Episcopal Slug Fest

No, not that kind of slug. I mean pugilists. I mean dukin’ it out. I mean fisticuffs. I mean thrust and counter thrust. I mean bitter warfare.

An insider at The Falls Church reports to me that Bishop Peter Lee, the Episcopal Bishop of Virginia, has “inhibited” the clergy of the Falls Church and the other parishes that voted to disaffiliate from the Episcopal Church–even including at least one priest who disagreed with the disaffiliation and desired to remain under Bishop Lee’s authority.

The action is described here: “Inhibition” is the act whereby a Bishop commands a priest not to perform priestly duties. It is expected to be followed by “deposing” the priest 6 months later. This act of inhibition in itself is not likely to change much at any of these churches. However, it is a painful thing for these priests who have devoted themselves to renewal and reform in the Episcopal Church, and now are formally censured by it. Most of them had requested instead that Bishop Lee “transfer” them to the jurisdiction of Bishop Martyn Minns in the “Convocation of Anglicans in North America” (CANA), under the Anglican Church of Nigeria. That is what Bishop Lee would have done if this were a friendly situation, but he considers them rebels and considers CANA to be improper and seditious.

Bishop Lee has previously declared the rebel churches “abandoned” and refuses to recognize the Vestries (lay councils) of these congregations any more. The Falls Church leaders expect that very soon–perhaps as early as next week–Bishop Lee will appoint Vestry Committees in their place, prompting disputes about who the Real Vestry of the parish really is.

Nobody envies the faithful believers at Falls Church and Truro Church. They’re just trying to stand up for the faith once delivered to the saints. They believe the Bible, they believe the basic universal moral code of humanity, they believe in the family and all that is good and healthy and God given. Faithful Catholics are on their side.

The exteme situation in the Anglican Communion, however, forces us to ask some probing questions about the Catholic Church’s real relationship with the established Anglican power structures. We have homosexualists in the Catholic Church too, but consider what happens in the Catholic Church: first of all, the basic teaching of the Catholic Church is authoritatively orthodox and traditional. This provides a rock for ordinary Catholics as well as the bishops to stand on. Secondly, when a Catholic priest or sister openly contradicts church teaching they are disciplined. The case of Sister Jeanine Grammick is an example. Yes, the discipline doesn’t always work, and charges that Catholic seminaries are ‘pink’ and the Catholic priesthood is dominated by homosexuals continue to resound. Faced with this, the Catholic Church’s effort is to do something about it, try to clean up the seminaries, weed out the homosexual elements and straighten things out.

The Anglican Church, on the other hand, seems to glory in the gay ecclesiastical subculture. They consecrate as bishop a man who left his wife and children to live with his boyfriend, they push for ‘same sex marriage’ and Bishop Peter Lee doesn’t discipline homosexuals, but the faithful people of Falls Church and Truro Church who respectfully ask to leave his oversight for a pastor who upholds the old time religion.

Much more can be said about the pickle the Anglicans have got themselves into, but my main ponder is to ask how and why the Catholic Church authorities can have any sort of ‘ecumenical dialogue’ with the established Anglican Churches at all. The two churches are now at such extreme variance on a whole range of crucial issues that there is really no connecting point. Catholic-Anglican dialogue must now be like two people trying to play tennis with each other on adjacent courts.

What point of connection do Catholics have with mainstream Anglicanism? It can be argued that we still share faith in Christ and our common baptism. Do we? Mainstream Anglicans are working as diligently as possible (under the pressure from the feminists) to remove all language about God that is ‘masculine’. As a result the Trinitarian formula of ‘Father, Son and Holy Spirit’ is increasingly rare. An Anglican baptism without that formula is not a valid baptism is it? Do we even share faith in Christ? How does one define ‘faith in Christ’? If a church’s teaching is so far from the gospel as to be unrecognizable, can it be said to be ‘faith in Christ’? Anglican Bishops and theologians have for a long time formally denied all the cardinal doctrines of the faith: the bodily resurrection, the Virgin Birth, the inspiration of Scripture, the Incarnation. In what way, therefore is their ‘faith in Christ’ Christian?

Mormons, Moonies, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Muslims all have ‘faith in Christ’, of a sort, and when it comes to morality and belief in the Bible these groups probably have a more traditional ‘faith in Christ’ than the typical radical Episcopalian.

The battleground of Falls Church reveals larger issues, and Catholics would do well to pay attention to what is really going on so that no more time will be wasted in ‘dialogue’ with a church that is now so far from the truth as to be unrecognizably Christian. At the same time, Catholics should be aware that within the Anglican Communion there are still many faithful people who agonize over the state of their Church. They deserve better. They deserve a true Christian home.

