"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, July 25, 2008

Excellent Video from the Diocese of Pittsburgh

Transfiguration Essay for "The Deacon" Newsletter of St. Vincent's Cathedral

Simon Peter did not know what to say. He had seen a lot of strange and amazing things in the last couple of years—multitudes fed from a child’s picnic basket, lepers cleansed, the blind given their sight, a man walking on water (Peter had done it himself, albeit briefly!), even the dead restored to life—yet nothing had prepared him for this! Now Simon Peter was gazing directly into Heaven! Or had Heaven come down to earth?

Words failed the apostle. But one thing he knew for certain: this moment must be made to last. “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” If the greatest saints in the history of Israel have come down to earth and are walking among us, we should make sure they stay right here. We could use their help!

That, of course, was not to be. A voice from the heavenly cloud made clear the point of this miraculous sign: “This is my beloved Son. Listen to Him!” Once again Peter had gotten it wrong. Instead of clutching at heavenly things that were beyond his grasp, he should have been utterly attentive to the One who came down from Heaven, the One with whom he had been traveling for almost three years. The dazzling whiteness that now engulfed his Lord and Master on the mountain top should have reminded Peter of something Jesus had already told him: “He whom God has sent utters the words of God” (John 3:34a). Heaven had already come down to abide on earth with the Incarnation of God’s only-begotten Son. Peter had best focus his attention on the Word-made-flesh and His unalterable Good News for mankind, and not on a single, transient event—no matter how astonishing that event might be!

The Transfiguration of Jesus (Matt 17:1-13; Mark 9:2-13; Luke 9:28-36), therefore, reminds us to maintain a single-minded focus on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And yet Peter’s instinctive response to the transformation of His Master and the ethereal visit of Elijah and Moses also reminds us of another important truth: Despite appearances the veil between this world and the next is as thin as tissue paper.

In fact, the presence of those two Old Testament saints on the mountain top reminds us that a few people have already uniquely crossed the barrier between the worlds of flesh and spirit. For Elijah had been swept up into Heaven in God’s fiery chariot while he was still alive (2 Kings 2:9-12). And there are hints in Scripture that the body of Moses may have been miraculously assumed into Heaven shortly after his death (Deut 34:6b; Jude 9). Similarly early Christian tradition holds that the Virgin Mary was also bodily assumed into Heaven at the close of her earthly life, which the Catholic world will celebrate later this month in the great Marian feast of August 15th. Thus in some mysterious fashion a few of the Lord’s great servants already share in the delights of the resurrection life that all the faithful people of God will one day enjoy.

But the fellowship of Heaven is not limited to those few who have been miraculously taken up from this world. When we affirm in the Creed that we believe “in the communion of saints” we are proclaiming that God’s people still on earth and those already in Heaven remain united in Him. Mere physical death does not sever the bond between those who have become a new creation in Christ Jesus. The dazzling white cloud that enveloped the top of Mount Tabor so long ago is a symbol of that unbroken communion. And when we gather around Christ’s Holy Table in the Eucharist we lift up our hearts to the mountain top and join “angels, and archangels, and all the company of Heaven” in singing praises to the Holy One. In this way we are all being transfigured, conformed more and more, day by day to the image of Christ. And one glorious day we, too, will shine whiter than snow and speak face to face with the giants of the Faith!

The feast of the Transfiguration will be celebrated this year on Wednesday, August 6th. I urge you to consider joining us for Mass that morning in St. Mary’s Chapel at 9AM. But if you are unable to join us, please take a moment in your prayers to give thanks for the communion of saints and the unchanging, saving Word of the Living God. May God’s peace be with you all.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

An Apocalyptic Break from Lambeth News

Sandi Patti. I love this song. (Though admittedly the quality of this homebrew video is not much to write home about!).

As the parishioners of St. Vincent's who have to endure my sermons will attest, my personal theology is deeply apocalyptic. How many priests of the diocese of Fort Worth would say the same? Hmmm.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Grist for the Mill on Large-Scale Roman Reception of Anglo-Catholics

The Guardian has the following information in a report today about a letter from the Vatican's Secretary of State for Internal Affairs, Cardinal Bertone, to the Lambeth Conference (emphasis added):

Keith Pecklers, Professor of Liturgy at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, described Bertone's letter as 'highly significant'. 'The fundamental issue is that the Vatican wants to support the Archbishop and hold everything together. The reality is the decision of the Church of England complicates the relationship, but we don't walk away from the table. I didn't see a letter like that at the previous Lambeth conference. At a Catholic gathering you will get a letter from the secretary of state for internal affairs, so Bertone's letter is highly significant.'

