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The extent of this inclusion could vary from simple encouraging the Anglican Use of liturgical forms, to establishing an Anglican Rite Roman Catholic Church, with an infrastructure that reflects typically Anglican ecclesiastical order (again, aligned toward Roman authority).
This has already happened- there are several Anglican Use Roman Catholic parishes, mostly in Texas, using an adaptation of the BCP called the Book of Divine Worship which uses essentially the Roman Canon, and is laid out like a missal with the ordinary in the center and the readings before and after.
Posted by: dave at April 29, 2005 12:57 PM
AKMA, my heart goes out to you and others who may have to face such a decision. I still pray it won't come to that.
I've read through this posting several times and still am having trouble grasping parts of the argument. IF ECUSA comes to be judged by decision-makers as having "walked apart", how will that make ECUSA de facto another Protestant denomination? How is it any more (or even as much) "Protestant" as Henry's break with Rome or the American colonial church's break with England? If the bonds of catholicity withstood those ruptures, why would they not withstand (God forbid!) this one?
Posted by: Holly at April 29, 2005 01:14 PM
I think your assessment's pretty fair--it's where I see myself. I don't fully agree with any of the parties that either are in power or want to be in power. Personally, I blame the protestants for the notion that a church is a collection of people who agree on doctrine. I always thought one of the things that made us Anglican/Episcopalians more catholic is that our unity is based in what we do together -- the BCP -- rather than a confessional document that says what we agree to think. If unity is about thinking the same things, any exercise of thought is inherently schismatic. If unity is based in what we pray together -- the Daily Office and the Eucharist -- there's quite a lot we can think and disagree on and the historic language of the Offices and the Mass will keep orienting us to the God who keeps us and leads us into his own Truth.
Posted by: Derek at April 29, 2005 01:25 PM
I hope very much that someone will pay attention to what you're saying here, and what to kinds of conflicts this whole situation has created for individuals, as well as for the factions. And I beg ECUSA to simply accede to the Windsor Report - I think all this has gone way over the line at this point, and that there are many more important things we ought to be doing. And I don't think the Windsor Report is actually asking all that much.
But I have to say that I suspect that it wouldn't be enough for the "reasserters" anyway. Some have said as much.
I hope, too, along with others, that I am wrong and that somehow this situation can calm down.
There is one other possibility, though, isn't there? If ECUSA seceded from the Communion, might not other Provinces also, for the same reasons? And might not other "liberal" groups - some of the Independent Catholic groups and others - want to be part of such a thing, too? (It would be almost unbearably silly to have these various Churches aligned simply on the basis of sexual issues, I have to say....)
Posted by: bls at April 29, 2005 02:51 PM
I'm puzzled by your intimation that the Church is not (among other things) a collection of people who agree on doctrine. The Church has been, from the beginning, the body of people who continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine; and surely the fathers of the council of Nicaea regarded it as important that Christians should agree on doctrine. It makes me wonder what Church it is that you are talking about.
Agreement on doctrine does not mean what we agree to think. It means what we agree to believe, teach, and confess because those ideas are not the results of our thoughts, but instead have simply been given to us. These are not the ideas that we think, they are the ideas we think with, as E. F. Schumacher (of blessed memory) expressed it.
Posted by: Chris Jones at April 29, 2005 03:07 PM
I too sympathise with you in the unwelcome choice you may well be forced to make. Whoever is right (if anyone) in the current Anglican unpleasantness, it is clear that the Anglicanism in which you have lived and worked, to whose holy ministry you are ordained, will no longer exist. So it was for me; I was raised in the Anglo-Catholicism of Dix, Mascall, Farrer, and Ramsey. It no longer exists, and I will always lament its loss.
Like Holly, though, I am perplexed by your apparent opinion that the authenticity and catholicity of ECUSA depends on her continued communion with Canterbury. I fail to see why ECUSA would be any more or less a "Protestant denomination" than she is now. If you can regard your ordination as valid and your Church as authentic and catholic despite her being in schism from both Rome and Constantinople, why can you not continue to regard them as such if you find yourself in schism from Canterbury as well?
