Progress with Σοφíα

As mentioned two postings below, Σοφíα my first boat is getting a re-rig following her humiliation last August. Here she was in 2013.

When I bought the Zef hull for Sarum, I transferred the rig to her and sorted out something temporary for Σοφíα. In accordance as its new vocation as an inland waterway boat, I have now decided to go for an Optimist rig without shrouds or forestay for the sake of easy rigging and unrigging. Here is the hull with the black foredeck taken off. I have bolted on a plank of pine with a hole of the right size. The mast will engage in a step plate, see below. The boat has a rowing thwart.

I moved the mast step position a couple of inches forward of the original mast position, because I found the weather helm to be hard, and the boat was easily caught in irons. This modification should make tacking much easier with a catboat rig (a single sail – no jib).

This is the new rudder blade with the second coat of varnish.

The spars are hanging on fine string whilst they get the successive coats of yacht varnish. In the foreground, the jaws of the boom. Behind it are the mast and the sprit.

This funny thing is the mast step to go down into the bottom of the boat. The weight of the mast will hold it down, and four galvanised bolt heads will engage into four recesses in the bottom of the hull. It is designed not to move. It is also getting its “magic” varnish!

I should be getting my Oppie sail in a couple of days, so then I can finalise the length of the spars, round off the cut ends and varnish. Maybe I’ll be able to think about tests on the water in about a week’s time…

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News from America

Update: A fair amount of talk is happening on Facebook. There is the neologism angrican, taken from Anglican and angry, but on the whole, the cantankerous elements are in a tiny minority. They are generally those who object to the Anglo-Catholic position of the four Churches now in full communion. There were no objections to the concordat of unity, and no voiced dissent. The vote was unanimous, which is something very important for us and the future of Continuing Anglicanism.

Obviously, it is only a first stage to work towards organic reorganisation and an opening to other Continuing Anglican jurisdictions, perhaps the Anglican Province of Christ the King and other smaller ones. I gather that this Synod was of great interest to larger Anglican groups including those who are less opposed to modern liturgics and women’s ordinations. We can’t chew off too much at a time, but if the movement goers slowly but surely, positive results will come out of this.

How do we go forward with people who are set in their ways? Two notions come to my mind that need a lot of work: synodal government of the united Church and a way to keep the bishops in agreement without any feeling snubbed or trodden on by more assertive men. Secondly, it would be better if the diocese would no longer be territorial but rather modelled on the personal ordinariate idea in which the local parish is personally affiliated (as a moral person) with its Bishop. I am sure that such an idea would alleviate any notion of competition between bishops. The territorial diocese has been the norm in the history of the Church, but is not always applicable or appropriate in given conditions like our own (vast territories and small numbers).

It is very encouraging that most of our bishops have a serious level of theological education and knowledge, and are accomplished men with clear leadership aptitudes. Archbishop Haverland has a doctorate in theology. Qualifications are not everything but what is important is culture and knowledge that fills the hole of ignorance. This seems to be the difference from the 1990’s. We are dogged by the lack of money to train priests and finance resources. Perhaps, organic union of the Churches in line with the full communion now achieved will help to raise funds, employ priests and other intellectuals to take charge of education and training, and thus to develop something solid and abiding.

There will always be naysayers who denigrate Continuing Anglicanism and prefer to compromise on questions of the sacramental integrity of the Church and the deposit of faith. The institution of the Church is only a means to an end, an “icon” of the Kingdom of God which is essentially immanent and spiritual. The objective of the Church is the salvation of souls – and this is the highest canon law. Salus animarum suprema lex. We cannot afford to be self-satisfied, smug or denigrate others. My examination of nobility of spirit comes into mind here.

We also have to be realistic. We live in a world where Catholic Christianity has all but evaporated to be replaced by Evangelical Protestantism, Islam or plain old-fashioned cynical atheism. We can’t behave as if we were state functionaries and members of the aristocracy! I once lived in a dream at Gricigliano with the swishing around in an eighteenth-century building, but the reality is the world we live in. People just don’t care, and our treasure is their trash. That brings us to a whole new way of living our faith and religion – something like the English Recusants in the sixteenth  century or the underground Church in Soviet Russia under Stalin. The difference today is that people used to be hostile, and actually took a position. Now, they don’t care. We have to be self-sufficient and evaluate the truth of Christianity independently of our need to be validated by society. Are we up to this challenge, and can the Church adapt?

* * *

There has been a description of events at the combined Synods in Atlanta GA of the four main Continuing Anglican Churches. I am grateful for this news:

Some are confused by the term cleresy, a neologism combining the words clericalism and heresy presumably. I have mentioned several times that I am grateful for the present generation of bishops and their professionalism, sense of vocation and focus on the essential. It was right to bring up this theme to have a positive view on the future, distinguishing the “new” Continuing Anglicanism from the bitterness of the 1970’s to 90’s.

The agreement between the four Churches has been made public:

* * *

Agreement Establishing Full Communion (Communio in sacris)

Among
The Anglican Catholic Church
The Anglican Church in America
The Anglican Province of America
The Diocese of the Holy Cross

We the undersigned, belonging to and holding the faith of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, as received by the Church of England in the days of her orthodoxy, and as Continued by Anglicans in North America in response to the call of the Congress of Saint Louis in 1977, agree to the following:

Ø We acknowledge each other to be orthodox and catholic Anglicans in virtue of our common adherence to the authorities accepted by and summarized in The Affirmation of Saint Louis in the faith of the Holy Tradition of the Undivided Catholic Church and of the seven Ecumenical Councils.

Ø We recognize in each other in all essentials the same faith; the same sacraments; the same moral teaching; and the same worship; likewise we recognize in each other the same Holy Orders of bishops, priests, and deacons in the same Apostolic Succession, insofar as we all share the episcopate conveyed to the Continuing Churches in Denver in January 1978 in response to the call of the Congress of Saint Louis; therefore,

Ø We welcome members of all of our Churches to Holy Communion and parochial life in any and all of the congregations of our Churches; and,

Ø We pledge to pursue full, institutional, and organic union with each other, in a manner that respects tender consciences, builds consensus and harmony, and fulfils increasingly our Lord’s will that his Church be united; and,

Ø We pledge also to seek unity with other Christians, including those who understand themselves to be Anglican, insofar as such unity is consistent with the essentials of catholic faith, order, and moral teaching.

The Rt. Rev. Brian R. Marsh
The Most Rev. Mark Haverland
The Rt. Rev. Walter Grundorf
The Rt. Rev. Paul Hewett

* * *

This document is historic and shows the repair made to decades of bitterness and prejudice. It is essential for our bishops to have a professional attitude and rules to go by, which our book of canon law provides. They are well educated and well read, and the narcissistic self-importance is gone. We can be grateful for true pastors in the Episcopate. This document represents a will to face the future with confidence and a sense of purpose.

It’s obviously not the finality, but a beginning. Perhaps we might become so mainstream that this will bring other problems. We are all sinners before God. It is now the task of each one of us to work for this purpose and not leave everything to our bishops.

