Thursday, July 31, 2008

Rome calls Anglicanism to a New Oxford Movement

In his speech to the 2008 Lambeth Conference, Cardinal Walter Kasper mentions several of the key points frequently reiterated on this blog, as he describes the Vatican's desire to see the Anglican Communion preserve theological and moral orthodoxy and unity, which in turn could have in times past promoted the possibility of Rome's eventual recognition of Anglican Orders. The Cardinal issues a final warning to the Anglican Communion not to depart from the Catholic Tradition to which it has previously been committed. Note Cardinal Kasper's careful description of the Anglican episcopate in terms that invoke apostolic succession, apostolic tradition, the universal episcopate and fidelity to the Undivided Church. It is no secret that Cardinal Kapser has heretofore held a high and positive view of Anglicanism's historic catholicity and of the succession and sacramentality of Anglican Orders and the Anglican episcopal succession.

Hopes for the Canterbury Anglican Communion have surely fallen now. But what could we make of the Cardinal's remarks if applied to the Continuing Church? Could or would Rome now apply its once-hopeful appraisal to the Churches that truly preserve the Anglican Tradition?

...In this text, we can hear Archbishop Coggan and Paul VI pointing to what is the common ground, the common source and centre of our already existing but still incomplete unity: Jesus Christ, and the mission to bring Him to a world that is so desperately in need of Him. What we are talking about is not an ideology, not a private opinion which one may or may not share; it is our faithfulness to Jesus Christ, witnessed by the apostles, and to His Gospel, with which we are entrusted. From the very beginning we should, therefore, keep in mind what is at stake as we proceed to speak about faithfulness to the apostolic tradition and apostolic succession, when we speak about the threefold ministry, women’s ordination, and moral commandments. What we are talking about is nothing other than our faithfulness to Christ Himself, who is our unique and common master. And what else can our dialogue be but an expression of our intent and desire to be fully one in Him in order to be fully joint witnesses to His Gospel. What we are talking about is nothing other than our faithfulness to Christ Himself, who is our unique and common master. And what else can our dialogue be but an expression of our intent and desire to be fully one in Him in order to be fully joint witnesses to His Gospel...

...As I stated when addressing the Church of England’s House of Bishops in 2006, for us this decision to ordain women implies a turning away from the common position of all churches of the first millennium, that is, not only the Catholic Church but also the Oriental Orthodox and the Orthodox churches. We would see the Anglican Communion as moving a considerable distance closer to the side of the Protestant churches of the 16th century, and to a position they adopted only during the second half of the 20th century...

...I have already addressed the ecclesiological problem when bishops do not recognize other’s episcopal ordination within the one and same church, now I must be clear about the new situation which has been created in our ecumenical relations. While our dialogue has led to significant agreement on the understanding of ministry, the ordination of women to the episcopate effectively and definitively blocks a possible recognition of Anglican Orders by the Catholic Church...

...In light of this analysis of episcopal ministry as set forward in ARCIC and the koinonia ecclesiology found in The Windsor Report, it has been particularly disheartening to have witnessed the increasing tensions within the Anglican Communion. In several contexts, bishops are not in communion with other bishops; in some instances, Anglican provinces are no longer in full communion with each other. While the Windsor process continues, and the ecclesiology set forth in the Windsor Report has been welcomed in principle by the majority of Anglican provinces, it is difficult from our perspective to see how that has translated into the desired internal strengthening of the Anglican Communion and its instruments of unity. It also seems to us that the Anglican commitment to being ‘episcopally led and synodically governed’ has not always functioned in such a way as to maintain the apostolicity of the faith, and that synodical government misunderstood as a kind of parliamentary process has at times blocked the sort of episcopal leadership envisaged by Cyprian and articulated in ARCIC....

