Blog Template Theology of the Body: July 2008

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Saint Columba of Iona, 521-597

Canonized as a Catholic saint for his founding of monestaries and evanglization in the British aisles, he was not only a great missionary saint who won a whole kingdom to Christ, but he was also a statesman, a scholar, and a poet.

For the purposes of controversy it has been maintained some that St. Columba ignored papal
supremacy, because he entered upon his mission without evidence of the pope's explicit authorization. This is because in those days a mandate from the pope was not deemed essential for the work which St. Columba undertook. This may be gathered from the words of St. Gregory the Great, relative to the neglect of the British clergy towards the pagan Saxons (Haddan and Stubbs, III, 10). Columba was a son of the Irish Catholic Church, which taught from the days of St. Patrick that matters of greater moment should be referred to the Holy See for settlement. St. Columbanus, Columba's fellow-country-man and fellow-churchman, asked for papl judgment (judicium) on the Easter question; so did the bishops and abbots of Ireland; and there is not the slightest evidence to prove that St. Columba differed on this point from his fellow-countrymen.

Furthermmore, the Stowe Missal, which, according to the best authority, represents the Mass of the Celtic Church during the early part of the seventh century, contains in its Canon prayers for the pope more emphatic than even those of the Roman Liturgy. It may also be pointed out that the same Stowe Missal contains before its Canon the invocation "Sancta Maria, ora pro nobis", which epitomizes all Catholic devotion to the Blessed Virgin.

The Venerable Bede thus sums up his testimony: "He [Columba] left successors distinguished for great charity, Divine love, and strict attention to the rules of discipline following indeed uncertain cycles...(as) in the computation of the great festival of Easter, because, far away as they were out of the world, no one had supplied them with the (relative) synodal decrees." (H.E., III, iv).

A suitable pictorial representation would exhibit him, clothed in the habit and cowl usually worn by the Basilian or Benedictines, with Celtic tonsier and crosier. His identity could be best determined by showing him standing near the shell-strewn shore, with currach hard by, and the Celtic cross and ruins of lona in the background...

From the Liturgy and Diverse Services of the Lorrha (Stowe) Missal in use in Columba's time:

"Therefore, most clement Father, through Jesus Christ
Thy Son our Lord, we humbly beseech and pray
Thee, that Thou accept and bless these gifts,
these offerings, these holy and unspotted sacrifices,
which, first,
we offer unto Thee for Thy holy Catholic Church: that Thou
graciously keep her in peace, to guard, unify, and govern
her throughout the whole world: together with Thy
Servants, the Orthodox Patriarachs, the Bishops of the
Apostolic See and all who hold the Orthodox and Apostolic faith, and our
Metropolitan, Abbot, and Bishop

Yeah, remember, O Lord,
Thy servants and handmaids and all who are present here, whose faith and devotion unto Thee are known and manifest, who offer unto Thee this sacrifice of praise, for themselves,
and for all of theirs: for the redemption of their souls; for their body of elders;
for the purity of all ministers; for the integrity of virgins and the continence of
widows; for mildness of weather, fruitfulness of the lands; for the returning of
peace and an end to division; for the safety of our leaders and peace of the
people, and the rescue of captives, and for the prayers of those here present; for
the commemoration of martyrs; for the remission of our sins, and the correction
of culprits; for repose for the dead; and good fortune of our journey; for the
Lord Patriarch Bishop and all the Bishops and the priests and all in Holy Orders;
for the whole world, and all Christian leaders.

What is your favorite examination of conscience?

The most thorough one I have found (apart from the examination in use at my parish) is here, which I've just printed off to share with a friend.

... And speaking of, which is your favorite act of contrition?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Did you all know that the US Conference of Catholic Bishops has a website devoted to (really excellent) movie reviews and commentary on moral content? It's a great resource for all of this summertime movie watching... Here.

The Sum of the Matter

Where briars grow, unwary sheep,
Befogged by hungry need,
Entangle fleece in thickets where
We only thought to feed.
The Shepherd comes to set us free
From snares of piercing thorn.
Released, we are made whole, but look-
The Shepherd's hands are torn.