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Gunkholing

Gunkholing – “is a boating term referring to a type of cruising in shallow or shoal water, meandering from place to place, spending the nights in coves. The term refers to the gunk, or mud, typical of the creeks, coves, marshes, sloughs, and rivers that are referred to as gunkholes. While not necessary, gunkholers typically seek out the serenity of isolated anchorages over the crowds of marinas and popular bays, and a minimal draft is preferred, since gunkholers tend to go as far up and into the gunkholes as possible, seeking ever more inaccessible destinations”.

The Wikipedia article refers to yachts going up rivers and creeks, but dinghies can go even further. There is someone I esteem tremendously, Dylan Winter, an English journalist by trade and a keen amateur sailor in sea boats and improvised “duck punts“. Punts have flat bottoms and can go in only inches of water. The duck punt is so-called because it is an ideal boat for ornithologists to go bird-watching. Like me, he is opposed to hunting. He runs a blog called Keep Turning Left with lots of videos about sailing in yachts and small dinghies. Two recent videos have given me a lot of inspiration:

In the first video here, he is rowing in windless conditions in extremely shallow water, and in the second, he is using an Optimist sprit sail rig. He steers with an oar and with his weight in the boat. This is the finest sailing I have ever seen.

In August this year, I discovered the utmost limit of my Tabur 320, my first boat going by the name of Σοφíα. A Spanish internet acquaintance, Juan de la Fuente, also has this singularly ugly plastic ten-foot dinghy, and re-rigged it for sailing on inland lakes in Spain. I set out last August to participate in a regatta with my sailing club. The wind was blowing at about 23 knots and the waves breaking onto the shingle were quite forbidding. I was swamped on launching, and I was unable to bail fully before finding that the watertight buoyancy tanks were not watertight. After several successive capsizes, I noticed that the boat was slowly sinking. I held the boat on its side with the mast just under water, until I was washed up onto the beach. It was a discouraging experience…

I have two boats, the twelve-foot Zef, Sarum, with a Mirror rig which is my sea boat, and I brought the Tabur home a few days ago from the club – for repairs. The rudder was broken on the rough beaching, even though the rig survived. After having seen the Dylan Winter videos, I decided that this would be the future of the Tabur – on rivers and inland creeks. The Oppie sail is very well suited for this kind of sensitive fine sailing in very light winds, and I wanted to be able to take the rig and mast down easily for going under low bridges. This was possible in a recent gunkhole sail in my Zef, but with more difficulty. This was on the river Dives inland from Trouville-Deauville, and the bridge you see in the photo is so low that I had to duck my head! Needless to say, the rig was right down, and the mast was resting on my right thigh, being held off the helm! The ability to do this makes non-navigable waters navigable. All of a sudden, there are no other boats, and I can appreciate the silence except for the sounds of the wind and the birds chirping. But to each boat her job. Sophia is not suited for sea sailing, and Sarum is better on the sea and open water than going up or down rivers and canals.

The other advantage of the Tabur is that it is very light. She can be hauled out of the water and dragged on the grass or wheeled on a hard surface to get round locks and weirs (on a special trolley I made some years ago). I think this is going to open a lot of new perspectives for inland sailing – a gift for sailing in the winter and when conditions are too rough at sea.

I will publish photos of the new rig when it is further advanced. I am waiting for my Oppie sail to arrive in the post, and have only put the first of six coats of yacht varnish on the spars, the mast step and the new rudder. I made the mast, boom and sprit from pine wood, planing to round by hand and sanding, and the inspiration is Dylan Winter’s home made rig that he can fit on just about any boat he wants.

After the Dives, I would like to sail and row on other rivers in Normandy, and perhaps the stretch on the Somme from Abbeville to Amiens, which is possible by going round the locks by hauling the boat out of the water and going without an engine. It was frustrating that my sail up the Somme canal in Sarum two years ago stopped at Abbeville because of the lock and the parsimonious opening hours. I look forward to discovering more rivers in France, and perhaps one day the mighty Loire and the Cher. The Seine is spectacular, but there are too many ships and barges – dangerous if you are not very careful. It is also, for this reason, highly regulated and policed. I would prefer the quiet little waterways.

I have just sent Dylan a little contribution for his films, and I encourage others to do likewise. They cost him money and time, so it is worth encouraging him to continue this work of bringing the Romantic soul to love nature and be in communion with this icon of God. I appreciate his gritty southern English humour and down-to-earth manner. As he would say: Bloodygoodonim!

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As promised…

I read the Riemen’s book Nobility of Spirit, which, frankly is going to need another reading. I had expected the kind of thing Berdyaev would have written but from a more western and modern perspective, something to which we can easily relate. I was forced to accept the fact that the style of this book was different, one of anecdotes and imagined narratives. Examples given were the trial of Socrates and the torture by the Nazis of a Jewish philosopher in Rome by the use of a Catholic priest won over to the ideology. We are directly taken to the Grand Inquisitor and the interrogation of Christ by a cardinal whose main conviction was that Christ was wrong to restore freedom to man.

This theme has come up throughout history. What is freedom? Is it limitless and unconditional like in the insane yearnings of Nietzsche? Is it a liberty of indifference, arbitrary, or a freedom of perfection as expressed in the writings of St Thomas Aquinas? What about the idea of the limit of our freedom beginning where someone else’s begins – the very basis of the social contract?

Riemen’s examples of the philosopher – the lover of wisdom – all come from individual persons, never from the collectivity. The collective represents only the tyranny and ideology of the Grand Inquisitor or the Führer – who also were individuals but conditioned by the collective. We are taken from section to section, from Nietzsche to Socrates thousands of years before him, then to Spinoza in the seventeenth century to the German Romantics.

The narrative of 9/11 is quite interesting, because Riemen’s brings out the truth of fundamentalist Islam, being no different in essence from the Spanish Inquisition, the Gestapo or the KGB. Only yesterday, I was recommended to see a video about working conditions in a supermarket chain and its distribution system and an internet provider. The ideology of productivity and efficiency have crushed human dignity for obscene profits. We are brought to think of the satire in Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times and The Dictator – and Blake’s Jerusalem. Poetry critics argue whether the dark satanic mills were the factories of the industrial revolution, or the churches that preached bourgeois morals but gave no spiritual consolation. That would be the context of John Wesley’s movement among the ordinary folk of England. It is debatable and we need to know more about Blake’s life and philosophy.

If ever we have a sense of vocation in this world, it is to join this movement of individual persons who live for for this ideal of freedom and transcendence in the image of God and the universal. In my own life, I have discovered that one thing matters in life – philosophy, the aspiration to wisdom, beauty, truth and everything that is good and brings true happiness, freedom from evil and barbarity. The next book I am going to try to find is Riemen’s main inspiration, Mann’s Nobility of Spirit: Sixteen Essays on the Problem of Humanity from 1945. I remember my grandfather whose memories of the war and his imprisonment in the Oflag were painful to him, and the privilege of reading his diary, now in the possession of my sister. They all had a tale to tell – and the barbarity and cruelty continue to this day, albeit in different and sometimes covert forms.

The essay on Leone Ginsberg, the Italian Jewish intellectual murdered by the Nazis,is poignant. The priest with the swastika is particularly painful to read, since he was Ginsberg’s fellow student at university and who had also studied philosophy. The final quotes are chilling.

Why, the, all this nonsense about a soul and divine truth! I know, I’ll burn in hell if it’s true. But the only hell there is, my friend, is here on earth – a hell from which I’ve managed to escape.

