After Monday’s article about the Anglican Church in North America’s Anglo-Catholic section, the Missionary Diocese of All Saints (MDAS) contemplating leaving the ACNA we received a statement from the Suffragan Bishop of MDAS, Richard W. Lipka:
” I want to be clear that we have not made any decision to leave ACNA. We have simply begun to explore relationships with other non-papal Catholic entities”
An ACNA clergy source, which wishes to remain anonymous, has stated they do want to leave, but they need some place to go to. Despite members of the MDAS clergy making enquires with the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter and the Western Rite Vicarate for the Russian Orthodox Church outside of Russia (ROCOR), these were not options considered by the MDAS itself. It is publicly known Bishop Lipka is a former Catholic priest and could never join a Personal Ordinariate. Many Anglican clergy who have contacted the Chair of St Peter have reported being told they only accept married priests coming over with parishes- they speculated for reasons of financial support.
A former official at the ROCOR Western Rite Vicarate, Fr Anthony Bondi, made a comment on the original article:
“The Western Rite Communities welcome all who are seeking the stability and orthodoxy of the Orthodox Church. Many of your colleagues are already here, come join them.”
What makes this story interesting is it touches on the future of the Anglo-Catholic movement in the West- not only “where is home?”, but also “where is safe?”.
Although a former force for change in the Anglican Communion, Anglo-Catholicism always had staunch opponents. Not only has Anglo-Catholicism in the Anglican Communion seen better days, there is a question if it has a future there. The Anglo-Catholics of London thought they were safe in their enclave, most not under alternate episcopal oversight, and in the most shockingly unpastoral move had a woman bishop appointed. They had not learned a simple truth: if you are ‘Catholic’ in both liturgy and doctrine, both the Liberals and Protestants will never leave you alone. The very valid question is if you believe in the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and those you claim to be in union with do not, how are you actually in union when they reject your core belief?
This has lead to the Continuing Anglican movement were mainly Anglo-Catholics have sought to have their own churches which uphold Anglo-Catholic belief: yet this movement has not exactly thrived. Although there are many good people of conviction, there are other eccentric outfits whose clergy are ‘sad little kings of sad little hills’. With the MDAS seeking a relationship with the Polish National Catholic Church, is this them just really crossing over into the equally unusual “Independent Catholicism” movement?
Some Anglo-Catholics have seen the Eastern Orthodox as kindred and have entered into “Western Rite Orthodoxy”- extremely controversial in the Orthodox Communion. The worship is kind of Anglican with some Byzantine insertions in liturgy, rubrics and even music: so Western Liturgy, but Eastern Doctrine (but close enough for many). A lot of these communities have gone full Byzantine, were others still hold an Anglo-Catholic identity.
A small number of Anglo-Catholics have joined the three Personal Ordinariates (Dioceses) created in the Catholic Church under Rome, following in the footsteps of John Henry Newman, without whom there would never have been an Anglo-Catholic movement to begin with. Beyond the first wave of Anglo-Catholic converts, they are attracting “Roman Catholics” who love the Anglican Patrimony. Where many Anglo-Catholics see going over to Rome as the ultimate sin, to the point of losing your Anglo status, many Ordinariate and Western Rite Orthodox members have reflected that the main body of Anglo-Catholicism is really just “Protestant-lite”.
The questions of “Where is home? Where is safe?” for Anglo-Catholics, such as those in the Missionary Diocese of All Saints, are important ones indeed- -they strike at the heart of Anglo-Catholic identity. Although the Anglo-Catholic branch of the ACNA claim they have not made a decision: staying in a church body which according the the MDAS statement has a “larger epidemic of Anti-Catholic sentiment”, and with the diocese described as not sustainable- would you stay? But of course the question is: if you leave, where would you go?