Is the Anglican Church a Catholic Church or an Evangelical Protestant denomination? The answer to that question is easy to find. One needs to look no farther than the historic Book of Common Prayer. Every Anglican professes belief in articles of the Christian faith as contained in the Apostles Creed, either directly or vicariously through their sponsors, at their baptism; and every member of the Church reaffirms this belief at their Confirmation. In the Apostles Creed faith is professed not in the Anglican Church, but in the holy Catholic Church. Every time Anglicans recite the Nicene Creed at the Eucharist, or the Apostles Creed at Morning and Evening Prayer, they continue to confess their belief in the holy Catholic Church.
Anglicans are Catholic Christians. No Creed or prayer in the Book of Common Prayer even refers to the Anglican or Episcopal Church, or any Church other than the Catholic Church. In the Eucharistic Liturgy we confess our belief in the “one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.” We pray for the “universal” or Catholic Church in the Prayer for the Whole State of Christ Church. On page 37 of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer there is a beautiful Collect that says, “O Gracious Father, we humbly beseech thee for thy Holy Catholic Church...” In the Bidding Prayer the Minister says, “Good Christian people, I bid your prayers for Christ’s holy Catholic Church...and more especially for that branch of the same planted by God in this land, whereof we are members...” The words “more especially for that branch of the same...whereof we are members” is as close that the Prayer Book ever comes to praying specifically for the Anglican branch of the Catholic Church rather than for the Catholic Church as a whole. In The Order for the Visitation of the Sick the Minister prays, “let thy Holy Spirit lead us in holiness and righteousness, all our days: that, when we shall have served thee in our generation, we may be gathered unto our fathers, having the testimony of a good conscience; in communion of the Catholic Church...” (1928 BCP, pp. 316-317). The Book of Common Prayer knows of no Church but the Catholic Church and no Faith but the Catholic Faith, and the Anglican Church is merely a branch of the Catholic Church.
It is true that the Anglican Church is a classical protestant Church. But what did the term “protestant” originally mean? It was first used in 1526 at the Diet of Speyer to protest the ruling of the Diet that such reforms as worship in the language of the people and the publication of the Holy Scriptures in the vernacular must cease. It did not mean to protest against the Catholic Faith, but rather against corruption in the Church.
The saintly Lancelot Andrewes illustrated this when, as Bishop of Chichester (1605-1609), he met with Tobie Mathews, son of the Archbishop of York, who was in the process of embracing Roman Catholicism. During their meeting Bishop Andrewes referred to the Church of England as the “English Protestant Catholic Church.” He told Mathews that he “held the English Protestant Catholic Church and the Roman Catholic Church, to be one and the same Church of Christ,” except that “my Church” is “the better swept, and more cleanly kept, and more substantially repaired.” Andrewes also used the word “protestant” in his Responsio to Cardinal Bellermine, but qualified the usage on the grounds of “temporary convenience.” Temporary, because the protest would no longer be necessary once Rome too reformed herself by allowing worship in the language of the people, the vernacular Bible to be freely read, and the Gospel of Christ to be freely proclaimed.
Unfortunately, over the centuries the definition of “protestant” has changed in most peoples minds to denote those who protest against not merely medieval errors and corruptions in the Church, but against the Catholic Faith itself. For many people today the word Protestant is taken to be the opposite of Catholic. As Anglicans we are classical protestants, but not Protestants according to the contemporary use of the term, and that is why Anglicans do not commonly describe themselves as protestants today.
I came to know the Lord Jesus Christ in the Episcopal Church, and I love classical Anglicanism. With thousands of others, I left the Episcopal Church in the late 1970s after the Minneapolis General Convention in 1976, and the great St. Louis Church Congress in 1977. I am fifty-four years old and have been in the ministry all of my adult life. Since 1997, I have been involved in ecumenism. First, I worked under Bishop Donald Davies of Ft. Worth and Bishop Patrick Murphy of Houston to bring orthodox Anglicans together, with the hope of corporate reunion with the wider Catholic Church. In the early years of the 21st century I was appointed Ecumenical Officer of the Anglican Province of Christ the King, a post that I held until 2007. As Ecumenical Officer I continued to work for orthodox Anglican unity and for corporate reunion among Catholic Christians. With the formation of the Federation of Anglican Churches in the America’s (FACA), I gave up my ministry of Ecumenical Officer and focused my energies on being the rector of Holy Cross Anglican Church in Omaha, Nebraska. In 2009, we became a founding parish of the Anglican Church in North America.
