Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Lazy journalism

When I was writing for The Christian Challenge I became quickly disgusted with the willingness of "reporters" and "journalists" to copy and paste the first report to come to light, without checking for errors, without digging deeper, and without looking for any facts that might "scoop" the competition. I was new to the whole business, and unwilling to go along with the standard method. As a result, our readers were given facts that others had not bothered to find out, which sometimes gave a story the accuracy that standard news services never supplied. Now, I find myself disgusted again with the same problem as it relates to reporting about the TAC/ACA and Rome.

Some online news outlet called The National Catholic Register has taken journalistic laziness to a new low, almost making an art form out of sloth. Their "correspondent" Steve Weatherbe, has stooped so low as to misinform his readers in a manner that could give the old Soviet TASS a good reputation by comparison. On March 7, (forgive me for not seeing this earlier, but I am mainly a parish priest who was "distracted" by the approach of Holy Week and Easter) he wrote:

ORLANDO, Fla. — The bishops of the Anglican Church in America have voted to accept Pope Benedict XVI’s invitation to bring their 3,000 members into the Catholic Church.

The unanimous vote of eight members of the House of Bishops, who met in Orlando, Fla., brings 120 parishes in four dioceses across the country into the Church.

Really? Will the approximate 120 parishes of the ACA go into Rome? The ACA website (as of today) lists what comes out to a total of 99 churches. We know that the ACA has been losing entire churches ever since this started, and that even their bishops estimate a loss of several more. But, Mr. Weatherbe simply accepts it as fact that all of the laity will be led into Rome (perhaps he is not aware of the American Constitution, to be exact, the Thirteenth Amendment). How much effort would it have taken to verify the actual number of churches from the ACA website, which I did in a matter of minutes (see how much hard work it takes to be more accurate than "the competition")? And, even some of these churches ought to have been removed when they left the ACA, or, in a local case here in Durham, closed.

Look who he quotes as a reliable source:

“We are returning to the Roman Catholic Church as community with a common past and a common future,” commented Christian Campbell, a Florida lay member of the Anglican Church in America and coordinator of a blog called TheAngloCatholic.com.

"Returning to the Roman Catholic Church," says Mr. Campbell? That is rather odd, inasmuch as most of the ACA members never were Roman Catholics in the first place. But, at last he admits that they (the ones who actually will go) are, in fact, becoming Roman Catholics, not some sort of "uniate" church. Or, does he know what he said?

Frankly, with sources for the report on the level of Mr. Campbell, and Fr. Dwight Longnecker, Mr. Weatherbe had his work cut out for him, that is, the need to get to the facts. It is not merely that these sources are incredibly biased, but that they have been known to say some of the most outrageous things in the past, and simply ought never to be regarded as experts.

Weatherbe goes on to say:

The Pope’s invitation opened the door for disaffected Anglicans to join the Catholic Church while retaining what the Pope terms their distinct “spiritual and liturgical patrimony,” including their liturgy, married priests and distinct parishes.

As we have reported to you more than once, absolutely none of these things, "their distinct 'spiritual and liturgical patrimony,' including their liturgy, married priests" has been guaranteed by the new constitution. Neither can the secure status of any parish be certain. In fact, we are still waiting for someone to point us to anything in the text of Anglicanorum Coetibus that identifies and promises protection for so much as one aspect of Anglican "distinct spiritual and liturgical patrimony." We know the Orlando boys are aware of our challenge, and they seem unable to meet it.

The "report" describes Abp. Hepworth thus: "Hepworth, a onetime Catholic seminarian." Seminarian? Try the word "priest," for he was a Roman Catholic priest; and that is why the text of the new constitution rules out the possibility that he will be able to serve as a priest ever again if he does finally make it back to Rome, even if he does so as an "Anglican(?)" archbishop.

Weatherbe reports that Hepworth "says there has been an Anglo-Catholic minority in the Anglican Church working for reunification for centuries." Centuries? The fact is, Anglicans as far back as Hooker have been willing to talk about reunion, but never before have they been willing to do so without any consideration whatsoever of theological discussion about differences. This is what we, at Touchstone, have long regarded as unprincipled ecumenism (the kind that made the ecumenism of the Charismatic movement so shallow, and unproductive). Ecumenism that begins without theological principle cannot, in the long run, teach people to adhere to any moral principles either.

