Completing the Reformation

I am not American and have no experience of the “second wave” of dissidence from the Canterbury Communion. All the same, I’m not surprised. My attention has been drawn to ACNA’s Anglo-Catholic Exodus. One of the ANCA dioceses is splitting away to join the PNCC. I wonder if all the parishes and people are following.

A bishop (which “side”?) is saying that the ACNA wants to “complete the Reformation” and have women’s ordination. If any didn’t agree with that, they could go over to Rome. Some clergy have contacted the Ordinariate and others the Russian Western Rite. The movement to join the PNCC doesn’t seem to be unanimous.

I don’t want to give simplistic opinions on this, but from the little I have read about the ACNA, it was only expected from a communion that is low-church, in favour of the ordination (and episcopal consecration) of women, and seemingly differing only on the issue of homosexuality. It seems that some of their bishops are Calvinists, understanding the 39 Articles in their “plain and literal sense”. What does “completing the Reformation” mean? It seems like a purge of Anglo-Catholicism.

Read the article from the above link if it interests you. We have to remember that the same words mean different things to different people, Catholic in particular. I have occasionally come across Spanish and Portuguese south American Anglicans, and ask myself what is Anglican about them. They are just independent churches more or less imitating modern Rome. In October 2004, I attended an attempt in Portugal to form a communion of Old Catholic Churches, opposed to the ordination of women and thus separate from Utrecht. It involved the bishops of the Igreja Católica Apostólica Brasileira founded by the dissident Roman Catholic bishop Carlos Duarte Costa. After a few days of this event, a bust-up happened between the Brazilian bishops, and I saw that the whole thing led by a certain Archbishop António José da Costa Raposo was in pieces and a totally pointless exercise. These men knew how to pull the crowds (and their money) in through mass hysteria more piously called Charismatic Renewal. This was not the ACNA, but shared a lot with several episcopi vagantes seeking to be legitimised and to belong to a Church that could afford to pay them and their families a living salary. That is about the top and bottom of it. It is an extremely extroverted kind of religion to which I absolutely don’t relate. Would Jesus relate to it either? I wonder…

About the Anglo-Catholics leaving the ACNA and joining the PNCC, I have met Bishop Flemestad of the Nordic Catholic Church who is a good pastoral bishop with a rich theological culture acquired through his having been a Lutheran. I am less sure about other PNCC bishops, some of whom are former modern Roman Catholics. That solution seems to be attracted because they have money and the possibility of giving priests full-time employment rather than their having to be “tent-makers” like us in the poor Continuing Churches.

When I see all that, I wouldn’t want to be an employee of such a church to be under threat of conforming to a new wave of convulsionaries of Saint-Médard or Bible-thumpers – or getting fired. The dream of sustainability is trickling away, even in the most mainstream Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England, both cutting back on expenses, closing parish churches and leaving cultural treasures to rot. Decidedly, the Christianity of the future cannot be about propping up the dinosaur of clericalism and empty buildings, however beautiful they are. We are going back to the Catacombs, whether we are Catholics, Orthodox or Protestants.

There needs to be a new spirit (or even the promised new Spirit) and a new philosophy to give substance without which exterior appearances of bishops and church worship are only tinsel and glitter on a Christmas tree.

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31 Responses to Completing the Reformation

  1. nordiccatholic says:

    Well the first thing I can tell you about this group of ACNA Anglo Catholics, is that they will not be joining PNCC, but joining the Union of Scranton. Here they will be in full communion with both PNCC and NCC. They will be a separate Church with its own Liturgy and life – bound together with sister Churches in a common Apostolic faith. This Communion gives both dignity and freedom to its member Churches. We follow a conciliar form of government, we are not “top down”.

    Second, ACNA has been heading for the breakers yard for some time. A couple of years back I took a look at their Liturgy, and came to the conclusion that their sacramental theology is a dogs dinner. So the bust up was and is inevitable. They amount to Methodists trying to be Anglicans.