He confirmed that the prospect of English bishops seeking refuge in Rome was a 'delicate issue' and that the Vatican was reluctant to encourage defectors. However, a senior Vatican source was more forthright.'They don't want to look like they're poaching people. But what does the Vatican do about people knocking on its door? They won't turn anyone away, but they can't be seen to welcome people en masse.'

RWF resumes: The bold-faced portion above confirms what I have suspected for several days (though one ought not place too much faith in unnamed "senior Vatican sources"). I doubt that the Pope has any plans to set up major new structures to handle large-scale conversions of English or American Anglo-Catholics to Roman Catholicism. Such a large-scale intervention might not only be construed as "sheep stealing" in the media, but could also lead to diplomatic complications for the Vatican. (Remember, the C of E is a state church. It is a component of the English state, and the U.K. is an important player in the European Union. For the RCC to be seen as interfering in the affairs of such a state church would raise special challenges for them.)

Instead the Vatican will probably widen the existing door of the Pastoral Provision and Anglican Use just a bit to ease the path of individuals into communion with the Bishop of Rome. Individual Anglo-Catholic priests will be able to convert and be considered for a sort of "fast track" ordination on a case-by-case basis, as is already the case in the U.S. today. Rome might even be willing to receive the lion's share of an English Anglican parish's membership into the RCC as a group and set up an Anglican Use parish, as has been done half a dozen or so times in the States in the last thirty years. (I understand, however, that many English Anglo-Catholics already use the Roman Novus Ordo liturgy rather than a BCP-based one and I doubt the C of E will surrender its buildings to Rome, so it is a bit difficult to see what the point of an entire new RC parish set up specifically to handle ex-Anglicans would be--other than to help those converts feel a bit more comfortable in the first generation by retaining their old priest for a time.) But it does not seem likely to me that Rome will create a new, separate body for ex-Anglicans with its own bishops and administration.

If I'm right, I know that my Anglo-Papalist friends will be much disappointed. But of course, I may be wrong. Surely nothing concrete will be done about such a hypothetical new ex-Anglican structure until after the C of E makes women bishops official with legislation next year. So time will tell.

A Sermon for July 20th

“the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God”, from the letter of St. Paul to the Romans. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Like all obese people, I have been on lots of diets. I have tried a lot of different kinds of diets. And I have talked with lots of people who are on diets. As a result of those experiences I have reached many valuable conclusions. Among these is a great truth: Chicken-fried steak is sinful!

I hope that some of your chuckled, because I hoped my conclusion would sound funny. But, actually, it is literally true. Chicken-fried steak arises from the fact that human beings—you and I—are sinners. It is a direct result of original sin. I’m not kidding. Let me explain.

Have you ever read the creation story in Genesis carefully? If so, you will remember that when God makes our First Parents at the end of chapter one, the Lord tells them, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food." It is clear in Genesis that the world was intended by God to be vegetarian. That’s a shock for Texans to hear, I know. But it’s true. That is because death and killing had not yet entered into the world. It took human sin to introduce those atrocities into Creation. We are the reason death exists. According to Genesis, our disobedience, our longing to “be like God” and usurp His place as Creator and Lord are the reason animals now die to feed us and to feed each other. So chicken-fried steak, delicious as it is, only exists because we are sinners.

Now I rather doubt St. Paul had a steak dinner in mind when he composed our lesson from Romans 8 today. But when the Apostle says there, “the creation was subjected to futility” and that it is in “bondage to decay,” he is talking about the results of the Fall. When Adam and Eve succumbed to the trickery of the Evil One and disobeyed the Lord in their quest to become gods in their own right they not only got themselves turned out of Paradise and cut off from the Tree of Life, they condemned their descendents to the same fate. But they also sent a tremor through the whole created order. I don’t have an explanation for exactly how this happened. It is one of those impenetrable mysteries of the Faith. Somehow the rebellion of the human race against the will of our Creator affected the entire cosmos. When we fell, we pulled everything else down with us! As a result, sin and death entered a world God had just declared “very good.” It became a world of tooth and claw, of poison ivy and ragweed.