...In that vein, I would like to return to the Archbishop’s puzzling question what kind of Anglicanism I want. It occurs to me that at critical moments in the history of the Church of England and subsequently of the Anglican Communion, you have been able to retrieve the strength of the Church of the Fathers when that tradition was in jeopardy. The Caroline divines are an instance of that, and above all, I think of the Oxford Movement. Perhaps in our own day it would be possible too, to think of a new Oxford Movement, a retrieval of riches which lay within your own household. This would be a re-reception, a fresh recourse to the Apostolic Tradition in a new situation. It would not mean a renouncing of your deep attentiveness to human challenges and struggles, your desire for human dignity and justice, your concern with the active role of all women and men in the Church. Rather, it would bring these concerns and the questions that arise from them more directly within the framework shaped by the Gospel and ancient common tradition in which our dialogue is grounded.We hope and pray that as you seek to walk as faithful disciples of Jesus Christ, the Father of all mercies may bestow upon you the abundant riches of His grace, and guide you with the Holy Spirit’s abiding presence.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Theology and Tradition

Dear N.,

I thoroughly agree with your thoughts on the necessity of presenting in the first order the biblical case for any Catholic doctrine, and I usually lay the foundation and groundwork of the biblical sources for explaining any doctrine of the Faith, especially when engaging in dialogue with protestants or even non-Christians. The particular article you have in your possession was actually written originally for an Anglican lady of many year's Church life who is already familiar with the biblical passages often cited in the Perpetual Virginity controversy. So for her, instead of repeating and reiterating material with which she was already very familiar, I moved directly to the hermeneutic of Scripture based on the Apostolic Tradition and the conciliar consensus of the Church's fathers, doctors and saints. You might say in this instance I made an exception to a general rule with which I heartily concur.

One of the difficulties we can and often do have when presenting the biblical data for a particular dogma or doctrine of the Catholic Faith is that Holy Scripture is easily prooftexted and subjected to eisegesis, the reading into the text of a pre-conceived hermeneutic or interpretative grid. Evangelicals and other protestant Christians utilise Scripture in this fashion continually and subconsciously, often without even realising that they are in fact imposing their own 'tradition' and ecclesial reading of Scripture onto the interpretation of the text. For this reason, when writing on a theological subject, I not only usually submit the biblical pericopes and passages in question, but I immediately move to a consideration and rehearsal of the Church's authoritative interpretation of the passages as contained in Holy Tradition. For Anglicans, of course, we never divorce the text of the Bible from the living, worshipping and theologising community of the Church, for the Bible is the 'Church's Book.' The Bible is written Tradition. The sixteenth century Anglican slogan is 'the Bible and the Primitive Church' or another way of saying it is: 'the Church to teach; the Bible to prove.'

It is indeed always necessary to prove doctrine from Scripture, for only that which is contained therein or proved thereby is to be held as necessary for salvation. And so for Anglicanism and its prima scriptura (although not sola scriptura) position, appeal to Holy Writ is of the greatest and highest importance. What I have found through the years is that appealing to Scripture alone, or at least without reference to the consentient and unanimous teaching of the Fathers, the Tradition, opens one's presentation to a refutation itself based on Scripture which can be very difficult indeed to overcome. We are blessed in that we have not only the Word of God written, but also the Holy Ghost-guided way by which we can know our interpretation of the Word of God is authentic.

Two examples, one ancient and one modern, come to mind. The Arian heretics of the fourth century used explicit biblical passages in a sola scriptura approach to deny Our Lord's divinity and they were very good at it. Saint Athanasius remarks that he is quite frustrated by the cleverness, deviousness and acumen with which they used Scripture to make and defend their case. Like modern protestants, the Arians claimed to be following only the teaching and rule of Scripture in making their theological claims: you might even say they were biblical fundamentalists who considered their position to be an extremely 'conservative' one - they thought theirs was the original Christian understanding of the nature and work of Our Lord. Sophistical and intelligent as they were, they used the very same Scriptures to designate Christ a creature that the Orthodox and Catholics used to proclaim the Deity of Christ and the Trinity. The modern example of some GAFCON/CCP neo-evangelical puritans in the Anglican Communion fits the same pattern. They are essentially sola scriptura and biblical fundamentalists who protest that they hold to Scripture as to the unique and only source of revelation and authority for the Christian Faith. Yet, many of them reject the salvific necessity of the sacraments and priesthood and justify the purported ordination of women, a Christological heresy akin to Arianism, by using Scripture. They call themselves 'conservatives' and assert they are only holding to what the Bible teaches. In both examples, undoubtedly convinced and devout Christians have fallen into error because they have equally rejected the teaching and authority of Apostolic Tradition and the Rule of Faith found in the Creeds and Councils of the Undivided Church. The Bible itself demands the implementation of Tradition for the right interpretation of Scripture in such places as II Peter 1.20-21, II Thessalonians 2.15, I Timothy 3.15, and so I think we Catholics Anglicans are right on target!

