The Contradictions of Comprehensiveness

The question bothers me since reading the aggressive points of view of some Continuing Anglican divines who propose a pogrom against Anglo-Catholics. In a way, we can wonder if they are merely reacting in a self-defence reflex against aggression from Anglo-Catholicism who would see the back of the Reformation and its “variations” as Bossuet would have put it. The question is both highly complex and very simple. If one claims to be both Protestant and Catholic, or “reformed Catholic”, then one is founding oneself on a basic premise. Perhaps one may be Protestant but concede some “high church” trappings to please those who are unsatisfied with plainness and austerity. Is that what Catholicism is about, or does it have some more substantial doctrinal and spiritual foundation? Surely, if it is just “dressing up”, then one should become a “real Catholic” by swimming the Tiber or biting the bullet and accepting someone else’s austerity. It is surely God’s will that all pleasure is sin and all art and beauty to be reproved unless it is secular!

I have always had the idea that comprehensiveness would be easier from a Catholic basis (conciliar ecclesiology, not Papal) rather than the Protestant basis that destroys the Platonic metaphysics forming the basis of the possibility of redeemed man to participate by grace in the life of God. In the Reformed type of thinking, God reveals himself to man only through the written Word of the Bible, nothing else.

If Anglicanism can be a continuation of the pre-Reformation and pre-Tridentine Catholic Church, a great deal of comprehensiveness is possible. It suffices to visit the church of a Trappist (reformed Cistercians) community and find that there are no images other than a statue of Our Lady. The rest of the church is whitewashed, plain, bereft of beauty or decoration. It would be easier and saner to have the possibility of low church liturgy on the basis of Catholic theology than high church liturgy on the basis of Reformed doctrine.

As with any movement, the Reformation began by reacting against abuses and superstitious practices. Hitler and Mussolini began by promising good things for the people such as a reliable train service, affordable cars, good fast roads and modern living conditions. The nasty things only came later, like Calvin burning someone at the stake with green wood to prolong the suffering! But, it has to be said that the early stages were needed.

In many things, there was a question of emphasis and things that were needed, like the liturgy and the Bible in the language of the people. Basing all Anglicanism on the Reformation – supposing the Anglican Catholic Church were taken over by Evangelical “classical” Anglicans, there would have to be a purge of Anglo-Catholics. If everything were to be founded on the Reformers, there would be no point in high-church ceremonies, which would become at best irrelevant and impious at worst. You get rid of the statues and icons, put the communion table in the middle of the choir with its ends in the same direction as the east and west ends of the church. Vestments become a matter of effeminate men wanting to “play dressing up”. Just go back to England of before the Tractarians, the triple-decker pulpits and box pews. It takes little imagination – just see the engravings of Hogarth depicting fire-breathing preachers and swooning ladies!

I see little evidence that many of today’s Continuing Anglicans would go so far in their outward observances. Evangelicals are more likely to emulate the “mega church” style with modern language services.

The problem would seem to be in one side wanting to impose the 39 Articles as a doctrinal standard for all, albeit interpreted à la Bicknell – and the other side doing away with the Articles and imposing the Affirmation of Saint Louis containing a commitment to seven Sacraments (instead of two) and the seven Ecumenical Councils including Nicea II (against iconoclasm).

I am personally all for having the Affirmation as a basis (with the ancient traditional doctrines it contains), and joined the Anglican Catholic Church knowing that I would not have to assent to Reformation formularies. At the same time, there are different ways of observing the liturgical life from the “spiky” style of the Tridentine liturgy in English to the simpler English “Sarum” style and the simpler “monastic” tastes. I tend to be somewhere between the “extremes” whilst refraining from criticising those who are more “Tridentine” than I am. In these matters, there can be diversity according to the customs of the people in their parishes and pastoral necessity.

If conciliar Catholicism were better known, conciliar as in the reforming Council of Constance placing the Episcopate over the Pope acting alone, this would be far more healthy than being hidebound to Reformation formularies. With a conciliar Catholic approach, we can have the Bible and the liturgy in the vernacular, keep popular religion and the taste for miracles and wonders in check, keep the clergy from becoming corrupt, get the laity to learn their catechism and develop an interest for more advanced doctrinal, historical, spiritual and liturgical study, and so forth. The problem with Protestant Augustinianism is that is is too narrow, like asking a great French chef to cook a fabulous meal with only one saucepan, a pound of potatoes and water. I prefer people like the Methodists with their high church theology and low church services to having to be narrow in one’s theological vision and then “playing at religion” by doing high services without any underlying justification. Did not some of the Reformers lament abominations of popish masses?

Another objection to Protestantism is that it was a reaction against a very specific situation in history. Since the sixteenth century and up to our own times, there have been changes. In Roman Catholicism, the issues involving corruption and superstition were addressed by the Council of Trent and the Counter Reformation. There was the dispute between Jesuits and Jansenists which cleared many of the difficulties surrounding Augustinian theology. Then, from the nineteenth century, there is a whole movement in theology, ecclesiology, church history and historical criticism leading to the Ressourcement, the appeal to the Fathers of the Church. With exposure to that kind of theology, who wants to return to sixteenth-century pseudo-scholastic polemics which were as narrow and asinine from the Roman point of view as from the Reformers? One who has seen sunlight will not return to live in the cave and see only shadows and imaginations. What we would like to continue is colour, beauty, diversity and joy.

