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Read a 2001 interview with Archbishop Morse
The Continuum ^ | 5/13/2006 | Fr. Robert Hart

Posted on 05/13/2006 6:08:35 PM PDT by sionnsar

I discovered an active link to an old interview, posted Dec 8th 2001 by David Virtue on his Virtuosity website. He had interviewed Archbishop Morse, something I was glad to read at the time, because I was thinking back then that Mr. Virtue had been making too much of the recent creation of the AmiA by saying (throughout much of 2000 and 2001) that Anglicans in America finally had an alternative to the Episcopal Church. I considered this to be most troubling, because the AmiA was a single issue movement in its inception, after the 2000 General Convention of the Episcopal Church, reacting against the Homosexualist movement in ECUSA, but seeming to ignore every problem that had led to the moral laxity of that 2000 General Convention; (moral laxity so hideous that the heresies of the 2003 General Convention were inevitable). Therefore, at the time that the interview was posted, I was very glad to see Mr. Virtue record the words of a truly Catholic leader in the Anglican tradition (and that was before I entered the APCK).

There is a typo in this interview, in which the 1978 Denver Consecrations read as having taken place in 1987. Some of the news has changed a bit since then, but, the position of the Archbishop and of the Province is clearly stated in the interview with frankness, good humor and deep conviction. In fact, much that is said in this interview has grown more relevant in the few years that have passed. It covers many subjects, including the Vagante problem, the relations between East and West, and the need for stability and growth.

About the vagante problem, the simple fact is we have Freedom of Religion in the United States, and in most of the Western world. Whereas this brings many good things, it also creates a situation in which any fool can start a church in his garage. His entire Diocese may cover all of North America, but his membership might consist only of his wife, his neighbor, his neighbor’s wife, and his dog. So, when his dog dies, he loses 20 percent of his church membership. The vagante may trace his orders through disreputable characters, sometimes involving the old practice of Simony. Some guys just want to wear purple shirts and pointed hats. The problem is, these jokers give a bad name to honest and valid bishops who are lumped in with them by some people who assume that all of the non-Canterbury Anglicans are cut from the same cloth. This is why I continue to emphasize the Affirmation of Saint Louis, which states the real basis for why we must exist as separate from ECUSA, and other corrupted national churches of the official Anglican Communion.

TOPICS: Mainline Protestant
[The following is the Virtue article. --sionnsar]

Date: Sat, 8 Dec 2001 01:13:32 EST
David Virtue <DVirtue236@AOL.COM>
Subject: 2. A LION IN WINTER. An interview with APCK Archbishop Robert Sherwood Morse
text/plain; charset="US-ASCII"


Archbishop Robert Sherwood Morse, a man of character, conviction and principle.

An interview with Archbishop Morse leader of the Anglican Province of Christ the King

By David W. Virtue

There is a certain regal, almost leonine quality about Robert Sherwood Morse as he sits facing this journalist, and about to give his first interview to the press in more than 20 years. He is, understandably guarded, uncertain, and a little unsure of what is to follow, but wholly confident in what he believes. He exudes the quiet strength of a man who knows what he believes and will defend it with every breath in his body. His presence is powerful. Now in his mid 70s he has been through a lifetime of episcopal wars with the scars to show for it, but honestly come by. His five bishops sit quietly around the room, respectful of their leader, sensing perhaps his discomfort but ready to hear the questions and listen to what he has to say. There is both deep love and profound respect for this man. It is palpable in the room.

The high esteem and affection in which he is held cannot be lightly passed over. Such depth of love and unity does not remotely exist in the Episcopal Church House of Bishops where fragmentation and "diversity," not moral or theological conviction is the order of the day.

These men and the priests under them would lay down their lives for the cause of Christ. They are all truly men with chests to use an expression from G. K. Chesterton. They are united in soul and spirit, one in faith and doctrine. It is impressive to observe. There is a deep sense of belonging among them. The bonds go deep.

The Most Rev. Robert Morse is the head of one of the fastest growing Anglican provinces in what is called the Continuum, those churches who broke away in 1977 from The Episcopal Church USA over fundamental issues of theology, doctrine, liturgical innovation and morals. On January 28, 1978 he was one of four priests consecrated bishop of the continuum following the Port St. Lucie meeting of the House of Bishops. He was rector of St. Peter's, Oakland (CA) (Diocese of Christ the King).