All of this is simply to say that I totally agree with you and I always try to employ the 'dynamic duo' of Scripture and Tradition together when making a defence or offering an instruction on a point of Christian doctrine.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Orthodox Church of Cyprus Reaffirms the Validity of Anglican Orders

From the official letter to the 2008 Lambeth Conference from of the Orthodox Archiepiscopate of Cyprus, represented by Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Kition:

'Unfortunately, after the Third Lambeth Conference, which was held in the year 1888, when a particular effort was made for the promotion of the relations between the Orthodox and the Anglican Church, no substantial progress has been made in this area though a most fervent desire for their union exists in both our Churches. The Orthodox Church of Cyprus, encouraged by the progress made at the time went ahead, as is known, in the year 1923 and recognised the validity of Anglican ordainments in the hope that this would be followed by more moves towards unity between our Churches.'

One has to love the archaic, if inaccurate, term, 'ordainments,' obviously meaning Anglican Orders.

The decision to which Metropolitan Chrysostomos refers is this:

The Archbishop of Cyprus wrote to the Patriarch of Constantinople in the name of his Synod on March 20, 1923, as follows: To His All-Holiness the Oecumenical Patriarch Mgr. Meletios we send brotherly greeting in Christ. Your Holiness – Responding readily to the suggestion made in your reverend Holiness' letter of August 8, 1922, that the autocephalous Church of Cyprus under our presidency should give its opinion as to the validity of Anglican Orders we have placed the matter before the Holy Synod in formal session. After full consideration thereof it has reached the following conclusion: It being understood that the Apostolic Succession in the Anglican Church by the Sacrament of Order was not broken at the Consecration of the first Archbishop of this Church, Matthew Parker, and the visible signs being present in Orders among the Anglicans by which the grace of the Holy Spirit is supplied, which enables the ordinand for the functions of his particular order, there is no obstacle to the recognition by the Orthodox Church of the validity of Anglican Ordinations in the same way that the validity of the ordinations of the Roman, Old Catholic, and Armenian Church are recognized by her. Since clerics coming from these Churches into the bosom of the Orthodox Church are received without reordination we express our judgment that this should also hold in the case of Anglicans – excluding intercommunio (sacramental union), by which one might receive the sacraments indiscriminately at the hands of an Anglican, even one holding the Orthodox dogma, until the dogmatic unity of the two Churches, Orthodox and Anglican, is attained.

Submitting this opinion of our Church to Your All-Holiness, we remain, Affectionately, the least of your brethren in Christ, Cyril of Cyprus Archbishopric of Cyprus. March 7/20, 1923

Anglican Province of America Provincial Synod

Please pray for the bishops, priests, deacons and laity who will participate in the tenth Provinical Synod of the Anglican Province of America to be held Thursday 24 July at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville, Illinois.

May Almighty God bless the work and mission of America's original Continuing Church!

Almighty and everlasting God, who by thy Holy Spirit didst preside in the Council of the blessed Apostles, and hast promised, through thy Son Jesus Christ, to be with thy Church to the end of the world; We beseech thee to be with the Council of thy Church about to assemble in thy Name and Presence. Save us from all error, ignorance, pride, and prejudice; and of thy great mercy vouchsafe, we beseech thee, so to direct, sanctify, and govern us in our work, by the mighty power of the Holy Ghost, that the comfortable Gospel of Christ may be truly preached, truly received, and truly followed, in all places, to the breaking down the kingdom of sin, Satan, and death; till at length the whole of thy dispersed sheep, being gathered into one fold, shall become partakers of everlasting life; through the merits and death of Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.

