Summary of Tonight's Discussion on The Journey Home

This evening's episode of The Journey Home will be rebroadcast today (now Tuesday) at 1:00 AM and 9:00 AM, Thursday at 2:00 PM, and Saturday at 11:00 PM (all times ET).  The following is a brief summary of tonight's discussion.

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Fr. Christopher Phillips

Invited by the host, Fr. Phillips began by sharing a few details of his journey into the Catholic Church.  He was raised in a Protestant family, found his way to Anglicanism in the Episcopal Church, and his faith tested by the breakdown of Catholic Faith and Order in the Anglican Communion, and with personal doubts about the validity of his ministry in TEC, he became one of the first Episcopal priests to be received into the Catholic Church under Pope John Paul II's Pastoral Provision.  Starting from very humble beginnings, he founded the parish of Our Lady of the Atonement which is today a thriving church and school.  His story should be familiar to readers of The Anglo-Catholic.

As he pondered his future in the Episcopal Church, he wrestled primarily with the issue of authority.  Blessed with a strong father as a role model, he understood the importance of paternal authority and came to see that, in an ecclesiastical context, this authority could only be found in the Catholic Church.

Different families have different expressions of the same truth; there are different ways of living in families.  Anglicans will be returning to the full unity of the Church with the laudable traditions unique to their family, and these particular family customs will be expressed ecclesially in the context of personal ordinariates, akin to ordinary dioceses.  Due to the comprehensiveness of the Anglican tradition, the personal ordinariates will be similar to ritual churches in some respects, but as Anglicanism is an offshoot of the Latin Rite, it is only appropriate that it be rejoined to it.

The Apostolic Constitution will not provide a "back door" to those seeking to undermine the universal norm of clerical celibacy (a discipline not a doctrine) in the Western Church.  Future ordination of married men to the priesthood will be scrutinized by the Ordinary assisted by his Governing Council of priests and subject to the permission of the Holy See.

Asked about the public response to Anglicanorum Coetibus, Fr. Phillips said that he had not heard anything at all negative.  At a recent meeting of priests in the Archdiocese of San Antonio, many of his confreres enquired positively about the development.

The Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) is in the forefront of those groups anticipated to avail themselves of the Apostolic Constitution.  The TAC is represented by the Anglican Church in America (ACA) in the USA and many of its members are ready to go.

Fr. Phillips receives enquiries almost daily from Anglican priests and others interested in Anglicanorum Coetibus.

A caller asked if there were any correlation between the circumstances of Anglicanism and the Eastern Orthodox.  Fr. Phillips pointed out that while Rome holds Anglicanism in special regard, she sees Orthodox jurisdictions as proper Churches, which while separated from the Holy See, have maintained all of the essential elements of Catholic Faith and Apostolic Order.

He noted that the Apostolic Constitution may prove a door for many separated brethren to enter the Catholic Church.  Protestant visitors to Our Lady of the Atonement find much that is familiar in the Anglican expression of the Catholic Faith (the exposition of Sacred Scripture, hymnody, &c.).

A caller asked if there will be a role for permanent deacons in the personal ordinariates.  Fr Phillips said that he hoped so, noting that the personal ordinariates, functioning equivalent to dioceses, will have all of the normal elements of Catholic life (e.g. parishes, religious houses, &c.).

A caller asked if there were any particular theological stumbling-blocks for Anglicans considering the Apostolic Constitution.  Fr. Phillips answered that while certainly there would be Anglicans here and there with hang-ups — just as there are Catholics with qualms about individual points of doctrine — the type of Anglican likely to take up the Holy Father's offer already accepted the fullness of Catholic teaching.  He noted that the TAC already had adopted the Catechism of the Catholic Church as its standard of faith.

Mr. Grodi asked if there were a risk of sectarianism in the future Anglican personal ordinariates.  Would these people still consider themselves "half-Anglican"?  Fr. Phillips brilliantly pointed out that the whole point of the Apostolic Constitution was that the incoming faithful retain their Anglican identity, noting that this was not his idea, but the will of the Holy Father himself.  When he came into the Church, he brought with him his eucharistic vestments, his chalice.  There is much in Anglicanism that is already Catholic.  These elements are to be retained.

Grodi: Talk about (Archbishop Thomas) Cranmer.  Fr. Phillips:  Cranmer was a heretic — but a translator of beautiful liturgical prose.  The common people of England desired to remain Catholic.  Cranmer tried to fool them by creating an ambiguous liturgy, one which retained many Catholic elements.  He only fooled himself.  The Catholic elements took root in the now Protestant Church and allowed the Catholic tradition to continue.

A caller asked Fr. Phillips about that which he felt was lacking in his previous ministry.  Fr. Phillips: Authority.  The General Convention of the Episcopal Church, governed by a democratic process, presumed to alter not just ecclesiastical discipline but Catholic doctrine.  How can a question like the sanctity of human life be decided by a majority vote?

