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.
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“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
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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
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!
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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.
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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
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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…