“The whole creation,” St. Paul tells us, “has been groaning in travail together until now.” This does not mean, of course, that everything about the world you and I inhabit is terrible. There is much that still reflects the primordial goodness of creation. Righteous and wholesome things still exist. Beauty, truth, and love remain in a faded form even in this fallen age. But there is no unmixed good in the world after Eden. “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold” in a world in bondage to decay. That ancient serpent, the Devil, lurks behind every corner and haunts our every step, delighting in creation’s degradation by sin. Nothing lasts. Nothing is as it was meant to be. Whenever the plants come up and bear their grain, then the weeds also appear.

But it will not stay this way forever. The heavy veil of sin that has separated the Creator from the children He made to walk and talk with Him in Paradise will one day be ripped in half from top to bottom and we shall see Him face to face. But that is not all! One day the bonds of decay that fetter the very cosmos will be smashed to pieces. And all things in heaven and on earth yearn to see that day. “For the creation waits with eager longing,” the Apostle tells us, “for the revealing of the sons of God.” Just as the whole universe was somehow mysteriously tainted by human sin at the dawn of our race, in the same way our redemption will result in freedom for a fallen world. Then “the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God.”

Our Lord Jesus speaks of that magnificent day in the Gospel lesson this morning, the long-awaited day when “the righteous will shine like the sun.” But before the final triumph of freedom at the consummation of all things many challenges remain to be faced. For while it is true that the Kingdom of God has come among us with the Incarnation of the Father’s only-begotten Son, the full number of the sons and daughters of that Kingdom has not yet been reached. Our Lord Jesus warns us that there is work yet to be done and that the Enemy will not go down without a fight.

In today’s parable the Son of Man sows the field of this world. A bountiful crop springs up after Christ casts seed upon the earth. That seed, of course, may be seen as His own precious Blood. An earth in bondage to sin and death—a world estranged from the Good, the True, and the Beautiful by our transgressions—hungrily drinks up the life-blood of Life Himself as it drips from the cross. And those upon whom the Blood of the Lamb graciously falls--those who hear the Word of salvation, repent of their sins, and turn to Christ in faith—take our Lord’s Life—the seeds of eternity--into their hearts, souls, and bodies and are made new. The children of the Kingdom flourish--refreshed by the sacramental waters of Baptism and fed with spiritual food from Christ’s Holy Table.

The Enemy, of course, cannot abide this. For millennia Satan reveled in the thought that he had won a lasting victory. But now with the cross and empty tomb of Jesus the devil’s masterpiece—the decadence of all things and the enslavement of humanity by sin--is in serious jeopardy. He will do whatever it takes to thwart the Redeemer’s work. So the Enemy comes by stealth in the night, a liar and a thief determined to take back what Christ has won at Calvary. And sadly, he finds some who are still receptive to his perverse, Satanic seed. There are some who refuse to accept the wholesome wheat of the Bread of Life and turn instead to the dark stranger in the shadows, following the devices and desires of their hardened hearts. As a result this world—though it has already been purchased by the saving Death and life-giving Resurrection of Jesus Christ--is not yet totally free from evil. There are noxious weeds that still endure even as God’s Kingdom dawns among us.

In a mind-boggling display of His great mercy, God has held back His righteous anger for a time. He has not yet uprooted the weeds in the field, lest harm also come to His treasured wheat. But the day is most assuredly coming when God’s sovereign will again reigns unchallenged on earth as it is in Heaven. Then all things and all people will be judged by what they have done, for what we do in this life makes us who we are—children of the Kingdom or children of the evil one. And the holy angels will come and “gather out of Christ’s kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and throw them into the furnace of fire.” At the end of days, when our Lord Jesus Christ “is all-in-all,” nothing that is anti-Christ can possibly endure, for the Lord our God is a consuming fire. Perfect righteousness will consume all that is unrighteous. Perfect love will swallow up all that is not love. And there will be nothing left behind to corrupt God’s creation when the One “in whom all things hold together” makes Death a footstool before His throne of Glory and absolute Truth-made-flesh crushes the head of that ancient serpent, the Father of Lies. They shall neither hurt nor destroy on all God’s holy mountain, and “the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Friday, July 18, 2008

I Sincerely Hope This Rumor Proves Unfounded

Ruth Gledhill of The Times, a notably unreliable source on some occasions in the past, has this report from the Lambeth Conference today:

Moderate conservatives are also drawing up plans to allow overseas primates to function in co-operation with the Episcopal Church of the USA as pastors for evangelical churches offended by the liberal direction. It is hoped that the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, might agree to this.