One senses both hope and pain in this man. His square jaw, silver hair and steely blue eyes give him a certain air of gravitas, a no-nonsense tone that says he will not be messed with and he is not much interested in fighting 25-year old wars. The present climate in the Anglican Communion demands action and gospel focus and that is the primary message he wants to convey, but within the framework of the classical Anglican Way, the 1662 Prayer Book and a traditional and biblical understanding of both faith and morals. There is a deep catholicity about the man. He lies comfortably in the womb of the Incarnational life of the church that is at once both highly liturgical and gospel driven. He knows his Lord.

Whatever reservations one might have about splinter groups that have broken away from ECUSA over the past quarter century, there can be little doubt that this man would never have survived the present political climate, evil machinations and moral madness of ECUSA's divided House of Bishops.

The truth is, Archbishop Robert Sherwood Morse and his bishops have more in common with Episcopal bishops like Keith Ackerman, Jack Iker and John-David Schofield than these three traditionalist bishops have with the rest of ECUSA's bishops. It is a sad indictment but true.

It is wintertime for Anglo-Catholics in the worldwide Anglican Communion. In ECUSA those remaining are under siege with arch feminists and pansexualists picking away at the remaining hold outs like eagles tearing at the corpse of carrion under a hot African sun. This archbishop waits quietly in the wings, certain that his day will come. One never knows how or where the winds of the Spirit will blow. He is, above all, a patient man.

I am indebted to Washington-based Canon lawyer, Chuck Nalls of the Canon Law Institute and a deacon in the Anglican Province of Christ the King for making this interview possible. This meeting with a reporter was conducted earlier in the year, but circumstances around the Anglican Communion and in the U.S. itself made its writing and publication impossible. I am delighted to publish it now.

VIRTUOSITY: Would you give my readers a thumb nail sketch of the APCK, when it was first born and a little of its history.

MORSE: Four of us were consecrated in 1987 [sic: 1978] following the Episcopal General Convention. The problem of the division of the church took place shortly after that when we realized that all the problems of the old Episcopal Church were carried out with this baggage. There was no hope of reform. I am the last remaining of the four bishops consecrated in Denver in 1987 [sic: 1978].

You had four basic positions, which were in the Episcopal Church [at that time]. One of the bishops was an Anglo Papist, one reformed Episcopalian, one was an English romantic (a green fields of England type) and then there was what became the Province of Christ the King. We were primarily committed to the catholic position of the church with sacramental and Incarnational theology, wishing to continue that which they had already received and passed on to the generations to come. We are very committed Anglicans, and we feel then as now that the merger of the Anglo-Saxon and the Celtic mind has created a very rich spirituality along with the Anglican genius of personal freedom.

The position of the Province of Christ the King today (I have been bishop for 23 years) is that there is no such thing as the continuum. Basically the Elizabethan Settlement is over with, and what is happening across the board is that the growing division that the Elizabethan Settlement tried to resolve in trying to keep Protestants and Catholics in the same church doesn't work. Sooner or later it [would] hit the rocks and it did.

Our position is that we want to be sacramental Christians, Incarnational Christians, and catholic Christians, very orthodox in our understanding of the theology of the church.

The Singapore consecrations are an example of what really is happening, forgetting the proliferation of the vagantes, which is the greatest threat, a profound tragedy, and what I faced from the beginning. Today the AMIA is reaching out to all these other fundamentalist and charismatic groups.

VIRTUOSITY: How many bishops do you have and how big is the APCK?

MORSE: We have five bishops, about 70 congregations in total and more than 15,000 congregants.

VIRTUOSITY: Are you strictly in the US?

MORSE: Yes, we are only in the US.

VIRTUOSITY: At Lambeth in 1998 a resolution was passed to reach out to Anglicans outside the Communion. Has that happened with you and your flock?

MORSE: I went to see the bishops in Forward in Faith UK and tried to arrange a meeting with Archbishop George Carey, but he wasn't really interested.

VIRTUOSITY: Have you met with ECUSA Bishop Keith Ackerman and the Province Nine bishops?

