Monday, October 26, 2009

Still Christian, Still Catholic

The Rev. Canon Charles H. Nalls

“How long, Oh Lord?”


The great flurry over an immenent return of Anglo-Catholics to Rome appears to be in full swing. Some three years after a group of traditional Anglican bishops signed the Catechism of the Catholic Church, there now has been a “generous” response from folks on the other side of the Tiber. Cries of, “Next year in Jerusalem!” (or St. Paul’s Outside the Walls, as the case may be) have given way to a near frenzy to see who can get in “the club” fastest with no idea of what may be in the details of the offer. It is a bit like the way in which the current U.S. Congress deals with legislation: “No reading, please! Just sign it.” Add in the rumblings that many Anglo-Catholic lay people (remember them?) are decidedly uneasy with respect to the trans-Tiber trip, and it appears to be a good time for some reflection.

Truth is, waiting gives one pause to ponder, and these last few years of rumor and waiting and rumor have been more than ample time to think about this whole question of Catholicity amongst an ever-fragmenting body of Anglicans. It is always good to engage in a little ressourcement, but particularly when things seem to be murky or unsettled. Putting aside questions of liturgy and music for the moment, it might be useful to remember a bit about precisely why Anglican-Catholics are not already Roman Catholics.

I began my own reflection with “Christian and Catholic” from The Works of the Rt. Rev. Charles C. Grafton.* I have freely adapted the bishop’s text (translate: he who steals from this steals twice) for this essay which I have planned as part of a series.

Bp. Grafton, truly a “venerable” if not a “blessed”, had a way of getting down to brass tacks that seems to escape us in more modern times. Granted, the Anglican communion of which he was a part has rung down the curtain on itself, but the great revival of Catholicity in the Anglican communion of the 19th century stimulated theological investigation in every quarter.

As Grafton pointed out, the Oxford Movement/Catholic Revival opened the long-closed storehouse of patristic learning” in a way that would profit all branches of the Church. It dusted off and polished up the great Anglican divines and “gave a new zest to biblical research and exegesis.” At its heart, “the Movement” arrived at a deeper realization of the mystery of the incarnation and its extension in the sacraments. Again, from Grafton, “The whole range of Catholic theology came out in more vivid colors and was grasped with a new and more intense appreciation.” Higher ideals of sanctity and a personal self-sacrificing devotion both in clergy and laity were the result and “lives, talents, means were lavishly poured out at the feet of Christ.”

Out of all of this, great hope arose for a reunion of Christendom. But, history reveals that such an effort to live the prayer that all may be one was sure to arouse the ancient adversary. And so it was that the Movement was harassed and attacked from all sides. There were tribunals, mobs in the east of London, charges by bishops against Anglo-Catholics, and denunciations in the media of the day.

Now I think we do well to look back over nearly one hundred-fifty years—indeed, perhaps the last five-hundred--and see how the cause has fared. Neither the sometime folly of adherents nor the blindness of adversaries could stop it. It has formed and purified many to a high degree of sanctity, who are now resting with God. Even in these last broken years there have been Baptisms, Confirmations, and Marriages, so many added to the Mystical Body of Christ in the sacramental cycle. In the time of prosperity men may attain salvation, but in times of suffering and adversity they are made saints. And now it seems we Anglo-Catholics find ourselves in a period of trial and temptation.

Looking at Anglicanism throughout the world, we see that the former Communion is broken into a growing number of pieces, shattered by the hammering of revisionists and modernists. Indeed, the once-respected and proud American branch is led by outright heretics and those who deny Christ’s power to save mankind. It is a diminishing force, a patchwork of graying and increasingly empty parishes. The claimed “traditionalists” are besieged with legal actions by a denomination bent on seeing their parish properties used as saloons rather than give ground in its fight against Christian orthodoxy.

More than thirty years past, participants in the Congress of St. Louis in the United States in 1977 rejected changes that had been made in the Book of Common Prayer and the ordination of women, and affirmed Catholic principles and teachings. The Affirmation expressed a determination "to continue in the Catholic Faith, Apostolic Order, Orthodox Worship and Evangelical Witness of the traditional Anglican Church, doing all things necessary for the continuance of the same." Yet, almost immediately after this bold attempt to replant and renew came the fissures and splits that have plagued the Movement into the new millennium. And we have played at church, the fraud and the mountebank decking themselves in rich attire to scrap over a few souls, and, perhaps sell a few “seminary” degrees to those who want to have “authority” and the social position of clergy.

This has been shameful-this proliferation of “jurisdictions”. It is fair to say that we can see the hand of the ancient adversary in stirring the controversy among fellow Christians with the same theological heritage, creed and belief. So it has been the case since the time of the Apostles.

The result has shaken those seeking refuge. Some lost faith in the possibility of an Anglican Church ever regaining its Catholic heritage. They said in their despondency “Can these dry bones live?” And so for one ostensible reason or another they sought relief from the need to fight to claim their heritage by “swimming the Tiber.” Comparatively few seem to have gone from conviction after a candid and full investigation of Scripture and history. They were simply tired of the struggle and sought safety in the numbers and existing structure of Rome.

It could not also but be that under the exasperating and depressing schisms and carryings on of the continuing Church that some were found who could not bear the behavior no matter how sincerely they loved the English expression of the Catholic faith. They became victims of their doubts and fears. They began in their recovery of old truths to lose sight of the proportion of the faith, to question their position, or, attracted by Rome’s external appearance of unity, to contrast unfavorably some aspects of the Anglican Church with that of Rome. The latter church took on, to their imagination, the character of an ideal one.

It also is true that Rome was busy with her own proselytizing efforts. There are those who make this work of proselytizing a business—many of whom are former evangelical Protestants who have swapped team jerseys--and study the art of injecting doubt into susceptible minds as to whether we are Catholic. It is one of the stock arguments to refer to the number of persons who have joined the Roman Catholic Church. So be it. We do well to admire the zeal of those with a truth claim and who are bold in asserting it.

I believe that most are sincere in their desire to see all within the embrace that Rome claims to be wholly salvific. We should consider that these efforts are the result not of malice, but genuine desire to gain souls for the larger Church. There are some points, however, it would be well to consider before one marches down the gangplank onto the barque of Peter.

Let’s be direct for a moment to those who are now attending upon the issuance of an Apostolic Constitution and, with it, the Roman Catholic Church to descend from on high to solve all of their earthly woes. If the Roman Church is the only true church, and is alone possessed of sacramental grace, the same mark of improvement ought to be as obvious on the bulk of her converts from us. But what is the case?

According to the account of some who have “gone over”, they have frankly stated that they were no better after than before, or indeed, worse. They fret over the banality of worship and, worse, the cavalier treatment of the Sacrament itself. At worst, some have given up the faith entirely, or, thankfully, moved on to the Eastern Church where real demands upon faith such as fasting discipline and a robust ancient liturgy have proved the palliative to the mundane and modernist.

Ah, but the cry goes up in this most recent round that all will be well as we are going with our liturgical and musical heritage. That may well be true, although the devil may well be in the details here too. However there are things that Anglicans will not travel with. You will not be independent of Rome—a sort of “communion relationship” without qualification. You will have to assent to all of the dogma, doctrine and discipline of the Roman Catholic Church. That is reasonable, and it is the reason Rome is who she is. Those who assert otherwise—that Anglicans will honored and not “absorbed” are willfully blind, utter fools or outright liars. Those who make the jump will be “former Anglicans”, Roman Catholics with the familiar trimmings but “former Anglicans”. Let us give the Roman Catholic Church credit for saying what she means.