This would leave the primates of Nigeria, Rwanda and Uganda, who have flouted the authority of Bishop Jefferts Schori by illicitly consecrating bishops to serve in the US, out in the cold but would permit moderate evangelical bishops and provinces, to stay in the communion with integrity.

RWF resumes: If this report proves true it will almost certainly not serve my diocese or the faithful orthodox within isolated parishes of TEC well. All of us would surely be trapped inside TEC by such a plan, which would just provide a sort of temporary pastoral oversight by an overseas "moderate" primate. This "moderate" foreign overseer would, of course, be selected and act only with PB Schori's consent and blessing. This is not genuine freedom from the liberal tyranny of TEC, but a mere temporary reprieve. When a new bishop-elect of Fort Worth needed to be consecrated some day in the future, for example, under this kind of plan he would still need the consent of a majority of TEC bishops and standing committees. The diocese of Fort Worth would, after all, still be a constituent unit of TEC even if we had a "moderate" overseas primate looking after us as a "pastor."

If this plan were put into effect the orthodox would all be doomed to extinction in the long term. Our present bishops could never be replaced by faithful, orthodox men. We would never be able to completely disassociate ourselves from the apostasy of TEC nationally, even if we were under the "pastoral care" of a foreign primate. I am convinced that no solution that does not result in our complete departure from TEC is acceptable for the diocese of Fort Worth. Let us hope the scheme Ms. Gledhill speaks of--if it exists at all--never sees the light of day!

Please Remember Our Bishop in Your Prayers

Please remember Bishop Iker and the other orthodox bishops attending the Lambeth Conference in your prayers. I doubt any of them believe they will dissuade the liberals in the Communion from their present destructive path, but it does take great courage to stand up and speak the truth when you know it will not be well received. Also be sure to lift up Dean Ryan Reed and the other orthodox clergy who will be in the "exhibit area" at the Conference to ensure that a faithful witness is carried before the world's press, counteracting the misinformation campaign of the far Left at the Conference.

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who alone workest great marvels; Send down upon our faithful Bishops in conference at Canterbury the healthful Spirit of thy grace; and that they may truly please thee, pour upon them the continual dew of thy blessing. Grant this, O Lord, for the honour of our Advocate and Mediator, Jesus Christ. Amen.

More on Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics

Deacon David Ould in Sydney, NSW, Australia has an interesting report on a meeting of very conservative Evangelicals he attended yesterday. He points with surprise to the supportive tone of people he calls "uber-Puritans" toward Anglo-Catholics. Give his report, and the extensive comments at Stand Firm, a read. It does seem that both sides are trying to treat one another with increased respect and tolerance in the aftermath of GAFCON. That is a development I strongly support!

An excerpt from Deacon Ould: What intrigued me in all these answers was that this came from a panel of very conservative evangelicals. They are all abundantly clear on where they think Anglo-Catholicism is defective yet they spoke with great support of their Anglo-Catholic brethren. It was surprising but worth reporting that right in the bastion of the über-Puritans there was a real willingness to hold solidarity with the Anglo-Catholics.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Pope Benedict's Actual Words

From Zenit (tap tip to Stand Firm, bold-faced emphasis added by RWF):

Benedict XVI: My essential contribution can only be prayer and with my prayer I will be very close to the Anglican bishops meeting in Lambeth Conference.We cannot and must not intervene immediately in their discussions, we respect their own responsibility and it is our hope that schisms and new breaks can be avoided, and that a responsible solution will be found given our times, but also in fidelity to the Gospel. These two things must go together.

Christianity is always contemporary and lives in this world, in a certain time, but it renders present in this time the message of Jesus Christ and, hence, offers a true contribution for this time only be being faithful -- in a mature and creative way -- but faithful to the message of Christ.

We hope, and I personally pray, that together they will find the way of the Gospel for our day. This is my wish for the archbishop of Canterbury: That the Anglican Communion in communion with the Gospel of Christ and the Word of the Lord will find the answers to the present challenges.

Is the Pope Working Against Large Scale Conversions by Anglicans to the RCC?

