Conference in Oxford

I am still in England after having been at my Diocesan Synod in Westminster, served our little mission in Bristol, spent a day with a dear friend who was recently inducted as a parish Vicar, enjoyed precious time with another dear friend who is a medical doctor, a modern-Romantic philosopher and father of five lovely children together with his Italian wife, attended the famous conference in Oxford, The Gospel and the Catholic Church, A conference discussing Anglican Patrimony today. After the Conference, I came up north to spend some precious time with my family. Tomorrow, I will have a long drive southwards to be with my Bishop near Faversham in Kent, and will see his new pro-Cathedral for the first time where I will have the privilege of preaching a brief and pastoral homily at Mass. Later on Sunday, I will have my ferry to catch at Dover to return to France.

The Conference itself was a very rich time, though some talks were slightly less relevant to the real theme, or were from quite diverse theological points of view. It was all held in the beautiful church of St John the Evangelist attached to St Stephen’s House in Oxford. This was the first time I had seen the buildings of “Staggers” as this seminary has been called. For this evening, still at my father’s house in Kendal, I will simply outline some of the things that most struck me, and may go into some details in the coming weeks. I am told there will be some texts of talks on the website, some of which I am eager to have.

One of the finest talks was by Msgr Andrew Burnham of the Ordinariate, in which he identified one of the roots of Catholic Anglican identity / patrimony. That was Romanticism and longing. In his perspective, the longing was for unity with the See of Rome. Such an aspiration is not wrong, because some form of primacy of the Church of Rome was always expressed in some way by the Fathers and early Councils of the Church. However, we may not always be agreed on the mode of this aspiration or the possibility of its realisation in our particular time in history.

Roman Catholic speakers including Msgr Mark Langham, who is undoubtedly a fine priest in his Church, but did not fail to express a strong notion of authority and obedience. He contrasted the continental influence in English Roman Catholicism and the neo-medieval ethos of Anglicanism. He even mentioned the Sarum Use! They all talk about it but stop at actually using it. The comparison is certainly simplistic, and he would be more nuanced in his other writings and ministry.

A priest of the Free Church of England was forthright in his criticism of liberalism and modern agendas, and struck me by his (what I would call) reactionary authoritarianism.

Dr Gavin Ashendon was present and also spoke on the roots of cultural Marxism and the Frankfurt School. He too was forthright with his authoritarian sympathies. As I listened to him, my thoughts became very strong about the need for a third way between this new form of Jacobinism (as I would characterise it) and the authoritarian reaction it begets.

There were other clerics who gave talks – Roman Catholics, Anglo-Catholics and a few Evangelicals. Was this some effort to unite the “remnant”? Certainly the Conference had the noble and holy purpose of healing the breaches between all Christians. I failed to detect any note of desperation but rather a message of trust in divine providence.

I noted the discreet presence of Bishop Roald Flemestad of the Nordic Catholic Church and his clergy in England. I was very encouraged to note the desire of the PNCC in America and the Union of Scranton to dialogue with the “G4” (intercommunion of the four main Continuing Anglican Churches achieved last October in America) rather than with the ACNA. These matters are in the hands of our Bishops and those they appoint to assist with the process of dialogue. On meeting Bishop Flemestad and his priests, I could only say what was on my mind, that we must be clear and transparent at all times, because this is the only way we can make progress.

I was apprehensive about meeting some of those men, but I am thankful to accomplish this task of giving a face to my name for those who read this blog and appreciate what I am trying to do. I was pleased to see Msgr John Broadhurst again after all these years since my TAC days, and I personally thank Msgr Andrew Burnham for his profound and sincere words. They are good men, and I have every respect and esteem for the Ordinariate and for everything it is trying to do in the face of indifference and frequent hostility caused by crass ignorance.

My own thoughts have been enriched and I find myself confirmed in my desire to work for a new way above materialist rationalism and religion based on bigotry and “appropriation of truth”.

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36 Responses to Conference in Oxford

  1. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    Good to read your report/impressions of the Conference, here – and to know “there will be some texts of talks on the website”: I was hoping (no doubt like many others who did not manage to get there) that there would be some sort of ‘proceedings’!

    I see that Bishop Gavin’s contribution is already up on his website and at Anglican Ink.

    Your saying of Msgr Andrew Burnham’s talk, “In his perspective, the longing was for unity with the See of Rome [… to the end of that paragraph]”, may help to inform a phrase in Bishop Gavin’s: “the original act of disobedience, however well-intentioned, that repudiated the authority of Peter” – which I would like to see discussed in more detail, as it seems to refer to the English Reformation but invites contextualization in the thought of “the Fathers and early Councils of the Church” and the earlier and enduring actions of the various ancient Patriarchates and autocephalous Churches.