As for the brass tacks, many who have become Roman Catholic have found that they and others fell into the same sins as they did when Anglicans, and that the Roman sacraments gave no other aid than that they had previously received. The devil then had them in a logical vise. They had denied the Anglican sacraments to be channels of grace, and now it was proved the Roman Catholic were no better, and so nothing was to be believed. There were others who grew spiritually, but no more so than did those whom they had left behind. This is what Anglican clergy will have to face no matter what gloss they try to place upon it. If one’s Holy Orders are invalid, then so too one’s Sacraments, and Anglican clergy have been committing spiritual fraud in administering them.

In joining Rome, one must be “received” effectively being re-confirmed. By receiving so-called first communion, one necessarily denies that he has before sacramentally received the body and blood of the Lord. If he is a priest, as we have noted, he denies his orders and the validity of his sacraments. In all these acts a person turns against the Holy Ghost and his Lord, denying their gifts and presence. Moreover, he deserts his post.

On this point Charles Grafton was quite blunt,

God has placed priests in the Anglican Church there to be a witness, just as he placed Elijah in Israel amidst its worship. It was very trying to the prophet and so, heartsick, he fled away to the wilderness. But there the Word of the Lord searched him out and said, ‘What doest thou here, Elijah.’ It is just as much desertion for a soldier to go over to some other regiment or place on the battlefield as to run away. If we believe that we have the faith and sacraments, we must stay where we are placed.

We are reaching to the very core of our claims as Anglo-Catholics. For in deciding on the claims of the papal supremacy against the Eastern and Anglican Churches in favor of Rome, one assumes to himself the powers of an Ecumenical council. It is an act full of spiritual danger. For if Rome were right in her claims, God could not condemn one who said that as a Catholic he had not ventured to assume an authority not given him; and as God had not so ordered it that a council of the whole Church had declared the papal supremacy, he could not, by his not submitting to it, be found guilty of disobeying Him.

And so with it all of the rest. Faber developed a new Italian Mariolatry in England, and the situation has not been mitigated in the last century as Rome had pondered the question of the Blessed Virgin as Co-Redemptorix. So too, one has to consider the question of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception and the decree of “Papal Infallibility.” These are not optional. To be received into the Catholic Church without assent to these matters or with one’s fingers crossed is to be a liar in one’s own right.

“Perhaps,” as Grafton noted, “it is time to learn how to wait on God and to tarry His leisure. It is His Church and He is working out plans, not our plans but His own. We can only read His providences as they accomplish themselves, and by learning to conform ourselves to them.”

Would that all “churchmen”, Continuing and others, learn to trust one another more. Again from Bp. Grafton, “Union within the Church cannot be cut of whole cloth, it must first be won and established within ourselves as in the foundation of any union before we worry about sister churches.” Let Continuing churchmen trust God, get together, bear with one another, and the Church will reap her joyful harvest.

Holding, as Anglican Catholics do, the most important position in the great conflict, they are exposed to special temptations, and none more subtle than to leave their posts. They become depressed with the outlook. They have an ideal of what the king’s daughter ought to be; and they freely criticize and find fault with their own communion as they would not that God should criticize them.

They forget that as God bears with them, so He bears with His Church. Despondency when not occasioned by physical causes is a work of Satan. Nothing so helps it as for two sympathizing friends to talk over together the evils existing in the Church. It may be true that the general ignorance and prejudice is dismal and virulent, that the Agnostic and Erastian spirit is dominant, that Christianity is losing its hold, that the bishops are timid, that the progress of the Catholic cause is slow. There is some truth in all this, but the more of truth the more reasons for courage and hope. When Israel is in the brick kiln then cometh Moses. In the fourth watch of the night to the tired rowers cometh Jesus on the waters.

"Our checks," said Dr. Pusey, "have always turned out to be our greatest blessings. Let us tarry the Lord’s leisure." Let us remember the martyrs and confessors. Let us offer the holy sacrifice and put our trust in the Lord. Not a few who have joined Rome have felt it their duty to leave her. It requires a high degree of Christian fortitude to resist the solicitations of friends. But it is the way of duty and honor, and the only way to make reparation to our Blessed Lord.

* Based upon The Works of the Rt. Rev. Charles C. Grafton (Volume 1), edited by B. Talbot Rogers, New York: Longmans, Green, 1914, pp. 343-354. This is the first in a series of reflections based on Blessed Charles Grafton’s works.

Canon Charles Nalls is a priest of the Anglican Catholic Church and military chaplain. As well, he serves at the Church of the Ascension, Centreville, Virginia, and is the director of several charitable and academic organizations including the Canon Law Institute® in Washington, D.C.


poetreader said...

Thank you, Fr. Nalls for a clear, bold, grace-filled, and charitable statement.

Thank you Fr. Hart for posting it.


Canon Tallis said...

An excellent article. The only fault I find in it is the assumption that before the Oxford Movement the English Church and her daughters in the United States and Canada were completely ignorant of the treasury of the Catholic faith. I am sure that Father Nalls knows that is not so, but it would be hard to tell that from this post.

But I don't worry. I know that between Father Hart and Father Kirby we will be reminded of all those Anglican divines whose opera is the core of Keble's Library of Anglo-Catholic Theology. It is a shame that so few of our clergy know these works or those of the 14th century mystics as well as they should. It is also a shame that the very term Anglo-Catholic has been so dirtied.

But we can give thanks that because we are Catholics we are capable of being Anglicans.

The Feast of King Saint Alfred the Great.

Justin said...

The proliferation of jurisdictions is indeed vexing and unseemly. Where is the effort to be rid of them?

Anonymous said...

For the sake of variety, I thought I'd note a humorous commentary on the Pope's new offer to "Anglican Traditionalists" from a staunchly loyalist English perspective, the Monarchist blog:

"The particular 'traditionalists' in this instance, as [newspaper] articles have called them, are no such thing. The Anglo-Catholics' buildings are C of E, but that’s usually all they inherit from the old Anglican ways; everything else is imported, under the toleration, but not sanction, of long-maintained law. Their liturgy, sacraments, vestments, and beliefs are all Roman; more Roman, indeed, than many a post-Vatican II RC church. And their entire sect is based on defying Anglican tradition: in the 19th century they were so radical and defiant of law and tradition, that their priests were arraigned before courts, and convicted of fraud and dishonesty. For these first steps were not steps of conscience: the Roman church might have been honestly adhered to. Instead men took oaths they did not mean, and could not keep, in order to acquire the pay and prestige of a church which they only intended to subvert and Romanise against explicit law. Now they still do not preach the ancient Church of England, rescued and revived in the Tudor and Jacobean Reformation. They are insurrectionists with pedigree: don’t let the second half of that occlude the first.

We are witnessing the slow victory of ignorance, propaganda and apathy. The real Anglican church, catholic and reformed, established by law, has a rich legacy - lost, alas, and forgotten in many places. But not easily effaced, and readily recoverable in the age of the web. Lest anyone be deceived, and think the Church of England nothing but Henry VIII and lesbian motorcyclist priestesses, with nothing in-between, the works of William Tyndale, Matthew Parker, Richard Hooker, Lancelot Andrewes, John Donne, George Herbert, Jeremy Taylor, John Tillotson, Jonathan Swift, etc, etc, (you get the picture) are witnesses to facts quite contrary. ....

An orthodox, traditional, pious, true Anglican would not go over to Rome any more than he would go over to the Methodist church’s weekly nude yoga class for the bisexual. Both are lurches away from the catholic (i.e. universal, apostolic, primitive) religion of Jesus Christ, which is founded rather on the mercy, Word, love and praise of God. The Church of Rome, filled with many and good people, hath sadly erred from, or added grievously to, this, though perhaps not as badly as the nude bisexual yoga class attendees.


