Another Gripe at Continuing Anglicanism

Update: The posting in question has been taken down. The new posting χαριτόω offers some explanation.

* * *

I fail to see why this had to be posted to-day on a blog that often publishes constructive articles of good quality:


I have no desire to sling mud and this blog will never mention individuals by name. But the reasons that CA is pretty much a no-go are known to everyone and can’t be put more succinctly than this:

Too many bishops!

Is it another one of those blackmailing jabs to get more ditherers to swallow the apologetics and snap into the Ordinariate?

If the person running this blog took the trouble to look at the reality as it presents itself today, most of the “mainstream” continuing churches have got their act together. Yes, we did have the “bishops’ brawl” in the 1990’s and old Hamlett in England. Those problems have been sorted out through a greater degree of professionalism and accountability in the Episcopate. Can no credit be given for learning lessons and making institutional reforms where they were needed?

I lived through the events of the TAC from the bishops’ meeting to Anglicanorum Coetibus, to the dismantling of the TAC for spare parts in 2011-2012. The only one in Rome who spoke with any clarity was Cardinal Kasper, hardly a friend of the Pope at the time! I recommend revising some of the history from my old TAC Archive. A lot of backstabbing went on. Rome could have been more clear early on that the deal didn’t include Archbishop Hepworth – but they used him because he was the only one who could whip up enthusiasm and get the whole thing organised. The TAC bishops who remained hardly distinguished themselves by leaving their “radioactive” Primate in place for so long. There is no black and white here, no “good guys” and “bad guys”. Rant over. I’m not interested, but we still get the same old stuff in various hues and shades.

I make no judgement on the Continuum as a whole, but I trust my Bishop and my Archbishop, my fellow clergy in England, and feel truly at home in an ecclesia where the whole Catholic Church subsides through the Priesthood, the Eucharist and the Gospel. I have every confidence that the Anglican Catholic Church is not “angry” as a general characteristic. I see no sign of corruption, and I observe the professionalism of our bishops. Also, we have just the number of bishops needed to look after our priests and parishes in different parts of the world. We are certainly not “no go” – but “just what it says on the label”.

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24 Responses to Another Gripe at Continuing Anglicanism

  1. Dale says:

    I have heard such rambling condemnations of the Continuing Movement from both Byzantine Orthodox as well as Romans, and it is indeed tiresome. The Continuing Movement continues to unite and is more and more solid. The last time I had a conversation about this issue was with an Orthodox priest who used the same tired arguments about how divided the Continuing Movement was and hence this was a reason to join his denomination; when I rejoined that if anything Byzantium is even more divided, his only response was to declare: “But we are the True Church!”; I tend to find the same level of discourse with Romans, and they are seriously divided between liberal, modernist, conservatives and traditionalists, and unfortunately their fights can be very nasty.

    • ed pacht says:

      When I’m presented with a criticism of this nature, I’d tend to bristle immediately, but I find it much more instructive to catch my breath and ask myself just how much truth is in the charge, and then to ask just what is it that I should do as a result.

      I’m committed to Continuing Anglicanism, love this movement, and find it to be (in my humble and flawed opinion) to be the best extant expression of Catholic Christianity. Having said that, I still have to admit that we are indeed guilty on all these charges, at least to some degree, and that they should be seen as a call to move yet more purposefully in the direction of remedying these very things.

      Are we angry? There is certainly a tendency to be so. An outside observer is more likely to see us as defining ourselves by what we are against than by what we believe. This is understandable in the light of our origins from a church that has betrayed us, but shouldn’t leaving that straying fellowship have freed us from that fight and given us opportunity to proclaim the beauty of truth? We don’t have a corner on anger — it can certainly be found elsewhere — but we can’t fix them. With God’s help we can fix ourselves.

      Are we corrupt? Well, history speaks for itself. There has been and still is a great deal happening among us that should not be. I believe we are working hard to fix that, but it is still with us. True, it doesn’t make us worse than others — I don’t believe we are. There’s enough blame to go around. But are we anywhere near the standard God expects of us. Far from it. God help us to know that and to seek His grace and correction.

      Are we fractious? We sure have been. There’s not a fact on this earth more obvious than that. I think we are at last making solid movement toward healing these divisions, but they still exist, and we have many clergy and laity who are committed to maintaining them.