Is the Affirmation of Saint Louis a perfect document? Certainly not, and it too will prove to be tied to its time and will be found to be too narrow. It has already been modified to reflect the definitive nature of the separation of Continuing Anglicanism from the Canterbury Communion. It is a good guide which helped to define Continuing Anglican identity in a time of crisis. The Articles also emerged from a situation of crisis. Defining an exact number of Sacraments at seven is a fruit of the Roman Catholic Council of Trent. Are we going to be Roman Catholics without being members of the Roman Catholic Church? That is another contradiction that is a danger among so-called Anglican Papalists. The Affirmation is exactly that, an affirmation of identity, and not a definitive definition of dogma.

If we “trash” the Reformation, do we not deny any continuation of Catholicism in Anglicanism? Probably we do, as traditionalist Roman Catholics see very little in the way of orthodox Catholicism in the pontificate of Paul VI and the 1970’s. Is continuation absolutely vital as opposed to restoration? There was a liturgical movement in Roman Catholicism because the meaning of the liturgy had become obscure by the end of the eighteenth century. Dom Guéranger began the movement of bringing the people to the liturgy and the liturgy to the people. The Oxford Movement began a parallel movement of restoration in the Church of England, to breathe life back into dead bones.

To what extent was there any continuation of Catholicism through the Reformation era? If there was none, then Rome could be justified in saying that our Orders are absolutely null and utterly void. So could Orthodoxy when looking at late eighteenth-century French Catholicism and Talleyrand, whom Napoleon had dubbed a turd in a silk stocking. Continuity is relative in all churches, but there is always something. Rome can trace the apostolic lineage of most of its bishops to Scipione Rebiba (1504-1577). There is no reliable documentation beyond him. There is probability of continuation further back, but no documentary proof. Every Church has its skeletons in the cupboard and things the apologists overlook. We Anglicans as no exception.

I have always liked Soloviev’s approach to ecumenism. Roman Catholicism, Orthodoxy and Protestantism are all too one-sided and only a part of the whole. Roman Catholicism represents the human organisation of the Church for the purpose of the Mission. Orthodoxy represents the mystical and contemplative approach, and Protestantism represents the freedom of man in his response to God’s Word and invitation to salvation and sanctification (justification). If all contributed to something higher, then there is hope for the restoration of Catholicism. I fear that few in the Continuum are up to such a sublime vision, one that would transfigure the serious deficiencies of Protestantism, Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy.

In the current dialectics between “classical” Anglicans and Anglo-Catholics, what is of greatest concern is that the former can only affirm itself at the expense of the latter. Let the Anglo-Catholics go to the Ordinariate, and leave us (Evangelicals) alone! It can also be argued that Anglo-Catholics would like the “classical” Anglicans to leave and become non-conformists or whatever, so that there can be a unified Anglo-Catholic Church. Can the two co-exist? With current attitudes and theological visions, probably not. I see very little possibility for cohabitation in a single institutional Church. I notice how the term “Classical Anglicanism” is increasingly becoming a euphemism for the Protestant position with the intention of expelling Anglo-Catholics or making them so uncomfortable that they will leave.

There is also the possibility of uniting all Anglicans on the basis of some kind of “mere Christianity”, the term being coined by a book written by C.S. Lewis. The notion of the “classical Anglicans” is tied up with Anglican apologetics, because if this category is uncatholic, then the apologetic basis of Anglo-Catholicism is gone – unless the quality of being a Church is something that can be restored as I have suggested.

I lived through the entire time of the TAC’s approach to Rome from the bishops’ meeting in Portsmouth to Anglicanorum coetibus two years later, probably the result of other Anglican groups and events. One of the greatest problems was the definition of Anglican Patrimony or identity. Is Anglicanism a kind of English “Old Catholicism” or a half-way house moderate Protestantism conserving some Catholic characteristics like bishops and chapters of canons? Was it all in the liturgy or the tradition of pastorally-minded clergy as opposed to being a “country squire parson”? Was it all in the scholarship? I think we are ourselves struggling with such a definition without knocking at Rome’s door to say we want to be Roman Catholics with something akin to uniate status like the Byzantine rite folk.

I am unable to finish this article with anything like a definitive conclusion. I think we don’t stand much of a chance, any more than any other form of Christianity that is humanist in its inspiration and respects man’s intrinsic dignity. I see the totalitarian caricature, whether it is in the successors of Calvin, Topcliffe, Torquemada or Ivan the Terrible, winning out. Critically-minded people will be less and less drawn to Christianity, a religion to be written off as a failure.

There is something to be said for the idea that we would have been better off to have remained in the Egyptian fleshpots of our Churches of origin, and made our pilgrimages as individuals. We chose instead to found or join dissident churches and launch out into the deep, for which we needed a common identity rather than individual identities as persons with our talents and sins. In guise of a provisional conclusion, I can only suggest we make the best of our little churches and communities, and make our pilgrimages. Someone above us will want to try cat herding. Let them try, and perhaps succeed.

The more time that goes past, the less I am worried by it all. Let the Americans play baseball, the English play football, the Protestants in their books and the Catholics in theirs. I see nothing wrong with separate church institutions according to the different ways of reading the Gospel and the Tradition. Perhaps, we will discover a common basis – or perhaps we won’t.

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50 Responses to The Contradictions of Comprehensiveness

  1. “Protestantism represents the freedom of man in his response to God’s Word and invitation to salvation and sanctification (justification).”

    ALL of Protestantism? Arminianism does, of course. However, classical, confessional, unadulterated Calvinism does not.

    I think the main thing that Protestantism as a whole does is to open the door for the actualization of counciliarity – sobornost – from the very top down to the very bottom of the Church, to the parish level.

    • I mentioned that Calvin was something like an Ayatollah, the Taliban and Al Qaeda rolled up into one in Geneva, having people whipped and burned at the stake and enjoying watching their suffering. He must have been an absolute psychopath!

