"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.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Traditional Anglo-Catholic vs. Anglo-Papalist

Friends, I have been thinking about the term "Anglo-Papalist" lately. I only began to run across it frequently a few years ago, and have never really had a clear understanding of exactly what folks mean by it.

I came across this article purporting to describe the difference between "Anglo-Catholics" in the traditional sense and "Anglo-Papalists". Is this distinction accurate? If so, I can happily declare myself a traditional Anglo-Catholic. Definition 1 fits me to a tee (even if the rhetoric of the statement is a tad overblown. I'm prone to that sort of thing myself!). And the position outlined in definition 2 is illogical and inconsistent to me. I have a difficult time seeing how a person who held such an "Anglo-Papalist" position (if accurate) can hold back in good conscience from swimming the Tiber, especially since large-scale organic reunion between Rome and Canterbury seems further away than ever in light of the present Anglican doctrinal crisis and the present AC leadership.

I consider myself a Catholic Anglican. I am an Anglican by conviction, not a Roman who happens to be separated from the Holy See by an historical accident. I cannot in good conscience assent to the claims of universal ordinary jurisdiction and infallibility presently made by the Roman Pontiff, as much as I do admire the present incumbent as a man and a thinker. (As I have said before, if some sort of accommodation on the Petrine office could be worked about between Rome and the Eastern Patriarchs, I suspect I could sign onto whatever they worked out between them. Let us pray, brothers and sisters.)

My own thoughts on the Papacy are identical, as far as I can tell, with those of the Eastern Orthodox--a primacy of honor but not universal ordinary jurisdiction. And infallibility in the decrees of a Pope acting without the endorsement of a Council of the Universal Church [both East and West] is out of the question for me. In fact, my own understanding of Catholic Anglicanism is that it is (or at least ought to be) "Western Orthodoxy," standing by the teachings of the Fathers and the decrees of the seven Ecumenical Councils alongside the Eastern Church while celebrating the heritage of the West (Ambrose, Augustine, Anselm, Bernard, Aquinas, etc) in a special way and worshiping in the traditional Western liturgical expression. This might be a preposterously Romantic vision--and perhaps even an untenable ecclesiology in light of the present crisis--but dear Reader it is where I stand. Kyrie eleison!


Anonymous Fr. Christopher C. Stainbrook said...

A good history of this subject is ANGLICAN PAPALISM by Michael Yelton
(Who also wrote a fascinating biography of Fr. Hope Patten of Walsingham fame an an ardent Anglo Papalist)

11:14 AM  
Blogger texanglican said...

Thanks, Father. I appreciate the suggestion. I will order it asap!

Btw, I have been working through one of the penitentials you suggested. Very helpful. Thanks again.

3:08 PM  
Blogger Marco Vervoorst said...

I consider myself a Catholic Anglican.

So your Catholicism describes your Anglicanism and not vice versa? Catholic here is the adjective which describes the object, Anglican. If your a Catholic but not Rome you are an Anglican Catholic not a Catholic Anglican!

The real problem is that the traditional parties within Anglicanism have lost their original thrust. The lines between parties is so fuzzy that one cannot distinguish between them. For example, the six points of the early Anglo-Catholics is now a universal (well, almost) norm within Anglicanism!

BTW: The book is good but is limited to the UK.

5:09 PM  
Blogger texanglican said...

Point well taken. Anglican Catholic is probably a more accurate descriptive. Thanks.

8:20 PM  
Anonymous The Common Anglican said...

My two cents:

I agree with Randall completely, but not because I am as well read as he, but simply because of two reasons. 1) The doctrinal claims of Vatican I are novelties only justified (as far as I can see) by Newman's "Essay on the Development of Doctrine." I don't buy it. It's too convenient, something made after the fact to justify what's already been done and Newman's giving into it. 2) A question I ask all Papists (Anglo or otherwise): Who is the final authority in Rome? The Magesterium? Well who interprets what is and is not infallible? The theologians whose opinions change with the breeze. The Apostolicae Curae example is the most obvious. 3) If you reject these two and still are an Anglo-Papalist, then how can you stay out of communion with the Holy Father, considering Unam Sanctam?

I've read Randall ask you this question twice now and he still hasn't had an answer. How do you do it, Fr. Marco?

9:59 PM  
Blogger Marco Vervoorst said...

Dear Common Anglican et al,

How do I do it? Maybe I am theologically schizophrenic? (I never claimed to be a perfect Anglo-Papist or a perfect anything. I see problems with the traditional Anglo-Papist position but that problem revolves around my separation from the Holy See. As Spencer John Jones said "... our differences (with Rome) are due to our separation, not our separation to our differences".)

I, for one, do not buy any justification of the Roman position, if we like to call it that, starting with the question of authority. It strikes me as the ultimate Protestant justification for Roman Catholicism. :lol

I think this misses the point. The question, for me, is where the Church is to be found (which, of course, exercises God's authority in leading the faithful). Paul calls the Church (not the Scriptures) the pillar of truth. I like that image: the pillar which leads God's people to the promised land. My heart's desire is to be united to God. To do that, I must be united to his Church this side of eternity.

Just a little quote from Scott Hahn: ... the Catholic Church is not just another denomination - it is either true or diabolical. So, I have no answer and I will not offer a justification for the Anglo-Papist nor the Anglo-Catholic position. I think that the Anglo part makes these untenable.