  2. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    Good wishes for the remainder of your travels, and your preaching at Mass on Sunday!

  3. jimofolym says:

    Would have been interesting to have an Eastern Orthodox ‘fly on the wall’ to give their input at the meeting. Might have something to add to the mix (our broth, as it were!)

    • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

      Maybe there were… Oxford has quite a number who could have conveniently attended, including the General Secretary of the Fellowship of St. Alban and St. Sergius. I have somehow never been to ‘Staggers’, yet – though back in the day I had the joy of going to a number of services in Marston Street, in the Chapel established by Fr. Nicholas Gibbes – which may be where C.S. Lewis attended the service he so vividly describes.

    • Dale says:

      I sincerely doubt that the Eastern Orthodox have any interest in an Anglican Patrimony.

  4. Could you describe and tell us some more about the chapel and the impression you had of Fr Nicholas ? I have read one book about him: maybe you could write another,but it would be good if you could tell us what you thought of it: was it tiny,crowded,attractive ? Thank you

    • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

      I’m not old enough to have met him: I knew his wonderfully generous and friendly adopted son, George (and his dear wife, who died of cancer with a saintly quiet fortitude). They, and after her death, George, would periodically have services in the Chapel of St. Nicholas House – he being on good terms with Father (later Bishop) Basil Osborne, then Russian parish priest under the Moscow Patriarchate, while George was a member of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia. (George would also – though not habitually – attend services in the shared Greek and Russian Church in Canterbury Road (where Father (now Metropolitan) Kallistos Ware was priest of the Greek parish), behind the Houses of St. Gregory and St. Marcina, where I had the great pleasure of living for awhile.)

      The Chapel occupied the front of the house, and was not very big (in my mind’s eye), but was only crowded in a warm, comfortable way, though I cannot recall just how many people tended to be there for a service. It was attractive and (to use an inadequate word) impressive, with, for example, a chandelier from the Ipatiev House, ‘the House of Special Purpose’ where the Imperial Family were martyred, among other more intimate secondary relics (some of which I had the honour of venerating).

      When George began to feel his age, he was very concerned to see that such things would be preserved – in a living liturgical setting. As the current (4 April 2018) Wikipedia article, “Charles Sidney Gibbes”, puts it, “George subsequently donated them [Fr. Nicholas’s “collection of Russian possessions”] to the museum at Luton Hoo. A small chapel was built there to house these memorabilia, consecrated by Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh.” Sadly, I have not kept properly up to date on events, notably (in the words of the Wikipediast) the conversion of the Luton Hoo Mansion House “into a luxury hotel called Luton Hoo Hotel, Golf, and Spa, which opened on 1 October 2007.” The Hotel website only says (so far as I can see), “With 10 luxury wedding suites licensed for civil ceremonies, including a Russian Orthodox Chapel, the Mansion House offers a variety of beautiful settings and stunning backdrops for your perfect Country House wedding.” I don’t know what that means: e.g., whether it is still in use as an Orthodox Chapel, whether it retains something of the appearance of an Orthodox Chapel while the relics now merely form part of the “museum [which] has been moved from Luton Hoo and is now a part of the Wernher Collection in Greenwich”, or just what.

      The only book I’ve read about Fr. Nicholas so far is J.C. Trewin’s vivid and thoroughly enjoyable Tutor to the Tsarevich: An Intimate Portrait of the Last Days of the Russian Imperial Family compiled from the papers of Charles Sydney Gibbes (London: Macmillan, 1975), with photographs of some of the things I saw in St. Nicholas House, Marston Street.

  5. Dale, in this context I meant as a contribution to academia. I also admire (who wouldn’t?) the language of Cranmer, Coverdale and the Authorised Version. As for using western forms in divine service, well that’s another matter, and I wouldn’t want to hijack the comment section of this post to get into a debate about that.

    • Dale says:

      Either would I. I think we both agree that in Byzantium, there is no room for any tradition, either western or oriental (Coptic, Syraic etc.) that is not Byzantine. This has long been my contention. But to then state that you have a certain fondness for Evensong by no means insinuates that the Eastern Orthodox have any interest in an Anglican Patrimony. Which was my point.

      • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

        Dix has an astonishing (to me) passage on this with respect to (I think mediaeval) Patriarchs of Alexandria and Antioch conferring in Constantinople about the propriety of abandoning one’s traditional local Rite in favour of the Byzantine (which I have never got round to trying to follow up).

        I was certainly thinking of ‘Anglican patrimony’ widely, and ‘Romantic’ and western mediaeval(ist) even more widely.

        But (speculating freely!) I wonder if, somewhere in the ‘diaspora’ among Orthodox of western tradition and academic Orthodox intellectuals, you might not end up with room for western liturgical traditions, too. Dr. Winch was disappointed in his ‘Gregorian’ attempt, despite (as far as I knew and recall) some level of encouragement from Bishop Kallistos, but might circumstances never be ‘right’?

      • I have the book on the Orthodox Church by Timothy Ware (before he became Bishop Kallistos) and he speaks of the theoretical possibility of the western rite. I can’t quote him because I don’t know where the book is in my less than organised library. There was always a barrier to the practical application of such an idea outside the USA. If you read the article of Jean-François Mayer which I have often cited in this blog, you will find that the adventure of French western Orthodoxy based on a former Liberal Catholic community caused a lot of feet to become cold.

      • I know that Patrick is hardly an example of most Orthodox folk. He is a convert from Roman Catholicism, and attended a lot of Anglican services along his way. When I was Roman Catholic, I kept my fondness for Anglican offices and the language of the Prayer Book, together with the ethos I had known in most of the parishes where I had been in the choir or played the organ. I would hope that Patrick would take on some of the work of Ray Winch and work towards acceptance of the western rite by means of academic research and conveying ideas to the bishops and synods charged with implementing things.

      • Dale says:

        Yes, Fr Anthony, in older editions of the Ware book there was a very small snippet concerning the western rite in Orthodoxy, but I understand that it has been deleted from later editions.

      • William Tighe says:

        The paragraph on WRO can be found on pp. 180-181 of the new (2015) third edition of K. T. Ware’s book, and that paragraph is mostly identical to that found on pp. 185-186 of my copy of the 1997 reprint of the 1993 second edition. He characterizes its “existence” as limited and tentative (in both editions); and the paragraph’s final two sentences in the earlier version run “Under its present leader, Bishop Germain, this French movement has ceased to be in communion with other Orthodox Churches, and its future is problematic.. Since 1995 there have been some Western-rite parishes in Britain, under the Patriarch of Antioch” (p. 186), In the 2015 third edition, the first of these two sentences is identical with that of 1997, but the second one now runs, “In Britain there are some small Western-rite communities under the pastoral care of ROCOR.” Earlier in that same paragraph, in both editions the number of members of Antiochian WRO parishes in the USA is given as “about 10,000”); in that same paragraph he notes (in 1997) “in France, [where] there is a very active group known as the Catholic-Orthodox Church of France,” a phrase which in 2015 becomes “in France [where] there has been a very active group …” (etc.)

      • Dale says:

        Thank you Dr Tighe.

        I had my information from an individual who is bitterly opposed to the western rite, and stated that Ware had removed this snippet of information. My own, limited, contract with Ware was that he was in no way a supporter; and actually quite dismissive of the whole concept.

      • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

        Yes, thank you! I’ve only got the 1963 ed.1 to hand, which has two paragraphs in chapter 9, “The Twentieth Century, III: Diaspora and Mission”, in the section, “Western Orthodoxy”, on pages192-93. In the first, he says, “some feel that Western Orthodoxy, to be truly itself, should use specifically western forms of prayers – not the Byzantine Liturgy, but the old Roman or Gallican Liturgies. People often talk about ‘the Orthodox Liturgy’ when they mean the Byzantine [italicized] Liturgy, as if that and that alone were Orthodox; but they should not forget that the ancient Liturgies of the west, dating back to the first ten centuries, also have their place in the fullness of Orthodoxy.” [With a footnote at this point: “The same is also true of the ancient eastern Liturgies, now fallen into disuse – for example, the Liturgy of Saint Mark, employed at Alexandria until the twelfth century […].”]

        The next paragraph begins by noting “This conception of a western-rite Orthodoxy has not remained merely a theory.” He then notes “former Old Catholics in France under Monsignor Louis-Charles Winnaert” since 1937, as “originally under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate, but at present most of its members, headed by Archpriest Evgraph Kovalesky, are under the Synod of the Russian Church in Exile. Various experimental Orders of the Mass for use by western-rite Orthodox have been drawn up, in particular by Bishop Alexis (van der Mensbrugghe).” [With a footnote at this point: “In 1961 the Syrian Archdiocese in North America established an Exarchate for the western rite.”]

