Friday, September 24, 2010

Less schism in Schism I?

John Henry Newman aside, I’ve always had profound reservations about the RCC and the proposed Ordinariate that was pursued by The Anglican Communion, one of the major Schism I Continuing Anglican groups and one of the few with a significant presence outside the US.

Thursday David Virtue posted a pastoral letter from Rt. Rev. Daren Williams, one of the bishops of the Anglican Church in America (the US affiliate of TAC). His major points as I read them:
  • In 3 of the 4 ACA dioceses, the bulk of the laity today do not want to exercise the option offered by the Ordinariate and become Catholic.
  • Even discussing this option has created great confusion and turbulence in the ACA, with three parishes in his diocese defecting to other Continuing Anglican groups.
  • Rather than Swim the Tiber, the ACA should be working to repair the historic and regrettable schisms among Continuing Anglicans, staring by entering into communion with the Anglican Province of America.
To the last point, Bp. Williams wrote:
It is my conclusion that before we can enter into significant communal relationships with larger bodies of Catholic Christendom, we need to make another effort to unite with those near to us who share the same goals in Anglicanism.
Amen! This is remarkable sanity for a Schism I bishop, given that a major problem for 1928 BCP groups has been the proliferation of purple shirts — with a widespread suspicion that egos and powers have more to do with this fragmentation than any significant theological issues.

Perhaps the most surprisingly honest passage in the letter:
Anglicans in the ACA are comparatively small in number and we often struggle to make ends meet.
Bp. Williams seems to be much more honest than the Schism I “bishops” and “primates”. Together, all the Schism I parishes probably have less than 50,000 members across all the “denominations” or “provinces” — less than a single large TEC diocese.

Personally, I think we have been long overdue for a reunification of the Schism I, 1928 Prayer Book Anglo-Catholics that began with the 1977 Congress of St. Louis and the 1978 Denver ordinations. Whether or not we bridge the gap to ACNA/Schism II — or win more allies jumping from the TEC ship — fixing this historical accident is one move that is possible today, if the clerical hierarchy will let us.

As one of the commenters on the Virtue Online site put it:
The retirements of some of the old Continuum bishops seems to be leading to this opportunity to come back together. The personalities that used to get in the way seem to replaced by younger more reasonable men, without the baggage of old grudges. My prayers are with them.
Let’s pray for this sane path forwards for Continuing Anglicans everywhere.

No comments: