19 July 2012

The Orthodox Church of the West

THE MORE VOCAL I am about my Anglo-Catholic leanings, the more frequently I hear the following question: "What do you think about the Ordinariate?"

The short answer is much and not too much.

On November 4, 2009, in Rome at St. Peter's, on the Memorial of Charles Borromeo (is the significance of this fact due to his being venerated earlier in England than in other parts of the world?), Pope Benedict XVI presented the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus. Briefly, it provides a canonical structure within the Roman Catholic Church that "enables former Anglicans to maintain some degree of corporate identity and autonomy with regard to the bishops of the geographical dioceses of the Catholic Church while preserving elements of their distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony."

If that sounds complicated, at least the process of becoming Catholic if you're an Anglican isn't.

Nevertheless, what do I think? For an Anglican who finds himself in hostile territory, alone in the wilderness, starving and wishing he were dead under the shade of a tree (HT 1 Kings 19), then (re)attachment makes obvious sense (assuming the Anglican thinks the Reformation is well-nigh over). Why go it alone?

But many of us are not alone: "Yet I will leave seven thousand people alive in Israel—all those who are loyal to me and have not bowed to Baal or kissed his idol" (v. 18). This remnant (hardly analogous to WWII Japanese soldiers fighting unawares that the war is over) embodies the four marks of the church: one, holy, catholic, and apostolic (insofar as any Christian communion can in this time between the times). What's more, an Anglican parish (we have to speak in terms of individual parishes these days, alas) that incarnates these four marks finds itself in the unique position of embodying an unrivaled Western Orthodoxy (not to be confused with Western Rite Orthodox—those Orthodox churches that have adopted traditional Western liturgies).

Those from an Eastern Orthodox communion may know exactly what I'm getting at (despite their probable disagreement): An Anglican parish that is part and parcel of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church is a microcosm of the Western Orthodox church before the Great Schism of the medieval era (as the Roman Church once was—at least more robustly than today)—more so than any transplanted Eastern Orthodox church or Western Rite Orthodox church. It reflects organically what an Orthodox church looks like having germinated in the soil of the West. I'm talking more or less about its indigenous or tribal features, an element of parish life that most Orthodox communions know all too well.

My current response to the Ordinariate, then, is thanks, but no thanks. In this regard, Anglicanorum Coetibus kind of misses the mark (not to mention its seeming underhanded end-around the See of Canterbury). We'll be getting somewhere when the Roman Catholic Church recognizes these faithful Anglican parishes in the same manner that they recognize the Orthodox. For starters, that means recognizing the validity of Anglican orders (Anglican priests entering the Ordinariate are, by all accounts, treated as if they're being ordained for the first time) and thus the sacraments she administers (which must needs lead to intercommunion).

One other factor remains pertinent: if, collectively speaking, a parish or diocese, etc., avails itself to the Ordinariate, that's one thing. A parishioner of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church operating under a proper understanding of ecclesial authority will not easily act alone—as a secta una—but will instead trust and obey, seeking first to honor the Christ by honoring his duly appointed ministers, the under-shepherds of our souls.

And all of this, perhaps ironically, reminds me of the grand hope of faithful Anglicanism—its end. "Anglicans may choose to regard the incoherences (yet riches) of their own Church as simply a microcosm of those of Christianity world-wide," wrote Aidan Nichols. "In this case they will argue that Anglicanism has no distinctive contribution to make to the coming Great Church: its destiny is to disappear, its triumph will be its dissolution" (p. xx).

Maranâ' thâ'

16 comments:

Principium Unitatis said...

Chris,

What is your answer to the question in the very last paragraph of comment #178 here:

http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2009/09/why-protestantism-has-no-visible-catholic-church/comment-page-4/#comment-34370

In the peace of Christ,

- Bryan

Chris Donato said...

Bryan, thanks for stopping by.

The question to which you refer:

What is the basis for the standard by which the form of ordination can be determined to be valid or invalid?

It's certainly not papal permission, as many ordination rites in history were developed and changed form without any reference to papal authority. Nevertheless, technically, a magisterium can indeed guide us toward that determination. But for (St.) Pete's sake, the argument for it being valid/invalid cannot rely on proven faulty premises (in the instance of Apostolicae Curae, wishful thinking).

After a few centuries of being unable to show historically the invalidity of Anglican orders, along comes Curae. Therein, the magisterium retroactively pronounces the Anglican rite invalid by discerning the intent of the Edwardian changes, et al. That's the crux. Rome's only recourse was to interpret the motives behind the changes in the Anglican ordination rite negatively (i.e., arguing that "the change made by Cranmer in the ordination rite was a change in the essence of the form of the sacrament of ordination, not a re-wording that retained the essence of the form"), whereas they do not for, e.g., the Orthodox.