      I don’t believe we are worse in these areas than other groups, but it was the Pharisee praying at the front of the temple that the Lord condemned for comparing himself to others, and it was the Publican admitting his sin that was justified. My job is to be the best Christian I can possibly be, honestly repentant for my shortcomings. My Church has exactly the same calling.

      • Thank you, Ed, for this. Lent is exactly made inter alia for our examination of conscience, so that we may be more profoundly purged from our sins and led into the life of grace. But God does not wish the death of a sinner, or that of an ecclesial body. What I will not accept is our being trashed out of hand without appeal. That was my point.

        I see many efforts being made, not only by the ACC but also the union movement between the ACA and the APA. These movements of their nature require a greater degree of professionalism and ethical sense among our bishops and all clergy. We always have efforts to make to improve these matters.

        With experience, one becomes more bitter or more forgiving. In all honesty, I can say it is the latter in me. We have to learn to forgive and seek forgiveness. That is merely the Gospel message. The charge of corruption is a serious one, and I notice that the article linked to an article written by a particularly embittered man who became a Roman Catholic, I suspect for the wrong reasons (but I am no one to judge). Corruption signifies a bad intention, and I see none of that in the bishops of my Church. They may be fallible human beings, but I am convinced of their fundamental rectitude of intention.

        As for fractiousness, we see all these movements and meetings precisely designed to overcome division and work towards reconciliation and organic unity. What more can they do?

        Indeed, we are called to pray for forgiveness, for our own sins and the sins committed by others in our Churches. That is what Lent is all about, and we have the joy of knowing that Lent leads to the joy of Easter and the Resurrection.

  2. Let me start by saying that nothing I write here is intended to cause any controversy. Talk about Tempus Fugit! I was around and actively involved in the Movement for a Continuing Church of England back around 1992 and onwards. I had shortly before returned to the Church of England after 8 years in Independency. I had become convinced of the truths of catholic faith arising from the study of church history, general reading, speaking to people more learned than myself and of course through prayer.

    Much of the criticism of the Continuing Anglican movement is excessive to my mind although on occasions I have been quite exasperated by a few individuals.

    Back then I recall in fact being impressed with the sincerity of those involved both clergy and laity.There were no ‘Walts’ involved. One priest later to become a bishop, who shall remain nameless,had a track record of getting on with nobody within the C of E and as it transpired went his own way in Continuing Anglicanism and would replicate this once more.

    I don’t remember too much in the way of ‘Bishops Wars’ back then although I expect a few ‘Walts’ who I did not come across were strutting their stuff in Episcopal robes.

    The TAC/Ordinariate matter was indeed not handled well. Of course behind the scenes politicing is endemic to to the human race but surely this could have been better handled by some of those involved especially the CDF.

    Certainly in the UK we have seemed to avoid the major disagreements which arose in the United States. The situation now for Continuing Anglicans seems to me to be to be entirely stable and I applaud the moves towards greater cooperation and inter communion.

    If you will indulge me in the matter may I just get in another sentence or two about inter communion in this present day and age. Surely the time has come for formal inter communion among Catholic Anglican jurisdictions and given the common ground of the Undivided Church should we not be looking at extending this to orthodox Old Catholic jurisdictions both in the UK and overseas?

  3. John Bruce says:

    I’m little late getting to this, but I’ve been looking more closely at The Rt Rev Owen Rhys Williams, who was consecrated a suffragan bishop by the ACA in April 2013. This is a recent case. I can find no evidence that Williams ever received a four-year degree from an undergraduate college, or receive an MDiv from an accredited seminary. These are normally the qualifications you would expect for an ordained minister. The ACA does not provide ANY biographical details on Williams in any official site that would reassure anyone interested here. If someone can provide this info, I will be delighted to correct the record.

    Isn’t this evidence that the Continuum hasn’t cleaned up its act?.

    • I also refer readers to Doesn’t Owen Rhys Williams Prove My Point?. For the record, I am not concerned with the ACA and I no longer belong to the TAC. I have nothing to say about Bishop Williams who is presently the bone between Mr Bruce’s teeth.

      This is one of this grubby little man’s diatribes that I won’t even begin to answer. He is entitled not to believe in the validity of my priesthood, but common courtesy demands that titles and styles be used. Even the Roman Curia observes this principle without pronouncing on the validity of priests ordained outside its own communion.

