This is a page that focuses on religious and theological issues, as well as providing comprehensive teaching from a classic Catholic perspective. As you read the articles, it is my hope they will educate and bless you.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Thoughts on Continuing Anglicanism

I have for the past couple of months been posting some articles on other subjects than I originally planned, but at the present time we are in the process of a move, so unfortunately most of my library is packed up at home at this point.   Once moved and settled I plan on doing the second part of the Ethiopia in Prophecy study I promised, but until then I wanted to address a few other things that are of interest as well as having some relevance as current issues.   Therefore, please bear with us as we get settled into a new house and all, and in the meantime enjoy these other articles. 

One of the interim issues I wanted to address today is actually something really encouraging, as it relates to our local parish we attend and the communion it belongs to.   Although Barb and I are actually part of a small independent Catholic jurisdiction, we attend what is called a "Continuing Anglican" parish near our home as we don't have any parishes of our own diocese close by, and the "Continuing Church" is pretty much one in faith with us anyway (plus, Saint Philip's in Pinellas Park, FL, where we currently attend, is a fantastic parish, and we love the people and the parish priest there like family).  I have been involved in the "Continuing Church" movement before, and I must say that as a Christian community they are small in number but abundant in faithfulness, and the stand many of these churches have made for the truth is commendable.  As I have gotten to know this particular group of churches over the past 20 or so years, I have learned much about them, and today I want to share with you some of that as well as some recent developments that I personally see as a good thing with them. 

The "Continuing Church" movement started in the late 1970's as a reaction against a lot of apostasy and liberal politics going on in the Episcopal Church USA (hereafter we call ECUSA for short), and in 1977 a group of these concerned clergy met in St. Louis and drafted a strong statement called the "Affirmation of Saint Louis" that upholds traditional Anglican belief and practice and affirms Biblical doctrine.  As a result of that meeting, a number of jurisdictions were formed that, unfortunately, often had more splits over the years due to personality conflicts, etc.   Some of the major groups of the movement today include the Anglican Catholic Church (or ACC), the Anglican Province of America (APA - this is what the parish we attend is part of), and the Anglican Church of America/Traditional Anglican Communion (ACA/TAC) - there are many others, but these three are some of the larger and most visible ones.   All of these groups have in common the 1928 Book of Common Prayer as the basis of faith and liturgy, a Catholic understanding of that faith, and a fidelity to traditional Biblical and Church teaching on the fundamentals of doctrine and practice.   If you wish to read more on the history of this movement, I highly recommend Douglas Bess's book Divided We Stand (2006, Apocryphile Press) which is one of the most comprehensive studies on the movement.   Any rate, I guess the bottom line is that as a movement, the Continuum has its positives and negatives, the positive being faithfulness to historical and Biblical teaching while the negative being its splintering and division, as well as also a number of people I have encountered who are more interested in maintaining the "status quo" of preserving the heritage while not being infused with the life of the Spirit.  That being said, I want to share some thoughts on a couple of recent things that got my attention.

A couple of years ago, there was a bit of furor among the Continuum when a number of their Churchmen began to petition to be accepted into communion with the Roman Catholic Church.  The result of that was a Pastoral Provision initiated by Pope Benedict XVI called Anglicanorum Coetibus, which more or less proposed an Ordinariate being established by Rome itself for the purpose of receiving these Anglican clergy and Churchmen into the RCC.  One of the major players in this is a personal friend of ours, Bishop Louis Campese, who as of the beginning of this year has departed from the ACA, of which he was formerly the diocesan bishop in this area, to establish what is called the Pro-Diocese of the Holy Family in order to transition to full communion with Rome.   Many Continuing Anglican parishes and people joined in this effort, and to be honest, I have reservations about it.   I myself am a validly-chrismated Catholic (I was chrismated Maronite-rite on Easter 2000 by Bishop Robert Lynch) and as a Catholic myself I very much am a traditionalist in many aspects.  However, I also have not liked what I have seen happening to the Roman Catholic Church in recent years, and the reason I don't attend a Roman parish now is very simple - Rome left us in faith, rather than we leaving it.   Many Continuing Churchmen are staunch in being traditionalist and conservative, as I am, and I feel the ones who are pursuing Anglicanorum Coetibus may be setting themselves up for a disappointment, for Rome is not the same Church she was even 40 years ago - it says one thing officially, but in practice its clergy and laity are often at odds with both Scripture and the teachings of the historic Church as Jesus established it.  As a matter of fact, Rome now has more in common with ECUSA in many cases than it does with the Continuum, and that is alarming in itself - that is not to say that there are not wonderful Roman Catholic priests (Frs Norman Weslin, Frank Perkovich, Mitch Pacwa, and Frank Pavone, among others, come to mind, and there are great organizations such as the Association of Hebrew Catholics and Priests for Life that are making great stands for the truth) who really do stand for the Word of God and the Holy Tradition of the Church, because they are in great number, but the overall state of the Catholic Church in the US is sad to say the least - that is why I don't think that Bishop Campese and other Churchmen - although of good intention - are exactly making the best decision on this.  That being said, an official split has occurred as a result - 20% of the ACA, which Bishop Campese formerly served as local bishop, is now pursuing this course.   But, out of it some good has come, and that is where we are going next.

I got word yesterday that in November there is going to be a World Consultation on the Continuing Anglican Churches being held in Boston, and participating in it are the largest jurisdictions in the Continuum - ACA, ACC, and APA.   And, recently, the APA and ACA have agreed on an Intercommunion covenant with each other, which is also a promising sign (very promising, considering that about 15 years ago the APA and ACA split over some personality conflicts which, in retrospect, were rather petty).   This call for reconciliation among the various groups in the Continuum is an encouraging sign, for as a united witness they could do so much more.  The Continuum is small in number, true enough, but it is also made up of a lot of faithful, staunch people who uphold the historic Catholic faith and wish to preserve it for generations to come.   Those of us who are of "like precious faith" with the Continuing Anglicans also need to give our support to these efforts, because we are the Remnant, and we need each other for spiritual support in this day and age when society as a whole is particularly hostile against Christianity and its message.   It is my hope and prayer that in good time the various jurisdictions of the Continuum will lay aside petty matters (all of them are of one faith, but they are divided over petty issues that really don't mean a hill of beans in the greater scheme of things) and work together as one church, united under one Lord, and baptized by one baptism (Ephesians 4:11) into one Holy Spirit.  And, for those of us outside the Continuum who share the same faith, may we also forge closer bonds with our Continuing Anglican brethren in order to be the one Body of Christ we are called to be.

That being said, I conclude by saying we need to give our support and prayers to the bishops of the Continuum - Bishop Grundorf of the APA, Bishop Marsh of the ACA, and Archbishop Haverland of the ACC, as well as many other faithful bishops and clergy of other Continuing Anglican jurisdictions - as well as praying God's protection over Bishop Campese and others who chose to be in communion with the Roman See, that they would stay steadfast in their faith and not let forces in the RCC influence or destroy them.  Therefore, I watch now with interest as things begin to unfurl, and maybe will update you all on this issue from time to time.   God bless until next visit, and hope that this article was informative to you.