“We have a wide range in the ACNA… We are a very diverse group… We have a smorgasbord of perspectives” — Archbishop Foley Beach
On Saturday, October 21st, Quad Cities Anglican Radio posted a podcast of an interview with ACNA Primate Archbishop Foley Beach discussing Holy Orders among other things.
The words of the ACNA Primate will be shocking to the remaining Catholic-minded Anglicans in the Anglican Church in North America, but they really should not be surprising. What a growing number of faithful have long suspected has become clear: the Anglican Church in North America is not really a Church at all. At best, it is a very diverse coalition of divergent groups who like the Anglican label and remain together for the sake of numbers.
Archbishop Foley Beach also makes clear in his interview that this diversity, this smorgasbord of perspectives, is found throughout the Anglican Communion, including the GAFCON provinces. There is no longer anything that can be called normative Anglicanism today. Like beauty, it is in the eye of the beholder.
It is vital for faithful Catholic Anglicans and those who love them to listen to this interview with the ACNA Primate. It is only about eight minutes long. Please listen, and then share it with others. You can find the interview here:
QUAD CITIES ANGLICAN RADIO INTERVIEW WITH ARCHBISHOP FOLEY BEACH
THE APOSTOLIC MINISTRY
As Archbishop Foley Beach makes clear in his interview with Quad Cities Anglican Radio, the Apostolic priesthood is not a “first order” issue in the Anglican Church in North America.
Think about that for a moment. Christ established the priesthood with His apostles. From its inception the Apostolic Ministry has universally consisted of male deacons, priests and bishops in Apostolic Succession. From the beginning it has been universally believed and taught that to have valid sacraments you must have a validly ordained Catholic priest or bishop. Now, nearly 2,000 years later, we are told that the Apostolic Ministry is not a “first order” issue. Really?
In the night in which He was betrayed, our Lord Jesus Christ instituted the Sacrament of Holy Communion, and taught that unless we eat His Flesh and drink His Blood we have no life in us. That sounds like a “salvation issue” to me, as it has to all Catholic Christians over the last 2,000 years; and we know that only Catholic priests can confect the Sacrament of Holy Communion, so the Apostolic Ministry is undoubtedly a first order issue, a salvation issue — but not in the ACNA.
THE HOLY SCRIPTURES, APOSTOLIC TRADITION AND CATHOLIC ORDER
Are the Holy Scriptures, Apostolic Tradition and Catholic Order first order issues in the ACNA? Apparently not.
On September 7, 2017, a Statement from the College of Bishops of the ACNA on the Ordination of Women was formally issued.
“Having gratefully received and thoroughly considered,” a five-year study by the Theological Task Force on Holy Orders, the College of Bishops of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) unanimously stated that the “practice [of women’s ordination] is a recent innovation to Apostolic Tradition and Catholic Order. We agree that there is insufficient scriptural warrant to accept women’s ordination to the priesthood as standard practice throughout the Province.”
HOWEVER, it was also unanimously acknowledged, “that there are differing principles of ecclesiology and hermeneutics that are acceptable within Anglicanism” — that smorgasbord of perspectives that Archbishop Foley Beach spoke about in his interview with Quad Cities Anglican Radio — “that may lead to divergent conclusions regarding women’s ordination to the priesthood.”
THEREFORE, “it was agreed that each Diocese and Jurisdiction has the freedom, responsibility, and authority… in determining its own convictions and practices concerning the ordination of women to the diaconate and the priesthood.” What?
By allowing women’s ordination to continue, despite the fact that it is unanimously acknowledged by the ACNA College of Bishops that it is “a recent innovation to Apostolic Tradition and Catholic Order” and “that there is insufficient scriptural warrant”, it seems clear that the teachings of Holy Scripture, Apostolic Tradition and historic Catholic Order are not first order issues in the ACNA either. So what is?
