Texanglican

"The Preachers chiefly shall take heed that they teach nothing in their preaching, which they would have the people religiously to observe and believe, but that which is agreeable to the Doctrine of the Old Testament and the New, and that which the Catholick Fathers and Ancient Bishops have gathered out of that Doctrine." A proposed canon of Elizabeth I, 1571

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Location: Bedford, Texas, United States

I am a presbyter in the diocese of Fort Worth, Texas (Anglican Church in North America). I serve as Chaplain at St. Vincent's School and as a canon of St. Vincent's Cathedral Church in Bedford, Texas. In addition to my parish duties and teaching Religion classes in the school I am also the Middle School Social Studies teacher.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Another One Takes the Plunge

Well, it has happened again--for the second time in three months. Another faithful priest has left the Episcopal diocese of Fort Worth and "swam the Tiber." Father Taylor Marshall, the author of the Canterbury Tales blog as "Father Pereginator", has renounced his orders in the Episcopal diocese of Fort Worth and was received into the Roman Catholic Church a couple of weeks ago. His "brief apologia" may be found here.

I most certainly wish Mr. Marshall and his family well on this next stage in their spiritual journey. May God bless them richly.

I suppose it will come as no surprise to readers of this blog that I do not find Marshall's apologia to be terribly persuasive. It is essentially the same problem I had with Jeff Moore's statements of earlier this year. This is what Marshall says about the key issue, in my mind:

I don't need to make any fancy argument for the authority of Rome. It is simply that Christ instituted St Peter to bind and loose on earth (the earth denoting universal jurisdiction) and that this office is protected by the Holy Spirit so that the Church will never be led into error in the realm of Faith and Morals. The buck stops with Peter and with his successors in Rome - all the way up to the present Pope, His Holiness Benedict XVI. This charism for truth is not based on the moral superiority of the popes or their intellectual astuteness. It is based in the power of the Holy Spirit fulfilling the promise of Christ.

There is pretty much no statement in this paragraph that I do not take at least some exception with, based upon my rather extensive study of Scripture and the Fathers of the Church on this question. Where does Father P get the conclusion that the office of St. Peter is "protected by the Holy spirit so that the Church will never be led into error in the realms of Faith and Morals"? He seems to take it as self-evident, but I have serious questions as to whether St. Peter himself was protected from such error, based upon Gal 2:11-14 (which is infallible Holy Scripture, as I am sure Fr P would agree). And if Peter himself could err, then I can see no reason to believe that his successors in Rome alone (as opposed to Antioch, for example, which also can trace its ancient lineage of bishops back to the era of Petrine evangelism) would be so protected.

Fr P's claim to universal jurisdiction and the protection of infallibility for the bishops of Rome is further complicated by the fact that there is no surviving evidence that the first several centuries of Roman bishops claimed such rights and abilities over the entire Church. And when they did get around to it, the earliest claims to a special Roman primacy typically relied upon their status as guardians of the relics of SS Peter and Paul and the impeccably consistent orthodoxy of their doctrine rather than what became the classic "proof text" inscribed around the base of the dome of St. Peter's. And while the ancient councils of the universal Church unquestionably recognized the primacy of honor of Rome, I am unaware that the Eastern primates ever recognized either the universal jurisdiction or infallibility of their brother in Rome. In short, the opinions of the ancient bishops of Rome were deeply respected by the Greek-speaking Church (as the Tome of Leo's reception at Chalcedon indicates), but the Roman popes had no special authority over Alexandria, Antioch or Constantinople--and never have. The logic of Fr P's argument seems to indicate that the entire Eastern Church failed to understand the Lord's clear instructions for the monarchial government of the Church, thereby disregarding the protecting hand of the Holy Spirit over the unique Petrine office by never submitting to jurisdiction of the bishops of Rome. So despite the protection of the Holy Spirit, the unity of Christ's Church on earth was fatally compromised before Constantine even proclaimed toleration for the Church! Pardon me if I am a bit skeptical.

Like Fr P, I believe the Holy Spirit protects the Church. The decrees of ecumenical councils (i.e., the seven that all of the Patriarchal sees have participated in and are recognized by Chalcedonian Christians in both East and West) are, I believe, infallible. But I am unconvinced that this infallibility abides solely in the Roman Pontiff and in councils he alone has convened (if he chooses to call a council rather than acting on his own to declare a dogma). This doctrine is, I presently believe, a medieval development that took place solely in the Latin-speaking West. It has only been endorsed by councils of those bishops that remained in communion with Rome after the Great Schism and did not separate from it in the sixteenth century (e.g., Vatican I). And since IMO Roman jurisdictional primacy and infallibility is a medieval development that was unknown to the ancient Church, I would need to be convinced (a la Newman) that doctrine develops over time in ways that might not have been at all clear to the ancients themselves, even if these later developments were somehow always there in nuce (rather like the buried ancient acorn that becomes the mighty oak of modern Roman dogma).