On every bare and rocky height,
His sheep in safety graze.
God shelters us from wind and rain
And from the sun's bright blaze.
The Shepherd pastures us in peace,
To living waters leads.
All hurts now healed, we are at rest-
But see, the Shepherd bleeds.

For He has other sheep than these,
Who have not heard His voice,
But when the last are gathered in-
The heavens will rejoice.

... As I've heard from a few of our readers, it is high time for MM to cease this little series of reactions to the summer's Anglican enterprises, as these reactions have apparently have been Most Annoying. So I must apologize for any Annoyance taken, with the caveat that it is a bloggish prerogative to be Annoying sometimes. I have lately been posting the sorts of things that were helpful to me in leaving the tremors of life in ECUSA behind, and which I hope may be helpful to my brothers and sisters in Christ who are waiting to live life in His Church to the fullest. Much love to you all-

Monday, July 28, 2008

An Urgent Day for the Anglicans at Lambeth...

.... Against the backdrop of a very longstanding invitation.

As many of you know, Pope Leo XIII was both the author of St. Michael's invocation for the protection of the Church and the architect of the basis of the Catholic social thought brought to fruition by Pope John Paul II in Centesimus Annus and The Theology of the Body.

In 1894, Leo XIII responded to a contention pressed upon the notice of some French ecclesiastics by Anglican leaders who were discussing with them the prospects of corporate reunion. The Pope was moved by what he heard, and determined that he would have the whole question of Anglican orders re-investigated thoroughly. Accordingly, he selected eight divines who had made a special study of the subject, and of whom four were known to be disposed to recognize Anglican orders and four to be disposed to reject them. They were given access to all documents from the archives of the Vatican and the Holy Office which would throw light upon the points at issue, and they were bidden to sift the evidence on either side with all possible fulness and care. After sessions which lasted six weeks, the Commission was dissolved, and the acta of its discussions were laid before a judicial committee of cardinals. These, after a two months' study, in a special meeting under the presidency of the Pope, decided by a unanimous vote that Anglican orders were certainly invalid.

The full text of the ensuing Apostolicae Curae is available here.

In his declaration on the absolute nullity of Anglican Orders, the Pope echoed the teaching of his predecessor Pope Innocent I in A.D. 416: "if the priests of the Lord desired to preserve ecclesiastical ordinances as they were handed down to us by the Blessed Apostles, no diversity, no variety should be found in the very orders and consecrations themselves... Who does not know and consider that what was delivered to the Roman Church by St. Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, and is to this day kept (by it), ought to be observed by all, and that no practice should be substituted or added without being sanctioned by (that) authority or precedent."

Pope Leo's own pronouncement that "the ordinations carried out according to the Anglican Rite have been, and are, absolutely null and void," which belongs to a class of ex cathedra utterances for which infallibility is claimed on the ground of the constant practices of the Holy See, was made with the intention of "(passing final judgment and (settling) the question forever- absolute judicare et penitus dirimere- (such that)... Catholics were bound to receive (the judgment) with the fullest obedience as perpetuo firmam, ratam, irrevocabilem." (Leo VIII, Letter to Cardinal Richard of 5 November 1896, qtd. Smith, Sydney. "Anglican Orders." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 1)

Within the Bull itseld, the Pope clarified: We decree that these letters and all things contained therein shall not be liable at any time to be impugned or objected to by reason of fault or any other defect whatsoever of subreption or obreption of Our intention, but are and shall be always valid and in force and shall be inviolably observed both juridically and otherwise, by all of whatsoever degree and preeminence, declaring null and void anything which, in these matters, may happen to be contrariwise attempted, whether wittingly or unwittingly, by any person whatsoever, by whatsoever authority or pretext, all things to the contrary notwithstanding.

The Pope followed this clear pronouncement with a consoling word of welcome:

"...In the name and in the love of the Great Shepherd, in the same We appeal to those who desire and seek with a sincere heart the possession of a hierarchy and of Holy Orders: Perhaps until now aiming at the greater perfection of Christian virtue, and searching more devoutly the divine Scriptures, and redoubling the fervour of their prayers, they have, nevertheless, hesitated in doubt and anxiety to follow the voice of Christ, which so long has interiorly admonished them. Now they see clearly whither He in His goodness invites them and wills them to come. In returning to His one only fold, they will obtain the blessings which they seek, and the consequent helps to salvation, of which He has made the Church the dispenser, and, as it were, the constant guardian and promoter of His redemption amongst the nations. Then, indeed, "They shall draw waters in joy from the fountains of the Saviour", His wondrous Sacraments, whereby His faithful souls have their sins truly remitted, and are restored to the friendship of God, are nourished and strengthened by the heavenly Bread, and abound with the most powerful aids for their eternal salvation. May the God of peace, the God of all consolation, in His infinite tenderness, enrich and fill with all these blessings those who truly yearn for them.