Anglican Wanderings

A simply splendid web log I discovered in the aftermath of the Church of England General Synod debacle - written by good and faithful Anglican Catholics who desire the preservation of the Catholic Movement within Anglicanism...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Dr Francis J Hall from Logos Bible Software

Francis J. Hall recognized the value of modern advances in knowledge and was convinced that Christianity could not be compromised by truth from any quarter—science, philosophy, and modernist biblical criticism. In fact, he believed that the best theology fully engages scholarship in all its forms. The Francis J. Hall Theology collection contains Hall’s 10-volume Dogmatic Theology, his 3-volume Theological Outlines, and his writings on the history of the Episcopal Church, kenotic theory, and the relationship between original sin and the theory of evolution.
As an Episcopalian, Hall writes firmly within the tradition of Anglo-Catholicism, and his theology conforms to the historical Christian faith. Yet he also aims to revisit the central doctrines of the church in order to address the practical conditions and the intellectual challenges facing each successive generation of Christians. The volumes found in this collection address the theological, philosophical, and scientific advances of the nineteenth century, and, as a whole, present a unifying summary of the Christian faith. In fact, Hall’s 10-volume Dogmatic Theology, included in this collection, has been widely compared to the Summa Theologica of Thomas Aquinas in its theological depth and scope.

With the Logos edition of the Francis J. Hall Theology Collection, references to Church Fathers, medieval theologians, and Reformation scholars are linked, giving you instant access to other theological works relevant to your reading and research. Your digital library also allows you to perform powerful searches and word studies, and Scripture passages are linked to your Hebrew and Greek texts, along with your English translations! The Francis J. Hall Theology Collection is ideal for anyone interested in the relationship between theology and other academic disciplines in the late-nineteenth century, for anyone interested in Anglican studies, and for pastors, teachers, and students looking for a comprehensive and accessible summary of Christian thought.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

An Anglo-Papalist Perspective: 'Anglo-Catholics must now decide'

So we are to have a code of practice. Traditional Anglo-Catholics must now decide whether to stay in the Church of England in what, for a while, will be a protected colony - where the sacramental ministry of women bishops and priests is neither acknowledged nor received - or to leave. Leaving isn't quite so easy as it sounds. You don't become a Catholic, for instance, because of what is wrong with another denomination or faith. You become a Catholic because you accept that the Catholic Church is what she says she is and the Catholic faith is what it says it is.

In short, some Anglo-Catholics will stay and others will go. It is quite easy to think of unworthy reasons for staying - and there are no doubt one or two unworthy reasons for leaving. There are also honourable reasons for staying.

Like the Anglican clergy who wouldn't swear allegiance to William and Mary at the end of the 17th century and the Catholic clergy who wouldn't swear allegiance to the French Revolutionary government a century later, the "non-jurors" of the present day will soldier on and die out but they will be faithful to what they have believed and history will honour them for their faithfulness.

Recent history teaches us that those who stay on - for instance, in similar circumstances in North American and Scandinavia - are not left alone for long. The pressure of secular culture bears down on them to ensure conformity with secular values.

As for those who choose to go, like in the early 1990s these will include some of the finest Anglican clergy. Most of them are not motivated in the least by gender issues but by a keenness to pursue Catholic unity and truth. For them, the decision of the Church of England to proceed to the ordination of women bishops without providing adequately for traditionalists renders the claims of the Church of England to be part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church shaky or simply untenable.

Codes of practice are shifting sands. The sacramental life of the Church must be built on rock.

How could we trust a code of practice to deliver a workable ecclesiology if every suggestion we have made for our inclusion has been turned down flat? How could we trust a code of practice when those who are offering it include those who have done most to undermine and seek to revoke the code of practice in force for these last 14 years?

