Monday, February 13, 2006

Anglo-Catholic v. Anglo-Papist

Here is how I differentiate the terms:

1. Anglo-Catholics are energetically and fiercely loyal sons of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion who continually desire to emphasise afresh in each new generation the beauty, splendour, and fullness of the Catholic inheritance of the Ecclesia Anglicana as found in the canonical and historical structure of Anglicanism. Genuine Anglican Catholics, to my mind, see themselves as living out the full implications of Anglicanism, firmly basing their doctrinal teaching, catechesis, liturgy, and spiritual formation on the Book of Common Prayer. Anglo-Catholics are Catholic Anglicans, who acknowledge the Anglican Church qua Anglicanism to be a part of the supernatural Society, a true manifestation of the Church of the Apostles and Fathers, a living Branch of the Body of Christ which is the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Anglo-Catholics focus particularly on the incarnational and sacramental nature of the Church as perpetuated in the Sacramental System and the Apostolic Succession and intensely concentrate on the Church as the living organic continuation of the Life of Christ in time and space and beyond, a life of communion prolonged unbroken through 2,000 years of Christian history, transcending every age of history, the Middle Ages and the Reformation, and connecting us directly with Our Lord. We see Anglicanism, in short, as the Orthodox Church of the West, the purest form in the West of historical Catholicism. The Catholic Revival of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries was about recalling all Anglicans to the full possession of their heritage and birthright as Anglicans, for to be an Anglican is to be an heir of the fullness of the Christian Faith, the Catholic Religion. That position remains today. Anglo-Catholics, as opposed to Anglo-Papalists, believe in the total catholicity and apostolicity of Anglicanism in her own right.

2. Anglo-Papalists, who comprise most of the Anglo-Catholic movement in the UK, are essentially Roman Catholics separated from the Pope of Rome by what they see as an historical accident, that is, the English Reformation. Anglo-Papalists belong to the Church of England or her daughter Churches but believe unreservedly in the Papal Claims and Roman Dogmas. They accept as dogmatic, de fidei, the doctrines of the Immaculate Conception and Corporeal Assumption of Our Lady. Oddly enough, they accept the dogmas issued by the First Vatican Council of 1870, to wit, the immediate, universal, and absolute jurisdiction of the Roman Pontiff and Papal Infallibility. Anglo-Papalists are 'Roman Anglicans,' who use the modern Novus Ordo Roman Rite and include the commemoration of the Pope in the Canon of the Mass. They worship, pray, teach, and think as Roman Catholics. The only Romanist theological position with which Anglo-Papalists disagree is the Papal Bull of Pope Leo XIII, Apostolicae Curae, in which Anglican Orders were declared absolutely null and utterly void. In other words, Anglo-Papalists believe Rome is infallible except in the matter of the validity of Anglican Orders and Sacraments. For this reason, and seemingly this alone, they have not yet 'poped.' If Rome suddenly recognised their priestly Orders as valid, they would swim the Tiber in the next hour. As Father Colin Stephenson, sometime Administrator of the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham succinctly put it in one of his classic works, the Anglo-Papal position is, to most Anglicans, wildly illogical. And indeed, I would contend, it is wildly illogical to most Anglo-Catholics too! Now, of course, there are varying degrees and shades of Anglo-Papalism, but one could say there is a clear dividing line between Catholics who look to Anglicanism as being a true Catholic Church in her own integrity and tradition, and Catholics who see Rome as the true source and centre of the Church (and who thus see Anglicanism as an historical interruption of communion with Rome, or worse, an historical mistake). Anglican Catholics like myself fall into the former category; most of the Anglo-Catholics currently engaged in the struggle against bishopesses in the Church of England fall into the latter.

3. Anglicans believe that they are a PART of the Church, but not the whole Church herself. We belong to the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, but, unlike Rome and the East, we have never made a claim to be THE Church in an exclusive sense. Strictly speaking, every local particular Church, every Diocese that possesses Apostolic faith, sacraments, and jurisdiction, is a microcosm of the Universal Church and is therefore a true 'Church.' Strictly speaking again, only those ecclesial bodies which possess the Scriptures, Creeds, Sacraments, and Apostolic Ministry of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons have been called 'Churches' in the course of Church history. Ecclesiastical bodies lacking these essential traits have usually been referred to as 'ecclesial bodies' in technical theology or more abrasively dubbed 'sects.' 'Let all honour the Deacons as a commandment of Jesus Christ, and the Bishop as Jesus Christ, and the Presbyters as the Council of God and the assembly of the Apostles: apart from these, there is no Church' (Saint Ignatius of Antioch to the Trallians 3). 'Denomination' is a modern term reflecting America's religious pluralism, which term latently implies that the doctrinal and organic differences between ecclesial entities are nominal: it sounds much nicer, but the ecclesiology asserted in the term is, to Catholic-minded folks at least, very dubious indeed. In fine, Catholic and Apostolic Christians belong to 'Churches.' Those whom the Great Church has historically judged to be heretics and schismatics belong to 'sects.'

1 comment:

The young fogey said...

Fairly accurate overview of the two sides but:

1. One can hold that the Anglican books are good enough but not the best and thus use Roman texts as well or exclusively.

2. One can accept Apostolicæ Curæ and be an Anglo-Papalist today thanks to the Dutch touch - Old Catholics have given Anglicans and thus Anglo-Catholics valid orders. (The Continuum, which doesn't have the problem of the attempted ordination of women, can claim them.)

A notion of the pre-'Reformation' English Church as non-Roman is rewriting history.

I like high culture, including Coverdale/Cranmerian English, and the tolerant conservatism of the English way but am not a confessional Anglican.