Sunday, February 18, 2007

Another WR Missed Opportunity?

It's amazing what a little hierarchical sign of goodwill can accomplish. When conservative Anglicans noised about their will to break away from the left-wing Episcopal Church (TEC), then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) wrote a letter supporting their efforts. Now a major realignment may be underway, in which Anglicans may reunite with the Papacy.

Many of us wondered at the time why Orthodox made no similar attempt to establish closer relations with the more conservative Anglicans. Even a token of goodwill from a high enough source would have made an important statement, and Lord willing, it would have meant teaching them what we require for unity on our own terms. Whether the Anglicans accepted the terms or not is less important than that we had the opportunity to make it, as the Lord requires. None was made.

What if:
  1. WR Orthodox had a bishop; and
  2. He had forged similar ties; and
  3. He had the ability to absorb a national body of multiple dioceses en masse?
Could we be having similar talks today? We can't provide salaries or the professional security of a "Coming Home Network." We can offer merely the true faith, the healing and glorious life of the sacraments, and the appeal of a clean conscience.

Better than "what if?" perhaps, is "what next?" As we are currently unable to work in a hierarchical fashion, what do we need to do to evangelize those looking for the Ark of Salvation, which they now understand cannot dock in the harbors of the Canterbury communion?

Personal relationships? And how do we reach those we cannot meet?

And why did no one on this side of the Bosphorus understand that having a positive relationship with liturgical Christians with some moral values noisily seeking for another church home might be of some use?

The accord is far from a settled reality. But it's much closer than any similar, massive concordat with Orthodoxy, whether Eastern or Western.

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8 Comments:

Blogger Eric Jobe said...

We just need to be patient. This is not a WR issue, it is an American Orthodox issue. Before we have a proper WR bishop (And by the way we do have one: +BASIL), I think we need to have a proper ecclesiastical organization under one American hierarch. Orthodoxy must speak with one voice to be able to accomplish what you say. For Western Orthodoxy to be stronger in America, American Orthodoxy as a whole must be stronger.

But I believe this will happen in time, with much prayer and repentance. When this happens, can we even dream of the outpouring of the spirit that could result? As our society becomes more polarized, people could be beating down our gates to come under the safety of Holy Orthodoxy. Will we be ready?

8:51 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

Time will tell. I'm sure that behind the scenes there must have been some overtures made from Antioch to groups like the American Anglican Council, or even APCK. I suspect these groups are quite committed to being Anglican.

Now, I've sometimes wondered why feelers haven't been sent out to groups like SSPX/SSPV. You can argue that, in some respects, Orthodox are the original sedevacantists, and it seems to be it would be relatively easy to make common cause. Just this morning an SSPV friend of mine dropped in unexpectedly on our Matins and Divine Liturgy (Byzantine Rite), and I kind of got the impression that he was somewhat surprised at just how similar what we did was to what he does.

Richard

9:52 PM  
Blogger Fr. Peter said...

I think you ask some interesting questions. But, I also think that one of things that will keep relations cool between the Orthodox and the Anglicans is the ordination of women. As long as the Anglican ordain women I do not see anyway that a unificaiton could take place. I would have to say the same about Anlgicans and Rome also. If the Conserv Anglicans do not ordain women then I think we could get somewhere.
As far as a bishop is concerned, this would be a great step forward, but do you see it happening?

5:36 AM  
Blogger Seraph said...

I had hoped that Ancient Faith Radio and other such venues of Orthodox outreach were an indication that there was general interest in reaching out to those such as our Episcopal brethren. Apparently the hierarchs have not caught on to this?

Hasn't the Antiochian Church been generous in outreach to some groups -- I think of Fr. Peter Gillquist et al? Perhaps someone ought to encourage the Patriarch or Metropolitan to reach out to the Anglicans....

9:28 AM  
Blogger Angry Orthodox said...

I blame all the Romophobes in the Church who think that you have to be Eastern to be Orthodox.

BIG missed opportunity

-Not so much Angry as Depresed Orthodox

2:25 PM  
Blogger Ben Johnson said...

Good comments, all!

Richard, you've hit the nail on the head about why so many Anglicans never come into Orthodoxy: they're perfectly happy being Anglican (and not a few are Protestants).

Fr. Peter, yes, the ordination of women is not up for discussion. Only those dioceses that oppose that -- and embrace all Orthodox theology -- would be at home in Orthodoxy.

Seraph, yes, Antioch has been kind when groups have come to it. But the (now-)Pope reached out to them in a moment of desperation; a similar move by Orthodox would have been a welcome gesture.

AO, sharing your sorrow, and your anti-Romaphobic sentiments. I wonder how many were driven away after reading some twisted version of Orthodoxy?

Eric, one point: even as bishop-of-record for the WRV, the God-protected +Bp. BASIL cannot accept churches in another bishop's geographical diocese. No offer was made, but theoretically, it could have been confusing.

I'm going to write a blog on what you mentioned about disunity; an important point.

God bless,
Ben

10:47 PM  
Blogger Jean-Michel said...

Just a question : I thought that to enter the Church, you had to believe what the Church believes.
So if these people are ready to just get with Vatican, and prefering that group with money while knowing the existence of the Church (and its lack of money and organisation and internal unity!), well, it's clearly and undoubtedly because they don't share the Faith of the Apostolic Church. So it's not a missed opportunity.

Jean-Michel

9:29 AM  
Blogger Ben Johnson said...

Hi JM,

Oh my, I knew you'd strike, my little gadfly extremist....

Well, it's not at all clear:

1. That all Anglicans are aware we exist (really);
2. That some of them don't hold to the doctrines of the Seven Ecumenical Councils;
3. That this group, knowing we exist and not sharing our faith, consciously rejected our Church.

So...please, take a breath. :)

God bless,
Ben

7:21 PM  

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