to swallow than what Rome demands. I want unity with all my heart, but it appears that I cannot have it with good conscience with either RCC or ACC, at least not on the principles Fr. Kirby raises. I have heard the arguments raised in ACC, and, frankly, find Rome's totally unacceptable condemnation of Anglican orders to be far more logical and neither more nor less spurious than ACC's rejection of ours.

My priest is a priest. My bishop is a bishop. The Eucharist I have received is His Body and Blood. The absolution I have received is a loosing upon earth and in heaven, an assurance I can rely upon. I'm not able to tell either Rome or the ACC that this is all a lie or a dreadful mistake.

As I said, I've not wanted to say all this, but seem to be called upon to do so. Frankly, the mistakes my bishops have made in this approach to Rome (and I do feel there have been mistakes) appear to me to arise to a large extent out of a frustration over the seemingly insuperable barriers that have been raised to Anglican unity, I hear both ACA and ACC becoming very eloquent in describing the sins or supposed sins of the "opposition", but seldom admitting to how very much of the problem lies in what they themselves have done.

The Way of Christ is a life of repentance that has no room for an attitude of triumphalism or self-justification. Until Christians come to know this deeply and act upon it with passion, there will be no real unity. I believe it is time for calloused knees, beaten breasts, and tear-filled eyes, for us all to recognize ourselves in the Prodigal Son, and also in his Elder Brother, and to come humbly to the Father who will not approve the divisions and backbiting.

Do I have a program to offer? No, I do not. But current events well demonstrate that something is awry in our attitudes. And I do not believe God is pleased.


Fr. D. said...

A very timely post Father Kirby and I thank you for it.
Fr. D.

Anonymous said...

Ed, since I have entered the ministry of the ACC exactly three years ago this month, after being originally ordained by AFM Clavier about 29 years ago, I am familiar with the procedure you mention.

I was required to be ordained "sub conditione" both to the diaconate and to the priesthood. At no time was I told (nor was it even implied) that my original Ordinations were invalid or worthless. This was simply a matter of removing irregularities, a procedure of "clearing up a cloudy title," if you will. This was done without publicity at week-day services in the Cathedral in Athens, GA, with a small congregation present.

Anglican clergy who go to Rome must be ordained ab initio -- that is, from scratch.

There is a world of difference between a conditional ordination and an ordination from scratch.

As for ACA clergy, this would surely be handled on a case-by-case basis, depending on the Bishop and circumstances of the original ordination. The hierarchy of the ACC, I have observed, excel in handling awkward situations with great pastoral skill. This should not be a barrier to unity amongst us.

Anonymous said...

The Canadian Province of the TAC certainly has valid orders.The ACC/OP
could see several TAC parishes seek refuge there but their clergy would be surprised and incredulous if they were to hear that their orders were suspect.Hopefully what Poetreader has been told is inaccurate.If the ACC/OP was to investigate the Canadian line and find it suspect it would call into question the validity of their own orders.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Some jurisdictions have been accepting, for example, Episcopal priests, ordained after the 1976 Divide, without at least conditional ordination. Sorry, but this sloppy approach is not acceptable with us. Nonetheless, it is Anglican Orders that the ACC is recognizing as fully valid, and a bit of the humility of St. Chad may be worth learning from. That we put complete confidence in unquestionable Anglican Orders does, itself, make a very big difference; Rome has created a fairy tale about Anglican Orders, which is altogether different.

Cherub said...

I was brought up to believe Anglican Orders were valid. Post Apostolicae curae doubt was increasingly being diminished by the inclusion of Old Catholic bishops in Episcopal Ordinations. Remember the problem for Rome was the 1552 Ordinal and the years of the Republic, not the 1662 Ordinal. I think Rome was ready to reconsider the whole business of Anglican Orders prior to 1976. The ordinaion of women put paid to that. In the context of those times, if Rome considered Anglican orders to be valid did that include the women clergy? What of priests ordained by women bishops, or bishops who, contrary to Apostolic Authority, purported to ordain women. What did they intend when they tried to confer priestly orderts from women in the face of a clear word from Christ on the matter? On the matter of using "call", it is actually a term Catholic bishops use for their own and I do not think one should see anything sinister in that. Where absorption is concerned I think we should wait to see what is actually in the Apostolic Constitution before we say anything too definite about that.
Cheers and God Bless to you all.

