Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Traditional Anglican Communion and Rome

A fascinating and well-produced video presentation on our sister jurisdiction, the Traditional Anglican Communion, and its interest in forging a uniate relationship with the Church of Rome.

It's Coming!

The Traditional 1962 Rite of the Latin Mass is about to be authorised for the entire Roman Rite by Pope Benedict XVI. Soon Roman Catholics will have the opportunity to be restored to a liturgical and sacramental heritage that we Catholic Anglicans have never lost or abandoned.

Today, the text of a Le Figaro Magazine interview is making its way round the blogosphere. The magazine's website has not yet released it online...

Le Figaro: Is a Decree widening the possibility of celebrating the
Latin Mass according to the rite from before Vatican II (the so-called Mass of
Saint Pius V) still expected?

Cardinal Bertone:
The merit of the conciliar liturgical reform is
intact. But both [for reasons of] not losing the great liturgical heritage left
by Saint Pius V and for granting the wish of those faithful who desire to attend
Masses according to this rite, within the framework of the Missal published in
1962 by Pope John XXIII, with its own calendar, there is no valid reason not to
grant to every priest in the world the right to celebrate according to this
form. The authorization of the Supreme Pontiff would evidently preserve the
validity of the rite of Paul VI. The publication of the motu proprio which
specifies this authorisation will take place, but it will be the pope himself
who will explain his motivations and the framework of his decision.
Sovereign Pontiff will personally explain his vision for the use of the ancient
Missal to the Christian people, and particularly to the Bishops.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Where on Earth is the Church?

And now a word from our good friend Dr N.P. 'Nippy' Williams (1883-1943), Anglo-Catholic humourist and theologian extraordinaire and Oxford scholar:

'All bodies which can shew historical continuity with the undivided Church, and possess the essentials of its doctrinal and institutional structure, are still parts of the Catholic Church, and collectively constitute it. These essentials are: (1) orthodoxy, as defined by the Seven Ecumenical Councils; (2) the threefold Ministry; (3) the Seven Sacraments. Applying these criteria to bodies actually existing at the present day, we find that the true Church of Christ consists of the Roman, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and Old Catholic Churches. . . . Whatever these bodies teach and practise in common is either a part of the primitive Depositum, or a legitimate development of or inference from it.'

Friday, March 16, 2007

Fr Kirk, The Anglican Communion and Me

It appears Fr Geoffrey Kirk and I completely agree on the underlying problems in the Anglican Communion, as evidenced by his op-ed piece in this month's New Directions and my own thoughts recorded at the end of the Tanzania Primates' Meeting. In short, the Anglican Communion is now defective at the core because it has ceded the Apostolic Faith to modernity by the innovation of women's ordination and a general refusal to accept the sensus Catholicus.

Here are a few thoughts I penned after the Tanzania meeting...

I am concerned by the attitudes displayed and language used by some of the participants at the Primates’ Meeting, which seem to convey a belief that maintaining the Anglican Communion in its current state or maintaining communion with the See of Canterbury is necessary for communion with our Lord Jesus Christ or with the historic Church. To me, such claims are nothing short of ecclesiolatry, the service of an ecclesiastical institution above that of our Blessed Saviour and His Gospel. Our Lord proclaims 'the gates of hell shall not prevail' against His Church (Saint Matthew 16:18). We take Jesus at His word. The Anglican Communion is a modern creation, only established by historical circumstances in 1784 when Bishop Samuel Seabury of Connecticut was consecrated for ministry in the United States by three bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church. It is only because of the exigencies of Bishop Seabury’s consecration that the Anglican Communion was brought into being. The communion of the Church necessitates a communion of orthodox bishops with one another in the Apostolic Faith; the Holy Catholic Church does not require for her full life either communion with the See of Canterbury or with any other particular historic See. Anglicanism, I am eager to state, is defined by adherence to the Anglican Tradition, not by communion with Canterbury at all costs. Although the Anglican Communion is a worthy institution owned by God and blessed by Him in time past and present for the spread of the Gospel, I submit it exists for the good order, the bene esse, or even the full order, the plene esse, of Anglicanism, but it is not of the esse, the essence, of Anglicanism. Simply put, I believe it is more important to remain in communion with Christ than to remain in communion with Canterbury.