11:54 PM  
Anonymous The Common Anglican said...

"So, I have no answer and I will not offer a justification for the Anglo-Papist nor the Anglo-Catholic position. I think that the Anglo part makes these untenable.."

And yet you, yourself, are an "Anglo" priest, despite Unam Sanctum.

Unam Sanctum specifically says, "Now, therefore, we declare, say, determine and pronounce that for every human creature it is necessary for salvation to be subject to the authority of the Roman pontiff.”

It says that your soul is in danger, Father. Of course I don't believe it is, because Rome's claims about herself stem from an uncatholic ecclesiology (stemming from the original disputes with Orthodoxy, which initially divided the Church).

You seem to have no reason to believe the claims of Rome, yet you still do. Strange. You believe the claims of Rome, denounce things "Anglo", and yet you still remain out of communion with the Pope, despite Unam Sanctum's harsh warning. Even stranger.

Fr, please don't interpret my questions as criticisms. I'm just trying to understand the epistemological foundations (pun intended) underpinning Anglo-Papalism.

It truly does seem like theological schizophrenia.

8:39 AM  
Blogger Marco Vervoorst said...

Dear Common Anglican et al,

You said that you wanted to get to the epistemological foundations. I think that is where we differ. What about the metaphysical foundations? Pure philosophy might be impossible in the real world but in the blogosphere everything is possible. :lol

Before we ask 'how do I know the Church' maybe we should ask 'what is the Church'? Epistemology, since Decartes and Locke, is the modern philosophical obsession. Epistemology asks the question of how a certain knowledge is possible not if it is true.

One cannot make this discussion into battling authorities. Quoting a Papal Bull from the 14th century does not help. Vatican II has said lots about faithful outside of the Roman Catholic Church - maybe look at that!

Catholicism does not happen in a vacuum. It is within a context. So what is uncatholic about the Roman ecclesiology? (May I just make a point: catholic is defined very different by Anglo-Catholics than Anglo-Papists. That is the real point.)

I have said nothing about what I believe or do not believe: I have simply stated some general thoughts. Yes, I am a "priest" but I have no desire to be an Anglo-anything in my priesthood. The duty given me at ordination is to proclaim Jesus in word and action. With fear and trembling that is what I try to do every day of my life.

You are a baptised Christian (I assume) and as such you have a divine duty to search for God's one holy Catholic and apostolic Church. If your conscience is clear with your current situation, Thanks be to God. (ie don't use the soul is in danger argument as it clouds the discussion with emotion rather than theological insight!)

4:16 PM  
Blogger Pseudo-Iamblichus said...

Can we just cut to the chase here?

Anglo-Papalists are just clergy who do not want to be celibate. They want to have their cake and eat it to. Sorry, we Roman Catholics don't play that way, at least for now. It's either/or. You believe that Rome is the "mater et magistra" of all of the churches? Then stop playing clerical dress-up and swim the Tiber already. Rome is worth the Novus Ordo Mass, the clerical totalitarianism, and just being a plain layman in the pews gritting your teeth at liberal priests giving quasi-heretical sermons. That is, if you believe these things....

I spend just as much time worshiping with traditional Anglicans as I do with my fellow Roman Catholics. The difference is that they are sincere about their Anglicanism, and I respect that and I learn from it. If they were any other way, if they started pretending to be Roman Catholics whose priests and bishops can marry, I would lose all respect for them. If they don't respect their own tradition, they have just removed the ground out from under themselves. Then what would they stand on?

11:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear P-I,

Much of what you say is spot on, but you should realize that many "Anglo-Papalist" priests are, in fact, celibate of their own free will. The Society of the Holy Cross was started mostly by voluntarily celibate Anglican priests, and to this day there is provision for brethren to make a formal commitment to celibacy if they feel so called. I am friends with one such priest.

To paint with such a broad brush about Anglo-Papalists is just as inaccurate and insulting as one saying that Roman Catholic priests are just a bunch of alcoholic pedophiles.

Perhaps you know that there are in fact quite a number of married priests in the Roman Church. Certainly a priest going through the process in the Latin Rite must vow celibacy, but there are a number of former Anglicans who are now priests of the Latin Rite as well and many priests of the Byzantine Rite who are married.

9:10 AM  
Blogger Pseudo-Iamblichus said...

Alright then, I admit my error. There are probably some good pastoral reasons for many Anglo-Papalists to remain out of communion with Rome. However, if it is no longer a matter of faith, or if it is for a flimsy matter of faith, I still find it highly questionable.

By the way, on the books I am a Byzantine rite Catholic, so I know all about married clergy, even though our disciplines on this are much stricter than in Anglicanism. Also, I do not necessarily agree with mandatory clerical celibacy in the Roman Church.

11:12 AM  
Blogger Jaan said...

One thing in this discussion that is missing is an important fact not all anglo catholics are papists many view the anglican church as a catholic church with valid orders and view rome the same way orthodox do as an elder brother not as the domnant ruler of the Church. I also am in the ABC Micheal Ramsey a liberal anglo catholic who also takes seriously the 39 articles and am influenced by the benedictine stream such as Thomas Merton and others. But I am firmly Anglican/Episcopalian and feel no need to unite with Rome.

2:58 AM  
Blogger Jaan said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2:59 AM  

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