“Problems with the ACNA”: MDAS Synod Minutes

The blog has obtained the 2018 Synod Minutes from the Missionary Diocese of All Saints (MDAS), were they discuss leaving the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) to seek union with “Non-Papal Catholics” in the Polish National Catholic Church’s (PNCC) ‘Union of Scranton’. The full document is published at the end of this article, and answers many questions raised by our first article.

Clearly outlined in the texts is Bishop of MDAS William H Iigenfritz statements that “MDAS founding by Forward in Faith North America as an Anglo-Catholic diocese” and of the “larger epidemic of Anti-Catholic sentiment” in the ACNA. The minutes also covers the meeting with the PNCC by the Suffragan Bishop of MDAS, Richard W. Lipka, described as a “possible exit ramp”. Joining the North American Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter was believed not to be an option as Bishop Lipka is a former Catholic priest.

Many outsiders had the question what did it mean that the MDAS was unsustainable, which is answered in the minutes:

Perhaps the most immediate threat to MDAS is the ACNA criteria of Sustainability. Sustainability is not based on the viability of the faith or faithfulness of a diocese but on the size and financial welfare of each diocese. According to ACNA rules, when a bishop retires or dies, the diocese must petition a committee of ACNA whether that diocese has sufficient attendance and sufficient budget to warrant a replacement bishop’s election. That would be a problem for MDAS with our small congregations and limited financial resources.”

This raises the question: is this talk of leaving genuine? Or is this a game of brinkmanship, threatening to leave unless the ACNA changes it’s criteria. Bishop Lipka was very quick to contact this blog after our first article to say:

 “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”

We have seen this time and time again with Anglo-Catholic leaders: drawing a line in the sand and then when it is cross drawing another and then another: prime examples is the so called Anglo-Catholic stronghold of London with the Anglo-Catholic clergy have accepted having a female bishop- it does not exactly scream integrity.

Although the bishops of MDAS have ruled out seeking union with either the Catholic Church or Orthodox Communion, members of it’s clergy have made individual inquiry’s  with both. The Western Rite Vicarate of the Russian Orthodox Church outside of Russia (ROCOR) openly appealed for MDAS clergy, and communities, to join them. The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter on the other hand continues it policy of being open to inquires, but not accepting lone clergy: they have to either come over with a community or join an existing Ordinariate parish. Many commentators have issued conflicting statements whether the PNCC recognizes Anglican orders, and if MDAS clergy would have to be ‘re-ordained’.

In an upcoming article we will look at how the ACNA/MDAS affair has actually uncovered an active threat to various Anglo-Catholic communities which few have seen coming: we will be shedding light on it soon…..

The Synod Minutes:


12 thoughts on ““Problems with the ACNA”: MDAS Synod Minutes

  1. It’s no surprise that the ordination of women is posing a challenge to the integrity of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). My guess, based upon the information in the minutes of the synod of the Missionary Diocese of All Saints (MDAS), is that both the Reformed Episcopal Church (REC) and MDAS will end up withdrawing from ACNA. The question is what they will do when they withdraw.

    >> Right now, MDAS seems to be at a fork in the road — it’s discerning whether to join the REC, in which case it would remain in ACNA until the REC withdraws, or to enter into some sort of arrangement with the Polish National Catholic Church (PNCC) by which it would become part of the Union of Scranton, if not part of the PNCC.

    >> The REC seems to be pushing for ACNA to reject ordination of women, but that seems unlikely because there’s no mechanism to enforce it even though it’s ostensibly the current law. It’s most likely that the situation will become unacceptable to the REC, forcing the REC to withdraw from ACNA. The critical question then becomes where the REC lands: it may return to its prior status as an unaffiliated body in the short term, but probably will seek some new affiliation at some point in the future, perhaps under future leadership.

    All of this will unfold in due course.

    From the comments attributed to Bishop Sutton in the synod minutes (linked in OP): The Vatican is recognizing a differentiated dialogue, namely, a coming realignment of Christendom, with those who believe in the Bible and those who don’t—the received tradition of the historic “faith once delivered.”

    My perception, for several years now, has been that we are in the midst of such a realignment and that the present ordinariates are the first step toward the full reconciliation of “those who believe in the Bible” in western Christendom.