      There are versions of reformed theology that are of great interest, like our English divines and John Wesley. There, you are absolutely right.

      • Michael Frost says:

        Fr. Anthony, I don’t think you are being fair to history, Geneva, or Calvin. Whether one was RC, Lutheran, or Reformed, the day to day lives of the people were driven by the secular rulers, princes, and town bodies, who also endlessly meddled and interfered in religious matters. That was as true for Luther & Melanchthon in Germany as it was for Zwingli & Bullinger in Zurich, Calvin & Beza in Geneva, Bucer & Capito in Strasbourg, and Cranmer & Parker in England. Each of these Reformers bemoaned the control exercised by the state over the church.

        I’m studying Chrisman’s 1967 work, Strabourg and the Reform–A Study in the Process of Change. This independent city and its rulers made sure that Bucer and the local church knew exactly who was really in charge. Bucer could beg, plead and cajole, but the strings were not in his hands. He learned that again when exiled to England and saw the relationship there between church and state.

        Calvin’s claim to infamy in regard to the ultimate discipline is usually in the execution of Servetus (who espoused a radicalized view on religion and the state), but he had previously been condemned to death by his former RC jurisdiction and the Genevan sentence was authorized and carried out by the civilian authorities. Not unlike all the heresy executions in England in the 1540s and 1550s.

        The sadder examples might be the use of the church by the rulers of a state? The divorce of Henry VIII and esp. the bigamy of Philip of Hesse come to mind. The bigamy ensnarled Luther, Melanchthon, Bucer and others and led to the military defeat of the Protestants in the 1540s by the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, who used his pardon power over Philip to get his neutrality.

      • You have a point. Our church history professor told us not to judge the Inquisition and other unpleasantness of history by our modern doctrines of human rights. Before human rights, someone who refused to conform forfeited the right to live. Public executions and torture were something normal. I don’t know how long our modern human rights will last. Hitler simply reverted to the old ways of running society! He just refined the methods and industrialised the “process”.

        It is unfortunate that human rights (life, freedom and happiness in particular) only came in with the French and American revolutions, and were the product of the Enlightenment. Perhaps we can learn from this. If we want Christianity to be seen as a positive influence in society, it is for us to make it so by being coherent with our own beliefs and principles.

        All Churches have persecuted other Churches or “heretical” groups by means of coercion, execution, torture and exile. We all live in countries whose rulers have committed atrocities. Our British Imperial rulers were in many cases no better than the Nazis, in South Africa and India for example.

        It is simply time for us to become Christians – or abandon Christianity and find another principle upon which peace and human society may be built. The choice is ours.

      • ed pacht says:

        I also was a bit disturbed by your comment. John Calvin may have erred in some of his thinking. I believe he did so to a serious degree and am certainly not a Calvinist — but Calvin was no ogre, nor was he much different in attitudes or actions from any of those around him in his period. By all fair accounts he was a mild and pastoral man, though one of very strong convictions. While Geneva did persecute and sometimes execute those who would not conform, this was no more prevalent there (and arguably less prevalent) than in surrounding RC, Lutheran, and, yes, Anglican countries. While the destruction of precious artworks and relics is to be deplored, we need to remember the lives of the saints who evangelized Europe in the first place and the glee with which those accounts record the destruction of cherished symbols of the “old religions”. I think we can profitably discuss Calvin’s theology and its implications, but there is no profit in demonizing the man.

      • I agree that some historical study might be in order, as opinions claiming a historical basis clash.

      • Michael Frost says:

        Purely from an historical perspective, it would be interesting to compare both the total number of religious executions and murders and the rate of such acts (as a percentage of the population)in the 16th century in the respective RC, Lutheran, and Reformed domains. I suspect the statistics wouldn’t favor or disfavor any one group and all would look horrible using 21st century eyes?

        The level of violence in England from the 1530s-1550s seems moderately high. I suspect nearly anyone alive at that time who wanted to witness a religious execution could’ve found at least one to attend. Some saw the issue from both sides of the fire! Cranmer watched as the state burned many at the stake and watched as the state burned him at the stake.

      • Yeah! Hanging, drawing and quartering – lovely way to go! At least pigs are slaughtered before they are scalded, hung up and gutted.

        Burning was rather well portrayed in the 1492 Christopher Colombus film. If the poor victim repented, she was garrotted and spared the roasting. Be thankful for small mercies!

        The Romans were not Christians but had some horrible methods like crucifixion. Anything that can be imagined by the most sadistic mind has been done. The Japanese and Chinese were the worst, and don’t forget Vlad the Impaler and Ivan the Terrible!

        At least the Enlightenment produced the guillotine! A French medical doctor in the 1900’s ascertained from an experiment (with the condemned man’s prior consent) that a severed head continues to be conscious for a few seconds to a couple of minutes. The Veuve Noire was only abolished in 1981.

        Could Christians not have a race with modernity in abolishing cruel punishments everywhere and promoting peace and human rights? Then, perhaps, we might really be Christians…

      • ed pacht says:

        …all would look horrible using 21st century eyes?

        Aye, there’s the rub. While one cannot avoid seeing history through the eyes of ones own era, it is seldom helpful to compare one era with another. Each has its strengths and its weaknesses. How would we look in their eyes? Not very good at all, I suspect..

        The Reformers, Lutheran, Calvinist, Anglican, and, yes, even Anabaptist were neither more nor less denizens of the 16th century that the Counter-Reformation leaders, and all conducted themselves in similar fashion. In many respects they were more like each other than any of them are like any of us. We need to remember that before we begin making judgments. 21st century eyes may be the only tools we actually have, but they are actually rather poor tools for the task.

