Following on from my earlier article Where’s the ACC in this mix? and an e-mail from Archbishop Haverland, it is my pleasure to publish our Archbishop’s recent address.
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Evensong, Forward-in-Faith/North America – 15 July 2015
Psalm cxxxiii, verse 3 – Jerusalem is built as a city that is at unity in itself.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
I was trained to believe that sermons are not meant primarily to prove or to instruct, much less to argue. Rather sermons are primarily meant to proclaim: to proclaim the Incarnation, the Cross, and the Resurrection of our Lord. I hope this idea animates my Sunday Mass sermons. But Evensong or Evensong and Benediction are somewhat different from Sunday morning. We read in a delightful miscellany on the Church and clergy by A.N. Wilson of a priest who for forty years ‘preached on a variety of themes at his morning Mass, but thought it inappropriate, at…Benediction, to preach on any subject other than the Empress Josephine.’ (A.N. Wilson, ed., 1992, p. 240) I don’t plan to be quite that bad. But when Bishop Ackerman invited me last year to this event I told him that I would have to address what seems to me the central problem with most of the efforts of Forward-in-Faith and its precursors and now also with the ACNA. I was invited nonetheless, so here is something with a bit of polemic in it, as promised. I will not say with Trevor Huddleston that I have naught for your comfort. But neither will I speak smooth things.
The central problem of which I just spoke is a lack of theological clarity and consistency and, to be blunt, catholicity. That is a rather provocative assertion. Let me offer an initial qualification, if not apology. I know that the religious world is filled with huge problems which are of much greater apparent importance than the intramural fusses of soi-disant Anglo-Catholics. In a world of resurgent and violent Islam and a secularizing America, our intramural differences may seem minor. I do not wish to indulge in the sadism of small differences. But then I happen to think that Anglicanism is central to the fate of the West, and that the near collapse of orthodox Anglicanism since the mid-20th century is at least indirectly tied to our wider troubles. So, back to the question of theological clarity, which I do not think is in fact a minor problem.
The Anglican alternative to the paths taken by Forward-in-Faith and ACNA is Continuing Anglicanism. Despite all of our checkered history and with all our failures, I think we Continuers have theological integrity. That integrity is not a subjective or personal matter, but rests on an objective theological base, expressed clearly in the Affirmation of Saint Louis. This foundation situates us irrevocably within the central Tradition of Catholic Christendom. All Anglican formularies are seen by the Affirmation through the lens of the central Tradition. Anglican formularies are not a kind of Occam’s razor to limit what is acceptable in Catholic tradition for Anglicans. Rather the Catholic consensus and central Tradition are the lens through which we read and appropriate our Anglicanism. This central Tradition is found in the Fathers and the Seven Councils and in the consensus of East and West, ancient and modern and living still. For us, the central problem of the Episcopal Church and of the Anglican Communion is not Gene Robinson or an error concerning any particular person or issue. Rather the fundamental problem was an implicit assertion, decades ago, that the central Tradition of Christendom is at the disposal of Episcopalian Conventions or Anglican Synods or Lambeth Conferences. It is not. The Affirmation and my own Church’s formularies firmly, decisively, and forever reject doctrinal ambiguity, comprehensiveness, or the attempt to make our peculiarities decisive and determinative. We are not Anglicans first and Catholics second. We are members of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church first, and Anglicans second. We will vigorously pursue unity with all others who share this central belief. No unity, at least no full or Eucharistic communion, is possible or desirable with those who do not share this starting point.
I congratulate the ACNA for leaving the Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada. Every one of you who made that change did a good thing and one, I hope, that you do not regret. But that departure can only be a good first step. For ACNA is really not a Church but a coalition of dioceses. The coalition is for some purposes only, and the communion of the dioceses is impaired and imperfect. The ACNA has retained the central flaw of the recent Lambeth Communion because it permits member dioceses to ordain women to the three-fold ministry, and therefore implicitly claims that the central Tradition is not decisive and may be set aside. ACNA is not a return to orthodox Anglicanism, but only a return to the impaired state of the Lambeth Communion that began in 1975 and 1976.