The Telegraph of London has the interesting (though frankly somewhat doubtful) story in which it is alleged that Pope Benedict is working behind the scenes to discourage a split of Anglicans from Canterbury. (The story is echoed by The Independent.) What does this say about all those rumors that special provisions will be made by Rome for those Anglicans who feel they must depart now that the Church of England has decided to consecrate female bishops? Is the pope really actively discouraging large scale conversions to Roman Catholicism? (I have a hard time believing that Pope Benedict would actually discourage large numbers of people from coming into full communion with the Holy See, but that seems to be the implication of this report.) Time will tell.

Is it possible that the conflicting rumors are the result of divisions within the Vatican on the question? I wonder. What if Cardinal Levada of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is in favor of helping large numbers of Anglican clergy and laymen come into full communion with Rome while Cardinal Kaspar of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity is opposed to such moves? Who would the Pope support in such a division? Does personal friendship between Pope Benedict and Archbishop Williams really play a large role in these decision?

These are interesting times, are they not?

Here are some excerpts:

Pope Benedict XVI has called for Anglican leaders attending the Lambeth Conference to find a "mature" and faithful way of avoiding "schism".
He has also sent three cardinals to the conference...

There have been reports that the Pope does not support the defection of conservative Anglicans to the Roman Catholic Church and that the Vatican has even helped senior Anglicans prepare important documents ahead of the Lambeth Conference.

However, these are strongly disputed by sources at Vatican who say that the Pope is actively working to welcome Anglican defectors.

The moves will give Dr Williams some comfort as he seeks to maintain a unified church at the meeting of bishops from across the world. ...

The Pope expressed his support for the Archbishop as he arrived in Australia on Sunday, saying the Anglican Church needed to avoid "further schism and fractures".

"The words and the message of Christ are what offer the real contribution to Lambeth and only in being faithful to the message ... and God's words can we find a mature way ... to find a road together," said the Pope.

UPDATE: The Independent of London has a very similar story this morning, though their report is more full than The Telegraph's. Here is a quote that is interesting, though it sounds very much like both papers have received spin from the same source:

Roman Catholic insiders say there are two motives behind the Pope's concerns. A decision has been taken within the Roman Catholic hierarchy that it is in its interests for the Anglican Church to maintain unity. Despite speculation about a group of conservative bishops breaking away to the Roman church, senior Catholics say such a move would be "premature", and that they are not encouraging defections. The other reason is that the Pope has developed a strong personal relationship with Dr Williams. "They get on, they are both theologians," a source said last night.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Deacon Taichi John Araki

Taichi John Araki, a friend of several readers of this blog, was recently ordained a deacon in Christ's one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church in Nippon Sei Ko Kai, the Anglican Church in Japan. Deacon Araki, an alumnus of the University of Chicago Divinity School and Bishop Williams Seminary in Kyoto, will--God willing--be ordained a priest early next year. He has, however, already been given an extraordinary ministry opportunity. The new deacon has been asked to accompany the bishops of the Japanese province to Canterbury for the Lambeth Conference, where he will serve as the delegation's translator.

Congratulations, my brother. May God bless your ministry richly, Deacon!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Bishop Howe of Central Florida Withdraws from Network

It really comes as no great surprise at this point, but it is today reported that Bishop Howe of Central Florida has withdrawn his support from the Anglican Communion Network ("the ACN"). It turns out that in June the leadership of his diocese had, at his suggestion, stopped sending its financial contributions to the ACN. They redirected those funds to the Anglican Communion Institute, a group that is committed to staying inside the Episcopal church for the long haul in order to continue working for "reform." Bishop Howe insists he will not leave TEC. The bishop says, "As I outlined in my Pastoral Letter, I remain committed to working as faithfully as possible from within The Episcopal Church and in full communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury."

At this point, now that the Common Cause Partnership has been recognized by GAFCON as the nucleus of the much longed-for new, orthodox North American province, it is inevitable that the ACN (a key member of the CCP--Bishop Duncan of Pittsburgh heads up both efforts) will begin to lose those member dioceses that have no intention of departing from TEC. Bishops Duncan and Iker have made it clear that they believe it is time for their dioceses to depart, and San Joaquin has already left. And there is every reason to believe that the diocese of Quincy will also depart from TEC this fall. Today--even before the potential departures of Pittsburgh, Fort Worth, and Quincy--the majority of the ACN's members are no longer inside TEC, and if the ACN were to form part of the new orthodox province (as the leadership of the Network clearly intends and I enthusiastically support) it is clear that TEC-loyal members of the ACN cannot remain so. The day is now upon us when Network dioceses will have to choose where they stand. Are they committed to the "inside strategy" or are they willing to risk complete separation from TEC, even if it means lawsuits and reduced financial resources?

