Monday, July 13, 2015

Classic American Anglo-Catholicism in a picture page

British Anglo-Catholics, always a small minority but "advanced" (Catholic-like, even wanting to come into the church but with their orders recognized) in the Church of England, had big congresses (conferences) in the 1920s and '30s (once met someone who'd been). Turns out American ones, in the Episcopal Church, had their own Catholic Congresses. This was at St. Luke's, Evanston, Illinois, Chicago being part of the old Midwestern "biretta belt." Interestingly the content and tone of the congresses' literature are almost exactly like what I remember being conservative and high-church as an Episcopalian, much later: "Fight the Modernists; defend the faith." (In the '20s, when fundamentalists and Modernists were fighting in all the mainline Protestant denominations.) We all know how things turned out, even though some still hope against reason that semi-congregationalism will save them (it was accidentally a hedge against liberalism when I was in it, after Vatican II; we should learn from that).

Anyway, this montage is interesting. Rather like their cousins the episcopi vagantes (there's longtime crossover between the two movements), American A-Cs said they were non-papal on principle: "Hooker minus the Erastianism." Erastianism is why Anglicanism exists but their party line was still classically Protestant (while claiming to have bishops and the Mass): "The Pope has overstepped his authority; someday he might do really crazy things like try to ordain women and marry the same sex. So our godly reformers were actually conservatives, restoring the church to the pristine faith of the Church Fathers." Yet their clergy dressed and acted like ours, but with services in English most of the time (nothing wrong with that). That row of bishops in choir dress could well be Cardinal Mundelein and two of his auxiliaries. An old joke: if a server fainted at St. Patrick's Cathedral or the Cathedral of SS. Peter & Paul, a week later servers would be faking that at St. Mary the Virgin or St. Clement's. Liberal high churchmen, the Episcopalians now, still love our culture (Catholic liberals don't), even though their view of the church is fundamentally different.

Note the Eastern Orthodox bishop. That was Russian-born Archbishop Leonty, later the supremo of the American metropolia of the Russian Orthodox Church (mostly ex-Catholic Ruthenians and Ukrainians; they went into schism because we treated them badly), now the Orthodox Church in America (actually very small; most American Orthodox are Greek). Then it was already de facto independent because the Soviets had taken over the mother church. Anti-Westernism is why they are outside the church; they think Byzantium is the church. (They really think all Western Christians are graceless heretics. In contrast, we hold that they are estranged Catholics.) But they weren't always anti-Western in practice, as here. Seems anti-papalism was the commonality: the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Plus the fantasy of a non-papal Western Catholicism, yet it looks wonderfully papal here. (Anglican Franciscans, now liberal of course: but St. Francis was fiercely loyal to the Pope.) High-church and ecumenical Anglicans have long loved to have their pictures taken with Orthodox clergy to shore up their Catholic claim vs. the church. The church (Leo XIII): "We take you at your word in the Thirty-Nine Articles. Since you teach heresy about the Eucharist, you don't have holy orders, even though you have a line of succession (that line isn't magic; it depends on the faith)."

Catholicism in English speaks to me in American Anglo-Catholicism's idiom.

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