MORSE: No. But I have met with the Forward in Faith UK. (Note: This is the Anglo-Catholic wing of the Church of England. They are opponents of women's ordination.)

VIRTUOSITY: Would you like to see the APCK as part of the worldwide Anglican Communion in fellowship with 70 million Anglicans?

MORSE: Of course but what do they mean by that? All the questions tearing the church apart would have to be resolved. For instance a lot of these bishops are orthodox in their theology but not so on women's ordination. There are dividing points.

VIRTUOSITY: The Anglican Mission in America (AMIA) is in potential concordat with four continuing churches and a letter of agreement has been signed with FiFNA. What is your reading of that?

MORSE: I am surprised by that. Because the AMIA is not opposed to the ordination of women.

VIRTUOSITY: The AMIA have put a moratorium on that for two years while the seek the mind of God and to study the whole issue.

MORSE: It's only a moratorium. But they have b[r]ought one in with them from Colorado. They are already compromised on this issue.

VIRTUOSITY: If the issue of women's ordination could be resolved among FiFNA and AMIA and all 20 continuing churches could be resolved on the issue do you see a concordat between with them and yourselves? Could you form a new province at this point?

MORSE: The problem is the statement of St. Louis. That is the ground level.

VIRTUOSITY: Are you comfortable with any group in the Anglican Communion?

MORSE: I am most comfortable with the English FinF and bishops like John Broadhurst Bishop of Fulham. I also think that the English situation is very different from the American situation. I've always said we should be totally supportive of them but we do not want to interfere with English Church life.

VIRTUOSITY: Would you join a new province if one was formed for orthodox people like yourself and those of Anglo-Catholic and Evangelical persuasion in ECUSA if such were to happen?

MORSE: Would it take the St. Louis statement seriously, would it commit itself to the St. Louis statement? If they did, yes.

VIRTUOSITY: Have you had talks with Rome?

MORSE: A far as I am concerned we take the traditional Anglican position. We want to see the catholic position of the Anglicans. We want to see the reconciliation of the Catholic world and that means both Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholics. A great friend of mine Alexander Schmiemann said to me just before he died that what we needed to do was stabilize what we were doing and grow, and maybe with grace things will work out in the future. That is exactly the position the province has taken. We have not gotten ourselves involved in political infighting and all the tensions with the so-called continuum. We are the only ones with a legitimate seminary and we are building churches all over the US.

VIRTUOSITY: The Roman Catholic Church has an English rite for non-Catholics, for married priests, why could you not fold your tent into them if they would recognize your distinctiveness?

MORSE: Would they recognize our ordinations?

VIRTUOSITY: Have you ever discussed that with Cardinal Ratzinger in Rome, the man most responsible for maintaining purity of doctrine in the Roman Catholic Church?

MORSE: No I haven't.


MORSE: He hasn't asked me over. (laughter).

VIRTUOSITY: It would seem that you would have more in common with Cardinal Ratzinger than you would with either Ed Browning or the present ECUSA Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold.

MORSE: I am also closer to Eastern Orthodoxy. I have talked with the Eastern Patriachate of Constantinople. The problem of the Eastern Orthodox and the Roman Catholics is that they both claim to be the true church.

When they got together the Patriarch poked the Pope in the chest and said to him what is the difference between us, and the pope poked him back and said "you are the difference between us." (laughter).

The catholic Anglican position is that we do not claim to be the true church but we claim to be a part of it. I can't see a reconciliation in the catholic world apart from a reconciliation of the East and the West, and the real ecumenical problem. When the pope and ecumenical Patriarchies concur with each other there will be no need for our separate existence.

VIRTUOSITY: Putting aside the one nature versus the two nature issue which seems irresolvable, are there basic issues like an understanding of the gospel, repentance and faith, sin and salvation, the atonement that you could agree on that would form a baseline for what the church exists for? Could you then see some issues as secondary enough to be put on the backburner, or do you have certain things that you regard as fundamental?

MORSE: I believe that true unity takes place on the highest level. The great mistake of the past is to try and unite on the lowest levels rather than the highest and the only way you can ever get together is on the highest levels.

VIRTUOSITY: What is Via Media and what is your understanding of it?

MORSE: I would say the Via Media to me is that if you walk down the middle of the road you will get hit. (laughter).

