Friday, May 31, 2013

American Anglo-Catholics' six options

Listed by Fr Sutter: stay put, join one of three kinds of breakaways, join the ordinariate or join one of the two Western Rite Orthodox options?
  • Anglican Communion: Nope. Their semi-congregationalism means there are a few conservative parishes (Fr Kelly at St John's, Detroit, for example), but ultimately you've got two options there: mainline (Modernist, liberal) or Evangelical, both Protestant. We were wrong about Anglicanism. Checkmate.
  • ACNA: The Episcopal Church in 2002. It failed so let's re-create it. No thanks.
  • AM(iA): Offshoot of Evangelicalism; not an option for Anglo-Catholics.
  • Catholic Church–Ordinariate: Not perfect but pretty good. I'm not in it because I'm not a married aspiring priest nor do I have a jones for the Prayer Book on Sunday.
  • Anglican Catholic Church: Sectarian. The conservative Presbyterians have their act together with the PCA; Continuing Anglicans splintered.
  • Orthodoxy–Western Rite: I appreciate its appeal to sincere high churchmen who have principled objections to the papacy. Problems: in it, you're trying to rewrite history ('Orthodox Ireland' and similar garbage) and Orthodox anti-Westernism (you're not really welcome there).


  1. I am surprised that Fr Sutter left out the obvious option of simply becoming Roman Catholic at the local parish (i.e. not bothering with the Ordinariate). Or, for those who cannot accept the Roman Catholic distinctives, simply becoming Orthodox at the local parish without bothering with the Western Rite. As fond as I am of the Western Rite, while not sectarian in the strict sense of the word, it is what my wife calls "an eccentric little Church." And I fear that the Ordinariate shares this character.

    rewrite history

    I am not sure this is fair. It's arguable that the day-to-day Catholicism of the West in late antiquity has more in common with the Orthodoxy of today than with the Catholicism of today. The actual polity of the Western Church in that day was less papally-centralized than today's Church, and there was a good deal more liturgical diversity.

    I'd be curious to know whether, in tenth-century England or Ireland, the filioque was chanted in the Creed or whether the Pope was commemorated liturgically (rather than the local Primate). I don't know the answer to those questions, but unless you do know the answers to these and similar questions, you're not in a position to say that the WRO are "rewriting history."

    1. Yes to the second. The Pope has never not been commemorated in the Roman Canon, wherever it was prayed. And Anglo-Saxon churchmen, such as Bede, would have been exceedingly Roman and Papal in outlook, even more so than in other parts of the Latin Church.

      The inclusion of the Filioque in the Western liturgical version of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed was confirmed by the Council of Hatfield (680), led by the Greek Archbishop of Canterbury, Theodore. I don't believe that the Creed would have been a part of the liturgy in England at that point; so presumably when the Creed did enter the liturgy (circa 9th century?), it was with the filioque.

  2. My guess is he was basing his list on options meant to keep Anglican patrimony.

    Add to those two you mention what I and that now-rare creature, Tridentine Anglo-Papalists (like Fr Hunwicke was), did: go to the Extraordinary Form ('Latin Mass'). My parish has nice patrimony: organ prelude and postlude, classical music, and Anglican hymns alongside Catholic classics. The priest who started all that in the 2000s wasn't even an ex-Episcopalian!

    It's arguable that the day-to-day Catholicism of the West in late antiquity has more in common with the Orthodoxy of today than with the Catholicism of today. The actual polity of the Western Church in that day was less papally-centralized than today's Church, and there was a good deal more liturgical diversity.

    Without a doubt. The Tridentine Mass and Byzantine Liturgy are analogues. But that's not the same as the 'Anglo-Saxon and Irish Orthodox' myth vs. the Catholic Church of the Normans. (The Anglican myth with icons.)

    We'll never agree; your heart is with the Orthodox, and even though you think I'm patronizing you, since you were never Catholic I'd be fine with you ending up back among them. (The LCMS is nice but they're a little farther from us, and you said your heart isn't in it.)

