Friday, July 24, 2009

Bishop Chislett on being 'in communion' with Rome

I noticed on The Messenger website an article on this topic by Bishop Chislett of the ACCA (TAC). The sentence that jumped out at me was, 'The 2007 letter from the TAC bishops to the Holy See sought a way of moving to the next level, and signified our desire to continue the ARCIC process to full ecclesial reunion where the Anglican Communion as a whole effectively left off.' This is what I have tried to say in earlier comboxes. You can read the full article here. And, of course, you can comment here. Just remember, Bishop Chislett reads, and occasionally comments, on this blog, so comment as if he is in the room and can hear you.


Fr. Robert Hart said...

Bishop Chislett wrote:

If it was clear that Rome and Canterbury were engaged and looked forward to a wedding, as early as the mid 1970s it was also becoming clear that on the Anglican side a rampant promiscuity was breaking out that threatened the engagement.

This was equally true in Anglican relations with Orthodoxy. Also, in 1976 (according to the witnesses) Pope Paul VI was planning to rescind the 1896 Papal Bull on Anglican orders, and would have if not for women's ordination. It is the same thing that killed the efforts at unity with the Orthodox,and ended their existing recognition of Anglican orders and (where necessary) reception of sacraments from Anglican priests. And, WO is the same thing that directly caused the 1977 St. Louis meeting.

It is worth pointing out, however, that the same "rampant promiscuity" can be an attitude that forges a weak link in ecumenism, because the same attitude brushes aside theological principles that require genuine discussion.

When it comes to the more practical questions about the way of moving forward toward Christian unity, Ratzinger has stated that Catholics cannot demand that all the other Churches be disbanded and their members individually incorporated into the Catholic church...In the meantime the Catholic Church has no right to absorb the other churches. The Church has not yet prepared for them a place of their own to which they are legitimately entitled.

Allowing for Pope Benedict's use of the term "the Catholic Church," as it differs from ours, his wisdom in this matter, his frankness and honesty, are very much a breath of fresh air. He approaches the matter with realistic appreciation of facts that others want to ignore.

Nonetheless, my own position remains what it was on June 2, when I wrote this:

Speaking for myself, I state openly and with all due respect for my associates here who belong to the TAC, that the ball is in Archbishop Hepworth's court, and has been for years. Archbishop Mark Haverland wrote an open letter to his fellow Archbishop quite a long time ago, and it calls for an equally open and public response. It seems to me, if to no one else, that working for unity beyond the Anglican Continuum ought to wait for unity within it. Then a common effort towards greater Catholic unity can pick up where it left off when the Canterbury Communion dropped the ball by contaminating Holy Orders (and then by having continued to become worse and worse with no bottom to the abyss).

Anonymous said...

Father Hart:

Well said, and Amen.

We must work for unity and full communion within the continuum as first priority.

Actually, unless we get our own house in order, as the old saying goes, I don't think either the Orthodox or Rome can really take us too seriously.

How can they expect us to get along with them, if we can't get along with each other?

ACC, APCK, and UECNA have started a wonderful example. All three are to be praised. The recent ordination of UECNA clergy by an ACC bishop is such a wonderfully encouraging sign. These wonderful developments are an answer to many prayers, including my own.

BCP Catholic

Alice C. Linsley said...

Women's Ordination continues to be the deal breaker. So sad.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

By the way; I hope that Sandra McColl's parents are in better health, and that this will be the first of many posts.

RC Cola said...

Regarding the "ordination" of women, Peter Kreeft has a good podcast.

Portions of it will be too Roman for some--he longs for the days when "Roma locuta causa finita"--but he doesn't really make an appeal to the authority of the Pope. Rather, he emphasizes that the Popes--and the Church as a whole--do not have the authority to approve the ordination of women.

I hope you enjoy it.

Canon Tallis said...

I want to second Father Hart's response. Unity in the Continuum is such a plain necessity but it has been something more valued in the abstract than in the concrete reality since the Denver Consecrations. But it must be found in a complete and unwavering commitment to the doctrine of historic Catholicity as found first in Holy Scripture and then in the subsequent acts of the undivided Church and the Anglican reform. And that is precisely the value of this blog in that both Father Hart and Father Kirby insist upon real Catholicism rather than the papier mache variety.

