Anglican Papalism Revisited

Another article is worth reading – Anglican Papalism on the Episcopal Church Socialist League blog. The blog author is Ryan Chegwin of the (presumably) Episcopalian parish of St Paul, Minnesota. He announces the colours thus:

Anglican Papalism is for men and women in the Anglican Communion who believe that true ecclesial reconciliation comes about through corporate reunion with the barque of Peter.

The Anglican Papalist cannot abide individual submission to Rome, but instead seeks only total ecclesial reunion between the Church of England (including her daughter provinces) and the Church of Rome. The Anglican Papalist is abundantly aware, as Fr. Brooke Lunn asserts, that “the true home of the Church of England [and her daughter provinces] is in full union with the Holy See”.

The Anglican Papalist is an orthodox Catholic in every sense save for professing the validity of Anglican orders, an adherence to uncorrupted Anglican liturgical traditions, and confessing the continuing undivided Catholicity of the Church of England (including her daughter provinces).

As the great Anglican Papalist Fr. Fynes-Clinton stated “our schism from Rome was Corporate: the remedy must be Corporate”, and furthermore as Fr. Frederick Oakeley said “we trust, of course, that active and visible union with the See of Rome is not of the essence of a Church; at the same time we are deeply conscious that, in lacking it, far from asserting it, we forego a great privilege.”

The hoped for unity of the Cathedra Augustini and the Cathedra Petri does not mean uniformity, but rather a unity in an acceptable ecclesiastical diversity (cf. Fr. Brooke Lunn). For Anglican Papalists the Roman Pontiff’s Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walshingham and the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter is not an acceptable institutional model of ecclesial reunification. Thus, the Anglican Papalist yet remains in the Church of England (or a daughter province) to serve as a living witness to both the Anglican Communion and the Roman Church of our shared origin in the apostolic community, and working toward that for which our respected canonical bodies are striving: unity.

Some Catholics outside our fold, both Roman and Anglican, excoriate the position of contemporary Anglican Papalists as appearing naïve, romantic, outdated, or improbable; however such accusations only serve to strengthen the Anglican Papalist faith in our Lord’s desire “that they all may be one, as thou, Father, in me, and I in thee; that they also may be one in us“ (John  17:21, Douay-Rheims). Again, let it never be forgotten that the principal impetus of Anglican Papalism is always and ultimately unity.

I am indeed intrigued to find my blog listed as sympathetic to Anglican Papalism! Well yes and no. When Archbishop Hepworth was Primate of the TAC and led that inspiring bishops’ meeting in Portsmouth in October 2007, the ideas of corporate reunion with Rome, an old dream, was exciting and stimulating. However, most of us had different notions about the nature of this union and to what degree we went along with papal ecclesiology. Normally, that is the description of the Anglican Papalist. The keyword is ecclesial reunion.

On one side, the Papacy in Rome is the historical “patriarchate” of the Latin Church, and was accepted as such by all Chalcedonian Churches until the symbolic date of 1054. I celebrate Mass una cum famulo tuo papa nostra N. not because I see myself in any way under the canonical jurisdiction of a bishop under the same kind of arrangement with whatever comes between him and the Pope. I do so as a prayer for unity with all Catholics of the Latin Rite (including local uses like Lyons, Rouen/Sarum, Milan and Anglican uses developed over the past hundred years or so). But, that unity is understood in different ways.

It is illuminating to observe the idea of the validity of Anglican orders (and other Sacraments) being the only difference between the Catholicism of Pius IX and Paul VI and Anglican Papalists. We members of the Anglican Catholic Church and other similar communions of Anglican tradition, whilst professing what is often called an Anglo or Anglican Catholic position have many other points of discussion such as neo-scholastic theology, Papal infallibility and Ultramontanist ecclesiology as opposed to Conciliarism. Nevertyheless, this “position statement” holds union with Rome as not of the essence (esse) of the Church, but for her good (bene esse). The distinction is fine, and quite wobbly!

Uncorrupted Anglican liturgical traditions? We should see that with an objective and critical mind after a good reading of Adrian Fortescue and Fr Jungmann, Battifol among others who wrote on the Divine Office. What is an uncorrupted Anglican liturgical tradition after Cranmer did away with the Use of Sarum? The English Missal and Anglican Missal are translations of the Roman rite with a few bits and pieces of Prayer Book tweaked in – done by those with no authority in the Church of England.