Weatherbe goes on:

The ordination of women (which first took place in 1976 in the U.S.) provoked the breaking away of large numbers of Anglo-Catholics worldwide into several groups, the largest of which is the Traditional Anglican Communion led by Archbishop Hepworth.

Several groups? We started together, and the separate organization of the TAC/ACA represents disunity in and of itself. Again, fact checking is in order. Does Weatherbe buy the line that the TAC has 400,000 members (sometimes 700,000, depending on the weather)? The simple fact is, they are not verifiably the largest, and not as large as they were last year, and may never have exceeded something like 50,000.

For what follows, however, I cannot blame Mr. Weatherbe. In fact, what you are about to read is quite true:

“Doctrine was not a problem with those of us in the Anglo-Catholic tradition,” commented Archbishop Hepworth. But some of the people who joined the new Church did need persuading, he added...“The doctrinal test that Rome put to us was acceptance of the Catholic Catechism. We have accepted it,” said Hepworth.

What Anglo-Catholic tradition is he talking about? Obviously not the real one, inasmuch as the great Anglo-Catholic writers expressed in no uncertain terms the points at which they could not, in good conscience, agree with the See of Rome. They saw Catholic unity as a goal, both with Rome and with Orthodoxy; but, they never imagined that doctrinal issues were not important, or that they were all settled. Abp. Hepworth relies on the ignorance of those who would follow his lead in this matter, and he always has.

The report continues:

Moreover, the married priesthood is no “grandfather” institution. It will persist with new ordinations of married men, says Hepworth, though each married candidate for ordination must be approved on a per-case basis by Rome. “This is designed to last 300 years,” said the archbishop.

As we have seen, this comes from Anglicanorum Coetibus Article VI.

§ 2. The Ordinary, in full observance of the discipline of celibate clergy in the Latin Church, as a rule (pro regula) will admit only celibate men to the order of presbyter. He may also petition the Roman Pontiff, as a derogation from can. 277, §1, for the admission of married men to the order of presbyter on a case by case basis, according to objective criteria approved by the Holy See.

The problem is, Article VI begins with the conditions for such:

VI. § 1. Those who ministered as Anglican deacons, priests, or bishops, and who fulfill the requisites established by canon law and are not impeded by irregularities or other impediments may be accepted by the Ordinary as candidates for Holy Orders in the Catholic Church. In the case of married ministers, the norms established in the Encyclical Letter of Pope Paul VI Sacerdotalis coelibatus, n. 42 and in the Statement In June are to be observed. Unmarried ministers must submit to the norm of clerical celibacy of CIC can. 277, §1.

What part of "Those who ministered as Anglican deacons, priests, or bishops" does Abp. Hepworth, Mr. Weatherbe, along with all the king's horses and all the king's men, fail to understand? And, concerning Hepworth himself, what part of "and who fulfill the requisites established by canon law and are not impeded by irregularities or other impediments" does he wish to dodge?

How can the next three hundred years promise to provide these few Tiber swimmers with a regular supply of convert clergy from the official Anglican Communion, and, eventually, who would want them anyway? For, like it or not, married men who, in the future, will be existing members of the Roman Catholic Church, even under an ordinariate, will not be considered at all, not even on a case by case basis (simply the old wording from the Pastoral Provisions, which always has been on a "case by case basis"). For even under the ordinariates, they will be in the Latin Rite.

“The Pope’s invitation just blew us away,” said Archbishop Falk. “It was so pastoral, so gracious and so charitable. Let’s go!”

Invitation? Pastoral? Gracious? Charitable? The request put the Pope on the spot, and anyone who actually reads Anglicanorum Coetibus will see that it is not an invitation at all. The entire constitution simply amounts to a set of conditions and rules for joining the RCC.

Now I remember why I was glad to get away from journalism, and back to parish work. Shoveling manure, even shoveling away just enough to keep at least some clean and clear spot, is thankless, tiring and hard work.


RSC+ said...

I have to ask, for the sake of curiosity - Why the sucker punch on Fr. L, when he isn't mentioned anywhere else in the post?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for dealing with that article.

