Ordinariate Denies Favoritism Charges

The following article is from Anglican Ink, and it presents an issue which has floated around amongst both Ordinariate and non-Ordinariate clergy and laity. Posting this here should not be taken as doubting the assertion that there has been no favoritism shown, but it's probably important for the Ordinariate leadership to continue to take seriously the fact that there are those with this perception, and to address it in "thought, word and deed."

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Ordinariate denies favoritism charges

TEC clergy dominate new U.S. Anglican Ordinariate

By George Conger

The head of the U.S. branch of the Anglican Ordinariate, Msg. Jeffrey Steenson, has denied accusations it has given preference to former Episcopal clergy in its ordination process. However, among its first class of priests, 16 of 19 are former Episcopal clergy, with only 3 receiving their formation and orders from the continuing church.

Questions and concerns about the implementation and interpretation of Anglicanorum coetibus have met the Vatican’s initiative to create a liturgical home for Anglicans with the Roman Catholic Church. In an interview with PBS’s Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, Dr. Ian Markham, Dean of the Virginia Theological Seminary criticized the pastoral provision for Anglicans for sheep stealing.

“There was a perception that this was poaching by the Roman Catholic Church of Anglicans around the world. It was discourteous, it was stealing sheep, it was unecumenical,” he said, adding “It’s viewed as not recognizing the value of and integrity of our traditions.”

Its critics also charge the sheep stealing is directed towards the Church of England and the Episcopal Church. While talks began in 1991 between leaders of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) and the Vatican on returning Anglican Catholics to Rome, TAC clergy have been noticeably absent from the Ordinariates in the U.S. and U.K. The three TAC bishops who spearheaded the reunion efforts with Rome — David Moyer, John Hepworth and Louis Falk – are absent from the clergy ranks of the Ordinariate.

Some former TAC clergy who have applied for ordination in the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter tell Anglican Ink that they have been treated brusquely. Others report that a year after contacting the Ordinariate’ s Washington office, they are still waiting to hear what the future holds.

One clergyman, who asked not to be named as he had applied for reception, told Anglican Ink he had been discouraged the “Pastoral Provision was so un-pastoral”. A “Fort Worth mafia” was dominating the U.S. Ordinariate – Msg. Steenson is a former Fort Worth rector, while the vicar for clergy, the Rt. Rev. Charles Hough III is the former canon to the ordinary of the Diocese of Fort Worth.

A second aspirant said he had been pressed to explain why he had not come to Rome when he left the Episcopal Church some twenty five years ago. If he accepted papal supremacy and the dogmas of the Catholic Church, why had he delayed a quarter century in making his submission, he was asked, the clergyman told AI.

The question is not an unfair one, however, as the Catholic Church’s self-understanding of its role in the economy of salvation is found in the statements of the Second Vatican Council.

Lumen Gentium 14 states: “Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved”, which on its face, would appear to render suspect in Roman eyes those who have held long standing doubts as to the veracity of Anglican truth claims and delayed going over to Rome.

Of the 19 clergy re-ordained for service in the Ordinariate, 7 have come directly from the Episcopal Church, 6 from the Episcopal Church via the Anglican Church in North America, 3 from the Episcopal Church via the Anglican Church in America, 2 from the Anglican Church in America, and 1 from the Charismatic Episcopal Church.

Asked to respond to the assertions of unfair treatement of TAC clergy, Msg. Steenson said:“Not true. The judgment of Apostolicae curae falls on each of us alike. We treat each applicant equally, and apply the objective criteria of discernment that the Catholic Church requires.”

The Nozzle of Weirdness

On or about June 2010, just before the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada (ACCC) was to hold its Synod in Vancouver, a bizarre thing happened after Mass across the breakfast table in our little parish.  One of the now former parishioners, a woman told me she hoped I would not "hog the bishop" at the Synod.  "You're always hogging the bishop!" she said. "It's disgusting!  He's a married man!"

These remarks came so out of the blue that I smiled politely and said a little internal prayer for her, realizing she was probably under a great deal of stress for various personal reasons.  Her remarks had nothing to do with me and consequently, they rolled right off.