    From the OP: Many commentators have issued conflicting statements whether the PNCC recognizes Anglican orders, and if MDAS clergy would have to be ‘re-ordained’.

    The reports that I have seen have stated that the PNCC and the Nordic Catholic Church (NCC), the other current member of the Union of Scranton, have conferred conditional ordination on former Anglican clergy who join their ranks. This practice obviously walks the tightrope of ensuring undisputable validity of their orders while not taking sides in the dispute between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion about the validity of Anglican orders.

    I presume that the PNCC and the NCC also would confer conditional confirmation on laity previously confirmed in either the Anglican Communion or a “continuing Anglican” body whom they receive into their communion.



  2. Since the Catholic Church explicitly recognizes PNCC orders (and because of this recognition explicitly admits visitors from the PNCC to the Eucharist per the provisions in Can 844, as is published in the missalettes in pews all over the USA), the PNCC not only does not want to take sides, but does not want to risk recognition of their orders, which one PNCC priest once told me was “a gift beyond price.”


  3. The PNCC and PECUSA (as well as the Anglican Church of Canada) entered into an intercommunion agreementn in 1946 by which each body recognized the Orders of the other. In the ensuing decades, down to 1971, there were a number of instances of PNCC bishops participating in PECUSA/ACC eoiscopal consecrations (including that of Albert C. Chambers, Bishop of Springfield, IL on October 1, 1962, from whom Continuing Anglicans derive their Orders; some readers will recall the fond hopes of some Continuing Anglicans a decade ago that Rome might be brought to recognize their Orders via the “Polish Touch”).

    When PECUSA approved women’s pretended ordination in 1976 the then PNCC Prime Bishop, Thaddeus Zielinski, immediately suspended the 1946 intercommunion agreement, and the PNCC’s 1978 General synod formally abrogated it. Since that date the PNCC has treated all Anglican Orders as invalid – “Continuing” as well as “Canterburian” – and has insisted on “absolute ordination” of all Anglican clerical converts seeking ordination in the PNCC. When the movement of “high church” of “catholicizing” dissent within the Church of Norway (“Samraad pa Kirkens Grunn” and related groups) was moving towards an open breach with or secession from that Lutheran State Church in ca. 1995-1999, and somewhat torn between moving towards Rome or towards Orthodoxy) the English Anglican “Forward-in-Faith” movement (now a ridiculously compromised shadow of its former robust self), with which these Norwegians (and their Swedish counterparts) had forged contacts from the early 1990s onwards, acting like a good match-maker, put them in contact with the PNCC, and from these contacts arose the NCC in 1999. However, the PNCC imposed one condition: there must be no, or no further, communio in sacris between these Norwegians and their Anglican friends, and the NCC must for the future, like the PNCC, treat Anglican Orders as “absolutely null and utterly void” (to quote Apostolicae curae ). This has continued to be the case ever since that time. If there have been, as Norm alleges, cases in which “the PNCC and the Nordic Catholic Church (NCC), the other current member of the Union of Scranton, have conferred conditional ordination on former Anglican clergy who join their ranks,” they must be very recent, as they would go against the inflexible practice of the PNCC since 1978. I have not myself heard of any such cases.


  4. Unfortunately, even the Anglo-Catholics are stained with anti-Roman Catholic sentiment. For me, as a former Methodist/Episcopalian/Continuing Anglican I had to decide better to be Catholic under Rome than play at being Catholic outside of Rome. I finally chose to go “whole hog” under Rome. That is until this current pope. I’m sorry, he is just too far out there for me to stay officially or unofficially. I’m not able to embrace the SSPX at this time though. What to do?What to do?


    • Matthew, Popes come and go: but the Catholic Church is eternal and the Gates of Hell will not prevail against it: our faith is in that promise from Our Lord, not which ever individual is on the Papal throne. All three Ordinary’s are some of the finest clergy anywhere in the Catholic Church: be loyal and obedient to your Ordinary, otherwise are you sure you left Protestantism?