Bravo. Spoken with the flair that only a natural born Englishman can offer. My only quibble is that a good many post-Vatican II Roman Catholic seminaries (now commonly estimated to be about 50% homosexual) have extracurricular agendas that could cause 'prudish,' bisexual, nude-yoga Methodists to blush.

RSC+ said...

Canon Tallis,

I don't think Canon Nalls (or Bp. Grafton, for that matter) was claiming that, as you write, "before the Oxford Movement the English Church and her daughters in the United States and Canada were completely ignorant of the treasury of the Catholic faith."

Rather, the Church of England of the 18th century had reached something of a theological dry spell. It's easy to see this when you look at publications of any of the Caroline Divines in this period, such as Jeremy Taylor's The Rule and Exercises of Holy Living. New editions slow down in the early 1700s and bottom out in 1730 with only two editions (compared to the previous 25 editions in the previous 60 years) until the early 19th century. Then they spike up again with a great deal of editions and compilations; the first American edition of that text doesn't show up until 1810, based on the 27th English edition.

I would imagine this pattern publication holds true for the publication of most other "classic" Anglican texts. Give me a while to dig around on WorldCat if you'd like more data on the subject, but based on research I've done on the topic, I would characterize the 1700s as largely a debate between Evangelism (to include the Wesley's) and Rationalism, without much oxygen remaining for Catholic theology or ritual practice. Interest spiked up again in the Oxford and Cambridge movements, and with it, new editions of texts, and, to be sure, very important, brand new texts.

Folks in the C of E and America may not have been ignorant about Catholic treasures, but they certainly weren't writing or talking about it as much between (roughly) 1730 and 1820 as they had before or would afterwards.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Fr. Nalls for remembering the laity. I sometimes feel quite lost as the Church sways this way and that and our priests and bishops argue minute points of theology, ecclesiastical history, 'which Rite is right', etc., etc., etc.

As a lay person I'm in no position to engage in most of these arguments, and really can only stand and say "I need my Church to be my rock, not a willow in the wind, losing more and more of its branches with every storm."

We must find the courage to stake out our place in the Faith, and stick to it (no matter what harebrained idea comes along next).
Including unity - unity at any price is too high a cost to pay.

"On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand."


Fr William Bauer said...

Re-ordination or conditional ordination!
As Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger pointed out in 1987, the teaching regarding the invalidity of Anglican Orders is a prime example of a Roman teaching that remains but which is not an infallible teaching.

And as it was explained at a recent Fellowship of Concerned Churchmen meeting by a Monsignor Hamilton who is involved with the Pastoral Provision, the re-ordinations are a means of protecting the validity of the Sacrament in light of current Roman teachings (as mentioned above).

poetreader said...

There are some fine distinctions here.

Absolute ordination is conferred upon someone who is not ordained and constitutes a statement that any previous ministry was simply not a real priestly ministry. Such a rite is not an expression of doubt, but an affirmation that such an ordination is objectively needed for sacramental validity. I frankly cannot understand how a faithful priest who has been offering the Holy Sacrifice for years can bring himself to make such a statement -- that is, unless he does become convinced that his orders are absolutely null and utterly void. If that is actually what is required, I can only see it as a deal breaker.

Conditional ordination is a bit less drastic, and perhaps could be accepted as an act of humility while continuing to believe in previous validity -- simply as a balm to the receiving church's conscience. The problem remains, however, as to what message is conveyed to those to whom and with whom one has ministered. Does it seem to day to those people that what they have received is in doubt? I feel this to be a serious pastoral matter. I would think such an act would have to be accompanied with a visible protestation that the previous ordination was valid, that I am sure of that, but that the people ordaining me are not, so that I am doing this for their benefit. I wonder if Rome would be accepting of such a public statement.

In either case, if the candidate is either convinced of his own lack of validity or is in doubt, he is in an untenable situation with his current ministry, and would logically seem to need such an ordination (of either kind) immediately if he is to continue at all.

As a side issue, my objection to conditional reordination by ACC is not absolute. One could submit in humility for the benefit of those who have such doubts, but not if it was expressing doubt to the faithful left behind. Those ACC clergy and laity who refuse to receive at ACA altars because they doubt the validity there are in effect making the converse statement and raising strong barriers to reunion. This is no small issue.


Steve Cavanaugh said...

When Canon Nalls writes:
"If we believe that we have the faith and sacraments, we must stay where we are placed.

We are reaching to the very core of our claims as Anglo-Catholics. For in deciding on the claims of the papal supremacy against the Eastern and Anglican Churches in favor of Rome, one assumes to himself the powers of an Ecumenical council. It is an act full of spiritual danger."

It strikes me that the English reformers who broke the communion of the English with the Continetal church committed an act of equal spirital danger, taking on for themselves the role of an Ecumenical Council. Fr. Hart has on these pages acknowledged, for example, that the doctrine of the Eucharist that was defined by the Church is not repugnant to the faith of the English Church, but the common understanding of it often was; and no less an authority than Hooker was unwilling to unchurch the Roman Church; yet the two were parted.

While Canon Nall's reflection may do credit to his source in Bishop Grafton's essay, it remains the case that many Anglican-Catholics of the 19th century did not ultimately believe they could remain in the Church of England, because the Catholic faith was opposed by the very State whose head was also head of the Church (i.e., the Gorham judgement). That erastianism was a problem from the beginning of the Church of England's independent existence, continuing to the present, in England and in its former colonies, by subservience to the culture if not to the political State (present company excluded on that matter of course).

I most heartily agree with Canon Nalls when he warns against acting "like the way in which the current U.S. Congress deals with legislation: “No reading, please! Just sign it.” But I don't think that acting like some of the August town meetings, ready to pillory and burn in effigy prior to reading the legislation is quite the most prudent reaction.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Looking in briefly from the hotel here at provinvial Synod, I see Steve Cavanugh's comment.

It strikes me that the English reformers who broke the communion of the English with the Continetal church committed an act of equal spirital danger, taking on for themselves the role of an Ecumenical Council.

Excuse me, but the Church of England was thrown out, excommunicated, by the pope.

It strikes me that the English reformers who broke the communion of the English with the Continetal church committed an act of equal spirital danger, taking on for themselves the role of an Ecumenical Council.

So, should people remain subjected, against their consciences, to false doctrine? Furthermore, the appeal to Scripture through Universal Consensus and Antiquity is not to assume the role of an ecumenical council, but to repent, and to return to the teaching of the Church. They repented and so they returned.

Fr. Hart has on these pages acknowledged, for example, that the doctrine of the Eucharist that was defined by the Church is not repugnant to the faith of the English Church, but the common understanding of it often was...

The errors corrected by early Anglican writers were the result of a teaching vacuum before the English Reformation; besides, teaching doctrine is always necessary in every generation.

That erastianism was a problem from the beginning of the Church of England's independent existence, continuing to the present, in England and in its former colonies, by subservience to the culture if not to the political State (present company excluded on that matter of course).

Ideally, just the opposite was true. In 1936 the king had to adbicate his throne in order to marry a divorced woman. But, as I am not an Englishman, my church has never been either in charge of the state, or subservient to it. Also, the ACC is also in England itself, separate from the Church of England.

Erastianism was never really a major point, because every church was a state church, and it only seems strange either to Americans or to very modern people. But, Anglican teaching and practice thrive quite well without political entanglements, so erastianism was never at its core.