They are our brothers and sisters in the Lord, and we must pray for them as they battle for the faith.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13831473704338746499 Sursum Corda

    Hello Father Dwight,It has been a while since I greeted you from sunburnt Australia. I was delighted to hear of your ordination and may God grant you many years in his priestly service.I cannot help but agree with your observations on Anglicanism. It seems to me to be a bit like the Marie Celeste – floating on the sea with no one at the helm.I suspect this arise in part because it is not really a church but a series of churches in a loose union. There is high church, low church, Anglo Cathoilc and Evangelical. Among the Anglo catholics there are the very Cathoilc and at the other end those who support women priests and bishops and all shades of opinion in between. What they lack is a firm anchor ( to labor the nautical theme) and a central authority which can simply say ” Enough”.Your comments on the attempts de masculinise God from Father and Son to any range of odd epithets reminds me of one episode of a BBC televsion progam you would be familiar with and which we in Australia. I am of course referring to ” Songs of Praise”. At the end of each programme the local vicar or minister says a prayer and offers a blessing. In this particular episode a female vicar who had a triking similarity to the “Vicar of Dibley” intoned the blessing ” may Almighty God bless you Creator, Redeemer and living spirit”. On one level its correct, however it was amply clear the nomenclature was clearly designed to “emasculate” the Blessed Trinity.More power to you Father and keep up the good work. We need more sound, orthodox Catholicism and delight in reading your posts.John

  • Anonymous

    Fr Longenecker, I urge you to ask DG to consider Catholicism and leave Anglicanism.Ironically, the one priest who wanted to stay under Bishop Lee’s authority was the one priest who has the greatest sympathies for the Catholic Church and even has a picture of Pope JP II on his desk!!!

  • Anonymous

    http://zenit.org/english/visualizza.phtml?sid=101739Holy See Hoping That Anglicans Avoid Split For Sake of Christian Unity, Indicates Cardinal KasperVATICAN CITY, JAN. 24, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See, hoping that the Anglican Communion can avoid an internal schism, signaled its own desire to be able to continue on the path toward Christian unity.So said Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, at a meeting Tuesday with journalists in the Vatican press office.Some archbishops of the Anglican Communion refuse to recognize Katharine Jefferts Schori, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, the U.S. member of the Anglican Communion.The Episcopal Church sparked a crisis in the Anglican Communion in 2003 when it chose Gene Robinson of New Hampshire as bishop, the first ordained prelate to declare himself a practicing homosexual.On Tuesday, a journalist asked if the Vatican follows closely the Episcopalians in the United States who are protesting against these decisions of their church.Cardinal Kasper responded that the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity maintains relations with the Anglican Communion as a whole, not with its various member churches. The Episcopal Church is not a direct partner of the pontifical council; its partner of reference is the U.S. Catholic bishops’ conference.Of the overall situation, Cardinal Kasper said: “We discussed this problem during the visit of Dr. Rowan Williams, archbishop of Canterbury and primate of the Anglican Communion,” last November.”We told him that we want to continue with the dialogue; we do not want to interrupt it,” the cardinal said. “But now we have to see how the Anglican Communion develops.”

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02913080191630768461 tony

    The Anglican Church, and its American branch (ECUSA) can no longer be considered a Christian church (not even, to use the terms of Dominus Jesus, a Christian “ecclesial communion”). A religious organization that has embraced priestesses, sanctified sodomy, adopted syncretism as its theological mantra, and condemned its own tradition, has become a scandal to the faith it once held dear.It is high time that ecumenism were replaced with evangelization, both for the clarification of truth and for the salvation of souls.As Jean Valjean prayed so beautifully, may God lead them home.

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

    Ouch! Sounds like TEC is lurching towards horribly being dashed to smithereens…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08022966882127890835 Will Duquette

    Fr. Dwight, I have to take exception to your calling the current leaders of The Episcopal Church “Mainstream Anglicans”. Against the few million revisionists in the U.S., Canada, and England there are on the order of 100 million of the faithful in Africa alone. Spong, Griswold, Schori, and their ilk speak as though they represent the mainstream…but the Anglican mainstream has moved decisively to the global south. Thank the Lord for men like Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda!

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

    good point Will. I agree with you that the mainstream has shifted. However, in most people’s perceptions the ‘mainstream’ is still the established ECUSA and Anglican hierarchy. With you, I hope this illustion is soon shattered.