I am assertive and will, I hope politely, go talk with a bishop or whomever else if I wish.  Maybe I inadvertently stepped on toes and was insensitive concerning people who are less direct.  But the remark was especially odd since our former bishop is not "hog-able." He has always been extremely disciplined about spending time with everyone, circulating around the room to pay attention to each person and not, in my perception, ever playing favorites.  If anything, he has been friendly but distant, in a professional way, with me, making the accusation all the more ludicrous.

I dubbed the phrase "nozzle of weirdness" in talking to one of my friends about this incident.

But this was just once small incident in the led up to the parish split that occurred in September of that year.

We discovered that many people, including the two wardens, were meeting offsite formulating plans to wrest our parish out of the ACCC and its Catholic-Church-trajectory by seeking new episcopal oversight.  In other words, they were going after the building and seeking to push our bishop out — though they claimed they would keep him as rector as long as he shifted allegiance to another ecclesial jurisdiction and abandoned plans to join the Catholic Church.

There were also open acts of defiance — once during coffee hour a retired priest and scholar literally waved the Book of Common Prayer open to the 39 Articles and thundered his disagreement with the Roman Catholic Church.  He and his wife had been a joy to have in our parish, but the decision to enter the Catholic Church was too much for them.

I write this as a long preface to why I do not hastily make judgments about what is going on in Los Angeles at St. Mary of the Angels, where it seems to me the Nozzle of Weirdness is on full blast.

My experience with falsehoods said about me or others in our parish — that were penny ante compared to what's going on in LA — has made me less inclined to jump to conclusions or to believe things that are written on blogs or on Anglican news sites that tend, for the most part, to be anti-Roman Catholic.

Continue reading "The Nozzle of Weirdness"

Statement from Bishop on New Pro-Diocese

Statement from Louis Campese, Bishop Ordinary
Pro-Diocese of the Holy Family

14 February, 2011

Laudetur Jesus Christus!

Until a few days ago, when the web site of the Anglican Church in America was severely pruned to eliminate virtually every positive reference to the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus and the engagement of the Province in the discernment process toward acceptance of full visible unity with the Catholic Church, the following notice appeared under the title "House of Bishops Update":

At a meeting on 1 June 2010, the House of Bishops and the Executive Council of the Anglican Church in America approved a unified approach designed to provide full support for parishes and clergy who have indicated their desire to enter the proposed Ordinariate, once established, while simultaneously providing for the ongoing pastoral care of all members of the ACA. The meetings were conducted and concluded in the spirit of mutual harmony and Christian love.

This short notice seemed to reflect what I, at the time, believed was a genuine and charitable unanimity on the acceptance of the notion that the House of Bishops would continue to act generously in accommodating the needs of those groups and individuals, both clerical and lay, who desired to transition to the anticipated Personal Ordinariate to be erected by the Catholic authorities in the United States of America.  The idea that groups and individuals could remain canonically resident within their present circumstances whilst, at the same time, affiliating themselves with each other under the personal jurisdiction of the Primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion, all the while remaining welcome members of the Anglican Church in America, seemed to be a creative compromise welcome on the part of the entire House of Bishops.  Bishop David  Moyer, Archbishop Hepworth's "vicar" to organize the Patrimony of the Primate in the USA Province of the TAC, subsequently set about his mission, and I remained Bishop Ordinary of the Diocese of the Eastern United States, with further work to accomplish before any of my parishes, missions, or myself could contemplate a move into the Patrimony.

In the last month, having reached an amicable and unanimous arrangement with my own diocesan Standing Committee, which of course represented interests within the Diocese hostile to the Apostolic Constitution, I stepped aside, allowing those parishes which did not desire to pursue the Traditional Anglican Communion's foundational goal of full communion with the Catholic Church to begin to reorganize the Diocese in accordance with their own perceived pastoral needs, and, with the blessing of the Primate and the majority of the ACA House of Bishops, I assumed jurisdiction of the newly-created Pro-Diocese of the Holy Family, an entity established (temporarily) for the express purpose of gathering those parishes, missions, and other groups and individuals which had declared for the Ordinariate (or were in the process of doing so).  The new Pro-Diocese was conceived of — and recognized (albeit briefly) — by all parties involved as being both under the umbrella of the Patrimony of the Primate and the ACA.