John A. Hollister said...

Steve Cavanaugh wrote "the English reformers who broke the communion of the English with the Continetal church...."

Here I must second Fr. Hart's comment. In 1570, the Roman Communion, through its accepted leader Pius V, went into schism from the Church of England. The facts are indisputable; between 1558 (the death of Bloody Mary and the accession of Blessed Elizabeth) and 1570, there had been no change in the theology or practices of the Church of England nor had there been any action on the English end of the relationship to reject, or to sever itself from, Rome.

However, as "a generous offer", if the Romans repent of their error and submit themselves to the doctrines of the Universal Church, we would certainly accept them back. Nor would we require them to dissolve their present ecclesial structures, accept substitute structures devised by us, or deny them the services of their present bishops.

And to top it all off, we wouldn't even reconfirm them or reordain or reconsecrate their clergy and bishops!

Now, you can't have a fairer offer than that.

John A. Hollister+

John A. Hollister said...

Ed Pacht wrote, "Those ACC clergy and laity who refuse to receive at ACA altars because they doubt the validity there are in effect making the converse statement and raising strong barriers to reunion. This is no small issue."

Although it, and its causes, are indeed no small issues, I wish he hadn't written that. Ed is a dear friend, he and I have discussed this between the two of us, and he knows the arguments I would use here were I to get into this issue. That issue, I think, did not need to be raised here and now, in the context of this discussion.

So, to be irenic, I will refrain from laying out what I understand to be the principles that underlie that particular fact. I will simply content myself with noting that, upon the formation of the ACC in 1977/78 and thereafter down to late 1991, and based upon the available evidence regarding the source of the episcopal succession of the then-Anglican Episcopal Church, the ACC never acknowledged that succession as anything other than vagans and, therefore, subject to doubt.

Nothing happened in 1991 that would have changed that analysis; to the contrary, the events that led to the AEC's changing its name to the Anglican Church in America had the contrary effect, that of raising additional doubts about its claims to Apostolic Succession.

Nor has anything happened since 1991 that would have had the effect of removing either those pre-1991 doubts or those other post-1991 doubts. So, when ACC members stay away from ACA altars, they are acting in a manner that is consistent with their convictions.

We believe that the sacramental validity which can be conferred only by the undoubted, and unclouded, Apostolic Succession is a sine qua non for the receipt of the Sacraments, especially for the receipt of Eucharistic communion. In any other context, I think we would be praised rather than criticized for sticking to our guns in that regard.

If that consistency does not further some people's preferred mode of seeking church unity, well, the ACC had nothing to do with the AEC's pre-1978 history and any resulting status. Similarly, none of the actions taken in 1991 which exacerbated the difficulties were the actions of the ACC. In fact, they occurred contrary to the ACC's wishes and over its strenuous objections. So it is difficult to see how the ACC can be blamed for what others outside the ACC did or have done, any more than Anglicans as a whole can be blamed for what was done by a Pope who has been dead these 440 years.

Therefore, I have stated my disagreement with Ed, primarily so that silence will not be taken by third parties as agreement (Ed and many others already know we disagree with what he said). But please note that I have refrained from gratuitiously delving into the specifics of those disagreements, which are better left for another day and another place.

John A. Hollister+

poetreader said...

Fair enough, Fr, Hollister. I knew you would respond and had hoped (and trusted) that it would be this gracious a response. We disagree on these matters, but it is quite true that you needed to avoid the appearance of agreement by silence. This is also why I, quite hesitantly, needed to bring the matter up. The two questions are indeed not identical, but they are related concerns, and it would strike me as very empty to grapple with one set of questions without considering the other. We've both said our piece for now, and this question will sit at the background of the discussion, or so I hope. It should neither be ignored, nor enter the center of the dialog. Whichever view is correct, the question itself is perceived by BOTH "sides" as a serious barrier to reunion, one demanding something the other considers it an error to do. Only God can get us through this. May He do so.


Steve Cavanaugh said...

Father Hollister, any comment that contains the phrase "Blessed Elizabeth" in reference to Elizabeth Tudor is certainly not dealing with "indisputable facts". Elizabeth had quite as much blood, if not more, on her hands as her half-sister Mary.

We must read very different historians: I can understand that someone believes that what happened in England was for the best, but to contend that between 1558 and 1570,there were no changes of doctrine or practice in the English Church is hardly "indisputable".

John A. Hollister said...

"Only God can get us through this. May He do so."

He will. On that we are certainly agreed.

John A. Hollister+

poetreader said...

I tend to agree with Mr. Cavanaugh. While I find much to admire in Elizabeth I, and do consider her to have been far closer to the truth than her half-sister, I am also appalled at many aspects of what I read of her reign. It does seem less than entirely factual to refer to one as "bloody" and the other as "blessed". That said, Fr. Hollister's observation that it was the Pope who formally broke communion is entirely accurate, and it is further true that papal declarations that she was excommunicate and that a Roman Catholic was enjoined from obeying her did truly convert those loyal to the pope into potential political traitors. It was a messy time, and there are neither blacks nor whites to observe.

... but to contend that between 1558 and 1570,there were no changes of doctrine or practice in the English Church is hardly "indisputable".

True enough, but to declare that there were no changes in doctrine or practice in the Roman Church during those and subsequent times is likewise a very disputable claim.

It's my conviction that there are neither good guys nor bad guys in these historical debates, but a bunch of fallen and failing human beings imperfectly struggling to follow God. My immediate suspicion on encountering such arguments as one finds everywhere in Christendom is that somehow, in some way we have not found, all of us on all sides need to have our thinking corrected by God. I certainly feel that the positions I hold are the correct ones, but are they actually? In some way I've not detected, probably not. I think it a given that Our Lord's story of specks and beams is one of universal application. I think it a given that every time we judge (and, yes, we sometimes must) we are looking through some impediment in our own vision. Our calling is to a life of repentance. We all are unprofitable and erring servants. May God continue to correct us, and may we continue to be open to His correction.


Anonymous said...


If my memory serves, the historians indicate that during their respective reigns, the sisters Mary and Elizabeth executed about the same number of persons for "religious" reasons. BUT, to equate the two based on gross numbers would not tell the whole story.

First, Mary's reign was brief and Elizabeth's was long. Second, Mary executed men for such (non)heresies that are now common-place policy in postconciliar Romanism. Third, for the reasons you already noted, Elizabeth's purportedly religious intolerance of Romanists was inextricable bound up with the politics of treason and assassination attempts, all caused by Pope Pius V's very imprudent decree.

poetreader said...

Anglican-Roman discussions/arguments are forever being derailed into arguments over bad/good Mary vs. good/bad Elizabeth. Both erred. Is it necessary to keep score? Putting so much effort into doing so diverts conversation from the issues at hand and makes real discussion much more difficult, Any really constructive theologocal discourse needs to begin with "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God..." with the realization that "All" includes me and those who agree with me as much as it does my opponents.

Read my comment carefully and you will find that I am in agreement with you, and said so, but do not see that as proving either the rightness or wrongness of any of the positions advanced.


Steve Cavanaugh said...

Thank you Ed, and I agree with your statement that trying to prove one monarch good and the other bad is not fruitful. The times then, as the times now, were filled with people who acted on the basis of multiple impulses: religious, cultural, political, economic. Not only are there tares and wheat together in the field, there are tares and wheat growing within each heart.

I would not hold that there are no changes in the Roman Church, as you point out. Particularly troubling to me is the centralizing of governance which has occurred over the past 4 centuries in particular, although I contend that is as much, if not more so, due to historical accidents as any "plot" to control the world, which all too many Protestants seem to ascribe as the raison d'etre of Rome.

