Friday, August 15, 2008

On Anglo-Catholics and Rome

I at times take issue with Fr. Robert Hart. And I’m usually very well disposed towards the good men of the Diocese of Ft. Worth. But I heartily agree with Fr. Hart’s commentary on the “Eight Useful Findings” of some of those Ft. Worth men. That is indeed a most unfortunate document, to be polite.

The efforts of these Ft. Worth priests to have their diocese join Rome reminds me of how perplexed I can be at how eager some Anglo-Catholics can be to ditch their Anglican brethren and join Rome.

Now I know that sounds harsh. But a large part of my annoyance is that I really want Anglo-Caths to stick around. When I was in Oxford, the only place I could conscientiously take communion after the first month or so was Pusey House. My favorite place to worship in the Dallas area is Smokey Matt’s. And I could go on. Anglicanism and the church as a whole just wouldn’t be the same without a vibrant Anglo-Catholic presence. So in recent years, I’ve been distressed to see that the default option for Anglo-Caths who have had it with the enormities in the Anglican Communion too often is Rome. Heck, they sometimes act as if continuing Anglicanism doesn’t exist.

I can understand that somewhat better than I once did. After all, these are catholics (And I consider myself small “c” catholic.) They put a high priority with unity in and with the church, both past and present.

But they seem not to give much weight to that, when they join Rome, they are cutting themselves off from much of the catholic church, including all Anglicans. I cherished receiving communion from Bishop Iker and his priests and from Pusey House. Isn’t that unity valuable as well? But if either join Rome, that is gone. The Diocese of Ft. Worth has excellent relationships with lower church Anglicans, including the Province of the Southern Cone, GAFCON and the REC. Is it good for unity for those to be tossed aside?

Then there is the question of deserting Anglicanism itself. Is not traditional Anglicanism worth saving? There are still people out there (And I am one.) who cannot conscientiously join Rome, but who also cannot endure the sloppy “worship” and “theology” of most of Protestantism. Traditional Anglicanism is the ideal ship for many of them. Should that ship be abandoned?

I love and value my Anglo-Catholic friends. But the tendency of many of them to flee to Rome frustrates me. When they so flee, it diminishes Anglicanism and the church as a whole (even it does the RC church good . . . for a time). I do pray those with that tendency would reconsider.


texanglican said...

I agree with your remarks 100%, Newbie. These priests, all of whom I know, exceeded their writ immensely in this document. They were supposed to be discussing deepening our co-operation with the Roman Catholic diocese of Ft. Worth pursuant to ARCIC's findings of the last few decades, not begin negotiating the wholesale transfer of most of the diocese to the jurisdiction of the Roman Pontiff!

I, for one, am a priest of the diocese of Ft Worth who will not be sumbitting to the pope's authority any time soon. I cannot imagine accepting papal infallibility and the universal ordinary jurisdiction of the pope until Rome has at least worked out an accomodation with Eastern Orthodoxy. (I trust the EO bishops to negotiate these thorny issues on my behalf!) I am fairly certain nothing whatsoever will come of these four priests' endeavors. As a priests who loves the diocese of Fort Worth deeply I hope nothing does--it would tear us apart. Our laity (and at least a few priests like me) are no where near talking about reunion with Rome rather than membership in a new North American Anglican province. But if by chance something did develop along the lines these four men envision in the next few years, look for my transfer to the REC or AMiA before I abandon Anglicanism for Rome. I firmly believe our future is in a new orthodox North American Anglican province, and I believe Bishop Iker thinks so as well.

Mark said...

Thanks for those encouraging words, Tex.


The young fogey said...

The 'Reformation' was a mistake.

That said Anglican culture in the form of Anglo-Catholicism is worth saving. All of us - you, me, Fr Foster and these four priests in Fort Worth - agree.

The question is how.

It has no future in the Episcopal Church.

The Global South Anglicans are conservative Protestants whilst the Episcopalians are liberal ones. So to a catholic being in communion with the Southern Cone, Gafcon and possibly REC is no different from being in communion with the Episcopal bishops of Rhode Island (Geralyn Wolf, not a bad person) and New Hampshire.

Fr Foster reflects the fact that most American Anglo-Catholics unlike English ones are not Anglo-Papalists. So there probably wouldn't be many conversions in that direction.

That said the only future this culture has is either as RC national parishes (a mass conversion would then mean the RC Diocese of Fort Worth would get a lot of Anglican Use parishes) or as Antiochian Orthodox Western Rite Vicariate ones (even though Orthodox anti-Westernism is a problem).

The latter - good old-fashioned liturgics and non-papal theology - seem a very good fit for American ACs. If in Fr Foster's view it all hangs on agreement with Eastern Orthodoxy why not be Orthodox and say goodbye to sectarian Protestantism?

English ones, the Anglo-Papalists, should become RC national parishes.

The RC option all depends on how much the Pope is willing to fight for it because it's true the local liberal RCs don't want a bunch of cultured conservatives coming on board.

(There are four times as many WRO parishes as AU RC and the Antiochians unlike the local RCs train new priests to do it as needed.)

With all due respect to the Continuers like Fr Robert Hart they're living in a sectarian world of their own creation that at its worst turns into vagante make-believe, schisms, delusions of clerical grandeur and all. As RC convert Jeffrey Steenson rightly said the world does not need more denominations.

Ritualist congregationalism including with the Episcopalians is not catholicism.

Mark said...

"The Global South Anglicans are conservative Protestants whilst the Episcopalians are liberal ones. So to a catholic being in communion with the Southern Cone, Gafcon and possibly REC is no different from being in communion with the Episcopal bishops of Rhode Island (Geralyn Wolf, not a bad person) and New Hampshire."

You kinda lost me there. ;)

Seriously, Anglo-Caths have so much more in common (namely Jesus!) with conservative Evangelicals that to compare that with liberals as done here and elsewhere is a bit silly.

The church has both orthodox evangelicals and orthodox Anglo-Caths. Is it asking too much for a church to look like it?


Anonymous said...


I agree that at heart orthodox Anglo-Catholics have much more in common with orthodox evangelicals. I am another AC that has no intention whatsoever to join Rome. I have substantial differences with that see and won't be re-approaching it until it makes serious moves to reapproach me and those like me ( I would include the EO as part of this group.) Rome must reform and if those of us who are orthodox but not in communion with it merely roll over and submit that will never happen.

Needless to say, I think Anglo-Catholicism represents the best of all worlds, Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant and would much rather see to its survival within the Anglican family than go anywhere else. I think that misunderstandings among some evangelicals as to our Protestant creds and our commitment to the best of the Reformation may be to blame for some of the hostility we sometimes experience from that quarter but like all misunderstandings it can be cleared up through effective communication and outreach. If we remain entirely committed to Anglicanism even in spite of everything else, this may go a long way towards that goal.

If, God forbid, we should find someday that we are no longer welcome in Anglicanism, if I personally had to leave it would not be for Rome. I would much rather cross the Bospherous before I would the Tiber. I feel closer to the EO's for a number of reasons which should be clear enough without me having to go into them here. In fact, I chose an AC church in the first place because I felt its affinity to both the EO tradition and to the Western Christian tradition.