When the Roman Catholic Church learns what it has invited into its home, there will be a change of direction in those discussions. Perhaps the RCC authorities will learn of the "Orlando Wedding Chapel," a commercial enterprise which advertises on Facebook and Google. Can anyone imagine a real RC Church engaged in such mercenary activities? (Don't bring up bingo.) The sale of indulgences and relics was bad enough but the trafficing in weddings is unspeakable.

And of course the numbers dished out by Hepworth, Falk and Campese are, to say the least, doubtful.

Canon Tallis said...

Given Rome's past behavior and Hepworth's history, one is inclined to wonder what it is that he has been offered to pull this off. The same might be said for Falk. Are they simply tired of "playing church" and acting as King John attempted to do when he attempted to sell the Church of England to the pope? We shall perhaps never know unless the Germans or perhaps the Brits proceed to arrest and try the pope and certain of the cardinals, archbishops and bishops to expose the full extent of the present scandal. And, in spite of the hints currently being made in their press, they are probably as little likely to act as that Spanish judge who threatened to have President Bush arrested for war crimes.

In the meantime let us get on with being the best Anglicans possible, even aiming to be the very best Anglicans and thus Catholics of all times.

The Anglo-Catholic said...

I was misquoted, though certainly not intentionally. The quote you highlight is nothing more than a paraphrase of what I said.

Firstly, I would not have referred to the "Roman Catholic Church" in this context.

Also, I would have never referred to "a blog called TheAngloCatholic.com"; our site is known as The Anglo-Catholic.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

C. Campbell (the "Anglo-Catholic") wrote:

Firstly, I would not have referred to the "Roman Catholic Church" in this context.

I thought that to be rather odd for you. Normally, you call it something like "Holy Mother Church," or some other such exclusive title that simply contradicts your claim to be an Anglo-Catholic, or any kind of Anglican at all.

Deacon Down Under said...

It is impossible to know the mind of Hepworth in his reasoning and actions in relation to the Apostolic Constitution particularly as a former Roman Catholic priest, now married, his own canonical future is bleak if one reads the Constitution.

Christian Campbell aka The Anglo-Catholic writes:
" Also, I would have never referred to "a blog called TheAngloCatholic.com"; our site is known as The Anglo-Catholic."

It is noteworthy that he writes in that blog: " It also should be noted that the Anglican Parishes Association is the publishing arm of the so-called Anglican Catholic Church (Original Province) (ACC-OP), an organization inimical to the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus and actively working to undermine traditional Anglicans coming into communion with the Holy See. Caveat emptor."

The Anglican Catholic Church (Original Province) is what it is called - it is the Original Province of the Anglican Catholic Church. Those ecclesial bodies which arose from the Deerfield consecrations are de jure schismatic and it is regrettable that ecumenical fraternity does not stretch from the Anglo-Catholic to us.

If we accepted that our Anglican sacraments were empty shells, that Anglican bishops including the TAC bishops excepting perhaps the ex Roman priest Fr. Hepworth held to be in Roman terms laymen only then conversion to the Roman Church with some Anglican trappings might be nice.

If one accepts that we are already part of the Catholic and Apostolic Church, with valid masses, consecrated bishops ordaining, absolving and blessing with absolute validity then the response of the Anglican Catholic Church (Original Province) and indeed the Second Province - the Church of India, Pakistan, Burma and Ceylon is logical and right.

We in the ACC OP are not against Christian unity. The Anglo-Catholic ignores the enormous Eastern Church which is likewise a valid part of the Catholic and Apostolic Church and with whom unity is also desirable.

To those sincere souls who wish to renounce their orders, their sacramental life and their history to become Roman Catholics, may the Lord bless your journey. To those who in conscience choose to remain Anglican, convinced that they are already Catholics, it is my prayer that you find shelter within the ACC-OP or it's sister churches the APCK and UECNA.

The news on the ground in Australia does not confirm a complete conversion to Rome from the TAC members that I know. Indeed maybe not all three Australian bishops will swim the Tiber. Time will tell.

Anonymous said...

Then there is the problem that the story is flatly denied by at least on bishop of the ACA. In a letter on the website of the Diocese of the Northeast Bishop Marsh says such a vote as described in the article never happened...


Fr. Robert Hart said...

But, the news of the vote was announced on the ACA website itself, written by Bp.Langburg.

Anonymous said...

There was either a major misunderstanding among the bishops as to exactly what was being voted on, or Bishop Marsh is trying to "shield" his parishes from what actually occurred...

