Monday, April 30, 2018

John Fenwick on When Unity Efforts Fail

A number of papers from the aforementioned Anglican Patrimony Conference have been posted.  The one most intriguing to me is by John Fenwick, Primus of the Free Church of England and a key player in attempting to coordinate orthodox Anglican efforts in the U. K.

He reveals some very interesting history from the inside of the Canterbury-Rome unity push in the 70’s:

It was in the heady days of ARCIC 1. The Final Report had been sent around the Provinces of the Anglican Communion. Most of the responses were positive. It was expected to be officially endorsed at the forthcoming Lambeth Conference. The Vatican response was expected imminently. There was a feeling that something momentous was about to happen.

Prior to my appointment to Lambeth I had been lecturer in Christian worship at Trinity College, Bristol. Shortly after my arrival in the Ecumenical Affairs office, Christopher asked me to do some preliminary thinking about a liturgical project. (As Christopher put it, there’s no point in having a dog and barking yourself.) The project was what liturgical form the restoration of communion between the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church might take. That was a heady request for a junior staff member! The most recent unity scheme around was the Covenant for Unity based on the Ten Propositions. That had proposed a day of liturgical events including the consecration of bishops. I remember working with that model and envisaging a service where the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury might jointly consecrate the first of a new generation of bishops whose Orders would be recognised by both Churches.

We were that close! Or at least so it seemed to some of those closely involved.

In retrospect that moment was a high water mark. The tide has been going out ever since.

As some may remember, the Vatican’s response not only did not come before the next Lambeth Conference as hoped; it did not come until 1991.  And not only the timing, but also its content was disappointing.

Even more disillusioning has been the Church of England’s liberal drift since then.  That leads Bishop Fenwick to make an interesting hypothesis:

I want to suggest that the Vatican’s 1991 response fits a pattern that has characterised ecumenical endeavour in the past half century – namely that unity initiatives have been halted by the refusal of what one might call the more conservative partner to act, and that as a result, the other partner has felt itself free to move further away from the historic Christian consensus.

I do not claim that what I am going to say has been rigorously historically tested, nor am I able to do so here, but I think the possibility of a pattern is worth considering.

And that pattern is simply that there seem to have been several occasions when the more conservative partner in a dialogue, by failing to take bold action, allowed the less conservative partner to move further away from traditional faith and practice.

And he gives other examples of this occurring, including failed efforts between Old Catholics and Eastern Orthodox.

This pattern indeed merits consideration.  When jurisdictions are in the midst of unity efforts, their focus is often on how would merger/intercommunion affect us.  And that is certainly important.  But how it would affect the other party and the whole church, the Body of Christ, should not be overlooked.  And Fenwick does not let us ignore that, often for the disappointed party, a “move further away from traditional faith and practice” occurs after unity efforts fail.

Of course, in such cases we do not know what would have happened if unity efforts succeed.  For example, in the case of the Church of England and Roman Catholics, would Rome had been importing more liberalism to its harm? Would more Protestant-minded Anglicans feel pushed out of the Church of England?  I personally suspect the failure of ARCIC did more harm that what might have happened if it succeeded, and Fenwick seems to think that as well.  But we do not know.  And, yes, jurisdictions have to consider the stresses and pressures greater organizational unity may cause.  I sometimes wonder if the Anglican Church in North America, in its well meaning haste to bring Anglicans together, has not given such issues enough consideration.  If not done right, organizational unity can beget more disunity.

Nonetheless, Bishop Fenwick well reminds us that the good of the other party should be considered.  (And the bishops of the Reformed Episcopal Church have done just that in joining and remaining in ACNA.)  We should avoid causing sister churches to stumble by turning them away without very good reason.

Care should also be taken in missionary efforts where there are existing Anglican jurisdictions.  Accordingly, Fenwick, in his conclusion, let it be known he still has mixed feelings about the consecration of orthodox bishops in the U. K. outside of existing jurisdictions.

