January 2011

Referring page



Continuing Anglicanism, History and Problems

I am convinced the Continuing Anglican movement, whatever its weakness and human failings, needs a positive and sympathetic appraisal.

Some ground-breaking essays are the following, but which are beginning to become dated.

Most of the pain caused by the Continuing Anglican movement is its seemingly intrinsic inability to unite and focus on a single purpose. Why? Here is a very trimmed-down history of the movement, which I hope will encourage further study and research to write whole books.

People have been splitting away from the Anglican Established Church for a long time, and always for a good reason, a reason of conscience. Thus Methodism was founded in the eighteenth century, and there were low and high church groups in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Many of the latter in those days became Catholics. Others experimented with things like the Order of Corporate Reunion and “bootleg” priestly and episcopal orders from men like Archbishop Mathew and René Vilatte.

Accounts have been written about Continuing Anglicanism since the 1970’s. Since the women’s ordinations and doctrinal deviations began in ECUSA and then spread to other member Churches of the Anglican Communion, there have been three responses: stay in and fight, go over to Rome or start a new church body.

The old Pro-Diocese of St. Augustine of Canterbury was a non-starter with Rome, but parts of it managed to find a way via the Pastoral Provision and founded the Anglican Use parishes. Some went to Orthodoxy, mostly within the Western Rite Vicariate of the Antiochian Patriarchate.

Most who left did so in 1977 after the Congress of St Louis that year, which produced the famous Affirmation. The first continuers founded the Anglican Church in North America. Their bishops were consecrated in January 1978 in Denver. That body had a Synod the following year and the Anglican Catholic Church (ACC) emerged from it. There have been many splits in the Anglican Catholic Church.

Some of the groups issuing from that succession of splits formed the Anglican Church in America (ACA) and the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada (ACCC) among others. These ecclesial bodies in the early 1990’s formed the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC). Only the TAC continues on the Rome-bound lines of the erstwhile Pro-Diocese of St. Augustine of Canterbury, and the history of the Portsmouth Letter of October 2007 to the present day needs to be properly documented in other articles and books. The TAC also entered into communion with Forward in Faith, and this relationship has remained in force ever since.

Some of the other continuing bodies object to the TAC being in implicit communion with the Anglican Communion through Forward in Faith, because this would imply communicatio in sacris with those who are themselves “in communion with” female clergy. Thus the invalidity of some causes the invalidity of all! They also object to the whole “Anglo-Papalist” tendency and the movement towards communion with Rome on Rome’s terms in matters of doctrine and ecclesiastical discipline.

Many of the difficulties in Continuing Anglicanism have been caused by disputes between bishops and the eternal question about who is recognised as a genuine and legitimate Continuing Anglican and who are mere “imitations”. Some fell out because of church organisation issues. Thus the Anglican Catholic Church and the Diocese of Christ the King, which became the Anglican Province of Christ the King (APCK), split apart.

Almost none of the continuing bishops had served in that capacity in the “official” Communion, and much heartache was caused by their being unprepared for the role of a bishop. Other problems were caused by issues of diocesan autonomy and who controlled the money and the property. The Anglican Province of America (APA) thus split away from the Anglican Church in America’s Diocese of the Eastern U.S. (DEUS) in 1995.

These early splits of the St Louis movement caused a considerable amount of discouragement and counter measures to unite the “herds of cats”. The Anglican Catholic Church of Canada (ACCC) has been largely successful at keeping out of the American squabbles, and is all the more stable and consistent for it. It has also had the benefit of high-calibre men like Bishops Robert Mercer and Peter Wilkinson.

From early on, the St Louis movement bishops had the benefit of the “Scranton Touch”, the episcopal lineage of the Polish National Catholic Church through the Philippine Independent Church’s Bishop Francisco Pagtakhan. This could provide a basis for a different evaluation of Continuing Church orders as opposed to those of the Anglican Communion.

From about 1980, many were unhappy by the way the ACC was being run, and there were a number of independent bodies such as the Anglican Rite Jurisdiction of the Americas. Also, from the early days, the High Church predominated in the Continuum, and the Low Church people went their way, forming the United Episcopal Church (UEC), now the United Episcopal Church of North America (UECNA).

The ACC has always been extremely sensitive to the question of valid orders, mainly due to the acid criticism from the ECUSA about the Denver consecrations, unwilling to distinguish between sacramental validity and canonical liceity. The consecrations were in the Canterbury Communion’s eyes irregular, in the same way as the consecrations Archbishop Lefebvre conferred for his priestly Society for Rome. Issues about episcopal lineages and validity have always underlain relations between the ACC and other bodies.

