Saturday, October 18, 2014

An Anglican priest gentleman passes away

Very sorry to learn of the death of the Reverend John G.B. Andrew OBE, DD, Rector of Saint Thomas Church in New York from 1972 to 1996; he later returned to the staff there as Rector Emeritus. A native of Yorkshire in England, he preached many times before the Royal Family and was a friend of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, on whose own death in 2002 he preached at Saint Thomas a sermon commemorating her. His voice in the pulpit sounded like what one would imagine a Prophet of the Old Testament would sound like if he spoke with an English accent. As Rector he turned what despite its splendid architecture had been liturgically a rather lackluster Low Church establishment into the home of undoubtedly the finest High Church Anglican worship in the United States, working in a unique partnership with music director Gerre Hancock (1934-2012).
I didn't know him but I know the type; my late rector was a Tridentine-looking version. They do make High Anglicanism look appealing: culturally conservative and formal/mannerly, but also with an English humaneness few outsiders understand. Too bad the Thomas Day factor seems at work in New York: if Cardinal Cooke and Bishop O'Hara were such good friends with him, and I knew a priest in New Jersey who was a fan of his Christmas broadcasts, why no high church in the archdiocese under Cooke? And if Fr. Andrew was so great, why'd he stick around with the Modernism including women priests? Patriotism/anglophilia trumps orthodoxy? It was probably because of semi-congregationalism: full parishes (not missions) are autonomous; St. Thomas, Fifth Avenue's being rich helped. It seems to me St. Thomas is the Episcopal diocese's most conservative parish (my guess is Tridentine-looking Resurrection's gay) because of that. Very Prayer Book Catholic since Fr. Andrew. Still actually conservative under Fr. Mead: keep quiet about some stuff (neither promote nor condemn the heresy: Anglican fudge) and you can practically be your own Pope. Anyway, looking at and listening to St. Thomas' site I'm culturally home (but am papalistically higher); the diocesan site reminds me of my visit to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine — I feel nothing; God's not there. (Paul VI's English Novus Ordo in the '80s felt similar.) Liberal high church is obviously in the same tradition as Fr. Andrew; I don't repeat conservative misconceptions about it. It's not Spong: it's as credally orthodox, sacramental, and liturgically conservative and high as we traditional Catholics are. Unlike Catholic liberals they think "old church" is fun. But "they are not what we were." Get thee behind me, Episcopal Church. You're not worth critiquing anymore. Great quote from here. I don't think we'll see Fr. Andrew's likes again.

13 comments:

  1. And if Fr. Andrew was so great, why'd he stick around with the Modernism including women priests? Patriotism/anglophilia trumps orthodoxy?

    Not to mention his active homosexuality, which was the reason why, contrary to the expectations of many (including his own?), he was never elected a bishop in ECUSA. I remember how his being hit on the head with a cane or a metal pipe by a "guest", IIRC in the early '80s (or maybe a bit earlier), and an ensuing long spell of hospitalization, was written up in all the NYC newspapers, none of them hinting at any "impropriety," but the tabloids treating it in such a way as to lead readers to draw the obvious inference.

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    1. Aha. Too often true; can't forget that when you're talking about Anglicanism, particularly the high version. It's why the otherwise conservative stick around. I was so innocent as a kid I didn't know about that connection until I was in college.

      So he was gay and at least sort of out when it was acceptable in some English and Anglican circles but not yet so in mainstream America; I remember that well, but when I was a kid the liberals were starting to make inroads on that (heck, they were even hinting that sex with kids was OK). So unlike Gene Robinson, no mitre for this dapper priest.

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    2. I notice that Mr Virtue's panegyric has been taken down.

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  2. ...you can practically be your own Pope.

    Honestly in the present circumstances I fail to see what's wrong with that. I'd have more confidence in the late Fr. Andrew, certainly Fr. Mead, and perhaps even the new Fr. Turner than in His Humbleness.

    When neither Church is run by traditionalists, Anglican de facto congregationalism is a strength.

    Fr. Andrew, though he had his ecumenical Anglo-Catholic reservations, was not unambiguously opposed to women priests. He apparently hired one in 1993, but there was so much resistance from the congregation that he felt obliged to ask her to leave after only a few months. Fr. Mead's position was firmer. Who knows what will happen under Fr. Turner? But at least the Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys isn't going anywhere. That is an important tradition too, and one that in the US RCC exists only at St. Paul's Cambridge.

    The mugging occurred in 1988. I had never read that he knew his attacker.

    It is indeed interesting, and must be frustrating for aesthetically traditionalist Catholics, the way RC prelates often seem to enjoy cultivating ecumenical friendships with their Episcopal counterparts without Episcopal higher standards in music etc. ever rubbing off. (Like, "Episcopalians are fun at cocktail parties, but we mustn't allow any of that elitist artsy-fartsy choir stuff in our own churches." I once read of a Novus Ordo pastor who insisted on the most banal dreck in his own parish, but was observed to quietly attend Episcopal Choral Evensong when he thought no one was looking.) Musically St. Patrick's Cathedral down the street is nowhere near St. Thomas. It is a travesty that NYC still has no diocesan all-TLM parish. (I think the closest one is the Institute of Christ the King's in West Orange NJ? A monarchist friend of mine goes there.) St. Agnes (I'm Facebook friends with the music director) and the threatened Church of the Holy Innocents are very nice though.

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    1. I hear you.

      When neither Church is run by traditionalists, Anglican de facto congregationalism is a strength.

      It can be.