Despite Fr. Hart and Fr. Hollister's assertions, Pius V's Regnans in Excelsis did not excommunicate the Church of England; it excommunicated Elizabeth, and those who obeyed her in religious matters. Was that prudent? Perhaps not. Perhaps twelve rather fruitless years of "diplomatic" efforts to restore communion should have been extended. Who knows what would have happened had that occurred.

poetreader said...

it excommunicated Elizabeth, and those who obeyed her in religious matters.

I'm a bit confused. How does that differ from excommunicating a Church of England that recognized her as supreme governor on earth? The point is that, whether rightly or not, it was Rome that declared the break of Communion.


spaethacc said...

I must agree with Mr. Cavanaugh in that it's a bit simplistic to pin the current claims of the papacy simply on a series of power grabs as some are prone to do (and I in no way endorse those claims as currently defined). Take French Catholicism, for example. As C.B. Moss was quick to point out in his book on the Old Catholics, reactions to the French revolution and the meddling of Napoleon had more to do with the victory of Ultramontanism in that country than any theological discussion.

Similarly, the reigns of both Mary and Elizabeth were each terribly complex (as was the Henrician period, btw) and we'll get nowhere making generalized statements. Besides, it's not 16th Century England anymore and this constant searching for who was 'better' is futile. Suffice to say, we've all screwed up and continue to do so - which means penance for all involved.

I leave you with the eminent advice of Monty Python's Lord of Swamp Castle: "Let's not bicker and argue about who killed who..."

Fr. Robert Hart said... excommunicated Elizabeth, and those who obeyed her in religious matters...

Considering the times, this did, in effect, require the "faithful" to rise up in rebellion, kill their queen and establish a new monarch. It called for civil war, perhaps endless civil war apart from Spain taking the opportunity to step into a weakened England and conquer it.

Which was, by the way, the whole point.

Anonymous said...

Correct as usual, Fr. Hart. Though a few notable recusants remained loyal to the Crown and were gently tolerated therefore (a few even preferred by the Crown), many took Pope Pius V's decree an authorization for assassination attempts or to general undermine English government and its established religion. IMHO, the somewhat recent movie, "Elizabeth I," did a fair job of dramatizing this.

Also, Pius's decree was instrumental in loosing the Spanish Armada -- only to sail directly into the "Protestant wind," which our Lord has so frequently breathed across the channel to protect that green and pleasant land. I believe an even more recent movie was made about that glorious battle.

Anonymous said...

One final point to make my polemical point excruciatingly clear: Not only was it Pope Pius V who excommunicated the Established Church of England in 1571, effectively making English recusants presumptive outlaws and traitors. It was he who decreed a uniform use of the Latin Rite to conform to Counter-Reformation standards and to be used almost universally by Roman faithful. And it is Pius V's Missal that the drafters of the "Anglican" Missals were, according to their own words, attempting to unlawfully and unilaterally finagle into the Anglican Communion against the overwhelming consensus of Churchmen in an audacious show of symbolic disloyalty to both Crown, Church & Country. The subtext of the Missals are clear: Roman, Counter-Reformation & Rebellion.

poetreader said...

Your prejudice is showing. Since the major Continuing Jurisdictions have on an official, canonical level, approved the Missals as perfectly licit choice: by your standards just expressed, you would need to reject these jurisdictions utterly. Since the major portion of the Canterbury Communion has rejected so very much of the Classic Anglican stance, you're painting yourself into a strange little schismatic corner. Within the Continuing Churches there are those who prefer to conform to the Missal, those who prefer to follow the BCP rites preciaely, and the majority, perhaps, who are content to follow a middle road between those extremes. Your preferences, even if strongly held are honorable, respectable, and expressive of a good theology, but your condemnation of the practices of others in good standing, many of whom, like myself, are very sympathetic to your theological positions, is very unseemly indeed. You may attempt to convince me that your way is better, and I welcome such a discussion, but to proclaim, as it were from Sinai, that my ways are evil is way over the top.


Canon Tallis said...


And your own is not? The real question is whether one can claim to continue Anglicanism whose central tradition is defined by a series of prayer books, by abandoning same and the traditions which their rubrics assume for something so destructive if not dismissive of that tradition?

In the Office of Baptism prays that we shall "continue Christ's faithful soldier and servant" until our lives end, but a soldier wears the proper uniform of his army or regiment just as a servant the proper livery. For those who want to position themselves as the very epitome of what it means to be Anglican to act in such a way that they validate, not Anglicanism and its tradition, but that of the worst traditions of the Roman See is simply indefensible.

The role of a prophet as Father Nalls so recently pointed out is a trying one, but the sins and failings of establishment Anglicanism are no excuse for us going downt he same path. Neither Bishop Griswold nor Archbishop Williams came from low church or the old high church parties, but precisely from that party grown and fostered by Anglo-papalism masking as Catholic and Anglican.

We have a very serious business at hand, the reconversion of this country and all of the English speaking world to the Catholic and Christian faith of our fathers. I believe as I thing DB would agree that in order to do so, we need to put away childish things which would include all the inventions of 16th century papalism and make an ever greater effort than the original English reformers to achieve the standard sought by both St Vincent of Lerins and Lancelot Andrewes in their respective canons by continuing "stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and prayers."

And, yes, I am prejudiced and unabashedly so for the Anglicanism of the Elizabeth, the Caroline Divines, Farrer, Herbert, Jebb, Knox, Pusey, Keble and especially the high church party who found the courage to fully obey the rubrics of 1559 and 1662 without the temptation of imitate the worst of merely one of the scandalous periods in Roman history.


Anonymous said...

Part I


Three points in defense of my prescriptive, cultural prejudice:

First, Anglicanism proper has historically only tolerated the Missals for the sake of peace, just as it has tolerate minimally conforming Puritanism (or now, the Evangelicals as they are commonly known) as well as formerly the Broad-Church, Lattitude, or Low-Church party, which has gained numerical ascendancy among those claiming the Anglican appellation. Thus, if our goal is truly "continuing Anglicanism," as is the claim of the Affirmation of St. Louis, we should seek separation not only from the Anglo-Liberalism, but also Anglo-Evangelicalism and (Missal) Anglo-Catholicism -- else we have no principled or superior claim to the mantle of "Anglican," than any body else.

Second, Article IV of the Affirmation of St. Louis allows supplementation to the Book of Common Prayer that is CONMFORMING thereto. On this point, I agree with Fr. Hart that use of the Missal to provide minor propers, when desired, is not greatly out of line, though the better practice would be to emply Sarum-Use minor propers. But, the incorporation of Pope Pius V's Counter-Reformation Missal via Article IV, or any loose canon language based on an overly broad construction of Article IV is not only contrary to the spirit of the St. Louis Movement, but Anglicanism as a whole.

Third, I not at all certain that the PCK canons don't mirror the letter and principle of the Affirmation, in which case wholesale use of he Missals and Ritual Notes to interpose a Counter-Reformation spirituality into an Anglican Provence would be illicit, though I know that does in fact occur. While the ACC canons most certainly do provide for robust use of the Missals, numerous ACC parishes remain loyal to the spirit of the St. Louis Movement and historical Anglicanism norms. As for the UEC, I am admitedly ignorant of its canons.

