Anglican Catholic Unity

Here one can find and read the statement of the Anglican Catholic Church on Church Unity which I post in response to some people who find our stance “stand-offish”.  Of particular importance is Section 6.

It is very easy to dismiss Continuing Anglicanism on the ground of it being totally disunited. Indeed, that was my major concern in the darker days of my disillusionment with the CofE as I sought somewhere to go.

There are lots of “continuing Anglican” groups, and the question must be, “what are they continuing?” With the disparity of leadership and doctrine, it is easy to accuse Continuing Anglicanism of continuing the fracture of God’s Church. Yet this is not how things are and there is indeed significant movement towards Unity.

Where the ACC is starting that move to Unity is among its sister jurisdictions which emerged from the Congress of St Louis in 1978. This will take time, but there have been very many encouraging signs of communion and union in the past. Indeed, in 2007, there was a joint statement in which it has been stated explicitly that the ACC is in full communio in sacris with the APCK and UECNA. Further unity will come in time, we pray.

For other continuing Anglicans, the ACC seeks to be as clear as it can on the conditions of intercommunion:

“If leaders of such bodies are genuine in their claims to adhere to the same Faith and Order, sufficiently to seek a relationship of communio in sacris with the Anglican Catholic Church, then the question arises as to why they established separate jurisdictions in the first place, contrary to that Faith and Order. In the absence of any satisfactory response to that question, there is little point in proceeding further. We cannot see any justification for asking our synods to furnish funds, nor our scholars to sacrifice the huge allocations of time and energy required, to establish formal negotiations with any body of demonstrably illicit jurisdiction, congregationalist polity, and/or doubtful Orders and Sacraments.”

This is simple honesty. If there is to be true unity between bodies, then there needs to be transparency in order for that union to take place in love. Love requires honesty, it also requires humility on both sides. The ACC has its standards which it cannot take lightly and makes them very clear.

As criteria for engaging in formal dialogue with other Churches aimed at achieving full communion or ultimately organic unity, we would see their possession of historic continuity in Catholic Faith and Apostolic Order, including doctrine and discipline faithfully reflecting the canons and decrees of the seven Ecumenical Councils, with recognizably common Scriptures, Creeds, Sacraments and Ministry, as the starting point, not the conclusion, of such endeavours. These are the minimum requirements for the recovery of authentic Christian unity, and we have no authority to alter or reduce them.

To those who embrace them we will gladly extend the right hand of fellowship.

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9 Responses to Anglican Catholic Unity

  1. Thank you, Deacon Jonathan, for this. I greatly appreciate your insight. In all ecclesial bodies, some things are negotiable and “optional”, but that applied to what is not negotiable makes a mockery of them. Then why bother?

    We understand, but to others it will be like pissing into a violin as the French say. Carry on!

  2. Rdr. James Morgan says:

    As a former Anglican, now Eastern Orthodox, I wonder what is purposed regarding the 7th Council, which dealt with icons. Can anyone from the Anglican side help me here?

    • Warwickensis says:

      Greetings!

      What further help do you require?

      The ACC accepts all the Oecumenical Councils before the East-West Schism which will necessarily include the Second Nicene Council of 787. We therefore have no problem with ikons and indeed our little cathedral in Canterbury has several which are used and displayed properly.

      Hope this is some use to you.

  3. Andrew Jordan says:

    “If leaders of such bodies are genuine in their claims to adhere to the same Faith and Order, sufficiently to seek a relationship of communio in sacris with the Anglican Catholic Church, then the question arises as to why they established separate jurisdictions in the first place, contrary to that Faith and Order”

    I find this statement self-defeating. The ACC defines its own standards for faith and order apart from other historic churches, and then quizzically asks why slightly more recent splinter groups formed their own jurisdictions with slightly different definitions of faith and order. Indeed, once you go down this path, there is absolutely no reason to seek “unity” with anyone else, especially if it costs you anything.