VIRTUOSITY: You don't have a high view of this do you?

MORSE: No I don't.

VIRTUOSITY: You don't see Anglicanism as the via media between Protestantism and Catholicism?


VIRTUOSITY: Do you see any legitimacy in the term Via Media?

MORSE: I am very sympathetic with the situation at the time of the Elizabethan Settlement. The Tudors saved England from the 30 years War, which is the most devastating thing the West has seen since before World War I. I think the desire to hold these two factions together and create a national church, which created the English life. All of these things are very understandable but all of these things have now passed. I believe there has always been that continuous stream mixed with that incredible spirituality of the Anglo-Saxon Celtic mind.

VIRTUOSITY: What then is the fundamental difference between Rome and yourselves?

MORSE: It is basically what they mean by papal infallibility. Was the rock Christ or Peter? Christ is the rock. Does the Holy Father when he speaks ex cathedra speak collegially or does he speak from his own office. At that point you open the whole vista of where Anglicans are which is this wonderful sense of individual freedom and personality.

VIRTUOSITY: The Rev. John Stott probably the leading the evangelical Anglican in the world today once said that if the Pope could see himself simply as the Bishop of Rome and not the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church he could recognize him. What is your response to that?

MORSE: I would not be opposed to recognizing a spokesman for the universal church in that Peter and Paul were both martyred in Rome, the orthodox were part of it and the Anglicans were part of it. I see nothing wrong with having the papal office, the role of the pope, but not apart from collegiality. I also like the Anglican position that nothing can be taught that is necessary to salvation that is not in Scripture. That returns us to history. I think that is essential. I like the Anglican idea of pious opinion but I think the Reformation helped saved the Christian world by restoring us to history.

VIRTUOSITY: We are all children of the reformation then?

MORSE: Yes, we should not ignore that. The church began drifting away more and more from an understanding and commitment to our Lord.

VIRTUOSITY: I am troubled that there are some 20 continuing churches.

MORSE: And by tonight there will probably be 25.

VIRTUOSITY: As I have read their literature I find you have a lot more in common with them than not. You are united against women's ordination, totally opposed to the pansexual agenda of ECUSA and you stand in opposition to women bishops. What I am troubled by is a lot of personal fiefdoms in the name of Anglicanism.

MORSE: That's a myth. In the vagante (a term applying to small Continuing Church bodies) world that is true. The first thing they fight about is the collection plate.

VIRTUOSITY: What in truth separates you from one another? If you were all put in the same room together and made to talk what would separate you?

MORSE: Standards, values, and faith.

VIRTUOSITY: Explain the faith thing.

MORSE: I don't have much in common with the charismatics or fundamentalists.

At that point you would have to open the door and let some of them out. The way to really resolve the issue so we could all leave is to elect an archbishop (laughter).

VIRTUOSITY: You seem to be more stable compared to most of the other continuing church bodies. You have your own seminary. What's gone wrong?

MORSE: They have taken advantage of an historical situation.

VIRTUOSITY: True. But how would you fight that charge for yourself?

MORSE: In our history I have known the crisis was coming since 1955. I was in Sweden and saw what happened there. The Swedes said "don't you sit there smugly it will come to you". I have been thrown onto the street with my wife and family for being a Catholic Christian. Catholics have been ghettoized in the Episcopal Church. I was head of the American Church Union. We have suffered for years for what we believe in. I believe that God the Holy Spirit has delivered us from this impossible situation.

VIRTUOSITY: If FIF-UK broke away from the Church of England and a new province was established under another archbishop and the Asian and African bishops formed an alliance or concordat, would you join that?

MORSE: We would explore it very profoundly. When the ESA began I went down and spent a couple of days with Bishop Falk and Bishop Davies and we were encouraged they would make a stand, but they never did.

VIRTUOSITY: Bishop Keith Ackerman is one of the godliest and most orthodox of ECUSA's bishops, thoroughly Anglo-Catholic (he uses the Catholic missal) and he is evangelical and charismatic as well. He has at least two fellow bishops of the same mind. It would seem you have a lot more in common with them. It seems to me you are all playing off the same page.