      I have the impression that, for John Bruce, religion is truly a mental illness. Get a life! He invited himself to my blog to crap on the floor – he can clean it up!

  4. John Bruce says:

    I’m curious: in the US, the First Amendment prevents any licensing requirement for clergy equivalent to what exists for doctors or lawyers. Nevertheless, if someone represents himself as a doctor without an MD degree, a residency, and a license to practice medicine, we would not be discourteous if we refused to address him as “Doctor”. In fact, It might be an act of charity to our fellows if we were to expose that individual as a fraud. While it is not illegal or, strictly speaking, fraudulent to call oneself a “priest” or a “bishop” without an MDiv from an accredited seminary, doesn’t this raise concerns about whether those who trust themselves to such a person’s “pastoral” care are completely safe? Might it not be an act of charity to our fellows to point out that people identifying themselves as “priests” or “bishops” have not had the sort of rigorous background checks we might expect in a “real” denomination? Might it not be an act of charity to make this point clear by addressing them in a way that prevents them from riding on Catholic or Episcopalian prestige?

    • You seem to think I or my readers are interested in your problems or questions of “unqualified” clergy of a church to which you do not belong (if I remember rightly, you became a Roman Catholic). I suggest you get yourself elected Dictator of your country or do a putsch – and then you can put all those people you don’t like in concentration camps or line them up against a wall and shoot them! You need political power (same as always) to enforce your version of “religious freedom”). You have no authority to “police” the world, no qualification as inquisitor, and you just come over as a cantankerous person with a grudge.

      Stay in your Church, your parish. Get involved in the community – scouts, sick visits, and so forth. Help your priest, unless he too has told you to go away. Why bother about things that are not or are no longer your business? With you, it’s hopeless, and you just continue. You will just run into a wall and it hurts!

      Why bother? Do something positive.

    • Dale says:

      Mr Bruce, many, many clergy, both lower and higher, in the Byzantine Orthodox churches, in both the old countries and in the Western Hemisphere, have no degrees whatsoever, often including lacking even a high school diploma; why do you not take your pathetic song-and-dance to one of their websites?

      • Dale says:

        I would also like to add, that many of these men without advanced degrees (or any at all) are often very fine, pastoral clergy who take their sacramental duties very, very seriously.

      • Stephen K says:

        Yes, Dale, that’s so right. Just as not every high-performing high-school student undertaking a college medical degree makes an effective doctor – as in healer, and as some people are healers in their very soul, so too are some pastors.

  5. Jacob Flounoy says:

    I can see this from Mr. Bruce’s point of view as well as that of those who disagree with him. I was ordained late in life, almost to late to be of any real use. I have a secular degree, a lowly Associate of Science, which was required for men in my field in order to be licensed by my state, Virginia. One could argue that my college was nothing more than a trade school yet it serves me well in my profession, funeral directing. My seminary is an online school operated by my church, a Continuing Anglican jurisdiction. I have encountered other clergy who feel my training is far inferior to theirs, especially among Episcopalian and Roman clergy. Yet with their lofty degrees, frequently PhDs, they often know less than I, their arguments amounting to little more than liberal sophistry. When one considers the level of heresies found in both communions (not to mention the moral corruption in both) I feel my training was more than adequate for the task at hand. There are charlatans and frauds in all professions, and for some strange reason many are graduates of the finest seminaries and secular schools on earth. Their walls are hung with a multitude of framed degrees and various certificates attesting to their qualifications, yet in reality many of these “men of God” are nothing more than white washed sepulchres. A man in my profession is very much aware of the mephitic vapors and putrid flesh found in sepulchres, whether white washed or not.

    • ed pacht says:

      At this juncture, I’m afraid the “name brand” seminaries should probably be avoided in most cases, as all too often the theology they teach is guided by modern ‘liberal’ criticism rather than by Scripture and Tradition, and their practicum is, it would seem, far more guided by secular psychology than by historic Christian teaching. At least this is the impression I receive from many seminary graduates, that is from those who are not themselves highly critical of their former schools. I’ll grant that modern scholarship and psychological study do have their value, but my impression is that the opposition I seem to see is apart of the ethos of at least many seminaries. There is the further impression given that they are, because of their degrees, a superior breed to the rest of us, and have little to learn from their flocks. I’m not at all sure this is the kind of priest I want.