    So a good decision on behalf of Forward in Faith USA and Others, indeed they make a brave decision but one that will give them a solid basis going forward, united in in the tradition of the undivided Church…

    Third the thorny subject of reordination or conditional ordination. On the grounds of Catholicity PNCC will insist on this and rightly so, especially given the Protestant nature of ACNA orders. When I was ordained a priest back in 2016, conditional ordination was perhaps a big ask for the senior and experienced Anglican priests that joined the NCC at that time.. Nevertheless, in humility they graciously accepted this step as a completion or crowning of their holy and sacerdotal orders. Its not about what we personally want, but about the call to service and the common good of the one Holy Catholic Church.

    Fr Nathan Williams

  2. William Tighe says:

    Fr. Anthony, you wrote:

    ‘It seems that some of their bishops are Calvinists, understanding the 39 Articles in their “plain and literal sense”.’

    If so, there is at lease one great irony here, as the injunction that the Articles were to be expounded in such a manner that “all agree in the true, usual, literal meaning of the said Articles” and that no man presume to “put his own sense or comment” as the meaning of any Article, “but shall take it in the literal and grammatical sense” comes from “His Majesty’s Declaration” which was prefixed to the Articles at the command of Charles I in 1630, the purpose of which, as most historians agree, was to “deprivilege” the Calvinist reading of them, which English academic theologians had since the mid-1560s (with a few exceptions beginning in the late 1590s and more after 1603) had almost universally embraced as their prescriptive meaning.

    That said, I do believe that the “general drift” of the articles is Reformed (rather than, say “Lutheran” or “Patristic” or “Erasmian Catholic;” I think, for example, that Article 29 is directed against Lutheran eucharistic doctrine rather than Catholic, which was sufficiently repudiated in 25, 28, and 30) and so they lend themselves more readily (up to a point) to a Calvinist reading, but whereas both Reformed/Calvinist and Lutheran confessions of faith tended to get more detailed and prescriptive with the passage of time, the 39 Articles are less doctrinally precise than their predecessor 42 Articles of 1552 (although the 39 do attack some Catholic practices more strongly than their earlier counterparts). I would also contend that they are a kind of albatross hung about the necks of Anglican bodies that wish to present themselves as Catholic first, and Anglican second, and that such value as they have is talismanic in nature. I think, however, that the Anglican Catholic Church is the only Continuing Anglican jurisdiction that has recognised this formally by subordinating the Articles to the 1977 Declaration of St. Louis and (IIRC) “The King’s Book” issued by the authority of Henry VIII in 1543.

    • I think, however, that the Anglican Catholic Church is the only Continuing Anglican jurisdiction that has recognised this formally by subordinating the Articles to the 1977 Declaration of St. Louis and (IIRC) “The King’s Book” issued by the authority of Henry VIII in 1543.

      Many thanks for this heartening idea. We seem to have broken out of the “snare of the fowlers”.

    • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

      I have enjoyed and benefited in food-for-thought (among other things) from as much as I’ve read (which is a good deal) of the Layman’s Guide to the Thirty-Nine Articles at the anglicancontinuum blogspot, whose authors I take to be making a case for a much more than talismanic value (perhaps also from various of Dr. Tighe’s comments in dialogue with them – but I won’t delay to check that!).

  3. Dale says:

    Someone once remarked concerning the PNCC that they are not too much more than a “Novus Ordo clone” providing a living to modernist, married former Roman Catholic priests a living. And not too long ago I posted some youtube videos of their services, including dancing altar girls and guitar strumming clergy. Good luck.

    I did have a long conversation with an Anglican priest who joined them, along with several other Anglican parishes. They had been promised an Anglo-Catholic, traditional liturgy (Anglican Missal). This promise was not kept, and it was soon demanded that they accept the novus ordo and mass facing the audience (no other word for it). At the time the Pope was Polish and they were all getting ready to go to Rome, but that was nixed when Rome refused to accept the large numbers of former, but married Roman Catholic priests that constituted their parish clergy. This Anglican priest, and his whole parish, left for Western Orthodoxy, which tells us how bad it all was. One needs to remember that their only reason for leaving Rome was a problem with the Irish episcopate and Polish Nationalism. They are intensely nationalistic. They even have parishes denominated after the Immaculate Conception and St Josaphate Kuntsevych. Calling themselves Old Catholic is a stretch of the imagination. They have been dying out, perhaps they are simply looking for ways to continue to survive by leeching off of unhappy Anglicans.