PRIVATE OPINION AND INTERPRETATION
So what trumps the Holy Scriptures, Apostolic Tradition and Catholic Order in the ACNA? The Provincial Constitution — a thoroughly human construct — which was born in tragic, heretical and sinful compromise that allows for the ordination of women; coupled with a Protestant notion of the private interpretation of the Scripture and an equally Protestant indifference to Apostolic Tradition and Catholic Order. In the ACNA, as in all Protestant groups, private opinion outweighs Holy Scripture as witnessed to by Apostolic Tradition and Catholic Order.
BACK TO THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH
So how is the ACNA really any different from The Episcopal Church? It isn’t.
The ACNA was founded after the election of the first openly practicing homosexual bishop of The Episcopal Church (TEC) and in opposition to normalization of homosexual practice. The ACNA is a single issue Church.
Other than the homosexual issue, members of the ACNA can believe just about anything they want, and practice their faith in just about anyway they want, with priestesses or without priestesses, with lady deacons or without lady deacons, and with a broad range of liturgical uses that can stretch from the Anglican Missal through the 1979 Prayer Book, the 1928 Prayer Book, the 1662 Prayer Book, the REC Prayer Book, and ACNA trial liturgies, all the way to a large and growing segment that could at best be described as semi-liturgical.
The ACNA is indeed “a very diverse group” with “a smorgasbord of perspectives.” Just like with the Episcopal Church, no one can really be sure who is and who isn’t an Anglican. The ACNA has become so comprehensive that it seems that anyone can believe just about anything, — except in the normalization of homosexuality.
The tragedy is that so many Catholic-minded churchmen suffered so much, made so many sacrifices, suffered through so many lawsuits — with many still involved in lawsuits — only to find themselves back in the Episcopal Church of the year 2002. Yet, that is the reality.
THAT SINKING FEELING
After hearing Archbishop Foley Beach’s interview with Quad Cities Anglican Radio, one listener commented, “The size of the iceberg is immense...clearly this captain is aware and unafraid of the course he has set for those souls he is responsible for.”
Most Catholic Anglicans in the ACNA are so focused on the error of women’s ordination that they see it as the root of their problems. They think, “If only we can end women’s ordination all would be well in the ACNA, and Orthodoxy and Rome would finally recognize us as a Catholic Church.” Unfortunately, nothing could be farther from the truth. Women’s ordination is not the root of the problem, it is merely one of its most obvious fruits.
The Anglican Church in North America is a mainline Protestant denomination. Nothing more. It is not a Catholic Church, although it does contain an impotent and frustrated Catholic-minded remnant.
Fr. Charles Nalls, an Anglican Cathedral Dean and one of Continuing Anglicanism’s theologically best educated priests, explains this in an article titled, Sailing Off Foley Beach..er…Folly Beach.
The article was written ahead of the International Anglo-Catholic Congress sponsored by Forward in Faith North America (FIFNA) that met in Fort Worth, Texas in 2015. In the article, Fr. Nalls is critical of ACNA participation in the Congress and of the participation of Archbishop Foley Beach in particular. He writes,
“The conveners of the pan-Catholic Anglican Congress, or whatever name will be adopted, are mobbed up with ACNA. ACNA will be presided over by Abp. Foley Beach. A look at his declared stands on key issues proves that he is no catholic. Indeed, quite the opposite.”
Fr. Nalls continues, “First, there is the pronouncement on the website [Foley Beach’s Cathedral website], ‘We are an Evangelical church in the Protestant tradition.’ http://www.hcanglican.org/what-to-expect. Not an Anglican Church in the Catholic tradition, mind you, or anything close. … ‘The Anglican Church began as the state church of England.’ Apart from the fact that even Cranmer might disagree with this, it is simply not the case historically, certainly from an Anglo-catholic perspective… And, so the website continues, ‘We are an Evangelical Church in the Protestant tradition.’
The sacramental perspective, or rather the lack thereof, is even more disturbing. Archbishop Foley Beach’s Cathedral church sure has an informative website, but I couldn’t find a single mention about the sacraments on it. They don’t speak of the sacraments. Their doctrine seems to be thoroughly Protestant. Indeed, there is nothing about the Eucharist except a small, yet thoroughly off-putting, bit:
‘At most of our services, we celebrate Holy Communion, and if you are a baptized Christian you are welcome to receive the bread and wine. You may take the bread and then drink from the common cup, or you may dip the bread into the wine (called “intinction”).’