RC Cola said...

The idea of calling laity the 'faithful' rather than laity is a big fashion even among RCs themselves. Funny that it should cause offense, because many RCs don't like being called "lay people" as it makes them feel second-class and (they say) it smacks of pre-Vatican II clericalism.

So the Note has offended by using a term meant not to offend. Very interesting.

RC Cola said...

Anglican clergy who go to Rome must be ordained ab initio -- that is, from scratch.

Not in all cases. An ACC priest could make a case that he has valid orders and he will get his case looked at. Of course, if a man was ordained by a female "bishop" then he's not going to get very far with that. Then again, men who were ordained by female bishops probably aren't too interested in going to Rome (or even to Athens, GA for that matter).

Anonymous said...

"MetroCatholic" ( this morning has an article headlined "Cardinal George Responds to Vatican Announcement on Anglican Groups Entering Catholic Church." (Note, the wording reinforces one of Kr Kirby's points.)

Cardinal George is Archbishop of Chicago and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, a position roughly analogous to that of KJS.

His remarks conclude: "For forty-five years, our Episcopal Conference has engaged in ecumenical dialogue with The Episcopal Church, which is the historic Province of the Anglican communion in North America. The Catholic Bishops of the United States remain committed to seeking deeper unity with the members of The Episcopal Church by means of theological dialogue and collaboration in activities that advance the mission of Christ and the welfare of society.”

As the Gospel of Mark says, "Let the reader understand."

Those conservative, traditional, or orthodox Anglicans who expect to find a house of refuge in the RCC may be in for a rude awakening.

MetroCatholic seems to be a publication of the RC Diocese of Dallas/Fort Worth. That may be significant in itself.

RC Cola said...

Cardinal George...yet one of so many false "conservatives" in the RCC. He is merely 'conserving' the Revolution. That is, dragging the Church through more nonsense. The best thing the RCC could do to improve relations with Anglicanism is sever all ties with TEO.

Fr. Robert Hart said...


The problem of women as deacons and priests did not exist prior to 1976 (in fact, they erased the lay ministry of deaconess when they decided they could ordain women).

In fact, my sources go ultimately to eyewitness accounts of the following: Pope Paul VI decided to rescind Apostolicae Curae, but before he could complete his plans news reached him of priestesses in the Anglican Communion. Unfortunately, Rome will not let this cat out of the bag.

Cherub said...

To Father Hart
Yes Father, that is my point. The events of 1976 derailed the reconsideration of Apostolicae curae. When that occurred, that reconsideration of which I too was aware, was rendered otiose since whatever Rome did would have been considered involving itself directly in Anglican affairs and would require making the very delicate distinctions to which I have referred. Pesonally, if Apostolicae curae was to be reconsidered and set aside I am sorry it was not done then and there. If thathad occurred in the 1970s it could have arrested the development of the ordination of women and practising gays in the other and much more populous parts of the world where Anglicanism is concerned. It may have been enough to put the breaks on in England for example. However, that is now water under the bridge. Incidentally, I wonder why people cavil at the words lay faithful wne used by Cardinal Levada. Pope John Paul II wrote Christefideles laici. It is term Rome uses for all faithful Christias, clergy and laity.
In Christo

Fr. Steve said...

As far as what Ed said, I fear it will be my generation that will have to set it right, if it is to be set right. I come to the game without the baggage. I could care less about the squabbles. I respect the Bishops in the "big three" as valid. I respect Bishop Grundorf and the APA, and I respect the TAC (though I think they have gone off their rockers with this request).

I wasn't there in the late 80's and early 90's when all of this was going down. I was in the United Methodist Church at the time.

What needs to happen, is that another congress should be called and not adjourned until things have been ironed out. We probably need a few retirements as well, so that unity can move forward. Will it happen? Not likely. Not now, anyway. But there is the next generation of Priests coming up.

Anonymous said...