    1. I had a chance to talk with one of the foremost scholars of the 12th century reform of the Irish church at a conference recently. She told me that modern scholarship sees this as a process begun by Irishmen themselves before the Normans ever set foot here. The 'nasty Normans imposed the evils of Rome on the pure Celtic Church' thesis, so beloved of 19th century Anglicans, is no longer taken seriously by academia. Similarly discredited are the excesses of earlier Catholic apologists who wrote about the early Irish church as if it had all the apparatus of Vatican I Catholicism. In the last two decades there has been a huge amount of research in this area and it would be good if this, rather than outdated Victorian scholarship, could inform the Western Orthodox debate.

    2. Welcome! Exactly; thanks. I wasn't trying to say what earlier Catholic apologists were. The truth is Newman's development of doctrine.

      As I like to say, I think the 19th-century people who rejected development of doctrine, the Catholic case for the early European churches being Catholic – sincere conservative Anglicans, and any Orthodox at the time who knew or cared about it – thought that today the Anglican Church would be this cautious, conservative church sticking to the consensus of the church fathers as filtered through Hooker, et al. (such Anglicans see the Orthodox as an exotic version of that minus Hooker, et al.), while the Catholic Church's crazy Pope ordered the matter of the sacraments changed so they had women clergy and gay marriage, and maybe even changed doctrine so that the content of the creeds was optional. About the opposite of what really happened. Vatican II came too close to that liberal dream but of course the church by nature can't do that so the council really didn't. Meanwhile the Orthodox have followed Protestantism in selling out on contraception.

      (Reminds me of the novel and movie Catholics, in which I understand one little holdout group does the Tridentine Mass while the official church goes off the rails, having turned into a big mainline denomination or Unitarianism, having union talks with non-Christians. The popular idea of the council, which had just happened when it was written. I've seen the movie. Sounds like trad fiction except the holdout leader turns out to lack faith.)

    3. Thanks. I'm writing from Ireland where one of the biggest issues for 19th century scholars concerned the ownership of the history and legacy of the 'Celtic church'. The Irish Anglican scholar, J.H. Todd, even devised a theory that from the 11th century until the Reformation there were two distinct churches in Ireland who maintained a kind of apartheid - the Celtic church and the Roman church imposed by the Normans. After the Reformation the 'original Irish church' merged into the English church of the pale and thus became the Established Church but in so doing forfeited the allegiance of the majority of the natives who now turned to a third church - one which sought its authority from 'foreign' sources. Thankfully, the jingoism and polemics have largely subsided now in modern Ireland which makes some of the online stridency I've seen from WRO all the more strange to me. When I became Orthodox ten years ago it was presented to me that Orthodoxy being neither Protestant nor RC could offer a lot to Ireland, a genuine 'third way'. In practice, however, I got the impression that the Orthodox were not the honest brokers they thought they were because they seemed to want to validate the Anglican thesis of the 'Celtic church' and for the same reason - anti-Romanism. I honestly didn't see any evidence of fresh thinking, just a tired old argument which most thinking people here have actually left behind, repackaged. I haven't done the same amount of reading around the Anglo-Saxon church but instinctively shuddered when I saw all that 'ye olde merrie Orthodoxe England' stuff online which also seems to argue for a purer, holier and more innocent age before those nasty Normans imposed Rome on stout English yeomen. Reads like a script from a 1950s Robin Hood film! The Normans themselves are the subject of historical revisionism now, of course, although they are portrayed in popular myth as the destroyers of native religious practices, their legacy seems rather more complex. In Ireland whilst it's true that they introduced the cults of foreign saints, they were also responsible for commissioning fresh written Lives of Irish saints, Jocelin's Life of Saint Patrick being one of the more famous examples. And I always found it curious that it was the cults of the great Eastern martyrs like St. George and St.Catherine who were among the non-native saints they and their descendants promoted. So if an Orthodox visitor wonders why he finds Saint Catherine venerated alongside Saint Patrick and Saint Brigid at Lough Derg, it's a reflection of a complex past, one that the Orthodox convert view of church history doesn't adequately address.

