Friday, December 14, 2007

Some Thoughts on San Joaquin

As many of you know, the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin in California has voted en masse to leave the Episcopal Church, the first time such a thing has happened. Our friends over at The Continuum (, probably the best Anglo-Catholic oriented blog on the web, wrote a piece about this latest episode in the history of TEC.

San Joaquin has left the Episcopal Church in order to align itself with a third-world Anglican province in order to remain in communion with Canterbury. Much of the initial response centered around the potential for lawsuits between the Diocese and the National Church. I thought another matter was of equal importance and submitted this post, which I have decided to share with you here.

Here's the link to the original post. My response follows.


My response:

I keep thinking about Archbishop Haverland's excellent but uncomfortable article some months ago about "pseudo-Anglicans," those folks who adhere to a patchwork Anglicanism that accepts some developments but rejects others. For example, Canon Hollister puts it well when he describes some jurisdictions as accepting the attempted ordination of women to the priesthood. According to Archbishop Haverland, there are many different iterations of this phenomenon. Some hold to the 1979 BCP but reject the rest, some hold to the new Baptismal covenant while others don't, and some like everything up to the election of Gene Robinson.

Some people might say that Anglicanism is by its very nature something of a patchwork and they would probably be right. But there is, I think, a true Anglicanism, and that is an Anglicanism that grounds itself in a solid Catholic faith, one that is based on fidelity to the Councils of the undivided church; that holds to the traditional worship forms that have been laid down in Anglicanism, less some of the ambiguous texts that are symptomatic of the aforementioned patchwork; and, most importantly, is faithful to the command of our Lord that only men can be ordained to the sacerdotal priesthood.

If a church decides to break away from the Episcopal Church or any other church in communion with the See of Canterbury, which itself has abandoned these foundational principles and therefore their apostolic connection, then it is simply a matter of time before that same group is brought into the very fire from which they have attempted to extricate themselves.

This is, at least to my mind, the reason why San Joaquin's efforts are ultimately futile. To them it is important to remain in communion with Canterbury, a see that has rejected the above-noted principles. Now think about this for a moment: If Canterbury is holding positions that have historically been classified as heresy, can they be in communion with anybody? And is anybody ever benefited by seeking to remain in a union with a heretic? I think not.

Parenthetically, this is also a problem with Roman Catholic/Anglican relations. With all due respect for Roman Catholics, and my respect for that church is quite high, the continued attempts at dialogue between Rome and Canterbury is absolutely astounding to me as Canterbury and its satellite churches (I can't refer to an Anglican Communion because I think it ceased to exist long ago) have absolutely no intention of engaging in any behavior or recantation that would be necessary in bringing about a true ecumenical dialogue. Until Rome understands that true Anglicanism exists within the Anglo-Catholic segment of the continuing church and seeks dialogue with that group, then any ecumenism is a house built on sand.

I know that many will disagree with me and I'm sorry for the discomfort that my words might cause for well-meaning Episcopalians or Protestants or even contemporary Catholics. But I firmly believe this and I further believe that until disaffected Episcopalians understand that they have to cut out their problems and errors root and branch, they will not find long-term relief simply by staying in an alliance with a see that is, quite possibly, not only heretical but apostate.

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