Fr Steve -

I am with you in your comment (more than one was as I too was in the United Methodist Church in the 80's and 90's). Maybe, just maybe the events over the last few days (weeks) will prompt us to a greater working to unity.

Fr Jamie
Our Redeemer ACC

J. Gordon Anderson said...

Don't forget the most famous recent case of a conditional ordination of an Anglican priest: John Jay Hughes back in the 1960's. His book "Stewards of the Lord" is the ultimate defense of Anglican orders.

Anonymous said...

Fr Kirby et al:

Say Rome had never issued AC in 1896, but had issued a statement declaring the opposite--that Anglicans orders are fully valid and have always been.

Or say Paul VI had been successful in his plan somehow to rescind or work around AC.

If then (through either hypothetical route) we did not have the issue of ministerial validity between us--

Would there still be a sound reason for not swimming the Tiber or accepting Benedict's offer?

Just wondering.

poetreader said...

Fr. Wells,

To answer for myself: In the absence of Rome's condemnation of Anglican orders and the absence of the decree of Vatican 1 (hypothetical, as both are real decisions) I would indeed have hard questions to ask of Rome' principally as to whether the views I believe to be Scriptural and Patristic are at least permitted there. I'm afraid the answers given would still remain as barriera, though not so high as those two. The question doesn't need to be answered, however, so long as these profound barriers remain. One need not look any further.


Anonymous said...

Amd what would those "hard questions" be, Ed? I am trying to ferret out what is our real bottom line, "end-of-the-day" issue with Rome?

poetreader said...

Yo be honest, Fr. Wells, I'm highly interested in knowing what I believe and why, and in the teachings of the Christan fellowship in which I live and worship, but, with regard to other fellowships, I want to know if they indeed are brethren in Christ, and this I affirm without question for the Roman Church. I need to know if there are differences that prevent me from being in full fellowship. When I examine the Papal claims, I know that there are.

If those barriers remain, I have no need to judge the rest of their teaching, and to do so puts me at risk of succumbing to a condemnatory posture. Yes, at a glance I can recognize elements that look problematic, especially in the popular religion, but to a smaller degree in official teaching, but I have not dug deeply to see these things from their view and thus to determine precisely what they really mean by them. I have my answer as to whether I can join that fellowship, regrettably, and beyond that I choose to approach my brethren with charity and toleration and an admission that I may not understand them fully.

The major problem is that the RCC is not willing, as the tenth and eleventh century Church in Europe was willing, to permit views at variance from the majority. Should they do so, and let loose the exclusive claims, I would be pleased to be in full fellowship and communion, even if full agreement did not exist.

In short, I do see the bottom line, then, to be the Papal claims and the attendant claims of exclusivity. The rest is quite properly matter for internal discussion among brothers.

What likelihood of that coming to pass? Very little without a miracle -- but God indeed does work miracles.


Anonymous said...

Just the Papal claims, Ed? Is there nothing else?

poetreader said...

Fr. Wells, that is not fair.
Did you read what I said?
As I said, I need go no further to make a decision. That is the purpose of this discussion, and I find it pointless and a bit of a distraction to do as you ask in this venue. Perhaps in another time and place. Please let it rest. I will.


Fr Matthew Kirby said...

Fr Wells,

Sorry for the delayed response. Haven't checked the 'blog for a couple of days.

My take on the "barriers" is that none of them are due to the Anglican Catholic position being irreconcilable with Roman dogmas, if the latter are properly qualified and certain clarifications are made. What I believe would need to be said about the Papacy, the soteriological/epistemiological status of the post-Tridentine Marian "dogmas" and the Purgatory-Merits soteriological complex I have stated here before, and most of it can be found in my Apologetics section at this 'blog.

But I have also summarised the "Necessary Admissions" Rome and us would have to make as pre-conditions for honest reconciliation in a long piece under that title here, also to be found in the Apologetics section.

The point is that once the Necessary Admissions were made, the RCC would have to treat us more like they say they wish to treat the Eastern Orthodox particular Churches. And that means not trying to micro-manage them as part of a centralised Uniat structure in order to reach reunion, but instead establishing that there is doctrinal agreement, re-establishing full communion and maintaining the style of jurisdictional independence and Papal primacy that was seen in the primitive Catholic Church.