Now, the ACA House of Bishops, through several of its chancellors, has released a statement denying the Pro-Diocese of the Holy Family any place in the ACA and rejecting entirely the notion of the Primate's jurisdiction and the legal concept of his Patrimony, despite general agreement on this provision in the past.

I regard this statement as grievously unfortunate.  As it concerns the Pro-Diocese, its existence — and my jurisdiction — derive from the Primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion himself; they are not dependent on the ACA, though we had desired to maintain the bonds of affection stemming from our shared history until the final moment of visible separation became a necessity.  The Pro-Diocese of the Holy Family was erected to fulfill a pressing pastoral need in a time of transition and upheaval and with a simple — and sacred — mission.  I will continue this holy work to the end.

Regrettably, though the recent chancellors' edict can have no effect on the Pro-Diocese, it seems that it directly challenges the order and discipline of the TAC to the extent that it would appear that the Anglican Church in America has excommunicated herself from the worldwide communion.  I call upon the ACA bishops to carefully consider their position and not to rashly and needlessly divorce themselves from the TAC, which alone among the major Continuing Anglican jurisdictions has truly committed itself to the cause of Christian Unity.

In the meantime, with God's ever-abundant grace, I will continue to strive to shepherd that small part of Christ's Flock which has been entrusted to me.  May we find our True Home quickly!

DEUS Mission Joins Pro-Diocese and Awaits Ordinariate

St. Luke's Mission in The Villages, Florida, formerly a mission of the ACA's Diocese of the Eastern United States, on February 13, 2011, voted unanimously to join both the transitional Pro-Diocese of the Holy Family and the anticipated Personal Ordinariate to be erected in the USA.

Be of Good Cheer

It was the twelfth grade, public school in southern California. I was 17 years old and starting to explore spiritual things; not from a godly perspective, but I was exploring. So I signed up for a "Bible as literature" course. The professor of the course was quiet about his Baptist faith, but he taught me more about God's word in those short three months than I had learned in the previous seventeen years. One of the requirements of the course was to memorize a Psalm (of at least seven verses) and recite it to the class. I chose Psalm 120.

1 In my distress I cried unto the LORD, and he heard me.
2 Deliver my soul, O LORD, from lying lips, and from a deceitful tongue.
3 What shall be given unto thee? or what shall be done unto thee, thou false tongue?
4 Sharp arrows of the mighty, with coals of juniper.
5 Woe is me, that I sojourn in Mesech, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar!
6 My soul hath long dwelt with him that hateth peace.
7 I am for peace: but when I speak, they are for war.

These were the first words of Scripture that were ever implanted in my heart and they have always stayed with me. I have experienced, many times and in many ways, the attacks of "lying lips and deceitful tongues", and I have to say that the "sticks and stones" encouragement has never been much help. "Names" do hurt us, and attacks against our character can cause more pain than a fist. I have thought at times that I would rather have someone hit me in the face than to speak to me with contempt. In this Psalm, Jesus offers us a place of hope and strength.

The end of Psalm 120 is supposed to be tempered by the beginning. We may be speaking peace and hearing others speak for war, but in this time of distress we are to remember that when we cry unto the Lord He will hear us. The Devil always works to prevent good, and the Ordinariate is a beautiful work of righteousness that will bring peace and unity to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. That does not mean, however, that it will be easy. The Apostle Paul was once stoned for his obedience to God. He had to leave the city, but when he returned, he did not give them simple platitudes. He let them know that good is always resisted by evil, and that the hatefulness of those who oppose what is good and right is the clearest testimony to their error. The description given by Luke of Paul's return to the very place where he had been subjected to stoning is filled with guidance for us today. He tells us that Paul was, "confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith . . . "(Acts 14:22a). Confirm: remind them that they are God's people and therefore loved by Him. Exhort: remind them that being God's people means that we are called to act like it.

Be strong and persevere is what Paul told his spiritual children; words that many of us need to hear regularly. Yet, hearing them often can make us callous towards them, and that is always a danger, so we also need to be shaken a bit so that we can keep our head on straight. Paul lets them know something more that we often forget in challenging days like this. He warns them, " . . . we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22b). If entrance into communion with the Holy See were easy and void of any challenges from those who disagree, I would be concerned. It would be something to take before the Lord and ask, "I thought that we were supposed to expect persecution for righteousness' sake?"