Again, I eagerly await an informed reflection from my friends who are former Anglicans on these points. For me to be convinced, I will need a thoughtful dialogue on Roman primacy of jurisdiction and infallibility based upon historical evidence and/or clear rational argument, and not merely the "Jesus said it; I believe it; that settles it" approach one sometimes encounters. I promise to listen carefully.

My sincere best wishes to Fr P and his family, and to all of my many Roman Catholic friends. As I hope you know, I agree with you as to 98% of the content of the deposit of Faith. And I deeply long for the day, I hope not too far off, when we will be reunited in one visible Body. There are encouraging signs of Roman/Orthodox rapprochement, and I suspect that any agreement that the leaders of the Eastern Orthodox Churches could reach with the Roman Pontiff on these contested issues is probably one I could endorse as well. Pope Benedict seems to be just the man to accomplish this reconciliation. May God bless him in his crucial ministry. Let us pray for the happy day when we all will be one, even as Christ and the Father are one.

26 Comments:

Blogger Timotheos Prologizes said...

Perhaps neither "apologia" was meant to be a persuasion piece, as much as simply an explanation for family and friends about what has transpired in their minds, hearts, and lives.

I did't expect Taylor to write a treatise about it, but I'm glad he did take the time to comment.

I think there is something to the fact that both of the priests who left are young and come from other faith traditions. It seems to me that our time together was a part of their journey. They had not yet reached their destination.

12:35 PM  
Blogger Derek the ├ćnglican said...

I think there is something to the fact that both of the priests who left are young and come from other faith traditions. It seems to me that our time together was a part of their journey. They had not yet reached their destination.


This rings true to my experience. Most of my friends who have swum and those considering it most earnestly now started in non-sacramental conservative evangelical movements. Perhaps one of our functions is to teach protestants that one can be conservative and evangelical *and* sacramental...

That having been said, as a self-identifying moderate I am saddened by the exodus of faithful conservative priests whether to the Continuum or to Rome. The souls of the Episcopal flock still need tending...

12:50 PM  
Anonymous Marl said...

There is an interesting essay about this issue over at All Too Common.

I'm not sure what I think of it entirely, but it seems to be the best theological defense for the catholicity of Anglican churches, thus far. What do you all think?

1:24 PM  
Blogger J. Gordon Anderson said...

It seems to be more of an emotionally based move than anything else. Reading his blog I saw this coming. Honestly, it doesn't bug me too much, and I wish him and his family the best. I do feel sorry for him because he will most likely never be ordained in the RC Church. They use the pastoral provision very very infrequently here in the USA, and there are very few AU parishes in the country - 6, I think. The ones that are ordained under it (Baltimore has only 1, I think) are outcasts amongst the rest of the clergy, and they are not permitted to pastor parishes. So it's too bad he's giving up his ordained ministry, but I admire his courage and conviction. And while the liturgy of the churches is similar, and the faith very much the same, the ethos is extremely different, and very hard to adjust to. So I imagine they will have hard days ahead and be in need of our prayers to help them adjust.

Years ago I left the Anglican fold to become Roman Catholic. All of these same issues were going on in my head... Anglicanism is dead, Rome is the only way, where is the central authority, blah, blah, blah. I was a postulant in a continuing church (not the APA), and attending a Roman Catholic seminary. "Goign to Rome" was my answer for everything. So I was an RC layman for 3 years or so. But all the time I was RC, I could never come up with an argument as to why Anglicans were not truly catholic. I always believed in the validity of our orders, and the catholicity of our tradition. I finally realized that my "conversion" was simply an emotional reaction to the tough questions and issues I was facing. So I came back, and have not looked back once. And I have never been happier or more at peace in my life.

Nonetheless, I wish them all the best in the world, and God's grace on their journey. And I hope that his new lay ministry doesn't become Anglican-bashing, like so many ex-Anglicans.

3:27 PM  
Blogger Julian said...