As my post on Western Louisiana below indicates, in that diocese the bishop is about to ask his leadership to make a crucial decision--should they stay inside TEC or try to pull out colletively as a diocese? Before the end of the year every diocese that has any claim to being "orthodox" will have to make the same decision. Those dioceses that decide to continue the "inside strategy" will certainly no longer be able to support the ACN as a member of the soon-to-be-recognized "Common Cause province." By the end of the year I expect several more presently Network-affiliated dioceses to withdraw rather than remain within the ACN and foster the formation of a new North American province.

Personally I believe the "inside strategy" will accomplish nothing more of significance in the future. There is zero chance that "reform" of TEC in an orthodox direction on any of the disputed issues is possible. Orthodox Anglicanism within TEC will be nothing more than a shrinking, persecuted minority over the next few years. Within a decade no truly orthodox bishop-elect will have any hope of gaining the necessary consents to be consecrated as a bishop inside TEC. And once the orthodox bishops are gone, the orthodox parishes will disappear a few years later.

The fact that some of our orthodox brothers and sisters will be left behind inside TEC saddens me. I sincerely hope that the "inside strategy" folks change their minds before it is too late and join us in the new province. That way they will continue to enrich orthodox Anglicanism in North America for years to come.

Bishop Iker's Remarks at GAFCON

Video of Bishop Iker's remarks at a GAFCON press conference have now been made available by Anglican TV. Stand Firm in Faith's post of these remarks may be found here. Bishop Iker's comments and answers to questions comprise the first fifteen minutes of the video.

Bishop Iker predicts that the coming of "structural reformation" to the Anglican presence in North America will be "soon to immediate, within the next year or so."

We should all be cheered here in Fort Worth by the bishop's prediction that he will remain our bishop for the next ten or twelve years! Thanks be to God.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Will Western Louisiana Join the New Province?

There is at least a glimmer of hope that the diocese of Western Louisiana may depart from TEC and join the new Common Cause Partnership-based orthodox Anglican province that will soon be forming. At least that is what one Louisianan participant in GAFCON implies as a possibility in an interview published by blogger Bobby J.Kennedy. The full interview with the Rev. Canon Gregg L. Riley, SSC, may be read here. A couple of excerpts (bold-faced emphasis added by RWF):

BJK: Do you have any reservations or concerns about the outcome of GAFCON, particularly concerning the statement that was issued by the assembly?

GR+: Personally, I do not. I mean, as I said, coming from the Anglo-Catholic wing, and speaking to Bishop Ackerman and Bishop Iker personally, they seemed to be pleased with the outcome. Some SSC brothers who were there said, in essence, we got more than we thought we would get. I don’t know how much more we could have gotten out of GAFCON. A majority of the Communion recognizes the chasm between the orthodox and the revisionists in TEC is so wide it cannot be breached. The split has occurred, and the only alternative is a new Anglican Province. GAFCON gave us that, and to me that was the biggest prize. The new province is not a “what if” but it “is.” I don’t know what more we could have gotten. ...

BJK: What is the next step for the Diocese of Western Louisiana and Grace Church?

GR+: Our Diocesan Convention meets in October and I sit on the executive council of the diocese. The Bishop has told me personally that after Lambeth, the executive council will meet in August. He will then give us his opinion concerning where things are and the options we have for the diocese. It is his desire that IF the diocese chooses to do something that we do it as a whole. I would also prefer that. Being realistic, whatever decision the diocese makes, if we decide to move as a diocese, there will be certain clergy, parishes, and laypeople who will want to remain in TEC. Likewise, if we don’t move as a diocese, there will be clergy, parishes, and lay people who don’t want to stay. That will be a reality after October. The bishop is wise enough, and intelligent enough, to know that is going to happen. No matter what happens at the convention in October, someone will not be happy. There is going to be movement, but the question is where.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Pope Benedict is Praying for "No More Schisms and Fractures" in AC

The International Herald Tribune is reporting news that may not cheer the hearts of Anglo-Catholics who desire immediate corporate reunion with the Bishop of Rome. Remarks Pope Benedict has just made to journalists on his plane, bound for Australia, make it seem unlikely that he will soon be setting up a special scheme to accelerate the collective flight of traditionalist Anglo-Catholics into full communion with Rome. The Pope says he is praying that there be no further "schisms and fractures" within Anglicanism. [Emphasis added]:

Answering questions from journalists aboard his flight to Australia, Benedict touched briefly on the turmoil in the Anglican church. "I am praying so that there are no more schisms and fractures" within the Anglican community, Benedict said. ...