...We wish to direct our exhortation and our desires in a special way to those who are ministers of religion in their respective communities. They are men who from their very office take precedence in learning and authority, and who have at heart the glory of God and the salvation of souls.

Let them be the first in joyfully submitting to the divine call and obey it, and furnish a glorious example to others. Assuredly, with an exceeding great joy, their Mother, the Church, will welcome them, and will cherish with all her love and care those whom the strength of their generous souls has, amidst many trials and difficulties, led back to her bosom. Nor could words express the recognition which this devoted courage will win for them from the assemblies of the brethren throughout the Catholic world, or what hope or confidence it will merit for them before Christ as their Judge, or what reward it will obtain from Him in the heavenly kingdom! And We, ourselves, in every lawful way, shall continue to promote their reconciliation with the Church in which individuals and masses, as We ardently desire, may find so much for their imitation."

Leo XIII, Apostolicae Curae 38-39

HT: on point

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Why Jeffrey Steenson Became a Catholic

Jeffrey Steenson, former Episcopalian bishop of the Rio Grande, was received with a great deal of joy into the Catholic Chrch in September 2007. Steenson shared his thoughts on his conversion at this summer's Anglican Use Conference. Here is an attempted synopsis, as assembled from my notes-

At the outset, Steenson explained his conversion in this way: when we listen to our conscience, we can hear God speaking. This theme of conscience pervaded throughout Steenson's address.

Steenson explained his conversion according to the categories of causality.

The material cause of Steenson’s conversion was a set of convictions: first, that the Catholic Church is not just one option among many, nor even the best deal for a catholically minded Christian; rather, it is itself the fullness of Christ's blessing of the world by the Church. As Lumen Gentium VIII puts it, God's grace flows from the Catholic Church into the lives of communities, families, and individuals; it is not evenly distributed among various sects from the outset. In other words, it became clear that "catholic" Anglicanism is not sui generis.

Secondly, it became clear that to be Catholic is not to enjoy a conglomeration of antique parts of the Christian tradition, but rather, to be in communion with one- the one installed by Jesus to reflect properly and accurately the Church's ultimate communion with her one Lord.

Finally, it had become clear that an Episcopalian could no longer presume to say 'the Church teaches' while remaining personally in a community that prioritizes personal and provisional answers- and, occasionally, a sense of agreement discerned in community- over the priority of the truth itself. Anglicanism has repeatedly cut itself off from the Catholic tradition which had preserved Christ's truth in continuity with the apostles.

On this note, Steenson added that "communion with Peter is an illuminating experience," meaning (as we have said before) that obedience often proceeds understanding; to say that one must understand and intellectually assent fully and perfectly to the Catholic Church before submitting to her is to ignore such early patristic injunctions as that of Irenaeus of Lyons: it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of her pre- eminent authority; that is, by the faithful every- where, inasmuch as the apostolical tradition has been preserved continuously by those faithful men who exist everywhere.

The formal cause of Steenson’s conversion was the realization that his conscience was being compromised by remaining in Episcopalianism; but at this point, as though there was no need to state the obvious, Steenson simply went on to re- emphasize the finding of the moral authority that he had always sought as an Episcopalian. As various ARCIC statements have expressed, authority and even primacy are necessary for real communion; and yet there is no primatial oversight in Episcopalianism. Thus, given that primacy is necessary, why would anyone settle for less than the real thing? Why not Peter for the most critical concerns of the human life?