None of this seems to oblige us to dissolve our jurisdiction and be received as "converts" into another invented jurisdiction existing as a fragmented entity, with each fragment underneath other hierarchies that cannot claim to be in continuity with our legitimate traditional Catholic jurisdiction.

However, while I believe the ACC et al., are the legitmate continuation of Anglican jurisdiction, which I take to be the native and natural Catholic jurisdiction of Britain and its former colonies and mission fields, I also recognise the EOC's and RCC's proper Patriatrchal jurisdictions. (Given the haphazard way the Western patriarchy came to be defined and grow, the fact that regional consent was relevant even in ancient times to how patriarchal boundaries shifted, and that the C of E was once treated as having a quasi-patriarchal status pre-Reformationally, as I understand it, I do not see us as even necessarily obliged to assume a distinct identity specifically within the Patriarchy of the West in a re-united Church.) So, if I was an Italian or Spaniard, for example, the RCC would be my Church. If I was Greek or Russian, the EOC would be. If we don't believe this, then we should have been prosyletising these nations and deliberately establishing explicitly competing hierarchies in order to restore Catholicism to these nations. That we have not and will not speaks volumes and shows that we do in fact accept the essential orthodoxy and catholicity of the sister Communions. This is a "dogmatic fact" for Anglicans, and thus must provide definite limits and parameters for our ecumenical and doctrinal claims.

Mark VA said...

From the Roman/Traditionalist perspective:

Father Kirby:

I've read your "9:50 AM" post, and a question has suggested itself to me:

It is understood that the Universal Church, as it grows, interacts with peoples of various degrees of ethnic and cultural development and allegiance. At first, as these elements begin to interact, I think it is natural to expect some amount of tension and adjustment.

In my thoroughly Roman eyes, it is the Universal Church (its hierarchy) that has the power to judge which local cultural elements are compatible, and which are not, with the teachings of the Church. This, of course, takes the form of a cultural dialog and catechesis that can take time.

It is thru this process of inculturation that we observe some variations in how the Universal Faith is practiced in different cultures. The local elements that were proven compatible with Christ's Gospel often build up the universal expression of the Faith. For example, I'm not Irish, but I'm enriched by certain Irish expressions of our Faith.

So, in this roundabout way, my questions is: as re-approachement between parts of Anglicanism and Roman Catholicism takes place (two, very close systems in my view), how would you like to see this dialog progress? Specifically, which Anglican ways do you think would enrich the Universal Faith (I can think of several), and which, do you think, are more for "local consumption"?

Anonymous said...

Ed: I have indeed read carefully (and after your response read again) your comment. It is hardly "unfair" of me to ask for clarification.

"Papal claims" is a generalization, since more than one thing has been claimed for and by the Bishop of Rome. Among the various claims, the Pope has been called (1) the Successor of St Peter, (2) the Vicar of Christ, (3) the One who possesses universal original jurisdiction, and (4) Infallible. I am have overlooked something in that list, but it shows that "papal claims" is not a monolithic concept. In some sense the Bishop of Rome may properly be called the Petrine Successor, and in any future united Church, there is no other minister better situated to serve as The Center of Visible Unity on Earth.

How many would find the RCC as it existed in 1869, one year before Vatican I, theologically acceptable?

My point (which is not to skewer Ed) is that schism from the Universal Church (in which the papal office is bound to play a huge, God-given, role) is a very serious sin. To make separation different from schism (i. e., to justify such separation) there must be a serious doctrinal issue, something ranking almost at the level of the homo-ousion, an "articulum stantis aut cadentis eccelsiae." I do not feel that mere rejection of papal claims quite rises to that level of seriousness. That would be somewhat like a parish seceding from its diocese because it have a personality conflict with its bishop. If all Roman dogma is acceptable, then the complaint about "papal claims" is simply petulant.

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

My point (which is not to skewer Ed) is that schism from the Universal Church (in which the papal office is bound to play a huge, God-given, role) is a very serious sin. To make separation different from schism (i. e., to justify such separation) there must be a serious doctrinal issue, something ranking almost at the level of the homo-ousion, an "articulum stantis aut cadentis eccelsiae."