Tiber-swimming could be an olympic sport in the Diocese of Ft. Worth. It's costly and demoralizing, espeically to ordinary laypeople. After having most of that recent cohort turn out the way it did, I hope the Diocese will take the opportunity to reflect on its selection and training process. "orthodox Anglo-catholic" is not equivalent to "young, brash, socially conservative male with extraordinary admiration for Rome."

5:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Randall, could you give an explanation of your acceptance of the infallibility of the seven ecumenical councils? This piece of the puzzle would be helpful in understanding your line of reasoning.

Ian

11:45 PM  
Blogger texanglican said...

Julian, I like it: Tiber swimming as a sport in our diocese--clever!

Ian, I will post an entire essay on this in the next few weeks, but in the meantime there is nothing in this paragraph from the old Catholic Encyclopedia that I disagree with:

All the arguments which go to prove the infallibility of the Church apply with their fullest force to the infallible authority of general councils in union with the pope. For conciliary decisions are the ripe fruit of the total life-energy of the teaching Church actuated and directed by the Holy Ghost. Such was the mind of the Apostles when, at the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:28), they put the seal of supreme authority on their decisions in attributing them to the joint action of the Spirit of God and of themselves: Visum est Spiritui sancto et nobis (It hath seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us). This formula and the dogma it enshrines stand out brightly in the deposit of faith and have been carefully guarded throughout the many storms raised in councils by the play of the human element. From the earliest times they who rejected the decisions of councils were themselves rejected by the Church. Emperor Constantine saw in the decrees of Nicaea "a Divine commandment" and Athanasius wrote to the bishops of Africa: "What God has spoken through the Council of Nicaea endureth for ever." ...[Leo the Great states that] the decrees of Chalcedon were framed instruente Spiritu Sancto, i.e. under the guidance of the Holy Ghost. ... The Scripture texts on which this unshaken belief is based are, among others: "But when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will teach you all truth . . ." John xvi, 13) "Behold I am with you [teaching] all days even to the consummation of the world" (Matthew 28:20), "The gates of hell shall not prevail against it [i.e. the Church]" (Matthew 16:18).

8:53 AM  
Blogger Piraeus said...

I do feel sorry for him because he will most likely never be ordained in the RC Church. They use the pastoral provision very very infrequently here in the USA, and there are very few AU parishes in the country - 6, I think. The ones that are ordained under it (Baltimore has only 1, I think) are outcasts amongst the rest of the clergy, and they are not permitted to pastor parishes.

St James the Avg., I would suggest you do a little bit more investigating before making these claims. The pastoral provision is actually used pretty commonly in America and I know that in the RC Diocese of Ft Worth the pastoral provision priests are well received. In fact the largest parish in the RC Diocese is led by pastoral provision priest.

9:03 AM  
Blogger J. Gordon Anderson said...

Really? That's interesting. As a graduate from a Roman Catholic seminary, and as a former employee of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, and as a person who has friends who are RC clergy in numerous dioceses in this country I have never known the pastoral provision to be used much here in the States. It is used very carefully, and very infrequently, and I think the statistics show that. Again, look at the Archdiocese of Baltimore - there is one in this huge, "moderate", diocese with a major priest shortage. So I think that what I said has a great deal of validity.

If the few clergy who are reordained under the pastoral provision are treated well by other priests in some other dioceses, then that is great. But I know here in Baltimore the archdiocese is a "good 'ol boy" network, and if you didn't go to seminary at the either of the St. Mary's Seminaries (and maybe Rome), then you never quite fit it. Even more so if you are married.

9:34 AM  
Blogger Piraeus said...

I think the statistics show that.

What statistics? Do you know the number who seek ordination and are refused?

9:42 AM  
Blogger Piraeus said...

Again, look at the Archdiocese of Baltimore - there is one in this huge, "moderate", diocese with a major priest shortage.

Once again the question is how many former Anglican priests have asked Cardinal Keeler for ordination. Perhaps there have been many.

9:52 AM  
Blogger Derek the ├ćnglican said...

Speaking anecdotally, the only Roman priest (married) I know who was a former Anglican priest was a hospital chaplain. Parish ministry was not presented to him as an option.

1:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In fact the largest parish in the RC Diocese is led by pastoral provision priest.
-------------------

yeah...and look how that is working out. Swimming the Tiber is no cure-all.

2:26 PM  
Blogger Piraeus said...

In fact the largest parish in the RC Diocese is led by pastoral provision priest.
-------------------

yeah...and look how that is working out. Swimming the Tiber is no cure-all.


I am not sure what that means. Are there problems at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton?