Whether one agrees or disagrees with Fenwick’s paper (I agree, at least for the most part.), it contains most interesting insight not often presented.  Read it all.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Gavin Ashenden On the Church, Cultural Marxism, and the Secularist State

At the Anglican Patrimony Conference this past week, Gavin Ashenden gave an excellent talk and paper on the dangers the secularist state presents to the Church today, particularly as it more and more imposes Cultural Marxism.  I commend it to you particularly as I’ve also noted the dangers of a revival of totalitarianism.

The conference remembering the 50th Anniversary of the publication of Ramsey’s The Gospel and the Catholic Church held at St. Stephen’s Oxford had a stellar line up.  And I have been informed other papers from the conference will be posted very soon.  So you may hear more.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Autistic Children and Liturgical Worship

Charlotte Riggle has written a thoughtful post on loving and accommodating autistic children and their families in church.

Which reminds me of a young man who has opened my eyes to how liturgical worship can be a very good fit for autistic children.

A few years ago, when he and his parents visited my church from out of town, the boy was clearly fascinated by our traditional low church Anglican worship.  So much so that he would not stay in the pews but went up, stood right beside our rector and very closely watched everything he did, especially as he consecrated the bread and wine.  The boy was quiet and not at all disruptive about it.  And our rector, who has a wonderful gentle heart, continued without interruption, taking it all in stride as did everyone else.  If anyone was uncomfortable, it was his parents, of course.

Recently he and his father visited again.  He had grown more self-controlled and more sociable.  But he still clearly loved liturgical worship.  In fact, he was now regularly an acolyte at his home church, and we let him acolyte during our Holy Communion service as the Crucifer.  He proved a quick learner and performed his duties very well.

Anyway, I am throwing this experience out there.  I am no expert on autism (although I have worked with autistic people perhaps more than most).  But my understanding and experience is that autistic people like a degree of order.  So traditional liturgical worship might be helpful in that regard as long as the priest and congregation takes any mild disorder a child might cause in stride.  I am certainly glad to have seen that first hand.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Return to . . .

With Oxford’s Trinity Term just beginning, this seems a good time to announce what I have hinted at – God willing, I am finally returning to England and to Oxford this Autumn.

As in 2011, I will an independent student studying in 18th Century fashion if you will.  My focuses of study will likely be English Church History and Dante.  And this time, with a superior place to reside and armed with Vitamin D, I hope to last the entire Michaelmas Term.  And I will post of my experience here, of course.

I also have planned briefer stays in York, Cambridge and Windsor.

If you have suggestions for what I should see and do (especially inside information on Oxford opportunities.  As I once heard at Pusey House, “they don’t tell anyone what’s going on around here.”) or have anything else helpful or would just like to meet me then, feel free to comment on this or a subsequent post and leave a way to contact you if necessary.  I moderate all comments, so – don’t worry – I will not post anything of a private nature.  People have gotten in touch with me privately via the comments before.

I have chosen this time because it will be the 100th anniversary of the end of WW1.  So information on events and lectures remembering that would also be appreciated.  I will be staying in Oxford for Remembrance Sunday weekend.

And prayers would be appreciated as well.  The last time I had a trip to England planned, my knee prevented it.

Monday, April 23, 2018

“Stringent Consequences”?? Oh My!

From the Sunday Times via Ancient Briton:

The Church of England has warned its American sister church that it could be kicked out of the global Anglican family if it forces priests to use a gay-friendly marriage ceremony that relegates the importance of bearing children.

In a strongly worded eight-page letter, William Nye, the Church of England’s secretary-general, told the Episcopal Church that it could face “stringent consequences” if it replaced the marriage rites in its Book of Common Prayer with a gender-neutral ceremony that removed all reference to procreation.

Stringent Consequences?!? My, oh, my!  Only one sugar cube with their tea at Lambeth!  That’ll show ‘em!