Some of the more spectacular drama has occurred between Archbishop Falk, quondam primate of the ACC and Bishop Anthony Clavier (who has returned to the ECUSA as a priest). Archbishop Falk always had a more positive view to the validity of other people’s ordinations. In 1986, relations were struck up with Bishop Graham Leonard, but the latter ordained female deacons in 1987, thus ending his relationship with the Continuum. Bishop Eric Kemp of Chichester was asked to help patch things up between the ACC and the Anglican Episcopal Church, but he declined to do so.

The story of the splits between the TAC (founded in the early 1990’s as a union of existing continuing Churches) and the ACC is long and convoluted. The Anglican Church in America (ACA) came into being at a unity conference in Deerfield Beach on 3rd October 1991. Their bishops were conditionally re-consecrated by three bishops with impeccable Anglican orders: Bishops Robert Mercer, Robert H. Mize and Charles Boynton. These consecrations were acidly criticised by the rest of the ACC. The ensuing invasions of bishops’ jurisdictions resulted in further bitterness.

Some conflicts have been caused by personalities, that of Archbishop Clavier in particular. The clash in the ACC following Archbishop Lewis’ death was violent and almost entirely due to personality issues, between the cantankerous Bishop Leslie Hamlett in England, Bishop Thomas Kleppinger in America and one in another country who was said to have “gone to fetch his gun”. Some other conflicts have been caused by moral issues like divorce and remarriage (though usually via a church annulment under the auspices of the Church in question).

As far as I see things, much of the strife has been caused by a kind of purism in a desire to protect the Church from losing the validity of its priesthood and moral integrity. The ACC has always criticised the TAC for a more “realistic” attitude through establishing links of communion with clergy who remained members of the Anglican Communion (therefore allegedly in communicatio in sacris with invalid female clergy) and seeking corporate communion with Rome. Much of this problem arises from faulty sacramental theology and maybe even simply from poor knowledge of theology in some cases. Some, perhaps most, of the ACC clergy are reasonably well trained through book learning and correspondence courses, but their opinions strangely resemble the old Donatist heresies linking sacramental validity with the moral worthiness of the minister or his doctrinal orthodoxy. Above all, the Continuum (not just the ACC but other continuing churches too) has suffered from the lack of experienced and balanced episcopal leadership. There have also been conflicts over High-Church, Anglo-Papalist and Low Church issues. Then there is the prospect of uniting with larger and more prestigious Church bodies like Rome or the major Orthodox Patriarchates.

The importance of such issues seems to have shifted as of late, in that the ACC, the APCK, and the UECNA, are now in communion with each other on the basis of not being in communion with the “official” Anglican Communion or anyone in communion with it. This excludes the ACA, the ACCC, both member churches of the Traditional Anglican Communion in communion with Forward in Faith.

I feel unqualified to comment on the Anglican Church in North America, GAFCON and more or less Evangelical groups affiliated with the Southern Cone. Perhaps someone else would like to write on that subject.

What of the future of the St Louis Continuum? The TAC is now in the Ordinariate-bound process and historical events are being played out. Some other continuing groups are known to have approached Rome – see comment by Dr Tighe below. The future is uncertain but history reveals that there are two categories of church groups that have a future beyond the lifetimes of their founders: closed and totalitarian sects (here I think of the Russian Old Believers, the French Petite Eglise and perhaps also the hard line of the Society of St Pius X and the sedevacantists), and the movement back to communion with the Universal Church with the Bishop of Rome as its visible head.

I encourage readers to read the links I gave at the beginning of this article, together with others they find themselves, not forgetting books and printed articles. I would appreciate comments in an irenic and objective tone. Please, I don’t want anything about current TAC bishops being ineligible for ordination by Rome for one reason or another. I will delete any comments designed to cause further conflict. Perhaps some readers may be called to an examination of conscience. We all are. Let’s try to teach each other and learn from each other, “that all may be one” – in Christ.


How did it all start?

* * *

Father Fleming with Archbishop Hepworth has traced, for the first time, the way in which the process was developed, who was involved, and how it was implemented right up to the time when the TAC made its unconditional proposal to Rome in 2007 and Rome’s response in October-November 2009.


A meeting was arranged for 28 December 2005 in Parramatta with Bishop David Chislett of the TAC also present. The TAC Bishops explained to Father Fleming the nature of their unsuccessful initiatives with Rome for full corporate union.

Fr Fleming writes of the meeting:

“Since my advice was being directly sought, I abandoned caution and said what I really thought. I urged the bishops to abandon current approaches based upon ‘ecumenical dialogue’… It was my belief that the TAC was in a very different place theologically from the Anglican Communion and well situated to cut to the chase.