So it is at the Eucharist, the source and summit of the faith, all baptized Christians ‘are welcome to receive the bread and wine.’ Forget about Confirmation, no need of that. Never mind ‘real presence’ which is nowhere mentioned. Just ‘bread and wine’, not Body and Blood. It looks like receptionism to this reader. At best, this is nothing more than Zwinglianism, which represents the absolute worst of Protestant theology. As Flannery O’Conner once said, ‘If its just a symbol then to hell with it.’
Finally, let’s look at the treatment of Holy Orders down at the Beach. For Anglo-Catholics who do not believe Orders are divisible, there is a problem. There is a female deacon (not a deaconess) on staff at the cathedral. He will ‘ordain’ female deacons. It doesn’t really matter though. As a self-identified Evangelical Protestant (with a Zwinglian sacramental theology), clearly, Foley does not intend to ordain Catholic clergy anyway.
So, how does FiFNA, while it is tied up in an unnecessary ‘study’ of ‘women’s ordination’ with ‘ordained’ women on the study panel explain this? How does it explain being mobbed up with an archbishop who, to be perfectly blunt, is a Presbyterian in drag?”
Foley Beach is the Primate of the ACNA. His Cathedral website is crystal clear about how he sees the Church which he leads:
“We are an Evangelical church in the Protestant tradition.”
“The Anglican Church began as the state church of England.”
“At most of our services, we celebrate Holy Communion, and if you are a baptized Christian you are welcome to receive the bread and wine. You may take the bread and then drink from the common cup, or you may dip the bread into the wine (called ‘intinction’).”
Regarding this sacramental theology, Fr. Charles Nalls writes, “At best, this is nothing more than Zwinglianism, which represents the absolute worst of Protestant theology.”
As we can see, women’s ordination really doesn’t matter all that much in the ACNA, because, as the Archbishop’s cathedral website says, “We are an Evangelical church in the Protestant tradition.” And, “The Anglican Church began as the state church of England.”
In other words, the Apostolic Ministry really doesn’t matter because the Anglican Church is just another Protestant denomination formed in the 16th century. The same can be said for Apostolic Tradition and Catholic Order — those concepts are, after all, for Catholics and are of little interest to Evangelical Protestants. As Fr. Nalls has written, “As a self-identified Evangelical Protestant (with a Zwinglian sacramental theology), clearly, Foley does not intend to ordain Catholic clergy anyway.”
Fr. Nalls closes his article by saying, “I am sure there will be howls that I lack charity… Surely I am a weak man and, unlike St. Paul, I don’t think I can stand being shipwrecked yet again. And surely, shipwreck will result for Anglo-Catholics on the rocks and shoals of Foley…er…Folly Beach.”
You can read the entire article here:
Sailing Off Foley..er…Folly Beach
BISHOP SAMUEL SEAMANS
If any of my readers think that I am being inaccurate or exaggerating in what I am writing, or that Fr. Charles Nalls was being uncharitable in what he has written, I invite you to contact Fr. Samuel Seamans, rector of St. Thomas Orthodox Church in Mountain Home, Arkansas.
You may remember Fr. Samuel Seamans as Bishop Samuel Seamans. Before entering the Orthodox Church as a Western Rite priest, Fr. Samuel was an ACNA bishop and a member of the ACNA College of Bishops. He was part of the inner workings of the ACNA, knows the diverse theological perspectives of its bishops, and all about the smorgasbord of incompatible perspectives found in the ACNA. You can listen to an interview of Fr. Samuel with Quad Cities Anglican Radio here:
You can also contact him directly. Fr. Samuel welcomes direct contacts from concerned traditional Anglicans. You can reach him by phone at: (870) 421-2986, or by email at: email@example.com
SO WHAT IS THE SOLUTION?