      • Could we infer from this that if Christianity were brought back in as a state religion somewhere, we would have the accept the return of mass-production butchering? Probably not, but the atheists would say that we only have a degree of peace and respect for human life since they got rid of Christianity. I think we should address this question seriously.

    • William Tighe says:

      May I make a couple of pedantic comments?

      First, Servrtus was the one and only religious dissident executed in Geneva during Calvin’s years there (1536 to 1538 and1541 to 1564), and he was executed at the insistence of the civil authorities, not of Calvin (although Calvin did not disagree on Servetus meriting death), who would have preferred to see him exiled (or handed over to the French Catholic authorities). Michael Frost is entirely correct about the civil authorities being “in charge of the church” in Strasbourg (and almost everywhere else in the Protestant world, Calvinist Scotland [at times] being the only exception that comes to mind), and this includes Geneva. True, in Geneva the ch8urch authorities had a greater “say” in the selection of those magistrates who administered moral discipline in Geneva, and whose decision it was to exclude from communion notorious sinners and “misbelievers,” and to readmit them when repentant — but the majority of the members of that body were laymen, and their selection, as well as the enforcement of theoir decisions, was wholly the responsibility of the city secular government. William Monter’s neat little book, *Calvin’s Geneva* (1967; reprinted in 2012 by Wipf & Stock) is clear and lucid about all this.

      Secondly, heretics continued to be burned in England after 1558. Under Elizabeth there were 6 ot 7 (most of them anti-Trinitarians or Anabaptists [or both], but also including the eccentric chiliast and Judaizer Francis Kett, a one-time fellow of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge), and under James I two; and in 1639, on the eve of thre civil war (!) Archbishop Neile of York was pressing earnestly, but unsuccessfully, for the burning of another anti-Trinitarian (citing the “good example” set by the burning of Legate and Wightman, two Anabaptist anti-Trinitarians, in 1612). In Spain, although there were few executions after 1681, a schoolteacher who taught Deist ideas to his pupils, Cayetano Rispoli, was executed (garrotted) in 1826.

      • William Tighe says:

        Let me rephrase one part of my comment (above):

        True, in Geneva the church authorities had a greater “say” in the selection of those magistrates who administered moral discipline in Geneva, and whose decision it was to exclude from communion notorious sinners and “misbelievers,” and to readmit them when repentant, than in any other Swiss Reformed canton (or, for that matter, most German Lutheran cities), where they were simply appointed by the town councils (and in Zurich and Berne excommunication and restoration to communion were determined exclusively by the secular authorities) — but the majority of the members of that body were laymen, and their appointment, as well as the enforcement of their decisions, was wholly the responsibility of the city’s secular government. William Monter’s neat little book, *Calvin’s Geneva* (1967; reprinted in 2012 by Wipf & Stock) is clear and lucid about all this.

  2. I took some time to read about Comprehensiveness on our main website of the ACC/OP.

    Interesting reading, no firm conclusion and there is probably none. I personally see it more like a snapshot in time we are the true model the undivided Catholic Church of the first Christian millennium. Most Churches have taken this as their aim also, but have failed to reckon with the distortions which have arisen in the course of the centuries.What do you think?

    Father Ed Bakker

    • A further comment in relation to this … this was also our broad explanation on the net when we were the TAC in New Zealand. A broad explanation did work, but from reading all the comments in relation to Fr. Chadwick’s blog , nobody is entire sure about it all.

      As continuing Anglicans, not liberal Anglicans we do remain close to Roman Catholic Christianity, we have retained a number of basic medieval practices, an episcopal polity and various theological beliefs. I talked about going back to a snapshot in time.

      It is because of the split between the English Church and the Roman Catholic Church, this was not so much due to theological disagreements as was the case with the other Reformation movements in Europe, but rather because of personal and political disagreements between King Henry VIII and Pope Clement VII. Thus, it is not surprising that so much of what characterized Roman Catholicism of the time has survived in Anglicanism today.

      Father Ed Bakker

  3. Neil Hailstone says:

    I note that the Reformed Episcopal Church (Evangelical origin) and the Anglican Province in America (Anglo Catholic) in the US of A have come to a point of coalescence. How they have done this is acceptable to both and I would personally as an Anglo Catholic have been able to agree had I been involved on the APA side.

    Here in the UK The Free Church of England (Evangelical and low church origins) have been extending a hand of welcome to former and present catholic members of the Church of England.

    I have been invited into membership and this involves no compromise in my Anglican Catholic beliefs..

    I think within continuing Anglicanism more unity is possible.Probably federation and inter communion being the best way forward.

    • I know that Newman’s development theory has been used to justify ultramontanism and Papal infallibility. Perhaps in an Anglican context, it can be used to encourage us all to grow out of narrowness and find a wholeness of vision as in the ideas of the Russian philosophers like Soloviev. But that idea will ignite a whole load of other problems.

      • William Tighe says:

        More likely, at least in an “official” Anglican context, it will be used, indeed, has been used, to defend the pretended ordination of women and the pretended blessing of sodomitic pseudogamy.

      • William, I do not defend homosexuality, but I think Victorian expressions like “sodomitic pseudogamy” are unnecessary. Why not simply say “homosexuality” or the “the homosexual agenda”? I think that would be clear enough.

      • Dale says:

        Dr Tighe, I think that one has to be a bit careful here; Rome could possibly do the same things, except by Papal fiat. I suspect that seventy-years ago, if one had told a Roman Catholic that they would have a modernist new liturgy including balloons, girls (both old and young) and Pinocchio puppets dancing around the altar and churches indistinguishable from a low-church Protestant places of worship, they would have all gasped in disbelief; declaring that such a thing would never, never happen…but it did.

