I ended my remarks in my previous posting on this issue
Of June 8, 2010 with this paragraph:
We are not finished with this subject yet, but already certain implications have begun to emerge. Above all, it is clear that a loose marital discipline, whether tricked out in the robes of alleged "pastoral care" or "meeting people where they are," is no part at all of that "Anglican patrimony" which is seeking to be resituated in and restored to Catholic communion. Rather the contrary: the "Anglican patrimony" is one that has upheld the traditional marital discipline of the pre-Reformation Western Church to a degree that is unparalleled among Reformation bodies, and one which was profoundly uncongenial to the Erastian powers-that-be in post-Reformation England — as witness the phenomenon of "Parliamentary divorce." Another is that in the context of this resituated "Anglican patrimony" one of its functions will be to witness to and uphold the longaeval marriage discipline of the Church, as a counterpoint to those sad failings of Henry VIII that led to the original breach between England and Rome, and thus in a way vindicating the stand of Clement VII, Paul III and Cardinal Pole in opposition to that monarch. And finally, although there is the hopeful possibility of the ordination of suitable married men to the diaconate and presbyterate in the soon-to-be-erected Ordinariates, it has to be emphasized that there is little or no possibility of those in irregular marital situations, and certainly not in DaR situations, to be ordained or to serve in any clerical capacity in them.
The fact is, though, that contemporary Anglican practice in this area has become an absolute disgrace, with nothing of “Historic Anglicanism” about it, and that this applies just as much to most “Continuing Anglican” bodies as to those of the “Canterbury Communion.” In the Episcopal Church, the decisive date was 1973, when the canons of that body prohibiting remarriage of divorced persons in the lifetime of the divorced partner were repealed — but the floodgates had already been opened in practice. (PECUSA’s General Convention had resolved as early as 1808 that clergymen should solemnize the marriages of divorced persons only in cases in which the divorce had been caused by adultery. This was embodied in a canon in 1873, and from 1877 to 1943 various canonical changes had allowed bishops to accord “decrees of nullity” to divorced individuals, and had clarified and extended the grounds on which the might be granted — and although between 1899 and 1904 a determined attempt has been made to ban remarriage of divorced persons altogether in the church, that attempt had been defeated in 1904.) My impression — I have no detailed knowledge of the subject — is that the practical acceptance of clerical divorce and remarriage in PECUSA lagged behind such allowance for lay persons, but that by the latter part of the 1960s resistance on that front had crumbled as well. In the Church of England, it was only in the 1990s that divorced clergymen who remarried (DaR) no longer had to cease to function as clergy, and at the present day there is a battle looming in that church over the issue of allowing DaR clergy to become bishops. (The first bishop in the Church of England to marry in widowhood a divorced woman and remain in office, in 1981, was Stephen Verney [1919-2009], Bishop suffragan of Repton from 1977 to 1985; the first diocesan bishop to do so, in 1997, was Mark Santer [b. 1936], bishop of Birmingham from 1987 to 2002. A DaR clergyman became Bishop of Bangor in the Church in Wales in 2004.)
In the light of all this, and especially in view of the rapid onset of this shameful abandonment of “the Anglican discipline” over the space of barely thirty years before the emergence of Continuing Anglican churches beginning in 1978, one might imagine that one aspect of that “Anglican patrimony” that “Continuing Anglicans” purposed to continue (or restore) was this marital discipline that I have elucidated in this posting and its predecessor. In fact, however, this was not the case: “Continuing Anglican” jurisdictions have proven, by and large, to be as grossly undisciplined in their marital “discipline” as those bodies of the “Canterbury Communion” which they have felt compelled to leave. I am unaware whether in the early years after 1978 the various, and multiplying, Continuing Anglican bodies declined from an originally “orthodox historic Anglican” stance on DaR, or whether they fell short of it from the beginning — accurate information on that score would be most welcome — and I certainly cannot claim to know anything about either the marital disciplines or DaR status of the bishops of most of the estimated 40-45 Continuing Anglican jurisdictions in the United States. I have no relevant information on, to give a few examples, the Anglican Orthodox Church, the Christian Episcopal Church, the Episcopal Missionary Church, the Episcopal Orthodox Church, the Holy Catholic Church – Anglican Rite and other small jurisdictions, nor on the Reformed Episcopal Church and its twelve bishops, but I do have information about what are usually taken to be the principal Continuing Anglican bodies in the United States: the Anglican Catholic Church – Original Province (ACC-OP), the Anglican Church in America (ACA), the Anglican Province of America (APA), the Anglican Province of Christ the King (APCK) and the United Episcopal Church (UEC). The numbers that follow may be mistaken, especially as regards the total number of bishops in each “jurisdiction,” and corrections coming from informed readers would be most welcome.