For those who convert I do not think it is a matter of it being a "cure-all" rather I think they are convinced that it is the truth.

3:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3:38 PM  
Anonymous Happily Anglican said...

Agree with Derek that the Anglican focus should be to reaffirm our conservative and evangelical *and* sacramental nature. As a convert from non-sacramental evangelicalism, I can understand the pull and desire for the "real deal" even as I was confirmed in an Anglo-catholic parish. I find that our one virture is the lack of xenophobia for the other parts of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic church. Specifically we as Anglican find no shame in admiring and assimulating Roman worship, Orthodox spirituality, protestant realism. Unlike R.C.s who feel that there is nothing to learn from Protestants or Protestants who believe that the greek orthodox are all idol worshippers, an Anglican can draw from the wells of the many traditions and still remain Anglican secure in the fact that she is in the body of Christ.

Having worked on a Graduate degree at Notre Dame, I too felt the pull of the RC before I finally converted to become an Anglican. The decision was easy. The beauty of the Liturgy, the open mindedness, the autonomy of the local church. After attending Mass after Mass in various R.C parishes where the chants were butchered, the mass itself was sung in such a way that you were sure something was being crucified, and the continual news of the over-reaching bureaucracy of the Roman bishops, I said no thanks. In the Episcopal church in NYC alone we have the highest of high churchs, 1928 prayer books (in communion), Charismatic, Evanglical happy clappy, Anglican Missal, whatever flavor is out there, and I enjoy the mutual respect that is present among all -- recently one of children's choirs of the largest low church parishes sang in our incense saturated solemn eveningsong. I would be offended if the bishop were to tell them not to clap in their church or what liturgy we are allowed in ours. But it is a constant strife in the R.C. churches among parishes and their bishops. The RC parishes in San Diego are not allowed to kneel during the Angus Dei, Parishes need permission to do mass in Latin, Priest can not celebrate mass facing the Altar. If you wish listen to the highly glorious catholic musical tradition, the organ works or mass, forget about the RC parishes, You are more likely to hear Palestrina in the smallest of Episcopal churches vs. the largest RC parish.

We should emphasize what the RC parishes have long envied us Anglicans on -- The freedom of our priests to conduct conservative and tradition worship (facing the altar, kneel for communion, Latin, etc.), the solemn beauty of our liturgy ( thrice daily angelus, singing the tantum Ergos and salutaris hostia), the glory of our achiteture (Rood screens, altar rails, Gothic revival). Our music (even the hymns sound better -- has anyone ever been in a RC parish where there was involved congregational singing? See RC musician Thomas Day's book "Why Catholics Can't Sing".)

In short one should go to Rome for 2 reasons: 1. an uncontrollable infatuation with the metaphysical primacy of the Petrine See (or become an anglo papist) and 2. One loves iron clad bureaucracy protecting doctrine.

Other than those two the Anglican church is as mess up as any other church RC, Orthodox, Protestant, etc. The Body of Christ on Earth is composed of sinners who are working on becoming saints. Swim the Tiber because there is something you love about the RC church not because you percieve something deficient in the Anglican church because deficiencies are everywhere - read history.

Peace.

12:07 PM  
Blogger texanglican said...

A comment above has been removed because it related to the personal life of an RC priest who is a former Anglican. At first I was tempted to leave the comment alone, since it does have some bearing on how the "pastoral provision" might be lived out in actual practice. (My impression is that PP works out as well or better here than pretty much anywhere else in the US.) But on second thought, his personal life is not really any of our business. Thanks.

5:55 AM  
Blogger J. Gordon Anderson said...

In the past 25 years, there have only been 80 priests ordained under the pastoral provision here in the USA. That's not a very high number (see link).

http://www.pastoralprovision.org/news.html

There are probably a number of different reasons for this low number. True, maybe a lot of men do not apply for it. And maybe others apply and are turned down. Who knows? It would be interesting to see what the statistic on that is.

Does anyone know if Mr. Marshall is going to apply for the provision? He was not ordained to the Anglican priesthood all that long ago, and to get the paperwork and momentum going for something like this takes time. I guess the timing seems rather strange to me. I do agree with what Julian said about the diocese of Ft. Worth needing to reconsider who it chooses to admit to the process.

That said, it would be great if he could be ordained under the pastoral provision, because the RC's need devout, intelligent clergy like him who are committed to serving God and His Church.

3:00 PM  
Blogger Piraeus said...