Since 2009, I have been cautiously optimistic about the Anglican Church in North America, and the New Reformation in the Anglican Communion which began with the GAFCON conference in Jerusalem in 2008. I have prayed and worked to advance the New Reformation and the realignment in the Anglican Communion, and have followed the progress of ecumenical dialogue with the Orthodox Church in America, the Roman Catholic Church, the Polish National Catholic Church, and the Missouri Synod of the Lutheran Church with great interest. My hope has always been that the New Reformation in the Anglican Communion would restore the Faith and Order of the undivided Church and fulfill the Anglican vocation of being a bridge Church and a healing balm in a divided Christendom, and would be a vehicle for the corporate reunion of Catholic Christendom.
Since mid-2012 though, I have lost much of my “cautious optimism” about the Anglican Church in North America, and the restoration of the Anglican Communion to Catholic orthodoxy. The reports that I have received of the 2012 Assembly of the Anglican Church in North America by godly and learned priests who were in attendance, bear this out. There are clearly two Churches in the Anglican Church in North America: 1) orthodox Anglicans, and 2) 2002 Episcopalians - Episcopalians who simply drew the line with the election of Gene Robinson to the episcopate in 2003.
Despite assurances to the contrary, there is no indication that women's ordination is on the way out in the Anglican Church in North America. In fact, every report that I received said that there were far more women in collars in evidence at the 2012 Assembly than there were at the 2009 Assembly. In addition, we are hearing rhetoric that is reminiscent of the Episcopal Church, such as that we are in a "period of reception" regarding the "ordination" of women; and that there are two "integrates" in the Church and that this was the understanding from the beginning. The continued compromises being suggested by those who really know the Faith and the feebleness of the opposition to Women’s “Ordination” all but guarantee that it is here to stay in the Anglican Church in North America.
We have been told that the Primates Council of GAFCON has called for a formal study of Women's “Ordination,” and that since 70+% of the Anglican Communion is "orthodox" the study will undoubtedly result in the end of Women's "Ordination." I now believe that this is just wishful thinking. According to Anglican journalist George Conger, only seven of the thirty-eight provinces of the Anglican Communion do not ordain women, and of the seven all but Nigeria and Southeast Asia are small provinces. In addition there are two provinces: Congo and the Southern Cone, that "ordain" women to the diaconate (which, frankly, is just as contrary to Scripture, Tradition and Catholic Order), but not to the presbyterate. Only seven of the thirty-eight provinces do not ordain women. Thirty-one do. This is all very shocking. We have never been told this. I know that I have not been told this before.
While I am stunned by all of this, I am also thankful to George Conger for exposing it. We need to know the truth, even if it is very painful. There is not one single example of a province of the Anglican Communion that has ended Women’s “Ordination” after beginning the practice. Not one. Of the thirty-eight provinces of the Anglican Communion only seven do not ordain women: Central Africa, Melanesia, Myanmar, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, South East Asia and Tanzania. It is utterly unrealistic that any study will lead to the end of Women’s “Ordination.” If it has been all but impossible to eliminate it in North America, just imagine the task of eliminating it in thirty more provinces scattered all around the globe!
A look at the direction that GAFCON is heading bears this out. The first president of the Primates Council came from Nigeria, a province that does not ordain women. His successor came from the Southern Cone, a province that “ordains” women to the diaconate. The third and current president comes from Kenya, a church that “ordains” women to the diaconate and the presbyterate.
In April 2012, the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (GAFCON) held its first conference for Anglican leaders in London. Over 200 bishops, clergy and lay leaders attended from thirty countries and 25 provinces of the Anglican Communion. Anglican Mainstream reported that “GAFCON recognized... the conflict in the Anglican Communion since 1998.” Since 1998? Women’s ordination began in the United States and Canada in the 1970s, and was adopted by the Church of England in 1992. Not only does GAFCON not see that the abandonment of Catholic Order has precipitated a crisis, but “Conference participants formed networks that will pursue ongoing work in areas vital to the movement.” These networks “vital to the movement” include forums for episcopal leaders (bishops), pastors, evangelists, theological educators, cross-cultural workers, aid and development workers, lawyers, and “women in ministry — a forum for women in ministry to share challenges, resources and prayer.” When the women in ministry forum was held at the 2012 ACNA Assembly for priestesses and female deacons, which caused so much alarm among so many of us, Archbishop Duncan was merely carrying out the mandate of the London GAFCON Conference.