If I understand the point being made here correctly, the syllogism goes something like this:

1. The only justifiable reason for a particular Church or Churches separating from another portion of the Catholic Church (especially if that included the Primatial See) would be certainty that that other portion had committed itself serious doctrinal error or heresy. Only then would separation not be the sin of schism.

2. The Church of England did so separate from the Roman communion, being followed in this by its daughter churches.

3. Therefore, Anglicanism's state of separation from Rome was and is sinful unless it can point to a definitive heresy in Roman dogmatic teaching that constitutes a barrier to reconciliation until rescinded by Rome. As a corollary, it would be wrong to remain Anglican unless asserting such a heresy in the RCC.

The problem with this argument is not that the conclusion does not follow from the premises. It does. The problem is that the major, ecclesiological premise is disputable and the minor, historical premise is false.

As I noted in "Necessary Admissions", there have been cases where churches have broken communion for perceived gross derelictions in other churches or bishops that did not rise to the level of binding teaching being manifest heterodoxy. So a suspension of communion with a church or bishop for their toleration of gross error in faith or morals, for example, does not seem to be absolutely unthinkable on Catholic principles. Thus the first premise is dubious.

However, even if the first premise was granted, it has little purchase on Anglicans for the simple reason that the separation or break in communion between us and Rome was made definitive from their side, not ours. The fact that we in the ACC are willing to accept RCs at our altars in practice and that neither us or our forebears in the faith ever excommunicated or declared outside the Church any part of the RCC makes the nature of the separation clear. Its origin and continuance are primarily the result of a unilateral Roman act. Many Anglican divines have no doubt reciprocated in their expressed opinions, but none of that has ever obliged the Church.

In the 16th Century QEI was willing for her bishops to attend and participate in the Council of Trent under certain conditions which were not met. In the 17th Century the 1604 Canons rejected the notion that the C of E had rejected outright the Continental Catholic churches, the Archbishop of Spalato was received into the C of E without renunciation, and Abp Laud declared the RCC was within the Church depsite its deficiencies. In the 18th Century Abp Wake negotiated for restoring communion with the Church of France without simply treating it as heretical or schismatic. The Tractarian apologetics of the 19th Century made it clear that the "schism" was not the result of an intention to separate by us but a decision by Rome to repudiate us unless we simply submitted to it and pretended that all fault for the separation lay with us. The 20th and 21st Century Anglo-Catholics have likewise stressed the unilaterally Roman nature of the separation. Absent a binding and authoritative ecclesial declaration of separation from communion on our side, the facts listed are sufficient to show that the C of E and its daughter churches could not be guilty of formal schism, having never broken communion definitively for their part. Indeed, before the Twentieth Century Ecumenical Movement, Anglicans had made suggestions for reconciliatory steps and been rebuffed. I believe King James I was one of those.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

In my thoroughly Roman eyes, it is the Universal Church (its hierarchy) that has the power to judge which local cultural elements are compatible, and which are not, with the teachings of the Church. This, of course, takes the form of a cultural dialog and catechesis that can take time.

Of course, once we use the term "Universal Church," each culture represented within the Church has at least what we may call one vote; and each has a voice (Rev. 5:9).

Concerning Rome and the Universal Church, even if only the Church according to a Platonic ideal of perfection, with Rome having some place as first in honor: Right now Rome itself stands in the way of such restoration. "First in honor," as used in Antiquity (in Ecumenical Council-or, if you prefer, oecumenical) was based on something far more secular than Roman Catholic and Anglo-Papalist people want to admit: It was because it was the seat of the empire.

In Universal Jurisdiction Dom Gregory Dix tried to argue the reverse, and I believe he failed to prove his point. By documenting one related fact he proved quite the opposite. Rome did not exercise jurisdiction, but rather an appellate role in matters of doctrinal controversy. That is, in Antiquity, including very early times of persecution before Constantine, Rome had acquired the reputation for unspotted theological orthodoxy and thorough scholarship; therefore, the judgment of the teachers within the See of Rome was consulted when various churches throughout the empire needed help resolving such questions and conflicts. This answer came always by way of the Patriarch himself.