The synodical process for traditional Anglo-Catholics is over. Some will try to draw new lines in the sand. But what the General Synod of the Church of England demonstrated on 7/7 (2008) is that, as on 11/11 (1992), it has decided that it is unilaterally competent to alter Holy Order. At one stage in the late 1990s it even had a go at changing the Creed. Here at work is a democratic Magisterium which at York this week showed that it values the advice of archbishops and bishops' prolocutors less than it does the outcome of a show of hands.

What we must humbly ask for now is for magnanimous gestures from our Catholic friends, especially from the Holy Father, who well understands our longing for unity, and from the hierarchy of England and Wales. Most of all we ask for ways that allow us to bring our folk with us.

Meanwhile we retreat into the wilderness and watch and pray.

Andrew Burnham is Bishop of Ebbsfleet, Suffragan Bishop in the Diocese of Canterbury and Provincial Episcopal Visitor

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Rupture of Apostolic Tradition in the Church of England: Rome and the Orthodox React

'We have regretfully learned of the Church of England vote to pave the way for the introduction of legislation which will lead to the ordaining of women to the Episcopacy. The Catholic position on the issue was clearly expressed by Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II. Such a decision signifies a breaking away from the apostolic tradition maintained by all of the Churches since the first millennium, and therefore is a further obstacle for the reconciliation between the Catholic Church and the Church of England.' - The Vatican Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity

'This decision is of course painful in the inter-Christian dialogue, as it is further alienating the Anglican community from the Apostolic tradition. It is a very painful blow on the unity of the Anglican community, as it is worsening a split among the Anglicans. The decision was predictable because the tendency of total liberalization unfortunately dominates in many Christian Churches, including the Anglican community.' - The Moscow Patriarchate

Monday, July 07, 2008

Apostolic Secession: General Synod Legislates Bishopesses for the Church of England

Today's General Synod decision to introduce the innovation of a man-made office of female bishops in the Church of England evokes in an eerily reminiscent manner comments I made upon the election of Mrs Jefferts-Schori as Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church. To adapt what was written at that time:

With the legal creation of bishopesses for the Church of England, the Apostolic Succession of the C of E will soon be cast under an irreversible cloud of doubt and uncertainty. Where sacraments are uncertain or possibly invalid, orthodox moral theology always demands that the Church take the safest and surest course, which is the refusal to recognise such dubious sacraments as valid or efficacious. Otherwise sacrilege might occur, or yet, the deprivation of sacramental grace for the faithful. Women who will soon receive the rite of episcopal consecration will be the fontes sacramentorum, the fount and origin of the sacramental life, within their future respective dioceses. Future episcopal consecrations held within the Church of England will likely be conferred with at least the co-consecrating participation of those whose priestly and episcopal orders the Holy Catholic Church has never recognised and cannot and will not recognise as sacramentally valid. No Bishop, no Priesthood, no Eucharist, no Church. The Apostolic Succession of a once-Catholic Church is now in unmistakable jeopardy. The problem is strictly sacramentological, quite distinct from the personal beliefs and views of those women yet to be consecrated. They could be perfectly orthodox, biblical, in their moral and doctrinal teaching; the problem of their orders or lack thereof still exists. By virtue of today's decision, the Church of England will slowly and inescapably introduce over time a plainly suspect sacramental system into every Diocese of the Provinces of Canterbury and York.