“I suggested that if the TAC was really serious about its future and about full corporate reunion with Rome as an integral part of that future they needed to take a whole new approach. This approach was outlined by me as follows:

1. That the TAC seeks corporate reunion with the Holy See without condition. In this way there would be no need for committees discussing doctrine and reporting back to various authorities. It would be a straight out application for corporate reunion, no strings attached.

2. To achieve point 1 above, local synods of the TAC should be asked to consider, and if thought fit, pass motions to the effect that there now no longer exist any doctrinal or moral differences between the teaching of the TAC and the Catholic Church.

3. Any petition to Rome would need to include an explicit recognition of the Petrine Office (i.e., the Office of Pope) as being of the esse of the Church. Put simply it would mean that the TAC accepts that the constitution of the Church as given by Christ included the leadership of St Peter as it has been handed on in the Church ever since. That the Pope has real and immediate jurisdiction in every local Church and enjoys the gift of infallibility when teaching in certain circumstances.

There would need also to be an acceptance of the proposition that the Church founded by Jesus Christ and committed to the care of St Peter most perfectly subsists in the Catholic Church with the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, being the legitimate successor of St Peter. The Pope and bishops in communion with him have the task of governing the Church.

4. The TAC would also need to make it clear to Rome that it fully understands that the question of Holy Orders in the TAC would need to be addressed, and that the TAC would accept whatever the Catholic Church required to be done to assure validity, including the possibility that its ministers would need to be re-ordained.

5. If the TAC really wanted to give clear and unmistakable evidence of the seriousness of its ecumenical intentions it could do so by a clear sign that it accepted all of the teachings to be found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. In other words, TAC bishops signing a copy of the Catechism would put beyond doubt doctrinal issues leaving the way open for a discussion on just how the TAC might be fully incorporated into the Catholic Church with the TAC being ready to accept the guidance of the Holy See” (my emphasis).

The subsequent series of momentous TAC consultations following the Fleming strategy is well covered in the part of the book contributed by Archbishop Hepworth and was foundational to the eventual response of the Holy See through the CDF.

* * *

The book can be ordered here, and we need to be as informed as possible. We owe much to Fr Fleming.


Recent Article in “The Australian”

* * *

One group that is happy with the new translation [of the modern Roman missal] is the Traditional Anglican Communion, which will become part of the Catholic Church in Australia at Easter or Pentecost through the new Anglican Ordinariate. But while the translation is closer to the traditional Anglican liturgies favoured by the TAC, Anglican parishes joining the ordinariate will be keeping their own liturgies and pastoral traditions.

World TAC primate archbishop John Hepworth is one of four Australian bishops who will be joining the ordinariate, along with about 20 priests. He said that after years of the TAC serving as a “field hospital for those damaged in the Anglican wars” over women priests and church doctrines, it was ironic that “the new protector of classical Anglicanism was the Pope” who had allowed the ordinariate to be established within the Catholic Church.

“His vision, after almost 500 years’ separation of the churches is extraordinary. The ordinariate will change the course of church history.”


San Antonio in the Snow March 24-26 near Toronto

Archbishop John Hepworth, the Primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion, plans to come in from Australia. I will be there, probably with a car load of folks from our Ottawa parish. I expect there will be a good Anglican Catholic Church of Canada turn-out as we have a number of parishes within driving distance of Toronto.

This announcement from Bishop Carl Reid has gone out in the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada’s diocesan circular.





As we draw ever closer to the realization of our now nearly 34
years of hope for unity with the wider Catholic Church, and
specifically the formation of a Canadian Ordinariate under the
provisions of the Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum Coetibus,
Archbishop Thomas Collins, our Episcopal delegate and liaison in
the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has called for a
meeting in Mississauga. The dates – Thursday, March 24 to
Saturday, March 26. The location – Queen of the Apostles Renewal
Centre in Mississauga, Ontario.

Address: 1617 Blythe Road.

Attendance by as many members (clergy and laity) of the Anglican
Catholic Church of Canada (ACCC) is very important, as this may be
the only collective meeting, not just between us and the Canadian
Catholic Church prior to the actual setting up of an ordinariate,
but also other interested people, who are not currently members of
the ACCC, will be in attendance as well. Many of them have already
been looking to us, in that we have been engaged in the pursuit of
this for so many years.

More information will be available during February, and we shall
send out specific details to all of our parishes. It would be very
good to have representation from across the country, just as they
did in Texas before Christmas. In fact, Fr Chris Phillips, whose
parish in San Antonio hosted that event, is coming to Mississauga
for this, as is Archbishop Hepworth from Australia.


