It appears that a recent essay posted here by Fr. Charles Nalls has stirred more endeavors of the minor leaguers from Orlando. My initial response is to warn them not to play with theology until they have more learning under their belts. I do not want them to hurt themselves. Furthermore, by playing with tools that are beyond their capacity, they may hurt others. I do not want to promote their blog, and do not want to lower our blog to their level by undue recognition; but, this is not recognition; it is a responsible act by an adult to undo misinformation and prevent potential damage (and I thank our friend who brought this to my attention). Possibly, the contributors to The Anglo-Catholic blog are more saintly than I in their private lives, and they might possess more of the godly virtues. I take it for granted that their motives are honest and sincere. But, I feel a duty to respond to doctrinal errors and misstatements of fact.
Taking e-pen in hand, their Rev. William "Doc" Holiday, in his essay, A Matter of Fullness, has quite obviously, attempted to take on the learned Rev. Canon Nalls. The entire essay assumes, as is to be expected, that the Roman Catholic Church and those particular churches that are in Communion with the See of Rome, constitute what properly may be called the Church. Therefore, we run immediately into the problem of genuine Catholic ecclesiology, a problem that exists no less when we contrast this view against Eastern Orthodoxy than when we contrast it against Anglicanism. Within Anglicanism, there exists no justification whatsoever for any such use of the term the Church, and therefore from an Anglican point of view, "Doc" Holiday has already left. What this may mean in his estimation, on a subjective level, carries no weight against the objective fact that he has renounced Anglicanism in this manner.
Furthermore, if he has identified the Roman or Papal Communion as the Church, then he has also confessed himself outside the Church, and willing so to remain for the time being. The problem with the entire argument that he presents, however, is that he is, from all the evidence, oblivious to that objective fact. This is a matter of compounded ignorance, compounded by propaganda instead of genuine learning. Therefore, his arguments (like those of the now RC Fr. Paul Sullins in Baltimore, and like those of the Orlando bunch in general) add to an existing state of ignorance and confusion. For that I blame the leaders he follows, those men who are trying, even after the publication of Anglicanorum Coetibus, to tell their people that if they will be patient just a bit longer, they can be both Anglican and Roman Catholic at the same time.
"Doc" Holiday tells his readers:
This practical theological approach I have sadly found lacking in much of the commentary offered by critics of the AC — commentary that has been presented from a strict, one-dimensional, either/or perspective. The matter of Holy Orders as it relates to Anglicans and the AC admits of none of these simplistic arguments which are often found wanting.
But, the truth sometimes is simple, and Holiday's leaders are making transparent matters into hopeless enigmas, out of fear that you, the people, will actually understand. They are trying to make the new constitution seem hopelessly mysterious, so that when it says black is not white, you might see only shades of gray, and depend on the leaders instead of employing Right Reason.
However, the first problem here is the oft repeated falsehood that we are critics of Anglicanorum Coetibus (AC). AC is a Roman Catholic document, and it is what it is. The criticism we are writing is criticism of those who say it is something other than what it is. Let us be identified accurately as critics of Abp. Hepworth and Co. For years they have said that they seek inter-communion, or a "uniate" status, in which they will be treated specially just like the Byzantine Catholics are in most places (and like they were once treated long ago in the United States before Rome broke its word to the American Byzantine Catholics). They have asked for special "Anglican" things to be protected forever.
When AC and its Norms failed to grant these things, they reacted by denying the truth of the matter, claiming that it guarantees those very things it never even grants, and that it could not grant. In many real ways, AC is the answer "no" to the 2007 petition of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) for "full corporate communion" with Rome. Instead, it promises only an extension of existing Roman Catholic polity for individuals who want to become former Anglicans by joining the Roman Catholic Church. The Pastoral Provisions are strengthened by taking obstruction power away from local bishops, and the "Anglican" Use is extended internationally. That is the full practical extent of it.
Anglicans and the priesthood of the Universal Church
We shall now get to the heart of Holiday's attempt to make an argument. In brief, picking up from Fr. Sullins' rather esoteric essay, Holiday has attempted to construct a new concept of sacramental validity-valid but not full, or valid but complete. "Irregular" is an old concept, and apparently not confusing enough to blow the necessary amount of smoke. So, he writes:
I was exposed to several works regarding the endeavors of some Anglican groups to ensure the validity of their Orders, and this sufficed.
