Fr. Longenecker on “two integrities”

Fr. Dwight Longenecker, a prolific blogger and former Anglican clergyman, now a married Catholic priest but not an Ordinariate priest, has an interesting column at Patheos today.

He writes:

When I was a priest in the Church of England the authorities introduced a delightfully Anglican phrase, “two integrities”. We were all supposed to embrace “two integrities”. So when it came to the issue of women’s ordination for example, we were supposed to “listen carefully and dialogue with those with whom we disagreed.” We were supposed to “accompany them” as they moved from one position to another.

Those who were opposed to women’s ordination were supposed to stand by, observe, welcome and embrace those who were in favor of women’s ordination and those who were in favor of women’s ordination were supposed to be respectful and honor their “weaker brothers and sisters” who had not yet seen the light of the progressive dawn. We were to “walk together in the creative and often difficult tension that comes with disagreement among God’s people.”

He asks if the Catholic Church is also becoming “more Anglican” in its approach to differing perspectives, ongoing dialogue and accompaniment.

Whether the Vatican is becoming increasingly Anglican and wishy washy is a point for debate–my main observation is that this idea of “two integrities” is based on a relativist foundation of sand. Increasingly in Catholic church circles we find the idea that “you have your truth” and “I have my truth” and the important thing is that we not only tolerate one another, but listen and dialogue together.

This attempt to have “two integrities” and to “foster dialogue” is always promoted by the progressives because it springs from and reinforces their relativist philosophy.

In my thirteen years of close observation of the Catholic Church as a journalist, I would say the approach differs from the Anglican one in that there is such a horror of schism and division that holding ideas in tension is a modus vivendi to maintain unity.

In any event, there was always the Pope as a sign of unity, and defender of the deposit of faith.  And then, there is always the Magisterium of the Catholic Church that even the Pope is to serve, not make up as he goes along.

The Anglican approach did not forestall the centripetal forces of division regarding the truths of the faith.

7 thoughts on “Fr. Longenecker on “two integrities”

  1. Presumably the Church of England also has a horror of schism, which led it to adopt accommodations —“flying bishops” etc–unknown to the rest of the Anglican world. As a result, quasi-Anglican breakaway denominations never took off in the UK to any extent.


    • There were, to be sure, a couple significant differences between the situation in England and the situation in the United States and Canada. First, ordination of women proceeded far more slowly in England than in North America, so the Church of England and the broader Anglican Communion had already accepted those practices in the North American provinces. Second, the Church of England is a much smaller body so the raw number of spin-off groups was considerably less. And, third, the Church of England did make some pretense of attempting to accommodate its dissenters through the so-called “flying bishops.” Nevertheless, the English province of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC), called The Traditional Anglican Church (TTAC), had one fairly large parish — St. Agatha’s in Portsmouth, which did enter the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham with former bishop (now Msgr.) Robert Mercer — and a significant number of smaller communities.



      • As you can see here the initial group from St Agatha’s was 20 people. This was of course large by the standards of TTAC which never numbered more than a dozen active groups, all very small. I am not sure to what you are comparing it when you say that “the Church of England is a much smaller body” . Latest available ASA for the CofE is 960,000, plus 96,000 at a weekday school service (one in four primary schools in England is run by the CofE). There are 20.440 ordained clergy.


  2. There is one significant difference between the Catholic approach and the Anglican approach. In the Catholic approach, doctrine is NOT negotiable. This is explicit in Article I, Section 5, of the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum coetibus: “The Catechism of the Catholic Church is the authoritative expression of the Catholic faith professed by members of the Ordinariate.” It’s also clearly communicated in the motu proprio Ecclesiae unitatem restructure the pontifical commission Ecclesia Dei to deal more effectively with the fact that “the problems that must now be addressed with the [Society of St. Pius X (SSPX)] are essentially doctrinal in nature” by linking that pontifical commission more closely with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Our faith is open to various manners of expression (through various rites of worship, for example), but not to ambiguity or lack of clarity in essential doctrine.



  3. I used to wonder why “dialogue” was so threatening to Traditionalist groups like the SSPX and others. Once you open that door the “slippery slope” begins. Once it grabs hold you might as well write off any semblance of “TRUTH” in any religion. The “weaker brothers and sisters” are always the conservative/ traditional ones and must be brought into the fold or be expelled. Once the progressives attain power, it’s all over. Just look at the Anglican Church of Canada and Episcopal Church USA. They will never return to the “Fullness of Truth’. The C of E is not far behind and will eventually crumble. The Catholic Church is on that road now with Pope Francis leading the way. Sad but true.


    • Unfortunately, this is one area where the most ardent Traditionalists, including the members of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), fall into heresy. The view of “dialog” that you portray is not at all consistent with that articulated by the Second Vatican Council in the decree Unitatis redintegratio on ecumenism. Rather, authentic ecumenical dialog is about seeking the “Fullness of Truth” together — a forum where each party explains its own doctrinal understanding and the foundation thereof, while seeking to understand the doctrinal understanding of the other, in a spirit of honesty, integrity, and Christian charity. The polemic found among ardent Traditionalists that regards those who hear the gospel and come to Christ in separated churches and other ecclesial communities as somehow intrinsically evil builds walls rather than bridges, creating obstacles that deepen the division and prolong the schism, and thus is utterly diabolical of its very nature.

      Of course, the opposite extreme of ignoring or diminishing differences that are very real in the name of a pretense of unity, as has happened in some Anglican bodies, is also very problematic. That attitude ultimately leads to schism when it becomes apparent that the differences get in the way of functioning as a body. However, you completely misread the present situation in the Catholic Church. While advocating a more pastoral and less pharisaical approach to those who are in highly irregular situations, Pope Francis is NOT compromising doctrine in any way. Here, the example of Jesus — particularly with respect to the woman caught in adultery — is instructive: he chose not to throw the first stone even though he alone met his bar of qualification to do so.



      • REV22:17 “Pope Francis is NOT compromising doctrine in any way.” Really? Perhaps not overtly but every time he says things which make us scratch our heads and go “HUH?” signals to the confused sheep that the shepherd is saying “wander off, do your own thing if it makes you feel good.” Maybe doctrine isn’t compromised but the sheep don’t know that. Hell, most sheep don’t know or understand doctrine all that much anyway.


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