Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Question 13 from CANA


Q13. What is CANA’s position on women’s ordination?

CANA recognizes that there are differing theological positions in the Anglican Communion about women in ordained ministry. CANA acknowledges the integrity of those who understand the Holy Scriptures to permit the ordination of women to the priesthood and those who believe the Scriptures prohibit women’s ordination. Archbishop Peter Akinola has stated that there needs to be freedom for CANA to include both perspectives because of its North American character. CANA believes that for the health and well being of the church the particular gifts of women must be freely expressed. CANA will welcome applications from congregations and female clergy on the same basis as other applications with the expectation that women clergy will be licensed to continue their ministry.

Because of the differing positions regarding the ordination of women to the priesthood CANA policies regarding the ordination of new female aspirants will be developed from a biblical and pastoral perspective. This is a matter that is being actively pursued by the CANA clergy and elected lay leadership.

An Excellent Reflection on CANA

Question 13: What is CANA's position on WO?

For an excellent, thoughtful and sober assessment of the difficulties currently emerging from the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, please visit Apologetics Galore and read the well-presented post by its blogger, DH. In light of the historic move on the part of The Falls Church, Truro Church and 13 other former parishes in Virginia of the Episcopal Church which have already voted or are in the process of voting to separate from TEC, it is imperative that the serious theological, sacramental and ecclesiological issues at stake be addressed openly and deliberately in the days ahead. The role of the Covenant Union between the Church of Nigeria and the APA/REC is not at all clear at the moment, as CANA appears to have moved forward in allowing purportedly-ordained women to function within its jurisdiction. Will the Covenant Union be upheld? Will the proper consultation and discussion to which the Covenant Union commits both CANA and the APA/REC take place? Only time will tell.

Let us pray that the errors made and the theological novelties promoted in the Anglican Communion over the past thirty years will not be repeated yet again in this situation. Let us pray for the unity and fidelity of the Anglican expression of the Holy Catholic Church.


In the CANA news conference linked above, you will discover that the CANA-sponsored mission of Christ the Redeemer, Centreville, Virginia, has as its interim rector a lady who purports to have received priestly ordination, one who we presume has now been licenced to function sacramentally in CANA. The Falls Church of CANA already has on its pastoral staff a lady who has undergone the rite of presbyteral ordination. Problematic indeed...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Ten Years of Priesthood...

Dearly Beloved:

Saturday 21 December 1996, on bright clear glistening snow-covered morning in Lexington, Virginia, I was ordained to the Sacred Order of Priests in Christ’s One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church at Saint Paul’s Church by the Most Reverend John Thayer Cahoon, Junior of the Anglican Catholic Church. What a glorious day it was!

In commemoration of that joyful and life-transforming event, a Solemn High Mass will be celebrated at Saint Alban’s Anglican Cathedral, 3348 West State Road 426, Oviedo, Florida, at 7 PM on Wednesday 20 December 2006 for the transferred Feast of Saint Thomas the Apostle. If you happen to be in the Central Florida area next week, you are most cordially invited to attend the Mass and a dinner gathering (dutch treat) to follow. Please be assured of my prayers for you and your ministries in the Lord on that special day. Should you like to attend the Mass and join our dinner party, please notify me at your convenience. I would be honoured beyond words by your presence and prayers.

You go with me to the Altar of God as the Holy Sacrifice is offered in thanksgiving for ten years of participation in Christ’s Holy Priesthood. Thank you very much and God bless you.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Sacrificing Priesthood

Recently on the blog Pontifications it was asserted that the Anglicans do not possess and do intend to possess a 'sacrificing priesthood.' Is that true?

Here's the definitive answer from Saepius Officio, the official Reply of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to Pope Leo XIII (1897)...

XI. We inquire therefore what authority the Pope has for discovering a definite form in the bestowal of holy orders? We have seen no evidence produced by him except two passages from the determinations of the Council of Trent (Session xxiii. On the Sacrament of Order, canon i., and Session xxii. On the sacrifice of the Mass, canon iii.) which were promulgated after our Ordinal was composed, from which he infers that the principal grace and power of the Christian priesthood is the consecration and oblation of the Body and Blood of the Lord. The authority of that Council has certainly never been admitted in our country, and we find that by it many truths were mixed with falsehoods, much that is uncertain with what is certain. But we answer as regards the passages quoted by the Pope, that we make provision with the greatest reverence for the consecration of the holy Eucharist and commit it only to properly ordained Priests and to no other ministers of the Church. Further we truly teach the doctrine of Eucharistic sacrifice and do not believe it to be a ' nude commemoration of the Sacrifice of the Cross,' an opinion which seems to be attributed to us by the quotation made from that Council. But we think it sufficient in the Liturgy which we use in celebrat­ing the holy Eucharist,—while lifting up our hearts to the Lord, and when now consecrating the gifts already offered that they may become to us the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ,—to signify the sacrifice which is offered at that point of the service in such terms as these. We continue a perpetual memory of the precious death of Christ, who is our Advocate with the Father and the propitiation for our sins, according to His precept, until His coming again. For first we offer the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving; then next we plead and represent before the Father the sacrifice of the cross, and by it we con­fidently entreat remission of sins and all other benefits of the Lord's Passion for all the whole Church ; and lastly we offer the sacrifice of ourselves to the Creator of all things which we have already signified by the oblations of His creatures. This whole action, in which the people has necessarily to take its part with the Priest, we are accustomed to call the Eucharistic sacrifice.