But let's flip this upside down for a moment, Bryan. You can accept the facts about Apostolicae Curae [that it's in error] and remain a good Roman Catholic. It's okay. Its errors are not errors about the faith, but about history. The Catholic Magisterium has never claimed to be infallible about history, science, archeology, economics, etc. I'm not saying the theology of Curae is wrong (as Officio points out); I'm saying its historical conclusions are wrong).

Here again I'm left scratching my head. In more ways than one, I find traditional Anglicans to be more in step with the vision of Vatican II than many Catholics. Why is that?

Principium Unitatis said...

Chris,

Perhaps I missed it (I read your comment twice), but I still didn't see the answer to my question.

In the peace of Christ,

- Bryan

Chris Donato said...

Ouch.

What is the basis for the standard by which the form of ordination can be determined to be valid or invalid?

Valid orders require an unbroken line of Apostolic Succession.

Principium Unitatis said...

Chris,

I guess I'm not asking my question clearly enough. You know that every sacrament consists of a certain form, and a certain matter. For baptism, as you know, the matter must be water, and the form needs to be "I baptized you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and Holy Spirit." If the words used are "Creator, Redeemer, and Comforter" then it is not a valid baptism, because the *form* is not right.

Ok, my question is what is the basis for the standard by which the *form* of ordination can be determined to be valid or invalid?

The answer "unbroken line of Apostolic Succession" doesn't answer the question. I agree, of course, that valid ordination requires that the one ordaining have an unbroken line of succession to the Apostles. That's an answer to a different question(i.e. who can ordain?). But my question is about the basis for the standard by which the valid *form* for this sacrament is distinguished from invalid *forms* of this sacrament.

In the peace of Christ,

- Bryan

Chris Donato said...

Not at all, Bryan. You're very clear. The shortcomings are my own (and my own disinclination for philosophical precision).

As with any sacrament, it comes down to Scripture and tradition.

If you mean to include the investigation of intention when a change in the form of a rite is made, no doubt "the intention of the Church must be ascertained 'in so far as it is manifested externally,' that is to say from its public formularies and definite pronouncements which directly touch the main point of the question, not from its omissions and reforms, made as opportunity occurs, in accordance with the liberty which belongs to every Province and Nation—unless it may be that something is omitted which has been ordered in the Word of God, or the known and certain statutes of the universal Church" (Saepius Officio VIII).

The basis for the standard by which the form of ordination can be determined to be valid or invalid can never based on a truncated tradition—say, from the Middle Ages. If we applied that method to all the sacraments, they'd all be shaky ground, except perhaps for Baptism, since the matter and form of that sacrament are wholly fixed, being explicitly ordained by Christ himself.

No sacrament, save that mentioned above, ought to (nor do they in reality) have a single form and matter exactly defined.

Chris Donato said...

But of course I'm not suggesting that many of the sacraments don't have sufficiently certain matters and forms (e.g., the eucharist). There are others whose matters and forms are less certain (e.g., confirmation).

Principium Unitatis said...

Chris,

I agree, of course, that Scripture and Tradition are crucial. But I'm asking a who question, because someone has to determine what Scripture and Tradition specify regarding the proper form of the sacrament of ordination. Why is the decision of the Anglican archbishops of Canterbury and York regarding what Scripture and Tradition specify regarding the form of this sacrament more authoritative than that of the bishop of Rome?

In the peace of Christ,

- Bryan

Chris Donato said...

That's arguably not the bottom line, Bryan (one See being more authoritative than another).

Why? Since when is every teaching of the Pope considered officially infallible ex cathedra declarations? I know you don't believe this, Bryan (despite the fact that many lay Catholics do). Nevertheless, there appears to be questions out there as to whether or not the Bull is every bit as authoritative as the canonization of ex-saints. That is, it is not certain. And thus, in theory, it can be rescinded. It's not de fide definita.

But if the issue could be boiled down to which See has more authority, and why I'd side with Anglican archbishops over against the bishop of Rome, I'd give the same reason an Orthodox Christian would.

An Anglican parish like, say, St. Paul's by-the-Lake, is easily a true "sister church of the particular Catholic Churches"—at the very least.

Principium Unitatis said...

Chris,

Nothing I said, so far a I know, presupposed anything about infallibility. The authentic ordinary magisterium requires "religious submission of will and intellect," even on matters not defined with a solemn judgment or proposed as definitive by the ordinary and universal Magisterium, and thus not infallibly defined.

By appealing to Saepius Officio, you are implicitly claiming that its authors (i.e. the Anglican bishops of Canterbury and York) have greater authority than does the bishop of Rome and all the bishops in communion with him. And I'm wondering why I or anyone else should think that those two bishops have greater authority than does the bishop of Rome and all the bishops in communion with him.

"...I'd give the same reason an Orthodox Christian would."

Except that the Orthodox deny the authority of the bishops of Canterbury and York. The Orthodox think the Anglicans are heretics; I've heard Met. Jonah say this quite explicitly. So you seem to be appealing to the Orthodox to support an Anglican position, but the Orthodox position rejects Anglicanism. Horton does the same thing when appealing to the Church Fathers, as I pointed out there in my recent reply to him at CTC.