Given the range of choices you have identified for yourself, it would appear that remaining authentically and identifiably "Anglican" is an important value for you. When I left ECUSA, this wasn't as big a deal for me. Had it been such, I might have gone with one of the "Continuing" Churches. But for me, the issue was loyalty to the Catholic faith that I had received through the Anglican Communion, more than to the forms of Anglicanism itself. Perhaps being Anglican as such would have been more important to me if I, like you, had been a priest. But if I may be so bold as to offer a bit of advice, I think you would do well to make that your criterion for how to respond to this very unfortunate situation. Ask yourself not how one can best be an Anglican, but how one can best be a Catholic. I won't presume to tell you how to answer the question (you'd likely find my personal response to it to be bizarre), but I honestly think it's the right question.
Posted by: Chris Jones at April 29, 2005 03:34 PM
Thanks everyone, for your kind interest but really, what happens with me is surely a lot less vital than that which is already impinging on so many of our sisters and brothers, who find even our current situation unbearable (for whichever reason).
Holly, and Chris: What you point to is quite true as sober history. The Church of England unilaterally withdrew from communion with Rome (and historical truth be told, the self-understanding of most of the decisively important church leaders probably inclined toward the deliberately Reformed outlook). At the same time, through chance or Providence or Erastian convenience or sheer force of retrospective imagination, the Church of England wound up in a position of representing the Gospel in Britain in a way different from, say, one in Switzerland who repudiated catholic doctrine as part of her or his definition of the Church. Am I too far off base, here, Holly? I defer to your vastly more nuanced understanding of the Reformation.
My sense is that when the Anglo-Catholics (as opposed to catholic-inclined Anglican [reformers]) invented the notion of the CoE as the English branch of the church, they took the undeniable facts of the circumstances and deployed them to fit this congenial vision of Anglican origins. Not make-believe, not rigorous historical interpretation, but an ad hoc construction, to be believed in and lived out as a sign of commitment to a catholic vision.
Now, the difference to which I point if it exists would be that if I were to continue in a separated ECUSA, I would be more like (say) a Methodist or a Presbyterian than like a sixteenth- or seventeenth-century Anglican. Thats the problem to which I point, though if you can convince me that the difference is slight or even illusory, you resolve one possible conflict for me.
Chris, yes, I do have some degree of commitment to a distinctively Anglican identity, but as you point out thats got at best a tenuous existence (if the possibility survives at all). Oh, well. . . .
Posted by: AKMA at April 29, 2005 04:13 PM
I fear I've lost my faith.
Posted by: Anthony Smith at April 29, 2005 05:56 PM
It just further confirms what so many of us believe that you are among the saints of bapto-catholics in the world seeking to remain steadfastly connected the church while still determined to hold on to a radical notion of dissent. That one article about Via in the publication of NABPR might have just called you to far. I know it is far to great a thing for you to recognize your baptististness (not a word, and poor prose) but we wait in hope.
In all seriousness my heart aches with you my friend but I have no doubts about the scandolous providence of God in your ministry.
Posted by: Scott Erwin at April 30, 2005 09:45 AM
I'm still a bit confused. ECUSA was undoubtedly small-c catholic from 1789 until the first Lambeth conference of 1867, which presumably is the de facto start of the Anglican Communion. Given that, if Lambath Palace or the Primates' Meeting or whomever declares us out of the anglican Communion, are we still not small-c catholic? Is it *Anglican* catholic which is important? Do we not have a greater claim to Anglican diversity than those who seem to want to suppress all such diversity? I'd argue that, as long as we can follow the PB's lead and seek to continue to include all sides as long as all sides want to be included, then we are both catholic and Anglican, regardless of what others may say.
I would also not like to be relegated to one of the "continuing Anglican churches" (the result in fact if we are de-Communionated) but I'm not quite willing to look that eventuality squarely in the eye just yet.
Posted by: Bob Solon at April 30, 2005 04:42 PM
I wonder if there are even more messier options for the Anglican Communion to take. One might be a "two-speed" communion with the North Americans having observer status at Lambeth for example.
This would be like the "eurozone" within the European Union: not every country has signed up to the common currency.
Overtime this might evolve into overlapping networks (Liberal/Catholic and Evangelical) within a looser communion.
This might make your dilemna more interesting and easier at the same time.
Posted by: obadiahslope at April 30, 2005 10:41 PM
I have a novel suggestion. Why not ask God what he wants you to do? Just a thought.