    Considering the so-called Western Rite in Holy Russia, which even the Russian church admits is a temporary offering has its own problems.

    The fact that these people are not considering the Anglican Catholic Church is telling.

    What Dr Tighe mentioned is spot on.

    • I took the liberty of incorporating your desired corrections in this comment. One thought that is strong in my Bishop’s mind, and mine too, is the importance of foundational ideas and not merely of appearances. We don’t have very high standards of education for our clergy, but what is important is that what they do have is orthodox and in accordance with historical Catholicism. Some of us have been to university. Once priest in my Diocese has a doctorate in mathematics! I don’t believe we in the ACC are overly elitist, but education, culture and content have proved most valuable in the rebuilding from the days of the “Bishops’ Brawl” of 1997 and some very petty-minded bishops who have since left our Church. The most important is having the ideas in the right place. This is a Church, a Catholic Church, and a Catholic Church that is self-aware and knows what it represents. We have a small amount of diversity in our liturgical usage. I use Sarum, most use the Anglican Missal and some of our American Parishes use the 1928 Prayer Book. The position of the 39 Articles is diverse too. Some of the Americans accord more importance to them, but they are subject to the Affirmation of St Louis. We in England disregard them entirely, except for their historical value, and follow the framework of the Affirmation (7 Ecumenical Councils, etc.).

      I described a certain “type” of cleric in my posting as I alluded to “Latin” Anglicanism or the 2004 meeting in Portugal I attended. For some, Anglicanism is a mere identity label, and it is telling that some need these labels like post-moderns use words in their identity politics. They “leech” onto “respectable” churches to gain legitimacy but without assimilating the essential of what they are trying to join.

      I too greatly appreciated Dr Tighe’s comment.

  4. nordiccatholic says:

    The PNCC recently held a convocation in Dublin. You can access their statement from this link

    Click to access A-Statement-from-the-2018-Convocation-for-a-Renewed-Catholicity-The-Union-of-Scranton.pdf

    • It would be good to know which “Anglican Leaders representing various Churches and Provinces” were invited. Do you have any idea why this meeting was held in Dublin? I do think that it would be a good idea for us Continuing Anglicans to know more about formularies like the Declaration of Utrecht (1889) and for this growing effort by orthodox Old Catholics to study our Affirmation of St Louis. We all need also to have a greater esteem for pre-Reformation liturgical traditions and we should not be forced into a dichotomy between the 1570 (and later editions) Roman liturgy (Latin or vernacular) and rites invented by “experts” to adapt the Church to materialism and atheism, or yet artificial rites claimed to be restorations of Gallican, Mozarabic, Celtic, etc. rites.

      This movement in Old Catholicism is extremely positive and coincides with the parallel movement in the USA between the Diocese of the Holy Cross (Hewett), Anglican Church in America (March), Anglican Catholic Church (Haverland) and Anglican Province of America (Grundorf). Perhaps there might be dialogue between these two initiatives.

      We in the Continuing Churches are of a different liturgical ethos, and this is no minor issue. In England, we generally use the Anglican Missal (my using Sarum is an exception which I hope will become less of an exception in time) and we follow the Anglo-Catholic and Ritualist “line” as it developed from Romantic medievalism and the various aesthetic movements of the nineteenth century. When speak of aestheticism, I mean the kind with a strong philosophical, theological, spiritual and cultural content rather than shallow appearance and “high camp”. We are far from the world of “praise bands”, modern liturgy, “pop music” and inciting mass hysteria in crowds! We Anglicans are not concerned with drawing crowds or imitating modern and post-modern culture.

