Monday, January 31, 2011
Sunday, January 30, 2011
Monday, January 24, 2011
O MERCIFUL Father, whose face the angels of thy little ones do always behold in heaven; Grant us stedfastly to believe that these thy children hath been taken into the safe keeping of thine eternal love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
ALMIGHTY and merciful Father, who dost grant to children an abundant entrance into thy kingdom; Grant us grace so to conform our lives to their innocency and perfect faith, that at length, united with them, we may stand in thy presence in fulness of joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
O GOD, whose most dear Son did take little children into his arms and bless them; Give us grace, we beseech thee, to entrust the souls of these children to thy neverfailing care and love, and bring us all to thy heavenly kingdom; through the same thy Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
We write as bishops within the Church of England, who seek both to maintain and promote its Catholic heritage, believing that this demands maintaining the ministry of bishops, priests and deacons in a manner consistent with the tradition of the Church, East and West. We address all those, ordained and lay, who look to us at this time for pastoral guidance.
In July 2010 the General Synod of the Church of England took yet another decisive step in the direction of enacting legislation that would make it possible for women to be admitted to the episcopate. At the same time General Synod declined to make any appropriate provision that would satisfy the consciences of those of us who cannot accept that such ordinations would be a legitimate development in the life of the Church. Some have already decided that they can no longer remain within the Church of England. We genuinely wish them Godspeed as, heeding the call of conscience, they embark on a new episode in their Christian discipleship. We, too, in similar obedience to conscience, seek, if at all possible, to remain faithful members of the Church of England and undertake to support all who seek to do likewise.
Even at this late hour we are seeking a way forward that would enable us with integrity to retain such membership. We are passionate in our commitment to the mission of the Church of England and urgently seek a settlement through which we would be free to play our part to the fullest measure. We believe this could be done by the formation of a society within the Church of England, overseen by bishops committed to our viewpoint. Such bishops would need, of course, the necessary ordinary jurisdiction that would enable them to be the true pastors of their people and to be guarantors of the sacramental assurance on which we all depend for our authentic sharing within the Body of Christ. Given that our parishes are also constituent parts of local dioceses we also understand that some way would have to be identified for sharing jurisdiction with the diocesan bishop. We understand it to be something of this nature that our archbishops were trying to achieve in their ill-fated amendment at the July meeting of the General Synod. That amendment, though narrowly defeated in the House of Clergy, was widely supported elsewhere in the Synod and, indeed, a majority of members supported it. It might well be that a revisiting of the archbishops’ proposals, with some further development of them, could still help our Church to find a way forward that enabled us all to remain faithful members of it.
To this end we have set about forming ‘The Society’. It is under the patronage of Saint Wilfrid and Saint Hilda. Two of our number, the Bishops of Blackburn and of Gibraltar in Europe, have agreed to serve as episcopal protectors of The Society. The Bishop of Beverley will be the co-ordinating bishop. We are still in the process of giving more substance to its constitution. It may well be that the latter cannot be finally resolved until we know whether or not the House of Bishops and then the General Synod will be prepared to build further on our initiative. You can find more details as to our thinking by visiting The Society’s website. Many have already enrolled as prospective members of The Society and we now encourage all who support us to do so. We need to discover whether such a way forward commands the support of those who look to us for guidance. If that were to be so then it would be good to demonstrate to the wider Church just how many of its members need such provision in order to remain faithful members of it.
We do not want to build up false hopes. Every attempt we have made so far to persuade the Church of England to make the kind of provision that would enable us in good conscience to remain within its fellowship has been thwarted. We feel, nevertheless, duty bound, once again to seek a way out of the impasse that otherwise would make it impossible for many of us to remain faithful members of our Church. We recognise the huge change of heart that would need to happen for us to succeed. We ask you to pray fervently that such a change of heart might take place and encourage you to support us by enrolling in The Society.
+ Nicholas Blackburn
+ John Cicestr
+ Geoffrey Gibraltar
Saturday, January 15, 2011
IT is evident unto all men, diligently reading Holy Scripture and ancient Authors, that from the Apostles' time there have been these Orders of Ministers in Christ's Church,—Bishops, Priests, and Deacons. Which Offices were evermore had in such reverend estimation, that no man might presume to execute any of them, except he were first called, tried, examined, and known to have such qualities as are requisite for the same; and also by public Prayer, with Imposition of Hands, were approved and admitted thereunto by lawful Authority. And therefore, to the intent that these Orders may be continued, and reverently used and esteemed in this Church, no man shall be accounted or taken to be a lawful Bishop, Priest, or Deacon, in this Church, or suffered to execute any of the said Functions, except he be called, tried, examined, and admitted thereunto, according to the Form hereafter following, or hath had Episcopal Consecration or Ordination.
Monday, January 03, 2011
- We believe that of all vocations offered by the Lord to man, the gift of the sacramental hierarchical priesthood is most sacred and precious.
- We believe that Our Lord Jesus Christ has given the Anglican Church, of His mercy and goodness, the one priesthood of His Church, by unbroken Apostolic Succession of Faith and Order.
- We believe the Ecclesia Anglicana possesses the fullness of the Catholic Faith of the ancient undivided Church of the first millennium, and to be, in essence, Western Orthodoxy.
