“Having gratefully received and thoroughly considered,” the Statement reads, 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 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 to study Holy Scripture and the Apostolic Tradition of the Church, and to seek the mind of Christ in determining its own convictions and practices concerning the ordination of women to the diaconate and the priesthood.”
THE BOTTOM LINE is that although it was agreed that the “practice [of women’s ordination] is a recent innovation to Apostolic Tradition and Catholic Order” and that there is “insufficient scriptural warrant to accept women’s ordination to the priesthood as standard practice throughout the Province”, that “scriptural warrant" and the 2,000 year-old “Apostolic Tradition” and “Catholic Order” DOES NOT MEAN A THING. Why? Because “there are differing principles of ecclesiology and hermeneutics that are ACCEPTABLE within Anglicanism that may lead to divergent conclusions…” It seems that "the mind of Christ" according to these bishops may actually contradict Holy Scripture, Apostolic Tradition and Catholic Order. Unbelievable!
Welcome to The Episcopal Church of the year 2002! The Anglican Church in North America is simply The Episcopal Church (TEC) just prior to the consecration of V. Gene Robinson as the first openly practicing homosexual bishop. All of the sacrifices, suffering, lawsuits, and loss of income, buildings and property, along with broken families, friendships and relationships, just to turn the clock back to 2002. How sad!
ULTIMATELY, the difference between The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church in North America comes down to one issue and one issue only: homosexuality. That is it. And since scriptural warrant, Apostolic Tradition and Catholic Order do not really matter to the bishops of the ACNA because “there are differing principles of ecclesiology and hermeneutics that are acceptable within Anglicanism” even that issue will fall by the wayside eventually. Thousands have left The Episcopal Church after 2003 only to return to the Episcopal Church of 2002.
Members of the ACNA can believe in seven sacraments or two; seven Ecumenical Councils, or four, or for that matter none, or twenty-one like Rome. They can hold Catholic, Calvinist, Lutheran and even Zwinglian views on the sacraments. They can believe in the Real Presence or the Real Absence. They can have whitewashed walls or use icons. They can ordain women or not ordain women. The can use the 1928 BCP, the 1979 BCP, a trial Liturgy, something else altogether, or even be what can at best be described as semi-liturgical. And the list can go on and on and on. There is one issue and one issue only that unites the ACNA: opposition to homosexual practice. Frankly, who would want to belong to a Church whose only defining doctrine is opposition to homosexuality?
UNDOUBTEDLY, the ACNA will continue to claim to be “a part of the One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church” and will continue to claim that they are consecrating bishops in “Christ’s One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church,” but it doesn’t matter anymore. No one will be listening. This is way beyond typical Anglican fudge. It is baloney.
This decision makes clear what everyone already knew or suspected, although many hoped that they were wrong, and that is that the Anglican Church in North America is nothing more than a mainline Protestant denomination. Does the Orthodox Church accept the Anglican Church in North America as a “branch” of the One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church? No. Does Rome? No. Does the Orthodox Church accept their bishops as Catholic bishops? No. Does Rome? No. Could that change? No. This is the end of the road, and it is a dead end.
SADLY, not even one ACNA bishop had the convictions and courage to stand up for the Holy Scriptures, Apostolic Tradition and Catholic Order. There was not a single one who would play the man. They all folded like lawn chairs. So much for the “Catholic witness” of the supposedly “Catholic” dioceses of San Joaquin, Quincy and Fort Worth, as well as Forward in Faith North America (FIFNA) and its Missionary Diocese of All Saints (MDAS), or the Reformed Episcopal Church for that matter. Ichabod. The glory has departed.
So what can the remnant of traditional Anglicans do? They can split again and reconfigure, adding to the ever-growing Alphabet Soup of continuing Anglican Jurisdictions with their graying flocks, declining numbers, ever multiplying purple shirts, power struggles, debates over what Anglicanism really is supposed to be, all but invisible witness, and zero impact on society and the culture, or they can come home.
There is a place for Catholic-minded traditional Anglicans, and that is in the Orthodox Church. 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. I am one of them. 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. That goal 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. The good news is that the goal of the English Reformation has been fulfilled. You can come home again.
My former ACNA parish and I have celebrated our fifth Easter as a Western Rite Orthodox parish 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. Today there are Western Rite parishes and monastic communities in the Patriarchates of Moscow (the world’s larges 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.
The doors are wide open and the welcome mat is out for traditional Anglican clergy, laity, congregations and monastic communities. 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. We love being Orthodox. You will too!
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.
A Statement from the College of Bishops on the Ordination of Women
September 7, 2017
In an act of mutual submission at the foundation of the Anglican Church in North America, it was agreed that each Diocese and Jurisdiction has the freedom, responsibility, and authority to study Holy Scripture and the Apostolic Tradition of the Church, and to seek the mind of Christ in determining its own convictions and practices concerning the ordination of women to the diaconate and the priesthood. It was also unanimously agreed that women will not be consecrated as bishops in the Anglican Church in North America. These positions are established within our Constitution and Canons and, because we are a conciliar Church, would require the action of both Provincial Council and Provincial Assembly to be changed.
Having gratefully received and thoroughly considered the five-year study by the Theological Task Force on Holy Orders, we acknowledge that there are differing principles of ecclesiology and hermeneutics that are acceptable within Anglicanism that may lead to divergent conclusions regarding women’s ordination to the priesthood. However, we also acknowledge that this practice 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, we continue to acknowledge that individual dioceses have constitutional authority to ordain women to the priesthood.
As a College of Bishops, we confess that our Province has failed to affirm adequately the ministry of all Christians as the basic agents of the work of the Gospel. We have not effectively discipled and equipped all Christians, male and especially female, lay and ordained, to fulfill their callings and ministries in the work of God’s kingdom. We repent of this and commit to work earnestly toward a far greater release of the whole Church to her God-given mission.
Having met in Conclave to pray, worship, study, talk, and listen well to one another, we commit to move forward in unity to carry on the good witness and work that God has given us to do in North America (Ephesians 4:1-6; John 17). We invite and urge all members of the Province to engage with us in this endeavor to grow in understanding the mission and ministry of all God’s people.
Adopted Unanimously by the College of Bishops of the Anglican Church in North America
The Church of Our Lord, Victoria, BC, Canada