Category Archives: Anglican

Letter from the Global South Primates Steering Committeee to Bishop Mark Lawrence

Support for Bishop Lawrence of South Carolina continues to grow. From Global South Anglican Online:

Dear Bishop Mark Lawrence,

Greetings in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Several of the Global South Primates met recently as we gathered in Singapore for the Installation of Rt. Rev. Rennis Ponniah as the new Bishop of Singapore.

We were saddened, but not surprised, by the news of your inhibition and possible deposition by the TEC. We all want to assure you and the Diocese of South Carolina of our continuing prayers and support. We thank God for your stand for the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ! We are proud that you are willing to suffer for the faith once delivered to the saints.

Please be assured that we are with you, and that our Lord is also proud of you and our brothers and sisters in the Diocese of South Carolina.

May the Lord bless you!

Yours in Christ,

+ Mouneer Egypt

The Most Revd Dr. Mouneer Hanna Anis
Primate of Jerusalem & the Middle East Bishop of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa
Chairman, Global South Primates Steering Committee

+ Ian Mauritius
The Most Revd Ian Ernest
Primate of the Indian Ocean Bishop of Mauritius
Hon. General Secretary, Global South Primates Steering Committee

CC
The Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh (All Nigeria)
The Most Rev. Bolly Lapok (South East Asia)
The Most Rev. Stephen Than (Myanmar)
The Most Rev. Henri Isingoma (Congo)
The Most Rev. Hector Zavala (Southern Cone)
The Most Rev. Dr. Eliud Wabukala (Kenya)
The Most Rev. Daniel Deng (Sudan)

No one expects the (TEC) Inquisition

So how many bishops in TEC currently have some type of charge against them? Every day in every way, it seems to grow and grow, since it is now apparently a hanging offense for some bishops to offer an opinion in court (even though they are not the litigants).

I keep thinking that at some point, those bishops remaining in TEC would be embarrassed by these actions, but I would be wrong. From Anglican Ink:

A Reference Panel has found that a prima facie case of misconduct can be made against nine serving and retired bishops of the Episcopal Church for having endorsed an amicus brief presented to the Texas Supreme Court, or for having given testimony in a trial court proceeding involving the Diocese of Quincy.

The Rt Rev. Peter H. Beckwith, the Rt Rev Maurice M. Benitez, the Rt Rev John W. Howe, the Rt Rev Paul E. Lambert, the Rt Rev William H. Love, the Rt Rev D. Bruce MacPherson, the Rt Rev Daniel H. Martins, the Rt. Rev. Edward L. Salmon, Jr, and the Rt Rev James M. Stanton have been informed the Reference Panel had reviewed the charges brought against them by the provisional bishops of Fort Worth and Quincy and by lay and clergy accusers.

In an 19 Oct 2012 email Bishop Matthews wrote:

“The Reference Panel unanimously decided according to IV. 6.sec.8 that the complaint will proceed with option (c), Conciliation pursuant to Canon IV.10.”

Under the Title IV disciplinary canons, if the intake officer finds that if a prima facie case can be made against the accused – if the charges if proven true would constitute an offense – the proceedings are passed on to a Reference Panel for action….

Under the new Title IV disciplinary canons, which were roundly challenged at the 77h General Convention in July as being flawed with over 75 corrections and modifications proposed for its reform, the intake officer must first determine if the offense described in the complaint warrants action. By referring it to the panel, Bishop Matthews has held that having signed a document submitted to a secular court that defends one view of Episcopal Church history and canon law, or in the case of Bishops Beckwith, MacPherson and Salmon, for having testified in the Quincy case, they violated the canons.

Bishop Matthews has “absolutely no business” remaining as intake officer, canon lawyer Allan Haley observed. Bishop Matthews was present at the House of Bishops private conversations on the complaint brought by Bishops C. Wallis Ohl, Jr., and John Buchanan against the nine and it is axiomatic that a judge may not be part of the underlying proceedings.

One of the nine told Anglican Ink he has yet to be told what it was about his actions that violated the canons. Is it the “issue” or “expressing the issue in court” he said.