Of the five current diocesan bishops in the ACC-OP, two are DaR. One of them was originally a bishop in the APCK, then the ACA, before joining the ACC-OP. Of the four active bishops in the UEC, one is DaR. Two of the three current diocesan bishops in the APCK are DaR, one of them doubly so (2xDaR). The APA currently has three dioceses, one of which is vacant; incidentally, it appears from various newsletters that I have perused online that there are other bishops numbered among the clergy of the APA, but not actively serving in parochial ministry. There are no easily accessible lists of such bishops, however. One of these bishops was deposed from the ministry in the Episcopal Church for adultery before remarrying and entering the APA. One of the APA diocesan bishops is DaR, the other not. Two non-diocesan bishops serve as rectors of APA parishes. One of these, the former primate of a jurisdiction that united with the APA some years ago, is DaR, but I am unaware of the marital status of the other. The late Rev’d Dr. Louis Tarsitano (d. 2005) informed me in 2001 or 2002 that at that time all of the bishops in the APA were DaR, but I understand that that situation ended a the time of the union to which I have just alluded.
The situation in the ACA is just as bad — or worse, if one takes into account its aspirations, as a province of the TAC, to be reconciled sacramentally with the Catholic Church, as formally and unanimously resolved upon and accepted by the TAC bishops at a synod held in Portsmouth, England, in October 2007. Two of the four current diocesan bishops of the ACA are DaR, as is one retired ACA diocesan bishop, as well as the primate of the TAC. One of these diocesan bishops was elected and consecrated in 2007, while the other was consecrated immediately after the Portsmouth synod and became a diocesan bishop at the beginning of 2008. The first of these was a diocesan bishop at the time of the Portsmouth synod, which he attended and whose decisions he supported; the other became a bishop subsequently, but both of them have since taken a highly equivocal stance and have been anything but clear about their support for the process set in motion at that synod. One is forced to wonder why the second of these bishops was allowed to become a bishop without, seemingly, having been required to give assurances of his support for that process. Although, as I wrote above, it is wholly to be deplored that the preservation or recovery of the “Anglican patrimony” of marital discipline has been so largely neglected by most Continuing Anglican bodies, it is astonishing to see how negligent those in the ACA responsible for establishing qualifications for fitness for selection as bishops have been, even after, and especially after, the Portsmouth synod, when it would have taken no exceptional degree of intelligence and discernment to realize that the advancement of DaR clergy to the episcopate would present additional grave problems for the realization of the goal which the TAC bishops set for themselves in Portsmouth. Ineptitude is an ever-present reality in the affairs of men, as much in church matters as in others, but such a concentration of ineptitude as this seems as remarkable as it is likely to prove unfortunate.
But is it simply “ineptitude?” I have sensed a certain unwillingness to face facts on the part of certain elements in the TAC/ACA, perhaps including some bishops, especially DaR bishops (and DaR clergy generally). The process set in motion by the Portsmouth synod was not one of “reunion” between two churches, but the reintegration into Catholic unity of what Rome, in its response, termed Anglicanorum coetibus, which may be translated as “Anglican groups,” that is, parishes, congregations, associations, religious communities and the like. It is not a union of the TAC and/or its provinces, such as it (or they) can expect to subsist as distinct entities once the reintegration has been achieved, for the Ordinariates will not be the continuation of the TAC and/or its provinces under different names, but something else altogether, and it is certainly not some kind of mere “intercommunion agreement” (like that between the Church of England and the Old Catholic churches achieved in the “Bonn Agreement” of 1931, or that between the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada, on the one hand, and the Polish National Catholic Church of 1946) which leaves the parties to such agreements largely autonomous. One “fact” that must be “faced” is that of rumors and suggestions to the effect that “some way will be found” for DaR bishops (and clergy) to receive an “amnesty” such that their marital histories will be “buried” or “swept under the rug,” without the necessity of submitting them to the judgment of Rome, or a Roman tribunal, and it must be made clear that these are without foundation, and simply insane — as, to an even greater degree, are similar reports that DaR bishops will be able to be reordained and to continue as clergy, perhaps even to serve as Ordinary of an Ordinariate, all the while remaining "married." Anglicanorum Coetibus holds out no prospect for this, and those acquainted with the Catechism of the Catholic Church and what it states about marriage have no basis for believing it, and, speaking personally, I am sure that it will never happen. If these reports accurate reflect the hopes or expectations of some DaR bishops, as I hope they do not, one would have to conclude that such individuals must have signed the CCC without reading it or without knowledge of its contents, or with the belief that, as “wearers of purple shirts,” such “technicalities” did not apply to them, or perhaps without any conviction that they would be asked to “put your money where your mouth is” — in other words, without the willingness (and intention) to convert that is the premise underlying Pope Benedict’s Anglicanorum Coetibus and the purpose that it is meant to facilitate.
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