Pardon my snark, but fifteen years of seeing the Church of England in inaction since that fateful year of 2003 has made me slightly skeptical about any alleged will power of that august institution when it comes to apostates.  Warnings that once might have made one pause now just make one laugh.

Which, on reflection, is very sad.  I remember when I and other orthodox Anglicans actually had some hope that the Church of England would help set the Anglican Communion aright….

I best move on.  Neither temper nor depression becomes me.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Fr. Hunwicke’s Unboring Take on the Boring Subject of Women’s Ordination

The Venerable Fr. John Hunwicke, like many, is bored beyond tears and then some by the subject of Women’s Ordination.  But with rumblings of a push within the Church of Rome for WO, he has reluctantly but colorfully provided the service of what may be in store as only he can.  His observations from long experience certainly apply to other jurisdictions that may have to deal with the issue.  Some highlights:

(3) …if you with strategic good sense start off instead with deacons [as was the case in the Church of England and elsewhere], you can get the laity used to seeing vested females buzzing around the Sanctuary and having "The Reverend" attached to their names. And such ladies will not be as divisive as women priests because the validity of no Sacrament depends upon the diaconate. Then you can move on to women priests, starting off by placing them carefully in churches where they will be 'pastorally acceptable'. Only when you have successfully completed that phase will you move in for the final kill. You see how the trick is worked. Rather Bergoglian, really, in its 'gradualism'. But it is a fundamentally dishonest trick. Crooks, the lot of them!

(4) It will be suggested that those opposing WO are people who "'have problems" with female sexuality or just with women anyway. I remember actually once being told that I must have a phobia of menstrual blood. Quite a conversation-stopper ... 

I can imagine it was.  But Fr. Hunwicke advises to get used to it:

In other words, if you choose to fight this battle within the Catholic Church, you will need to be ready to have some immensely vile personal attacks made upon you. Our opponents, generally speaking, possess neither decency nor shame. Feminists of either sex are rarely Gentlemen! You will need a very thick skin.

He said it.  I didn’t. . . .   But he could have gone further actually.   In addition to being bored to death, those who do not recognize women’s ordination will be not only be vilified, but risk being ghettoized.  See the Philip North affair.

By his own admission, Fr. Hunwicke’s post is practical, not theological.  But it is the practical, namely seeing women’s ordination in practice, that has turned me from a tolerant agnostic on the question into a wary opponent.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

“It’s Time for Catholics to Face the Truth About the Papal Confusion”

Over at OnePeterFive, Steve Skojec is a provocative observer.  I do not agree with all he writes, but he is right when he notes there the persistent denial concerning Pope Francis:

Although the number of Catholics vocal about their concerns with the pontificate of Pope Francis has grown in recent months, a strange phenomenon nevertheless continues to assert itself: a kind of cognitive dissonance in which the faithful seek to find any explanation, no matter how far-fetched, to reassure themselves that what is happening can’t really be as troubling as it seems.

And the same can be said about many Anglicans.  Yes, I understand that important public figures can be misquoted.  But again and again we have this pattern:

1. Pope Francis says something or is quoted to say something out of line with orthodoxy. 
2. The Vatican issues a denial/non-denial somewhat along the lines of the Pope didn’t mean what he said.
3. Those who cannot deal with the possibility of the Pope being a Jesuit heretic engage in their usual denial and pour scorn on those open to said possibility.

Now I do not know if the Pope is a heretic.  But I sure as Hell know there is something seriously wrong with the man.

Just how much is wrong with the man I do not presume to know.  I do know he is a Lib/Left Jesuit (But I repeat myself.) who should never had been made Pope, and I am not about to engage in denial about it.

Skojec posits that the influence of Peronism explains much about Francis.  I am unsure of that.  But it gives me an excuse to repost this fun anecdote about Juan Peron:

The story is told that Perón, in his days of glory, once proposed to induct a nephew in the mysteries of politics. He first brought the young man with him when he received a deputation of communists; after hearing their views, he told them, “You’re quite right.” The next day he received a deputation of fascists and replied again to their arguments, “You’re quite right.” Then he asked his nephew what he thought and the young man said, “You’ve spoken with two groups with diametrically opposite opinions and you told them both that you agreed with them. This is completely unacceptable.” Perón replied, “You’re quite right too.”