If it is the issue, the bishop noted the position set forth in their brief was identical to that put forward in 2009 in the Bishops Statement on Polity. If it was stating this belief in court, “what is illegitimate about that,” he asked.

Canon law experts note the prosecution of the nine bishops has all the hallmarks of a political trial, as the actions for which they are accused are not considered “triable” when done by other bishops….

If the nine are being charged with violating this canon, the question need be asked why the Bishops of Texas, Southwest Texas, Northwest Texas and the Rio Grande have not been brought up on charges also, one bishop told AI….

Read it all.

Episcopal Forum members initiate attack on bishop in Diocese of South Carolina

Keep reading to see a response to this press release from the Rev. Canon James Lewis of the Diocese of South Carolina. From the Episcopal News Service, a press release from the 14 people (2 clergy, 12 lay) who brought complaints against Bishop Mark Lawrence of South Carolina:

With much deliberation, Melinda A. Lucka, an attorney in the Charleston, S.C. area and an active communicant in the Diocese of South Carolina, requested that the Disciplinary Board for Bishops review various actions of Bishop Lawrence that have taken place over the past two years. Ms. Lucka asked the Board if it could make a determination as to whether or not the actions were consistent with the mission and polity of The Episcopal Church.

Lucka made the request on behalf of 12 lay communicants and two priests in the diocese. The communicants are: Robert R. Black, Margaret A. Carpenter, Charles G. Carpenter, Frances L. Elmore, Eleanor Horres, John Kwist, Margaret S. Kwist, Barbara G. Mann, David W. Mann, Warren W. Mersereau, Dolores J. Miller, Robert B. Pinkerton, M. Jaquelin Simons, Mrs. Benjamin Bosworth Smith, John L. Wilder, and Virginia C. Wilder. The clergy who were named are longstanding Episcopal priests Colton M. Smith+ and Roger W. Smith+.

Generally, names of individuals who initiate ecclesiastical requests are held in confidence through privacy provisions of the Canons; however, the complainants in this request gave their approval to allow themselves to be made known to the Bishop.

Lucka said that they agreed to be named “as a courtesy to Bishop Lawrence, so as not to be cloaked in a shroud of secrecy.” They hope that this “will prevent any suppositions that may be asserted in the upcoming days or weeks that The Episcopal Church may have initiated or encouraged the filing of this request.”

They also want to clarify that although most individuals are members of the Episcopal Forum of South Carolina, an organization of mainstream Episcopalians in the diocese, this was not an action taken by the Forum or its Board. In addition to the individuals who made this request, there are many, many other loyal Episcopalians in the diocese who felt strongly that Episcopal Church officials should review the Bishop’s actions.”

“There is definitely a place for orthodox and evangelical views within the diocese; that’s the beauty of being under the large tent of The Episcopal Church; however, viewpoints and practices in the diocese began to take large leaps away from the broader Church when various actions took place. Severing the legal connections to the governing laws of the Church and essentially forming a new corporate entity, outside of The Episcopal Church by changing the diocesan corporate purpose statement to no longer accede to the Constitution and Canons of our Church seemed to be going too far out of bounds.”

“The hope of these individuals is that the diocese will continue to be a home for all Episcopalians to worship and live together in God’s love through Jesus Christ. They ask the Church for prayers for the Bishop and all involved.”

And the response from Lewis+:

Episcopal Forum Members Initiate Attack on Bishop

Now that the names of those responsible for bringing accusations against Bishop Lawrence before the Disciplinary Board for Bishops is known, it is instructive to consider what that list reveals.

  1. All of the 14 are presently members of the Episcopal Forum of South Carolina.
  2. They represent six of a total of 21 current Board Members of the Forum.
  3. They come from five parishes and one unaffiliated congregation, with half the lay members indicating they are parishioners of Grace Church, Charleston.
  4. Of the 12 laity, eight represent four married couples.
  5. The legal representative of the group, who presented their case to the disciplinary board for Bishops, is also a member of the Forum Board and is married to Forum Board member and fellow accuser, Bob Black. That means at least 1/3 of their Board was actively engaged in this project.

The picture painted is exactly the opposite of that portrayed in the press release by which their names were revealed.