Undeniably, we have what the whole Catholic Church has always understood to be the only 'sacrificing priesthood.'

Sunday, December 10, 2006

A Tale of Two Priesthoods

Father Alvin Kimel:

'...Whatever I was as a priest within the Anglican Communion has now been gathered into the deeper, more fundamental and primary ecclesial reality that simply is the Catholic Church. I do not know the words to express this newness and difference. Certainly the canonical categories employed in Apostolicae curae do not adequately capture it. Yet at an existential level, I understand now why the Catholic Church has always insisted upon the absolute ordination of Anglican priests. The Catholic priest is different. His ministry is different. He is a priest in a way that an Anglican presbyter can never be a priest. This is not a matter of intention, belief, or practice. I know many godly Anglo-Catholic priests who ardently believe they are priests as truly as any Catholic or Orthodox priest … and yet they are not, because the Church in which they serve and minister is not the Church in the same way that the Catholic Church is the Church. The catholicity of the Anglican presbyter will always remain optional...'

'...This is why the debate on the validity of Anglican Orders so quickly descends into irrelevance. It’s not just a matter of proving an unbroken historic succession of properly ordained ordaining hands. Be the physical links ever so intact, yet the sacerdotal line is ruptured if Anglicanism is not Church in doctrinal and catholic fullness; and by both Catholic and Orthodox standards, it is not. How can the Anglican Church, for example, pass on the sacerdotium, when it has always denied a sacrificing priesthood?...'

Dr C. B. Moss:

The Anglican Communion claims that its bishops, priests, and deacons are bishops, priests, and deacons in the sense in which those words were used by the ancient Church and by the Roman Communion today. The Archbishop of Canterbury is a bishop in the same sense as the Pope. Every Anglican priest is as much a priest as any Romanist priest. It is his duty and his privilege to offer the Eucharistic sacrifice, to give absolution, and to bless in the name of the Church; and this claim is supported by the Prayer Book...' (The Christian Faith, 408).

There were three stages in the sacrifice or self-offering of our Lord, corresponding to three stages in the Old Testament sacrifices. The first was His death on the Cross, corresponding to the slaying of the victim. The second is His perpetual self-offering in Heaven which began with His Ascension and corresponds to the entry of the High Priest into the Holy of Holies carrying the blood of the sin offering on the Day of Atonement. The third is the Holy Eucharist, corresponding to the feast upon the sacrifice which belonged to the peace offering.

The sacrifice of Christ is one and cannot be repeated. There is no sacrifice in the Christian religion other than the sacrifice of Christ. The Holy Eucharist is not in any sense whatever a repetition of Christ's death on the Cross or of His offering of Himself in Heaven. It is not called a sacrifice in the New Testament, nor are the Christian ministers called priests (hiereis). The reason is clear. Jewish priests and heathen priests were well known to the first readers of the New Testament. If the Christian presbuteroi (elders) had been called priests, it would have been supposed that animal sacrifice was part of their duty. But animal sacrifice had been abolished.

Nevertheless, sacrificial language was used of the Eucharist, as we have seen, by our Lord Himself, who said, "This is My blood of the covenant", when He instituted the Eucharist. St. Paul called himself leitourgos, a sacrificial word (Rom. 15:16), doing priestly work (hierourgounta), that the offering (prosphora) of the Gentiles might be made acceptable. He contrasted the "table of the Lord" with "the table of devils", the heathen sacrifices (I Cor. 10:21), showing that he regarded the Christian Eucharist as sacrificial. The sacrifice of Christ was the Christian Passover; "Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us; therefore let us keep the feast" (I Cor. 5:7). Compare also I Cor. 10:18: the Jews who "eat the sacrifices" and "have communion with the altar" are compared to the Christian at the Eucharist.