- We love and cherish our Anglican heritage because we affirm it is, in a special way and proven so to be by historical, theological and supernatural evidence, a true Church of the Apostles and Fathers.
- We affirm that Anglicanism, as represented in the Continuing Churches, lives still, a pure form of historical yet renewed catholicism.
- We believe our distinctive branch of the One Church faithfully preserves and employs the divine Scriptures, the ancient and universal Creeds, the seven holy Sacraments and Christ’s male threefold Apostolic Ministry, and utilises of all liturgical rites in Christendom the most sublime in the Book of Common Prayer.
- We believe Anglicanism has no faith or order of her own, only the faith and order of the Undivided Church as shared by all orthodox Christians in the first thousand years of our corporate history.
- We believe that the Anglican Liturgy, our teaching office, and the historic Anglican formularies entirely match the criteria required by the Canon of Saint Vincent of Lerins for orthodoxy: our faith and practice are based on the universal and ancient Tradition of the Church and catholic consent.
- We believe the Anglican Church extends the divine Life of Christ to all men in the beauty of holiness.
- We believe ours is a Church faithful to the Great, Holy and Apostolic Tradition, by which Spirit-guided Tradition the Holy Scriptures are rightly understood and interpreted.
- We believe that the Church is the Body of Christ and the prolongation and extension of the Incarnation, and we trust God has called us as Anglicans to share in bringing salvation to mankind, and to participate in Christ’s action of making men holy.
- We are totally committed to the orthodox dogmas of the Seven Ecumenical Councils, to the depositum fidei which is transmitted and treasured by the genuine Anglican Tradition.
- We believe the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar is Jesus Christ Himself, His objectively-present and abiding Body and Blood under the converted form of bread and wine, given for the remission of sins and eternal life; that the Mass is the sacramental re-presentation of Calvary; that grace is objectively conveyed in the sacraments; that the grace of sacramental absolution is given through the priesthood; and that prayer for the faithful departed is fruitful and powerful.
- We believe that in Anglicanism Our Lord Jesus Christ perpetually exercises the sacramental gifts, mission and authority of His priesthood, through the preaching of the Word of God written and the ministration of the Holy Sacraments.
- We believe the dominical Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion are generally necessary for the salvation of all men; that the five other sacraments are true means of grace; that the Holy Scriptures are the Word of God and contain all things required as necessary for eternal salvation through the faith and grace of Jesus Christ; and that nothing should be required as an Article of the Faith or necessary unto salvation but that which may be proved by the Holy Scriptures.
- We believe Christ continues in His Church, in persona Christi capitis, the priestly office and work of offering the Eucharistic Sacrifice and administering the True Body and Blood of Our Lord to the faithful, baptising and confirming men into His Body, blessing, witnessing marriages, absolving the penitent, anointing the sick, catechising the young and old alike, ministering pastorally to the faithful, and teaching, sanctifying, and governing the people of God in the local parish and in each Diocese and Province.
- We believe we possess full sacramental communion with the One Catholic and Apostolic Church of the ages, and the gift of the orthodox and historic Anglican episcopate, wherein nothing is lacking for the full living of the Faith of the Church.
- We believe the absolute axiom of catholic ecclesiology and theology which dictates that the Clergy rightly and canonically function when in communion with the episcopos, who sits in the Apostles’ chair, succeeding in the Apostolic line and commission, and, as St Ignatius of Antioch states, functioning as the ‘image of God the Father.’
- We agree with St Ignatius, who describes the microcosm or fullness of God’s Church as the local Eucharistic assembly, with the bishop, the father-in-God, celebrating the holy mysteries at the family Table, surrounded by his priests and deacons who assist him, and by the whole people of God, who, in communion with him, join with him in mystically offering the Lord’s Sacrifice: the Church is a Communion of Eucharistic Communions.
- We believe the Church is God’s Family, the household of the faith and the household of God, the Bride of Christ, and the Ark and unique home and sphere of grace and salvation, the dwelling-place of the Holy Ghost Who sanctifies the Church and her members.
- We believe in justification by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and in the necessary cooperation and correspondence with grace in the believer through the operation of the Holy Ghost for sanctification and salvation.
- We believe that the sole Head of the Universal Church is her Divine Head, the Lord Jesus, and that the Church is totus Christus, Head and members together in One Body.
- We believe that all Bishops are true Successors of the Holy Apostles, possess the Power of the Keys to bind and loose, transmit by the laying-on-of-hands that same ordination conferred by Our Lord on the Apostles, and receive from Our Lord equal spiritual power, as did the Twelve, by His institution and commission.
- We believe the Church is the Divine Society, the divinely-appointed steward of the mysteries of God, bound in unity by the Apostolic Succession of doctrine and ministry.
- We believe the Anglican Church to be a duly-constituted jurisdiction of that Body of which Jesus Christ is the Head and all baptised persons are the members, a graced vineyard of the Lord in which we may labour for the Kingdom of God and the spread of the Gospel of Christ.
- We are the original 'Catholics of the Anglican Rite', in union with Holy Mother Church through her Anglican expression, whereby nothing needful for grace and truth is deficient.
- We believe in the Communion of Saints, the Church Triumphant, Expectant and Militant, and in the due honour and efficacious prayers, virtues and examples of Our Lady Saint Mary, the Mother of God, and of all the whole company of Heaven.
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