Robert Ian Williams said...

Father Hart is spot on. In fact I rather wish we had men of his calibre signing up for Rome than the likes of Hepworth.

By the way the TAC in the UK is very much an episcopus vagens outfit, with around 200 members.
( UK christian handbook)

The irish branch is tinier and thoroghly Protestant and has n intention of converting.

As for the Anglican Use..do your readers realise that it has only attracted a tiny number of Anglicans and most attending it, are cradle Roman Catholics.

I estimate That the Use attracted less than 0.1 per cent of American Anglicans.

I have very mixed feelings about Cranmer as he was definitely Protestant...why was the sacrament of annointing missing from Anglicanism for the first three hundred years? There were no prayers for the dead in the BCP until 1928 American revision. Cranmer called the Mass the weed that chokes the Gospel and non of the high Church divines like Laud belived taht teh holy Communion was a propitiataary sacrifice.

As for the 39 articles, which the ACA is pledged to pass on to their children...Rome will confine them to the dustbin.

By the way therew as a broilliant respone to Saepius Officio by the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales. it shows how saepius officio..

1) Was the private opinion of the authors
2)That it was deliberately phrased in ambiguity.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Flattery will not prevent me from debating.

Robert Ian Williams wrote:

There were no prayers for the dead in the BCP until 1928 American revision.

Really? What then do you make of this from the 1549 BCP?

"We commend unto thy mercye (O Lorde) all other thy servauntes, which are departed hence from us, with the signe of faith, and nowe do reste in the slepe of peace: Graunt unto them, we beseche thee, thy mercy, and everlasting peace, and that, at the day of the generall resurreccion, we and all they which bee of the misticall body of thy sonne, may altogether be set on his right hand, and heare that his most ioyfull voyce: Come unto me, O ye that be blessed of my father, and possesse the kingdom, whiche is prepared for you from the begynning of the worlde..."

And from its burial office:

"WE commende into thy handes of mercy (moste mercifull father) the soule of this our brother departed, N. And his body we commit to the earth... Graunte, we beseche thee, that at the daye of judgement his soule and all the soules of thy electe, departed out of this lyfe, may with us and we with them, fully receive thy promisses, and be made perfite altogether thorow [through] the glorious resurreccion of thy sonne Jesus Christ our Lorde...Graunte unto us thy servaunte, that the sinnes whiche he committed in this world be not imputed unto him, but that he, escaping the gates of hell and paynes of eternall derkenesse: may ever..."

Cranmer called the Mass the weed that chokes the Gospel

Meaning what? Inasmuch as the 1549 BCP has a Masse so named, and inasmuch as Cranmer authorized daily celebrations and reintroduced frequent communion, do you think that maybe your information is suspect, to say the least?

and none of the high Church divines like Laud belived that the holy Communion was a propitiatory sacrifice.

Which is one of the reasons why Orthodox Patriarchs recognized Anglican orders between 1922 and 1976, as they said in a letter to Abp. Cosmo Lang. Each celebration is not a propitiatory sacrifice, for that was once offered by Christ. The Epistle to the Hebrews could not be more clear about "once for all," nor the Anglican Formularies more clear about rejecting the double plural sacrifices of masses, as if each was a propitiatory sacrifice.

By the way there as a brilliant response to Saepius Officio by the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales. it shows how saepius officio..

1) Was the private opinion of the authors
2)That it was deliberately phrased in ambiguity.

The response (which amounted to an editorial in a paper) was not brilliant, but rather foolish. Private opinion? Read Saepius Officio and you will never be able to consider it mere "private opinion." It is an excellent scholarly answer to the Roman Bull of 1896, filled with historical facts and superior research. And, it is not phrased in ambiguity at all.

Glad you think me "spot on."

Robert Ian Williams said...