In the peace of Christ,

- Bryan

Chris Donato said...

It matters not what any Orthodox Christian thinks of the validity of Anglican orders. Indeed, it matters not what the overreaching bishop of Rome thinks of Anglican orders. What matters is what Scripture, tradition, and, in this instance, the historical context say.

Remember, Officio doesn't disagree with the theology of the priesthood of the Roman Catholic Church or the Orthodox Church; it takes umbrage with the shoddy historical work presented in the Bull that birthed it (and thus the Bull's conclusions).

Incidentally, the Orthodox today would be contradicting there own patriarchs' pronouncements of the past century if they deny the validity of Anglican orders (despite the faith-denying slide of many Anglican churches). I know that mere succession does not validity make, but, again, those faithful Anglican parishes, who not only have valid succession but also affirm the faith once delivered, are no doubt true particular churches of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church. These faithful churches are in essence the same churches that the Orthodox were considering unifying with less than a century ago.

Chris Donato said...

And for those interested about what the Orthodox have actually said about Anglican orders:


(1) Encyclical on Anglican Orders from the Ecumenical Patriarch to the Presidents of the Particular Eastern Orthodox Churches, 1922:

"The Holy Synod has studied the report of the Committee and notes . . . That the practice in the Church affords no indication that the Orthodox Church has ever officially treated the validity of Anglican Orders as in doubt, in such a way as would point to the re-ordination of the Anglican clergy as required in the case of the union of the two Churches."


(2) Damianos, The Patriarch of Jerusalem, 1923 (The Christian East, vol. IV, 1923, p. 122).

". . . We inform Your Grace that the Holy Synod, having as a motive the resolution passed some time ago by the Church of Constantinople, which is the church having the First Throne between the Orthodox Churches, resolved that the consecrations of bishops and ordinations of priests and deacons of the Anglican Episcopal Church are considered by the Orthodox Church as having the same validity which the Orders of the Roman Church have, because there exist all the elements which are considered necessary from an Orthodox point of view for the recognition of the grace of the Holy Orders from Apostolic Succession."

(3) Cyril, The Archbishop of Cyprus, 1923 (The Christian East, vol. IV, 1923, p. 123).

"After full consideration thereof [the church of Cyprus] has reached the following conclusion: It being understood that the Apostolic Succession in the Anglican Church by the Sacrament of Order was not broken at the Consecration of the first Archbishop of this Church, Matthew Parker, and the visible signs being present in Orders among the Anglicans by which the grace of the Holy Spirit is supplied, which enables the ordinand for the functions of his particular order, there is no obstacle to the recognition by the Orthodox Church of the validity of Anglican Ordinations in the same way that the validity of the ordinations of the Roman, Old Catholic, and Armenian Church are recognized by her."

(4) The Patriarch of Alexandria, 1930. Relaying the conclusions of their synod after that year's Lambeth conference (The Christian East, vol. XII, 1931, pp. 1-6):

"The Holy Synod recognizes that the declarations of the Orthodox, quoted in the Summary, were made according to the spirit of Orthodox teaching. Inasmuch as the Lambeth Conference approved the declarations of the Anglican Bishops as a genuine account [1] of the teaching and practice of the Church of England and the Churches in communion with it, it welcomes them as a notable step towards the Union of the two Churches. And since in these declarations, which were endorsed by the Lambeth Conference, complete and satisfying assurance is found as to the Apostolic Succession, as to a real reception of the Lord's Body and blood, as to the Eucharist being thusia hilasterios [2] (Sacrifice), and as to Ordination being a Mystery, the Church of Alexandria withdraws its precautionary negative to the acceptance of the validity of Anglican Ordinations, and, adhering to the decision of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, of July 28, 1922, pronounces that if priests, ordained by Anglican Bishops, accede to Orthodoxy, they should not be re-ordained, as persons baptized by Anglicans are not rebaptized."

Chris Donato said...

Of course all these letters above were provisional in character (and for good reason, it turns out), but the historical fact remains that the Orthodox disagreed quite sharply with Apostolicae Curae.

Chris Donato said...

Bryan, you asked a question that I failed to answer:

Saepius Officio demands greater assent than the Apostolicae Curae because it's true. The criterion is truth, not one bishop's stamp of approval.

Again, I say, you can accept the facts about Apostolicae Curae [that it's in error] and remain a good Roman Catholic. It's okay. Its errors are not errors about the faith, but about history.

Rome will come around on this one. The Ordinariate is only the beginning.

Principium Unitatis said...

Chris,

Let me back up for a second. I'm thinking of Pontificator's ninth law. Is there anything you believe solely on the basis of Church authority, or do you only believe only what you yourself determine to be true?

In the peace of Christ,

- Bryan

Chris Donato said...

I believe very, very little, Bryan. I suspect we're different in that regard.

But to be clear: What I do believe—that "Jesus is Lord and that God raised him from death"—I believe solely on the basis of Church authority.

 
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