We should state categorically that Mrs Katherine Jefferts Schori is not a bishop and we must deny that she possesses any jurisdiction or exercises any episcopal ministry from which any delegation of authority can occur in the first place. The proposal for a Primatial Vicar in The Episcopal Church obscures a genuine understanding of the theology and ministry of the episcopate, and will most likely not succeed in achieving its goal of uniting a body so profoundly divided on the essential matters of faith, order and moral teaching. It is doubtful that the bishops and congregations of the Anglican Mission in America (AMiA) and the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) will voluntarily return to the oversight and jurisdiction of bishops or organizations within The Episcopal Church. It will probably require much more than a Pastoral Council or a Primatial Vicar to bring about any kind of institutional reconciliation between conservative people and groups and TEC structure.

I am led to believe by the actions of the Primates’ Meeting that the Anglican Communion has now received as authoritative doctrine the purported ordination and consecration of women to the episcopate. This is a very distressing development in the life of the Anglican Communion and it is one that the Anglican Province of America must, in all good conscience, reject as contrary to the historic Catholic and Apostolic Faith. We cannot condone the actions of the Primates’ Meeting or the Anglican Communion in this matter. We will continue to preserve and hand-on the two-thousand year old teaching of Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition regarding the male character of the Sacrament of Holy Orders. We will continue our witness to Prayer Book Catholicism.

Mindful of Christ’s call to us during this holy season of Lent, I believe the only real solution to the ongoing dilemma that now engulfs the Anglican Communion is repentance and amendment of life, a convicted return to the uncompromised Faith and Order of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and the Anglican formularies. That alone can heal the division and restore the mission of the Anglican Communion.

As for us, we shall remain committed to our brethren in Christ and in full communicatio in sacris with all faithful Anglicans who maintain the Scriptures, Creeds, Sacraments and Apostolic Ministry of the classical Anglican expression.

And here is Fr Kirk's commentary from New Directions:

'For nearly two centuries,' a wit once remarked, 'Westminster politicians have been talking about a solution to the Irish problem. What none of them would ever admit was the nature of the problem. The problem is that there is no solution.'

Much the same is true about the Anglican Communion. No one, it seems, has the courage to admit what must be obvious to all: that the problem with world-wide Anglicanism is not with the conduct of individual provinces but with the polity of the whole. Like the Home Office in the parlance of Dr John Reid, it is 'not fit for purpose'.

Not only does the doctrine of Provincial Autonomy make divergence in ethos and doctrine virtually inevitable, but the resulting weakness of common structures (the so-called Instruments of Unity) makes disciplining errant provinces severely difficult. And when that province is TEC, the predominant source of funding for the Communion's central secretariat, it is impossible.

Whether or not the Secretary General saw the irony of ending the recent meeting of Primates in Frank Weston's cathedral in Zanzibar, readers of New Directions will probably take the point: the doctrinal disintegration of Anglicanism is no adventitious phenomenon. It has been unfolding for the best part of a century. The Communique of the meeting in Dar es Salaam, for all its vaunted 'unanimity' cannot hope to turn the tide of history.

What the Communique has done, couched as it is in the language of the revisionists themselves, is merely to draw another line in the sand. The Primates have requested, through the presiding bishop, that the House of Bishops of TEC make an unequivocal common covenant that they will not authorize any rite of blessing for same-sex unions in their dioceses or through General Convention, and confirm that a candidate for episcopal orders living in a same-sex union shall not receive the necessary consent, unless some new consensus on these matters emerges across the communion.

The deadline for the answer is 30 September 2007. 'If the reassurances requested of the House of Bishops cannot in good conscience be given, the relationship between The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion as a whole remains damaged at best, and this has consequences for the full participation of the Church in the life of the Communion.'

No one could reasonably suppose that such undertakings will be given, or that the failure to give them will result in any specific action by any of the 'Instruments of Unity'. But that is hardly the point. The heart of the statement is not in the requests, but in the terms in which they are made: unless some new consensus on these matters emerges across the communion. With that proviso the game is up for the traditionalists.

For the grounds upon which traditionalists oppose gay bishops and same-sex unions is not that they go against previous Anglican practice, but that they contravene the plain teaching of Scripture, which applies in all times and cultures, and which neither individual provinces nor the Communion as a whole is competent to change.

By signing the Communique traditionalist bishops have conceded the very point they were striving to uphold. Having initially refused to sit at the same table as Katherine Schori, and shunned her at the Lord's Table, they have signed a document which endorses her position and effectively outlaws their own - and elected her to their Standing Committee! To this observer it looks uncommonly like suicide.