If all but seven provinces of the Anglican Communion “ordain” women, and GAFCON sees a “women in ministry” forum as “vital to the movement,” then how can it be said that 70+% of the Anglican Communion is "orthodox"? It seems that the one and only litmus test for Anglican “orthodoxy” today is homosexual behavior. It appears that if you are opposed to homosexual behavior you are "orthodox" even if you "ordain" priestesses, have a Zwinglian sacramental theology, etc.
Our ecumenical partners see this more clearly than we do. In 2010, I had a wedding to conduct that would have more guests than we could seat in our church, so I contacted a nearby Roman Catholic priest and asked him if we could borrow his church for our Service. He told me that it was against archdiocesan policy to loan the use of churches to other denominations. When I assured him that we were Catholic Christians, he responded bluntly that we were simply an anti-gay Episcopal church. Stunned, I responded that our position on homosexual behavior was no different than that of his Church. He replied that while the Roman Catholic Church was opposed to sin, of which homosexual behavior was just one, our whole reason for being was our opposition to gays, and that had Gene Robinson not been elected bishop we would all be Episcopalians today. I was shocked by how others see us. Fortunately, after telling him that I left the Episcopal Church in the late 1970s, long before homosexuality was an issue and that Holy Cross parish was thoroughly orthodox and was not a post-2003 split from the Episcopal Church, he agreed to take my request to the Archbishop, although he didn’t hold out much hope. Happily, Archbishop Lucas graciously agreed to our request, and we were granted full use of the church on Friday evening and all day Saturday. As far as I know, I am the only Anglican priest to have ever conducted an Anglican Service in a parish of the Archdiocese of Omaha, and I am truly grateful for the kindness shown us.
Thankfully, there are hundreds of faithful Anglican congregations like Holy Cross parish scattered across North America, and undoubtedly thousands more all around the world. We have kept the Faith, are growing in holiness, are advancing the Great Commission and growing in numbers. However, while our Lord has undoubtedly preserved Anglicanism, it does not seem that He is preserving the Anglican Communion. Only seven of the thirty-eight provinces of the Anglican Communion can make any claim to Catholic Order, and the Church of England will in all likelihood lose the last semblance of its Catholicity later this year.
Many traditionalists took heart when the July 2012 General Synod did not pass the draft legislation authorizing women bishops, but that is to seriously misunderstand what really happened. The vote was no victory for traditionalists, and there seems no hope for the remaining traditionalists in the Church of England. The draft legislation was voted down because of Clause 5(1)c which was designed to provide some protection for traditionalists. However, before the General Synod even met, traditionalists had said that this Clause was only cosmetic and offered no real “protection” for those who could not accept women bishops. By voting down the draft legislation the General Synod sent it back to the House of bishops for them to remove even this inadequate protection at their September meeting. The General Synod will then vote on the draft legislation in November of this year. The July 9, 2012 issue of England’s, Anglican Journal reported, “‘It’s a victory for the Church of England, which has issued a resounding “No” to discrimination,’ said Christina Rees, a member of the General Synod and the Archbishop’s Council. ‘Had this measure been approved it would have had the effect of discriminating against people who believe men and women are equal.’” This talk of discrimination is, of course, nonsense. Orthodox Christians believe that men and women are equal in the sight and love of God, but are not interchangeable. We believe in complimentarianism.
The sad truth is that an overwhelming 42 of the 44 dioceses of the Church of England have voted in favor of women bishops. At the General Synod, Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury said, “Like the majority of members of the Synod and majority of members of the Church of England, I’m very firmly of the view that we need to proceed as speedily as we can because I, like most of you, long to see women bishops in the Church of England.”
The July 13, 2012, issue of the CatholicHerald.co.uk reports, “Anglo-Catholics should no longer expect the C of E to make special arrangements for them; it's not going to happen.” Even if the already acknowledged to be “inadequate” protections of Clause 5(1)c were to pass, the article reports, “It has been little noticed, however, that this time, members of the 30-strong parliamentary committee of MPs and peers known as the ‘ecclesiastical committee’, which would have to agree that the synodical legislation is ‘expedient’ before it proceeds on its weary way, are saying firmly that any ‘special arrangements’ for dissident parishes would not be accepted by them.” The article concludes by saying, “Anglo-Catholics need to understand clearly that there is no place for them in the Church of England; they are not wanted... they will have simply to accept that they are members of a Church with women priests and women bishops and get used to it. But if they do, they had better stop calling themselves ‘Anglo-Catholics’: they will have forfeited the right.”