Do you understand what it would mean if Socrates is wrong? Do you understand that your entire life, everything you’ve accomplished, would rest on nothing but one huge, ghastly error? That you are letting them torture you, and will soon die, only thirty-five years young, because you believed in something false?

This from the mouth of a priest! Thoughts are taken to the Grand Inquisitor and the dense black fog of Nihilism. I once watched the end of Der Untergang, a film from which many young enthusiasts like to make what they will of Hitler raging in the Berlin bunker at his army’s inability to resist the Soviets. My attention was not taken by Hitler raging but the final Götterdämmerung of the Führer himself and his faithful committing suicide, Goebbels killing his own children before doing himself in, the scorched earth policy of the Nazi dystopia or nothing. That is the chilling indictment of human evil and the forces of the Archons of this world.

Unlike the ends of 1984 and Brave New World, Riemen’s book ends with the victory of love and the entry into heaven. We have to “be brave” faced with terror, hatred and ignorance. We are left with hope. For us priests wallowing in the morass of political ideas on Facebook and elsewhere on the Internet, there are things we need to guide our minds – a study of history and true philosophy in accordance with the etymological meaning of this word. It is in this freedom and light that we will find our transcendence and that of God, that union of love which constitutes the redeemed and divinised person.

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Lots of Little Pointed Hats

Fr Jonathan Munn has now provoked me into a reflection about the Episcopate by writing Vaccinations for Purple Fever. In his turn, he found inspiration in my article about the less edifying aspects of our Church’s history. The Episcopate has been discussed throughout the history of the Church, and St Ignatius of Antioch is the first Church Father to have explicitly expressed the existence of the three-fold ministry of bishops, priests and deacons. In those days, churches were few and far between, and the “parish priest” was the Bishop. The Bishop was assisted by priests, deacons and those in the subdiaconate and minor orders. As the Gospel was preached and more communities came into being, the Bishop would send some of his clergy out to serve them. There, we have the origin of the diocese, cloned from the notion in Roman law of the local region like the county in England or the département in France. With the 1801 Concordat between Napoleon and Pius VII the diocese would henceforth correspond with the secular département. Thus in the Seine Maritime, there is the Archdiocese of Rouen and the suffragan Diocese of Le Havre. In the first century, these principles and the Episcopate itself were only implicit in the faith and order of the Church.

From a certain time, the Episcopate was assimilated to the aristocracy (dealt with in my previous article in a different way) and the Bishop became someone important like the local Lord or even a prince. Thus, anyone could become an aristocrat: you didn’t have to be born into the right family. However, in practice, most bishops were selected from among the aristocracy. Most monks were the youngest sons of noble families, and endowed with enough money to interest the Abbot. How this transformation occurred would have to be studied by historians from the available evidence in records and written narratives.  The Bishop is someone imposing and important, and people of some traits of personality seek this aura of power and respect due to them by their “inferiors” or subjects.

For some time, I have studied personality disorders in psychological terms. Modern studies and psychiatric manuals attribute nine traits to someone who is diagnosed with a narcissistic personality disorder:

  1. Has a grandiose sense of self-importance.
  2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power and brilliance.
  3. Believes that he “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions).
  4. Requires excessive admiration [regularly fishes for compliments, and is highly susceptible to flattery].
  5. Has a sense of entitlement.
  6. Is interpersonally exploitative.
  7. Lacks empathy: is unwilling [or, I would add, unable] to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.
  8. Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.
  9. Shows arrogant, haughty [rude and abusive] behaviours or attitudes.

This description would perfectly match a number of ecclesiastics I have known, whether they were in a “mainstream” Church or a smaller entity. As Peter Anson and Henry Brandreth described in their well-known books, many bishops sought the Episcopate in marginal circumstances because they did not have this opportunity in Roman Catholicism or the Anglican Communion. There were some exceptions in the historical examples. Anson gave the example of the theologian Friedrich Heiler who was consecrated by the French adventurer René Vilatte (1854-1929). I also believe that Arnold Harris Mathew (1852-1919), though highly eccentric and fickle, did not fit the criteria of such a personality disorder. Much of the world of episcopi vagantes is quite grotesque, though there are some who genuinely minister to small communities and / or are involved in humanitarian work. It is a very mixed bag, and has evolved beyond Anson and Brandreth. Any of them can set up a website or a blog, and give an impressive appearance.

Since I joined the TAC in 2005 and the ACC in 2013, I have largely lost touch with this ecclesiastical underworld. There is everything between clones of the “liberal” mainstream to very extreme traditionalists, sedevacantists, embodiments of Anglicanism inculturated into Latin America, esoterism and neo-gnosticism, everything. Similarly, we see Churches where the Bishop is everything, and other Churches where the Bishops run everything as a college and have a healthier view of their service of ecclesial communion. I occasionally hear on the Internet or via private e-mail of someone being consecrated, or some old fraud selling up in France to get rich pickings in the USA.

Continuing Anglicanism has had its problems, but the notion of the Episcopate is healthier, especially over the past ten to fifteen years. They are not pompous aristocrats and they give more importance to their parishes and the priests running them. Nowadays, someone seeking to join the ACC in order to become a bishop doesn’t get anywhere. We also have a rule that no priest can become a bishop unless he has been a priest in our Church for a number of years. Thus, after the Hamlett débâcle in England and the Vicar General returning to the Churchof England, the Diocese was placed under the protection of Bishop Cahoon and run for several years by the new Vicar General Fr Damien Mead. Such a way of doing things protects us from the ambitious and unscrupulous, that we might find stability in slow growth and trust those who have authority over us priests, deacons and lay folk.

I occasionally get correspondence from marginal clerics in Europe looking for a label of legitimacy. They ask me for a certificate attesting that they are ACC. I always reply that I have no authority to do such a thing, but that they would be welcome to contact my Bishop and that their candidacy would be more convincing were they to visit England, have contact with one of our parishes and decide whether they think they would feel happy. I explain to them that we have a selection procedure and interviews – I was not exempt from them myself.

Like Fr Jonathan, I am totally unambitious. The lower I can be as a priest brings me closer to the spirit of Christ and the Gospel. I am not a good pastor since I suffer from too much social awkwardness to be a leader. I don’t have natural authority, so that is the reality. Don’t ask me to accept the Episcopate because I would be a walking disaster! My Bishop is a father in God and a friend. By friend, I don’t mean a “buddy” or an equal, but a friend as described in the famous treatise of St Aelred of Rievaulx. This is something precious in my life. Under a haughty and arrogant bishop, I don’t know how I would do. The most heroic thing would be to obey him because he is the Bishop, but I fear that my my attachment to the Church would die. This being said, the condition of being a legitimate priest is being under the jurisdiction of a Bishop – otherwise one may not celebrate the Eucharist or continue to minister in any way. Without the Bishop, the priesthood continues to subsist in the priest’s soul, but it becomes moot and dormant. In some circumstances, a vagus priest might be justified in coming to the aid of an abandoned community of faithful, but it is a subject of conscience and discernment case by case. A precedent for this in canon law is the possibility of a laicised priest to administer the Sacraments to a dying person if no regular priest is available. This is called the principle of epikeia (ἐπιείκεια) in canon law: a law can be broken for the sake of a higher good.

