Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Bishop Kemp on his Old Catholic succession

'Because of my connection with the Old Catholic Churches, Michael Ramsey had invited them to be represented at my ordination to the episcopate. Both Archbishop Kok of Utrecht and Bishop Van Kleef of Haarlem were present and laid on hands, saying aloud, 'Accipe Spiritum Sanctum' which is the Old Catholic formula of episcopal ordi­nation. Afterwards they signed the Latin protocol, drawn up for such occasions by Dr NP Williams shortly after communion between the Church of England and the Church of Utrecht had been established. The fact that the two visitors did not quite under­stand the niceties of English history was evident when, at dinner at Lambeth the night before, they presented me with a picture to com­memorate the occasion - it was a drawing of William of Orange! Some years later I showed the protocol to an English Jesuit who wrote to me saying, 'I cannot see how even Cardinal Ratzinger could deny that you are a Catholic bishop.' The Bishop of Chartres, Mgr Michon, also attended, and at the end said to Canon Francois Legaux, who accompanied him, 'I can have no doubt that that man is now a bishop in the Catholic Church.' Whether that was because of the Old Catholic participation or the general impression made by the ceremony, I have never asked. As it was his last consecration, I had asked Michael himself to preach and I think that that pleased him. I much regret I do not have a copy of his sermon. The details of the service had been largely arranged with his chaplain at a meeting which I had attended shortly before. The service was unusual in that what always seems to me an unseemly scrum when the bishops come up for the laying-on of hands was replaced by their coming up individually and putting their hands on my head saying, 'Receive the Holy Ghost'. The two Old Catholic bishops were at the end.'

Monday, February 19, 2007

The Mass in Catholic Zanzibar

In the notable article posted below from The Living Church is recorded news of the Solemn Mass celebrated yesterday by the Anglican Communion Primates in Zanzibar, Tanzania, a great historic centre of Anglo-Catholicism in Africa. The one potential reference in the news and speeches from yesterday I found glaringly absent was the importance for the whole Anglican Communion of the life and witness of Bishop Frank Weston of Zanzibar, a vitally influential Anglo-Catholic pastor and divine for his generation. Bishop Weston was a keynote speaker at the 1923 Anglo-Catholic Congress, on which occasion he gave one of the most stirring and powerful public addresses of his time, a speech given wide coverage by both secular and religious media. He was an indefatigable defender of the Catholic Faith, who opposed all pan-protestant church union schemes and established Zanzibar as an shining example of Catholic teaching and evangelism for the whole of Africa and the world. His life and many works may be studied on the Project Canterbury website: http://anglicanhistory.org/weston/.

A sadness looms over the proceedings yesterday in Zanzibar as one considers what the Anglican Communion once was and might yet still more gloriously have become if only the faith and tradition embodied by Bishop Weston had been allowed to grow and expand throughout Anglicanism. Sunday's Mass was but a glimpse, a faltering shadow or glimmer, of what perhaps could have been Anglicanism if the Catholic Revival had been permitted to succeed. But even as the Catholicism of Bishop Weston was evident in it, the Solemn Mass was a stark demonstration of division and disunity, as seven Primates could not in good conscience receive the Blessed Sacrament at that Eucharistic Celebration. The Anglican Communion, as a true eucharistic communion in the fullest sense of the term, is divided, and probably permanently. Let us learn our lessons well and jealously guard and transmit the inheritance bequeathed to us by Frank Weston.


No business sessions were held on Feb. 18 as the primates sailed two hours by boat to Zanzibar to celebrate a solemn Eucharist at the Cathedral Church of Christ, also known as the Universities Mission to Central Africa (UMCA) Cathedral.

Considered the most "Catholic" of the traditional mission societies, the UMCA heritage was evident in the color, music and liturgy of the Holy Communion service drawn from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.

Over 600 worshippers packed the Cathedral, built in 1878 on the site of Zanzibar's former slave market in Stone Town. Archbishop Williams served as preacher, Archbishop Donald Mtetemela of Tanzania served as celebrant and the bishops of Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam served as deacon and sub-deacon in the elaborate Anglo-Catholic service which was conducted in both English and Swahili.

In high ritual style, Archbishop Mtetemela sang (sic) the liturgy, as clouds of incense arose from a censer held by the former Archbishop of Zanzibar, John Rahamdhani. The altar service reflected an ecclesial style seldom seen in The Episcopal Church, with copes, maniples, zucchettos and other finery. Yellow roses covered the front of the altar and much of the cathedral in honor of Quinquagesima Sunday.

Following a processional choir of 40 down the aisle to the hymn "Jesus Shall Reign," the primates proceeded down the aisle under a barrage of klieg lights and flashbulbs from the press, with 12 of the 14 new primates seated in canon's stalls around the high altar and the remaining primates seated in the stalls.

At the close of the service Canon Matthew Mhagama offered thanks to the Catholic missionary societies of the Church of England for planting the faith in Central Africa, and to the British Royal Navy for crushing the slave trade. "Whatever their shortcomings," the missionaries of the UMCA were "heroes." Their graves surrounding the cathedral were a testament to the power of the gospel and to their sacrifices for the "Catholic faith," he said.