That this reputation became tarnished by the fifth Ecumenical Council, and the heresy of Pope Honorius, indicates strongly that the reputation was not perceived to be an indelible charism of the Bishop of Rome, but simply a reputation based on sound doctrine up until that time. Tellingly, the remaining Ecumenical Councils never again speak of Rome as first in honor. The whole practice of prioritizing the Patriarchates died away (and we have no reason to see it as having been more than strictly "honorary"). In short, no evidence exists for Universal jurisdiction in one See. The sum of real evidence points to Conciliar authority in the universal Church, governed by the whole college of bishops. The universal Church cannot be under the rule of the Roman bishop; rather, he must be as much under the rule of the universal Church, and its judgment, as any other bishop.

Mark VA said...

From the Roman/Traditionalist perspective:

Father Hart wrote:

"The universal Church cannot be under the rule of the Roman bishop; rather, he must be as much under the rule of the universal Church, and its judgment, as any other bishop."

If that be the case, then the prophetic encyclical "Humanae Vitae" would probably have never been issued. Many in the Church were against the bold ideas expressed in this encyclical, and argued for a softer, more accomodationist approach. Pope Paul VI, using the authority of his office, went against the majority, sided with the minority view and Tradition, and issued this encyclical. History proved him right.

poetreader said...

Ah, but does prophecy derive its authority from who the speaker may be, or from what has been said? Athanasius was not pope of Rome, but spoke against the majority with prophetic authority that ultimately carried the day. A prophet is often one of no particular standing but that he has spoken truth.

History proved him right.

Uh, huh. Then. perhaps, it was not his specific office that carried the weight, but rather the fact that he was right, and was subsequently shown to have been right.


Mark VA said...

From the Roman/Traditionalist perspective:

Poetreader: I truly enjoy our "rabbinical" discourse. Nuances within nuances.

In this case, in the context of the papacy, and in my thoroughly Roman eyes, I tend not to separate the two. If the function of the Pope is to strengthen the brethren in their Faith, then I expect the man in that office to be given sufficient graces and means to fulfill it. This is part of my faith.

Striving to be a realist, I can concede, however, that sometimes he may not fully cooperate with those graces. If that be the case, he'll be corrected, as Higher Power sees fit. Plus this world will surely take notice of any such weakness, for its own advantage.

My larger point is that we should be careful here not to try to reduce this office to irrelevancy in our eyes. Going back to the encyclical Humanae Vitae as a precautionary example: a strong case can be made that with a weak Papacy the Roman Catholic progressives, working thru their councils and committees, would not have authorized such an encyclical. Much more likely they would have leaned toward the spirit of Resolution 15 of the 1930 Lambeth Conference.

poetreader said...

It is one thing to take a theoretical view of the papacy based on what one believes should be, and another to attempt to "prove" it by a selective use of specific historical examples. While it mat indeed be true that only a strong papacy would have brought about the encyclical in question, but I find history to be replete with examples of strong popes who, by virtue of that strength were enabled to do the church and particular souls a great deal of harm. One can also find many instances (particularly during the Avignon period) where a weak pope, by virtue of the strong theoretical power of the office, came to be used as a tool to the detriment of Christian spirituality.

If I am to be convinced of the propriety of a strong Papacy, I need to be convinced on Scriptural and Patristic grounds that such a thing is indeed God's intention for His Church. Any historical study, and any study of the moral nature of fallen man leads me to be very skeptical indeed of ANY strong centralized authority. I think myself on good Scriptural ground (and supported by historical events) in assuming that any one person or any one small group of persons will err more often than not, unless specifically prevented by the manifest action of God. A fallible, though perhaps strong, figurehead leader can be a good thing, as his errors can be questioned. An infallible omnicompetent ruler cannot help but be a danger, and should be feared.

So we do come back to the question, "What sayeth God?". Unless I am convinced that the Roman claims are precisely what He has commanded, there is no way I can see them as even a potential good for the life of the Church.


BTW, Mark, I enjoy rational discussion with those of different views from mine, and find it a good thing to be made to think more deeply about things I find important. Thank you for being willing to enter this kind of discourse. All too often theological discourse is the noise of people shouting past each other.