The Episcopate is essential to the Catholic Church, but it isn’t the preoccupation. The ACC has learned a lot from the Hamlett débâcle and the so-called Bishops’ Brawl when it was alleged that one American bishop drew his gun (I’m not sure that this was true). A bishop with a firearm seems a little surreal!

There have been many confessor and martyr bishops in the history of the Church. Their lives can be read for our edification, and this can be a great antidote for the indigestion we can sometimes feel brought on by the jerks and jokers of this world. One of my favourites is Saint Francis de Sales. We have had many fine servants of God in the Anglican Church over the centuries, from the great theologians of the seventeenth century to the time of the Oxford Movement and Anglo-Catholicism. Bishop Robert Mercer went to the Ordinariate, but I knew him as a saintly and gentle bishop, distinguished by his humility and piety.

A Church can actually manage very well with very few bishops. In the Anglican continuum, bishops run parishes and minister directly to their faithful. In most parishes, the real shire horses are the priests and parishioners who help with the administration and practical aspects to be looked after.

But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister (Matthew xx.26).

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Seeking the Best

It is some time since I wrote Aristocracy of the Spirit, particularly in the light of some of the Russian stuff (translated into English or French) I have been reading over the years. I must admit that I am not too keen on this word used to describe a highly desirable disposition in the human spirit. It is an analogy based on the Greek ἄριστος meaning excellent or best, the notion in Plato of the Philosopher King or the rule of wisdom he advocated. When we speak of nobility or aristocracy, we think of people born into certain families with or without their ancestral property or wealth. These, along with the clergy, were the guillotine-fodder of the French revolutionaries. We now live under the shadow of a new kind of elitism, that of the extremely rich and sometimes with nefarious agendas as is often the subject of conspiracy theories. The political class are often associated with the banking elite as is the case in France since the election of Monsieur Macron to the Presidency. The kind of aristocracy that interests me is the sort that can be accessible to anyone, even from the modest social classes – it is something internal, not given by your family or the privileges coming from wealth earned through hard work or ill-gotten.

There is another term, little different from Berdyaev’s (however that is said in Russian), which is nobility of the spirit. I have just begun reading Rob Riemen’s Nobility of Spirit: A Forgotten Ideal, a book written in German and translated into English. I am impressed so far by the reference to Thomas Mann (who lived through the Nazi terror) and Spinoza who experienced the tyranny of institutional religion in his time. Pope John Paul II wrote a lot about human dignity and freedom, since he himself had lived under both Nazism and Communism in his native Poland. This Pope was heavily criticised by traditionalists for his universalism, personalism and humanism, but few had really made the effort to read and understand his philosophical works. I am not yet far enough into Riemen’s book to be able to offer criticism or thought it will doubtlessly provoke in me. Going through the various critics’ reviews, it seems to address my line of enquiry.

I am sick and tired of what passes for politics and the erosion of the social contract by the lack of interest of our elites in the common good. Even those who call themselves socialists operate according to a “post-modern” or nihilistic agenda. I read about so-called “antifas” in America, and then about Klu Klux Klan rednecks and others spouting similar ideologies that are roughly equivalent to Nazism. So much hatred, ignorance and prejudice that can only lead to war and death on a massive scale. Conservatism and radicalism are tired ideologies, both sides of the Atlantic. Bring back the Russian Empire or the French Monarchy, or the British Empire for that matter? Many entertain such nostalgia, but the seeds of the hatred against those regimes were there before they were brought down. Thomas Mann is quoted:

The sole corrective for human history. Without nobility of spirit, culture vanishes.

It seems to be a precious pearl that is forgotten, or has never been thought of since the days of Plato! Like in the 1920’s and 30’s and to the end of World War II, our human dignity and freedom are again in peril, whether it be from the misuse of high technology by some kind of “Big Brother” regime à la Orwell or the Islamic caliphate ruled by brutes that have not evolved in any way since the days of the Crusades.

Yesterday, I was snooping around for ideas about the old Gnostic notion of three kinds of people: materialists, establishment conformists and those seeking a spiritual way through institutional religion and not much more – and finally the spirituals, those who either had mystical gifts or a clarity of knowledge that made them critical of both. Much of what the old Gnostics believed in was quite bizarre, and condemned by the Church – to the extent of persecuting and killing people belonging to Gnostic communities. The establishment must have had much to fear! But, this notion of people who have no interest in or knowledge of the finer things of life is something we all observe in our own lives. Some people are only interested in money and the status symbols that money can buy. Others become “possessed” by their electronic gadgets – I use a laptop and a smartphone, but they are simply tools to me. My phone is a miniature computer and contains a GPS receiver – and makes my life easier – but I can still think and live as I did before.

I have been very concerned about the notion of “establishment conformity”, the mainstream of society. How institutions like the Church of England and the RC Church can change just about everything and gut the most revered liturgical traditions – and then demand submission and conformity in the name of authority – is beyond me. They played the card of attracting materialists and not merely the old institutional churchgoers of civic religion, and alienate anyone who has really understood the underpinnings of everything. Berdyaev’s notion of the “aristocracy of the spirit” bowled me over, and then I looked further afield into other cultural and philosophical ideas, especially from German Idealism and Romanticism. There is a dialectic between the rationalism of the Enlightenment and the Romantic eras that preceded and succeeded it. We arrived at a new industrial and rationalistic era, but now one that excluded rational thought and honesty of speech.

One thing that bedevilled much of my adult religious life was being attracted by the liturgy and an artistic culture through which God would speak by love, truth and beauty – and then finding that the real motivation of traditionalist groups was to annihilate the “others” or at least deprive them of freedom and dignity. I was deeply shocked to find some French traditionalists supporting agendas of dictators like Pinochet and Franco (sometimes even Hitler!), and only had a profound understanding of such a mentality when reading the Grand Inquisitor of Dostoievsky, which is a part of his immense tone The Karamazov Brothers. This spirit ultimately comes from the same nihilism as atheism, and is the epitome of evil.

I have also come to a stage in my life when I need to discover Nietzsche and try to understand him profoundly. I’ll start with Human, all too human, then Thus spake Zarathustra and then Beyond good and evil – and finally I’ll get of copy of The Antichrist. I’m sure I will discover what he really meant by the Ubermensch and the role of the will, two notions that were completely perverted by the Nazis, partly through Nietzsche’s sister being enamoured of the Nazi movement in its early days. Nietzsche fundamentally embodies man’s decision to go it alone without God, and that the idea of God was dead. He had once been a theology student and son of a Lutheran pastor. In reality, he sought man’s transcendence, but unfortunately by refusing God his. There was something of an intuition in this soul on fire, which drove him to the hell of madness. The transcendentalism of self-reliance reminds me of the Americanism of Walt Whitman and that movement in nineteenth-century New England. I believe that I will find something more inspiring in Thomas Mann’s ideas expressed through Riemen’s book.

Presented in this way, I do believe that nobility of spirit is something that can be a basis of true culture, not something preserved in a museum but truly part of life. The odds against such an aspiration are staggering, but it is the kernel of the Gospel message. Christ embodied this nobility even if he lived in a modest working family and conveyed the highest virtues of humility and prudence.

