The two men he named were of the original four bishops consecrated by retired Bishop Albert Chambers and Philippine Independent Catholic Archbishop Francisco de Jesus Pagtakhan, and Archbishop Morse remains alive to this day. I have not seen Archbishop Morse since September of 2006, and my personal experiences with him were pleasant. Bishop Mote, of blessed memory, is highly respected to this day, revered by many as a genuinely holy man, a true saint. Nonetheless, "Canon Tallis" has brought to our attention one of those subjects we cannot ignore. Furthermore, the mistaken assumption that a certain kind of "Spikey" Anglo-Papalism has widespread acceptance among Continuing Anglicans is why certain bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) with its American branch, the Anglican Church in America (ACA), have presumed wide acceptance of their enigmatic 2007 signing of The Catechism of the Catholic Church in Portsmouth, England, and of their positive spin on Anglicanorum Coetibus. And, it is why they will enjoy only a very small following, and will cause the fragmentation of their jurisdiction.
On the other hand, one other of the original four, Bishop Doren, considered it necessary to create the United Episcopal Church in North America, so that he could preserve a home for Low Church Continuing Anglicans. So, for a while the old division along lines of churchmanship seemed to be one of those traditions that we were continuing.
The old problem of division along High Church and Low Church lines (using the terms loosely, but recognizably) should not exist among Continuing Anglicans. Where it does exist it is a dinosaur, taking us back to a time when true believers debated matters both of substance and of shadow, but rarely if ever battled outright unbelief, heresy and apostasy within the Church. From those more innocent days, within Anglicanism we have inherited our own peculiar in-house definitions of the words "catholic" and "protestant." These in-house definitions are every bit as unfortunate and misleading as the general ignorance in popular culture where "Catholic" is mistaken for Roman Catholic, and "Protestant" is mistaken for non-Catholic. I have written before on The Continuum to correct the "out-house" definitions by society at large; now it is time to address the in-house definitions (for in-house I will use the lower case).
Recently, at a meeting of the Fellowship of Concerned Churchmen, I was taken aback by hearing usage of the two words, "catholic" and "protestant" in that old party-line manner. I have not been accustomed to hearing this in the Anglican Catholic Church (ACC) because this jurisdiction has come to a place of maturity where we have room for High and Low Anglican churchmanship. So, I was no longer used to hearing the word "catholic" as identifying High churchmanship. Describing the Anglicans who prefer "smells and bells," images of Mary and the saints, and thumping of the chest (and, frankly, that is me) as "more catholic" than Low churchmen, is a disservice and an injustice. This party usage is not only wrong; it is dangerous. The essence of being Catholic, as Anglicans understand it, is not about using the Missal, ringing the bells, and having clouds of incense. It is supposed to be a word that identifies the Church itself and the faith of that Church. The other usage is simply a preference for one kind of church service, and too insignificant a meaning to give to so important and ancient a word.
We use the word Catholic for our Church and our Faith (without regard for a Roman Catholic claim to a monopoly on the word), because we belong to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. In the words of the Lambeth Conference of 1867, "We do here solemnly record our conviction that unity will be most effectually promoted by maintaining the faith in its purity and integrity, as taught in the Holy Scriptures, held by the primitive Church, summed up in the Creeds, and affirmed by the undisputed General Councils." 1 Our Apostolic lineage goes back to Christ and the Apostles; and we are the same Church that our Lord planted through those He had sent, as His Father had sent Him. And, whenever we actually might use the word "Protestant" it is in light of the true goal of the English Reformers to restore the Catholic Faith once delivered to the saints as it was delivered truly, avoiding the innovations of the Roman Church and of most of the Protestant churches.
Now, about the old party-line, we have extremists on both sides. They do not exhibit the via media sanity of a truly Anglican attitude, and frankly do not understand the philosophy behind it. On the Low side, extremists are intolerant of the truth about Anglican history itself, trying to rewrite the Formularies as either pure Calvinism, pure Lutheranism, or the modern version of Evangelicalism that holds a fictitious view of all the Reformers everywhere. On the High side, extremists believe every lie, every spin and every fable invented by Rome's talebearers, and therefore are self-loathing Anglicans who hate their own lineage and insist on wallowing in ignorance. On the Low side extremists hate everything from music to sacramentals, almost to the level where they appear suspicious of the Incarnation itself as a "Catholic" plot. On the High side extremists think an effeminate seven minute homily about absolutely nothing is the best kind of preaching, and think the Comfortable Words were inspired by the Devil because Gospel preaching is a "Protestant" plot.
Frankly, I find extremists on both sides to be just plain ridiculous, genuine stomach-turners, and self-defeating, coming across often as knuckleheads who cannot possibly do any evangelizing. The Church they want, on either extreme side, is just too pure for God Himself, whose refusal to be boxed in and controlled makes Him unwelcome, unwanted and threatening. That kind of religion is the kind that had no place for a young carpenter Rabbi , whose dangerous words and actions made it necessary to plot his death.
As Anglicans we have an "instrument of unity" that is very easily overlooked. It is the Book of Common Prayer. In St. Benedict's Anglican Catholic Church here in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, we begin every Sunday morning with Morning Prayer, and then we have two services of Holy Communion. At 9:00 AM we have a straight Prayer Book service, even with the Gloria (though not now, in Advent) at the end before the final blessing; and at 11:00 AM we dress up the Prayer Book with those "Missal" things, like Minor Propers and the Gloria (though not now, in Advent) at the beginning. It is the same God, the same Christ, and the same Holy Spirit; it is the same sacrament and the same theology. The experience of each service is deep, rich and meaningful.
By the way, church membership here is growing, with new members who have become regulars at each service.
From Letter XVI, The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis
We have quite removed from men's minds what that pestilent fellow Paul used to teach about food and other unessentials-namely, that the human without scruples should always give in to the human with scruples. You would think they could not fail to see the application. You would expect to find the "low" churchman genuflecting and crossing himself lest the weak conscience of his "high" brother should be moved to irreverence, and the "high" one refraining from these exercises lest he should betray his "low" brother into idolatry. And so it would have been but for our ceaseless labour. Without that, the variety of usage within the Church of England might have become a positive hotbed of charity and humility.
1. Thanks also to Canon Tallis.