In sum, as the only valid apology for the separate existence of Anglicanism apart from Rome or Orthodoxy is (1) its principle that adherence to the primitive Church as normative and its belief that Rome has greatly diverged therefrom and also the East somewhat; and (2) that this striving for restoration of the primitive faith without Papal accretion or Puritan subtraction be done in the cultural context of its folk -- the English Speaking race. I believe that this is what the Affirmation of St. Louis seeks to continue, but which is violated in certain canons of Continuum jurisdictions that arose from the St. Louis Movement and still claim the Affirmation as a foundational statement. Hence, I am arguing for correction of course from within the Continuing Movement to avoid the fabrication a new church cut from whole clothes based on non-catholic principles of private judgment and taste.

Anonymous said...

Part II

Now, what I am NOT suggesting is that the old Latin Mass, translated to English, and deployed with Ritual Notes ceremonial is invalid, nor that Tridentine doctrine and Counter-Reformation spirituality is utterly outside the broadest bounds of Orthodox-Catholicism. Rather, I am contending that is something discrete from Anglicanism. Indeed, I would characterize those Missal Anglo-Catholics that see Trent as theologoumena as simply unacknowledged Ultrajectine Old Catholics of an English variety. And, for those rare birds that do consider Trent as dogma and the BCP and the Articles defective, but still can't accept Rome's New Dogma's, some form of Lefebvre-ism is probably the correct label.

But, which ever variety of Missal Catholicism one prefers, and whatever the respective merits of these religions, it just ain't Anglican in any meaningful sense, not unless any one who drafts a set of canons and wants to use the term "Anglican" can do so with equal credibility, regardless of historic norms (not the exceptions such as the Victorian Anglo-Catholics). Moreover, the Continuum's apparent attempt to comprehend Anglicanism proper, best represented by Old High Churchmen or Prayer Catholics, along Missal Catholics (i.e., English Old Catholics or more rarely English SSPXers) just makes for an incoherent and imprudent religious cacophony. Indeed, if we are going to go this far, we might as well have Eastern Rite Anglicanism as an option too!

IMHO, our good-faith attempt to comprehend Missal and Prayer-Book Catholicism by reference to Article XXXIV and the practice of local custom simply misconstrues the elasticity of these venerable notions as well as ignores the axiom of Lex Ornadi, Lex Credendi. Inclusion of two religions, or worse yet a blend of each, in one communion leads to terrible confusion -- a sort of religious Frankensteinsim -- that can't manage to get out of its own way.

For example, the absence of a uniform vision of Continuing Anglicanism has kept the PCK -- with its very Anglican common-law approach to canon law -- quite separated from the ACC, with its more Continental-style canon law system. Were both looking to Elizabethan and Caroline Anglican norms (not what tolerated for the sake of peace), then this sort of conflict, and many other issues would be easily resolved. But as is, on differing points, each of the Chamber's succession jurisdiction varies to varying degrees from Anglican norms, claiming for themselves the prerogatives of an entire National Church, and going about their own merry ways in splend, sectarian isolation. This ain't Anglican, and it ain't Catholic.

Consequently, what I am suggesting is (1) that Missal Catholics ought reform themselves and conform to historical Anglican norms (not one narrow party movement that was merely tolerate for the sake of peace and is barely a hundred years old in any case), or, (2) lacking that, move on to form or join an Ultrjectine, English Old Catholicism. Per long settled Lambeth Decennial decree, intercommunion could be maintained between Anglicans and Old Catholics recognizing the Bonn 14 Theses, and we would both cooperate against "Liberal Christianity." But, merging these two discrete forms of Churchmanship -- nay, whole religious-culture systems -- into a single jurisdiction is not only confusing and detrimental to the spiritual formation of the clergy and laity alike, but also runs the risk of repeating the great latitudinarian or comprehensiveness problem that spoiled 815 and Cantuar -- the very thing that we all resist.

Anonymous said...


To the extent I have come accross as Moses delivering my tablets, please accept my apologies. Sometimes, the vigorousness of my polemics gets away from me.

My desire, apparently unachieved, is to preach from Speaker's Corner in Hyde Park, as it were, and not of my own authority, but that of the constitutional Anglican formularies of the English Religious Settlement, which have been the historical norms of Anglicanism and disregarding narrow, outlying parties and practices that have only been tolerated in the Ecclessia Anglicana for the sake of peace and charity.

Boiled down to its essence, my contention is that unless the BCP is used in the spirit of the Ornaments rubric, any one claiming to be Anglican may as well just be an Episcopagan, Prayer-Book Presbydestinarian, Baptist or Mormon as far as I am concerned. Indeed, Anglicanism by assertion, even if gussied up with newly minted, high-tone canons, and purple of tactile succession, is just sound and fury.

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

In sum, as the only valid apology for the separate existence of Anglicanism apart from Rome or Orthodoxy is (1) its principle that adherence to the primitive Church as normative and its belief that Rome has greatly diverged therefrom and also the East somewhat; and (2) that this striving for restoration of the primitive faith without Papal accretion or Puritan subtraction be done in the cultural context of its folk -- the English Speaking race. I believe that this is what the Affirmation of St. Louis seeks to continue, but which is violated in certain canons of Continuum jurisdictions that arose from the St. Louis Movement and still claim the Affirmation as a foundational statement.


Your reasoning on our raison d'etre is based on a false premise: that we have deliberately separated from the RCC and EOC. Anglicans don't need a justification for not being part of the Greek Orthodox Church, for example, any more than any Serbian Orthodox person does. Or as I said just recently --

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, [emphasis added] 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.

As for fidelity to the Affirmation, many of the original signers were Missal-users, so your historical interpretation is not tenable.

As for the liturgical questions and cultural norms, you have made what is secondary primary, ignored the fact that the Missal liturgy is still full of BCP material not in the original Roman versions (which means the Missals involve mainly addition, not replacement) and ignored the fact that your specific objections have already been answered here. Once you admit the Missal is orthodox, customary and canonical, all anglophile cultural objections become largely irrelevant. Cultures evolve, and often in ways that don't follow the neat laws you might prefer. The important thing is for them to gain rather than lose elements during this evolution. So, I'll continue to refer to Ritual Notes and Parson's Handbook and use pastoral discretion and common sense under authority. That is the Anglican and the Catholic way.

And, by the way, Anglican Catholicism does have something very much like an Eastern rite, and has had for decades, in the Indian Supplement to the BCP of 1960 if I remember the source correctly. And it is also authorised in the ACC.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Kirby,

I respectfully disagree on both points.

First, our Lord prayed that we all may be one, and surely we have a duty to set aside all immaterial differences to achieve unity, even if a certain amount of humiliation is involved. We cannot say, were it true (whihc it is not) that we are dogmatically one with Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism but that their price of unity is too high.

Second, while the American Missal does contain a good bit of BCP material (some of which is traditionally dropped by Missalers, e.g., the Decalogue, the Comfortable Words), it also interpolates almost the entire Latin Missal. To wit, with a BCP in one hand and my St. Joseph Roman Missal, I can follow a Anglican Missal Mass (with a resulting sore neck from the ping ponging back and forth. Worse yet, the Anglican Missal (American Edition), even allows for the Gregorian Canon to be used. But the crucial point is that addition of large amounts of Counter-Reformation or contemporary Roman liturgics and para-liturgics to our Anglican tradition, which is fully Orthodox-Catholic in and of itself, symbolizes disloyalty (e.g., the original Victorian Anglo-Catholics and most of the contemporary English Anglo-Papalists) or a mistaken desire to serve two masters based on the confusion or conflation of "Roman" with "Catholic."

"Anglo-Cathoics repent! You have nothing to lose but your missals, lace, and birettas!" -- Death Bredon

Anonymous said...