Benedict said he did not want to "interfere" in the debate.

The last line above may indicate that the Pope could take action after final legislation is in place about six months from now, when the "debate" would arguably be over and the "fracture" an accomplished fact. That is, however, unclear. Who can say what will happen? Hat tip to Titus One Nine.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Bishop Iker on Anglo-Catholics in the GAFCON Anglican World

My right reverend Father in God, Jack Leo Iker, third bishop of Fort Worth, has given an interview to Greg Griffith of Stand Firm. In the interview Bishop Iker expresses his conviction that "while it is clear that there is no future in The Episcopal Church for traditional Anglo-Catholics, there will be a secure, respected place for us in the province being birthed. Our theological perspective and liturgical practices will be permitted, protected and honored. Our succession of catholic bishops will be secured."

Bishop Iker has, I have done in previous posts here, pointed to the Theological Statement of the Common Cause Partnership as our guide in interpreting the elements of the Jerusalem Statement. Because of this, the bishop is comfortable--as am I--in affirming that "Anglo-Catholics in the future will continue to regard the 1662 Prayer Book, the 39 Articles, liturgical practices, and the Councils of the patristic church just as the Oxford Movement did under Pusey, Keble, and Newman, our fathers in the faith."

Read the entire interview here.

++Venables Interview with the BBC

With his characteristic charm and sincerity, ++Venables of the Southern Cone is a powerful communicator. And he does not mince words. This interview with the BBC in the run up to Lambeth is essential viewing. It is a bit more than twenty minutes long, but do please watch the entire interview. Watch it now here!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Mass Exodus from the C of E to Rome?

In the midst of the extraordinary fall-out from yesterday's Church of England's Synodal vote to proceed with the consecration of women as bishops without making special provisions to accommodate traditionalists comes this report from the Daily Telegraph of London:

The Bishop of Ebbsfleet, the Rt Rev Andrew Burnham, is to lead his fellow Anglo-Catholics from the Church of England into the Roman Catholic Church, the Catholic Herald will reveal this week.

Bishop Burnham, one of two "flying bishops" in the province of Canterbury, has made a statement asking Pope Benedict XVI and the English Catholic bishops for "magnanimous gestures" that will allow traditionalists to become Catholics en masse.

He is confident that this will happen, following talks in Rome with Cardinal Levada, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Cardinal Kasper, the Vatican's head of ecumenism. He was accompanied on his visit by the Rt Rev Keith Newton, Bishop of Richborough, the other Canterbury "flying bishop", who is expected to follow his example.

Bishop Burnham hopes that Rome will offer special arrangements whereby former Anglicans can stay worshipping in parishes under the guidance of a Catholic bishop. Most of these parishes already use the Roman liturgy, but there may be provision for Anglican prayers if churches request it.

Anglican priests who are already married will not be barred from ordination as priests, though Bishop Burnham would not be able to continue in episcopal orders, as he is married and there is an absolute bar on married bishops in the Roman and Orthodox Churches.

UPDATE: Today there are remarks from Bishop Edwin Barnes of The Church Union that make reference to possible help from "our friends in the Roman Communion." Hat tip to Antonio.

FURTHER UPDATE: Bishop Broadhurst of Forward in Faith--UK seems not quite as ready to trot out the "R word." He seems to be urging careful deliberation and no precipitous action. "[N]ow is not quite yet the time for ... drastic gestures, for whatever we do needs its timing to be agreed by us all so that we can act together. Be assured of my commitment to our common life and of my determination to continue to seek a common way forward in faith for all of us."

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Orthodox Anglican Lay Organization Endorses Jerusalem Statement and the Call for a New American Province

Via e-mail: Remain Faithful, an organization of over 575 orthodox laity (Episcopalians and Anglicans) from over 60 Dioceses has released the following statement via email, joining the ranks of those who endorse the Jerusalem Statement and the call for a new orthodox North American province:

Remain Faithful, endorses in its entirety the Final Statement and The Jerusalem Declaration issued on Sunday, June 29, 2008, by those attending the Global Anglican Future Conference [GAFCON]. Remain Faithful supports the formation of a new Anglican Province in North America to be recognized by those Anglican primates subscribing to the Jerusalem Declaration. Remain Faithful is committed to serving as an active voice for orthodox laity in the development of organizational and governing procedures necessary for the establishment of the new Province in North America.