Clarification from Bishop Mercer

* * *

Bishop Robert Mercer CR has asked that the following be clarified with regard to the ENI news article released on the 14th January 2011.

Bishop Robert Mercer CR has not said at any time that he will be ordained at the same time as Edwin Barnes in Portsmouth on the 5th March 2011 as reported in the London (ENInews) news article released by Trevor Grundy 14th January. No decision has as yet taken place with regards to his ordination in the ‘Ordianariate of Our Lady of Walsingham’.


More news from Australia

The prominent Sydney barrister John McCarthy, QC, has been briefed to advise the main dissident group of conservatives, the breakaway Traditional Anglican Communion, on constitutional and legal issues arising from the historic move.

”Certainly the exercise has never been done before, not since the Reformation,” he said.

The world Traditional Anglican Communion Primate, Adelaide-based Archbishop John Hepworth, was confident the group’s assets, such as properties or trust funds, would not be forfeited once the ordinariate becomes official later this year. But he conceded in the case of assets owned by the mainstream Anglican communion it would be a question of ”goodwill”.

The national meeting comes after three married British bishops, similarly unhappy with the liberal direction of the Anglican Church – such as allowing women clergy – became the first to be ordained as Catholic priests within a British ordinariate, at Westminster Cathedral earlier this month.

The re-ordination of four Australian Traditional Anglican Communion bishops, a retired Anglican bishop, a Japanese bishop and 24 Anglican priests is expected to be finalised by June 12.

I am fed up with the adjectives “dissident” or “disaffected.”

How about “faithful” or “catholic” or “unity-focused,” huh?

Or a phrase like “those believing what the Catholic Church teaches” on the pope, on Apostolic Succession and Holy Orders.



I just “tweeted” my annoyance.


ACA Bishops to Step Down

* * *

ACA Bishops to Step Down

28 January 2011, House of Bishops

Leadership changes are presently taking place in the Anglican Church in America. In a recent teleconference, Archbishop Louis Falk announced his intention to retire as President of the ACA House of Bishops. A new president will be elected at the ACA House of Bishops meeting in April. The new president will be drawn from one of the current diocesan bishops.

In addition, Bishop Louis Campese has stepped down as Bishop Ordinary of the ACA Diocese of the Eastern United States, effective January 27, 2011. A new bishop will be elected to serve the DEUS at some point in the near future.

The Anglican Church in America extends heartfelt thanks to both Archbishop Falk and Bishop Campese. These two leaders have given much time and effort to the building of God’s church. For nearly forty years, these two clergymen have provided leadership to the Continuing Anglican jurisdictions.

The Anglican Church in America will continue as it is presently constituted with approximately 80% of the parishes/missions remaining within the Church. During this time of transition, episcopal oversight is being provided by Bishops Marsh, Strawn and Williams to parishes and missions of the DEUS until a new bishop is elected.

from the homepage of the Anglican Church in America

* * *

Commentary from ‘The Anglican Use of the Roman Rite’ blog:

What this seems to say is 20% of the parishes/missions are not remaining within the Church, hence are likely ordinariate-bound. Given that Bishop Campese’s cathedral parish is one of those which has taken a vote in favor of entering the ordinariate, and he has long been a supporter of the Traditional Anglican Communion’s goal of union with the Apostolic See, his resignation, along with that of Archbishop Falk would seem to indicate their moving forward with the process.

Unfortunately, the three remaining diocesans have not been particularly supportive of the Holy Father’s vision as set forth in Anglicanorum coetibus. I expect that there will be more information on this announcement at the Anglo-Catholic blog later today and tomorrow. — the editor

* * *

My question: Does anyone know what’s going on over there?

Eyes are on Australia

The Festival introducing the Anglican Ordinariate for Australia has already been announced for 1st to 3rd February. It had been announced by The Messenger last 15th December. View invitation here.

It’s starting tomorrow, and I hope to have some news and photos about the event. As we already know, this meeting is to be hosted by Bishop Peter Elliott, Delegate of the Holy See for the Australian Ordinariate and Archbishop John Hepworth, Primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion.

The venue is Saint Stephen’s College, Reserve Road, Coomera (Gold Coast) Queensland – and we pray they haven’t suffered from those terrible floods on the north and east coasts of Australia.

The dates are tomorrow, 1st February until Thursday 3rd February 2011.

Stay tuned…

* * *

As Deborah Gyapong has just pointed out, and something I have overlooked, there seem to be two meetings in Australia, the one I have described above and a second one near Perth as described here. That meeting will be held on Saturday 26th February 2011 at Holy Family Catholic Church, Como.

If I am mistaken about two Australian meetings, please let me know so that I can get it right!

I apologise for confusion caused.