Given my choice of choices, I would prefer than the Continuum seek such a high degree of faithfulness to Bishop Andrewes Anglican canon that the Roman and Orthodox would come seeking to join us. It may require the loss of a great deal of arrogance and ego, but if it can be imagined, it can be done.

Again, I would second Father Hart's initial response and very much thank him for it.

RC Cola said...

At the risk of sounding Pollyanna-ish, all Continuing Bodies of the Anglican Church should be saying Votive Masses with the intention of unity.

Perhaps we could choose the Feast of St. Thomas a' Beckett or St. Alban and have all continuing bishops and priest offer the Votive Mass "for the ending of schism" or "to ask the grace of the Holy Ghost".

I'm sure trying to get all continuing clergy to say the same Mass on the same day would be like herding cats, but if we start small and the priests preach a message of love and reconciliation, perhaps we will be blessed with some success. Success in this case being greater unity among continuing bodies. The ACC, UECNA and APCK can lead the way. God willing, other continuing churches would see the fruits of the Holy Ghost growing and want to join us in the harvest.

Mark said...

From the Traditionalist RC perspective:

I've read with interest the article by Bishop Chislett that Sandra linked to. One comment of his confirmed a sad reality we all share, regardless of our affiliation:

"Furthermore, it is known that some Roman Catholic authorities work against us because of their friendships with liberal Anglican Communion bishops."

The Progressives of this world know how to take care of each other.

However, in my view, Pope Benedict XVI is arranging the pieces on the chessboard differently. It seems to me that he wants to give to those of us who value Catholic Tradition room to maneuver, time to get to know each other, courage to be one, and thus a chance to become more profitable servants of our Lord.

For example, his recent motu propio, the sometimes challenging discussions with the SSPX, criticisms of the excesses of the post Vatican Two era, can all be seen as encouragement toward unity within the broad Catholic Tradition. I think we all need to raise our stakes in this game.

Canon Tallis said...

Rather than something from the missal, how about a set of propers from the prayer book. That would have the effect of not excluding those for whom the use of the missal is offensive. A set of propers taken from the Book of Common Prayer tradition with the Gospel being that of our Lord's prayer in St John would seem highly appropriate.

While the feast of St Alban is in the 1662 calendar, Becket's would be a reminder of his choice of the papal monarchy over the freedom of the English Church. Or maybe we could do something even more madical and obey the rubrics of our national prayer book for a month as evidence of our intent to respect our own tradition - not over all others - but as the one in which we were ordained.

But you could never get Anglican bishops to do that, could you?

RC Cola said...

Canon Tallis, you make sense.

I hadn't even considered that some Anglicans would take my suggestion the wrong way, but I see your point clearly.

Sometimes there is no pleasing people because some people want to be offended, even by well-intentioned gestures. It is the Anglican version of opening a door for a feminist. You think you're being polite, but she is horrified that you would consider her too weak to open the door for herself--and she lets you know it. Oh, dear, here we go again!

But I'm hoping that there are enough continuing Anglicans of good will in all of our various bodies that we can start to rebuild some unity. The "progressives" love to Divide and Conquer. It's sad that we are doing it to ourselves so that they won't have to.

Mark, same goes for Traditionalists in the RCC. The fact is that when ever an SSPX chapel moves into an "indult" neighborhood, or vice verse, both parishes grow. There's no need for the kind of Trad-on-Trad violence that we see all too often.

Unfortunately, if the SSPX suggested that all Traditionalist RCs offer a Mass for Christian Unity on such-and-such a date, there would surely be people who would be convinced of an ulterior motive. There's just no pleasing some people, so all you can do is try to find the ones of good will and move forward together, ignoring the naysayers.

John A. Hollister said...

Mark suggested: "Perhaps we could choose the Feast of St. Thomas a' Beckett or St. Alban and have all continuing bishops and priest offer the Votive Mass 'for the ending of schism' or 'to ask the grace of the Holy Ghost'."

For St. Alban, June 22, the South African Prayer Book (1954) appoints the collect and several options for readings that it has for martyrs in general. Similarly the Scottish Prayer Book (1929), which uses the same collect but gives only one set of readings for a martyr.

