Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Anglicans retconning history

Patrick Sheridan went to the Society of King Charles the Martyr's official celebration in England and left this report under my previous post.
It's billed as 1637 BCP, despite looking and sounding like a Roman high mass in the Anglo-Catholic tradition.
A lot of Anglo-Catholicism is retrospective conversion of history and wishful thinking, not really Anglican. Charles I and William Laud were accused of being crypto-Catholics, and to his credit that king didn't actively persecute us (his wife was Catholic!), but they denied the accusation of wanting to return England to Rome. To buy this kind of Anglicanism, it seems you have to believe that magisterial Protestantism with the episcopate and Catholicism are really the same. The late Michael Davies once wrote that to say that isn't fair to the courage of the early Protestants, some of whom died for their newly created faith. One of his points: when Protestants use realistic-sounding language about the Eucharist, they don't mean what we do. Christ's saving work is all in the past, so no Mass.
I counted twenty homosexuals in attendance, four of them at the makeshift altar (now set against the wall, pointing south; whereas in the days of Fr Thompson it was in plano with a throne set against the wall, much nicer). One of the clergy present looked me up and down and then turned away.
Among the good things Anglicans have taught me are that semi-congregationalism can be a hedge against liberalism and to be kind to homosexuals. They can be kind in return, and the ones famously drawn to high churchmanship love the creeds and the traditional liturgy as much as I do. If they don't attack Catholic teaching and don't commit crimes, it's none of my business; it's between God, their confessors, and them. Over here, as Episcopal semi-congregationalism has stopped working for conservative high churchmanship, a number of them have joined or returned to the Catholic Church. Pushed against the wall, they really believe in all this Catholic stuff and likely would die for the faith. It wasn't an act.

Seemingly up and coming in Episcopalianism is liberal high churchmanship (St. Mark's, Philadelphia, for example, where I stopped by recently), the new Anglo-Catholicism: no longer Unitarianism with tat (early-mid 1900s) but at the same time more liberal than Catholic liberals can dare to be yet loving the creeds and the old liturgy, worshipping much as I do, something that would make a Catholic liberal's head explode ("does not compute"). It's like something I'd come up with to try to make my faith more accepted. God had other plans.

The Continuing Anglicans, on the other hand, give lip service to magisterial Protestantism but in practice are the fantasy of a Popeless Latin Catholicism. I don't think the gaggle of independent bishops is what God had in mind for the West.

Back to Anglican retconning of history and wishful thinking: you get the impression from the mainstream Church of England and Episcopal Church that Henry VIII drove England into schism, killing when necessary ("sorry about that, chaps"), because he was on a godly mission to have women clergy and same-sex marriages, which seem to be modern Anglicanism's reasons to exist. Logically, Protestantism takes you there and beyond, to secular humanism (loss of faith as Christianity's fulfillment; Christian ethics minus Christ). Which is why next to nobody still goes to the Episcopal Church.

I won't deny a broad parallel between the two Charleses I, but see above on the Catholic/Protestant difference and the latter monarch wasn't killed.

Giving Charles I of England his due: how many of us would be brave enough to have our heads cut off rather than abandon our post as the father in a sense of one's people and to defend the episcopate and liturgical worship (against both today's evangelicals and secular liberals, for instance)?

Classical Anglicans believe in a true church, just like me; the trouble is they think theirs is it ("both Catholic and Reformed").

If 1637 BCP with no Romish ceremonial accretions is your thing, then Anglicanism is for you. If you want the Roman High Mass, then join us! (Western Rite Orthodoxy is culturally fake and another retconning of history. The Eastern rites in the Catholic Church, though not perfect, and you don't have to believe the Uniates are perfect in order to be Catholic, are culturally real: generations/centuries-old Christian communities.)


  1. Next to nobody ... except our new Supreme Court judge.

    1. And our Presbyterian president had his third wedding there and at least goes to a Christmas service there.

      Believe it or not, I don't hate the Episcopal Church. Of course in good conscience I can't rejoin and don't want to, but that's not hatred. It gave me a lot. The liberal high-church people and I are on parallel tracks never meeting but obviously worshipping the same God, using the same kinds of liturgy, devotions, art, and music. (For example, I've been to Breviary Compline in Latin at St. Mark's.) And thanks to their semi-congregationalism, they still have conservative but not quite Catholic parishes: for example, St. Thomas, Fifth Avenue as it was under Fr. Mead, and Incarnation, Dallas.

  2. Is it what it says on the tin, though? If it says 1637 then why are the ministers wearing 19th century Roman vestments? Or why does the choir not sing something contemporary? Westminster Abbey would have a better idea of how to do things!

    As for the homosexuals, the ones I counted are all in relationships, go to their churches on Sundays, and so far as I know seldom, if ever, go to confession, and don't really consider their relationships sinful at all.

    1. Is it what it says on the tin, though?

      I agree! The point of this post.

      As for the homosexuals, the ones I counted are all in relationships, go to their churches on Sundays, and so far as I know seldom, if ever, go to confession, and don't really consider their relationships sinful at all.

      That's what Anglicanism has turned into. Inevitably?