  4. Fr. Lawrence B. Wheeler says:

    So many of these arguments are about where some cleric, cast adrift, will align himself. Narcissism! What about the poor laity? Without them to serve and guide, do our ordinations as clergymen and the “alphabet soup” with whom we associate ourselves really matter? What in the world are we ordained for, anyway, if not for the gathering and nurture of Christ’s flock?

  5. Fr. Lawrence B. Wheeler says:

    Yes, father, thanks for remembering me. Since I no longer have a congregation myself, the ordinariate had no need for me. Understood. I then explored the pastoral provision, which we have in this country, but the local bishop and his council of advice rejected my application for same. The primary reason that they cited was that I had not been received into the Church as a Catholic layman. That was understandable, as well.

    I just could not bring myself to convert. The Catholic Church is just too effeminate for a man like me. The obvious homosexuality amongst the clergy, the pederasty and the pedophilia amongst a few are just too much for me to stomach. It’s revolting. The liturgy is banal and the preaching is vapid. That is the rule in the Catholic Church, not the exception to the rule.

    There are a couple of secondary reasons for their rejection of my application, as well, which I could have challenged, but by the time the call came to me from the bishop’s office, I had been waiting for nearly two and a half years for a response from them, and had already moved on in my heart toward Orthodoxy. I don’t fault the Catholics, and I am glad to be free of any association with the their Church. I have moved on, and now doubt the vaunted claims of the imperial papacy and the general arrogance of their attitude toward other ecclesial bodies.

    The problem that remains with me personally is that my wife is still attending the local Japanese Catholic mass. So, we are now caught betwixt and between. After much study, it seems to me that the Orthodox Church have the best claim to being the Church that Christ Himself founded, and even though its culture is quite foreign to me, I am considering converting as a layman. If one of the American jurisdictions needs a priest to serve a congregation, I am available, but I will not demand to be priested just for the sake of my ego. At this later point in my life, I don’t have anything more to prove.

    • I understand. Many priests in our kind of situation just give up and try to find their peace. It is probably easier for an Anglican priest to laicise than for a Roman Catholic, as the ontological sense of the priesthood is not as strong. Many Anglican clergy I know do not celebrate Mass daily and regardless of whether there are lay folk present. I do.

      If I may offer my advice to you before “converting” to any Church. Attend their services (without going to the Sacraments) and socialise with their people for several months or a year, and see if you will fit in. The other possibility is to stop looking for “true churches” and turn inwards to a more “contemplative” life: reading, study, writing, going out and enjoying nature, getting that old boat of yours out when the conditions are right.

      We all have the right to become reflective as we get on on life and the years take their merciless toll. I turned to the Anglican Catholic Church, not because of any “true church” claim, but because it is something that has become stable and credible through hard experience, and will give a man a sense of continuity in his vocation. It is understood that my ministry will be one of teaching and blogging, as I am not in a country where people are interested in religion (unless they are traditionalist and very political Roman Catholics).

      Think carefully before throwing away what you have in the hope of finding something “better” or “truer”. Discover the inner meaning of the priesthood, the Mass and the Office – live it all under the radar. Let your wife continue doing what she believes to be right. It’s not easy, but you will find yourself less tortured for it. Why not write to Archbishop Haverland?

      • Fr. Lawrence B. Wheeler says:

        The ontological sense of the priesthood is strong, indeed, especially for an Anglo-catholic priest. Call it arrogance or just old habit, I suspect that I shall always consider myself to be a priest, whether I have a congregation or not, or convert as a layman to another tradition or not. However, it is this very objectivization of the sacraments that is a telltale sign of Catholicism that is foreign to the more utilitarian view of Orthodoxy and, dare I say, Protestantism. One example of this is the Catholic practice of the veneration of the Eucharist in a service of Benediction. Another is the saying of masses for some meritorious benefit, even without the presence of a congregation. The Church ventures into error when it allows the sacraments to go off and take on a life of their own that was never intended by Tradition.

        Orthodox theology places emphasis not so much on the office of the priesthood in and of itself, but more pointedly on the priest’s function within the Eucharistic community of the parish. The parish is the local Eucharistic community and it is primarily the Eucharist that binds them together as one. It is not the priest who unites them, although an argument could be made for the bishop’s role to unite. In each parish, there is one liturgy, normally celebrated only once a week, where all of the people, including the children, assemble and together, led by the priest, the chanters and the choir, render unto God one sacrifice. One long sacrifice. This makes more sense to me than the Catholic practice.

      • That’s great if you have such a community or if such a community is there and calls you to be their priest. If it isn’t there, the question is academic. Work with the reality that is yours, as I have to live with mine. It’s no use cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face. If there is an Orthodox parish where you would be happy as a layman, go for it, but don’t throw everything away and then regret it later.

        If you go Orthodox, don’t become an “enthusiastic convert”, but just be one of them and forget the past. It will be better for you. Anyway, I don’t think I’m one to give advice. You can only follow your conscience.

        There is another possibility – go secular and let go, and see what comes back to you after a year of so of doing other things. I have known people who became deeper and wiser for having separated their inner spirituality from religious baggage. It’s an idea, but not what I would recommend to just anyone!

