Of Liberals and Lifeboats

I reported last week on the continuing problems in the worldwide Anglican communion. The Washington Times and New York Times have both picked up the story.

The Falls Church Rector, John Yates, talks about the ship of the Anglican Church breaking up and how they are looking for lifeboats. What a shame conservative Evangelical Anglicans can’t see the great cruise liner the Barque of Peter steaming their way on a rescue mission.

If these dear separated brethren, whom we love and have so much in common with, would invest a fraction of the time they spend looking for some sort of new schismatic solution, and instead seriously consider what separates them from the Catholic Church they might find a more wonderful solution than they ever dreamed of.

Evangelical Anglicans are good, sincere and faithful people. They should stop and take time to reconsider their sincere objections to the Catholic faith. It may be easier for them to come home to Rome than they imagine. Why can’t they spend their effort, thought, prayer and discussion trying to overcome their difficulties with Catholicism instead of trying to create yet another Protestant sect?

The fact of the matter is, according to our own Catholic teaching, far from unchurching them we long for their re-union with us. We are the poorer for their absence. We need their love of Christ, their love of evangelisation, their love of the Scriptures, their love of liturgy and their great traditions of spirituality.

The Catholic Church has opened wide the doors.

Anglicans looking for lifeboats…look again at the pastoral provision, the Anglican Use possibilities. Do not look so much at what you disagree with, but look at what you agree with and love about the Catholic Church. Then consider seriously the things with which you disagree. Be objective. Look at the Catholic Church as she is today…not as she was four hundred years ago. Look at the Catholic Church as it can be with your input and all your gifts. Look at the unity and joy we can share together.

Most of all, pray, pray, pray, and ask if this may not be one of the ways to strengthen the whole Church of Christ in our time!
Hurry home!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10480967226190816519 David

    Hi Dwight,Don’t know if you remember me or not, I nearly took over your role as St Barnabas Society organiser… but ended up working as a prison chaplain instead. Delighted to see you have been ordained, I have a Selection panel in March for the diocese of Nottingham… your prayers would be appreciated!I have put a link to your blog on my Blog…Hi Dwight,Don’t know if you remember me or not, I nearly took over your role as St Barnabas Society organiser… but ended up working as a prison chaplain instead. Delighted to see you have been ordained, I have a Selection panel in March for the diocese of Nottingham… your prayers would be appreciated!I have put a link to your blog on my Blog…Hi Dwight,Don’t know if you remember me or not, I nearly took over your role as St Barnabas Society organiser… but ended up working as a prison chaplain instead. Delighted to see you have been ordained, I have a Selection panel in March for the diocese of Nottingham… your prayers would be appreciated!I have put a link to your blog on my Blog… Hi Dwight,Don’t know if you remember me or not, I nearly took over your role as St Barnabas Society organiser… but ended up working as a prison chaplain instead. Delighted to see you have been ordained, I have a Selection panel in March for the diocese of Nottingham… your prayers would be appreciated!I have put a link to your blog on my Blog… David David David David

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15692229876291491107 Mark

    Sometimes I wish we had the Anglican Use provision here too, but it seems to me that parishes are not moving together; it is individuals who are becoming sick with Anglicanism.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    There are two separate, but related initiatives: the pastoral provision is the American process for married former Anglicans becoming Catholic priests. The Anglican Use is the provision for Episcopal congregations to come over en masse and use Anglican Rite services. The first is available in the UK (under their own process) The second is not.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18231515296470375310 wnpaul

    Fr Dwight,is it not possible, nay, quite likely, that these evangelical Anglicans have, indeed, reconsidered their differences with Rome, but have come to the conclusion that they are still significant enough to prevent them from taking shelter in the Barque of Peter as you so charmingly called it?It is also neither very accurate nor very charitable to call the solution these congregations have found “schismatic” — within the context of their ecclesiology and real-life church situation they are indeed avoiding schism (such as forming yet another “continuing church”) but are rather submitting to a bishop of their own communion who still holds fast to the historic faith of their communion.Would you call it schismatic if, God forbid, the majority of, say, the Austrian Catholic hierarchy went into apostasy, and a handful of parishes turned to the Bishops of Eichstaett or Passau (in Germany) for oversight in this situation? Of course not, and neither is it schismatic when faithful Anglicans in the US turn to the Archbishops of Nigeria or Uganda for oversight in the face of the wholesale apostasy and revisionism of their American bishops.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    Thank you for your comments WNPaul. I can see that choosing a bishop from another province that is still ‘within the Anglican communion’ does not seem schismatic, and it is certainly less obviously schismatic than going out to start another continuing church, but whether the solution of ‘Alternative Episcopal Oversight’ becomes fully fledged schism remains to be seen. I predict that Bishop Akinola and his people will soon start a global organization that is an alternative to the Anglican Communion…in other words another continuing Church.You claim that they will be the faithful Anglicans, and no doubt you are correct up to a point. The only problem is that this is exactly what the 90 or so other continuing Anglican churches claim.I believe what we are witnessing is a fracturing of the whole Anglican communion, and that this break up is really only a realization of what has already been the case for some time.As you know already the individual Anglican provinces are self ruling. Already Nigeria is independent of Canterbury and Canada has no real links with Kenya.The Anglican Communion is already, and has been for a long time, not a communion or a Church at all, but a confederation of independent Churches. How is this confederation of independent churches any different from a confederation of any other group of self governing sects? I grew up in an IFCA Church. Independent Fundamental Churches of America was a confederation of autonomous local churches. They shared a tradition, a church polity and a vague theological agreement. In fact it was a confederation of autonomous sects.In the present situation in the Anglican Church we have a group of Christians who claim to believe in an Episcopal form of government, and yet vote to select which bishop they want to rule over them. This is a contradicion in terms.What happens when the present Bishop of Nigeria moves on and they have a primate they no longer agree with? Will they switch allegiance again? There seems to be a fair bit of chopping and changing amongst the continuing Anglicans of my acquaintance. They fall out with their bishop, so they choose another bishop. I cannot see the difference between this and other forms of congregationalism.Please don’t be offended by the objective use of the word ‘sect’. That a Christian belongs to a sect is not a judgement on his sincerity, his holiness or his closeness to Jesus Christ. It is simply an objective observation that they belong to a church or an ecclesial body that has separated from the larger body and is autonomous.What troubles me most is that so many intelligent, informed and prayerful Anglicans cannot or will not ask the basic authority question. “Who says so and why?” Where do they or any of their bishops get their authority from in the first place? Please, please Anglican friends, take time to ask this most fundamental of questions. Why should Bishop Akinola be right Gene Robinson be wrong? Who says so?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06124533937104720078 C

    “Look at the Catholic Church as she is today…not as she was four hundred years ago.”I’m afraid I can’t. To be Catholic today is to accept the authority of the Church throughout history. Today’s Church cannot be separated from the historic Church. How can I accept today’s Church without affirming the Church of 400 years ago? Without saying, “Even if… I’d still be Catholic”?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    Dear C. Thank you for your comment. I did not mean to imply that history does not matter, only that what the church is today is more important than dwelling on abuses that are hundreds of years old. Christians from the Reformation period are entitled to remind Catholics of the late medieval abuses that caused the division, but if they wish to be fair they must also consider how the Catholic Church changed in the Counter Reformation, and how it has continued to change and grow through the continuing centuries.To see the Catholic abuses of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries is fair…not to see how the Church has moved on from that and learned from those problems is not fair.


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