The July 2, 2012, issue of the Christian Post reports that more women than men were “ordained” in the Church of England in 2010. The article says, “It would seem that positions within churches are being filled predominantly by women and that in years to come, if current trends continue, women will comprise the majority of spiritual leaders in England.” David Martin, Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics, told The Sunday Times, “It’s obvious that over time the priesthood will become increasingly a female profession. As far as the church has a future it will include a predominant ministry of women...” In 2000, the proportion of men to women attending Church of England parishes was 45% to 55%, but by the end of the decade attendance of men had declined so much that the proportion of men to women was 37% to 63%. The Church of England and the See of Canterbury is lost.
So what is the solution? It is not for the Anglican Church in North America to break up into its constituent parts and reorganize as separate jurisdictions, or for orthodox Anglicans to separate and form a second ACNA province. Independent Catholicism does not work and cannot work because it is based on a non-Catholic ecclesiology. We cannot form Catholic “jurisdictions” like evangelical protestants form denominations.
In 1691, six nonjuring Anglican bishops, including the Archbishop of Canterbury William Sancroft, and around four hundred other clergy were deprived and deposed for refusing to swear an oath to William of Orange after King James II had been driven from England They then formed a separate Anglican jurisdiction. Despite being led by experienced bishops, with an Archbishop of Canterbury at their head, the history of the nonjurors was one of numerical decline until they became only a footnote in church history. In 1717, they split over liturgical matters (Usages), speeding their decline, and their history spanned a mere 114 years, from 1691 until 1805 when their last bishop died.
In the 20th century, the great St. Louis Church Congress brought together around 2,000 orthodox Anglicans, but that proved to be the high water mark of the Continuing Church Movement. The post-St. Louis Church saw schism after schism, and the three heirs of the St. Louis Church Congress, the Anglican Catholic Church, Anglican Province of Christ the King and the United Episcopal Church, when taken together, are smaller in numbers with fewer resources than the movement had in the 1980s, and are aging and declining. The largest of these three bodies, the Anglican Catholic Church (Original Province), has less than 4,000 members, while the APCK cannot have more than 2,000 members today, and the UECNA a few hundred. Unlike the nonjurors though, it is unlikely that the Anglican Continuum will ever see the death of its last bishop. The continuum seems to have the opposite problem, continual division and the creation of ever more bishops. Continuing Anglicanism reads like a bowl of alphabet soup: ACA, ACC, ACCC, ACNA, AM, APA, APCK, CANA, DHC, EMC, HCC-AR, OAC, UECNA, just to name a few. Independent Catholicism cannot work because Catholicism is more than liturgy, ceremony, sacraments and apostolic ministry; there must be Catholic ecclesiology. If the schisms in the Body of Christ are a scandal, what of the tiny splinters?
The branches of the Catholic Church have always been anchored in ancient Sees: Rome, Constantinople, Antioch, Alexandria, Jerusalem, and Canterbury. But as we have seen, Canterbury will very likely lose what remains of its Catholic inheritance this year as it embraces women bishops. Once that happens, Canterbury will no longer have any claim to being an historic Catholic See.
As Anglicans, we can either fully embrace Catholic ecclesiology or continue to succumb to the temptation of denominationalism. As quoted in my last blog post, Women’s Ordination and the Ecumenical Imperative, Dom Anselm Hughes, one-time Prior of Nashdom Abbey, reminded Anglicans in 1961, where our primary loyalty must be. He said, “The first and most urgent matter to deal with is that of loyalty. Now in the Creed which in its Apostolic version is accepted by all members of the Church, either directly or vicariously, at their baptism; in the Creed which in its Nicene form they recite at every Sunday and feast-day Mass; they pledge their faith in the One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church. This is their first and largest loyalty, and those of whom we have been speaking as the Catholics within the Church of England consist of those to whom this allegiance comes always and instinctively first, and for whom all other loyalties, to the Church of England or the Anglican Communion, are made to rank as subservient to this over-riding, all-embracing, loyalty to the One Holy Church” (The Rivers of the Flood, p. 146).
