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)

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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3 Responses to News from America

  1. A very great step has been taken. Laus Deo!

  2. wayne pelling says:

    What of the TAC??

    • Last I heard of the Anglican Church in America, one of the four Churches, it is a member Church of the TAC. However, I don’t think that the TAC as an entity is part of this agreement. However, it is explicitly stated that “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.“. That could mean other TAC member Churches in the right time.

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