Finally, Steenson described the efficient cause of his conversion as the growing awareness that the Anglican identity which he had embraced was itself dependent on ancient memories which invested the tradition with its meaning and worth from the outside; Anglicanism, which is not sui generis, originated in the Catholic Church, and Anglicanism belongs to Rome, historically and derivately. In other words, Anglicanism is intrinsically oriented towards its proper place in the Catholic Church; as stated in Lumen Gentium, the elements of grace enjoyed by every Christian community properly belong to the Catholic Church, and they impel towards unity with her. For Steenson, the final push for his conversion came with the recognition that the voluntary associations of the Anglican/ECUSA/etc. bishops, who were steering their communion towards so- called “prophetic actions and local options” which smacked of sin, had clearly lost even their interior dynamic towards Catholic unity. In short, this growing awareness awakened for Steenson a need to be properly secured in the tradition from which he- as an Anglican- had come in the first place. At this point, Steenson asked that if even the maximal Anglican measures could not preserve a semblance of the unity which Christ requires of His Church, such that external measures and outside sources were needed to preserve unity… why not Rome?

Steenson concluded with some touching thoughts on the failures of the branch theory of the Church and the movements of the Holy Spirit in the world following the death of John Paul II. He called on his friends in ECUSA to listen to their consciences, and to consider why the Anglican conscience is perpetually conflicted. He called on Episcopalians to recall the joy of living with an integrated conscience, and to live accordingly within Christ’s Catholic Church. And, he urged us all to remember that in the midst of Anglican wrangling, conference-attending, reconciliation-attempting, dialogue engaging, etc., the Church really does not need to be re-invented; it’s already been done.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

How Henry VIII Raised the Dead

"Monks, friars, and nuns were in the strange position of being considered dead to the world, a principle of Catholic Canon Law once recognized by English common law for the purposes of property and contract. Upon profession in monastic orders, the monk gave up his secular and legal personality, his real property descended to his heir, and his personal estate was subject to administration, as if he had become dead to the world in order to live to Christ.

This Law of Profession came to an end in 1539 when, after dissolving the monestaries, the founder of Anglicanism brought all religious persons back from the dead.

However, in the Statute 31 of Henry VIII, c. 6., the good king added a clause which prevented any of the renounced rights of inheritance from materially reviving, so that the former Catholic religious were really stumped.

King Henry's clincher followed in the introduction of manifold new statutory "treasons" which were introduced in order to stiffle both opposition to the king's divorce and entrance into the religious life, so that even the mere expression of Catholic opinion, by words or thoughts, could in some cases could constitute high treason.

Sir Thomas More was excuted in 1535 for his allegiance to Rome under the first of these statutes, which modern scholars call "the most repressive body of penal legislation ever passed in England."

J.H. Baker, English Legal History

467, 527

Monday, July 21, 2008

On the Anglo Catholic Name Game

"I take my stand on the acknowledged principle of logic and morality, that when we mean different things we have no right to call them by the same name, and to apply to them the same predicates, moral or intellectual. Our language would then have no meaning..."

- J. S. Mill to H.L. Mansel, An Examination of Sir William Hamilton's Philosophy

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Martyrs of the English Revolt

Blesseds Thomas Green, Robert Salt, and Walter Pierson were Carthusian priests and religious who refused to join the ranks of their co-religious in taking Henry VIII’s infamous anti-papal oath of supremacy in 1537. In the weeks following their refusal to apostasize, the brothers who had remained faithful to the pope were brought to a London prison, where they were chained in a standing position in their cells and left to starve to death. The three men died together in June, 1537.

Half a century later, the persecution of Catholics was still going strong in Protestant England. Blessed Francis Ingleby, an Oxford student who was ordained in France in his early twenties, bravely returned to England to serve his fellow English Catholics who were being persecuted under Henry’s heir, Elizabeth I. Father Ingleby was arrested for the exercise of his Catholic ministry in 1586 and was tried in a sham trial where the records show that he was not permitted to utter a single sentence in self-defense. Following his refusal to recant his allegiance to the Pope, Father Ingleby was sentenced to death by being drawn and quartered in June of 1586.

Saint Margaret Clitherow was an English housewife who suffered martyrdom while pregnant by peine forte et dure for her hospitality to Father Ingleby and other English Catholic priests.

