The Anglican Catholic Church on Unity

I realise I am getting tied up in knots responding to people I don’t know and whose “positions” could mean anything. Eventually, one becomes emotionally worn out and demoralised by the conflicts, and no progress is made. The restoration of pre-Tractarian “old high church” Anglicanism isn’t an issue in England, but in the USA. I am English. The ACC has a major presence in America, and also in England. We have our ways in England, and what I have recently found in England is stable and credible.

I suggest we should all read Defining Anglicanism Today, On Anglican Ecumenism and Toward Anglican Unity from the ACC’s official web site.

Serious steps are being taken, and the fruits are becoming apparent. The first steps are the obvious ones to make – reducing the number of institutional ecclesial bodies and keeping the number of bishops to the minimum. Also, raising standards of the clergy in terms of education and stability is doing a lot of good. Many of the divisive personalities and sources of instability of the 1990’s and earlier are now gone. The Ordinariate has received those who were inclined that way, and Orthodoxy in the USA has generally shown itself welcoming to Anglicans who are ready to comply with the tenets of that Church.

The “cat herding” is understood in different ways by different people. Some aim for a “more reasonable” basis of Anglo-Catholicism. Others would like comprehensiveness based on the Reformation formularies. Others would demonise Anglo-Catholicism and fight against it in a new Reformation, purging away “popery” as much as even the use of pagan Greek philosophy.

The ACC approach is solidly in the hands of its Bishops, and I am proud to belong to a Church that has recovered from a very serious state of conflict some fifteen years ago. Souffrir passe, avoir souffert ne passe jamais. Experience brings wisdom and prudence in a new era of peace, serenity and stability.

If we can in the next few years reduce the number of groups from six to two or three, we will have made excellent progress.

There are meetings between Churches, and progress is made. The quality of the clergy is improved by responsible behaviour on the part of bishops and keeping the “rats” out.

If we limit new causes of division and work on eliminating existing divisions, time will become our friend.

One of these causes of division is reigniting the old polemics, and we have to be careful on the blogs. I have been allowing some comments that really I should have censored and deleted. Perhaps the ACC is “narrow” in its policies and positions, but that’s the way it is. That is the ACC I voluntarily joined as an Anglo-Catholic priest coming from the TAC with fifteen years of my life as a Roman Catholic. We are what we are and the baggage we carry will help to enrich the Church and make the edifice ever more diverse and beautiful. I trust my Metropolitan Archbishop and my Diocesan Bishop. They are not infallible, but I consider that their judgement of things is likely to be better than mine. I have not yet been asked to do anything against my conscience!

This work of unity will take longer than the years we have yet to live. We must look beyond our own limits and selves, for the good of those who will follow us in the future. Bequeathing what we think precious is indeed an old-fashioned idea – perhaps futile – but what I believe in until someone comes up with something better.

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7 Responses to The Anglican Catholic Church on Unity

  1. ed pacht says:

    This work of unity will take longer than the years we have yet to live. We must look beyond our own limits and selves, for the good of those who will follow us in the future. Bequeathing what we think precious is indeed an old-fashioned idea – perhaps futile – but what I believe in until someone comes up with something better.

    Precisely! I do not expect to see the scandal of disunity resolved in my lifetime. Heck, I don’t see it as occurring any time this side of the parousia. All we can do is to set targets and strive onward, following our Lord as best as we can. There is, unfortunately, a stubborn divide between ACC and ACA/TAC. In very recent years there was a rigidity and a bitterness on both sides, but that is beginning to fade. Both bodies are reaching out toward the other, truly attempting to resolve these differences. ++Haverland was present (though not a co-consecrator) at the recent concecration of +Hiles in Brockton MA and gave a talk at the luncheon following. A year ago ++Marsh was an honored guest (though not a participant) at ACC’s Synod. The differences are real, but they are no longer assumed to be insuperable. This isn’t enough, but it is a start, and a wonderful start.

    • I’m very glad to hear that Archbishop Haverland has a positive role in the process of reconciliation. I read some of the rigidity and bitterness here and there, and this is very regrettable. We may never have a single Anglican church body, but we can talk and be good to each other. We have work to do!

  2. Fr. David Marriott says:

    Your epithet: ‘Souffrir passe, avoir souffert ne passe jamais‘ is so very true. I have used a simpler illustration – that when a ball is thrown through a window, even when the damage is confessed, the window is still broken.

    But it the ‘why’ so many act in inordinate and aggressive fashion is worthy of analysis and consideration. It would appear that for many of us, when threatened by some change in life, might react in this aggressive and challenging way in order to mask the fear and anxiety that we feel.

    The Fellowship of Concerned Churchmen has, since the Congress of St. Louis, been clear in stating the necessity to set aside personal fear driven agenda, so that we might approach the state of the Continuum that we see today: even ten years ago, for me then in the ACCC-TAC, certain matters were impenetrable and simply off-limits: such as Deerfield Beach. It is from those years that the ACC was regarded as ‘narrow’: a negative attitude that was sadly not corrected by certain episcopi, but which time has proven to be wrong.

    A very human concept: the ACC (& others perhaps) are ‘too narrow’, the Anglican Church of Canada is ‘too wide’: so it is clear, isn’t it: we are ‘just right’: from the land of many, many bears!

  3. ed pacht says:

    There’s the point. We do need to talk to each other. We need to be good to each other. Above all, we need to LOVE each other. We are not enemies, but brethren. Even if there be (as there are) obstacles to our full unity, we are called to unity. If love is lacking, if a fervent desire to be one is lacking, if we fail to be as involved with one another as is currently possible, we fail to embody Our Lord’s vision for His Church. If the Marshes, Haverlands, Robinsons, the Harts and all the others of such different viewpoints will reach out with love and a sincere desire to grow past division, things will happen, God will bless. If not, we have little right to claim to be the church or a part thereof. The problems remain, but attitudes need to change.

    PS. I mean no disrespect in leaving off titles. I for one find it offputting to try to wade through a document topheavy with titles, whether churchly or secular. Once I know who is being referenced, the shorter the reference the better.

    • I mean no disrespect in leaving off titles.

      There is a difference between omitting titles for the sake of simplicity of a text. I often speak of Augustine and Thomas Aquinas though they are canonised saints. There is also a convention when talking about authors of using their surnames. If someone says “Chadwick wrote a piece about the Tridentine Mass when he was at university”, I have no problem with that, but I would with someone calling me “Chadwick” when talking about my position as a priest in the ACC as if I were not a real priest. When Archbishop Haverland or Archbishop Prakash act in their capacities as chief bishops of their Churches, then they have their titles. Similarly, we have many books written by Joseph Ratzinger, but as Pope, he was (is, as emeritus) Pope Benedict XVI. It is usual courtesy to accord titles used by the persons concerned.

      You are not the one to blame for discourtesy, but some others who reflect that “ACC Remake” article. RC traditionalists often put Bishop and Father in “*” to say they call themselves that but are invalid in sacramental terms. When using titles, such considerations should not enter the picture. We are dealing with conventions of courtesy.

      But you, Ed, are not the one offending in this respect.

  4. fatheredbakker says:

    Dear Father Anthony,

    I am very pleased indeed that you settled and have confidence in your own Bishop and Metropolitan. That is a very important issue when trying to settle into a sound spiritual home. After I saying that I do know that nothing we build up her on earth is perfect , but we can aim for that to the best of our abilities.

    Unity remains an important issue … but one contributor to your post said … how much are we prepared to give or take. Lets continually pray for this course.

    Father Ed Bakker ACC/OP

    • Thank you for this.

      I remember reading a thread in which some American “classical” Anglicans were taking Bishop Damien Mead to task for not providing a “straight” 1662 Communion Service. The Bishop kindly and charitably answered that there is no demand for such a thing, and that those who want 1662 have remained in the Church of England. I might have been less kind and asked those people to put their money where their mouth was.

      One thing I like about the ACC in England is precisely that it has made a spiritual home for a small number of people and is pastoral before being academically purist. Of course, those who are purist are selectively so. For example they call the 1st to 6th centuries a “reliable era”. In the 5th century, we have the Gelasian Sacramentary that contains the Roman Canon – in Latin to boot. That Roman Canon is an “abomination of the popish mass“. Black is white. Squares are circles. I almost prefer Papal infallibility!

      Anyway, in England, thank God, our little Diocese has common sense and something sober and sensible. We do well to stick with it.

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