I recently received a message from +Alan Munday regarding both the recent decision by the Church of England to ordain women bishops, the Traditional Anglican Communion’s ongoing discussions with the Vatican, and my article Think Before You Convert. I’ll reproduce this in its entirety (it was broadcast in a couple of newsgroups) along with some comments:
Following the events where the General Synod of the Church of England has voted to allow for Women’s consecration to the Episcopate, I have learnt that the Traditional Anglican Communion, which is a Continuing Anglican body, has petitioned Rome for corporate union. I am not sure to what extent the events within the Anglican (Lambeth) Communion have prompted this, but it is interesting to know.
There have been some inaccurate reports on the matter, but the TAC have made a statement clarifying the situation at http://www.acahome.org/petition_facts.htm. For easy reading I have given the non-frames page, but if you want to see more information about them, the main (framed) url is http://www.acahome.org.
Some of that inaccurate information may be embodied in my article on the subject. My attitude until recently about this has been "it’s a nice idea, but…" because I didn’t see the RCC taking anything other than unconditional surrender (and they’ve gotten just that out of a number of TEC bishops.) They’ve also gotten it out of a good number of lay people also, some of whom were influenced by my own article. However, the situation may have changed with the current Pontiff and the CoE’s recent decision.
I’m not a big fan of TAC, but in this case they may have been both prescient and proactive, seeing the trends on both sides of the Atlantic and also noting that the African provinces–who are leading the charge with things like GAFCON–tend to be Protestant in emphasis. (It’s interesting to note that the Province of the West Indies, a very Anglo-Catholic province while at the same time conservative, did not support this effort as the Africans did.)
They seem to be seeking union with Rome on the basis of the Special Pastoral Provisions (see
http://www.pastoralprovision.org/ also The Anglican Use Society’s page http://www.anglicanuse.org. I do not know if they will necessarily want to adopt the Book of Divine Worship or propose use of the 1662 or 1928 Books of Common Prayer alone, presumably adapted to some Roman requirements, but no doubt time will tell. The Book of Divine Worship is basically an adapted version of the Book of Common Prayer 1979, but it looks to me as if the Anglican Use Roman Catholic Churches already particularly favour the traditionally worded Rite One as opposed to the modern worded Rite Two, so perhaps the TAC will be happy to follow suite.
Just in case you want to see the BDW text Rite One can be seen at http://www.atonementonline.com/orderofmass/Rite1.html. You can also download a copy, free of charge from http://stores.lulu.com/cdburt . That same page also has other related service books available for purchase, either as downloads or hard copies. The complete BDW itself (ISBN: 0970402260) seems to be out of print at the moment. I don’t know if they are going to produce pew versions, but the book as it is weighs a ton, even for liturgical use, and is expensive so if you already have BCP79 you might want to save your money and just adapt bits that may need it. Hopefully a more civilised lighter, smaller, less expensive copies will be produced at time goes on and the extracts published by Lulu are a step in the right direction.
I cannot resist a plug for my own LuLu store, http://stores.lulu.com/vulcanhammer. I deal with many of the issues in conflict in the AC in my fiction.
I seem to remember that the Charismatic Episcopal Church, which I was with for a while, had plans to produce their own version of the BCP79 which they presently use with adaptations. I don’t know if that is still proposed or if they may have opted to use the BDW. If anyone knows the present situation I would be interested to know.
I would have some reservations about returning to the RCC myself, even though I quietly attend their services sometimes. I notice that someone else has similar ideas at http://www.vulcanhammer.org/anglican/convert.php , (although I do not agree with some of his historical points where he seems not to be aware that the Anglican Rite is based on the Sarum Rite, which of course used to be the main RC rite used in England at one time before Rome suppressed it. That was the rite used by the RC Martyrs of our Isle and for which they partly died for). I owe a lot to my pilgrimage as a lay member of the RCC, but his warning strongly echoes in my heart, "Think before you convert".
When I wrote this, I certainly wasn’t aware that the Anglican Rite was based on the Sarum Rite. If fact, I may not have been aware that the Anglican Rite existed! The process in which I wrote the article has been an ongoing education for me.
Nevertheless, one thing that I have learned is that the whole concept of Anglican breadth has been broken by the two issues of women’s ordination and homosexuality. In a world where choices are myriad in so many ways, those who want a Biblically sound church with the Apostolic succession but without some of the "baggage" that tripped up medieval Christianity are, at this point, in a decidedly disadvantageous position. They have three choices: a) abandon the Christianity of the apostolic succession altogether, b) work things through in relatively small, isolated organisations (which doesn’t speak well to the unity issues) or c) give up and swim either the Tiber or the Moscow Rivers. Option (b) may be ameliorated over time by the Africans, but it’s going to take a while, and meantime we have to do the work that Jesus called us to do and raise our families as He would want us to.
I believe that in a certain way the RCC and Orthodox Churches can give other Orthodox Catholic Christians a kind of inferiority complex, including re aspects of Apostolic legitimacy. I think that this may lead some to join them for mistaken reasons. As much as the RCC and Orthodox Churches are worthy of our profoundest respect and honour, the fact remains that since 1054 and following, in their divisions, including divisions between the Orthodox Churches themselves, they are dysfunctional and disobedient to Christ’s call to unity and the world suffers as a result. While some lifeboats, including those of the Protestant Reformation have lost some of their equipment, others of us, as Orthodox Catholics, can do no other than seek to remain true to our vision of how the Church should be. We owe it to the Great Churches to witness according to the way the Holy Spirit seems to lead us. Of course we are not perfect ourselves, (no way), but for those in the Great Churches who are seeking God’s will, hopefully as time goes on, we will be seen not as usurpers, but as victims of their own mistakes that they need to learn from and put right. We must ever pray for Christ’s healing touch to bring us all together in the ways that He wills. Some to join the Great Churches and pray from within them, while others to continue to witness outside. The nub of the situation has to be our personal closeness to God and seeking of His will as well as His deep personal love for each one of us, even though we might stray sometimes. While we do need to be sensitive to God’s voice speaking through others, even churches, where they are truly being used by God, our main point of reference should be His validation of us as His servants. Only when we are rooted and founded in Him and responsive to His power and love in the Holy Spirit and in imitation of Our Lord Jesus Christ will we have our rudders set in the right direction towards His Unity.
I find a lot in this statement to agree with. I’m not the only one who has been on the receiving end of high-handed attitudes on this subject. I should note that this is my attitude on what’s really important in a church.
I have digressed slightly in my comments, but let us pray for the TAC as they follow their leadings. I certainly wish them well.
Choices regarding churches are not easy, even when they’re obvious. Like people, to leave is to die a little.