Two additional points:

First, the notion that matters liturgical are always secondary is incorrect -- Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi.

Second, the fact that Missalites signed the Affirmation of St. Louis does not mean that the Affirmation approves wholesale substitution of the Missals and Ritual Notes and Counter-Reformation para-liturgical spirituality for Anglican norms -- the Congress involved a compromise among all catholic-minded Anglicans. The faithfulness of certain prelates to the Affirmation is in no small part why the Movement floundered from early defections and fissiparousness.

Canon Tallis said...

Father Kirby,
While it is true that many of the signers of the Affirmation of St Louis were missal users, . . . .well, they also a number of other things which the majority of their fellow signers would not have appreciated. And the result of that was the splitting of the Continuum and the driving into the wilderness of a good many who could, would and should have been with us except for the behavior of those who seemed to worship the missal more than they did anything or anyone else.

You claim that the objections to the use of the missal and those other gross violations of the Ornaments Rubric have already been answered here, but the answer simply does not satisfy because it fails a whole series of historical,rational and emotional tests which anyone who really values the wholeness of the Anglican tradition can not help but make. And when you make those answers, we see another Father Kirby from the theologian whose answers never carry the same emotional baggage. Frankly, I prefer the theological voice.
Unlike some of the others, I was at St Louis and I heard the voices which the 'missal' clergy did not hear and frankly did not want to hear. I was also at Denver and realized the moment that Morse, Mote and Waterson walked through the door that we were going to be confronted with a rejection of Anglicanism for their version of papalism light which only too quickly split the Continuum at the following constitutional convention. Worse, it has continued to split and embroil the continuum with sets of clergy being more right than others because they were more committed a more Romano Anglicanism rather than the real thing. And because they are so right, so absolutely right, they had to crush those who saw things differently rather than accommodate them - well, we begin to understand what they like about Romanism.
The big thing about the back to Baroque movement is that it essentially involves a rejection of the central tenet of the English reformation, i.e., the restoration of doctrine, discipline and worship of the primitive Church as against an acceptance of the decadence of every aspect of Christianity which had grown up in the West from the invention and rise of the papacy as an institution. It also involved an explicit rejection of what was going on in Rome liturgically and otherwise from the beginning of the pontificate of Alexander VI whose master of ceremonies invented all those ceremonies so beloved to missalites but absolutely unknown to the previous Christian centuries.

The additions to the prayer book traditions will continue to be a little less than orthodox and while they can and have been made "canonical" they will remain an "up yours" by a clergy too spoiled to understand or accept the visceral gut reaction many of us have to them. And really, how can one really be an Anglican and a cultural Anglophobe at the same time? And when you deliberately stick me in the eye, just how am I supposed to react?

The Continuum has been in the wilderness for thirty years now because too many who call themselves Anglicans find themselves unable to make their peace with it. They expect the rest of us to bend the knee to their Baal, while they cannot conceal their sneers at our unevolved state. No wonder we can't get on with the job.


poetreader said...

I'm going to leave these comments to be answered by Fr, Kirby, to whom they are addressed, but I have to make one of my typical comments (that some say they dislike).

Canon Tallis, you said this:

They expect the rest of us to bend the knee to their Baal, while they cannot conceal their sneers at our unevolved state. No wonder we can't get on with the job.

Yes, the sneering you mention does exist, but it cuts both ways. Whoever is right, and whoever is wrong, I'm constantly seeing two groups sneering and/or railing at each other and blaming all the problems of the Continuing Church on each other. It's often said that when you point one finger at others, three are pointing back at yourself. I'm not alone in hating it whatever direction it comes from.
whichever direction the noise comes from it keeps us from getting on with the job.


Fr Matthew Kirby said...


1. The reason we are not in communion with Rome is their unilateral decision to have it so. We never excommunicated them. And we have always had divines, at least since the 17th Century, who have made this point and whose eirenic attempts to interpret Roman dogma in a patristically consistent fashion have been mirrored by similar interpretations permitted within the RCC. In other words, it is not certain that there are insuperable doctrinal barriers.

The reason we are not in communion with the East is their non-decision to normalise relations with us despite the fact we reject no dogma of theirs, nor they of ours, and despite the fact we have since the Reformation rejected the Roman position on the purportedly schismatic position of the EOC. We are not intentionally separate from the Orthodox. If you really believe that neither the RCC nor the EOC have kept the Faith, and that Continuing Anglicans have also failed it through use of the Missals, then you have effectively denied the infallibility of the Church during the centuries before the Reformation and reduced the scope of "True Catholicism" today to that minority of Continuing Anglicans who agree with you and condemn the rest. This, I'm afraid, is a reductio ad absurdum. It appears to be self-refuting Anglican Sectarianism, not Anglican Catholicism, if taken to its logical conclusion.

2. Since you have accepted the orthodoxy of the Latin rite, your appeal to "the law of praying is the law of believing" against adding Missal elements to BCP liturgies is incoherent. At no point have either you or Canon Tallis specified which part of Missal rite or ceremonial is unacceptable or unAnglican -- which is unsurprising since the differences between the Sarum rite you appeal to and the post-Tridentine rite are hardly overwhelming. Instead it seems to reduce to what such usage "symbolises" as to loyalties or the motives of those who went this route to begin with. In other words, it is ad hominem.

The problem is, apart from risking the genetic fallacy in your argument, it is also factually wrong. Some of those who started down the Missal route were explicitly Anglo-Papalist in their reasoning, some were not. And most Anglican Missal users today, especially in the ACC, are not interested in becoming Roman Catholics. The trend to inserting private or "secret" prayers from the older or newer Latin rites is seen in the Directorium Anglicanum, and such practices even came to be adopted by Pusey in the end. But this document never refers to papal authority but bases its whole approach on principles it perceives in Anglican formularies and divines, as well as in pre-Reformational English Canon Law which was not explicitly rescinded.

3. Nothing in the Affirmation prevents or condemns use of the Missals. Your appeal to Anglican "norms", a vague word not contained in the Affirmation, cannot hide this fact.

Fr Matthew Kirby said...


4. What I find astonishing in all of this is two things. One, the absence of coming to grips with or attempting to disprove my specific arguments and the constant resort instead to general condemnations and labellings -- "jesuitical" was one in the past. Two, the unreality of this whole concern. Do you really think things like changing from Green to Red liturgical colours on ordinary Sundays or replacing post-Tridentine Missal minor propers with Sarum Missal ones is going to transform Continuing Anglicanism and cause rejoicing and relief among the majority of the laity? Be much more pleasing and glorifying to God? Save more souls? If we all stopped genuflecting and only profoundly bowed instead, would a golden age begin? I'm sorry to seem sarcastic, but I just do not see how you can take this self-isolating position and raise it to an effectively dogmatic level, all the while claiming to be more Catholic. Do you seriously think such differences must reduce to separate jurisdictions, albeit in communion? Do people who use the Missals, with all their BCP material, and, as per usual, the BCP for the other offices and sacraments, really have to hive off to another church to please you?

Canon Tallis,

My defence of the co-existence of both English and Western rite traditions you said was charitable when I made it on this blog some time ago. Now you say I carried "emotional baggage" instead and was not the same theologian as usual. But then, as now, you do not refute particular points made but simply say things like: "the answer simply does not satisfy because it fails a whole series of historical,rational and emotional tests". If so, you should have proven it statement by statement, in the same way that I engaged in detail both forms of exclusivism in my post "Prayer Book Catholic vs Missal Catholic?".