In 1923, Bishop Frank Weston of Zanzibar told the great Anglo-Catholic Congress in England, “We now stand for the Catholic Faith common to East and West. We are not concerned with the shibboleths of low Church, high Church, broad Church, liberal modernist, or even the new ‘non-party’ party. We stand or fall with Christ’s Church, catholic and apostolic. And we wait patiently till the Holy Father and the Orthodox Patriarchs recognize us as of their own stock.”
The day that Bishop Frank Weston and our spiritual forbearers longed for has come. The Eastern Orthodox, Rome, and the Polish National Catholics, all now recognize orthodox Anglicans as their own stock, bone of their bone and flesh of their flesh. Rome and Eastern Orthodoxy are demonstrating far more interest in our Anglican patrimony than is being shown by Canterbury and even by many in the Anglican Church in North America. The Anglican Use liturgies authorized by Rome since the establishment of the Anglican Ordinariates (not to be confused with the old Anglican Use rites of the Pastoral Provision) are clearly taken from the traditional Book of Common Prayer and are far more in the spirit of the Anglican liturgical tradition than anything issued of late by the Church of England or found in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, or the trial rites of the Anglican Church in North America.
Likewise, both the Patriarchate of Antioch “where they were first called Christians”; and the Russian Orthodox Church, by far the largest of the Eastern Orthodox Churches, have authorized the use of the Anglican liturgy, are welcoming Anglican parishes and clergy, and are actively pursuing Western Rite work. According to Fr. Anthony Bondi, Metropolitan Hillarion’s Pastoral Vicar, the new Western Rite Vicariate of the Russian Orthodox Church already has forty-three priests in the United States, and the Vicariate is growing rapidly.
The Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church have authorized the use of the Anglican Rite in Great Britain as well, and have begun working with Anglicans there. Russian Orthodox Western Rite work is being carried out in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. Western Rite dioceses will be established when the numbers warrant. Likewise, the Vatican has established Anglican Ordinariates in England, the United States, and Australia, with more to come as needed. The Polish National Catholic Church is also ready to reach out to Anglicans in England and North America, just as they have to Scandinavian Lutherans in Norway, and to others in Europe, including former Anglican parishes in Italy.
Until 1978, the Polish National Catholic Church was in full communion with the Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Communion, but severed that communion because of the introduction of the “ordination” of women among Anglicans. The PNCC are our estranged brothers and sisters, and they want to heal the breach in the family. The December 2011, issue of Forward in Faith’s New Directions magazine published an article by Norwegian PNCC Bishop Roald Flemstad titled, “Looking for a New Home?” In the article Bishop Flemstad invites Anglicans to embrace Catholic unity through the PNCC led Union of Scranton.
The Polish National Catholic Church is unique among Western Churches in that it is not only recognized as a valid and legitimate national Catholic Church by Rome, but it has limited intercommunion with the Roman Catholic Church as well. Dialogue with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, with the approval of the Holy See, led in 1996 to a "limited inter-communion". What this means is that the Roman Catholic Church recognizes the validity of the sacraments of the PNCC, making applicable to its members the provisions of canon 844 §§2–3 of the Code of Canon Law. This canon allows Roman Catholics who are unable to approach a Roman Catholic minister to receive, under certain conditions, the sacraments of Reconciliation, Eucharist and Anointing of the Sick from "non-Catholic ministers in whose Churches these sacraments are valid", and declares it licit for Roman Catholic priests to administer the same three sacraments to members of Churches which the Holy See judges to be in the same condition in regard to the sacraments as the Eastern Churches, if they ask for the sacraments of their own accord and are properly disposed. Remaining obstacles to full Communion are different understandings regarding the place of the papal ministry in the Church, and the PNCC reception of some former Roman Catholic clergy, most of whom subsequently married.
I have been told by an Anglican bishop with close ties to the PNCC that although the PNCC has long recognized Anglican Orders as valid, Anglican clergy would be required to undergo conditional ordination in order to avoid endangering the intercommunion now enjoyed with Rome. Union with the Polish National Catholic Church would bring Anglicans into limited intercommunion with the Holy See, while the implications of Ut Unum Sint are worked out.
When announcing the upcoming Second Vatican Council in 1959, Pope John XXIII spoke to non-Roman Catholic Christians saying, “We will not try to find out who was right , we will only say: Let us be reconciled.” If only Anglicans, Eastern Orthodox, Old Catholics, and Roman Catholics could have such open hearts toward one another. Love covers a multitude of sins and hurts.
