Sunday, July 13, 2008

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...

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?
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."

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."

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Blogger Jnorm888 said...

I use to be ECUSA, in the Pittsburgh Diocese and last year, when I became Orthodox. I was told that the Russian Patriarch wrote a letter to the Pittsburgh Bishop.

Also Ft. Peter Guilquest also reached out. So the Orthodox are in contact with them.

It may not be known in the open, but it's there.


8:29 PM  
Blogger dom cuthbert said...

It seems to me that the days of not wanting to offend the "Establishment are (or should be) long past. It is time for Orthodoxy (and particularly the WRITE) to throw a life-belt to those Anglicans who might be interested. Our Fr. Michael and a few others are doing what they can, but how wonderful if a high official were to offer refuge!
Fr. Cuthbert

6:06 AM  
Blogger Matthew the Curmudgeon said...

Ben a while. I agree with you post. Fr. Igor seems a 'nice' man and polite- like Canadians.
Bishop Hilarion is my kind of Bishop but too cautious.
Patriarch Alexei is missing an opportunity.
I have left comments on various Anglican blogs to turn to the East and see, not one has responded. It looks like Rome or nothing.
I even recommended Antioch and ROCOR for a Western Rite possibility.
Question: are there any Antiochian Western Rite missions or parishes in the U.K.? I remember hearing there might be one, at least.
Be at Peace.

10:08 AM  
Blogger Tawser said...

"outrage against the problem but no solution for those trapped with it"
This is a common Orthodox problem. I am a homosexual, and even though Orthodox condemnation of homosexual behavior is refreshingly clear, I have never heard even one Orthodox priest or bishop reach out to the believers struggling with same sex attraction. The Catholic church is in many ways a God-awful mess--and I choose that word deliberately--which is why I am now Orthodox. But at least it is an ambulatory mess, unlike the Orthodox church, which so often appears to be asleep. How does one account for the spiritual lethargy of the Orthodox hierarchy?

11:09 AM  
Blogger James the Thickheaded said...

As just another perspective... while I hear the frustration with our ecclesiology.. and yes it can be frustrating.. the "rush" in this is less all of a sudden for want of dialogue, then for want of action on the part of the Anglocatholics. Is this not the same "rush" of the maidens without oil for their lamps asking to borrow some from the others? I don't say this to be unmerciful.. for mercy is wanted and we would be happy to have another church full or two, but surely these folks could not have been so clueless as to find themselves trapped like the frog in pot as the water approaches boiling.

A church lie ours that is meant to resist "movement" and to be "steadfast" is designed to move imperceptibly at glacial speed. It's what we're good at.

By the way, I think Fr. Thomas Hopko wrote a book on same sex attraction... but yes, that's not the same as addressing people... though that may have been done. I don't know if it's discomfort, or more likely a predeliction to deal with our issues individually rather tnan let them define us. Alcoholism is this way as Fr. Mel Webber addresses it.

7:07 PM  
Blogger npmccallum said...


My experience in Orthodoxy is that it follows the monastic practice of not dwelling on our sin, but upon repentance. In this method, specific sins are mentioned fairly rarely. Instead, we focus on prayer. The Orthodox view of holiness is that we become holy not by absence of sin, by by displacement of sin: as we repent, we are filled with the love of Christ which pushes out our sin. There are MANY Orthodox saints that say that if we focus on "how to overcome our sin" we will actually fall into deeper sin.

Thus, I would venture to say that, no matter what the sin, the remedy is pretty much the same: repentance. Are you praying your prayer rule? Are you fasting? Are you giving alms? Are you making confession regularly? Are you in continual attendance at divine services? In these things Christ begins to heal us all. However, putting blame on the lethargy of others will not help in the slightest.

6:15 AM  
Blogger Visibilium said...

A couple of years ago, I reached out to a TAC bishop to give him an option other than Rome. He wasn't aware of Western Rite Orthodoxy. After the initial contacts, I asked an Antiochian priest to assume responsibility for the communications owing to my lack of involvement with the Western Rite. I never followed up, and I don't know whether the contacts went anywhere.

7:06 PM  

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