  6. William Tighe says:

    One can find a version of Bishop Kallistos’s book online here:

    but it seems to be an older version; cf.:

    “It is normal to speak of “Eastern Orthodoxy.” But many Orthodox in Europe or America now regard themselves as citizens of the countries where they have settled; they and their children, born and brought up in the west, consider themselves not “eastern” but “western.” Thus a “Western Orthodoxy” has come into existence. Besides born Orthodox, this Western Orthodoxy includes a small but growing number of converts (almost a third of the clergy of the Syrian Archdiocese in America are converts). Most of these Western Orthodox use the Byzantine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom (the normal Communion Service of the Orthodox Church) in French, English, German, Dutch, Spanish, or Italian. There are, for example, a number of French and German Orthodox parishes, as well as (under the Patriarchate of Moscow) a Dutch Orthodox Mission — all of them following the Byzantine rite. But some Orthodox feel that Western Orthodoxy, to be truly itself, should use specifically western forms of prayer — not the Byzantine Liturgy, but the old Roman or Gallican Liturgies. People often talk about “the Orthodox Liturgy” when they mean the Byzantine Liturgy, as if that and that alone were Orthodox; but they should not forget that the ancient Liturgies of the west, dating back to the first ten centuries, also have their place in the fullness of Orthodoxy.

    This conception of a western-rite Orthodoxy has not remained merely a theory. The Orthodox Church of the present day contains an equivalent to the Uniate movement in the Church of Rome. In 1937, when a group of former Old Catholics in France under Monsignor Louis-Charles Winnaert (1880-1937) were received into the Orthodox Church, they were allowed to retain the use of the western rite. This group was originally in the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate, and was for many years headed by Bishop Jean de S. Denys (Evgraph Kovalevsky) (1905-1970). At present it is under the Church of Romania. There are several small western-rite Orthodox groups in the U.S.A. Various experimental Orders of the Mass for use by western-rite Orthodox have been drawn up, in particular by Archbishop Alexis (van der Mensbrugghe).”

    • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

      Thank you for this, too! A quick date-search suggests it’s an edition updated through 1982 (the latest date I found).

      I see that the OrthodoxWiki has an update of part of all this (as of “February 14, 2018, at 18:26”):

      And the ordinary English Wikipedia article (as of “4 March 2018, at 03:15”) even more detail of this:

      The French version (as of “14 mars 2018 à 16:39”) has further updates to 31 January 2016:

      The German version (as of “10. Oktober 2017 um 08:50”) includes “Sie hat vor allem in Frankreich, in der Schweiz, in Argentinien, in den Vereinigten Staaten und in Spanien Gemeinden.”

      I keep hoping to visit a Romanian Orthodox service here in the Netherlands, but have never manged it, yet – if I did, maybe someone would know what’s happened with the “deanery under Bishop Germain’s brother Archpriest Gregoire to minister to those parishes formed by the priests and laity that chose to stay with Romania.”

  7. Ryan says:

    I’m not exactly sure why but I love reading your blog and keep coming back to it, despite not being Anglican or being especially attracted to that tradition (I’m Orthodox). I think your particular approach – a generous romanticism, repudiating reactionary attitudes as much as materialism – is something the whole Christian world needs more of. I get so worn out on apologists, polemicists, and prelates beating their true church drums, their we’re-mystical-and-you’re-not cymbals, who talk so much of our rich tradition but seem to have absorbed only the most superficial lineaments of it. Nobody has time for poetry anymore. We need poetry, so very very badly.

    Re: Western Rite, I am a (happy) attendant at a Byzantine liturgy, but I am very much in favor of the WR and hope, perhaps unrealistically, it can be implemented in a way that genuinely respects the Western patrimony and that doesn’t assume, tacitly or explicitly, the superiority of the Byzantine tradition. I’ll say to anyone who will listen (which is, well, no one) that it is unnecessary and unreasonable to require a Byzantine epiclesis in the Roman canon. I think even the filioque is acceptable if we understand it as Saint Maximus did when he defended the Latins’ use of this addition to the creed. I contend that the 1054 cut-off date is highly arbitrary and ruling out saints or traditions after that year is stupid. And I really wish we could stop ordering our affairs based on the legacy of dead empires (Byzantine and Ottoman, in particular). Byzantine chauvinism starts out ridiculous and just gets more ridiculous with every year that passes after 1453.