      If this last point can begin to prevail and a breakthrough can be made, there may be a basis for our respective groups and colleges of bishops to initiate dialogue. I remain sceptical (so far, most Anglicans involved in dialogue with the NCC and PNCC are not Anglo-Catholics) but always hopeful and with an open mind.

      • nordiccatholic says:

        Do you have any idea why this meeting was held in Dublin?

        There is no “good reason”. However the priest who organised the venue lives in Ireland, and has connections. Perhaps a good price? And then some of the American bishops have distant family connections with Ireland. Perhaps they wanted to reconnect?
        I was invited, but could not go.

        However I’m looking forward to “The Gospel and the Catholic Church” next month at St. Stephens House, Oxford. With contingents from the Ordinariate, ACNA supporters, and NCC – it should prove entertaining. Lets hope its constructive.

      • nordiccatholic says:

        It would be good to know which “Anglican Leaders representing various Churches and Provinces” were invited.
        2018 Convocation. Try this link –

      • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

        A great comment in all sorts of ways and details, if you don’t mind my saying so! It reminds me of Dom Gregory Dix and what I take to be his analytical virtues, while being milder than he probably would have been in similar circumstances.

  5. William Tighe says:

    I am bemused – not critical – to see that some of the bodies represented at this event purport to ordain women, and that one of the bishops was once (IIRC) himself in favour of that desolating practice.

    • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

      A cheekily huge (and characteristically convoluted?) question – do you (do any readers) have information or informed impressions about the interrelations of the “bodies”, and those in Holy Orders (according to which lights?) and/or who are ‘Office-holders’ in other senses, within them, in this context (or other pertinent contexts)?

      My quick impression from all of this, taken together with that excellent 2004 Touchstone article by the late Dr.Laurence Orzell (now behind the paywall)*, is that there is variety – might one even use the image of spectra? – within the PNCC, the Union of Scranton, these ‘Anglican bodies’, which need not be…unfruitful (if that is not too vague and conventional a word).

      *A briefer variant can be found here:

  6. Dale says:

    Just to remind us all how really bad it is: Why would any Anglo-Catholic think that this is an improvement?

  7. Dale says:

    Here are two startlingly striking differences between the PNCC and Anglo-Catholicism from recent youth camps.

    From the PNCC:

    And from Anglicanism:

  8. nordiccatholic says:

    How can you compare a Kids Camp and worship ?

    • I have been following the comments on this blog, and have been giving consideration to the subject of the PNCC. I read the piece by Bishop Mikovsky, and the ecclesiology and the theory are altogether compatible with Anglican Catholic ecclesiology. Unfortunately, words mean different things to different people and meanings also change from context and the use of irony, euphemism, etc.

      Perhaps I can suggest a key to making vital distinctions. The dimension usually evoked is liturgy and worship, together with the cultural aspect. A part of the issue is the old Europe and the USA, but for the most part, which is all just about the same since the end of World War II. I have had some correspondence with Fr Williams of the NCC who lives and ministers in southern England and uses the modern Roman rite. It probably does attract more laity to his chapel, especially former Roman Catholics with interests and concerns other than the liturgy. This is the issue brought up with the PNCC, as a piece of post-Tridentine Roman Catholicism that separated for historical reasons and questions of national culture in a culturally neutral country where the Church was dominated by another national culture, that of Ireland. Something I have noticed about religious culture is how it caricatured itself from about the nineteenth century and melted into modern culture, architecture mainly. Romanticism lost its intellectual content and became sentimentalism. This is something I need to study. Nothing remains static, but usually begins with inspiration, flowers, becomes a caricature of itself and loses relevance. Sometimes, someone decides to try to revive the pristine idea, but rarely succeeds.