Anglican-Roman Catholic Proposals for Unity

On the same day the Primates of the Anglican Communion prepare to announce the result of their recent embattled deliberations in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission has published a groundbreaking statement on its goals for eventual rapprochement between the Church of Rome and the Ecclesia Anglicana. Like ARCIC, however, one should be very mindful that the statement is the reflection only of the opinions and beliefs of the authors themselves, and not an official view of the two Churches. Were it not for the purported ordination of women and the ongoing crisis caused by the prosecution of a homosexualist agenda, both from the Anglican Communion side, the IARCCUM proposal would surely mark a profound achievement in ecumenical dialogue. As it stands, I am disappointed to assert it is all only wishful thinking, at least as far as the Canterbury Communion is concerned. When will Rome finally realise that authentic Anglicanism in now located almost exclusively (in North America at least) in the Continuing Church? When will Rome start talking to the right people? But do have a look...


Bishop Eric Kemp on the Reformed Episcopal Church

If one enjoys reading autobiographical material from famous Anglo-Catholics, then one will certainly appreciate the relatively new book by Bishop Eric Kemp, sometime Bishop of Chichester, entitled Eric Kemp: Shy But Not Retiring, Continuum Press, 2006. It is a splendid little work. In it is found a fascinating reference to the 'Cumminsite' movement and the modern Church of England's official position regarding it. In practice it appears the C of E has taken a cautious approach to the subject of REC orders on the basis of the REC's historical views on Baptism and Ministry, which views have been problematic for many in the Anglican Communion since the nineteenth century. The other most fascinating part of this book is the segment in which Bishop Kemp recalls the participation of Old Catholic bishops at his episcopal consecration and the favourable response given by Rome to that act. I shall be happy to post that part if there is interest. As to the REC...

'While I was at Chichester two problems arose which I did not feel I could settle myself, and therefore asked if they could be referred to FOAG [Faith and Order Advisory Group]. Both concerned men asking to be allowed to minister in the Church of England. The first was a minister of the Reformed Church of England, a body which derived from an American suffragan bishop of evangelical outlook who had left his diocese and established an independent Church which had then spread to England. There was no doubt about the episcopal succession but the more we looked at the teaching of the body, questions began to arise about baptism and the ministry, on both of which they seemed to hold very negative views. FOAG eventually recommended ordination sub conditione, which I accepted. I was a little worried about the reaction of the congregation to my holding separate ordination services for this man to the diaconate and the priesthood, with an interval between. As I pondered this I remembered a tea-time conversation at one of Claude Jenkins's seminars in his house at Christ Church in which he had spoken of the powers of dispensation available to the Archbishop of Canterbury resulting from the time when he was a papal legate. One of these was the power to authorize the ordination of a person to the diaconate and the priesthood in the same service. I therefore applied for this dis­pensation and, having assured the Archbishop of the authoritative source of my information, I was granted it. The second case concerned a priest of the Liberal Catholic Church. Here we had much more hesitation than before, as the body was much influenced by theosophy and there were questions about its commitment to belief in the res­urrection of Christ. In the end FOAG recommended ordination ab initio was required and that is what I did.'

Friday, February 02, 2007

The Church of the Triune God: The Cyprus Agreed Statement of the International Commission for Anglican-Orthodox Dialogue


Reunion with East not beyond hope

by Bill Bowder

THE DOOR to visible unity between the Anglicans and the Orthodox was said to be still open, after a long-awaited statement by the International Commission for Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue was published this week. But the Orthodox leadership said that new “hindrances” had left that prospect less obvious than it had been.

By ordaining women as priests, Anglicans had been unduly influenced by social change, the co-chairman of the Commission, Metropolitan John of Pergamon, said at a ceremony in Lambeth Palace on Tuesday to launch The Church of the Triune God: The Cyprus Agreed Statement, which has taken 16 years to produce. The joint statement was handed to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew I.

Neither side on the Commission had been convinced by the other’s reasons on women’s ordination, Metropolitan John said. “The Orthodox are not convinced that the reasons for the ordination of women given from the Anglican side are really so serious and so important as to lead to this change which is, as we all know, an innovation in the tradition.” Ordination added nothing essential to women’s status. Homosexuality issues were internal matters for the Anglicans.

Welcoming the Ecumenical Patriarch, the Archbishop of Canterbury said that the document was a very substantial achievement in dialogue. Based firmly on the scriptures and the Church’s tradition, it had returned to the “wellsprings” of faith, to take a long run up to the present problems between the Churches.

Replying, Bartholomew I said that the Orthodox and Anglicans had travelled an extremely long road together. There had been difficult occasions, but the object remained fixed: the visible unity of the Church. “We affirm our readiness, despite existing unfortunate hindrances, to continue on the same path.”

He received “with great joy” the work of Metropolitan John and the Anglican co-chairman, the Rt Revd Mark Dyer, the retired Bishop of Bethlehem, Pennyslvania, USA.
Metropolitan John said that, although once it had seemed that the two Churches might well achieve visible unity, that prospect was now not obvious. “Anthropological” differences in their approaches to the sacraments and to priestly ordination “must be handled with the utmost care so they don’t become irreversible objects to our communion”, he said.

Bishop Dyer said that he had never worked with people “so Christ-like gentle to one another and so Christ-like direct in speaking the truth”. The document was now for the Anglican provinces and autocephalous Orthodox Churches to consider. “Now what do you say back to us?” he asked.

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