The full text of Remain Faithful's press release today may be viewed here.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

FiFNA Pleased with Outcome of GAFCON

Adding to the list of Anglo-Catholic organizations that have "signed on" to the outcome of GAFCON and the Jerusalem Statement, Forward in Faith-North America has today released a statement praising the conference and its outcome.

FiFNA's statement indicates that the work of the conference was not entirely dominated by the Evangelical wing (as most of the mainstream media's reportage seems to indicate), but that the Catholic face of Anglicanism was represented.

Your deputation had a direct effect on the drafting of GAFCON’s Statement on the Global Anglican Future. Bp. Ackerman and Fr. Tanghe worked with theologian Dr. Edith Humphreys and canonist Fr. Kevin Donlon and others on a small working group on ecclesiology, which submitted a paper to the drafting committee as it prepared its first version of the document. They likewise submitted suggestions for the improvement of that draft, both directly and through the Common Cause gathering, some of which were included in the final version.

All members of FiF NA’s delegation networked during breaks, meals, bus rides and other downtimes, both speaking about the situation in the United States, and presenting the case for the catholic understanding of holy order to the largely evangelical constituency of the GAFCON, including young clergy from Melbourne, Sydney, New Zealand and Ireland. Fr. Ilgenfritz’s networking included “significant conversations” with Primates.

These are indeed hopeful times for orthodox Anglicanism. May God tend this vine until it bears much ripe fruit!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics in the Future of Anglicanism

The Ugley Vicar has "summary notes" posted from the All Souls' Church panel discussion in London yesterday. Among the all-star speakers where Archbishops Orombi, Venables, and Jensen and the Rev. Dr. J.I. Packer. These notes make for interesting reading. I commend them to you, Gentle Reader. I call your attention particularly to the following comments from two prominent leaders of the Anglican world's ultra-Reformed wing:

Q: Do you stand with Forward in Faith and Anglo-Catholicism? Can Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics be in one communion?

Peter Jensen [Archbishop of Sydney, NSW, Australia]: Yes, we have been in one communion. In 2003, one group in the Communion made a terrific blunder breaking through the boundaries. This freed up the rest of us. The Communion will never be the same again. We are one Communion but far looser, and this enables great spiritual movements like GAFCON to arise. The blunder is being turned to good. The Communion is going forward and those who can sign off on something like the Jerusalem statement can work together.

Jim Packer [Emeritus Prof. of Theology at Regent College, Vancouver, BC, Canada]: It is important to know who our friends are. Anglo-Catholics generally believe in Trinity, Scripture, atonement, resurrection, judgement, prayer, etc. A ‘higher’ view of sacraments and priesthood seems secondary in the light of those primary correspondences. I can be friends with Anglo-Catholics. Modern Anglo-Catholicism has a different agenda from in the past. I can, with qualifications, be friends with Anglo-Catholics. I have good will towards Forward in Faith. Liberals are different, denying many of the aforementioned. We have let Liberals get away with too much with regard to leadership in the past.

RWF resumes: On the whole, I am pleased. If these two men, who have a well-deserved reputation as neo-Puritans, can take this eirenic attitude toward Anglo-Catholics it bodes well for the future of orthodox Anglicanism in the post-GAFCON era. I think we can "reason together." (While I wish the account of Dr. Packer's remarks didn't have that "with qualifications" reservation, its tone toward Anglo-Catholicism is remarkably positive for a self-described Calvinist. Besides, the Ugley Vicar tells us these are "summary notes." Perhaps this account is not precisely what Dr. Packer said. I eagerly await video or audio of the actual event.)

I am encouraged. Summary notes of all the talks at All Souls' are available from the Ugley Vicar.

UPDATE: Newbie Anglican has called our attention to further positive remarks from ++Jensen:

The last two weeks have been two of the most extraordinary in my life. What we are dealing with here is not a split, but a movement possibly as significant as the Evangelical Revival, or even the Anglo-Catholic movement if you prefer, and it may bring Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics together [applause].

These statements come from the archbishop's remarks in his individual talk at All Souls' as reported by the Ugley Vicar.

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