But lest you think this judgement harsh, consider the implications of the Communique for the future of Anglican moral theology.

Until now it has been assumed that penitence involves not only contrition but amendment of life. Not so with The Episcopal Church and the Zanzibar Communique. There a half-hearted expression of blanket regret (how many times has your confessor told you to be explicit?) and a future possible undertaking not to do the same again (why the reluctance to renounce wrong-doing in the first place?) is taken as enough. No mention, you will notice, of Gene Robinson.

We must sadly conclude that in Zanzibar the traditionalist primates were skilfully out-manoeuvred. They conceded the very principles for which they stand; and did so in exchange for assurances which they will probably not get, and which, should they be forthcoming, will be half-hearted and of little effect. All this came about not because those primates are weak or foolish, but because the Communion itself, of which they are an intrinsic part, is structured on principles of democracy and mutual accountability.

It was clear from its ringing endorsement of the politicking which resulted in the ordination of women in some provinces, that the 'Windsor process' cannot, by its very nature, comprehend an appeal to the unchanging word of God as witnessed by Catholic tradition. The words of Pope John Paul II: 'declaramus Ecclesiam facultatem nullatenus habere ordinationem sacerdotalem mulieribus conferendi' [we declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women] have no resonance whatever in the official structures of the Anglican Communion, which can only proceed by accommodation and consensus. And Katherine Jefferts Schori, now a member of the Primates' Standing Committee, is the very incarnation of those procedures.

A Critique of the Anglican Federation

A new epithet has been invented by some of our brothers in the Continuing Church to describe those orthodox Anglicans who are seeking to restore communicatio in sacris and practical cooperation amongst all who profess and embody the Anglican Tradition: neo-Anglicans. In the most recent edition of the The Trinitarian, Archbishop Mark Haverland of the Anglican Catholic Church issues a sharp criticism of the Federation of Anglican Churches in the Americas and its efforts to forge a new realignment in American Anglicanism. In the op-ed piece we 'Neo-Anglicans' are clearly implied to be the very antithesis of what we claim we are, orthodox Anglicans who maintain the fullness of the Apostolic Tradition. Why? Because of our sacramental relationship with the Reformed Episcopal Church and the Anglican Mission in America. Does our communion with these bodies render us innovators, un-Anglican and un-Catholic?

The Archbishop does not mention the 1941 Report of the Joint Commission on Approaches to Unity of the Episcopal Church led by the Anglo-Catholic Bishop Frank Wilson of Eau Claire, certainly held in the days of orthodoxy, which, taking into consideration the record of the 1888 Lambeth Conference, declares Reformed Episcopal Orders valid. Heresy, even regarding Apostolic Succession, does not invalidate Holy Orders, or so say Saint Augustine, Saint Thomas Aquinas and Saint Robert Bellarmine, to mention a few authoritative names. The 1941 Report unequivocally asserts: 'The Historic Episcopate has been preserved in the Reformed Episcopal Church and the episcopal succession has been carefully maintained from this beginning' and 'Therefore it is now proposed that the Statement to the Lambeth Conference of 1888 should be considered as a significant document of an earlier generation but with no current authority and that it should not be allowed to stand in the way of negotiations looking toward the healing of this particular schism.' In 1960, in the days of its orthodoxy, the Church of England published the findings of its Faith and Order Advisory Group (FOAG) which stated: 'It is clear that the orders of this Church [REC] derive from an Anglican bishop; and that its bishops have been consecrated in due succession and its priests ordained with the use of the Anglican Ordinal, though in a slightly altered form. We cannot regard these alterations as being in themselves sufficient to call into question the validity of the ministry.'

Archbishop Haverland also does not mention the critical fact for this discussion that the Anglican Mission in America (AMiA), perhaps for the first time in Anglican history, has reversed its previous position and as of July 2003 has ceased to purport to ordain women to the priesthood and episcopate. The Anglican Province of America consistently and repeatedly affirms the male character of the Sacrament of Holy Orders and sees in AMiA's decision a vitally-important first step back to Apostolic Faith and Order. God willing, the AMiA will in time come to embrace a fully catholic doctrine of the diaconate as well as of the priesthood and episcopate. A shared common doctrine of the sacerdotium has indeed finally enabled our Churches to restore sacramental communion, a precedent that should be encouraged for the whole Universal Church. It should also be noted that a dispute over the male character of the diaconate could be allowed, if pressed, to affect any jurisdiction's relationship with Forward in Faith United Kingdom, Forward in Faith North America and the majority of Anglo-Catholic dioceses and parishes worldwide. Most Anglo-Catholics have not allowed the dispute to be a church-dividing impediment.