Spiritual nobility was found in some of the greatest saints of the Church like Vincent de Paul, Francis and our own slum priests of Victorian England. They didn’t only give food and money to the poor, but raised them to beauty through their acceptance in the parish church and its services. The Workhouse abused the poor and condescended to them in their caricature of charity. The slum priests accepted the poor into their hearts. This is but a part of this nobility that can restore and redeem human nature.

I will forge ahead in my interest in true philosophy, but also my notion of vocation as a priest and a human being in such a marred world. I refrain from usurping anything, but I can say that I feel called to think and write in this direction as I have been allowed to understand and know. As I get further through this book, I will doubtlessly express things in new and different ways as I bring together the new input into a reflection in my mind that essentially goes back to my childhood in its crudest forms.

When someone does touch the sacred treasure (or whatever analogy we are going to use), others are not going to like it! We have to be gentle like doves and cunning like foxes and wolves. We have only to read the Beatitudes to know that if we are persecuted and suffer, we are near the Kingdom of God.

You see, Adso, the step between ecstatic vision and sinful frenzy is all too brief.

Thus I leave this posting with this admonition by Fr William of Baskerville to his young apprentice in Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose. The way is precarious, and what goes up can come crashing down and make a lot of noise. We have to be warned. That book (which I am reading yet again) is a fine study of what can go wrong with religious men and the lust for knowledge without possessing the Key. Read, mark, learn and inwardly digest – as my old schoolmaster exhorted his pupils as he quoted from the Prayer Book.

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A Couple of Lovely Postings

My brother in the priesthood Fr Jonathan Munn has written two lovely and reflective articles in his blog. Is this a Continuing Anglican blog or not? posted yesterday, and Continuing Anglican History of today. I still think that one thing that has kept his blog and mine going is our “personal” touch. These blogs are personal blogs that happen to be run by Continuing Anglican priests. Our Archbishop Mark Haverland has started a blog – Anglican Catholic Liturgy and Theology, which I can also see continuing for a long time given his scholarly approach to classical Anglicanism and theology. He is someone for whom I have a lot of respect, not only because he is the Metropolitan of our Church, but also on account of his serious theological standing.

For the historical side of the movement, I was with Bishop Hamlett from September 1995 until the following summer. The experience was quite shocking and I returned to the Roman Catholic Church in the autumn of 1996, and lived through other extremely harrowing experiences. For that time, I was graciously lodged by Mr and Mrs Caverargh-Mainwaring of Whitmore Hall in Stafforshire, and I rented a cottage in the village for a very reasonable rent. I served as deacon (ordained in the RC Church) at the little church at Madeley Heath near Newcastle under Lyme. I was quite unprepared for the reality of Continuing Anglicanism at that time. It was not the Church of England and nor did it have the musical tradition or culture I had once known. Parochialism and petty-mindedness are how I could characterise the spirit of what I found. The first cracks began to appear in 1996, though the Bishops’ Brawl occurred only after I was gone.

Here is something I wrote in about 2005:

I contacted a community in England called the Anglican Catholic Church, which had been established by the authority of a larger American group by the same name. My emotional state brought me to an extreme nostalgia for my Anglican origins combined with a vision for seeking its Catholic dimension. It seemed at the time to be a relief from the life I was living, and at the same time a new orientation for my vocation. Catholicism was (and is) a part of my being, and it was not in me to abandon it for a form of Protestantism. I was going to another Church that fundamentally celebrated the same rite and held the same doctrines (with perhaps the exception of Papal infallibility) – in fact very similar to classical Old Catholicism.

I left the French country presbytery and returned to England to join this high-church dissidence from Anglicanism.

I found lodgings in a little cottage in the north of England with the help of some of the faithful. As I had to earn my living, I resumed my work in moving organs from England to France and Italy, which at the same time impeded my complete integration into the Anglican Catholic Church. Each Sunday, I drove to the church, a former Methodist chapel converted into a “pro-cathedral”, and fitted out with taste and simplicity. It was totally different from the baroque surroundings of my old seminary or even the French parish. The bishop was a former Anglican vicar, getting on in years, who would show his aggressive attitude in his outbursts like “We are not Roman Catholics!” if I dared to suggest improvements in the liturgy, which was essentially the old Roman rite in Anglican-style English. My constant departures to the European continent to install organs, and my continued associations with Catholic priests masked the error I had committed. Each time I returned to England, I was impatient for my next return to Europe. The dull and grey reality of northern English life was brought home to me, as each week, the parish council would meet to discuss gutter problems or the question of replacing the sacristy light bulb.

There were sessions of “theological formation” for candidates for the priesthood at the bishop’s house. These took place on Saturdays. It was a brave attempt to produce a competent amateur clergy on a shoestring. The classes sounded more like waffling sermons than organised lectures in biblical studies and doctrine. I was increasingly restless and aware that I was in the wrong place. There was something profoundly unnatural about parish life, about the endless meetings to discuss very little, about the bishop’s high opinion of himself, having come from a modest background with its narrow provincial mentality. I was increasingly frustrated about the amateurish way the liturgy was celebrated. There was nothing of the polished refinement of my seminary.

The “click” came from two events in the summer of 1996, being invited to function as a deacon in London for the Office and Mass of the Assumption, celebrated by an irregular but Catholic-minded priest in a small Anglican chapel rented for the occasion. The other event was being told I was to be promoted to the Anglican Catholic priesthood. When the bishop told me the date, which was to be the 30th November 1996, on which he wanted to ordain me to the priesthood, it was at this point when my feet became very cold indeed. I persevered in this dead-end situation until the end of August. During a rehearsal for an ordination ceremony, I had tried to correct some of the movements and ceremonies.

I was taken apart in the sacristy by the bishop, who then uttered the outburst “We are not Roman Catholics!” as if to say that he had every right to celebrate the liturgy as he pleased. Within days, I wrote a letter of resignation and considered the future. On Sundays, I went to Roman Catholic indult Masses, but did not receive Communion.

Leslie Hamlett was only one of a number of bishops in the ACC who were restless, cantankerous and never satisfied. I never thought I would return to the ACC, but this time in completely different conditions. In those years 1995-96, I made friends with Fr Patrick McEune who was the Dean of the South and Bishop Damien Mead’s predecessor as Vicar General, and who returned to the Church of England. When I was lodged at the Presbytery of Bouloire after my departure from England and my 6-month stint with the Benedictine monks, he sent me regular e-mails with attached files detailing the deteriorating conditions in the ACC and the Continuum in general. Here are some of them for the historical record.

* * *

“AND NEVER CONTINUETH IN ONE STAY” (B.C.P. – JOB 14:2)”

The Reverend Leslie Hamlett (hereafter referred to as Leslie Hamlett) headed his parish newsletter on 29 January 1989 with the words “Anglican Heritage – Papal Allegiance”, “St Mary and St John’s Church Anglican Use Catholic Church Community”, “Not R.C. and not C of E but a bridge to Union with Rome for those now ready to continue and develop their Anglican identify within Catholic Unity” In an information leaflet of August 1988 Leslie Hamlett records that in 1979, together with American brethren, he took part in talks at the Vatican with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.  The purpose, he said, was to seek a union with Rome in which much of the Anglican heritage could be retained.

