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.