    • Dale says:

      Fr Lawrence, what you have said about the Eucharist being celebrated only once a week and only one liturgy on Sundays in Orthodoxy is general for the Greeks and Russians, but not for the Carpatho-Russians and many Ukrainians, who do indeed have, mostly in larger parishes, a daily celebration of the Mass as well as more than one liturgy on Sunday; be careful not to fall into the trap of considering the traditions of one ethnic Byzantine group the whole of Orthodoxy, the Russians especially like to play this game. Also, western rite Orthodox under Antioch do offer Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, and it is not considered contrary to Orthodoxy, indeed there is a blessing with the consecrated elements in every Byzantine Mass; and the Mass of the per-Sanctified is similar to one very long Benediction, with procession of the consecrated elements as well. Usually Byzantine condemnations of Benediction and Procession of the Blessed Sacrament are more a reflection of anti-western bigotry than anything else.

      Personally, if looking for a Church which most fits the concept of early Eastern Christianity, I would be more inclined to Oriental Orthodoxy than to imperial Byzantium.

      • Fr. Lawrence B. Wheeler says:

        Dale, The rule is that there will always be exceptions to any rule. The Greeks are the “mother Church” of Orthodoxy; and the Russians, even after the unspeakable devastations of the twentieth century, still make up the overwhelming majority of the Orthodox population. You may know more than I do about Orthodoxy, but exceptions notwithstanding, a single, weekly celebration of the Divine Liturgy (with exceptions for red-letter feasts) after the custom of the Greeks and the Russians, appears to be the rule for Orthodoxy, not a trap.

        The Antiochian patriarchy in their Arab hospitality, along with one or two of the Russian jurisdictions, do indeed allow for the Western Rite, but I will venture a guess that this permission has been given as a concession, not as a prescription. It’s sort of a “big tent” policy, it would seem. True enough, there are Western rites that find their origin in the undivided Church of the first millennium, but the Byzantine liturgies of St. John Crysostom, St. Basil and St. James are normative for Orthodoxy.

        I won’t comment on blessings in the Orthodox Church with the consecrated elements.

        I am surprised that you would avoid what you term “imperial Byzantium” and favor Oriental Orthodoxy. Do you mean the Coptic Church? I have a special place in my heart for the Copts, as my son-in-law is a Christian of Egyptian ancestry, and there is a warm and welcoming Coptic congregation in my city. Nevertheless, when a key theological question of the Incarnation arose, the Copts came down on the opposite side of the argument from the majority of the Orthodox. A driving force for the difference of opinion at the time may well have been their reaction against the imperial arrogance of Constantinople, but that is no reason for us in the present day to ignore the theological error.

      • Dale says:

        “weekly celebration of the Divine Liturgy (with exceptions for red-letter feasts) after the custom of the Greeks and the Russians, appears to be the rule for Orthodoxy,”

        The above may have become the tradition, but cannot liturgically be explained, since the daily readings for the mass are indeed included in the Byzantine weekly, monthly as well as seasonal cycle.

        many Russians do indeed have a receptionist doctrine to the Eucharist, the Real Presence only exists as it is consumed; very Lutheran actually. I well remember being instructed as a very young acolyte to bow to the Ikon of Christ that hung behind the altar and completely ignore the reserved Sacrament on the altar!

        What I have found interesting about some individuals who were rejected by Rome as possible, future Roman priests is that their need for something considered respectable is so intense that they then run off to Byzantium, and as they refused to hear any criticism of Rome before their rejection, now play the same sort of game with Byzantium.

        Thank you for admitting that Byzantium is so tied to a single cultural tradition that even its pathetic western rite is only a (temporary) concession. I have been trying to explain this to Michael for quite some time!

      • Michael Frost says:

        Dale, Only you? .”..its…western rite is only a (temporary) concession. I have been trying to explain this to Michael for quite some time!” Guess it depends upon the meaning of temporary? I worshipped in our Western Rite for 15 years before moving. My former WR church is still going strong. Now after about 23 or so years. And thinking the WR was established in the late 1950s. So it has been around for about 60 years. Which is…about half the time as the entire PNCC? Just give us another 60 years or so and we’ll see? 😉

      • Dale says:

        Oh well, Michael, I would rather that my tradition not be simply a “concession!”

  6. Pingback: So what is Anglican patrimony anyway? | Foolishness to the world

  7. I have heard nothing recently about the Nordic Catholic Church, having been led to expect an announcement at Easter that they were about to start up in England. Is anybody able to say more?

    • It’s all working with the Free Church of England, which, as I understand, is accepting Catholic elements from the Church of England. Future “Third Province” and with the Dutch / Polish Touch? As I recently said to Bishop Flemestad, I pray for its success and God’s blessing.

  8. Neil Hailstone says:

    Everything is on course for a catholic anglican jurisdiction to be available in association with the Nordic Catholic Church and the Polish National Catholic Church within the Union of Scranton.. It will happen within a short time frame. If you wish to avail yourself of this option and you are UK based then simply contact Bishop John Fenwick of the Free Church of England ‘s Northern Diocese or Bishop Paul Hunt of the Southern Diocese..Google the Free church of England and all of the links are readily available.If you are in Europe go to and get yourself a translation from google.If you are US based go to the Union of and click on the PNCC link.

    • Dale says:

      Hello Neil, will this union also included the Reformed Episcopal Church in North America? Recently, the R.E.C. has been more and more leaning towards a more catholic expression of Anglicanism. Do you feel that the Free Church of England has been able to lean more towards a higher church tradition because of its recent schism, where the more Evangelical faction left?

  9. Neil Hailstone says:

    Hello Dale
    At this time of replying I have no knowledge of the REC seeking to join the Union of Scranton.I would offer the opinion that it could be a possibility.Undoubtedly the FCoE is a catholic Anglican jurisdiction.The departure of the the Evangelical faction (using that description solely to refer to the 7 churches who left) will have made recent ongoing developments easier. In fact 2 congregations returned. The FCoE is both Evangelical (as all Christian Churches should be) and Catholic.