    I think it’s going to be a while before WR Orthodoxy is taken seriously, if it ever is. I suspect it will never transcend its current niche status. In places where it seems it would have been a great asset- such as the missions in Guatemala and the Phillipines- it seems to be completely ignored as an option. I think the only way we will have a viable and thriving WR is uniting with a well-established group like the ACC, and that would require a degree of respect and charity which, alas, I don’t see forthcoming from our hierarchs any time soon.

    • Thank you for your kind words. I have been through many of these concerns, including considering the possibility of becoming Orthodox when I was a student in the 1980’s. I discovered that the Orthodox philosophers who inspired me the most were the least orthodox! I concluded that one doesn’t go and live in Germany simply because he likes listening to Bach or Beethoven.

      You won’t find perfection in my Church either, but there are efforts towards unity based on the real theological teachings we have always had in common. Many of our woes bear on the future of Catholic Christianity and even any form of Christian humanism. Our real desire and love are far beyond this world – a solitary journey.

      • Ryan says:

        My feeling is that Orthodoxy is undergoing something of a counter-reformation in the form of the neo-patristic/ neo-palamist movement of Florovsky and co. While I find much of worth in those thinkers, the attitude they have engendered is poisonous. Like the RC counter-reformation reshaped the Latin church into something very different from what went before, there is some dangerous revisionism going on in Orthodoxy and borders being defined that weren’t there before. However, I don’t believe that our church has the mechanism to produce something like a Trent that imposes this as a universal conformity, thank God, so I will continue to blithely draw nectar from Bulgakov, Florensky, etc.

    • Dale says:

      Ryan, Thank you so much for these postings. It is indeed refreshing to hear from an Orthodox who is not bigoted against the traditions of others and under the sway of a certain type of Byzantine Triumphalism. Too bad there are not more Byzantine Orthodox of your stripe.

      • Father Francis Michael says:

        I would venture to say that Ryan (a good Irish name) is a convert to Orthodoxy, and with no options other than the Byzantine Rite, therefore a man familiar with the Occidental traditions. The inclusion of an epiklesis in the Gregorian liturgy is without historical precedence and nothing more than submission to the very prejudiced and very ignorant Byzantine hierarchy. As Metropolitan Philip Saliba once said, “God gave the greatest faith to the worst people”. The traditional western rites will survive despite Roman persecution, Orthodox ignorance and Anglican ambiguity.

      • Ryan says:

        Yes, I am a convert, though I was never raised in Christianity. My parents had the all-too-common attitude of, “We don’t want to impose anything on them, let them figure it out later themselves.” Only through many strange turns did I end up a Christian, and I didn’t have any formation in western Christianity, though I guess I could be broadly considered “Western” (as could most cradle Orthodox!). I’m of both Irish and East Asian descent so the West/East dichotomy within Christianity doesn’t seem all that significant to me. From my upbringing all traditional Christian rites were equally alien (and now I think they are equally wonderful).

      • I have heard it said that any religion for someone not brought up to have at least some contact with churches is like you or I going to a Hindu worship service, something completely unfamiliar. Not to give a child any contact with churches and give some basic religious education is as bad as ramming fanatical “junk” religion down his throat, causing the child to react and reject it. Something made you discover the wonders of Christian liturgical worship. For me, coming from a nominally Anglican and scientific family, I was taken to church at Christmas, and went to an Anglican boarding school. I was always fascinated by the organ and gothic / neo-gothic architecture. Those are things that can draw a young boy to find out what it’s all about and become a disciple of Christ. One thing leads to another, but there has to be something tangible to begin with.

        If it’s “preachy” or “feminine”, it won’t wash with boys. There has to be something strongly sensual.

      • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

        I ‘caught liturgical fire’ in a new way by getting the opportunity to attend Latin Masses when, as a teenager, I was learning Latin and encountering classical (e.g., Mozart) settings of the Ordinary.

      • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

        After that, I can’t remember whether I first got a sampler LP of Slavonic Liturgical music, or we learned to sing a forty-fold ‘Gospodi pomilui’ setting in the choir at our state school (!), but both were ‘impressive’ (to use an inadequate word).

  8. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    I think Fr. Aidan Kimel (who has gone from American Anglicanism through communion with the Holy Father to Orthodoxy) and his blog, Eclectic Orthodoxy, is worth noting here – he is very tender to all sorts of aspects of Anglican and Western Patrimony – for example, re. Aquinas, and the Inklings, but also with a lovely series taking its time meditating on T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets.

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