Despite their assertions to the contrary, this is clearly a group comprised of the primary leadership of the Forum.  To attempt to claim the Forum is not responsible for these actions is disingenuous at best.

It is also clearly not a group representative of a large portion of the diocese. It is representative of a very narrow slice of what is a small group in a handful of parishes.   They have nothing like the broad, concerned constituency they proclaim.

Most troubling is the assertion that they have released their names voluntarily, as a courtesy, to avoid the scandal of secrecy. That is precisely what these actions represent. The diocese was dragged all the way through this process once already last Fall, before the Bishop was acquitted, without the Bishop ever being able to face his accusers. The likelihood of that being a separate group than the present accusers seems vanishingly small. Yet, only now are they graciously coming forward. The real reason is that the Canons require it. Upon the request of the Diocese, that information HAD to be revealed. There is nothing gracious at all about their actions. It is posturing that never should have even been allowed if the Disciplinary Board for Bishops and its President and Attorney had followed their own canons.  Providing these names should have been proforma and immediate when the charges were certified in September. Instead it has required an entire month before that happened.

This goes to the heart of the essential sickness of The Episcopal Church in these days. It is a place of canonical chaos. Even when it has applicable canons, it does not follow them. At its own discretion it applies them capriciously or not at all. It is for good reason that the Diocese of South Carolina put in place the canonical and constitutional firewalls that now seal it off from such continued abuses.

South Carolina clarifies disassociation from TEC

From the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, a statement written by the Rev. Canon Dr. Kendall Harmon, theologian for the diocese [boldface is mine]:

The Episcopal Church (TEC) has made an attack against our Bishop and Diocese, in the midst of efforts for a negotiated settlement, which has fundamentally changed our common life. You may have heard or read about this over the last week but it is vital today that we all understand what has occurred and what it means as clearly as possible.

For many years the diocese of South Carolina has opposed the primary theological direction of the national Episcopal Church (TEC). As TEC leadership has moved away from the claim of Jesus’ uniqueness, the authority of Holy Scripture, the meaning of marriage and the nature of what it means to be human, we have had to be more steadfast in our defense of these truths, and more vocal and strong in our opposition to TEC’s disavowal of them.

In the past few years this conflict has escalated to the point where in 2011 charges were brought against Bishop Lawrence (and later voted down in Committee), and where the 2012 General Convention placed an unbiblical doctrine of humanity into the Canons of the Church. The doctrine, discipline and worship of TEC were all fundamentally changed in a fashion most of our clergy cannot and will not comply with. Bishop Lawrence and a majority of our deputation left the Convention before it concluded as a result.

Ever mindful of protecting the Diocese and its parishes, its leadership had in place resolutions which would become effective upon any action by TEC. As a result of TEC’s attack against our Bishop, the Diocese of South Carolina is disassociated from TEC; that is, its accession to the TEC Constitution and its membership in TEC have been withdrawn.

On Monday of this past week, the Bishop and the Diocese learned that the attack had taken place. The Diocese of South Carolina is no longer part of TEC as a result of TEC’s actions. We will now have a special Diocesan Convention on November 17th to iron out the necessary changes to our Canons and Constitution, and begin to discern the best way forward into a new Anglican future. We are all now in the valley of decision, whether we have desired it or not. That reality was not within our control.

We are still the Diocese of South Carolina, holding the faith of the apostles which was handed down to us. This radical step was taken to protect our parishes and their gospel witness. We believe that though the future has much that is unknown, the God who has faithfully led us by his grace to this point will take us where he wants us to go.

We encourage you to pray for the Bishop, Standing Committee, and diocese in a focused way between now and the special Convention. Please read the diocesan website, and the documents it provides, as carefully as possible. Because the situation is so unusual, we know there will be many questions. Please take them to your parish leaders and, if you wish, to members of the diocesan staff or Standing Committee so that we all may be as clear as we can about what has transpired.

To him who is able to do far more abundantly than all we can ask or imagine, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be all glory now and forever. Amen.

Check it out.