  10. Charles says:

    Dear Fr. Chadwick,

    I know some continuing lay blogs that argue for historical standards (like my own), but I’m not aware of any substantial division in ACC over or against anglo-catholicism. You mentioned, “…the aggressive points of view of some Continuing Anglican divines who propose a pogrom against Anglo-Catholics [huh?]…..[and] Basing all Anglicanism on the Reformation – supposing the Anglican Catholic Church were taken over by Evangelical “classical” Anglicans, there would have to be a purge of Anglo-Catholics.”

    This is must be a fictitious situation? Fr. Hart is the closest divine that might be remotely construed as “aggressive” and “classical” within the ACC, but Fr. Hart has never proposed anything to undermine the Affirmation. Rather, Fr. Hart has repeatedly emerged as a defender of the Affirmation, even over narrow parts related to the number “seven”. From my experience, Fr. Hart is a loyal ACC priest, so I’m not sure whether this alleged firestorm endangering Anglo-catholics is actual or an imaginary? What little I know, the ACC is currently under the stable leadership of AB Haverland, but aside from a couple lay people (myself for one… though I am not a member of the ACC but worship in an independent Anglican parish), there’s no visible protest about anglo-catholic theology or the status of the Affirmation.

    There has been an on-and-off discussion on matters ike the 39 articles (again, mostly at Hart’s blog), but I’ve never seen this turn into a raging or acrimonious debate. I’m not sure where the perceived danger is coming from. All things are relatively quiet, and most continuing jurisdictions are want (to my personal consternation) amicable if not warm relations to the ACC.

    Why would I be unhappy about this turn of events? I believe the first thirty years of the continuum (counting from 1968 Mobile in the USA) was dominated by broad churchmen (who sometimes might be mistaken for low church evangelicals, like Charles Doren), but only recently has the ACC assumed the mantle of leadership or flagship status. This is mostly because a sizable chunk of broad churchmen left the Continuum to join ACNA #2, and the recent implosion of the ACA (which provincially was THE continuing broad church body for the USA) which opened a gap that ACC astutely filled. The ACC is really enjoying something unprecedented. Remaining broad church jurisdictions, like ACA and APA, are now pretty much ready to follow the ACC’s lead.

    I see no opposition, nor much criticism, of ACC leadership. The parties that have been vocal (myself), are neither in the ACC nor are they clergy. So, I just don’t understand the above remarks, and maybe I’m making too much of a statement that was intended to stir debate and otherwise be purely hypothetical? I see the ACC enjoying a tremendous triumph in the continuum relative to ACA and old-AEC, and what protestant or ecumenical jurisdictions exist (AECUSA, ACUSA, DHC, and even UECNA) could probably be dismissed because they are relatively diminutive in size with too many aging clergy. Most likely, what the ACC’s webpage on ecumenicalism says will prove true– smaller bodies (like above) will either disappear or merge into larger churches. Isn’t this a more accurate appraisal?

    • I think you’re right. One particular person, I discover, left the ACC and is now trashing its Metropolitan Archbishop as well as us other “modern Anglo-Catholics”. I let the matter drop, because the person is of no interest in polite conversation. The matter is closed for me, and the ACC I have joined is a sound and stable continuing Anglican Church, and I will do all I can to help keep it that way.

      • Charles says:

        Fr. Chadwick,
        You seem to be fairly ecumenical. I don’t wish to put you on the spot, but you’ve spoken highly of the Union of Scantron. Recent discussion have opened possibilities for the FCoE and FiFUK to join. But ACC has a strict non-involvement policy not only against churches that ordain women, but with those churches who share communion with other churches that ordain women. This is derivative of the Athens Statement (which reads the Affirmation). Haverland has stated it quite plainly at Brockton last year,

        “For the ACC full communio in sacris requires adherence to the Affirmation, and that in turn means no communion with either the ordainers of women or with those who are in communion with the ordainers of women…”

        So, FCoE’s relation to REC and FiFUK’s ties to the Anglican Communion would be deal breakers for the ACC. Don’t you think this degree of ecclesiastical abstinence is extreme? The consequence of such a policy would be an isolation of a good chunk of traditional churchmen from the Union– just like ACC has done against components of ACNA. Do you really want that to happen? I know you left TAC due to irresponsible ecumenicism, but isn’t the ACC just a mirror opposite…?

      • These matters are open to discussion, but I am not a member of the ACC’s College of Bishops. You would have to take this one up with Archbishop Haverland.

        I know you left TAC due to irresponsible ecumenicism. That is not true. I left it because there’s practically nothing left of it in anything resembling my part of the world.

        In past eras, men died for faith and integrity. Perhaps we can settle for the pragmatic and the sliding game of playing hide-and-seek with principles and convictions. Our forebears stuck their heels in and stuck it out, and earned our respect.

      • William Tighe says:

        Charles wrote:

        “But ACC has a strict non-involvement policy not only against churches that ordain women, but with those churches who share communion with other churches that ordain women … So, FCoE’s relation to REC and FiFUK’s ties to the Anglican Communion would be deal breakers for the ACC.”

        True, but another puzzle is just as salient in all this. Ever since 1978, the PNCC has treated Anglican Orders as “absolutely null and utterly void,” and has insisted on reordaining any and all Anglican clergy (Continuing Anglican, as well as “Canterbury Communion Anglican”) that join them. Furthermore, when the Nordic Catholic Church was founded in 1999 the PNCC insisted that it no longer practice the “practical intercommunion” that existed between “orthodox opposition groups” in the British Anglican and Scandinavian Lutheran churches. (An interesting tale might be told some day about how the late Bishop Gaertner of Gothenburg, and later the former Bishop of Fulham, John Broadhurst, would conduct private supplementary ordinations of Scandinavian Lutheran clergy who were uncertain about the validity of their Orders.)