Ironically, in the Church of England, it appears that the Papal Encyclical Apostolicae Curae of Pope Leo XIII (1896) will apply in future, not specifically because of a defect of form or a defect of intention, but because of a clear defect of minister. Pope Leo claimed the Anglican Succession died with Archbishop Matthew Parker in 1559 - that judgement was patently erroneous, from every conceivably objective theological examination. But now, tragically enough, a scenario described by Leo, the termination of Succession, may have been set to happen in the C of E. This is a theological consideration, not a social, cultural or political one. Sacramental assurance, the very assurance of grace and supernatural life for which Our Blessed Lord Jesus Christ instituted the Sacraments, will potentially evaporate from whole dioceses of the Church of England, because the chief minister of the sacraments in the local church, the Diocesan Bishop, could be one whose status casts doubt on the validity of subsequent sacramental actions in her diocese. A break in the Succession may occur in years to come once male bishops consecrated by women attempt to pass on their ministerial line and orders to others. The end result could be the cessation of an undoubtedly valid sacramental structure. The Sacrament of Holy Orders as understood by the Church Catholic would then no longer subsist in the Church of England. The realities of mutual reciprocity, interchangeability and recognition of ministry, and of communicatio in sacris, have been shattered in the Church of England.

And even worse yet, the General Synod refused to provide an alternative jurisdictional or diocesan structure or solution for those faithful orthodox Anglicans who wish from their deepest hearts in remain in communion with the Church of England and yet cannot in conscience accept a breach in the Church's received Tradition. Unlike the Act of Synod 1993, which promised and delivered pastoral care and jurisdictional place for orthodox Anglicans who could not in conscience accept the innovation of priestesses, today's legislation makes absolutely no legally-binding ecclesiastical provision for the continuance of sacramental life for Anglican Catholics. Faithful Catholic Anglicans are clearly being pressurised to leave the Church of England once and for all. A truly and unspeakably sad day for Anglicanism.

What will Forward in Faith do? Is Rome really the solution? What of the once-resounding clarion call of Dom Gregory Dix, that saint and prophet of the modern English Church, to create a Continuing Church in face of the Church of England's possible rejection of apostolic order? Let us pray for our beloved Catholic brethren who are still fighting the good fight of faith, that the Lord may guide them to the right decision...

York, Monday 7th July 2008

General Synod Vote - Initial Reaction

Forward in Faith and the Catholic Group in General Synod note with regret that, despite the clear advice of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Archbishop of York, the Bishop of Durham, the Bishop of Winchester, the Bishop of Exeter and other Bishops, the Prolocutor of the Province of Canterbury and the Chairman of the House of Laity and the obvious lack of consensus, the General Synod today resolved to make no meaningful provision for those in conscience unable to receive the ministry of women bishops.

There must now be a period of prayerful reflection. However, members of both the General Synod and of the Church of England will understand that actions always have consequences.

Simon Killwick Chairman, Catholic Group in General Synod
Geoffrey Kirk Secretary, Forward in Faith
Stephen Parkinson Director, Forward in Faith

The actual legislation as passed:

That this Synod:
(a) affirm that the wish of its majority is for women to be admitted to the episcopate;
(b) affirm its view that special arrangements be available, within the existing structures of the Church of England, for those who as a matter of theological conviction will not be able to receive the ministry of women as bishops or priests;
(c) affirm that these should be contained in a statutory national code of practice to which all concerned would be required to have regard; and
(d) instruct the legislative drafting group, in consultation with the House of Bishops, to complete its work accordingly, including preparing the first draft of a code of practice, so that the Business Committee can include first consideration of the draft legislation in the agenda for the February 2009 group of sessions.’
The motion was carried by a division of the three houses of Synod.
House of Bishops - For 28, Against 12, Abstentions 1
House of Clergy - For 124, Against 44, Abstentions 4
House of Laity - For 111, Against 68, Abstentions 2

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Gafconites on Anglican Catholics

The GAFCON leaders clearly state that the Mass and Sacraments, and the male nature of Holy Orders, are secondary matters and are not absolutely essential to the salvation of souls...

From All Souls' Church Langham Place and the Ugley Vicar:

Abp. Jensen: The last two weeks have been two of the most extraordinary in my life. What we are dealing with here is not a split, but a movement possibly as significant as the Evangelical Revival, or even the Anglo-Catholic movement if you prefer, and it may bring Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics together.

Q: Do you stand with Forward in Faith and Anglo-Catholicism? Can Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics be in one communion?

Peter Jensen: Yes, we have been in one communion. In 2003, one group in the Communion made a terrific blunder breaking through the boundaries. This freed up the rest of us. The Communion will never be the same again. We are one Communion but far looser, and this enables great spiritual movements like GAFCON to arise. The blunder is being turned to good. The Communion is going forward and those who can sign off on something like the Jerusalem statement can work together.

Jim Packer: It is important to know who our friends are. Anglo-Catholics generally believe in Trinity, Scripture, atonement, resurrection, judgement, prayer, etc. A ‘higher’ view of sacraments and priesthood seems secondary in the light of those primary correspondences. I can be friends with Anglo-Catholics. Modern Anglo-Catholicism has a different agenda from in the past. I can, with qualifications, be friends with Anglo-Catholics. I have good will towards Forward in Faith. Liberals are different, denying many of the aforementioned. We have let Liberals get away with too much with regard to leadership in the past.

Q: Would all the GAFCON leaders support those who ordain women?

Peter Jensen: We do not ordain women — that is well known. The ordination of women is a different order of things from the presenting issue. Scripture never suggests an ordained woman is in danger of losing her salvation. The continual practice of greed or immorality is clearly a matter of being inside or outside the kingdom of God. People at GAFCON had different views. The Jerusalem Statement in paragraph 12 speaks of secondary matters and seeking the mind of Christ on issues that divide us. It is time to rethink this matter under the word of God, yet again. We may be wrong, but we need to bring this prayerfully with each other and to reconsider it. Similarly, we may rethink on divorce and remarriage.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

More Commentary on GAFCON/FOCA

You will find that in the main I have unfortunately become somewhat pessimistic and even cynical about the whole enterprise. I am deeply concerned that, although the language of the Jerusalem Declaration and the communique was unquestionably moderated or even orientated more towards a traditional 'Prayer Book Catholic' position from where it would likely have wound up otherwise due in part to the influence of American Anglo-Catholics, the end product will not allow much space for the Catholic Anglican tradition, especially regarding the role of Tradition and the centrality of the Mass and the Sacramental System, not to mention a clear understanding of Priesthood and male Priesthood at that. Were it up to Archbishop Peter Jensen alone, I fear GAFCON would simply have become another Marburg Colloquy in which, this time, modern Calvinists would have prevailed.

Only time will truly tell if traditional Anglo-Catholic faithful can find a home in GAFCON.

Anglo-Catholics are in a difficult spot regarding GAFCON, a proverbial place between a rock and hard place. If we do not join, we could run a risk I suppose, the seriousness of which I cannot forecast, of being marginalised; if we do join we could face a very real possibility of ultimately losing our patristic, traditional and orthodox identity and theology as Anglican Catholics. By necessity and conviction, we are coming to resemble more and more the Non-Jurors. Soon I believe a significant number of remaining Catholics in Britain could flee to Rome for escape. Those of us who deny I Vatican Council and the Papal Claims could never make that leap! And so we are in a bind as to what the best course of action should be. There are no easy answers, and I can only recommend a 'wait and see' disposition for now. I agree with our beloved Bishop Grundorf that we must take our time and watch how this whole phenomenon plays out.

Were the APA to desire to enter into sacramental communion with GAFCON (a concept that even GAFCON itself has not too carefully considered), would we be free and able to do so directly, or would we have to affiliate with the CCP in order to enter the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (unfortunate name, I think)? Would our potential communion be immediate or mediate? This question is not explicitly addressed by the communique. If the APA could retain its jurisdictional autonomy as an autocephalous Church and enter into communion with FOCA, that might be a workable situation. Absorption into a new generic province with permissible women's ordination simply would not work. These matters surely summon us to fervent prayer. I am grateful for your interest and I hope for a greater future than we can at the moment envision.

Orthodox Anglo-Catholics demand their place in the Church of England

An Open Letter to the Most Reverend and Right Hon the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury & the Most Reverend and Right Hon the Lord Archbishop of York
July, 2008

Most Reverend Fathers in God,

We write as bishops, priests and deacons of the Provinces of Canterbury and York, who have sought, by God's grace, in our various ministries, to celebrate the Sacraments and preach the Word faithfully; to form, nurture and catechise new Christians; to pastor the people of God entrusted to our care; and, through the work of our dioceses, parishes and institutions, to build up the Kingdom and to further God's mission to the world in this land.