Continued ambiguity or confusion about the central tradition and women’s ordination is very dangerous. It is very dangerous because it encourages Catholic churchmen to compromise themselves in a variety of ways. Perhaps just as bad, fine, bright, and consistent Catholics will perceive that there is no certain trumpet, no clear ecclesiology, and no real future in a world of such compromises – and so you will continue to suffer the death by a thousand cuts, as people go to Rome or Orthodoxy or the Continuing Church or just stay home.
There are excellent reasons to be both Catholic and Anglican. Anglo-Catholics enjoy the great strengths of the Anglican patrimony. We have the Authorized Version of the Bible and the classical Book of Common Prayer. Together these are not only compelling literary and cultural monuments, but also provide us with an well-balanced spirituality. In some Christian bodies the Bible is loosed from tradition and from the praying Church. Of these bodies Richard Hooker wrote:
When they and their Bibles were alone together, what strange fantastical opinion soever at any time entered into their heads, their use was to think the Spirit taught it them. (Laws, Preface, VIII.7)
The Prayer Book tradition in contrast provides an anchor, an objective interpretative lens, and a prayerful setting for traditional and orthodox interpretation of Scripture. In other Christian bodies the sacraments have been loosed from Scripture and its constant fertilizing influence. Scripture is neglected and the jewel of the Eucharist is pried loose from its golden setting in a round of offices centered on the systematic reading of Psalms and Scripture. But for Anglican Catholics the sacraments are truly Scripture so prayed and read and presented as to be a large part of the very sacramental forms through which God pours forth his grace into our hearts. In short, our tradition has an almost perfect balance of Bible and sacrament. We begin with the Bible as presented in and with Common Prayer, but then add our Anglican patrimony of architecture, music, literature, spirituality, and theological method. Those are formidable strengths. How sad that so many neo-Anglicans have jettisoned the bulk of this patrimony by abandoning the classical Anglican liturgical tradition.
Dear friends, if you compromise with the ordination of women, and if you abandon the largest part of our Anglican patrimony by adopting modernist liturgy rooted in the Novus Ordo or, worse, in the Anglo-Baptist ideas of Sydney, there is little to hold people. Then you can only trust in a kind of slightly more decorous imitation of Charles Stanley or the already-fading mega-churches. You’ve given up both your Anglican past and also any future that can be meaningfully described as Anglican.
We must abandon all sectarian, provincial ideas that separate us from the central consensus of the Tradition of the great Churches. We must take this duty seriously by systematically rooting our doctrine and practice in Catholic agreement. Seven Councils, seven sacraments, invocation of the saints, objective sacramental efficacy, the Real Eucharistic Presence, clear moral teaching, male episcopate and priesthood and diaconate: those are all matters of Catholic consensus. That is what we must believe if we take seriously Archbishop Fisher’s assertion that we have no faith of our own.
The Catholic Movement in the Church of England began as an attempt to call all Anglicans back to the fullness of the Catholic Faith. The goal was nothing less than the wholesale conversion of the entire Church to the fullness of the Faith. The partial success of the Movement may have been its downfall. When Anglo-Catholics became too successful to ignore or suppress, and were invited to the table to enjoy a share of the spoils – a percentage of the mitres and deaneries and professorships and plum parishes – Anglo-Catholics too often lowered their sights and quieted their voices. From the conversion of the whole, we became satisfied with a slice of the pie, with a comfortable status as a recognized party. But half-Catholic is as unreal as half-virgin.
If you still are in the Episcopal Church: get out. Get out today. Anything else threatens your soul’s state. Dear friends in ACNA: you must present a clear and unmistakable demand. The ordination of women must end, soon and completely, for it is directly contrary to Catholic doctrine. No grand-fathering – or grand-mothering is possible – because such compromise leaves intact the central, revolutionary, and false implication that the deposit of the faith is negotiable and at our disposal.
Until there is such clarity, there will be no unity among those of us who like to think of ourselves as Catholic and Anglican Churchmen. There will be no unity because you cannot be a pure cup of water in a dirty puddle. That is the simple, basic message of the Continuing Church to the neo-Anglicans. You have gone a very long way down a very wrong path, and that is true even if all the time you were avoiding a still worse path. You have a journey home to make, things to unlearn and to remember and recover. We want to welcome you at home. But there can be no restored communion with us without hard decisions and firm actions from you.