And that sounds too much like Francis, does it not?  Perhaps that explains much of the denial about him.  His defenders hear just enough affirmation of their views from him to keep defending him – no matter what else he says or does not say to others.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

On Millennial Ignorance of Totalitarianism

I will not go over the details of a recent poll revealing ignorance about the Holocaust among Millennials.  By now most of my above average readers are well aware of the poll, and it is readily available.

I will point out that this ignorance is surely one reason for the revival of totalitarianism amongst Millennials.  That those who are ignorant of history are doomed to repeat it is a partial truth and something of a cliché, but there is truth to it.  That is surely one reason the Bible tells so much of the evils of so many, even of heroes, and of the consequences of said evils.  When we are tempted to foolish sin, it helps to have a learned reminder not to be like past sinners.

To be more specific, when a young man is tempted to put on an arm band and raise his arm against Constitutional rights and to viciously attack and slander opponents and attempt to disarm and silence them, it helps for his education to whisper in his ear, “Hey bud, that would be acting a bit too much like a Nazi, don’tcha think?”  When youth are instead ignorant of the basics of historic totalitarianism, we are more likely to get . . .  well, to get David Hogg.

And given the bias towards the Left in public and secondary education, ignorance of Communism and its atrocities must surely be even greater, likely much greater.  So the little Communists running amuck are blissfully unaware that they are acting a bit too much like the 20th Century Communists who murdered tens upon tens of millions.  I see how some of the youth act and am reminded of the Cultural Revolution.  Meanwhile most of them have no idea what the Cultural Revolution was, thanks to their failed education. . . .  Or maybe their education was intended to create Leftists with little memory of Leftist atrocities and little respect for democratic values.

So, yes, I have little doubt that ignorance of 20th Century totalitarianism is assisting a revival of totalitarianism in the 21st. Poor education and ignorance has consequences.

Friday, April 13, 2018

“Never Again” or Here We Go Again?

First, my apologies that this post will be somewhat stream of consciousness.  But something has been on my mind, and it’s important enough that I should not be silent about it.  Holocaust Remembrance Day yesterday has goaded me to say something even if my thoughts are not that well organized yet.

Yesterday is a reminder of how deadly totalitarianism is.  The totalitarian mindset cares not a wit for the freedom and lives of political opponents and of others who are hated for other reasons, such as class, religion, and ethnicity.  Totalitarianism is why the 20th Century was such a deadly one.  And do not forgot that the Communist brand of totalitarianism killed tens of millions more than Hitler’s did.  Of course, thankfully, Hitler’s time was shorter.

Another lesson of the 20th Century is that often it is hard to see just how dangerous times are when you are in the middle of them.  As a child, I wondered why all the Jews did not flee what was to come.  Well, although they knew times were not good, most did not know the horrors to come although there was much warning.  Us humans are prone to denial of coming horrors until it is too late.

I understand that denial more now.  I see the totalitarian mindset on the march today in the conduct of the Left and of the Deep State, of their contempt for freedom of speech, for freedom of religion, and of democracy in general. I also see it in the vilification of others under the guise of “White Privilege” and now and soon “Christian Privilege.” I do not know what scares me more, the little totalitarians taking over college campuses or the conduct of Mueller and Company in attempting to overturn a presidential election.  Their method of practically inventing the crimes of political opponents reminds me of the old Soviet Union and of today’s Russian under Putin.  Instead of investigating a crime and finding the man behind it, they investigate the man and search for or invent a supposed crime to bring him down.  The raid of Trump’s lawyer’s offices has made that modus operandi that much more clear.

And yet part of me thinks this too will pass.  But I don’t know whether that part is realistic or in denial.