Bishop Martins of Springfield in support of Bishop Lawrence

Episcopal Diocese of Springfield
From Bishop Dan Martins of the Episcopal Diocese of Springfield, in response to actions taken against Bishop Mark Lawrence of South Carolina by the national church:

Many of you have heard the sad news that broke yesterday about the Diocese of South Carolina. Bishop Mark Lawrence was informed via telephone call from the Presiding Bishop that the Disciplinary Board for Bishops has certified his “abandonment” of the Episcopal Church by supporting actions his diocese has taken that allegedly undermine a presumed obligation to acknowledge the hierarchical authority of General Convention and the Presiding Bishop. Under the canons, the automatic result of this finding is that Bishop Lawrence is “restricted” from exercising the authority of the ministry to which he has been ordained, and a special meeting of the House of Bishops will be convened to adjudicate the matter and, if a majority agree with the Disciplinary Board, to permanently depose Bishop Lawrence from the ministry of the Episcopal Church, declaring the office of Bishop of South Carolina to be vacant.

As a result of this development, the Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina has announced its intention to ask a special convention of the diocese to approve its disaffiliation from the Episcopal Church. One can plausibly assume that Bishop Lawrence and the great majority of clergy and laity in the diocese have no intention of honoring the “restricted” status of his ministry. As for how the diocese will attempt to maintain a connection to the Anglican Communion, that can only be a matter of conjecture at this point.

Of course, we know from the experience of recent years roughly how the scenario will play out: the Presiding Bishop will convene an extraordinary “convention” of “loyal Episcopalians” from within the diocese, which will announce that it is the legitimate continuing Diocese of South Carolina, and choose a Provisional Bishop. Then that bishop and diocese, along with attorneys representing the Presiding Bishop, will spend millions of dollars suing in secular courts to recover control of church buildings and financial assets. To this point, the reorganized dioceses and the Presiding Bishop have been generally successful in their legal efforts (though important cases in Texas and California remain undecided). However, there is already a history in South Carolina that heavily favors those who will continue to actually occupy those properties.

This is a very serious, and a very disturbing, turn of events. Bishop Lawrence is a longtime personal friend, and a man whose intellect, love for our Lord, and passion for the gospel is without peer. While I am not fully on board with the some of the positions taken and decisions made by the conventions of the Diocese of South Carolina, and while I could find reasons to criticize the tone of much of the rhetoric coming from their direction, I am in essential theological sympathy with the witness made by that diocese as it has attempted to remain faithful to historic Anglican–which is to say, historic Episcopalian–faith and practice in a time when the majority in our church appear to be turning away from that tradition. More to the point, it strains every notion of common sense to apply the charge of “abandonment” in this case. This is a provision that is in canons to make it expeditious to deal with a priest or bishop who has openly decamped to another ecclesial body, or none; a cleric who stops showing up for meetings, stops worshiping as an Episcopalian, and disavows any association with the Episcopal Church. By contrast, since I became a bishop in March of last year, Mark Lawrence has attended every meeting of the House of Bishops except one, which a great many bishops also missed because it was held in Ecuador. He was present at General Convention. He has continued to lead a diocese that uses the Episcopal Church’s Book of Common Prayer in its worship. He has abandoned nothing, and to accuse him of doing so is ludicrous on its face.

There is much more that needs to be said, and many more implications of these events that deserve to be unpacked. I am in consultation with colleague bishops from the fellowship known as Communion Partners. I am not in possession of all the relevant facts, but am working to get them. The situation merits deep reflection and earnest prayer. The greatest tragedy, of course, is the discordant witness this makes to a broken world hungry for good news. We rightly shed tears of sorrow, begging for the grace of repentance and amendment of our common life. Lord, have mercy.

KJS and TEC: Jumping the shark…together

broken episcopal shieldI hoped they wouldn’t do it, but I should have known better (well, actually, I did, but hope springs eternal). The Disciplinary Board for Bishops of The Episcopal Church (TEC) has certified that Bishop Mark Lawrence of the Diocese of South Carolina has abandoned The Episcopal Church by certain actions.