In 1980 Pope John Paul II approved a Pastoral Provision to make this possible.  Shortly afterwards the first parishes under the Provision were set up in the U.S.A. Leslie Hamlett and his congregation withdrew from the Church of England in 1983 for “union with Rome” (leaflet dated August 1988).  “We believe” said the Newsletter of February/March 1985, that “the Papacy is essential in the Proclamation of the Full Truth of the Christian Faith” and “We believe that the Papacy is the Divinely Established Centre of Unity”.  In 1986 the Roman Catholic Bishops at their Low Week Conference supported a Petition to the Holy See that Leslie Hamlett and his Congregation be received along the lines they had envisaged and in June 1989 Rome responded positively to the request that the Pastoral Provision be extended to England.

“Through our efforts and negotiations alone” said a St Mary and St John’s Church Council letter of January 1990 “Anglican Use Liturgy is now possible within the Roman Catholic Church in England”.  “Who could ever have thought that almost the whole of the Church of England’s 1662 Book of Common Prayer ………………….within Roman Catholic dioceses could be possible in England” continued the letter.  In his newsletter entitled “The Bridge” for October 1989 headed “Anglican Heritage – Papal Allegiance” and “The Anglican Use Catholic Church”, Leslie Hamlett notes in his Editorial “A victory won!  Yes, there is no other way to describe it ! Your efforts for true Unity over the past five years have made it possible for you to enter into the full communion of the Roman Catholic Church and retain elements of your Anglican Heritage.  Rome has now responded to the petition sent to the Vatican in 1986 by Archbishop Couve de Murville of Birmingham with the support of the Roman Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales” Leslie Hamlett remarked that he was given this news at an interview with the Archbishop in June 1989.  Leslie Hamlett ended with these words to his flock “this historic milestone on the path to true Unity has been made possible by your efforts and prayers.  Well done !  The credit is all yours.  Never forget it.” In spite of proclaiming on 16th July 1989 that “this represents a victory won and that the foundations of Unity are truly laid”; a statement dated 30th July 1989 signed by a Churchwarden, Church Secretary and Assistant Secretary clearly heralded a withdrawal from the Pastoral Provision described above.

By August 1989 withdrawal from the Pastoral Provision was a fact and by 4th February 1990 Leslie Hamlett declared that “a continuing Church is now a pastoral necessity”.

Early in 1990 Leslie Hamlett approached Bishop Mercer C.R. of the Anglican Catholic Church in Canada seeking a licence.  The request was granted, Bishop Mercer agreeing to act as Visitor and to confirm, in a communication at the end of January 1990.

On 29 July 1990 Bishop Robin Connors of the A.C.C. in the U.S.A. preached at Sung Mass at Knutton near Longton. Leslie Hamlett went to a meeting of A.C.C. Bishops and others at Victoria, British Columbia  Canada held from 24th September to 5th October 1990 to seek permission to join the Anglican Catholic Church.  Permission was given for a “Fellowship of Clergy and People” to be set up in the U.K. and within the T.A.C.   Bishop Robin Connors strongly supported Leslie Hamlett’s petition and by 14th December 1990 he had agreed to act as Visitor.   On 27th February 1991 Bishop Connors visited the U.K. and on 3rd March 1991 he blessed the Church building at Madeley Heath and confirmed several candidates.  In the afternoon of 3rd March 1991 there was a meeting of the Executive Committee (of the Fellowship of Clergy and People – see p.1.) at which all recommendations of Bishop Connors were agreed “nem. con.”   Some of the recommendations were to do with intercommunion with other “continuing” Anglicans, notably the A.E.C. (American Episcopal Church  They were agreed to by everyone at the meeting, including Leslie Hamlett.  Later Leslie Hamlett had the agreement to the recommendations set aside.  Whatever the merits or otherwise of this affair, which ended in the Deerfield Beach Event, Leslie Hamlett jettisoned Bishop Robin Connors (who had been so great a supporter) and cast in his lot with the remnant of the A.C.C. in the U.S.A.

On the 14th of March 1992 Archbishop William Lewis presided at a meeting held in the Church at Madeley Heath at 2 pm when Leslie Hamlett was elected A.C.C. bishop of the Missionary Diocese of England & Wales.  From this point and with increasing frequency Leslie Hamlett proclaimed that the A.C.C. was “the one true Church in this land”.  This was a far cry from his remarks of 4th February 1990 that “whatever may happen in the future a division amongst those who “continue” must be avoided at all costs.  The struggle of today, whether one remains in the Church of England or is already a “continuer” is about the future of Christianity itself as a revealed religion.  Satan, who is our real adversary, appreciates the truth of the dictum- “divide and conquer”.   It is essential therefore that charity and tolerance prevail amongst those who are concerned for traditional faith whether they be presently with the Church of England or have already become continuers” Good words, with which many must agree, but at variance with the increasingly rigid and narrow outlook that Leslie Hamlett adopted, leading a former member of the A.C.C. in the U.K. to remark that “it is a spiritual concentration camp”.

In the autumn of 1997 a division occurred in the Anglican Catholic Church, the occasion of which was the reference to the “Perpetual Virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary” in Father Mark Haverland’s book “Anglican Catholic Faith and Practice”  The reference is confined to less than half a dozen lines in a book of 112 pages.  The “Hamlett faction” (described as such in The Trinitarian of December 1997) regarded his remark as sitting lightly to the Seven Ecumenical Councils, whereas Fr Haverland had written that the belief was common amongst Anglicans (it was, for example, taught by Lancelot Andrews and Jeremy Taylor in the 17th century), but because it cannot be proved from Holy Scripture is not regarded as a doctrine essential to salvation.   An historic Anglican attitude with which the A.C.C., being Anglican (including the Hamlett faction) would have been expected to have sympathy.  The rift, however, persisted and Leslie Hamlett was elected leader of a body consisting of four other bishops, a number of clerics and a comparatively small number of lay people.

This final example of obduracy only serves to emphasise in a stark manner the doubts that can be held about Leslie Hamlett’s judgement and his undoubted ability to turn theological somersaults.  As stated above the 1662 Book of Common Prayer was permitted to be used in the Roman Catholic Pastoral Provision upon which Leslie Hamlett and his congregation set so much store in 1990.  In the A.C.C. Missionary Diocese of England & Wales Leslie Hamlett forbad the use of the 1662 B.C.P. and at least one meeting (no doubt others also unknown to this writer) declared the 1662 B.C.P. to be “heretical” thereby at one stroke alienating the attention and sympathies of his audience.

In December 1989 Leslie Hamlett had noted the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, urging the congregation to “honour this significant feast” when Mary was conceived “free from the stain of original sin”.  In “the Bridge” in 1987 at the time of the Assumption Leslie Hamlett remarked that “Our Lady’s Assumption was not defined as an article of faith until 1950”.  The implication is clear, that it is now an article of faith.  Yet in “The Clarion” of December 1997/January 1998, Leslie Hamlett states “let it be known that we do NOT (his emphasis) accept Roman dogmatic definitions, Marian or otherwise”.