For those who are not prejudiced against it, "Lesser Feasts and Fasts" (1963) gives the same collect and yet another choice of readings.

Then the South African book has propers for a votive "For the Unity of the Church", which are identical to those in "Lesser Feasts and Fasts".

If anyone would like these, but does not have access to those sources, email me at and I will be glad to send them off-list.

John A. Hollister+

Mark said...

From the Trad RC perspective - RC Cola:

I agree with you completely, there is no need for "Trad on Trad violence", as you put it. Unity should be our goal, and the golden rule our way.

However, as in any endeavor that involves human beings, there will be occasional problems. When it comes to Traditional Catholicism, broadly understood, honesty demands that we acknowledge that it too can be prone to certain pathologies. Recall the unfortunate statements of the SSPX Bishop Williamson regarding the Holocaust, which created the suspicion (not unjustified) that Traditional Catholicism can be a refuge for anti-Semites. Then on occasion small groups pop-up that are swayed by some maverick "locutionist", or the latest sede-vacantist theorist (Trad RC owns these two exclusively). Then there are these broad currents of history that sometimes make us refight some aspect of the Reformation, yet again - usually some peripheral issue that should be left to the historians. We can also suffer from the stiff neck syndrome.

On the other hand, I believe that Traditional Catholicism continues to be able to overcome these human weaknesses thru the virtue of humility. When it is at its best, it is able to form Christian faith, and intelligently carry out Christ's command to preach the Gospel to the world. Sadly, I see contemporary Progressive Catholicism as too compromised with the values of this world, and thus currently unable to take an objective look at itself.

poetreader said...

A good statement:

I have found that being sure of myself, though often a virtue, can become a serious obstacle to truth. No matter how strongly I come on (and, boy, do I!), I have to keep reminding myself that I am certainly not infallible, and that, no matter how correct I am on the whole, I can be certain that I have missed something important. This is the way that we need to approach God's truth.


Canon Tallis said...


I could not more agree with you on "Progressive Catholicism" which I believe not to have any real relationship with Catholic Faith and practice. And I quite agree with you when you wrote "I believe that Traditional Catholicism continues to be able to overcome these human weaknesses thru the virtue of humility. When it is at its best, it is able to form Christian faith, and intelligently carry out Christ's command to preach the Gospel to the world." The question I would have for you is where you find authentic 'Catholicism?' Is it to be found in the pronouncements of the bishops of Rome or in Holy Scripture as interpreted by the earliest bishops and Catholic fathers, the creeds and the theological decrees of the universally recognized General Councils? When the first disagrees with the second, on which side should we as Catholics come down?

There is much in the Roman Church to be praised but I am sure that you since a very important 'But' coming. I am at the moment very excited by the display at Bamberg of the vestments in which Clement II was buried. This caused me to check the lives and histories of his predecessors and successors which were throughly scandalous. If these men were the archbishops of Canterbury and York they would certainly be thrown into our faces much in the same way that that we are tempted to do with certain officers of TEC.

But our real concern must absolutely be with what Jesus taught the apostles and they delivered to the earliest Church.

John A. Hollister said...

Perhaps I'm misreading Bp. Chislett, because what he wrote seems to boil down to something like "We saw an opportunity, we wrote, and now we're praying someone will notice."

That is certainly a very realistic scenario, although quite unlike the impressions created by previous articles in "The Messenger", by the Canadian TV interview with Abp. Hepworth, etc. In fact, although the good Bishop's phrasing is much more elegant, his content doesn't seem all that far from the recent (and highly colloquial) assessment by the frequently accurate Barking Toad. The B.T. likened the "Anglican Church in America ... [as] still waiting by the phone for that call from the Vatican like a teenage girl waiting for the captain of the football team to ring."

Putting those two statements together, one wonders if Bp. Chislett's message might be the opening line in a revised message, something to the effect of "Sorry we got your hopes up; it turns out there is less there than meets the eye".

John A. Hollister+

Carlos said...

According to Sam Coggeshall on Facebook:

"I spoke with a Roman Priest the other week and his take on the situation was that this might take longer than WE'D like because Rome's big issue is simply "keeping Catholics Catholic" With all of their fall-out, he said that their focus was probably not on us at the moment. That may or may not be accurate, but it did make sense."