No one coming to the Ordinariate is asking that now. Some, though, may be asking, "why me?" and they need to be exhorted to continue in the faith. God hears us when we cry unto Him, and He has heard us in our cries for full sacramental communion. At the same time, God makes the road very narrow and says to us, "If you really want this, then you will work hard for it and stay faithful in the struggle." Anything worth having is worth fighting for, and hopelessness and depression often rise up because we get our eyes focused off of God's promises. As soon as we look at our challenges they begin to look larger than they are. In the second volume of The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, a soldier tells his king that things are not as bad as they seem. The poetry that Tolkien puts into his words are a healthful tonic to remind us that we always make things worse than they are: "He that flies, counts every foe twice".

That which hinders us is not half as bad as our fearful hearts make it out to be; and our blessed Lord is always greater than we think. "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution" (2 Timothy 3:12). Paul knew this well; he learned it from the feet of He Who suffered more than any of us. Jesus knew where His suffering and ours would lead, and He was able to tell the Apostles about this so that we could keep our confidence in Him and Him alone: "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).  

Bishop Campese to Head Provisional Structure

Having resigned from his office as Ordinary of the Diocese of the Eastern United States of the Anglican Church in America, Bishop Louis Campese is now to serve as Ordinary of a new transitional structure, under the umbrella of the existing Patrimony of the Primate, designed to facilitate the movement of faithful clerics and groups from the deeply divided diocese into the anticipated personal ordinariate to be erected in the United States of America under the terms of Anglicanorum Coetibus.

The new jurisdiction is called the "Pro-Diocese of the Holy Family," and, in a recent interview, Bishop Campese, stressed its temporary nature.  The Pro-Diocese will have only a lightweight administration, designed solely to accomplish the mission of Christian Unity to which the bishops of the ACA committed themselves over three years ago.

Bishop Campese has appointed a Council of Advice (a purely consultative, non-canonical body) to assist him.  Its members are:

  • Fr. Edward Meeks, Rector of Christ the King Parish (Towson, Maryland)
  • Fr. Anthony Vidal, Vicar of St. Augustine of Canterbury (Baltimore Area)
  • Fr. Mark Siegel, Dean of the Cathedral of the Incarnation (Orlando, FL)
  • Fr. William Holiday, Curate, Cathedral of the Incarnation
  • Ms. Carla Hansen, Treasurer

In addition to its presently Anglican members, Bishop Campese has also appointed two Catholic members to the Council of Advice (both Contributors to The Anglo-Catholic):

  • Fr. Christopher Phillips, Pastor of Our Lady of the Atonement
  • Mr. Christian Campbell

The Patrimony of the Primate

Stress was a big part of life during those years. I was dealing with various ecclesiastical issues that were enough to make me lose a considerable amount of weight (and I'm already as thin as a bean-pole). I was ministering in an REC parish, and finding myself completely out of place. Then a friend sent me a link to the ACA website and I read that the stated intent of the TAC was to seek unity with the Catholic Church. They were not seeking friendly relations with a signed peace treaty while smiling at one another across the pond, but "full sacramental communion". Furthermore, there were (contrary to the opinion of many) no conditions. I was hooked. Why? I cannot tell you precisely. I can say that I was overwhelmed with the realization that there were others out there who were not just talking about rectifying the horrible things that have occurred since the Protestant Reformation, but who were actually doing something about it. I kept reading and reading. Finally I looked up which diocese I was in and picked up a phone and called the diocesan office. After a couple of minutes I heard Bishop Louis Campese come on the line, and we ended up speaking for almost an hour.

I requested my letter dimissory to be sent out soon after, and then sat back to watch what has transpired over the last few years. I have been blessed both with being under Bishop Campese as my Ordinary (and Pastor), as well as being here in Des Moines and having Archbishop Falk right in my parish. These two men are now entering into the Patrimony of the Primate here in the United States because they believe the time is right. Bishop Campese has stepped aside as the Ordinary for the Diocese of the Eastern United States, and Archbishop Falk, although transferring to the Patrimony, remains the President of the ACA house of Bishops until April. The patrimony, while still within the jurisdiction of the ACA, is a sort of "holding tank" for the interim until the Ordinariate is actually established. These two men have done much of the work to get us this far, and have held true to the principles and foundational documents of the TAC, and should be fully appreciated for holding the to truth through all kinds of challenges and difficulties over the years. They stepped out in faith not knowing whether the fruit of their work would even be seen in their lifetimes.