Full Record

Format options: Standard format Summary MARC tags
Record 6 out of 6
System number 003763640
Cataloguing level Minimal record
Author - personal VAUGHAN, Herbert Alfred, Cardinal, Archbishop of Westminster.
Title A Vindication of the Bull "Apostolicæ Curæ" [dated: Sept. 13, 1896]. A letter on Anglican orders by the Cardinal Archbishop and Bishops of the Province of Westminster, in reply to the letter addressed to them by the Anglican Archbishops of Canterbury and York.
Publisher/year pp. iv. 122. Longmans & Co.: London, 1898.
Physical descr. 8º.
Added name TEMPLE, Frederick, successively Bishop of Exeter and of London and Archbishop of Canterbury, and MACLAGAN (William Dalrymple) successively Bishop of Lichfield and Archbishop of York.
Added name Catholic Church. Pope (1878-1903 : Leo XIII) [Apostolicae Curae.]
Holdings (All) Details
Shelfmark 3940.f.9. Request

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Don't start this old tug of war with me.

A simple reading of Saepius Officio is enough to prevent anyone from taking the RC editorial seriously. It was in nothing more an English paper, as a long letter, because even the late 19th century "scholars" in Rome realized that it would not pass the test of academia.

Robert Ian Williams said...

The reply ( a vindication of Apostlicae Curae) is a reasoned theological response and is an in depth analyis of Saepius Officio.
it is actually longer than Saepius Officio. Can i send you a copy..we are re-pulishing it.

Why don't you mention the missing sacrament? How can Anglicanism be a purer form of Catholicism when for 300 hundred years there was no annointing of the sick?

As for the Eastern orthodox.. they turned down the highest in Anglicanism , the non-jurors because they would not accept transubstantiation , prayers to the Saints and worship of the Eucharistic elements.

By the way there is not one case of an Anglican cleric being received in his orders in any eastern orthodox Church.

Fact ..there are no prayers for the dead in the 1552, 1662 and 1789Prayer Books.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Robert Ian Williams wrote:

The reply ( a vindication of Apostlicae Curae) is a reasoned theological response and is an in depth analyis of Saepius Officio.
it is actually longer than Saepius Officio...

The work you refer to was out of date by the time it was finished. The official Roman position was to ignore it, inasmuch as within one year they had begun to see that their efforts in producing Apostolicae Curae had hurt their credibility among the academic professionals. The errors of fact would, over the next several decades, force the Roman Catholic Church to acknowledge one after another that they had built their case on mistakes.

Today, the official position of the See of Rome is that every argument of fact in Apostolcae Curae was wrong, because each was based on false statements about history, perhaps innocently employed, but wrong nonetheless. The official position of Rome is that the 1896 Bull is still correct theologically in its conclusion, even with most of the supporting arguments overturned.

Their one and only argument is based on their charge of a defect of Intention, which they claim was not corrected until 1662, when it was too late. That argument is so weak as to be completely ridiculous, for it would mean that the English Church before 1662 did not want to pass on Holy Orders, and spent over a century ordaining and consecrating with no thought about whether they meant to do what the Church does in the sacrament. Also, the Roman position reveals Biblical illiteracy on their part, if they actually cannot recognize the Scriptures employed in the "imperative form" Anglican Rites.

To quote myself on the matter:

"This has come from the same Apostolic See that failed to understand why the first English Ordinal did, in fact, specify each Order...so that even the Magisterium stubbornly clings even now to a position born of Biblical illiteracy, seeing a defect of Intention because, it seems, they do not notice actual quotations of Scripture appropriate to each Order (translated from a very old Latin rite commonly used with Rome's full approval in 'the before time")."

But, you see, they have to cling to it or admit that the Infallible See was wrong.

But, if you want to embarrass the See of Rome by publishing something they would rather forget, go ahead.

Why don't you mention the missing sacrament? How can Anglicanism be a purer form of Catholicism when for 300 hundred years there was no annointing of the sick?

Which is not to say it was not practiced by Anglican priests, inasmuch as we know it was. But, how can you consider the RCC to be practicing Catholic faith regarading this sacrament even now? They have corrupted the Biblical sacrament you mention by changing it into "Extreme Unction" only for the dying, not for healing. If they have brought back the Biblical sacrament anywhere, it is due to the Charismatics.

As for the Eastern orthodox..

Let me correct you now with this.

By the way there is not one case of an Anglican cleric being received in his orders in any eastern orthodox Church.

Nor of a RC priest; but, "...adhering to the decision of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, of July 28, 1922, pronounces that if priests, ordained by Anglican Bishops, accede to Orthodoxy, they should not be re-ordained, as persons baptized by Anglicans are not rebaptized." Read all of what I provide at the link.