Of course, this event is just one part of the long and winding unraveling of TEC as the church has, under its presiding bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, gone out of its way to purge itself of any traditional, orthodox Christian voices. (And yes, I do know that a church usually takes the feminine pronoun, reflective of being the Bride of Christ, but in this case that doesn’t apply. Not only has TEC become post-Christian in its outlook, but since they support and advocate for same-sex marriage, completely oblivious to any biblical understanding of the institution, pronouns obviously mean little to them; they’ve neutered marriage so using the pronoun “it” fits right in.)

I’m not going to go through what this means and what happens now. For complete coverage of all of that, check out TitusOneNine and Stand Firm (for good commentary, check out the Midwest Conservative Journal and for the legal perspective, check out the Anglican Curmudgeon).

But I find two events listed on the timeline posted by the Diocese of South Carolina intriguing:

September 18, 2012: Disciplinary Board of Bishops (DBB) apparently certifies abandonment on three charges, two of which were previously dismissed on November 22, 2011. (Attachment B) (Certification received on October 15 is unsigned.)

So why is the DBB considering charges that had already been dismissed? This is like being tried for the same crime twice; it’s double jeopardy all over again. Did the presiding bishop request that the DBB review these charges until they came up with the result she liked? (And I know DBB here stands for the Disciplinary Board for Bishops, but when I first saw it, I thought David Booth Beers—and I think I would be right.)

October 15, 2012: Call is moved up at PB’s request one hour to noon. During the call PB states that she received certification of abandonment from DBB on the 10th, that she will be sending Bishop Lawrence a restriction of ministry, that they are still willing to meet on Monday, that she desires this be kept confidential for the time being. …

Why the request that this be kept confidential? She should be shouting from the rooftops that she’s finally got +Lawrence. She already tried to deny him his election as bishop so this should be what she’s been dreaming of. I can understand her wanting to control the roll-out of this announcement, but why would she think Bishop Lawrence would acquiesce to her schedule?

I know these are small matters in the overall picture, but I think they are reflective of the morass that TEC has become. The charges brought against +Lawrence relate to legalities, and dubious legalities at that, not to anything theological or doctrinal (oh, that’s right, I forgot, ever since Bishop James Pike, TEC has had no doctrine).

It’s all about the power at this point, and the presiding bishop wants more.

I think KJS and, with her, TEC just jumped the shark.

TEC: When the day of evil comes

Way back in the day (2006 to 2008, to be exact), I had the blog innocent as doves. My purpose there was to cover “traditional Anglican worship in San Diego, Southern California, and around the world, as well as any other subjects that happen to catch my interest.” It was great fun to write and included numerous interviews I did for Anglican TV with various Anglican and Episcopal clergy.

But the end result of my taking my Christian faith seriously was that my family ended up leaving the Episcopal Church. I outlined our journey in six posts:

I mention this as part of a eulogy for The Episcopal Church in the United States. TEC, having now “slipped the surly bonds” of any recognizable biblical comprehension with the actions of its just completed 77th General Convention, is now adrift in cultural relativism and unmoored from biblical understanding. I can see no way in which it can remain part of the “one holy catholic and apostolic” Church after these actions.

Pseudo-theology and political entanglements result in there being no there there. So the number of church members will continue to decline, the empty churches will continue to soak up financial resources, the litigation against those trying to escape the skewed theology will continue to offer a picture of unchristian behavior by church leaders. Only a few dioceses (the Diocese of South Carolina, I hope, being one) will continue to preach and praise the traditional Christian faith, and those dioceses are only safe until they need to call a new bishop–when that happens, all bets are off.

(Yes, I did change the picture here from earlier–this image seems much more appropriate.)

For all of those staying in the Episcopal Church as a witness against the heresy and unbelief found there, St. Paul offers his wisdom on relying on the Lord:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
(Ephesians 6:10-17)

Anglican Church of Uganda responds to Kony 2012 campaign

From StandFirm (check out their new look):

The Church of Uganda has been made aware of the Kony 2012 campaign initiated by the US-based organization, Invisible Children.

Joseph Kony and the LRA left Uganda in 2006 at the beginning of the Juba peace talks and haven’t been in Uganda for more than five years. Since then, the people of Northern Uganda have been returning to their homes and have begun the long and difficult process of healing and rebuilding their lives, their families, and their communities. The Church of Uganda has been deeply involved in that process at every level. While there are the normal challenges of any country, Uganda is a country at peace, working hard on development, and takes pride in its description as the “Pearl of Africa.”