      I understand Fr. Andrew had women priests occasionally celebrate weekday services; maybe we're referring to the same thing. Fr. Turner's wife's an Anglican priest, though not assigned to St. Thomas, so we'll see if the congregation's conservatism, if it's still there, counters that.

      Regarding the mugging, I understand there was much more violent street crime 25-30 years ago.

      "Episcopalians are fun at cocktail parties, but we mustn't allow any of that elitist artsy-fartsy choir stuff in our own churches."

      Yep, the Thomas Day factor.

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  3. Liberal high church is obviously in the same tradition as Fr. Andrew; I don't repeat conservative misconceptions about it. It's not Spong: it's as credally orthodox, sacramental, and liturgically conservative and high as we traditional Catholics are. Unlike Catholic liberals they think "old church" is fun. But "they are not what we were."

    Do you mean that "liberal high church" is as credally orthodox etc. as traditional Catholicism? I would have thought not, certainly if you mean "liberal" in terms of the Episcopal Church.

    For that matter "conservative high churchmanship" isn't as credally orthodox etc. as Catholicism, partly because it isn't Catholic. What the Nicene Creed means in the context of the Church whose creed it is and what it means in the context of a schismatic body that borrowed it and adapted it for its own purposes is substantially different.

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    1. As disappointed as I am in the Episcopal Church, with the church I maintain that we and they worship the same God.

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    2. Yes, true, but also irrelevant to my point.

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    3. Well, obviously I agree that they're not the church; their own Articles XIX and XXI give that away. But on paper they still share Catholicism's understanding of the triune God, and their liberal high churchmen today do too, unlike Spong.

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  4. The former, now retired, rector, Andrew Mead, was a curate at Good Shepherd, Rosemont, under George Rutler in the 1970s, then succeeded Rutler (when the latter "poped" ca. 1980) from 1980 to 1985 (and was himself succeeded by Jeffrey Steenson, rector from 1985 to 1989, who was himself succeeded by David Moyer). He went to the Church of the Advent, Boston, subsequently, leaving for St. Thomas in 1996 after a tremendous bust-up at the Advent, which up to that point was a corporation independent of the Episcopal Church: "the gays," who controlled the corporation, tried to oust him, while he colluded with the very liberal Cowley Father Bishop of Massachusetts, Thomas Shaw, to strip the corporation of its independence and to bring the church under the authority of the diocese. Mead once told me, "as soon as I put the last of my children through college I will be joining your church," but he never did. One of his sons was ordained in the Episcopal Church about 15 years ago, and is very much an "Affirming Catholic." Canon Andrew (Mead's predecessor at St. Thomas) allowed clergywomen to celebrate the occasional weekday service, but Mead made it a condition of his accepting the rectorship that no women would celebrate there. And, now that I think of it, that it would be understood that he would not agree to perform marriages for divorcé(e)s.

    It's hard to know why some people convert and others don't. Ronald Knox asked the question and just called it a mystery. Most of the converts I know well, including myself, stayed outside the Church longer than we should have done. But I do think one who's "gotten it" should not put himself in near occasions of comfort? complacency? something, by taking a job that would make the move even more difficult.

    They used to call that a near occasion of sin. There is a story about the pearl of precious price. It comes at a cost. Most of us like to have it all. We want our cake and eat it too. Having been there, done that, it's hard to know always what another thinks.

    I think Mead is too smart to convince himself that he is already a Catholic. It's an intellectual game Anglo-Catholics often play. Remember those stories about the monks who were already there when the first archbishop of Canterbury was appointed by Rome.

    Supposedly being anti-gay was why Mead had trouble at the Advent. They wanted him out when he publicly spoke his opposition. Few even Catholic clergy say much in NYC. Years ago a priest I knew in the Courage movement asked Cardinal Egan to speak out on the subject. He replied that the position of the Catholic Church was already known and it was not necessary. Anyone who recalls Cardinal O'Connor well knows he did not equivocate.

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    1. Bishop Shaw, who just died, was gay. Sounds like there were no "good guys" in the Advent situation to help Fr. Mead, who sounds sincere as well as orthodox. I can't imagine a priest being brave enough to teach at St. Clement's then or now, for example, what the magisterium does about homosexuality. That was why they hated Rosemont; it took a stand with the church and the evangelicals on that matter. Then again, almost all of St. Clement's old lay leaders are Catholic (again); underneath the high-strungness they really believed. (I imagine a lot of the early and the English martyrs were like that.) Of course I'm glad to read Fr. Mead's convinced of Catholicism; God is patient. I'd forgotten about his liberal high-church priest son.

      I started going to Rosemont when I moved to this area in '85, right after Fr. Mead left. A young conservative Cowley Fathers oblate, Warren Soule, was priest-in-charge. He's been a Dominican priest since the late '80s. Steenson became rector in '86.

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  5. Also, to be fair to the Anglicans, Henry VIII was nothing to do with the modern idea of marriage with no-fault divorce (or contraception). He went into schism to get an annulment he didn't deserve (not quite the same thing as the modern mess), had two wives killed for adultery (treason), and had another marriage annulled (unconsummated, to the unattractive Anne of Cleves). Jane Seymour died in childbirth and Catherine Parr outlived him. Anyway, historically the Church of England and Episcopal Church had the same prohibition on divorce and remarriage as the Catholic Church. Fr. Mead was doing what the Archbishop of Canterbury did in 1936 when he refused to marry the King to Mrs. Simpson.

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  6. Just to correct an error above, Fr Mead was never a curate under Fr Rutler who had left some time before Fr Mead was called to Rosemont from All Saints' Ashmont where he had been curate under Fr Purnell.

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