  3. I attended a Low Mass here in Australia at a Continuing Anglican church and commented afterwards that it was the Extraordinary fORM in English.The priest said 'well it is from the BCP sanctioned by the last Catholic Bishops in Emgland " i think he was referring to the 1537 edition

    1. The English Missal is the Extraordinary Form in English. It's not an official Anglican book. St. Clement's, Philadelphia uses it and I've seen it used at All Saints, North Street, York, one of only a handful of Church of England parishes that does.

      My line on the BCP is that Cranmer was a rank heretic but gifted and just orthodox enough that you can retrofit his Prayer Book with traditional Roman Catholic ceremonial and it works: the story of the other unofficial Anglican missals.

      The priest said, "Well, it is from the BCP sanctioned by the last Catholic Bishops in England."

      I wonder what that means.

      England's newly schismatic church in 1537 was still using local versions of the Roman missal; the first BCP, cautious and quasi-Catholic, was in 1549. Cranmer cut loose with his Protestantism with the 1552 book.

    2. "The priest said, 'Well, it is from the BCP sanctioned by the last Catholic Bishops in England.'

      I wonder what that means."

      Probably it reflects the old High-Church-but-not-quite-Anglo-Catholic myth of the late 19th/early 20th centuries that while the 1552 BCP was Protestant, that of 1549 was Catholic. so it probably means 1549.

  4. "It's not an official Anglican book"; not quite true. It had been given official approval in several, mostly colonial, diocese before the liturgical revolution when Anglicans adopted the horrors of the novus ordo. And we have discuses that it was used with official approval for several Hungarian and Italian parishes that had aligned with the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States.

    1. was used with official approval for several Hungarian and Italian parishes that had aligned with the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States.

      The Foreign Rites Canon, commonly called bait. Yicch. I don't hate the Episcopalians but some of them had some explaining to do to God for that. I don't think he takes too kindly to tricking people out of the true church and even out of a valid Mass. If they'd been honorable WASP gentlemen they would have explained to the schismatic parishes that as far as the Protestant Episcopal Church was concerned, the English "Reformation" was gospel truth; Romish ways were a no-go.

      But then there were the would-be Catholics who as far as I know were not trying to trick people, such as the long-gone parish that hooked me. Viscount Halifax and the English Church Union weren't trying to do that. All they were trying to do was turn Episcopalians into Catholics but staying in place. But then again would-be Catholicism isn't really Anglicanism.

    2. My point was that the Anglican Missal and English Missal contrary to what many believe did have official authorization in certain quarters.

      Also, these parishes approached the Anglicans not the other way around and never received very much support and remained quiet backwaters. There are those who would say the same about the Anglican-Use Ordinariates, and the recent treatment of one of their clergy in Texas is proving that perhaps the Anglican Use is less than honest as well. Actually its projectile seems very similar to treatment according to western rite Orthodox.

    3. Right; in certain quarters but the fact remains that my favorite "Anglican" (actually translated Catholic) liturgical books were banned in most of the Church of England and Episcopal Church.

      Also, these parishes approached the Anglicans not the other way around and never received very much support and remained quiet backwaters.

      Yes; the intercommunion with the Polish National Catholic Church (I've read Hodur's manifesto: a Protestant and Masonic screed without even a veneer of pious schismatic Catholicism) was similar. But the idea in theory was to dishonestly raise Episcopal numbers either by going against Episcopal teachings or to bait and switch, and to troll for more in those communities. After William McGarvey, his curates, and most of his parish became Catholic after the Open Pulpit Canon, St. Elisabeth's in South Philly (which wasn't founded to trap Italians; it pre-dated the Italian influx) ran L'Emmanuello, a soup kitchen trying to wean poor Italians from the faith as one Catholic writer put it. It was spectacularly unsuccessful; St. E's is now a black Pentecostal church.

      You can argue along with Orthodox hardliners that Western Rite Orthodoxy is similarly dishonest if, like the Orthodox, you treat schismatic opinion about us like doctrine.

      I hope the ordinariates (which I don't belong to but could, and have my support: Western traditionalism in beautiful English) aren't a bait-and-switch; they don't go against our teachings the way Italian and Hungarian Catholic practice does against the Thirty-Nine Articles. The situation in Texas seems a clergy turf war I'm staying out of. (One conservative priest blogger makes a point of never publicly criticizing other priests, avoiding the temptation to gossip; the clergy leave me alone and I return the favor.)

      A near worst-case scenario would be a reversion to the '70s-'80s American Catholic Church; "taking cover" would be an option, but bad clergy, even a majority and even at the top, can't change our teachings, which I know well enough. Those teachings still challenge me to accept God's grace and learn to be a better person. I don't dwell on bad clergy anymore; I forget about them as soon as I'm out the church door. It's on them, not me. So leaving the church isn't an option: Byzantinocentrism, spinning the English "Reformation," and Latin Catholicism minus the Pope but rather with lots of "independent" house-church bishops are bogus; false churches. For taking cover, good thing I have the Slavic Greek Catholics in Pennsylvania; I'm already a happy part-timer and functionally biritual. (For some, a refuge becomes a home. Nothing wrong with that.) The SSPX is good if you literally have no other option; liking the old Mass better than Pope Benedict's English one isn't good enough. I went to a simple English Novus Ordo yesterday and liked it, but the old Mass, including its Anglican English versions, is home. The sedevacantist scenario's possible.


Leave comment