Under the leadership of the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, the Most Rev. Henry Luke Orombi, the Church of Uganda made advocacy for the end of the war in Northern Uganda a primary concern. The Archbishop and Bishops of the Church of Uganda led a delegation of 70 people to Gulu and the Pabbo IDP camp in February 2004, immediately after his enthronement as Archbishop, as an act of solidarity with them and to offer encouragement. The Archbishop spoke out repeatedly on the need for peaceful resolution to the conflict, and met on several occasions with the President to advocate for peace and an end to the war. Through the Uganda Joint Christian Council, the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative, and our Dioceses operating in the affected areas, the Church of Uganda has worked with many other community leaders to restore peace in Northern Uganda and engage in the process of healing and rebuilding the North from the lingering effects of Joseph Kony.

Although the Juba Peace Talks did not produce a peace agreement, life without the threat of LRA attacks returned to Northern Uganda in 2006. The Church of Uganda, however, seriously regrets the failure of the peace talks that has resulted in Joseph Kony and the LRA continuing their brutal attacks on the people of Congo, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic. It grieves us deeply to know that others are still experiencing the brutality we lived through for twenty years.

The Church of Uganda has consistently advocated for peaceful means of conflict resolution. Archbishop Henry Orombi wrote in a January 2006 editorial to Christianity Today, “When you read reports of a certain number of LRA rebels killed by the Ugandan army, remember that these rebels are our abducted and brainwashed children. When reading about LRA “rebels,” always substitute the word “children” for rebels. The military solution has failed for 20 years; only genuine dialogue and negotiation has come closest to ending the war.”

Invisible Children have been a good partner with the Church of Uganda, and we thank them for standing with us when we were working to keep the need for a peaceful resolution to the war before the government. We also thank them for standing with us in the long and still ongoing process of rebuilding families and communities in Northern Uganda. They have helped us rebuild schools, send children to school, and build capacity among our teachers through training and exchange trips. It is unfortunate, however, that there was not a wider consultation with the local community on how to portray the current challenges facing the people of Northern Uganda and to accurately let them speak in their own voice.

The successful use of social marketing to get out a message is commendable and we urge Invisible Children to empower Ugandans with these tools and skills to enable their voices to be heard and appreciated….

Read it all. If you’re interested in an insider’s view of the Lord’s Resistance Army and the terror Kony imposed on parts of Uganda, read Girl Soldier by Grace Akallo, who was abducted as a child, co-authored with Faith McDonnell of the Institute of Religion & Democracy.

And here’s an interview I did with Archbishop Orombi in May 2007 for Anglican TV:

New questions, challenges confront Fr. Jeffrey Steenson, Episcopal-turned-Catholic leader

As the Anglican Ordinariate (officially known as the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter) becomes a reality, thoughts from its head, Fr. Jeffrey Steenson, former Episcopal bishop of the Rio Grande, who was ordained a Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, N.M., in February 2009, from Catholic News Service:

Q: Are there special challenges to governing a church jurisdiction that covers so large a geographical area?

A: I’m sure there are going to be many, and it’s primarily going to be for the clergy to be able to build relationships with each other. We’re going to be virtual in so many respects. We’re going to really depend on technology to keep communication open. Our formation program for the clergy is going to be run via a really high-tech Internet system that will allow real-time, two-way communications, which I’m told has never been attempted before in any kind of a theological exercise. So that will be hard, and I’m concerned that a small group — I mean, this church (Mount Calvary) is not going to have any problems — but a small group that is out in the middle of nowhere doesn’t feel isolated and forgotten. So we will have to work really hard on that….

Q: Has the formation of the ordinariate given a new impetus or prompted a renewed interest in joining the Catholic Church among new groups of Episcopalians?

A: Oh yes, there has been. Probably maybe 30 extra priests have contacted us at some level. It’s not an easy journey, even the ordinariate, because the priest really has to be willing to make the journey to the Catholic Church and not just escape from his own. So it requires commitment and a lot of prayer to think through and a lot of sacrifices have to be made. And it’s very hard to start all over again. So I do expect that it will grow, but my goal has been that as we form these guys they will be able to stand equally with their Latin Catholic counterparts, that they’ll be as well formed and be able to function in the priesthood at the same level.