A Catholic contemporary of these English martyrs commented on their trials as follows: “the English authorities… cannot abide that the people should hear us speak any word… in defense or manifestation of our Catholic cause.” (qtd Magnificat entry Tuesday, June 3, 2008, p 60)

As far as the English (media) authorities go, things do not seem to have changed much.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Must watch

Bella (2006)

For the ladies, there is Latin soap star Eduardo Verastegui, and for the fellas, Ali Landry, that's right, the Doritos girl.

On a serious note: this is a story reminds me of (and serves as a foil to) 2003's 21 Grams. Both are stories shot within non-sequential order (taken to the extreme in "21 Grams") that involve lives broken at their peaks and the struggle to pick up the pieces. One displays a path to redemption. The other shows what happens when we place our trust in our own understanding and go it alone.

Pope Benedict On, Again

As many of you know, the Holy Father flew to Australia this week to celebrate the 2008 World Youth Day with hundreds of thousands of Christ's young people. Their resounding theme is the text of Acts 1:8- you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses! One of my girl friends who is there emailed me as follows:

The people here in Sydney are fantastic. Lots of singing and dancing. Yesterday there was the Opening Mass at Darling Harbour. What an amazing sight to behold. Flags were flying, people praying, the power of the Lord really alive and kicking. We had our first Catechesis this morning in the parish where we are staying. Probably close to 500 young people. Very powerful. Still lots more to come!

From all reports, these young Catholics are having a powerful, joyful time. I am kicking myself for not being there, but you can follow the action at Dawn Eden's blog, among others.

...Many of you will also have heard about the Pope's rather ambiguous off-the cuff response to a reporter's question on the papal plane about Anglicanism's upcoming Lambeth conference. Several blogs are abuzz with the issue; but I think that the Holy Father simply had his mind and prayers on the hordes of his international children and their aspiring vocations awaiting him in Sydney-not on the rather self-important perpetual panic of Anglicanism- and perhaps did not think it necessary to be more precise, at that point, over the quandries of a local problem. The Pope's generous well-wishing of Anglicans in their ongoing conversations simply affirmed that 1) as stated in Apostolica Curiae, the successor of Peter has no "essential" or intrinsic ontological relationship with Anglican ecclesial or sacramental concerns; and 2) it (still) remains for the Anglican experiment to provide a way of life that is consistent with the Gospel, even if such a way were plausible outside of communion with the Petrine office (which the Catholic Church has always denied).

I am personally reading the Pope's generous, pastoral statement in light of his more definite statements on ecclesiology. In this regard, the Pope's very recent encyclical to Catholics in China speaks to the highly apropos issue of whether Catholic life is possible under validly ordained bishops who are out of communion with Rome. The Pope unequivocally concludes:

Catholic doctrine teaches that the Bishop is the visible source and foundation of unity in the particular Church entrusted to his pastoral ministry. But in every particular Church, in order that she may be fully Church, there must be present the supreme authority of the Church, that is to say, the episcopal College together with its Head, the Roman Pontiff, and never apart from him. Therefore the ministry of the Successor of Peter belongs to the essence of every particular Church "from within." Moreover, the communion of all the particular Churches in the one Catholic Church, and hence the ordered hierarchical communion of all the Bishops, successors of the Apostles, with the Successor of Peter, are a guarantee of the unity of the faith and life of all Catholics. It is therefore indispensable, for the unity of the Church in individual nations, that every Bishop should be in communion with the other Bishops, and that all should be in visible and concrete communion with the Pope.

...Likewise, the declared purpose of the afore-mentioned entities to implement 'the principles of independence and autonomy, self-management and democratic administration of the Church is incompatible with Catholic doctrine, which from the time of the ancient Creeds professes the Church to be 'one, holy, catholic and apostolic.'

...Communion and unity – let me repeat – are essential and integral elements of the Catholic Church: therefore the proposal for a Church that is "independent" of the Holy See, in the religious sphere, is incompatible with Catholic doctrine.

Letter to the Faithful of the Catholic Church in China, 2007.

So did Pope Benedict, one of the architects of the Catholic Church's Provision for leading tired Anglicans home, en route to instruct his international young people on Catholic evangelization, mean to affirm Anglicanism qua Anglicanism- as a separated and fully functional arborial "branch" of the Church Catholic in his statement this week?

Context people, context.