Glory be to the Undivided Trinity. Glory be to Jesus Christ on his throne of glory in heaven and in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. All honor to the glorious and ever-Virgin Mother of our Lord. Peace be to the Holy Churches of God. May God forgive us our sins, which are many and great. May God give us wisdom to discern a safe path forward. May God grant us true humility and unshakable fidelity and great love. May God bring our Church to glorious days and may he bring us to unity with all his holy people, so that Jerusalem may be as a city that is at unity in itself.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
“And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave, again, and arms are strong.
To me it comes across as just more “one true Church” polemic, that illustrates in particular the vehemence of the hostility in some quarters to women’s priesthood. Quot homines, tot sententiae of course, but I find both deplorable.
That it comes across to you “as just more ‘one true Church’ polemic is unfortunate, and the allegation either unfair and/uncharitable. I do not belong to the Archbishop’s confession yet I cannot fail to recognise in his articulation of the nature of Continuing Anglicanism the aspiration, begun with the Caroline Divines and culminating with the Tractarians, to bring Anglicanism back to the common understanding (where East and West agree) of the Apostolic Tradition. I do not think an orthodox understanding of the Church would want to restrict it to a particular institution – that the tradition of the Church subsists in particular communions in a more direct and coherent way is beyond doubt: doubtless there is grace outside of the Church, but the ways and means thereof are as yet shrouded in mystery, and faute de mieux, visible Churches with apostolic succession are the best bet. Furthermore, what I find important in the talk is the assertion that Tradition is not at the disposal of assemblies and meetings, that consensus does not create right. Humility in front of Tradition is the humily and submission to the Holy Spirit. Humility and submission…ideas very foreign to modern ears intent upon being filled with clamours for Freedom but lacking in the most fundamental disposition for it: true openness of soul. And here it is not so much humility and submission to a particular hierarchy or institution as it is to the common Tradition of East and West – to something that cannot be kept either in the cellars of the Vatican or the treasure chambers of Moscow. I am not trying to convince you – you appear to be beyond convincing. Whenever I have felt let down by the institutional aspect of the Church, I have always remembered Athanasius, Hilary, Basil, Chrysostom, Maximus, and so many others, witnesses of Orthodoxy, of the catholicity of the Faith, to the institutional Church when it was effectively rejecting it.
The trouble with the modern mind is that it wants to be exclusively inclusive. I had rather be inclusively exclusive. Bandying words? Perhaps, after all. Exclusion, separation, are all aspects of the preparation for receiving the Truth of Divine Revelation. But in this consumerist age, we want everything without the benefit of the wisdom of the past, without due preparation, without struggle. This belies the deeply middle class attitude of people who value their own safety, their own lives, their own comfort over and above the joyful abandon and existential insouciance that attend the quest of Being. Yet we can be thankful for the Zarathustra of Nietzsche, the Saddhus of India, the fools-for-Christ of Christianity and the sufis of Islam.
Francis, I found deplorable what I thought was an example of ‘one true Church’ polemic, and you find my finding that it was such an example unfortunate, unfair and uncharitable. We’re even. This is the sort of diverse opinion I referred to. You and others have clearly felt satisfaction with what he said; I didn’t share this. On the contrary, I was surprised by the ‘great pleasure’ with which Father brought the address to our attention. A recurrent or developing theme in many of Father’s reflections, at least as I have understood them, is how destructive of, or inimical to – if I may use your own expression in a different sense – openness to the Spirit, is any kind of exclusion based on a claim to theological purity. Now it is true that when Roman Catholics indulge in this kind of thing the principal plank of construction of its claim to fullness of Tradition and Spirit (etc) is usually explicit, namely, that it and it alone is the foundation by Christ – the ‘one true church’ claim, distilled, pure and simple. But what is Archbishop Haverland arguing if it is not a sub-species of this? He does not say the Continuing Anglicans constitute exclusively the one true church but in as many words as makes no difference says they are part of it and the ACNA is not. Perhaps you can see why I may have been nonplussed by the great pleasure with which the address was announced.
I am very familiar, Francis, with the Roman position that capital ‘T’ Tradition is something sacred, indeed one part of the ”sacred deposit of the word of God”[Vat.II, D.V.(10)] although in a sense ‘subject’ to or interpreted by ‘the magisterium’ [ibid.] as well as alternative positions such as that it consists of only what is handed down without alteration from the apostles. No-one can sensibly reject something simply because it has been handed down regardless of any other merits – we build so much in all spheres on the shoulders of giants, so to speak – but neither do I think ought we to accept things uncritically if the only reason is that they have been handed down.