That's not a very high number

St. James, There is no way you can say that is or isn't a high number without knowing the number of Anglican priests who came into full communion with Rome, or the number of former Anglican priests who have applied to be ordained under the pastoral provision. I am quite close to one of the a key figures for approving pastoral provision applications and as he explained it to me he basically approves all the applications of former Anglican priests seeking ordination as long as there is a bishop to ordain him and there are no canonical impediments (namely irregular marriage or the person was a cradle Roman Catholic who left the Church and is now returning).

Who knows? It would be interesting to see what the statistic on that is.

Yes it would be but since you don't know perhaps you shouldn't make rather sweeping proclamations about the success (or lack there of) of the provision ("I do feel sorry for him because he will most likely never be ordained in the RC Church. They use the pastoral provision very very infrequently here in the USA").


Does anyone know if Mr. Marshall is going to apply for the provision?

I am pretty good friends with Taylor and have been privy to some of his thoughts on the topic but obviously it is up to him to make those thoughts public when he feels appropriate.

I do agree with what Julian said about the diocese of Ft. Worth needing to reconsider who it chooses to admit to the process.

Which goes against your basic point that somehow the Catholic Church is too stingy in its application of the provision.

3:48 PM  
Blogger J. Gordon Anderson said...

"I am quite close to one of the a key figures for approving pastoral provision applications and as he explained it to me he basically approves all the applications of former Anglican priests seeking ordination as long as there is a bishop to ordain him and there are no canonical impediments (namely irregular marriage or the person was a cradle Roman Catholic who left the Church and is now returning)."

Maybe you can ask your friend how many people apply for the process and how many people get accepted and share that with us sometime.

7:09 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

*sigh*

With another good Anglo-Catholic priest gone, Anglicanism is dimminished that much more.

-----

http://wannabeanglican.blogspot.com/

9:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Randall!

Just checked in to see your blog today, and wanted to say that I like this post. It's very Orthodox :-)!

I also appreciate the news about Brice, and I totally understand what you mean about respecting someone _as a priest_.

God bless,

Fr. John S.

9:07 PM  
Blogger texanglican said...

Thanks, Father John. It is good to hear from you. I hope your studies go well. Please give my regards to your wife and daughter. God bless.

10:06 PM  
Blogger Pseudo-Iamblichus said...

As someone who has swum the Tiber in the other direction (life-long RC to continuing Anglican), my first impression about Fr. Marshall's conversion was "he doesn't know the Catholic Church very well, does he?" I have been a seminarian in the RC church and also a monk: the whole fetishizing of the "Institution" (whether it be the Papacy, the Vatican Curia, or your religious superior) was something that I began to see as foreign to the Gospel and the Patristic mind. An office does not guarentee infallibility, a sign outside the church does not guarentee indefectibility, and if it does not look right (a nun in a leotard wafting incense around an altar) it isn't right. Simply put.

A lot of conversion to Rome has been more indicative of a crisis in epistomology and hermeneutics than of a theological crisis. Postmodern man would like it for someone to tell him that "this is black, and that is white; end of story". Unforunately, this does not exist either in the Gospels nor in the ancient Church.
We live in confusing times, and we can be guided in many things by traditional Christian ways, but in other things we have to be resigned to be uncertain. For me, that was why I left Roman Catholicism. I knew too much, and I couldn't lie to myself saying that there was only one way, one method of being a Christian. It was an opening up to a system where I am PROBABLY right, but not definitely.

12:55 PM  
Blogger Pontificator said...

My article "Climbing into the Barque" may be of interest to readers of this thread.

9:30 AM  
Blogger Pontificator said...

I suppose that 80 Pastoral Provision priests over the past twenty-five years does not sound like a high number--but compared to what? How many ECUSA priests have become Orthodox during this same period of time? How many have joined the Continuum? How many who might have left have simply decided, for family, personal, and financial reasons, simply to stay put in ECUSA and wait until retirement?

The Pastoral Provision is a somewhat lengthy, burdensome process. It usually takes a minimum of two years to ordination, beginning with the time one finds a bishop. I have heard of a few priests who have not pursued the process because of its length. Finding a bishop who is willing to sponsor a married priest is not always easy. There's lots of paperwork, psychological evaluation, and a period of theological preparation and examination. Only after the candidate passes the examinations--and the examiners are quite generous--are the applications sent to Rome. I have not heard of any candidates whose applications were rejected by Rome.

The biggest problem is supporting one's family between times. My bishop has been very supportive.

11:42 AM  

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