Under totalitarianism, the people are not allowed to choose their leaders (except for the correct “The People,” of course).  And it seems electing Trump was not permissible and must be overturned.  I’ve said it before and will say it again, the Left and others with a totalitarian mindset only respect democracy when they win.  And very early on, I smelled an attempted coup against Trump, and that attempted coup continues.

I know I may seem overwrought.  I know that totalitarianism in the U. S. may seem a conspiratorial fever dream.  But how many saw the coming ravages of Nazism and Communism before it was too late?  For that matter, how many ten or twenty years ago foresaw how mad the college campuses have become?  And with the attacks on free speech and on Constitutional and democratic values in general, I see warning signs too similar to warning signs of totalitarianism in the past.  More and more, I feel like I am living in a pre-totalitarian time and place.  I certainly understand more what so many Europeans experienced in the 20th Century.

Yes, I told you this would be somewhat stream of consciousness.  Anyway, you may have noticed this blog has become less political and I hope I can keep it that way.  I’ve seen how politics can divide in the Anglican Church in North America and have been thinking I, too, should become more selective and careful in discussing politics in an Anglican context.  I do want this blog to inform and edify, not drive away.

But what I, and others, see happening in America and in the West will very much affect the church and us all if the current direction of politics and culture goes unchecked.  So I may address the revival of totalitarian and of the totalitarian mindset from time to time as unpleasant as the subject may be.

Friday, April 06, 2018

Cardinal Burke on Pope Francis’ Hellish Interview

If an interview with Cardinal Burke is an indicator – and let’s hope it is – many in the Roman Catholic Church are through with tolerating the enormities of the current Bishop of Rome and his Vatican tools after Francis denied (or not) the existence of Hell.  Cardinal Burke is more vocal about that than most (Emphasis mine.):

What happened with the last interview given to Eugenio Scalfari during Holy Week and published on Holy Thursday went beyond what is tolerable. That a well-known atheist could pretend to announce a revolution in the teaching of the Catholic Church, claiming to speak in the name of the Pope, denying the immortality of the human soul and the existence of Hell, was a source of profound scandal, not only for Catholics but also for many others who respect the Catholic Church and her teachings, even if they do not agree with them. Furthermore, Holy Thursday is one of the most sacred days of the year, the day on which Our Lord instituted the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist and also the Priesthood, so that He could always offer us the fruit of His redemptive Passion and Death for our eternal salvation. The response of the Holy See to the scandalized reactions which came in from all over the world was also greatly inadequate. Instead of clearly restating the truth about the immortality of the human soul and Hell, the Holy See’s statement said only that some of the quoted words were not those of the Pope. It did not say that the erroneous, even heretical, ideas expressed by these words are not shared by the Pope and that the Pope repudiates these ideas, which are contrary to the Catholic faith. This game-playing with the faith and doctrine, at the highest level of the Church, leaves pastors and the faithful feeling scandalized, and rightly so.

Again, these are the words of a prominent Cardinal of the R.C. Church.  He goes after many of his fellow prelates as well:

Certainly the situation is only made worse by the silence of many bishops and cardinals who share with the Roman Pontiff a solicitude for the universal Church. Some simply say nothing. Others pretend that there is nothing serious going on. Still others spread fantasies of a “new Church”, a Church which takes a totally different direction from the past, fantasizing, for example, about a “new paradigm” for the Church or about a radical conversion of the pastoral praxis of the Church, making it completely new. Then there are those who are enthusiastic promoters of the so-called revolution of the Catholic Church. For the faithful who understand the gravity of the situation, the lack of doctrinal and disciplinary direction on the part of their pastors leaves them feeling lost. For the faithful who do not understand the gravity of the situation, this lack of direction leaves them in confusion and eventually victims of errors which endanger their souls.

What I posted earlier this week is in line with this – how a church deals with bad bishops is of the highest importance.  And the Roman Catholic Church seems to be failing at that.  Sadly, the courage of Cardinal Burke in confronting Francis and his cohort is likely more the exception than the rule.  For the sake of the Faith, let us pray that is changing and quickly.