      What I look for, whether the man has degrees and credentials or not, is a man of deep piety, fully aware that what he knows is far from adequate (as is his character), fully committed to the historic Faith and to the person of Jesus Christ, filled with love for his people and humility in their presence. Seminaries don’t necessarily kill all that, but they don’t necessarily help either, and it is on all that that a man must be evaluated before being ordained. There is much said in Scripture about the spiritual qualifications for a minister of word and sacrament, and nothing at all about seminary degrees.

  6. Jacob Flournoy says:

    What you say is very true, the “name brand” seminaries are nothing more than breeding grounds for liberal “feel good” theology. A CA archbishop suggested I enroll at Nashotah House, with the caveat that I would need to sift through the garbage they serve in order to find the truth. He was not impressed with the various online seminaries offered by the CA churches, even if they are undoubtedly orthodox. From his point of view it would be better to have a diploma from a recognized school even if they blatantly teach heresy. Needless to say I disregarded his suggestion.

    • Dale says:

      Yes, even Nashotah House has gone rather bizarre and personally I would not recommend it at all, to anyone. I think that the best venue for CA would be to use one of the Orthodox seminaries; and I do not know why the CA have not worked out something with the Orthodox to use their theological training schools (except perhaps their more pastoral institutes, such as St Tykhon’s which is often more of a training school for the perfect celebration of the rites of Byzantium according to the 1666 Russian recession).

      Having said that, it by no means implies that Anglicans should consider swimming the rather polluted waters of either Bosporus or the Dnieper.

      • Jacob Flournoy says:

        Would not the Orthodox view the Anglicans as potential converts? In the aftermath of the dissolution of the ROCOR Western Rite Vicariate I would be disinclined to trust them even if they did not insist on the use of the Russian recension circa 1666. I considered joining a ROCOR WR parish many years ago (with age comes wisdom) but after several visits I realized I would never be at home.

      • Dale says:

        Yeah, most likely they would be “strongly” encouraged to join the ONE TRUE BYZANTINE CHURCH. But if our future clergy are not convinced of CA and our heritage, they most likely would be inclined to jump one of the rivers regardless. For many years the Oriental Orthodox, especially the Armenians, used St Vlad’s in New York and none of them felt any need to submit to holy, moldy Russia, we should have the same attachment to our traditions as well.

        As you may know, for quite some time I prophesied the end of the western rite in ROCOR (well, actually, they never had a western rite, only a liturgical mish-mash monster); and the same will happen, very soon in Antioch; except it will simply be that no further western rite parishes will be received and those that exist now will simply be quietly Byzantinized. Both bishops Antoun as well as the possible future American Metropolitan, Archbishop Joseph, have always been fanatically opposed; and the new Patriarch, John, was instrumental in appointing the fanatically anti-western rite Hallam as dean of the Greek Antiochian parishes in England.

      • The wonderful thing is we don’t have to convert to anything, not even to natural gas! Others will want to trash us, or the Churches we belong to. All that criticism helps us to be resolute in what we really believe in. We all have to sleep in the beds we make. I can’t say I’m awfully worried about the Orthodox or the Roman Catholics. They have enough problems of their own. I have no problem with belonging to the Anglican Catholic Church, to the contrary.

        The big lesson is that of the Romantics. Never mind what other people say. Let’s just be ourselves and we will be happy and creative.

  7. Jacob Flournoy says:

    “The wonderful thing is we don’t have to convert to anything, not even to natural gas!”. How true it is, I have often thought the multitude of protestations emitted by the Romans and the Orthodox are nothing more than the results of a bilious stomach brought about by consuming unpalatable doctrine.

    • How better we would be if the Gospel were a philosophy of life and not an ideology for people who are too fearful to be themselves!

      • Jacob Flournoy says:

        I have often been envious of the peace and tranquility of the Buddhists, they live their philosophy of life rather than use it to brow beat those that disagree with them. Christianity has devolved into waring sects comparable to the various factions of Hasidic Jews.

      • Dale says:

        Now, now…gentlemen! Soon someone might start insinuating that we are all “unhistorical”; or worse, need to stand at the end of the line whilst adopting some foreign exotic rituals!

  8. Jacob Flournoy says:

    I have my turban, ready and waiting, not to mention the rings on my fingers and bells on my thurible!
    By the way, see my comment in the Orthodox Blow-Out Department.

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