In November 2003, Eastern Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, Ignatius IV wrote, “Our divisions make Christ unrecognizable. We have an urgent need for prophetic initiatives in order to bring ecumenism out of the twists and turns in which I fear it is getting stuck. We have an urgent need for prophets and saints to help our Churches to be converted by mutual forgiveness.”
Brother Roger of Taize wrote, “When communion among Christians is a life and not a theory, it radiates hope... How then, could Christians still remain divided? Reconciliation among Christians is urgent today; it cannot continually be put off until later, until the end of time. Over the years, the ecumenical vocation has fostered an invaluable exchange of views. This dialogue continues the first fruits of reconciliation. But when the ecumenical vocation is not made concrete through a communion, it leads no where.”
The Anglican Communion is very likely lost to the Catholic Church, yet God has preserved classical Anglicanism in hundreds of congregations in North America and thousands throughout the world. Classical Anglicanism combines Evangelical Truth and Catholic Order. Anglicans have wonderful gifts to bring to the wider Church and to the New Evangelization, gifts that God has given to us to share and to enrich others. God may have indeed closed a door - the door to continued separation, but He has opened a greater door - the door to Catholic unity.
Some Anglicans will still believe that reunion with Rome and the East is possible even with women’s ordination, but it is not. Many other conservative Anglicans, so used to making compromises in matters of Faith and Order, will continue to believe that Rome or Eastern Orthodoxy will eventually enter into communion with Anglicanism if we can only “split the difference” with the proponents of Women’s “Ordination” and restrict the “ordination” of women to the diaconate alone. But this is only wishful thinking. It will never happen. Having served for years as an Anglican Ecumenical Officer I am still amazed at the way that many Anglican leaders can delude themselves by thinking that other Catholic Christians are willing to compromise in matters of Catholic Faith and Order as they themselves have. It will not happen, and the sooner we face this reality the better.
Speaking of the Anglo-Russian Theological Conference in Moscow in 1956, Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsey expressed the Orthodox position: The Orthodox said in effect, “The Tradition is a concrete fact. There it is, in its totality. Do you Anglicans accept it or do you reject it?... the Orthodox appeal to the one indivisible organism of Tradition, to tamper with any part of which is to spoil the whole, in the sort of way that a single splodge on a picture can mar its beauty” (Sobornost, series 3, no. 23, 1958, pp. 562-563). Rome has the same view regarding Faith and Order. Thankfully, Holy Cross parish and hundreds more like her can say, “Yes, we accept the Tradition. We will guard the deposit. We will earnestly contend for the Faith which was once delivered unto the saints. If we are shown to be in error, we will embrace the truth.”
At the 1989 Conference of Anglican Cathedral Deans, the Most Reverend Robert Runcie, 102nd Archbishop of Canterbury said, “our vocation as Anglicans was to put ourselves out of business.” Anglicans have always seen their Church as a branch of the Catholic Church, waiting “patiently until the Holy Father and the Orthodox Patriarchs recognize us as their own stock.” And they have! The Anglican patrimony, liturgy and spirituality is now recognized, valued and encouraged in both Eastern and Western Christendom. There is no more need to wait, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to justify continued separation, especially after learning the true condition of the ACNA, the Church of England, and at least 31 of the 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion.
Anglicans can be united with the wider Church, and be united without being absorbed. Perhaps this is why God has preserved classical Anglicanism, but not the Anglican Communion. We will be able to continue our vocation of being a bridge Church and a healing balm in a divided Christendom, but we will have demonstrated how unity can come without ceasing to be who we are. My prayer is that our bishops will boldly take the step of faith necessary, and lead us quickly to greater unity. Other orthodox Anglicans throughout the world will follow our example. As Patriarch Ignatius IV of Antioch said, “We have an urgent need for prophets and saints to help our Churches to be converted by mutual forgiveness”; and as Brother Roger of Taize said, “when the ecumenical vocation is not made concrete through a communion, it leads no where.”
Fr. Victor E. Novak is a priest of the Diocese of Mid-America, and the rector of Holy Cross Anglican Church in Omaha, Nebraska. The website of Holy Cross parish can be found at: www.holycrossomaha.net and the parish media site at: www.holycrossmedia.com Fr. Novak can be reached by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org and by phone at (402) 573-6558.