Continue reading "The Patrimony of the Primate"

To Partake With Confidence

With all the packing, loading, driving, ice storms, celebrating Christmas with the family (in a hotel room), colds, new responsibilities, more colds, finding a new home, unloading, and unpacking, me and my family have barely had time to sit back and take a breather. We have been affectionately welcomed by our new parish, and have found some of the Catholic community here in Des Moines to have open arms also. These are truly joyful days that we live in.

I have been spending a good deal of time pondering what Catholicism means for the average Christian. Having met a number of people who do not really know the difference between Anglican and Catholic if their lives depended on it. I did get a dead-pan stare last week when I told someone that I was seeking ordination in the Catholic Church. The listener glanced back and forth through the cluster of children surrounding my wife and I, and I finally let her off the hook and explained things to her. Yet, most do not know what the differences really are. If they do not have a particular aversion to Catholicism, then they often see it as "just another denomination" and do not perceive the gravity of what we are doing.

When it is a pagan who has this point of view, I let them go and do not try to "get all theological" with them (unless they are genuinely seeking an explanation). When it is a Christian, however, I will usually try to enlighten them to the fact that we are not just switching clubs. Some of my relatives appear to view the change on the level of switching to a different grocery store ("I'm glad you found where you are happy"). Yet for those of us involved in this change the differences are much more deeply rooted. Subjects like, conditional ordination, liturgical nuance, laity governing structure, and hymnody will come to the mind of many who are concerned. Yet, these are not necessarily the subjects that most need to be convinced of.

For the sincere child of God who is trusting his priest to take him to the throne of God, the core of what he cares about is that he has communion. He wants to know that when he approaches his spiritual father at the rail, that he is actually receiving the body and blood of the Divine Savior of the World. He wants to know that he can eat and drink with confidence, not doubting the validity of the consecration. If we as clergy cannot convince our people that when they enter the Ordinariate they will receive the genuine sacrament at the altar then nothing else is worth our time. It is not a matter of squabbling over whether there was an illegitimate Pope in the thirteenth century, or whether a certain council failed to dot an "i" and cross a couple of "t's". These things are for the ivory tower debates (which are important, but only in their own place). Our people need to know that it is indeed the body and blood that they are receiving and that they are forgiven. Is there any price too great for this? Not in my book.

As news continues to trickle in, we are all getting more and more excited. We see the future rushing up to welcome us, and the past fading into the distance. I shall not debate what the Lord thinks of our Sacramental life in the ACA right now (so please do not even consider commenting on the subject). I know that the CDF encouraged us to continue ministering to our people. I also know that God is gracious and merciful and forgiving towards a thousand generations of those who love Him. It is not rebellion that allows me to serve (currently) as a priest outside of the Catholic Church, but it is a passionate love for Christ and His Church that makes me want to serve as a priest inside of the Catholic Church. The one thing above all else that pushes me to become a Catholic priest is a desire to serve His people and to be able to tell each of them individually, with perfect confidence, that what I am giving them is "the body of Christ which was given for thee" and that it can "preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life."

Stepping Down, Stepping Across

I have just sent the following letter those among my email contacts who have an interest and post it here for the benefit of the readers of this blog.  — SLE+

The Feast of Saint John the Evangelist
December 27, AD2010

Dear Family, Parishioners, Colleagues, and Friends in Christ,

Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

It was through the late Father Homer Rogers (d. 1980) of Saint Francis Church in Dallas that I was introduced to the idea that ultimately all love songs are about the soul’s quest for the vision of God in his Bride, the Church.  In my case, the example of that genre that seems most applicable is “Bless the Broken Road,” best known through its performance by the country-crossover group Rascal Flatts.  It reads,

I set out on a narrow way, many years ago
Hoping I would find true love along the broken road
But I got lost a time or two
Wiped my brow and kept pushing through
I couldn't see how every sign pointed straight to you

Every long lost dream led me to where you are
Others who broke my heart, they were like northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you

I think about the years I spent, just passing through
I'd like to have the time I lost, and give it back to you
But you just smile and take my hand
You've been there, you understand
It's all part of a grander plan that is coming true