At the same time it is you who have said 'they will remain an "up yours" by a clergy too spoiled to understand or accept the visceral gut reaction many of us have to them'. Who is emotional? You speak of being poked in the eye, but whereas you and Death wish to condemn and forbid the usages of a large proportion of fellow Anglican Catholics, I am more than happy to allow both traditions to co-exist and grow. Especially, since, as I have noted repeatedly, I have used both in various contexts.

Death calls on us to "repent" of lace and birettas. I have never possessed either. Whose language is extreme and unreasonable?

Finally, if the Missals are less than orthodox, then so was the Sarum Missal and all other mediaeval English Missals, given the extreme similarities in the prayers. You can't blame that on Alexander VI, and you will be cutting off the branch your sitting on.

Anyway, I've had enough of this argument, as it seems to be getting us nowhere useful and I continue to be entirely unpersuaded of either of your exclusivist claims. I will continue to consider you my brethren however, whether you can recognise me as such or not.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Kirby,

1. "it is not certain that there are insuperable doctrinal barriers [between Anglicanism and Rome]"

You restate your position, and seem to be content that we can ignore the dominical obligation of unity by claiming that Rome and the East have violated procedural niceties. I would think that, if you believe what you say, and consider Christ's prayer "that they all be one," then you have a moral duty to take B16 up on his relatively gracious offer as a corrective to Pius V's rudeness.

2. (A) As a point of clarification, I accept that the Latin Rite proper, considered alone, is valid --it is not so when accompanied by Counter-Reformation ceremonial and ornamentation -- so you have not "caught" me in a contradiction.

(B) As, you are "[un]certain that there are insuperable doctrinal barriers" between Anglicanism and Rome -- naturally you see no substantive theological differences between Pius V's Missal, the Anglican Missals, and the Book of Common of Prayer. Thus, to you, I am quibbling over legalisms.

Again, all I can say is that, if you do not have firm conviction that the English Reformation as expressed in the Elizabethan Settlement and all of its normative doctrines and practices such as the BCP, the Ornaments Rubric, the 39 Articles, etc. embodies SOMETHING DIFFERENT as well as greater obedience to Christ than everything that status-quo-ante and the current Roman status-quo, then you are self-evidently out of step with historical Anglicanism. I can also say that, in the immortal words of John McEnroe, you cannot be serious!

3. Article IV of the Affirmation of St. Louis requires use of the BCP and allows supplementation CONFORMING thereto. Unless one employs the sort of special pleading that Newman used to conflate the 39 Articles and Trent, this can only mean the principles of the Ornaments Rubric apply.

4. Yes, I really believe that Old Catholicism and Roman Catholicism are not Anglicanism, that Anglicanism is the most faithful way to follow our Lord, and is generally a moral imperative for the English-Speaking Peoples. And, I really do find your arguments to the contrary to be jesuitical in that they are illogical, but wrapped tightly in the clothe of the legalistic sophistry typical of the Scholastic tradition and that naming them as such is a fair debate, as it illustrates to other readers what is going on here.

poetreader said...

I won't respond in detail to what you've said, as we've been over all the same ground ad nauseam, but I need to make a couple quick observations that may sound a bit snarky, but no more so than yours.

Thus, to you, I am quibbling over legalisms.

Yup, that is precisely what I do see.

And, I really do find your arguments to the contrary to be jesuitical in that they are illogical, but wrapped tightly in the clothe of the legalistic sophistry typical of the Scholastic tradition and that naming them as such is a fair debate, as it illustrates to other readers what is going on here.

This also is precisely how your tendentious argumentation appears to me, and has so appeared as I've followed you in the past.

Honestly, I see much of what you've been saying as an example of the pot calling the kettle black. I must admit I have trouble even following your rather peculiar way of reasoning. I would not have said any of what I've just posted except that you seem fond of making such accusations against others.

There are a number of different ways in which the Anglican experience has been interpreted. Usually I'm closer in agreement with you than I am with AngloPapalists, but your narrowness of view is entirely out of accord with Anglican history, and, for that matter, with the rough and tumble of patristic times to which we look as a foundation.



Anonymous said...


I am appealing to objective Anglican tradition. And I have given my supporting authorities -- the formularies and the best scholarship regarding them. If you find these fact upsetting of nauseating, then the problem is all yours.

And, if, as you say, I am engaging in subjective pleading of history, please produce of syllabus of authorities. So far, all I have seen are attempts to gloss the Anglican authorities with subjectivism.

Indeed, if what the Missal supports say in this forum say were true, one has to wonder how and why the English Reformation ever even happen in the first place, and whether Anglicanism should';t be, at best, anything other than an allowable use in the Latin Rite of the Roman or Old Catholic Communions.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

First of all, Anglicanism is about more than liturgy; liturgy is only one of the issues. So, I do not understand DB's closing paragraph. Second, much of what is in the Missal can be used as a complement to the BCP, and restores things from the 1549 BCP. If complementary material were forbidden, we could have no hymnal. Finally, the question of validity was raised by DB two comments up. Considering the minimal requirements of sacramental validity, it is not possible for a few elaborations to render the Eucharist invalid.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Hart,

I have no serious scruple with what you suggest -- though simply using the 1549 with the Sarum-derived minor propers from the 1962 Canadian edition of the BCP seems both easier and more principled in terms of adhering to distinct Anglican Identity.

Rather, what I am objecting to is Anglo-Catholicism -- a Missal Mass with Ritual Notes ceremonial, the Counter-Reformation ornamentation, the expectation of Continental Catholic ascetical and spiritual practices, coupled with Tridentine teaching (or the Articles via Tract 90, which amounts to the same thing). For concrete example, the sort of thing found at such AC shrines as St. Clement's Philadelphia or Smokey Mary's in NYC, and mimicked to varying degrees throughout "The Continuum."

Put another way, let me ask the Anglo-Catholics what exactly they find compelling about Anglicanism that is not already fully provided for in the Old Catholic or Roman Catholic Communions?

Fr. Robert Hart said...


Put another way, let me ask the Anglo-Catholics what exactly they find compelling about Anglicanism that is not already fully provided for in the Old Catholic or Roman Catholic Communions?

Who are the Anglo-Catholics? Since Rowan Williams and women Episcopal "priests" may be "Anglo-Catholics" these days, I no longer find the term useful in identifying anybody in particular.

Nonetheless, I hope we, Continuing Anglicans, can all answer that we find Anglican doctrine and practice to be the most genuinely Catholic option of all. Unfortunately, not all do; some are eager to be Romans, and imagine there is no substantial difference, which proves that their ignorance is vast. Sadly, they are often made more ignorant still by suffering Anglo-Papalists as their teachers.

Now, I would gladly use minor propers from the Sarum Missal; but, when the big red missals were made, most scholars had no access to the S.M., or so they said. However, much of what you attribute to closet Romanizing really has some of its roots in the Ecumenical Movement that was flourishing a century ago. This is why Anglicans and Lutherans have the Feast of Christ the King, and why chasubles, etc. caught on widely. The irony is that RCism in English speaking countries made the worst liturgical changes of all.

John A. Hollister said...

Fr. Hart wrote, "Considering the minimal requirements of sacramental validity, it is not possible for a few elaborations to render the Eucharist invalid."

But always remember -- according to Leo XIII, the omission of an admitted nonessential can nonetheless render something invalid!

John A. Hollister+

Fr. Robert Hart said...

But always remember -- according to Leo XIII, the omission of an admitted nonessential can nonetheless render something invalid!

Yes; by that reasoning I have infallibly determined that the "Anglican" use liturgy is absolutely null and utterly void. They cut out some of my favorite lines, which shows an obvious defect of Intention.