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Pope Francis - A Man of His Word

I got an e-mail yesterday promoting a new movie, “Pope Francis – A Man of His Word”.  Yes, I did wonder if this was a joke or satire.  How many times has the Vatican had to walk back his words?  And we still don’t really know whether he believes in Hell or not.

Should we now expect a sequel, “Katharine Jefferts Schori – A Compassionate Woman of Orthodoxy”?

But see the promotional material for yourself.  Here’s the e-mail.

I love it that the main review is from . . . the Vatican.  Well, I hope they like the movie; they co-produced it:

A rare co-production with the Vatican, the pope’s ideas and his message are central to this documentary, which sets out to present his work of reform and his answers to today’s global questions from death, social justice, immigration, ecology, wealth inequality, materialism, and the role of the family.

Hmm, so the movie covers “social justice, immigration, ecology [and] wealth inequality.”  Is this about a pope or a Socialist Party chairman?

Also quite rich is the beginning of the trailer:

“His words unite us”?  Oh yeah!  Like when it came out during Holy Week that he denied the existence of Hell . . . or not – who knows? – words like that really unite us!

But “who am I to judge?”  Anyway, I chose to laugh at this risible piece of propaganda.  The alternative is less fun.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Pope Francis, Bad Bishops, and a Healthy Church

The latest episode of Pope Francis spouting heresy . . . or not – who am I to judge?  Anyway, the latest episode of Francis being Francis has me reflecting on the importance of a church being able and willing to deal effectively with bad bishops. 

Yes, that is important.  I remember in my young days when I didn’t know an Anglican from a right angle that I did know enough that the Episcopal Church was a no-go denomination for me.  Why?  “Bishop” Spong and TEC’s tolerance of him.  Spong drove the orthodox out of his diocese, and no telling how many he drove out of or repelled from The Episcopal Church.  I am not saying he was vindictive towards the orthodox. He might have been gracious to them for all I know.  But a bishop spouting heresy without being disciplined sends a strong message to the orthodox to leave or stay away.

Further, the leaven of bad bishops spreads throughout a church.  That is all the more true for a Pope who makes numerous appointments worldwide.  And many of Pope Francis’ appointments have been awful.  But even the mere presence of an apparently or openly apostate bishop sends the message that apostasy is okay.  It invites more apostasy.  And the enormities of the Romans have certainly become more evident under Francis.

To avoid these and other ways bad bishops harm a church, a healthy church must be able and willing to depose them or at least demote them to positions where they can do little harm.  And, yes, it is time for Pope Francis to be sent off into the sunset – nicely, of course – but sent off before he does more damage.

That may sound like wishful thinking, and it probably is.  But the Vatican Mafia managed to send off perhaps the best Pope of my lifetime.  So why not be done with Francis?

The answer to that question may be that the Roman Catholic Church is not a healthy church; worse, that the wolves are in control of it.  Most of us are all too familiar with churches that suppress good bishops and promote bad ones and what eventually becomes of such jurisdictions.

Yes, churches can survive bad bishops – 10th Century Rome had some real winners as Popes – but the downward spiral of The Episcopal Church illustrates that one should not so presume on the grace of God.  Bad bishops must be made demoted bishops or ex-bishops.

Closer to home, are there bad bishops in the Anglican Church in North America that need to be dealt with?

I may deal with that question at another time.

Monday, April 02, 2018

Keble on The Sight of God Incarnate

The apostles saw Christ, but were not yet members of His body.  We are members of His body, but do not yet see Him.  These two things, which are now separated, are to be united in the other world and, being united, they will make us happy forever.

--John Keble, from “The Sight of God Incarnate”, a sermon preached on an Easter Sunday. (Volume 6, sermon 12 of his collected sermons)

What a great hope indeed!  And may this Easter season, with the hope that comes from the Resurrection of Christ and of his people, be a joyous one for all my readers.