Every long lost dream led me to where you are
Others who broke my heart, they were like northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you
But now I'm just rolling home into my lover's arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you

( – Bobby C. Boyd, Jeff Hannah and Marcus Hummon,

There is an old Yiddish saying that translates, “Man plans: God laughs.”  The journey that is life only rarely progresses according to the plan of the pilgrim.  Instead, it is full of unexpected turns and vistas unlooked for, since it is directed by Another.  Mine is no exception.  As recently as two years ago, I had not thought that I would come to this moment, but now that it has arrived, it seems to me that all that has gone before has led directly to it.


As some of you already know, as some of you have been suspecting, as some of you have feared, as some of you have hoped, and perhaps as most of you until this moment have not been told, I shall be stepping down as Vicar of Saint Peter’s Anglican Church in Waynesville at the end of this month in order to prepare for coming into full communion with the Catholic Church.   None of my congregation will be following me on this path: instead, Saint Peter’s will continue as an Anglican mission, still in the Anglican Church of America, but under the care of the Anglican Province of America until the finalization of a formal concordat between these two jurisdictions.  A smooth transition of administration is already under way.  My final celebration of the Eucharist at Saint Peter’s will take place, God willing, at 7 p.m. on December 29th.  (This is the Feast of Saint Thomas of Canterbury, a saint for whom I have always held a special regard:  Indeed, my first offering of the Mass as a newly-ordained priest on May 16th, 1980 was a votive of Saint Thomas.)

It is my preference and my hope to be able to make the impending transition through the special structure – called an “ordinariate’ – which was provided for Anglicans by Pope Benedict XVI last year to enable those of us who will to enter the Catholic Church and to bring along with us those elements of our liturgical, theological, and pastoral heritage that are in conformity with the Church’s teaching.  It is intended to be a means whereby these gifts may be contributed to the rich variety encompassed by that vast Communion, which (though most are not aware of the fact) consists of two dozen distinct ritual Churches united with Rome and with one another.  However, the Ordinariate – the “bridge across the Tiber,” as some have called it – is only one means of accomplishing the end – the “how,” which is provisional, as contrasted with the “that,” which is settled.  With or without an Ordinariate, the decision as to my course is firm.  The only thing that I have not decided is whether to apply for ordination:  On that matter, “my soul in silence waits.”

Having said all that, I still suspect that most of you are less interested in the “how” and the “that” than in the “why” of the matter, so it is mostly to that question that I will address myself.

When it comes to the question of entering into full communion, most people who are not Catholic – and, no doubt, some who are – tend to focus on what the newcomer has to (or what they fancy he has to) leave behind and not to notice what he gets to take with him.  With that in mind, let me begin by saying that my taking this step cannot fairly be characterized as the rejection of anything that is good, or true, or beautiful in my Christian heritage and past history, whether personal or ecclesiastical. Instead, it involves my carrying it into what I have come to recognize as the one arena on this earth in which, by the grace of God, each and all of these blessings may most surely be moved toward the perfection that they will attain in heaven.  To be sure, there will be baggage that I will have to leave behind on the platform, but that will be nothing that I ought to miss very much, if at all.  If I had to – God being my helper – I’d leave it all behind but that does not seem to be required, especially on the terms offered by that kind and gentle soul who now occupies Peter’s Throne.  Even if such a sacrifice were required, it would still be worth it to me in order to move closer to the heart of the “Great Belonging” of which we all in Christ are members.


My motto for this journey could be, “In my beginning is my end.” It has been, and remains, a pilgrimage from a Great into a Greater Belonging.  Like Tennyson’s Ulysses, “I am a part of all that I have met,” and it is a part of me.

I was baptized into the Great Belonging of Christ’s body in the Methodist Church, but that act did not make me a Methodist, but a catholic Christian.  This is true in the case of all baptisms administered with water “in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”  (Methodism claims nothing less; the Catholic Church entirely agrees, for while she teaches that the Church of Jesus Christ “subsists” visibly and most fully in that body whose bishops are in full communion with one another and with the Bishop of Rome, she does not thereby deny the reality of the Christian identity and commitment of those who are outside those limits, but instead invites them inside:  “All my fresh springs are in thee.”)