Our theological convictions, grounded in obedience to Scripture and Tradition, and attentive to the need to discern the mind of the whole Church Catholic in matters touching on Faith and Order, lead us to doubt the sacramental ministry of those women ordained to the priesthood by the Church of England since 1994. Having said that, we have engaged with the life of the Church of England in a myriad of ways, nationally and locally, and have made sincere efforts to work courteously and carefully with those with whom we disagree. In the midst of this disagreement over Holy Order, we have, we believe, borne particular witness to the cause of Christian unity, and to the imperative of Our Lord's command that 'all may be one.'

We include those who have given many years service to the Church in the ordained ministry, and others who are very newly ordained. We believe that we demonstrate the vitality of the tradition which we represent and which has formed us in our discipleship and ministry - a tradition which, we believe, constitutes an essential and invaluable part of the life and character of the Church of England, without which it would be deeply impoverished.

Since the ordination of women to the priesthood began in 1994, we have been able to exercise our ministry in the context of the solemn assurances given at that time that our understanding of Holy Order was one entirely consonant with the faith and practice of the Church of England, and secure in the knowledge that those assurances were embodied in the legislation passed in 1993, and in the Act of Synod which followed that legislation. That legislation, together with the Act, has been the framework which has allowed us to continue to live and work in a church which has taken the decision to allow women to be ordained, but which has also made room for us, and honoured our beliefs and convictions. We have been further encouraged and affirmed by the Resolution of the Lambeth Conference 1998, endorsed by the General Synod in July 2006, that "those who dissent from as well as those who assent to the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate are both loyal Anglicans."

We believe that, should the Church of England move to the ordination of women to the episcopate, our ability to continue to minister in the church to which we have been called will depend on provision being made to allow us to do so with the same theological integrity which we have been able to hold since 1994. We recognise that, much as we might hope things to be otherwise, the Church of England is set upon the path of ordaining women as bishops. We will strive to honour their calling as ministers of the Gospel, and to respect the offices which they will hold, despite our profound reservations about the Church of England's decision to ordain and consecrate them. We do not look for 'protection' from the ministry of ordained women. Rather, we ask that our theological convictions continue to be accorded that respect which was promised fifteen years ago. We believe that priests must be able to look to bishops about whose ministry they can be assured; and that bishops in turn must be able to carry out their ministry in a way consonant with the traditional exercise of Episcopal office. Only a structural solution to the new problems which will inevitably be created for the Church by the ordination of women to the episcopate can, we believe, allow us to flourish and to contribute to the life of the whole Church as we believe the Spirit continues to call us to do.

It is with sadness that we conclude that, should the Church of England indeed go ahead with the ordination of women to the episcopate, without at the same time making provision which offers us real ecclesial integrity and security, many of us will be thinking very hard about the way ahead We will inevitably be asking whether we can, in conscience, continue to minister as bishops, priests and deacons in the Church of England which has been our home We do not write this in a spirit of making threats or throwing down gauntlets. Rather, we believe that the time has come to make our concerns plain, so that the possible consequences of a failure to make provision which allows us to flourish and to grow are clear. Your Graces will know that the cost of such a choice would be both spiritual and material.

We know that all members of the Church of England and of the General Synod in particular, will be looking to you for wisdom, guidance and leadership in this matter. We urge you, as our Fathers in God, to lead the whole Church in making generous and coherent provision for us.

This will not only allow us to continue to play our part in that mission, under God, to which we are all committed, but also ensure that the Church of England continues to encompass, in her polity, an understanding of Holy Orders consonant with that of the great Churches of East and West with whom we share the historic episcopate.

We assure you of our prayers at this time.

May 2024 Comprovincial Newsletter

The Comprovincial Newsletter for May 2024 -