    • As an ACC priest myself, I am queasy about the idea of implying in some way that we are the “real McCoy” and the others are imitations and therefore should be treated as hard-line Roman Catholics or Orthodox would treat us, or for that matter, the Canterbury Communion Anglicans. There is always something to the left or the right. Can we set ourselves up as custodians of Orthodoxy when we look “snotty” to some and “vagantes” to others?

      Unity at the cost of our Anglo-Catholicism and adhering to a lowest common denominator, or the Lambeth Quadrilateral and the 39 Articles, copy the Church of England as it was in the 1950’s? How about a new Elizabethan Settlement overseen by those who would “ethnically cleanse” the Anglo-Catholics and our detestable abominations!

      I have most certainly come to the conclusion that the more we try to unite, the more we split up and weaken any coherence we have left in our own communities. It’s not goin’ nowhere, as they say in London, and we only contribute to the final collapse of Catholic Christianity as is happening all around us.

      The important thing is not the miserable institutions we try to keep going, but the Tradition we uphold and the faith we hold. Perhaps that is a basis for a dialogue of love without seeking anything else.

    • Warwickensis says:

      Dear Andrew,
      thank you for commenting.

      I disagree with the idea that this is self-defeating. Two Jurisdictions A and B will both believe firmly that they are holding Orthodox Faith and Order. Both will believe that they are right and yet both will believe that, in response to Our Lord’s command, there should be no division between them. What is being proposed here is a starting point for compatibility of definition. It is a crucible for dialogue and prayer.

      The standards for Faith and Order that we have are very obvious: we go back to the undivided Church. That does not seem to be apart from “other historic churches”, indeed it is the vehicle by which unity can be achieved since any other “historic church” will have in itself roots within the undivided Church too. Thus there will be common ground with the ACC. What needs to be established is whether the differences between jurisdictions which have arisen post 1054 can be mutually reconciled. It may not be a perfect method for unification, but it is a start. As long as there is honesty and humility on all sides, there can be unity.

      • The standards for Faith and Order that we have are very obvious: we go back to the undivided Church.

        Absolutely, which means the consensus on the doctrine of the faith and the essentials of canon law. The ACC has a highly coherent system of ecclesiastical law. We avoid the temptation of going beyond 1054 for liturgies we hardly know anything about, and use much more recent and accessible rites – like the Antiochian WR Vicariate does. I am for using Sarum as an “extraordinary use”, but the versions to which we have ready access, the few books that survived the Reformation and were re-edited by Dickinson in the 1860’s. There are, of course, the two excellent English translations (Pearson and Warren) some of us know about based on the same c. 1520 sources.

        As long as there is honesty and humility on all sides, there can be unity.

        Those two are very difficult to find, but they do exist. We need to develop the dialogue of love, and then we can talk shop.

    • AFS1970 says:

      When reading the history of continuing Anglicanism, I have always marveled at the way that it all came together in a time without the instant communication that we have now. How groups of disaffected Anglicans even found each other when letter writing and phone calls were the only way to put together such a congress is to me somewhat amazing.

      However now with the fact that we can reply to each other via blog entry, or that I can even reply to a blog entry from England or anywhere other than my section of the United States is equally amazing. However it brings with it a certain knowledge that makes me wonder why any new jurisdiction exists? At this point technology would allow me to find any and all options for Anglican worship. We are at least 2 generations (in terms of organizations) removed from St. Louis and while the lineage may be murky, the presence is concrete.

      So I agree it is questionable why anyone would form another jurisdiction when it would be fairly easy to join any number of existing ones? The the (new) ACNA, it was not due to lack of recognition, as they invited the ACC to their initial gathering. Is there a reason not to simply seek to join the ACC, or any other existing jurisdiction for that matter?

  4. AFS1970 says:

    Excellent article, but of course there are those grey areas that seem to make the waters a bit more murkier. As people, both lay and clergy have moved in and out of the various Anglican bodies the whole of continuing Anglicanism has become intertwined with each other in a way that is both good and bad or perhaps neither good or bad. The ecumenical contact with various churches seems sometimes to imply a sort of recognition of each other that is not totally in line with the ACC’s hard line stance. For the most part I agree with the ACC, but I am not sure the divisions between us are all that clear anymore.

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