Why not the Ordinariate? The Anglican Papalist stays in the Church of England or at least in the Anglican Communion. There is the problem of female priests and bishops. That hardly goers with any kind of Anglo-Catholicism. What about the Continuing Churches which are not “recognised” by Canterbury or the Lambeth Conference? This definition is also wobbly like the old vestry stool used to reach up to high cupboards where the Christmas stuff is kept!

We need very definitely to study the pre-Reformation period in the light of modern historical scholarship and take a fresh view of the Church prior to both the Reformation and the Counter Reformation. This is why I do not identify as an Anglican Papalist but simply as an Anglican Catholic.

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8 Responses to Anglican Papalism Revisited

  1. Andrew says:

    What sense does it make to claim to be an Anglo-papalist, and then to refuse the pope’s offer to Anglicans? To be a faithful Catholic in every other way, except regarding the church’s teaching on Anglican orders, but refusing to enter the Catholic Church, is a receipe for heartache and cognitive dissonance. If this is indeed true, this fellow has little in common with his fellow Anglicans.

    • That seems to be just about the point. Archbishop Hepworth’s effort was perfectly Anglican Papalist as was what actually came about under the former Forward in Faith bishops in England. The Ordinariates are the logical result of Anglican Papalism, and that is in the order of things.

      If the question of Orders is the only thing, then it’s what the Pope says that is best. Staying in the Church of England means accepting female clergy and consequently abandoning Catholic and Orthodox sacramental theology.

      There are only two justifications for Anglicanism: Protestantism or a cultural English form of “Old Catholicism”, heir of Conciliarism and Gallicanism.

      • William Tighe says:

        And yet it was the “question of Orders” that, seemingly, kept Dom Gregory Dix in the Church of England; cf.:

      • Michael Frost says:

        When it comes to Dix, Anglicanism & the RCC, a great place to start is his masterpiece, The Shape of Liturgy, esp. the lengthy Chpt. XVI “The Reformation and the Anglican Liturgy” with the “Additional Note: The Present LIturgical Position in the Church of England”, and the brief Chpt XVII, “Throughout All Ages, World Without End”. As he put it, “But the fact is that I am an Anglican”. (p. 699, 2nd ed.)

      • William Tighe says:

        Well, but one can get a better sense of Dix’s own theological and ecclesiological commitments by reading the various articles and book reviews which he published in *Laudate* (the quarterly journal of the Anglican Benedictines of Nashdom Abbey which was published from 1923 to 1962) between 1928 and 1940. One of these, a long serialized review of Beresford J. Kidd’s *The Roman Primacy to A. D. 461* (London, 1936: SPCK) was published in book form in 1975 by the Church Literature Association as *Jurisdiction in the Early Church: Episcopal and Papal.* Perhaps “the most devastating pieces of scholarly demolition I have ever read” (as Eric Mascall described them in his memoirs, *Saraband*) were two successive review articles which Dix published in *Laudate* (September 1933 and December 1933 issues) of *Northern Catholicism: Studies in the Oxford Centenary and Parallel Movements* ed. N. P. Williams under the respective titles of “Nordic Spirituality” and “Northern Catholicism.”

    • Dale says:

      In my own discussions with Anglican-Papalists, a theory to which I have never had any inclinations, the reason to remain in the establishment was the ideal that they would be the leaven that would result in the submission to Rome of the whole of the Church of England. This tended to be a believable myth in some ways simply because they tended to be isolated in parishes and institutions of like-minded individuals. In the colonies there tended to be little support for this type of play-acting, but in England it was quite a large movement. It was this group which tended to follow, blindly, any liturgical change instituted by the Roman Catholic Church so that there would be no liturgical difficulty when all submitted to Rome. They tended to actively discourage individual submissions to Rome as encouraging anti-Roman Catholic prejudices in the established Church. In some manner, it was very much a fifth column.

  2. Peter Jericho says:

    I’ve often noticed that many people like to blur the distinction between conversion (“switching sides”) and ecumenism. Chegwin’s article is a bit more sophisticated than that: it does draw a distinction, but draws it between individual conversion, on the one hand, and group conversion on the other.

    :scratches chin:

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