All the Fathers beginning with St. Clement of Rome called the Eucharist a sacrifice. So do all the ancient liturgies. But whereas the New Testament appears to regard the Eucharist as corresponding to the feast which was the last stage of the sacrifice, the Fathers taught that it was also the representation of earth of what is continually going on in Heaven. As the Epistle to the Hebrews constantly asserts, our Lord is the true High Priest, "a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek" (Heb. 6:20) who passed into the heavens at the Ascension bearing His own blood (like the High Priest into the Holy of Holies), and who perpetually presents to the Father His own life, for His priesthood is unchangeable (7:24). The Christian Church of which He is the Head is "a royal priesthood" (I Peter 2:9) sharing the priesthood of its Head and His heavenly work of offering. This the Church does by the whole of her life which is, ideally, one long self-offering, united with the self-offering of our Lord in Heaven. But she shares in His self-offering especially at the Eucharist, in which the congregation is united with Jesus Christ in Heaven, first by offering His Body and Blood (with which all their other offerings, their alms, the bread and wine, their own lives, are united), and then by receiving it in communion.

The earthly priest is the necessary organ of the Church for this purpose, as the eye is the necessary organ of sight. There can be no offering without him, but the offering is the people's, not his alone... (The Christian Faith, 369, 370).

The word "priest" represents both presbuteros, presbyter, and hiereus, sacerdos. The latter title was given to bishops from the third century onwards and later to priests as well. It describes them as "offering sacrifice". The Christian priest is not a priest in the same sense as the Hebrew priests under the Old Covenant. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the only Priest in the proper sense under the New Covenant. In what sense the Christian "presbyter" is also "sacerdos", sacrificing priest, has already been explained. The use of the word "presbyter" in the Catholic Church to mean a member of the second order of the Apostolic ministry is not to be confused with its use by the "Reformed churches". The Calvinist "presbyter" is not a priest but a preacher, as we shall see.

The essential duties of the priest which cannot be performed by anyone but a priest (all bishops being also priests) are to consecrate the Eucharist, to give absolution to sinners, to anoint the sick, and to bless in the name of the Church. (Anyone may bless as a father blesses his children, but the blessing of the Church is given only by the bishop, or in his absence by the priest.)
All these duties of the priest belong properly to the bishop and are performed by the priest as the representative of some bishop (or person with the jurisdiction of a bishop). In early times the bishop, when present, was always the celebrant of the Eucharist. The absolution and the blessing in the Eucharist are still given by the bishop of the diocese (or the suffragan or assistant bishop who represents him), even though he is not the celebrant.

The priest is also ordinarily a pastor, teacher, and evangelist. He is the normal minister of baptism. These duties can also be performed by others; but they form the largest part of the priest's work, and his training is chiefly directed to prepare him for carrying them out. Experience has shown that though the functions which are confined to the priest are limited and can easily be learned, priests who should do nothing but perform those functions would be of little use. The priest's highest duty is to consecrate the Eucharist, and the next to give absolution. But the Eucharist must be accompanied by preaching and teaching, and the absolution must usually be accompanied by counsel. Therefore the priest must be a man of holiness, of learning, and of knowledge of human nature. He must know his Bible and be trained in dogmatic, moral, and ascetic theology, and in the art of teaching (The Christian Faith, 393, 394).

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

CANA, Nigeria and the Ordination of Women

From the text I Will Welcome You, A Report of The Falls Church, November 2006:

'This hoped-for unity faces obstacles, including some important doctrinal questions - chiefly, the ordination of women. (CANA intends to welcome applications from women clergy, and expects that women clergy will be licensed to continue their ministries. The question whether CANA will itself ordain women has yet to be determined. While the Church of Nigeria does not currently ordain women, Archbishop Akinola has stated that he recognizes that there needs to be freedom for CANA to take a different direction because of its North American context.) It is relatively easy for orthodox Anglicans to agree against the errors of the Episcopal Church, but harder to come to agreement on all the matters, practical and doctrinal, that must be resolved before full unity is achieved. This will become a major subject of our prayers in the months and years ahead.'

What will happen to the Covenant Union between the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) and the Anglican Province of America/Reformed Episcopal Church if the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, a mission of the Church of Nigeria, proceeds to licence and purportedly ordain women to the priesthood? Such a willful break in Catholic Order would have unquestionably dire consequences for the recent intra-Anglican movement towards unity and co-operation in our country. Let us pray fervently for the preservation of the Catholic Priesthood in CANA and in those Dioceses and Provinces of the Anglican Communion which have heretofore been faithful to the Apostolic Tradition.

45th Anniversary of Saint Barnabas Atlanta

What a sheer joy to celebrate today the 45th Anniversary of   Saint Barnabas Anglican Cathedral, Atlanta, Georgia!