"We Anglo-Catholics who seek unity with Rome find ourselves in a tight spot at present...We set sail on our raft because our sincere Catholic convictions have left us unable to remain Anglican with integrity now that General Synod has made clear its decision to move the national church in a less Catholic direction. Getting on the raft is not easy as it requires leaving much that we love and treasure behind us. And for this reason, amongst others, we are clearly few in number."
Note the perspective from which this is written: It is written by someone for whom "Anglican" is inseparable from the official government organ called the Church of England. Therefore, the writer seems incapable of imagining a church body that still teaches and practices the religion of the Book of Common Prayer. He is unable to perceive of a church that holds to Anglican principles without being in communion with the See of Canterbury. Reading this causes me to imagine what St. Maximos the Confessor would have faced if his regard, in his day, for the See of Constantinople had been so greatly exaggerated. St. Maximos could say, during the tenure of an unorthodox man as Patriarch, "we are not in communion," without losing the things he loved and treasured.
No Anglican alternative to offer?
We too, as a people, several decades ago, took a course of action based on conviction and sober reflection. For more than thirty years we (not each and every one of us, but our church body) have not been in communion with Canterbury. But, we have not been forced to decide between Canterbury and Rome. Someone ought to suggest to Fr. Tomlinson that he read the Affirmation of St. Louis. The truth, that he does not know, apparently, is that he need not leave behind those things he claims to love and treasure.
But, the real irony is this: That blog was supposed to have been an organ of Continuing Anglicanism, and so pretended only a few months ago. But, now we see that sustaining a lie of that magnitude required more energy than their power line could supply. What is missing from the picture? Very simply, the Continuing Anglican alternative. For the people who blog at the so-called Anglo-Catholic, there is no Affirmation of St. Louis. Therefore, Fr. Tomlinson writes for them, "our sincere Catholic convictions have left us unable to remain Anglican" (perhaps everyone can see now why we have been calling that blog The Former Anglican). By "Catholic" he means, of course, Roman. The meaning of the word "Catholic" loses its true meaning, its Credal meaning, and is tossed from their "raft" into the sea, along with the Book of Common Prayer.
This is what happens when you reduce your knowledge of all things Catholic to the selected portions of true catholic faith that happen still to be held by Rome. In place of what is omitted, you build new ideas onto your knowledge of things Catholic to include Roman innovations unknown to the Apostles, unknown to the Fathers, and unknown to the whole Church during the entire first millennium. It involves both taking away and adding to the word of God. It means removing whole portions of his revelation through the Apostles and Prophets, and adding, in their place, doctrines that are at best mere speculation, and at worst "repugnant to the word of God." Inasmuch as that practice of subtraction and addition is how, when in Rome, to do as the Romans, it may be fitting for these former Anglicans to learn it now.
We see that the whole effort of trying to reunite with Rome on false pretenses, at a time in history when outward and political forced Reunion of the Church is premature, has led the people who trust in Anglicanorum Coetibus with its potential Ordinariates, to abandon the Continuing Anglican Church altogether. They have lost the whole foundation that we build on firmly and confidently. But, have they rejected The Affirmation of St. Louis, or have they merely forgotten it? It hardly matters which; either way, it is obvious that they have no answer to offer to Fr. Tomlinson, and no alternative for people like him.
They have fallen for the same Roman propaganda, which means they never really got the point in the first place. Their blog has a lot to say about liturgy, without putting in one good word for the Book of Common Prayer. That is always a sure symptom, I might add, of severe theological ignorance, with misinformation serving as their only "education" about content, history and meaning. It is that misinformation, worse than mere ignorance, that is always evident whenever they might say anything about the subject.
In place of Anglican fathers, their website pays homage to Thomas More, the "saint" who hounded the godly William Tyndale to death, ultimately accomplished by strangulation (we hope that More repented that ultimately successful attempt at judicial murder before "instant karma" got him-and he didn't look a thing like Paul Scofield). It pays homage, also, to John Fisher, but has nothing good to say about the Anglican martyr who gave us our Prayer Book, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, nor a word about Richard Hooker, Lancelot Andrewes, or Abp. Laud. It has nothing good to say about anyone or anything that is not thoroughly Tridentine. It is obviously Roman Catholic, and in a manner so partisan and triumphalist that it would embarrass many a thoughtful and reasonable member of that communion.
So, why the dishonest name they continue to use?
