I Hate To Say I Told You So, But....
I'm several days behind, so this may not be news, but I post it because it relates to something I wrote years ago here.
Following the defeat of the "Superbishops" provision for conservative Anglicans, the Bishop of Ebbsfleet, the Rt. Rev. Andrew Burnham, says he may lead a group of Anglicans into communion with Rome. But the Times shows ever-liberalizing Euro-Catholics are discouraging the prospect:
A spokesman for the Catholic Church of England and Wales said all new members are welcome, but added that each must join individually and parishes could not simply convert en masse.More than a year ago on this blog (and longer ago than that elsewhere), I wondered why Orthodox never seemed to bother making their presence known to Anglicans:
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...Even at this late stage of apostasy, if there has been any Orthodox contact with the communion's remaining Anglo-Catholics (with the exception of one stouthearted priest), I am unaware of it. Even in official reaction, one finds outrage against the problem but no solution for those trapped with it. Fr. Igor Vyzhanov, secretary of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations, called the decision "painful," adding this move "is further alienating the Anglican community from the Apostolic tradition." The move, though, was "predictable because the tendency of total liberalization unfortunately dominates in many Christian Churches, including the Anglican community." Fr. Igor did observe the decision "is worsening a split among the Anglicans," which historically is "the nearest amongst the western Christian Churches." He notes with sadness, "A very serious dialogue was underway with it in a hope that good relations between the Orthodox and Anglicans would have good prospects."
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....
[W]hy 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?
Bp. HILARION, Moscow Patriarchal Bishop of Vienna and Austria, called this move "the Anglican community's next concession to the modern secular standards." He added, "Centuries-old tradition of Christian Church is denied for political correctness once again." Although Canterbury has invited Orthodox observers to the Lambeth Conference, His Grace wondered aloud if "it makes sense for Orthodox observers to participate in a forum of the Church that takes decisions invariably contradicting Orthodox ecclesiology. And to what extent bilateral Orthodox-Anglican is rational in such a situation. I suppose leaders of local Orthodox Churches should consider these questions seriously again."
Why would the remaining Druids care if "reactionaries" from the East turned away? His Grace is right that it does Orthodox no good to "observe" the Anglican Communion's descent into paganism. In fact, all these statements are true as far as they go. But why be reactive instead of pro-active? What if, instead of merely noting the outrage of Canterbury's long-term apostasy and questioning the future of a moribund ecumenical dialogue, these two statements had included a phrase along these lines (I am trying to stay as close to their original wording as possible): "This latest concession to secular trends calls into question the extent to which bilateral relations with Canterbury remain rational. However, we have long recognized the High Church tradition of Anglo-Catholicism as the closest theology to Orthodoxy among the Western churches. We welcome a very serious dialogue with those unable to consent to this liberalization, who cling to this part of Apostolic tradition, and we believe good relations between Orthodox and conservative Anglicans will have good prospects for our eventual unity."
There was, and is, no such statement, not even a letter expressing sympathy for the Anglo-Catholics' unenviable position. As I wrote last year:
The accord is far from a settled reality. But it's much closer than any similar, massive concordat with Orthodoxy, whether Eastern or Western.There is not a trace of glee whatever in my saying, "I told you so."