I shudder to think what he may consider to be "the endeavors of some Anglican groups to ensure the validity of their Orders." If he is referring to the "Dutch Touch" - that is the infusion of Old Catholic Orders into Anglican Orders by co-consecrations - he needs to do some unlearning of non-sense before he can learn the truth. As I wrote in June:
Unfortunately, some of our Roman Catholic detractors have assumed, wrongly, that the Anglicans sought co-consecration because Rome considered Old Catholic Orders valid, and this meant that Anglicans could supply what was missing, or fix their allegedly bad and defective orders. But, as documented by Brian Taylor 1 from correspondence between Archbishop of Canterbury Cosmo Lang and other high ranking Church of England officials, the expressed, written and recorded motive was ecumenical. Not only was it to serve as a way to improve relations with the Old Catholics, but to make Anglican orders "more acceptable to Rome in the event of some future Reunion." 2
The "Dutch Touch" was not sought by Anglicans in order to ensure Anglican Orders, but as an ecumenical gesture, and nothing more. The official Anglican response to Rome's 1896 Bull Apostolicae Curae was, and is, Saepius Officio. There have been no "Anglican endeavors to ensure our Orders" beyond the simple continuation of Apostolic Succession and our own Ordinal, for nothing else has ever been needed. Endeavors to defend our Orders, yes; none, however to ensure them.
Holiday's concept of a valid but less than "full" sacrament has no practical application in the real world. It may create a warm fuzzy feeling about ecumenism, and it may get around the unpleasant fact the Roman Catholic Church has not rescinded the conclusion of Apostolicae Curae (even though, curiously enough, backing down on every supporting argument since 1896), that Anglican Orders are "absolutely null and utterly void."3 As we have seen here, that is a category we have never assigned to any Christian body, inasmuch as it is step beyond "invalid." But "Doc" Holiday has invented (or, rather, someone has invented for him) a new idea, a partial sacrament.
Holiday goes on (and this is the heart of it):
However, as I progressed in my understanding of ecclesial matters, I became more and more convinced that although valid, my Orders were not complete. Not incomplete in a theological sense, but deficient with regard to their context. My orders were not expressed in the visible communion of the whole Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches:
1552 The ministerial priesthood has the task not only of representing Christ – Head of the Church – before the assembly of the faithful, but also acting in the name of the whole Church when presenting to God the prayer of the Church, and above all when offering the Eucharistic sacrifice.
“In the name of the whole Church.” I knew that I was not acting in the name of the whole Church. If a priest is not in communion with all Catholics, he does not minister in the name of the whole Church. Consequently, there is a deficit. Those of us who desire to avail ourselves of the AC’s provisions endeavor to correct this deficit. It is a grave matter of conscience.
This morning, as on all Sundays, I celebrated the Eucharist twice. Both times I was most certainly doing what poor "Doc" Holiday never saw himself as doing, that is, the ministry of the priesthood. As a matter of fact I was acting in the name of the whole Church, which is how every Anglican priest is supposed to understand his ministry. In the words of the service I said, "Therefore with Angels and Archangels, and with all the company of heaven," which includes the Church Triumphant. I also said, as all Anglican priests say, "...most humbly beseeching thee to grant that, by the merits and death of thy Son Jesus Christ, and through faith in his blood, we, and all thy whole Church, may obtain remission of our sins, and all other benefits of his passion (emphasis mine)." Then, "humbly beseeching thee, that we, and all others who shall be partakers of this Holy Communion, may worthily receive, etc. "
In the service itself we describe our actions thus, acting as priests for the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. We have identified ourselves as belonging only to that Church in the Creed, and in our celebration have said that we are acting for God's "whole Church," both Militant and Triumphant. In no way whatsoever, at God's Holy Altar, have we presumed to be the One True Church all by ourselves, nor have we stained our presence at His Holy Altar by asserting our particular identity in place of the Church of Christ. In no way, whatsoever, are we merely priests for Anglicans when we offer the Eucharistic Sacrifice; and what we say (Lex Ornadi lex Credendi) represents the Universal Church. For, at the Lord's altar, we dare not presume to mention the carnality of divisions, or appear as less than, simply and with full power, Catholic priests.
So states the Ordinal with its Preface:
It is evident unto all men diligently reading holy Scripture and ancient Authors, that from the Apostles' time there have been these Orders of Ministers in Christ's Church; Bishops, Priests, and Deacons...And therefore, to the intent that these Orders may be continued...
Not Anglican Orders, but "Orders of Ministers in Christ's Church." It is these Orders in Christ's Church, that we exercise. Anglicanism has never taught that our Orders are simply Anglican orders. Therefore, we do not re-ordain Roman Catholic or Orthodox ministers, when they enter our Church, as a condition to do the same ministry of Bishop, Priest or Deacon. We receive them in their Orders.
Elevation of carnal divisions, and invalidating all orders
The good "Doc" writes, "If a priest is not in communion with all Catholics, he does not minister in the name of the whole Church." Therefore, it becomes necessary to ask him exactly which priests are those who, after 1054, have been "in communion with all Catholics?" Forgetting the schismatic exclusivity of the Two One True Churches, only one portion of the Holy Catholic Church has ever considered itself "in communion with all Catholics," because it is the only portion to embrace humility rather than making an exclusive, bloated claim. That portion is the Anglican portion, to which we who Continue alone lay genuine claim. Therefore, by leaping into the Tiber, he will cease to have any reason for believing that can be a priest of the whole Church. If you or I enter his church after that leap, we cannot have Communion there; but, if he enters ours, he may have Communion here.
The Anglican position is, and always has been, that we are part of the One Church Christ established. "Doc" Holiday has revealed the fact that his own education has been deficient in this matter. For, in assuming that we or God honor man-made divisions to such an extent that those "sad divisions" have the power to limit the full sacramental power of the priesthood, he has misunderstood all along the sacrament of Holy Orders. No one has ever been ordained merely as an Anglican Priest, Bishop or Deacon; Bishops recognized by Anglican churches have ordained and consecrated ministers in Christ's Church, and, sadly, the See of Rome has chosen not to recognize the objective sacramental reality of those Orders. This, however, is their problem; it does not stop an Anglican priest from acting on behalf of the whole Church, even though some do not appreciate the fact.
To treat the power of Holy Orders as limited, stopping at the door, is an absurdity. Sacramental theology knows of no partial Ordination or Consecration, no partial Absolution, and no partial Holy Communion. Properly educated Anglicans, furthermore, treat all divisions among the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church as essentially superficial, as theological delusions, incapable of limiting efficacy. Therefore, the concept of "incomplete orders" is a doctrinal error.
I do not know how much longer the Orlando bloggers will be able to do mental gymnastics. It depends, obviously, on how long they will be blown about by winds of doctrine rather than cracking open good books and learning. I believe however, that they follow the leadership of men who strain the credulity of most ACA/TAC members, and so they simply will not follow. Nonetheless, to rescue innocent people from the dangerous waters of confusion, we are willing to clarify and correct what is, in the case of Holiday's essay, false doctrine. We consider it a necessary service to those in need of the truth.
1. In his 1995 paper, published in Great Britain, Accipe Spiritum Sanctum.
As our reader who goes by the name of Canon Tallis also pointed out in a comment months ago:
"Marc Antonio de Dominus, sometime Archbishop of Spaleto and Dean of Windsor, participated in Anglican consecrations in the Caroline age before he made the mistake of returning to Rome and their so kind ministrations? I think someone in the Continuum needs to reprint Littledale's The Petrine Claims and make it required reading for both postulants and the clergy."
2. This possibility was never rejected by Anglicans. See this older post analyzing a section of Richard Hooker's Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity.
3. If not for AD TUENDAM FIDEM, someone might argue that the conditional ordinations of John Jay Hughes and Graham Leonard had set the precedent. However, any such concept of a precedent has been canceled. We do not blame Rome, inasmuch as the confusion in the official Anglican Communion made it seem to them necessary to back down from the appearance of recognition, just as it caused our separation on the same kind of principles.