Monday, July 14, 2008

St. Paphnutius, patron of the Catholic Church's married priests

Anecdote I from the Anglican Use Conference '08:

At Nicæa Paphnutius was greatly honoured by Constantine the Great, who, according to Socrates (H. E., I, 11), used often to send for the good old confessor and kiss the place whence the eye had been torn out. He took a prominent, perhaps a decisive, part in the debate at the First Œcumenical Council on the subject of the celibacy of the clergy. It seems that most of the bishops present were disposed to follow the precedent of the Council of Elvira (can. xxxiii) prohibiting conjugal relations to those bishops, priests, deacons, and, according to Sozomen, sub-deacons, who were married before ordination. Paphnutius earnestly entreated his fellow-bishops not to impose this obligation on the orders of the clergy concerned. He proposed, in accordance "with the ancient tradition of the Church", that only those who were celibates at the time of ordination should continue to observe continence, but, on the other hand, that "none should be separated from her, to whom, while yet unordained, he had been united." The great veneration in which he was held, and the well known fact that he had himself observed the strictest chastity all his life, gave weight to his proposal, which was unanimously adopted. The council left it to the discretion of the married clergy to continue or discontinue their marital relations. Paphnutius was present at the Synod of Tyre (335).


Friday, July 11, 2008

Anglican Use Conference

"The lives of the saints show us how in the Church of Christ there is unity in truth and a communion of grace...with this in mind, I pray in particular that God's will may be done by all those who seek that unity in the truth."

- Cardinal Ratzinger, Letter to Episcopalians in Texas, 2003.

I'm at the Anglican Use Conference all day today and some of tomorrow. If you need a refresher on what the Pastoral Provision and the Anglican Use are all about, you should glance at any of these links:

The Pastoral Provision

Fr. Phillips' Blog (the host of the conference)

Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church and Academy (the location of the conference)

Today's exciting schedule....

Wish you all were here.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Anglican Use Conference '08: A Sad Prelude

The Pastoral Provision for the Anglican Use was established in the 1980's under Pope John Paul II. The Vatican forsaw a tidal wave of rapid moral decline in Anglicanism and its various manifestations, and determined to provide an easy way for former Episcopalians to convert. The Provision allows local bishops to authorize the beautiful Anglican liturgies in the Catholic worship of their parishes, and even to ordain men, who- as former Episcopalian pastors- are already married.

There are several developments this summer which evidence the sort of Episcopalian moral and doctrinal decadence that the Church's Pastoral Provision hopes to address. Both are described by Episcopalians.

The first, from my inbox this morning, describes the decision of the Anglican General Synod to ordain
women bishops. A well known commentator writes this morning as follows:

"I know that +Winchester, +Durham, +York, and +Canterbury did all they could and are now on silent running. What a mess. No one saw this coming. +Stanton is pretty down. It is unclear where this leaves things. For those of us trying to decide about the future, it seems like stepping on an ice floe that is melting. Your anglican rite gains a certain currency..."

Secondly, Anglican Mark Haverland has issued the following synopsis of a conclave in the evangelical arm of Anglicanism lately known as the GAFCON; these, interestingly, are the folks who maintain Catholic morals while denying Catholic sacramentality:


A number of self-described traditional Anglicans from around the globe,
including many bishops and archbishops from the ‘global South’ bodies of the official Anglican Communion, recently met in Jerusalem at a meeting called GAFCON. This meeting was called largely in response to the refusal of the Episcopal Church in the U.S. and of the Anglican Church of Canada to heed earlier calls to rein in innovations concerning matters of sexual morality, including notably the ordination and consecration of self-proclaimed and practicing homosexuals and the blessing of ‘same sex unions’.

GAFCON produced a now widely published statement which does not address the
innovations that led to the formation of our own Continuing Church in 1976-8: namely the ‘ordination of women’, a new and radical Prayer Book, and a pro-abortion policy. Concerning GAFCON and its statement, I have several observations, which I believe are widely shared in the Anglican Catholic Church and, indeed, by most Continuing Churchmen. For that reason I make bold to write in the first person plural in what follows.

1. On the immediate issues that led to the GAFCON conference, we stand with GAFCON and its statement. That is, the ACC believes and teaches what Scripture and the universal Church have always taught everywhere concerning human sexuality. We would only note that GAFCON fails to address the problem of divorce and remarriage, which antedates the present crisis concerning homosexuality, and which in many ways prepared the ground for the more recent aberration.