Catholic Anglicans need to quit kidding themselves. The ACNA is nothing more than a mainline Protestant denomination. Archbishop Foley Beach’s cathedral website describes the Church as “an Evangelical church in the Protestant tradition.” As far as its roots are concerned, his website points to a genesis in the 16th century: “The Anglican Church began as the state church of England.”
The Orthodox Church considers the ACNA to be a Protestant ecclesial community. Rome has exactly the same perspective. When one’s own primate identifies his church as, “an Evangelical church in the Protestant tradition” and both Orthodoxy and Rome concur, it seems impossible to seriously argue that it is a “branch” of the Catholic Church.
For many, the answer will be to hunker down and do nothing while quietly grumbling, out of the fear of risking salary, benefits and housing, or perhaps an unwillingness to lay aside a purple shirt. After all, Catholic-minded clergy can still wear copes, swing censors and claim to be Catholic priests in the ACNA — but then again they could also do that in the Episcopal Church. Their perspective is welcome in the “smorgasbord of perspectives” in this “very diverse group," but then again, there are also priestesses in the ACNA wearing copes, swinging censers and claiming to be priests, just as there are in the Episcopal Church, and their perspective is equally welcome. It really doesn’t matter though, it will all be an illusion. It is impossible to be a Catholic in a Protestant Church. Being a Catholic is not a matter of personal belief, church party, diocese, vestments or ritual, it is a matter of being a member of the One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church built by Jesus Christ Himself.
For some, the solution seems to be yet another split and a new “reconfiguration.” For others, it may be the Anglican Continuum. Another split will only add to the alphabet soup of traditional Anglicanism and will in the end solve nothing. Many of the same problems will haunt any new and much smaller body. The Church is much more than a host of small, struggling, and unrecognized splinter groups. The Catholic Church cannot be denominated. A new configuration will still be a man-made organization, and will not be recognized as a Catholic Church by anyone.
The Anglican Continuum is not the answer either. Many joined the ACNA to escape the divisions, petty rivalries, personal fiefdoms and marginalization of the Anglican Continuum. The Continuum today is badly divided, graying, and is much smaller and myopic than it was in the early 1980s. It has zero influence in American society and few Americans even know that it exists.
Playing jurisdictional musical chairs while the Titanic slips away into the sea will not solve the problems faced by Catholic Anglicans. The Anglican Continuum is going the way of the Non-jurors, and will one day be just an interesting footnote in Church history.
There is and can only be, “One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church” according to the Nicene Creed. One means one. It cannot mean three, and it certainly cannot mean a bevy of splinter groups. Catholic means Catholic. It does not mean a smorgasbord of perspectives. Faith and Order matters. The Church must be Orthodox, possessing both Correct Doctrine and Correct Worship.
The Church of which Christ is the Head cannot be divided any more than Christ Himself can be divided. A new Church cobbled together by even the most well-meaning of men will never be anything more than a human institution, a human organization. Only Christ could build His Church, and He promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against it. Isn’t it time we took Him at His word? Catholic Anglicans need to rediscover and embrace that Church.
There are but two choices for Catholic-minded Anglicans: the Orthodox Catholic Church and the Roman Church. For Anglo-papalists there is the Ordinariate. For those Catholic Anglicans who seek to hold the Faith of the “undivided” Church there is the Western Rite of the Orthodox Church. Those are the choices, the only real choices.
With the restoration of the Western Rite in the Orthodox Church and the establishment of the Anglican Ordinariate in the Roman Church, there is no longer any place for an independent Anglican Church. There is no longer any reason for its existence. Therefore, it should be obvious why God is not preserving it.
While there are two choices for Catholic Anglicans, there is really only one solution. The solution is to complete the circle.
COMPLETING THE CIRCLE
There is a place for Catholic-minded traditional Anglicans, and that is in the Orthodox Catholic Church. It was the home of their Celtic and English forebears in the Faith and it is their natural home.
Anglicans now make up the largest single group of converts to the Orthodox Church, and there are hundreds of Orthodox clergy who are former Anglicans in America alone. They are everywhere, and serve in both the Eastern and Western Rites. I am one of them. In my own community there are nine Orthodox priests. Of the nine, six are converts, and of the six converts, five are former Anglicans. When I am asked, “Where have all the traditional Anglicans gone?” My answer is always the same: To the Orthodox Church!
