This is an interesting one in Virtue Online – Anglicanism, the Universal Church and the Octave of Christian Unity. Some parts of it could almost have been written by Soloviev!
Towards the end of this long article, I see where it is all going – the union of Anglicanism with Orthodoxy. What kind of Anglicanism? Obviously not what prevails in ECUSA and the Church of England, obviously not Calvinism. Is Orthodoxy ever going to be open to anything larger and ecclesial than small micro-manageable “ordinariates” or vicariates?
I also note that the author of this article, Fr Novak, a priest of the Reformed Episcopal Church/Anglican Church in North America, is not sidelining the Continuing Churches.
We also have a question of interpretation of “completing the Reformation”. The extent to which the Orthodox Churches might accept some Reformation developments and ideas might be a key to what can be united within Anglicanism. This all needs to be clarified from ambiguity. Ideas?
Here is what Fr Novak says, and comments would be welcome. The emphasis in bold type is mine.
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What is Anglicanism’s future? Its future can only be found in completing the Reformation begun in 1534. That means corporate reunion with the ancient patriarchates of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem as it existed before the Norman invasion of 1066. The provinces of the Anglican Churches in the Global South should simply enter the already existing Patriarchate of Alexandria, and the Anglican provinces in the West and North should simply enter into corporate union with the canonical Orthodox Churches in their nations. There are already Western Orthodox congregations in North America, Great Britain, Continental Europe, Australia and New Zealand. The Russian Orthodox Church, the largest of the national Orthodox Churches, has had Western Rite congregations for more than a century.
God has preserved Anglicanism, but not the Anglican Communion. Canterbury is lost, and it would be tragic if Anglicans tried to set up altar against altar in Alexandria, or tried to recreate something that Divine Providence has not preserved, whether it is in Kenya or elsewhere. I am not advocating that Anglicans abandon their identity and Church, and become something that they are not. What I am advocating is that Anglicans fully embrace what they have always professed to be – the English branch of the Catholic Church – and to enter into corporate reunion with the Orthodox Church with which they had been united for more than a millennium. I am not advocating a Western Rite Orthodoxy divorced from the last 1,000 years of history, but an orthodox Anglicanism reunited with Eastern Orthodoxy, and a rebirth of Anglican Orthodoxy. Metropolitan Jonah pointed the way at the first provincial Assembly of the Anglican Church in North America in 2009, and did so again at the second provincial Assembly in 2012.
With the present dysfunctional state of the Anglican Communion it is probably unrealistic to expect the orthodox provinces of the Anglican Communion to act together for corporate reunion, but if a beginning could be made in North America, or elsewhere, a way forward would be shown for millions of faithful Anglican churchmen. God often brings great things to pass from the smallest and most humble of beginnings.
It has been said that when God closes one door He opens another. Tradition is the life of the Holy Spirit in the Church, and the Holy Spirit has been leading us and preparing us for this moment in time for the last five hundred years. As Martin Thornton wrote in 1963, Anglicanism is “sane, wise, ancient, modern, sound and simple; with roots in the New Testament and the Fathers, and of noble pedigree; with its golden periods and its full quota of saints and doctors; never obtrusive, seldom in serious error, ever holding its essential place within the glorious diversity of Catholic Christendom” (English Spirituality, p. 14).
My prayer is that 2013 will be the year that Anglicans take action for unity in “the glorious diversity of Catholic Christendom.” We have nothing to lose in corporate reunion, but much to gain. I am convinced that we cannot even imagine what kind of renewal and revival we would see if we only learned to love one another again as Christ’s disciples should, and if the Body of Christ began to breathe again with both lungs, Eastern and Western. I love Anglicanism deeply, and have been working toward the goal of orthodox Anglican unity and Anglican-Eastern Orthodox reunion since 1997, when I was given that commission by Bishop Patrick Murphy.
Brother Roger of Taize has written, “When communion among Christians is a life and not a theory, it radiates hope… How, then, could Christians still remain divided? Reconciliation among Christians is urgent today; it cannot continually be put off until later, until the end of time. Over the years, the ecumenical vocation has fostered an invaluable exchange of views. This dialogue constitutes the first-fruits of reconciliation. But when the ecumenical vocation is not made concrete through a communion, it leads nowhere.”
During this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity will you pray for our bishops and priests in the Anglican Church in North America and its Ministry Partners, and in the Anglican Continuum, as well as for the bishops and clergy of the Eastern Orthodox Churches; and join with me in advancing this Biblical cause (John 17)? Four hundred years of dialogue is enough. May the year of our Lord 2013 be the year that the Reformation is completed and full communion and unity restored; and may this be the Octave of Christian Unity that prepares the way.