Perhaps the Archbishop himself would not characterise his address as a species of ‘one true Church’ assertion, but to claim, on his behalf or in his defence, that openness to the Spirit is identical or co-extensive with a particular theological position seems to me to be a claim of no material difference. I accept, it goes without saying, that I can’t make a similar claim in the opposite direction.
Your insistence that non-acceptance of women’s ordination must be hostility is not worthy of a good mind like yours. Whether you agree or not, you need to recognize that there are good-hearted people who are convinced that it is no more possible for a woman to be a priest than it is for a man to bear a child in his womb (like me, whose mind you are often complimenting). Narrow-mindedness is not a disease of one side of these various controversies, but is found on both sides of every issue. We need to listen to one another with respect, make a major effort to understand what the other is really trying to say, and give the highest possible interpretation to the other’s intentions.
“it is no more possible for a woman to be a priest than it is for a man to bear a child in his womb”
I’ve used that comparison in the past, but I’ve since come to see it as completely meaningless. Imagine an alternative scenario in which women have some sacramental function X that men can’t perform, and someone arguing, “It’s no more possible for men to do X than it is for women to produce semen.” Does that make any sense?
Whether that analogy is satisfactory or not, the point is that there is a difference between male and female. Traditional Christians do not argue that women should not be ordained, but that it isn’t possible. If it were possible, then fairness would seem to make it required, but if it is not, then attempting to do it is merely a sham and the sacraments are not enabled.
BTW, regardless of even that, it is dead wrong to speak of a right to be ordained for anyone. No one is worthy, and I would regard a deep sense of unworthiness for the office to be a primary qualification, and an insistence on being ordained to be a absolute disqualification.
These are the questions to be considered, rather than questions of what is ‘fair’ in human eyes. …and I’ve said my piece, I’ll try to resist temptation to say more.
“Traditional Christians do not argue that women should not be ordained, but that it isn’t possible.”
The problem is that that’s not an argument; it’s an assertion for which there’s no plausible justification, at least not one that I’ve ever heard.
Ed, I accept fully that people may not accept women’s ordination without it being construed as hostility, that is, in the sense of regarding those who hold a different view as “enemies”. I fully accept that many are genuinely persuaded by the arguments against it and not derivatively or ideologically. I myself don’t regard those who hold the opposite opinion as enemy although naturally we each think the other wrong. But there is no doubt that, as I said, in some quarters the disagreement is “hostile” and that the hostility is “vehement”. For the sake of fairness, I concede that both can operate in both directions. Perhaps it was inaccurate of me to attribute either to Archbishop Haverland although if I substitute the words “the intensity of the rejection of women’s ordination” my essential and intended meaning may be clearer.
I applaud in equal measure the clarity and forthrightness of Archbishop Haverland’s address (not to mention its contents).
I can only concure. If there exists no problem with the supposed ordination of women, the act of leaving the Episcopal Church can only be interpreted as an uncalled for schism and a grevious sin.
By flipped-coin statistical likelihood, I suppose the next comment, following Colin, myself and William, should be con- and not pro-. (I’m prepared for being disproved, of course!)
I suppose it can be no matter of chance, or accident, that Archbishop Haverland’s sermon is on precisely the same text as that most famous of the sermons of Archbishop Laud, preached on Monday, 6 February 1626, at the opening of the second parliament of King Charles I.
That latter sermon can be read here (pp. 63-90):
Excellent sermon delivered by an outstanding Archbishop. I had the honor of meeting him and speaking to him at the ICCA in Ft. Worth last week.
Your contribution was of equal importance Ms. Linsley. Thank you.
Thank you for publishing this. Bravely spoken! Suaviter in modo, fortiter in re.
Father, I love your new title picture – it makes me think of a sunny woodland dell, and Maid Marian, courted gently by Robin Hood, under the blossoms of the trees, It makes me think of how God loves this earth ans all within it that He has made.
Yes, it’s a nice header picture, but it was put there by some kind of “bug” with WordPress. I have put back the illumination of the medieval Goliards.