Grodi — as per his almost fanatical modus operandi — questioned the validity of Anglican orders.  Fr. Phillips' answer was exceptional.  The Church is not pronouncing on the efficacy of the former ministry of Anglican clergy.  Obviously it transmits grace.  Is this the same grace as that transmitted in the Catholic Church?  The Church is not deciding this question.  Many Anglican bishops have Old Catholic or other "valid" lines of succession.  Perhaps these are sufficient.  The Church only seeks certainty.  She can not live with 'perhaps'.  He noted that as Anglican clergy come closer to their ordination in the Catholic Church, this becomes less of an issue.  It is an issue of peace of mind and obedience to God.

What does the Queen think of the Apostolic Constitution?  Fr. Phillips: I have no idea but reports suggest that she's none to pleased with the state of affairs in the Established Church and throughout the Anglican Communion.

Marcus Grodi wonders if the Apostolic Constitution is meant for England.  Certainly yes.  Fr. Phillips notes that the Apostolic Constitution will have perhaps its greatest effect in India where there is a large TAC presence.  This is a worldwide movement.

A caller asked what it was like for Fr. Phillips when he came to have a relationship with Our Lady.  He related a story about how, driving on his way to a job as a youth minister in college, he would listen to the recitation of the Holy Rosary on the radio.  He learned the devotion and began to carry a pair of beads.  Our Lady threw it over his neck and pulled him with it into the Catholic Church.  Noted that Anglicanism is full of Marian devotion and that he specifically desired that his parish be dedicated to Our Lady.

A question about contraception.  Fr. Phillips related the moral cesspool that is the modern Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion.  In the TEC, contraception, and even abortion, are often seen as moral goods.  Spoke further on the disaster of the democratic definition of doctrinal and moral issues.

A caller from the ACA asked an ambiguous question about 'open communion'.  Fr. Phillips, unclear on the caller's intention, answered that Anglicans in the personal ordinariates will be full Catholics, in communion with all other Catholics (and hence not able to share Eucharistic communion with separated Christians).  Every member of the personal ordinariates will make a profession of faith.  Folks often hesitate over small issues, he said; many are simple misunderstandings and need not have presented trouble in the first place.  Communication is the key to overcoming these perceived obstacles.

A caller asked a general question about sacramental confession and how to explain to his Protestant friends the need to confess to a priest (as opposed to "directly to God").  Fr. Phillips answered that the confession was made "directly to God"; the priest is only the mediator.  Christ himself ordained and commended the sacrament.  Though he had made confessions numerous times in his private prayers, Fr. Phillips said that his first sacramental/auricular confession, when he spoke his sins aloud to the priest, was the most liberating thing he'd ever done in his life.

A caller asked about the Anglican/Episcopalian view of the Real Presence.  Fr. Phillips again noted that this is not likely to be an issue for the variety of Anglican likely to be interested in the Apostolic Constitution.  So much of the Anglican liturgy is reflective of a belief in the reality of Christ's presence in the consecrated elements.  Few Anglicans would find the Catholic teaching unfamiliar.

Grodi closed by asking Fr. Phillips what he would tell Anglicans thinking about "coming home" to the Catholic Church.  Fr. Phillips: Because it is what Our Blessed Lord desires.  It is that for which He prayed on the night before He suffered.  John 17.

Fr. Phillips gave his priestly benediction to the audience.

Author: Christian Clay Columba Campbell

Christian Clay Columba Campbell is a Roman Catholic of the Anglican Use. As Senior Warden of the Cathedral of the Incarnation (Orlando, FL), he organized the process by which the parish accepted the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, petitioning to join the Catholic Church. The Anglican Cathedral is now the Church of the Incarnation in the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. He is also the CEO of Three Fish Consulting, LLC, an Information Technology consultancy based in Orlando, FL. He can be reached via email at ccampbell at threefish dot co.

13 thoughts on “Summary of Tonight's Discussion on The Journey Home”

  1. What does the Queen think about AC? Answer: We just need to ask Her Majesty about it.

    Public response to AC? – The laity are welcoming. But in my part of the world, the Catholic and Episcopal hierarchies are not thrilled since they think it will sink the Oikomene boat!

    Validity of Anglican Orders? – Remember the late Cardinal Basil Hume's sermon at the ordination Mass at Westminster. He said that the Anglican clergy now joining the Catholic Church as priests "lived the Catholic life even in the Church of England" Of course their Anglican ministries were valued and these indeed transmitted grace!

    Is this the same grace as that transmitted in the Catholic Church? – The Church need not decide on this issue. Surely by the fruits can we know what the tree really is! But one thing is certain, this grace will have its fullness in the Catholic Church.

  2. I really enjoyed the program, and feel Fr. Phillips did a great job.

    However while I agree that Jesus' desire that we all be one is the reason for working toward reunion, I would add that joining Rome is right because the Catholic Church contains the fulness of the faith. Granted, Anglicanism contains and transmits God's grace, as do all Christian bodies. However the Catholic Church, established by Christ, contains the fulness of God's grace and is a sacrament for all. It is because of this that we will feel we are home when we return to the Catholic Church.