        Assuming that the FCoE joins the Union of Scranton, one presumes that it will not be in any sort of communion any longer with any Anglican groups, Continuing or otherwise, which means that this article by their Bishop Fenwick, which appeared in the April 2013 issue of New Directions, will become a “dead letter:”

        since it is hard to see how such clergy loans or transfers can happen between churches which are not in communion with one another and, in the case of the Union of Scranton churches, does not recognize the Orders of Churches which purport to ordain women, or which, not ordaining women themselves, are yet in communion with churches that do ordain women. In other words, and as far as I can see, the practice of the Union of Scranton in these matters is the same as that of the ACC, and possibly for the same reasons as well.

        It is for this reason (to make a belated response to the question about the possible involvement of the REC in these Union of Scranton emergent developments) that I think it highly unlikely (to put it mildly), since, in order for it to do so, it would have to sever its sacramental relations with not only other Continuing Anglican bodies, but also with ACNA, with its absurd and incoherent stance and practice concerning WO.

    • Dale says:

      Dr Tighe is quite correct that the PNCC does indeed ordain converting Anglican and Protestant Episcopal clergy who join her ranks. Not too long ago I did have a conversation with a priest who had, with his parish, left the Episcopal Church over the issue of the ordination of women, and this group entered the PNCC with the use of the Anglican Missal, he was (re)ordained. This parish latter left because the same liturgical craziness of novus ordo Rome was being introduced into the parishes of the PNCC.

      Personally, I find it odd that churches that were founded in direct opposition to the non-Catholic practice of ordaining women would now be willing, perhaps even through the back-door, of establishing an inter-communion with bodies that do. It makes no theological sense. I would also say, that the Anglican Church of North America, whilst finding the ordination of practicing homosexuals aberrant, based upon biblical principals, seems to not have noticed that the ordination of women, based upon biblical principals, is also not a viable position to hold. Their use of the very defective 1979 BCP, also the basis of the Roman Catholic Divine Book of Worship (which includes the 1979 “Prayer of Humble Access” with all mention of sin removed), is also very problematic as well. They simply seem to want to be, not the ancient Catholic Church, but the TEC circa 1982. I think that the ACC is indeed very wise to keep its distance.

      • These seem to be good reflections, as I can only see union of churches being possible in terms of making abstraction of ecclesial criteria or on the basis of “a-dogmatic” liberalism and relativism. On reading some blogs, I am quite alarmed at the extent to which some senior continuing Anglican clergy can be going down the road of pragmatism and the preservation of the institution over its spiritual meaning.

        I am not sectarian (or at least that is not my intention). I don’t want to be anti-unity or so narrow and “integralist” that unity even in reasonable terms would be impossible without people being made to walk on knife edges. I believe in broadness and tolerance, but beyond certain limits, we have only to close down our churches, abandon our priestly lives and hand all of what we have to the Episcopal Church or the Church of England. Binary thinking! Yes, there is a continuum and a spectrum, and not everything can be judged by the ultimate potential consequences – but the dangers are there. How far do we go?

        All I can say is that I’m glad to be English and belonging to a Diocese of the ACC which is solidly committed to Anglo-Catholicism and the vision we have of propagating the Gospel in our land and European Continent. I have sympathy for good American Christians committed to finding the right way ahead, but I feel increasingly detached from it all when it is all about the extremes of infighting or unity schemes whilst flying in the face of problems that have to be solved upstream.

  11. Charles says:

    There might be a lot of smoke but I guarantee you, Fr. Chadwick, there is hardly any fire.

    • Charles says:

      By that, I mean authentic criticism of ACC from its own clergy. That’s not happening, and it’s hardly coming from any quarter in the continuum. Most continuers are reacting to the Ordinariate and ACNA/GAFCON by rallying around ACC’s non-invovlement policy. I believe it’s the wrong time for that, but the ACC’s foreign policy is now enjoying unprecedented influence.

      • the ACC’s foreign policy is now enjoying unprecedented influence

        I am puzzled. What do you mean by this?

        If we give an inch, won’t others take a mile? It seems a fair question.

      • ed pacht says:

        If we give an inch, won’t others take a mile? It seems a fair question.

        Our Lord’s answer to just that question gives one pause —- If they compel thee to walk one mile, go two. I’m not always sure how to apply His radical statements, but I do know one thing: that I am required to take them seriously and change my attitude as best I can to approach His.

      • Peter Jericho says:

        Frankly, I don’t really get this. Seems to me that ACNA and Continuing Anglicanism each have a legitimate niche. Why do some people think they need to merge?

    • ed pacht says:

      Let’s look from another angle. In all my long life, I’ve never been able to comprehend how those who claim to be Christians can be at war with one another and so fulsome in condemning one another, and yet claim to see each other as brethren. It doesn’t make sense. I can’t make heads or tails of a notion that there are separate niches to be reached by bodies that refuse to be in communion with one another. Is there more than one Body of Christ? St. Paul certainly didn’t think so. If we have different talents and abilities, we need each other. If we are really one in Christ, we need to act like it — I don’t mean necessarily by forming one large centralized organization, but I do mean by loving one another, working together, and, for heaven’s sake, making maximum effort to solve the differences that divide us, rather than continuing to be divided. A house divided against itself cannot stand — and shouldn’t.

  12. Charles says:

    Don’t you think that’s overkill?

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