      We in the ACC, at least in England, tend to be tied to a Romantic idealisation of pre-Reformation religion, not only local liturgical rites like Sarum but theories of the Church based on the Council of Constance like German Old Catholicism. Most of us in England have tended to be more post-Tridentine in visual and liturgical expression with less degraded standards of aesthetic taste. We have kept the Prayer Book Office, so have less need of devotions like in Roman Catholicism and the PNCC. The difference is essentially there, a question of cultural references. Our reference is clearly the nineteenth century, the Oxford Movement and Romanticism, which has maintained more of its integrity without making too much of a caricature of itself. Also in the ACC, we have also been a lot less “Anglo-Papalist” than in the Church of England, due to an extent from American influence, and also to distinguish ourselves from the Rome-ward movement of most of the TAC in the years 2009 to about 2012.

      Any future dialogue between otherwise conservative Churches using modern liturgical expressions and Continuing Anglicans would have to take this into account. Either a blind eye is turned to cultural diversity, or everyone has to sacrifice something so that everyone is the same, a kind of ecclesiastical American melting pot. We in the ACC use older liturgical forms even though they are “irrelevant” to those who are accustomed to modern forms and expressions. We have fewer people in church. We don’t have many tithing parishioners, so we are poorer and lack resources and “sustainability” in corporate and material terms. In the end of the day, what is ministry and mission? What does Christianity mean? Is there something that is not negotiable or open to being bartered like horses at market?

      The issues are not only between Protestantism and Catholicism as it stood between the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries, but how the Transcendent relates to culture. On the subject of culture, we are not the same in a given historical period. I and some others don’t have tattoos, piercing, or listen to “heavy metal” or whatever they call it these days. I give this as an extreme example. I have refused modernity* and have discovered how the Romantics reacted in exactly the same way in the 1790’s onwards. Some of us live in another world. Others would call such a way of life madness or mental illness, because we are not “with it”. The Church has a duty of mission and ministry to us “aliens” too. That is going to be a part of my “Blue Flower” when it begins to be published from the summer of 2018, and we begin to light a lamp like the Jena Circle and the Oxford Movement. I don’t want to judge others, but these differences have to be taken into consideration when considering unions of churches and the welcome of “ecclesial refugees” into a church body with lots of money and clout – if that’s what people are interested in…

      * At a cultural level even though I use technology.

    • Dale says:

      Both examples are from Kid’s camps. One can only imagine that the “worship” at the PNCC one was not too different from the cavorting on the stage seen here (what it does seem to prove, besides bad-taste, is that Polish-Americans, especially their elderly hip-hopping clergy who should know better, do not have rhythm). The other example is from an Anglican youth camp (

      The examples are very telling of a theological and cultural world-view.

      If the choice is between the banality of the modern as represented by the novus ordo or the timelessness of the ancient liturgy of the west, Anglo-Catholics should be careful in the choices that they make. Although there are many who believe that the ancient Catholic Faith can be expressed via modern liturgical drivel, I am not one of them.

      The only “good” about the liturgics of the PNCC is they make the Roman version almost palatable.

      And as Dr Tighe so rightfully expressed it “Whew!”

  9. nordiccatholic says:

    I understand that CTS will publish next month an affordable Study Edition of the DIVINE LITURGY – the Mass the Ordinariate use. I’m looking forward to getting a copy (65 pounds). Perhaps this is a Western Rite to consider?

    • Dale says:

      Perhaps one should simply consider the English or Anglican Missal?

      • Dale says:

        Yes, exactly. The Sarum Use is simply the Northern redaction of the traditional Roman Rite. The Novus Ordo? An invented Protestant innovation.

        Not too long ago we discussed that the early Anglo-Catholics tended to use Sarum models both for their missals as well as books of the offices, too bad that this was derailed by those, at that time, who wished to copy modern Rome. Strange how some things never seem to change.

        It was mentioned that the liturgy of the ACNA is a dog’s dinner (and I agree, it is simply the novus ordo with perhaps better modern English), but what does that make the PNCC modernist liturgy? Heaven on Earth, or dog’s vomit? .

  10. nordiccatholic says:

    I’m finished with these comments.

    • I think in your place that I would have defended my own liturgical options and reasoned it all out, or explained why I was interested in the Ordinariate liturgy and why this would be better than the older liturgies. I believe in free speech here even if people sometimes feel hurt.