    Perhaps it is just me, but when I hear people say the reason for becoming Roman Catholic is because Jesus told us to be one, I fear some may make the journey simply out of obedience rather than desire. Yet God wants our hearts as well as our obedience, and if one does not truly desire to be Catholic then there will be problems in the years to come.

    1. Rev. Ed Steele:

      You have raised a very important issue, one that I have dealt with in my own journey from Canterbury to Rome. One thought that I would like to add is that the relationship between our beliefs and our actions is circular, not linear. While it is not sufficient to act out of a sense of obedience, such an act can lead to a desire to open one's heart and can lead one to full participation in the Catholic Faith in both head and heart.

      Consequently, one can be lead through obedience to a fullness of desire, just as one can be lead from a fullness of desire to obedience. Through grace, they work together and build off of each other.

      1. I can attest to the truth of Fr. Ed's comments on obedience leading to a fullness of faith because that describes my faith journey of over twenty five years. PAX.

  3. Fr Christoper Phillips was just amazing on today's episode of The Journey Home. I will keep him in prayer as he continues to serve Christ.

  4. Questions from a RC on related topics. I hope Father Phillips might see this and perhaps contribute.

    I am very intrigued with his parish in Texas and SCHOOL. I think Anglo-Catholic schools associated with parishes are going to be essential to maintaining an Anglican identity. His parish has been around for a while. How many of his flock are former Anglicans and how many are converts to the Catholic faith but not from the Anglican tradition?

    Has he had a interest in vocations to the priesthood from his parish. How does that work? Do they have a understanding with the bishop that they will be in that Anglican Use Parish?

    How many Anglo-Catholics revert back to Anglicanism? I am thinking of the distressing case of the Former Episcopal bishop up north this week that became Catholic and now announces he is Anglican again and has left the Church to align with a new group. I think this needs to be discussed. Is this a potential problem?

    Does Father Phillips see in the future the need for Anglo-Catholic mission churches in his diocese? Has he run into any opposition to that idea from the diocese?

    A general question: As many of you are aware, the United States Catholic Church is very local. It is of some frustration that dioceses don't really know what other dioceses are doing. In a sense there is no thing called the American Catholic Church. The fact that the dioceses could come together to do the sex abuse audit and regulations is pretty amazing to me.

    So my question is who are the go-to people here in the USA as to Anglo-Catholics and Episcopalians who are looking at the Anglican Use? Is there a person in charge of dealing with possible Anglican priests, congregations, etc. that might want to come over while we are awaiting the details on the nuts and bolts of how this is works? It just seems, with the upheaval in the Episcopal Church right now, that having some organized, centralized structure to at least give the invitation and to at least be someone to talk too would be essential.

  5. Tim F.,

    I totally agree, and thank you for that thought. Faith often comes from obedience, as you have said.

    If I may, however, let me use the example of an arranged marriage. One hopes that in such a union, love takes hold – and often does with wonderful results. However there is always the story of that one marriage where it is only a "duty" and in the end only bitterness remains. I'm not saying that is what will happen, but I do hope that whoever decides to answer the invitation of AC does so with all the right intentions.

    The Catholic Church is a beautiful place to be, and I am sure all who enter with that thought will find it to be true.


  6. Brian,

    I agree. My only point, is I am hoping that people who become Catholic do so out of a longing and desire – not simply because they feel they have to. The call of God is after all an invitation, not a mandate; otherwise free will means nothing.

    To paraphrase an old saying: you can lead a Protestant to the Catholic faith – but you can't make him like it.


  7. I have been in contact with a "Catholic" former Continuing Anglican who's now thinking of going back to the Anglican church. He said he doesn't agree with all the doctrines of the Church and his parish is as many Catholic parishes filled with innovations etc. He isn't fond of the priest and so on and so on.

    On one website I find that many who convert have converted from several different churches and then to another. This is a problem within the protestant churches. Of course there are Catholics who convert and then revert back, but my feeling is that no one should come in to the Catholic Church without knowing exactly what the teachings are. Many leave because the parishes aren't as friendly as their former churches or they find Mass boring. This is a sad situation, but I don't attend Mass for fellowship (not saying it isn't important); I go to worship Jesus and although it is difficult sometimes to ignore what I consider abuses/innovations my focus must be on Christ.

    We don't know the heart of the bishop who has returned to his former Episcopal church, but I would have thought with all of his education in theology he should have understood what it is to be a Catholic.

    I do wonder about those who go from one church to another or convert and revert more than once.

    Once I knew that the Church was the one Christ established I have never had a doubt that it truly is.

    It is a great shock for many who enter the Church and maybe more of one who is from the Anglican tradition as we are used to such reverence. I still have hope that someday the Latin Rite parishes will be brought back to the reverence they once had. Pope Benedict is doing his best in that area and it is an uphill battle.

    When there are many more Anglican Use parishes established, I think many Latin Rite Catholics will receive it with open arms and many will attend these parishes.

    Yes the traditions we bring will in time have a great effect of the Church which is why the Holy Spirit is leading this movement.

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