At the time of the Great Schism in AD 1054, the Church in the British Isles remained Orthodox. That is a fact of history. This stand for the Orthodox Faith led to the papal sanctioned Norman Invasion in 1066. The Norman Invasion was promoted as a crusade to bring an “erring” [meaning Orthodox] English Church under Roman authority. With the Norman Conquest, all but one of the English bishops were imprisoned and replaced by Norman usurpers, and the Church was forced into an uneasy and often stormy relationship with Rome that lasted nearly five centuries.
The English Reformation which began in 1534, was very different from the Protestant Reformation on the Continent. In England the bishops themselves led the reform, with the goal of restoring the Faith and Order of the “undivided” Church. After five centuries of separation mistakes and missteps were bound to be made and they were, but also progress. The goal of restoring the Faith and Order of the undivided Church was advanced by the Caroline Divines of the 17th century, the Non-Jurors of the 18 century, the Oxford movement of the 19th and early 20th centuries, and the Continuing Anglican Movement of the latter 20th and early 21st centuries. Today, many traditional Anglicans stand at the very door of the Orthodox Church. The good news is that the goal of the English Reformation and the Vision Glorious of the Oxford movement have been fulfilled. The circle can be completed. You can come home again.
My former ACNA parish and I celebrated our fifth Easter as a Western Rite Orthodox parish this year and we could not be happier. We have preserved the fullness of our Celtic and English cultural, liturgical and spiritual heritage and patrimony in full sacramental communion and visible unity with the 300 million-member Orthodox Church. We have lost nothing and gained everything.
Today there are Western Rite parishes and monastic communities in the Patriarchates of Moscow (the world’s largest with 164,000,000 members), Antioch (where the disciples were first called Christians), and in Europe in the Patriarchates of Romania and Serbia, with the Western Rite Communities of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) being the largest, most wide-spread and fastest growing. Eastern Rite or Western Rite, the Orthodox Church speaks with one voice in Faith and Morals. We are unchanged and unchanging.
Unlike with Rome, traditional Anglicans are not seen as wayward children by the Orthodox Church. They are seen as long lost brethren. Remember, the Church in the British Isles remained Orthodox in 1054, and was forcibly separated from the East by the Norman Conquest in 1066. But you do not have to remain separated. You can complete the circle. You can be restored to the family. You are wanted, and will be welcomed with love and open arms.
AN IMPORTANT VIDEO DOCUMENTARY
In July of this year an excellent, professionally produced, half hour documentary on Western Rite Orthodoxy was released. It is called The Orthodox West. It follows a Continuing Anglican bishop and two priests on their journey to becoming Western Rite priests in the Orthodox Church. It is informative, heartwarming and inspiring. I hope that you will view it and share it with others. Perhaps their journey will become yours. We love being Orthodox. This documentary will explain why.
In October of this year the 2017 ROCOR Western Rite Conference was held in Wappinger Falls, New York. It was a wonderful Conference, full of blessings and hope for the future. You can read my personal report about the Conference here:
The doors of the Orthodox Church are wide open and the welcome mat is out for traditional Anglican clergy, laity, congregations and monastic communities who are committed to the fullness of the Apostolic Faith. The Western Rite has been restored, the Western Church is being rebuilt, and you can have a part in it. Instead of being the last of yesterday you can be the first of tomorrow. Instead of being marginalized and merely tolerated, you can be mainstream. Instead of struggling to merely keep the Faith alive and the pilot light burning, you can be part of a great revival and renaissance, a New Springtime for the Church. All you need do is complete the circle.
I would be happy to help. Our Vicar General, Fr. Mark Rowe, is a former Anglican Archdeacon, and he would be happy to help. You are not alone. We care, and are here for you.
For more information visit the website of the ROCOR Western Rite Communities: https://www.rocor-wr.org.
Our parish Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Holy-Cross-Parish-362370402748/?ref=bookmarks,
Call me at (402) 573-6558, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.