    4. What a wonderful post! Thank you.

    5. To complement what Marcella wrote, it is becoming increasingly evident that the initial source of principled (and often strong) opposition to the Reformation in Ireland (Henry's break with Rome; the introduction of Protestantism, from 1550, under Edward VI; the process of Protestantizing the Irish "Anglican" Church from the mid-1560s onwards) was not the native Irish themselves, or their clan leaders, by and large, but the Anglo-Irish (Palesmen and elsewhere) themselves, for many of whom Henry's schism and all that followed underminded the whole "ethical basis" for their presence in Ireland and for the English king's lordship there. See especially:

      *Enforcing the English Reformation in Ireland: Clerical Resistance and Political Conflict in the Diocese of Dublin, 1534-1590* by James Murray ( Cambridge, 2011: Cambridge Studies in Early Modern British History)

      which is a wonderfully suggestive book. This "Anglo-Irish" opposition to the Reformation and to "English heresy" seems to have communicated itself to the leading clans of Gaelic Ireland (and "hibernicized" families such as the Fitzgeralds, some Butlers and some Burkes etc.) from the late 1560s onwards.

    6. You can add to Fr Sutter's six and my traditional Latin Mass with Anglo-Catholic style the option of the standard Novus Ordo, Pope Benedict's improved English or Latin, with Tridentine Anglo-Catholic style, not the Anglican Use hybrid, like what Fr George Rutler does at the Church of Our Savior in New York City. Frs Jay Scott Newman and Dwight Longenecker might be others. Like the TLM now, all completely allowed in the official church without any permission or special jurisdiction (ordinariate) needed. You'll likely run afoul of an anti-trad bishop but in theory there's no reason any Roman Catholic priest can't do this. It's what the pastor who high-churched my parish was doing before Summorum Pontificum freed up the old Mass for parish use.

  3. Anonymous1:40 pm

    Or, if one lives near one of the nine locations in the U.S. listed at, one might consider attending, or enrolling in, an Anglican Use parish.

    Pax et bonum,

  4. "whether the Pope was commemorated liturgically (rather than the local Primate)"

    An easily-answered question - yes, cf. the Te igitur (etc.) of the Roman Canon (the only anaphora in use in the Celtic and Anglo-Saxon churches) "... una cum famulo tuo Papa nostra N. et Antistite nostro N. ..." which would appear to indicate that the Pope and the local bishop were commemorated, but not the local Primate. Perhaps if other intercessory prayers were also, and additionally, in use, there might have been a mention of the local Primate, but the only two of which I can think as possibilities are the Deprecatio Gelasii (which was replaced at Rome by the Kyrie/Christe eleisons, but which can be found in some eighth-century Celtic missals), but this intercessory litany commemorates nobody by name, and then litany that passes under the name of St. Martin of Tours, of which I don't have a copy to hand, and which may have been used in pre-conquest England, but which I think was exclusively French.

  5. "whether, in tenth-century England or Ireland, the filioque was chanted in the Creed"

    I can't answer that, but Theodore of Tarsus, Archbishop of Canterbury, assured Rome, IIRC in the 680s, that the English Church was solidly behind the doctrine of the double procession (according to the late Henry Chadwick in his wonderfully learned book *East and West*).

    1. Whoops! Posted above before seeing these responses from Dr Tighe.

  6. Of course it makes sense that the Pope would be commemorated in the liturgy. 1) he was Orthodox, 2) he was the Patriarch of the West, and 3) the linkage goes from the local ordinary both up to the patriarch and point to point to every other bishop sharing the identical faith of the apostles, the latter being too long to commemorate


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