2. The GAFCON statement, by its silence concerning the ordination of women to the diaconate, priesthood, and episcopate, implies that this earlier aberration is tolerable, if not desirable, and is at worst a much less serious departure from the universal practice of the orthodox and catholic Church than is homosexuality. This silence and its implications are profoundly mistaken. The ordination of women and homosexuality both flow from a confusion concerning both sexual roles and also the place of sexual identity in Church and Christian life. Furthermore, pretending to ordain women to Holy Orders requires a rejection of clear Biblical teaching and of the unbroken practice of the Catholic and Orthodox Church. The ordination of women is in effect a claim by official Anglican bodies to authority over the deposit of the Faith. The ordination of women assumes a falsehood: that Anglicans have authority to alter the doctrine and practice of the central Tradition of Christendom, which is represented by the consensus of the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and all older Anglican Churches. Such a claim, once made, can be pressed into service to justify any further innovation or aberration in doctrine or morals. No one should be surprised that Churches which began to ordain women in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, began to legitimize homosexual conduct in the 1990s and in the first decade of the 21st century.

3. GAFCON asserts and appeals for support to formularies which have a notable Anglican pedigree: namely the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, the three Creeds, and the first four Ecumenical Councils. No one can or should deny the authority of these formularies. However, these same formularies received formal assent from the same Anglican bodies that since the 1970s have abandoned orthodox and catholic doctrine as noted above. Many Anglican bodies traditionally cultivated a kind of studied doctrinal ambiguity which combined material toleration of grave theological errors with formal acceptance of traditional creeds and formulas. Therefore, the Continuing Churches wisely have fixed our doctrinal stance firmly in the Affirmation of Saint Louis. The Affirmation, confirmed by the Constitution and Canons of the Anglican Catholic Church, explicitly positions the ACC within the great central Tradition of Christendom, represented by the consensus of the Orthodox and Catholic Churches and of the teaching of the Undivided Church of the first millennium. Since the studied ambiguities of some traditional Anglicans permitted the grave errors of recent years to arise, it is no longer enough to recapitulate compromise positions and formulas. A clearer, more explicitly catholic and orthodox stance is demanded by the times. GAFCON’s statement, therefore, is far inferior to the Affirmation and in the long run will not stand up to the winds of error blowing in our world. I would note also that the Affirmation is not a confession or a new statement of belief, but rather affirms the authority of the great central Tradition of Christendom.

Haverland thus speaks for the moral branch of modern Episcopalianism, which finds its identity in the rejection of the sacraments. On the other hand, the General Synod has denied both. The conclusion should not be surprising. Deep down, we've all known all along that it is impossible to be Catholic apart from the Church. All in all, the most incoherent part of Haverland's synopsis states: "If both the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches reject something that some Anglicans believe, then that something probably is false, particularly if it concerns a matter of importance." Huh?

I am feeling particularly jealous for the time, souls, and ministry of my friends who are tied up in this nonsense. And, I am grateful for the upcoming celebration of the Anglican Use which may remind them of a strong and sure way in to the Catholic life that they have been seeking all along with such fortitude. This summer's Anglican Use conference offers more to my Episcopalian friends than a merely generous invitation for them to join us; this summer's conference is part of the Church's continuing affirmation to Episcopalians that the Catholic Church has great need of them.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

We've been busy

... MM has been recovering from the WYA summer camp, keeping an eye on Zimbabwe, and entertaining friends in the heart of Texas; Lux has been doing all of the dilligent and excellent things that Lux does, and Timothy is spending the month in prayer at the Benedictine monestary in Norcia. Summer is such a great time.

Other little things to report include an article on ecumenism in the developing world by MM that's just out at the Journal of Religion, Conflict and Peace (it's an early thing, reflecting a pretty unformed ecclesiology, but you know, good for a rainy day); the upcoming Augustine blog conference at Per Caritatem, where I'll be talking about Augustine and 20th-21st Century Thinkers; and of course, the 2008 Anglican Use Conference will be taking place in my hometown this week, which is exciting.

How have you been enjoying your summer so far?