Q: Why is the ordinariate needed when individual Episcopalians and even married Episcopal priests have been able to join the Catholic Church through other routes for years?

A: When the apostolic constitution was published, there was an explanation written by (Jesuit) Father (Gianfranco) Ghirlanda, who’s the canon lawyer at the Gregorian University, that’s kind of the official commentary on it. And he answered that question by saying that the reason for the ordinariate is to guarantee the existence of the liturgical identity and patrimony. So whereas in the pastoral provision for an individual converting, they just kind of merge into the local Catholic culture, we’re expected to keep this patrimony, these traditions alive, because the pope said there is something precious about them that is worthy to be shared with the rest of the Catholic Church. So Father Ghirlanda said the ordinariate is to guarantee the freedom to keep this liturgy alive. I mean liturgy in the broadest sense of the word — the music, all that constitutes the Anglican tradition.

Q: Why is the process different for groups of Anglicans than for individuals who want to become Catholic?

A: Of course if it is an individual layperson they go through RCIA in their own parish. If it is an individual clergy person or priest, they would go through the pastoral provision which is administered by Bishop Kevin Vann in Fort Worth. And that will continue. The pastoral provision basically uses the same program of priestly formation that exists for the seminaries, only it’s kind of tailored to an individual, so it’s whatever Father So and So needs in order to do it….

When we became priests in the Anglican Church, we became priests in an ecclesial tradition that permitted married clergy. So the Holy See is simply recognizing that and allowing us … it’s an ancient principle from the early church. Whatever stage of life you are in when you come into the ministry, that’s where you stay. So if a man came as a celibate, he would be required to maintain that discipline. If one came as a married man, he would be expected to be a good husband. And if he should ever be widowed, then he would embrace the discipline of celibacy. It’s not a new rule, it’s basically the old Eastern discipline about married clergy….

Q: If you had the opportunity, what would you say to the Holy Father?

A: Thank you, first of all. This wouldn’t have happened without him. This was not an idea that developed in one of the dicasteries of the Curia. This came right from the top and he had to convince a lot of people. So I feel that Pope Benedict put himself out on the line on this, and I want to be sure we don’t let the Holy Father’s words fall to the ground. I want him to be proud of us and see that we are making a fruitful contribution to the church….

Read it all.

The King’s English: Test of faith

From Glen Scrivener:

What is the Bible?

Sometimes Christians are the worst at answering that question.  Many will reply: “The Maker’s Instruction Manual.”  Or “God’s Road Map.”  Most often religious folk will see it as, essentially, a moral guidebook for right living.  But if ever there was a story to explode that misconception it’s this one.  Abraham has his faith tested:

And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.  (Genesis 22:1-2)

How on earth are we meant to understand this story?  Written in a holy book no less?  What’s the moral supposed to be, Go thou and do likewise?

No.  Genesis 22 is meant to be read the way the whole Bible is meant to be read – first and foremost as a witness to Jesus Christ.  And when we read it this way, the whole thing becomes clear….

On this day, a ram is provided as a substitute for Isaac (v13).  But of course, Abraham had prophesied that a lamb would be provided (v8).  That’s what he and all the generations were waiting for in the centuries following – the Lamb of God, the Beloved Son, the Seed of Abraham.  God’s provision of atonement was yet future.  And so,

Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh [meaning “The LORD will provide”]: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen [or ‘provided’].  (Genesis 22:14)

For future generations God’s people would look forward to the Lamb, even knowing the mountain on which He’d be provided.

When the Bible is read primarily as a rule-book it disintegrates between our fingers.  With such a mindset, Genesis 22 is a scandal and a barrier to faith.  Yet when the Bible is read as intended we see it as a testimony to Christ.  At that point Genesis 22 becomes not a barrier but a boost to faith.  Suddenly we realise that all the Scriptures and all the saints in every age are fixed on the one truth that towers above all others:

Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. (John 1:29)

Check it out.