Division in the ranks
One of the former bloggers of the Former Anglican, as we call it, has gone from being a contributor to the dishonestly named Anglo-Catholic, to being the webmiester of a dubiously named English Catholic blog, posted in France by Fr. Anthony Chadwick (whose TAC congregation in that country must hold a record, not unlike the record height of the word's tallest midget). Apparently, from all the evidence, Mr. Campbell down in Orlando has finally learned that my warning was true: Archbishop John Hepworth is not to be trusted. This shocking revelation has, however, cost him the continued writing of the English Catholic, Père Chadwick.
In a letter written and sent via email to his faithful readers, Chadwick writes:
"The Moderator’s [Campbell] explanation of my ‘firing’ was this:
'You really ought to have checked with me before your last post (which I have been forced to remove). +Hepworth is leading you down the primrose path; if you would like to speak about the situation, I would be happy to explain. Please feel free to give me a call.'
Whose hermeneutic of the Ordinariates will prevail? It is no longer my concern but that of my Archbishop [Hepworth] and the TAC bishops with very few exceptions solidly supporting him and his approach to Rome . I believe in ecclesiastical obedience and I follow my Archbishop in what I am convinced is the right thing. I joined the TAC knowing that the intention was to approach Rome for corporate unity / reception into communion...From this point, I eschew disputes on account of clerical marriage / celibacy, sexual ethics or the like. Though these matters are important, they are not my concern."
Apparently, it has become clear to Mr. Campbell and his band of bloggers, that Hepworth's spin on Anglicanorum Coetibus has been as absurd as we, here on this blog, have been saying all along. Perhaps he has run out of the steam it takes to "believe six impossible things before breakfast," having come to his senses in accord with my analysis of a few simple facts. But, Père Chadwick is still a faithful Hepworthian, still believing that the twice-married former Roman Catholic priest will, somehow, get to be an Ordinary. We know that Hepworth was telling the TAC's Canadian churches that he, even with that baggage, would be accepted as an Archbishop by the see of Rome (which seems to have contributed to the reasons why at least ten of those parishes, last I was given the count, have left the TAC. Mr. Haney can sell only so much to Mr. Douglas before his shtick gets old).
Chadwick has also expressed his deep love for what he seems to think of as Anglican patrimony:
"I am now (as I always have been) concerned with English Catholic (both Anglican and Roman Catholic) culture and spirituality. The Sarum Liturgy is particularly close to my heart, but also the English Church ’s adoption of the Counter Reformation and the Roman Rite. Patrimony also expends ["extends?"] to culture, art, music and spirituality as well as systems of Church government."
Notice what is missing. That's right--no mention whatsoever of the Book of Common Prayer, or anything Anglican. It includes the Counter-Reformation, and it reduces Anglican patrimony to cultural and artistic expressions, as if theology and the Anglican renaissance of Biblical and Patristic scholarship, were meaningless (no doubt, his knowledge of these things is a complete blank). And, the use of the phrase "systems of Church government" indicates that he does not know the difference between the true Anglican Catholic Episcopal order and the Geneva Discipline. I suspect that he has not read Hooker, and was not aware that "church government" is a term we have never used (Anglicans have polity, not "church government").
Chadwick's personal affirmation is really the same Roman collection we see in Fr. Tomlinson's thinking, and that we find on the so-called Anglo-Catholic. It appears, furthermore, that the disunity in TAC ranks boils down to the relative strength of personalities; who reigns as king of the hill, who gets to play Robin Hood, and who gets to wear the purplest shirt of them all. It is the same as ever, the reason why schisms have broken away from the Continuing Church up to and including the Deerfield Beach schism, which is now coming apart.
At the present time, there is nothing good to report about the direction taken by these people. To this day they have maintained an outward rejection of the necessary theological improvements and cleansing of the English Reformation, and of the development of the real Anglican Patrimony, including the balance restored, in their generation, by the real Anglo-Catholics of old Oxford. They remain ignorant, possibly by choice, of the theological issues that forced a separation in the sixteenth century, and which remain unresolved. They think of Anglicanism merely as Roman Catholicism with an English accent. They haven't got a clue.
I hope, for their own sakes, that all of them will stop trying to be teachers and leaders. They have yet to be students of the theology of the Anglican Way. Obviously, everything they think they know, about their own heritage, they have learned from Roman polemicists. They are filled with the fruit of a false education, and even in their divisions, are racing to the wrong destination, leaving behind riches they know nothing of.