MORSE: But he and they re still in ECUSA and I don't understand it. I think they are tragic men. They are involved in an enormous personal tragedy that they don't know how to get out of without letting everything go. Sooner or later reality is going to come and they will have to let go and make a stand like we did. You can't go on compromising and saying it really doesn't matter when it really does matter.

VIRTUOSITY: Jesus prayed, in John chapter 17, that they may all be one even as He was one with His Father. How do you see that in the light of where you are today?

MORSE: That was his divine desire. He said that before the cross where he went to suffer for man's selfish nature. Unfortunately Original Sin is a big industry.

VIRTUOSITY: If there is one thing you would like to say as the Archbishop of a very orthodox province what would that message be?

MORSE: Of course that we love God and try to love others.

VIRTUOSITY: Thank you your grace.

Since this interview was conducted, the APCK has been in talks with the Swedish Free Synod. Fr. Goran Beijer a leader in that movement recently visited the Province of Christ the King parish of Church the Church of the Transfiguration, Phoenixville, Pennsylvania whose rector is the Rev. Canon Paul C. Hewitt. During there talks Fr. Rolf explained that the Free Synod can still rally large numbers - more than 2,000 in Linkoping last year, with Bishop Gartner presiding. But there are issues to face: future episcopal oversight; relationships of the groups that comprise the Free Synod and building up the newly-forming koinonias, or eucharistic communities, such as the one Fr. Goran Beijer serves in Stockholm. These emerging parishes are entirely separate from the Church of Sweden. Some Free Synod parishes will be able to work overtly and also under cover with an emerging missionary diocese.

The APCK is also opening up conversations with the Nordic Catholic Church. The Nordic Catholic Church is working towards having a local bishop, and be an independent sister church to the Polish National Catholic Church, to Forward in Faith-UK and to the APCK.


1 posted on 05/13/2006 6:08:37 PM PDT by sionnsar
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Comment #2 Removed by Moderator

To: sionnsar

Preview is your friend. :)

3 posted on 05/13/2006 6:13:08 PM PDT by wagglebee ("We are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom." -- President Bush, 1/20/05)
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To: All; LibreOuMort
Necessary(?) disclosure: I am a longtime member of the APCK (as are a few others on the Traditional Anglican Ping List, but I've never recorded who they are). I have no doubt that there are other members in other "St. Louis" Continuing jurisdictions who would counter a point or maybe two in this interview -- I don't know if this was due to lack of information or change of circumstances over time.

(I will add that I am blessed to know both Archbishop Morse and Bishop John-David Schofield and yes, they have far more in common than +Schofield has with most ECUSA bishops today.)

4 posted on 05/13/2006 6:18:01 PM PDT by sionnsar (†† | Iran Azadi 2006 | SONY: 5yst3m 0wn3d - it's N0t Y0urs)
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To: wagglebee; Admin Moderator
Preview is your friend. :)

And time is the enemy, especially through slow dialup. I have already asked the Admin Mods for deletion, but it has not occurred yet.

5 posted on 05/13/2006 6:20:00 PM PDT by sionnsar (†† | Iran Azadi 2006 | SONY: 5yst3m 0wn3d - it's N0t Y0urs)
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To: Admin Moderator

Thank you!!!

6 posted on 05/13/2006 6:20:39 PM PDT by sionnsar (†† | Iran Azadi 2006 | SONY: 5yst3m 0wn3d - it's N0t Y0urs)
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To: ahadams2; meandog; gogeo; Lord Washbourne; Calabash; axegrinder; AnalogReigns; Uriah_lost; ...
Traditional Anglican ping, continued in memory of its founder Arlin Adams.

FReepmail sionnsar if you want on or off this moderately high-volume ping list (typically 3-9 pings/day).
This list is pinged by sionnsar, Huber and newheart.

Resource for Traditional Anglicans:
More Anglican articles here.

Humor: The Anglican Blue (by Huber)

Speak the truth in love. Eph 4:15

7 posted on 05/13/2006 6:21:33 PM PDT by sionnsar (†† | Iran Azadi 2006 | SONY: 5yst3m 0wn3d - it's N0t Y0urs)
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To: sionnsar

Much better :)

8 posted on 05/13/2006 6:23:01 PM PDT by wagglebee ("We are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom." -- President Bush, 1/20/05)
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