What do you think? Do you agree with the Anglican Catholic Church on this issue?

Be wary of 'Neo-Anglicans' by the Most Reverend Mark Haverland

Father Lawrence Wells in Orange Park, Fla. has coined a term that I am recommending widely: "neo-Anglican." I continue to be asked why the ACC is not uniting with the folk currently leaving The Episcopal Church. The answer is that we can only unite with people who believe as we do about important matters of doctrine, worship, morals and order. Many people who joined The Episcopal Church in the 1980s and 1990s have had little or no expo­sure to the Anglican tradition. For such people the Affirmation of St. Louis and the ACC are not particularly attractive. Such folk are neo-Anglicans, with no commitment to the classical Prayer Books, the male character of Holy Orders, or the Anglican musical and literary patrimony. Canon John Hollister recently made a similar point about the "Anglican Federation of Churches and Ministries" (, which is composed of the Anglican Church in America, the Anglican Mission in America, the Episcopal Missionary Church, the Anglican Province in America (sic), and the Reformed Episcopal Church. These various groups are by their federa­tion articles committed to receiving members from each other upon the mere presentation of Letters Dimissory. Canon Hollister has trenchant­ly observed that therefore each of these AFCM bodies has formally recognized the validity of the ministry of each of the other. Which is "neo-Anglican," not Anglican. The Lambeth Conferences in the days of their orthodoxy refused to recognize the ordinations of the Reformed Episcopal Church, which began with an explicit rejection of Apostolic Succession. Likewise the AMiA has women deacons, has "grandfathered" (or "grandmothered") in women already "ordained" as priests, and is under the oversight of an African Anglican Church which has women priests. All of the AFCM bodies have, therefore, effectively asserted that the ordination of women is NOT an essential bar to full communion and that the classical Anglican position on the REC is wrong. But these assertions are neither Catholic nor Anglican; only neo-Anglican.

Let me make clear that the ACC and I are not seeking to be separated from others. We desire the highest possible level of cooperation and communion. But the whole point of the formation of the ACC in the late 1970s was to assert that the creation of a new ministry (women priests) by The Episcopal Church was itself an essential error that demanded separation. Union of the ACC with people who accept that essential error on any level would be utterly disastrous. While I am alive—and I think I may speak for my episcopal colleagues in the ACC—the ACC will not infect itself with the disease we have purged ourselves of at great cost. "Unity" can come only when the AFCM, its member bodies, and similar groups, realize that the Faith is a seamless whole. We can­not pull out one thread without raveling the whole garment. The road from women deacons to Gene Robinson and Presiding Bishop Mrs. Schori is direct and short, and the happy coalition builders who are obscuring and compromising at the beginning of their enterprises will come quickly to grief.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

The Eucharistic and Sacerdotal Doctrine of the 'Ritualists'

In November 1867, the Church Association, a radically protestant prosecutorial body created to attack Catholic Anglicanism in the church and civil courts of England, accused Anglican Catholics of holding the following:

'First, that the Supper of the Lord is a Propitiatory Sacrifice; secondly, that the Body and Blood of Christ are objectively present in the Elements; thirdly, that all who partake of the Elements receive the Body and Blood of Christ (including 'the wicked, albeit they do not receive it to salvation'); fourthly, that the Clergymen are Sacrificing Priests; fifthly, that the Clergy possess judicial authority to forgive sin, and that forgiveness of sin is not complete without Priestly Absolution; sixthly, that the Clergy are authorized to receive confessions as an habitual part of religious practice; seventhly, that Christ is to be adored as personally present in the Elements.'

Overall one can say, with a little correction and clarification - what a clear assertion of our Holy Religion! What was and is at stake as regards the Catholic Movement is not churchmanship or tastes or styles of worship, but the whole sacramental system of the Church and in particular the revealed dogma of the Real Presence. Keep the Faith...

The Faith In A Nutshell

'We as little follow Calvin as we do the Pope, where either the one or the other departs from the footprints of the Fathers.'

-Bishop Lancelot Andrewes (1555-1626) quoted by Bishop William Forbes (1585-1634)

May 2024 Comprovincial Newsletter

The Comprovincial Newsletter for May 2024 -