      • Mr. Markovich, I would echo Mr. Dennerly’s comments. Be confident in the promise of our Lord to protect the Church, i.e., the Catholic Church. As one who was received into the Church in the very confused year of 1985 by a thorough confused pastor of a thorough confused parish in a thoroughly confused diocese, I am grateful that God gave us two fine bishops in succession to steer the local Church in the right direction away from that taken by a former (very confused) bishop. The current bishop, a faithful and kind man—but hardly a liturgical rubrician—has allowed the ‘Spirit of Vatican II’ types to spread their wings over the diocese once again. I am so thankful for the Ordinariate’s presence in our area. We may have to endure (…suffer…) some confusion coming from one cathedra or another, but God really does have everything in hand. Thanks be to God for the Ordinariate and Divine Worship: the Missal.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Laymen have no place judging the Pope. Honestly laymen have no play judging a priest. Leave it up to the prelates to fight politics. As a laymen, be a good laymen and do not get above your paygrade.

      That being said, there is a long history of Popes who have erred and the church is still here. Calm down buddy.


      • Or, as a friend who is a diocesan priest frequently explains to ardent Traditionalists, “You cannot be more Catholic than the pope.” Rather, to be fully Catholic is to be in full communion with the Pope — even if you think that he has erred.

        As of right now, unfortunately, the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) remains in a state of formal schism and thus is NOT Catholic at all.



      • Edifying reading also for our various ultramontane (or as the inimitable Fr Hunwicke might put it, “hyperultraueberpapalist”) commenter friends here.


  5. While these are confusing times for the church, because what I feel is lack of orthodox leadership Look at the wonderful opportunities for Catholics to unite in orthodox faith and traditional and with a liturgy that is Christ centered. Both the Russian and PNCC churches are working towards this goal. The Ordinariate is still, In my opinion, trying to discover who and what it will do towards helping to reunite us. Just because a man left Rome as a youth after Vatican II and years later became a Continuing Anglican priest should not qualify for having the door slammed in his face by the Ordinariate. ,Once again, It is better to understand the spirit of the law and not just look at the letter of the law. I know we are told, “Judge not lest you be judged” however we are also told ” If thy brother errs rebuke him so that he may be firm in Faith” Pray, Pray. Our Faith is in Christ T. Raines


    • For better or worse, the Roman Curia does not completely share your view. Years ago, the Vatican delegated responsibility for ecumenical dialog with the Polish National Catholic Church (PNCC) to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) because that body’s principal presence was in the United States, and that dialog concluded that there is no doctrinal obstacle to reconciliation. However, there are more than a few very real issues that stand in the way.

      >> 1. Apparently, at least some bishops and many of the clergy of the PNCC are Freemasons — a situation that clearly is not acceptable to the magisterium of the Catholic Church.

      >> 2. A significant number of the clergy of the PNCC are former Catholic priests whom the Vatican is not willing to admit to Catholic ministry under any circumstance.

      So, the Vatican is quite willing to await another generation of leadership in the PNCC who are not so encumbered.

      The PNCC has also ordained married men to the episcopacy for quite some time. While this practice is not strictly a barrier (the Vatican does recognize their episcopal orders as valid and there’s ample precedent for reception of married bishops into full communion with recognition of their episcopal character), the Vatican probably would insist upon a change in that discipline going forward so as to avoid creating potential barriers to reconciliation with the churches of the Orthodox Communion and the ancient oriental churches. It’s not clear that the PNCC would be willing to accept such a change in discipline.

      In the interim, however, the PNCC and the Nordic Catholic Church (NCC), its affiliate in the Union of Scranton, enjoy status equivalent to that of the Orthodox Communion and the ancient oriental churches with respect to relations with the Catholic Church. The Vatican recognizes the undisputed validity of orders and sacraments in the PNCC and in the NCC, so members of those bodies can receive the sacraments of confession, communion, anointing of the sick from Catholic ministers when they don’t have access to ministers of their own communion, and members of the Catholic Church can request the same sacraments from clergy of the PNCC or the NCC when they don’t have access to Catholic ministers of those sacraments.

      Note, BTW, that a reconciliation with the PNCC and the NCC likely would occur through a stroke of the papal pen constituting them as a sui juris ritual church of the Roman Rite, with the see of its Prime Bishop becoming its major archbishopric. There would be no reception of individual members, as happened in the formation of the present ordinariates of the Anglican patrimony.



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