On Sunday 22nd January 1989, in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Leslie Hamlett preached at the Parish Sung Mass in the “Church of Our Lady of Stamford” (a 15th century title for this ancient church); towards the end of a stirring, indeed moving, address, Leslie Hamlett proclaimed “You pray for Unity – I am Unity”.  He was of course referring to his belief that his Ecclesial (?) Community was a “bridge” to “Union with Rome” but in the light of events, nine years after that statement was made, one could take it as revealing Leslie Hamlett to be impatient of all authority; that of the Pope, of various  Episcopal Visitors and of Archbishop Lewis.  Of all, that is to say, except his own.  What direction will next be taken and where will he take the members of his faction ?   Perhaps, as a correspondent suggests with only half his tongue in his cheek, “the new A.C.C. will, like the Copts, elect a Pope”.

By The Revd David A G Hampton-Davies MA [Oxon.] 28 years Rector of St Mary’s Stamford  Lincolnshire

* * *

THE DIRGE OF STOKE-ON-TRENT.

Hamlett and the Hamlettites are setting out the Tome –
Proclaiming loud that West is East and Stoke-on-Trent is Rome.
D rest Archbishop Lewis Uncle Leslie cries: “My Word!”
But his claim to the Succession is most palpably absurd.
A Meeting-Town for Synod can by Holy Church be changed;
No! It’s not Archbishop Lewis whom the Faithful call deranged!
Hamlett and his Schism sons think England has been bought –
But GOD’S Truth will surely triumph when the matter comes to Court!
Some disobeyed Christ’s precious words that they be One in Me:
Thus Hamlett rent that Body, calling Stoke the Holy See;
Schismatics, ever puffed with pride, their pompous games will play.
Oh! That all men may be Catholic: Saint Charles of England, pray!
To our dear, late Metropolitan, Stoke proved a traitor base;
But that traitor and that protestant has NOT become ‘Your Grace’!
And as Beaumont, Wright and Rogerson all scramble to succeed
‘T will be then that vain, old Leslie will repent his cunning deed!
To Laughing Stock and Schism hath sweet Leslie brought the Church;
But a nobler Order riseth soon to knock him off the perch.
Pride and disobedience now boast they’ve won the day;
Yet Christ saith: “I’m with thee alway” – Oh! Saint George, for England
pray!
Their new creation fast will wane – the Church hath much to do.
Vanity of vanities – on thee we cast our shoe!
Return ye English clergy and confess thy haughty deed –
or ye’ll wither on the vine, bringing fruit of bitter seed.
Our Holy Faith cannot be squeezed into a diamond box;
And Orthodoxy lieth not in Stoke with one old fox!
Archbishop Stephens is GOD’S Choice – as Christ reigneth from the Tree.
The Hamlettite high heretics ARE NOT THE ACC!

* * *

Letter from Fr Patrick McEune to the Diocese

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ

I write to you in no official capacity and solely on my own account to advise those of you in the ACC of the seriousness of the situation here in the United Kingdom. In returning to what has been dubbed “The Bishops’ brawl” it would seem that this was but the tip of the iceberg. Particularly I want to inform Fr Richard and Rod Fouts and others who have kindly given me what information they had which I was able to pass to others here in the UK and to thank them.

I will leave aside the politics and in-fighting involved and there are plainly many issues of some complexity which may be unsuitable for this forum. Here I will only deal with the reality of what has occurred. Bishop Leslie Hamlett, Ordinary of the Diocese of the United Kingdom has been inhibited with, I believe the Bishop of New Zealand. So far as the ACC is concerned the entire United Kingdom is without proper Episcopal authority as no visitor is appointed and the position is far from clear. I only discovered this as the result of urgent enquiries when I found that all references to the United Kingdom diocese had been wiped off ACCUSA’s webpage. Our hyperlinks which I so carefully set up with ACCUSA’s webmaster earlier this year have been deleted. Whilst I am told that this is only a safety measure in the hope that our bishop will become reconciled with ACCUSA it seems that the entire ACCUK has just been wiped off the map. It seems we are not to be trusted, suddenly, and the fear is that we will use our web page for some unacceptable purpose. What on earth does ACCUSA think we are? The lack of information is monumental It seems that the deans in the UK have not been fully informed and no-one can be sure of where they stand.

I am sorry Fr Richard when I doubted you early suggestion that the brawl was a minor matter – I wish you had been right. To those members who asserted that the brawl was no more than a simple hot-headed assault, easily forgiven, like me knew little if anything of the real surrounding events. For us the results appear cataclysmic.

Some I know, especially those wavering on the brink of a full commitment to the ACC, have been scared off and even my dedication is being sorely tested as I review whether I can stay and ride out this storm and whether it is all worth the effort. As one list member recently, quite wrongly, accused me of looking for an excuse to quit when I answered an honest question from a doubting would-be member may I say that I am rather looking for an excuse to remain. At this time I earnestly ask for your special prayers for the Diocese of the UK and the whole ACC. I ask you to pray for your brothers and sisters her in Britain as we feel rather lost and distanced. Will you also join us in praying for the bishops and for their reconciliation. At a time when our unity and a united front in the world is so desperately needed what is happening is heartbreaking.

* * *

The Metropolitan
THE ANGLICAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
The Most Reverend William Oliver Lewis
225 Fairway Drive
Athens, Georgia 30607
Phone: 706/546-6910 FAX 706/546-5536

A LETTER FROM THE METROPOLITAN

To the Bishops, Clergy, and Laity of the Anglican Catholic Church August 21, 1997