      It would be good to meet you next month in Oxford. I should be easily enough to recognise in a crowd – I’ll be wearing a black cassock and I have long white hair.

      • nordiccatholic says:

        Apologies, but I simply don’t have the time to write out long theological explanations for the excellent 3rd and 4th Eucharistic Prayers, and their ability to communicate the mystery of our redemption to a modern audience..

        Looking forward to meeting you at the Conference. I will be wearing black shirt and collar, jacket, and a silver Crucifix. Short black hair.

        Also would value a chat about Sarum Use..

      • Just a little further reflection about these little clashes in my comment columns. The Orthodox Blow-Out Department has been very quiet for some time. I don’t encourage conflict, but I don’t seek to suppress it either. We are adults. I prefer the “university” style of not condemning everything but trying to reason things out and discuss like in a seminar. People can have different motivations for preferring older forms of liturgy.

        I don’t censor comments unless they are truly “troll” in style and destructiveness. I believe in free speech and discussion. I have long experience of these polemics and have discovered relationships between philosophies of life and “styles” of “churchmanship”. There is “something” about the majority of Christian folk who are content with modern liturgies designed to relate to a world dominated by fashion, corporate conformity and human relationships. A priest usually likes to express himself from a pastoral perspective, which is good. My Bishop does too, but from a perspective of using the Anglican Missal.

        I could probably build up a community in my chapel if I furnished it in a modern way, altar facing the people and with the right statues and bits and pieces related to the personal problems of each person. There are Gallican communities in France that built everything up on exorcisms, blessings and healing – no need to waste time in a secular job! Most of them are honest, a few are frauds. They are more devotional than the average Roman Catholic parish (one Mass every three months in the countryside). There is this constant concern to relate to people whose lives are governed by fashion and TV, those for whom relationships and small talk are everything. The local Roman Catholic authorities might have something to say about it, especially warning people about “false Roman Catholics”.

        Many of us are weary with “more of the same”, something like seeing people dancing to “rock music”. I had many questions to answer about my own life. As a child, I wasn’t listening to the “right” music and preferred Tchaikovsky and Mozart. About two years ago, I started wondering whether I had Aspergers. Tests and a professional diagnosis confirmed it. It is a “no-no” for a parish priest, and confirmed my vocation as a kind of “eccentric don”. I have an intimate understanding of the kind of mind that founded the Oxford movement and Romanticism in general. The Enlightenment and hyper-rationalsit thinking had gone too far, and modernism became soul-destroying. It destroyed art, form and harmony in music. It produced 1970’s butalism that is still with us, and “everyone” loves it. I stayed in another world, which some will see as selfish, but it is the only way I can live and contribute something to the world. I am doing so through this blog, and soon through the next storey up which is The Blue Flower.

        A charismatic personality (which I am not) can whip up a crowd in no time flat. Mega-churches in America are bursting with money and bling, and we can ask ourselves whether that is true Christianity. They convulse, fall down on the floor and writhe around, making unintelligible noises – and these are supposed to be the fruits of the Spirit. I understand the atheists when they see the opposite extreme from their hyper-rationalism. The Apostles preached to crowds of people of diverse origins in the Acts of the Apostles, but they were gifted. It is hard to discern what is authentic and what is populist bullshit. I may have emotional problems with relationships, but I have a highly critical view of what is askew.

        I have a more “donnish” view of Christianity, that of the Mystery School rather than the parishes of the masses. Perhaps in another life I would have been a monk, but monasteries have their own problems. I have no illusion about that! I conceive of very small communities in which persons are consciously committed and more idealistic than realistic or pragmatic. Not all persons of our time live in a modern culture. I don’t with the only exception of using available technology as a tool. The computer and the smartphone (I have both) have no influence on my intimate philosophy of life. I and others of this ilk have other needs in terms of a liturgical life we can relate to. Culture is not as homogenous as some would like it to be.

  11. Dale says:

    Strange, I post images put out on youtube by the PNCC themselves, and someone gets upset?

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