As a young man, in order to remain, and more perfectly be, Methodist, I became an Anglican by confirmation in the Episcopal Church.  Since I had learned that, so long as John and Charles Wesley lived, they refused to countenance the separation of their movement from the Church of England, I believed I was simply doing what they would have wanted.

As a middle-aged man, following years of “fighting the long defeat” of apostolic Christianity in the Episcopal Church and the official Anglican Communion and concluding that there was no lasting desire or intention in them to allow the survival, let alone the extension, of the catholic faith within them, I entered the Continuing Anglican movement in order to continue to be an Anglican.

My combined experience within both the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Continuum has finally led me to the same conclusion so many of my friends, mentors, and colleagues reached long before I did, which is that nothing good about the Anglican Way ultimately can survive if it remains cut off from its fount and origin. The past four and one-half centuries of organic disunion have demonstrated to my own satisfaction that apart from its union with the main trunk, the Anglican branch of the Christian tree –finest and most humane product of the Reformation though it is – can only either (1) rot from the heart out, until merely the bark is left to give it shape until it is fragmented by external pressure, or (2) become fossilized, in which case it may be more solid but no less subject to fragmentation.


Thomas Edison once said, “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.” Experiments succeed whether they prove or disprove their hypothesis.  So far as I can see, the Anglican experiment has succeeded in that it has disproved the hypothesis that catholic faith and practice can endure indefinitely apart from visible communion with that See of which Peter and Paul were co-founders.

This is coupled with the realization that – notwithstanding all the faults and sins of its members and even of its leaders (which it acknowledges) – for the last hundred years and more (while one by one the churches of the Reformation have succumbed, through surrender to or by retreat in the face of the spirit of the age) there has been in the world but one Christian communion which has consistently and proactively stood for divine truth and the dignity of man against every idolatrous tyranny which destroys and degrades him.   This perception finds confirmation in the prophetic ministries of Paul VI, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI, and – and with more besides – it has made clear to me beyond a reasonable doubt my own call into full communion with the Catholic Church.


I want it to be clearly understood that however much those things I have come to perceive as shortcomings in what I have passed through have propelled me along this path, of far greater importance to me is the fact that I have been drawn on by the fullness and the splendor of truth confessed by the Catholic Church.  Of course, I am fully aware that such a statement might lead many to ask, “You mean, you really believe all that stuff?!”

If by “all that stuff,” the questioner means the authoritative teaching contained in The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992), the short answer is, “Yes, I do.”  Do I comprehend every detail? No, at least not yet, but since faith is first a gift of God leading to and enabling a free decision to trust the Gift-giver, I am not required fully to understand in order to give full assent.  Indeed, it is through my willing assent that I may hope at length to understand.

That the journey won’t end with this step is certain, because none of our journeys ends on this earth.  There is a final step.  In his time, at his command and in order to attain the final end for which I was made, the Lord Jesus Christ will summon me from this Militant to the Expectant portion of his Church, there to strive until all is subsumed into the Church Triumphant – the Greatest Belonging of all.  And in that end will be my true beginning.  T. S. Eliot says it well:

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flame are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.

– Four Quartets: “Little Gidding,” V.

Although this is all I feel led say on the subject at the moment (and, Lord knows, it is a lot), please don’t refrain from asking for clarification if you need it.  And keep me in your prayers, whatever you do, as you shall be in mine.  So shall we all at length find ourselves together “landed safe on Canaan’s side.”  Then, after such sorrow, what joy, what light, what glory!
In Christ our Lord and our God,

Samuel L. Edwards

Waynesville, North Carolina
Eve of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception through
the Feast of Saint John the Evangelist
December 7-27, 2010

Ordinariate-bound Mission in Irving, Texas

The members of the ACA Mission Church of the Savior of the World and His Blessed Mother, located in Irving, Texas, and led by Fr. Ben Pardo, have voted unanimously to seek entrance into the Ordinariate when it is established in the United States. This mission congregation has been gathering for just two and a half years, and its attendance continues to grow. Its apostolate is especially to assist Hispanic individuals and families in finding their way to the fulness of the Catholic faith through Anglican spirituality and the Ordinariate – a reminder of Christ’s instructions to his apostles, to “gather the fragments, that nothing be lost.”