On August 19 with great sorrow I signed presentments and inhibitions of  Bishops Hamlett, Kleppinger, Price, and Seeland. I did so on the advice of nine  other bishops. I might add that their advice to inhibit was supported by the Chancellor of the Church (Canon John Hollister, JD), the Prolocutor and Deputy Prolocutor of the  Senate of the Clergy (Archdeacon Harry B. Scott, III, and the Reverend John McCamey),  the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House of Laity (Dr. Frank Wiswall and Colonel  Hork Dimon), and most other Provincial officers and officials. The four bishops in question, along with Bishop McNeley who is already  inhibited, signed on August 6 a document which asserts that Bishop Kleppinger is “Acting Metropolitan.” Three of these bishops also certified me as “incapacitated.” None of the three who felt able to certify me as incapacitated had seen me in mor e than six months, though they all were in Athens in July for a meeting and easily  could-and as an act of simple kindness should-have done so. All interested should know that I have since August 6 had a two hour psychological and neurological examination by a board-certified psychiatrist, who certified me as competent. I would be happy to provide proof of this upon request. Also , all of the bishops who have acted as if Bishop Kleppinger were “Acting Metropolitan” and as if I were incapacitated know full well that three bishops have certified me  to be otherwise, which is all that is required according to Title IV, Canon 10.03 to reverse a certification of incapacity. Proof of this is also available on request. In the light of these facts the actions of the five bishops are manifestly an uncanonical “power grab” and invasion of my office. The lay and clergy officials whom I have just mentioned  and two-thirds of the College of Bishops (Bishops Bromley, Burns, Cruz-Blanco, Deyman, John-Charles, Mote, Rutherfoord, and Stephens, in addition to me) have  concluded that inhibition is a necessary and proper step, pending the trial of the  bishops in question on the presentments filed against them in Provincial Court. A great deal of propaganda has been put about by the inhibited bishops  which requires some response. I do not intend to make a full reply to any of  it. but would like to make a few comments about parts of it. Bishop Hamlett claims that he only agreed to certify me as incompetent  when he learned that I had cancelled a meeting that he believed to be necessary.  I cannot see that to be adequate justification for signing a certificate concerning  someone he had not seen in half a year, but in any case the written record calls his account into question. The certificate of incapacity is dated August 5. The cancellation of the meeting came August 6. And event on the 6th could not have caused one  on the 5th. This is a glaring inconsistency which anyone can see in black and white. Bishop Kleppinger has written a long letter dated August 15 that is filled with half truths and distortions. Bishop Kleppinger professes a warm concern  for my health, while he has been busily attempting to remove me from office and  to replace me with himself. With friends like this, I do not need enemies. Bishop  Kleppinger doubts my competence, but his opinion is irrelevant. I have since the  first of the month met with dozens of people, including three bishops, a psychiatrist, and lawyers, all of whom can judge my competence better than someone hundreds of miles away. Bishop Kleppinger doubts the genuineness of my signature on  a document sent by me August 5 and accuses my wife of forgery. But he and  his friends did not do the obvious thing if their doubt was genuine, which  would be to pick [up) a phone and ask. I was in my office on the 6th, meeting with Bishop s Mote, Stephens, and Bromley and could easily have been contacted. No such atte mpt was made. In fact the document was signed by me and sent to the Holyrood fax machine on the evening of the 5th. Bishop Kleppinger implies that my physical ill-health (which is quite real) has left me ga-ga. [Transcriber’s note: Bishop Lewis suffers from the effect of a  stroke which has left his left side substantially weakened.) On the evidence of his letter, I am more competent sick than he is as he flourishes like a green bay tree. At the risk of boring or scandelizing the reader, I will add a few more to this catalogue of distortions and inconsistencies in Bishop Kleppinger’s August 15 letter. Bishop Kleppinger implies that Bishop Cruz-Blanco supports him and that Bishop  Deyman “seems not to want to choose sides.” But both of these bishops have urged me to inhibit the five bishops. Bishop Kleppinger says that Brother John-Charles has been treated “shabbily” by the majority of the bishops. But Brother John-Charles assures me that the only shabby treatment that he has suffered in this Church has been at the hands of Bishop Kleppinger and other of the five bishops. It is true that Brother John-Charles intended to resign as of this autumn, but he has withdrawn that resignation in the light of our decisive action against the five bishops. It was Bishop Kleppinger and his allies who almost succeeded in driving Brother John-Charles from this Church. Compounding the minority’s attempted usurpation is the fact that if I were to die or otherwise be incapacitated, the Senior Ordinary, who would then indeed become Acting Metropolitan, is NOT Bishop Kleppinger at all. Bishop Cahoon is the Senior Ordinary, as determined by the Provincial Registrar. This determination was challenged, the Provincial Court met to consider the challenge, and the  definitive judgement of the Court is, I learned today, that the Registrar is correct . Bishop Cahoon is the Senior Ordinary of this Church after the Metropolitan. I  should add that I have for many months indicated to the College my willingness to retire  whenever a majority of them ask me to do so. The majority at this point has not wanted me to retire, but I expect to do so soon. Let me make one final point about Bishop Kleppinger’s letter–the suggestion that I should not have inhibited Bishop McNeley as I did. I had no choice. Three eyewitness bishops assured me that Bishop McNeley struck another bishop.  The only contrary view came later in a letter from Bishop Hamlett which contained the major self contradiction that I have described above. Under the circumstances I have to assume that the greater number and consistency of witnesses were correct and that Bishop McNeley had already excommunicated himself. Failure to inhibit him swiftly would have been culpable negligence. If the inhibition deserves  to be reversed, then the Court will no doubt do so. However, when thee bishops tell me that one bishop has hit another, I have to assume that inhibition is appropriate. In any case Bishop McNeley would have been inhibited with the other four, as he signed the usurping August 6 document before I signed any inhibition of him. Let me assure the Church that although we are in the midst of an apparent schismatic rebellion, the Church will endure and flourish. Bishops representing more than 95% of the membership of the ADD world-wide are united and firmly determined  that this should be so. I regret our present turmoil, but at the end of the day  we will look back and see God’s hand in this all. God has favored and blessed us greatly  to this point. I remind those inclined to schism that no schism from the ACC has ever  prospered. Nor will this one. I call upon you all to be loyal to our Church, which is truly being “purified seven times in the fire,” and to the Metropolitan and the College of Bishops. Until  the situation in the affected diocese is clarified, we have an episcopal contact for each. If you are in the Diocese of the Resurrection, you may contact Brother John-Charles.  If you are in the Holy Trinity and Great Plains, you may contact either Bishop Mote or  Bishop Deyman. If you are in New Zealand, you may contact Bishop Bromley. If  you are in the Pacific and Southwest, you may contact Bishop Stephens. If you are  in the United Kingdom you may contact Bishop Cahoon. I have asked Bishop Cruz-Blanco  to become episcopal visitor to the Caribbean on [a] permanent basis, and he  has accepted. As soon as possible we will try to have meeting of the Guardians of the Spiritualities of the affected dioceses with their episcopal visitors.  If need be, we will reconstitute diocesan authorities and select new Guardians. Clergy and  parish treasurers will want to ensure that tithes do not go into hands loyal to  inhibited bishops. If necessary, hold your funds in escrow until the local situation is clear. I regret to say that in the light of Bishop Kleppinger’s extraordinary  actions and strident letter, Provincial Synod will have to be moved from Allentown,  as he was the host bishop. The College of Bishops will meet in two weeks to make further arrangements for a new location. With my metropolitical blessing upon you all, I am faithfully yours in  Christ,

+William O. Lewis
Metropolitan

* * *

There was a lot of bitterness, and some might ask why I am raking all this up. It is history, and we all remember our sins, even when they have been forgiven by God through the ministry of the Church (or directly). What will be achieved this coming month in America will be nothing short of a miracle!

Twenty years have passed, and many of those men – good, bad and ugly – have passed to their eternal rest or may still be lingering in extreme old age. There will be many memories in America. When I approached Bishop Damien in 2013 to join the ACC after being “orphaned” from the TAC, nothing was the same. The old had passed away, and here was a sensible little community. Fr (then Deacon) Jonathan Munn described it to me as being what it said on the label of the jar. No pretences, nothing grandiose, everything true even if very small! Yes, there has been a miracle and the movement originating in the Congress of St Louis in 1977 is moving together in a common witness of Christ’s mercy through western Catholicism and classical Anglicanism.

It must be known that we have come a long way. My own attachment to the ACC was destroyed and then restored in the newly healed Church after my own sufferings elsewhere. As the events unfolded with the Ordinariates and the TAC, the ACC had remained firm in its position of distance from all that, preferring quiet fidelity to what we really believe in. It appealed to me as the smoke and mirrors of Rome and Adelaide dissipated.

It is easy to be bitter about the past, more difficult to learn from it and grow, moving on in life and finding a new sense of purpose and hope. Let us not be demonised by the smug and lewd of this world! Let us keep our eyes open. I would have loved to go to Provincial Synod this October (my Bishop is already over there after his crossing by sea), but I don’t have the money for the flights and the hotel accommodation – so will have to rely on recordings of the Charge to Synod, photos, documents and the way people will say they were uplifted and filled with joy and hope.

Veni Creator Spiritus…

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