A Great Step Forward, and Its Detractors

The 400,000-strong Traditional Anglican Communion, passed the following resolutions last Thursday, now made public:

  • That this Assembly, representing the Traditional Anglican Communion in Great Britain, offers its joyful thanks to Pope Benedict XVI for his forthcoming Apostolic Constitution allowing the corporate reunion of Anglicans with the Holy See, and requests the Primate and College of Bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion to take the steps necessary to implement this Constitution.
  • That this Assembly is of the respectful opinion that Bishop Robert Mercer CR might be considered for the position of Ordinary in Great Britain.

In other words, the TAC is accepting the offer, asking their leadership to do what need to be done, and have even proposed Robert Mercer, the retired Anglican Bishop, to be their Ordinary. This is wonderful news! The news hardly comes as a surprise, though . Contrary to all of the media reports about how Pope Benedict is simply preying upon disaffected Anglicans, the truth is that the TAC asked to enter the Catholic Church. If a group of 400,000 Anglicans asks to join the Church, who in their right mind would say no? For that matter, if a group of 4 people, or one person, asked to join, why say no? They had special requests, most of which the Vatican granted. If this were any other group of people, Church liberals would be elated. The Vatican, perserving the distinctive cultural and liturgical elements of another people while sharing in the One Bread and One Faith? What’s not to like?

But it turns out that traditional Anglicans, like traditionalists of all stripes, are to be hated and scorned and given no shelter. That’s been the reaction of liberal Catholics (like Dr. Hunt, who I mentioned previously, or Hans Kung) as well as liberal Anglicans. A pretty classic example is that of Lawrence C. Provenzano, Anglican Bishop of Long Island, an ex-Catholic priest who discovered a year after his ordination that the Catholic Church is headed by a papacy, and has no female or openly practicing homosexual priests. Upon learning these shocking facts, he promptly left the Church and now serves as the Anglican Bishop of Long Island, New York. According to the New York Times, after hearing of the Vatican’s new Apostolic Constitution, Provenzano “dashed off a response giving his take on the Tuesday announcement. “At the heart of all of this is the reality that the Roman Church is willing to welcome angry, reactionary, misogynistic, homophobic people,” he wrote.”

Bear in mind that the people he’s slandering (I guess it’s libel, since it’s in print) are a bunch of his alleged coreligionists. He’s mad that the Catholic Church will accept these Anglicans, not because he thinks that they should still be Anglican, but because he doesn’t think anyone should accept them at all. If you want to know the source of the schism, it’s this attitude: why on Earth would the traditional Anglicans want to stay in a group which thinks of them as beneath contempt and beneath communion?

One commentator aptly noted that within Anglicanism, the charge of “heretic” has given way to charges of “sexist” and “homophobe” for anyone opposing the Anglican ‘New Orthodoxy’ of anyone and everyone doing basically whatever they want. Two bits of irony in Provenzano’s reaction:

  1. His slurring of traditional Anglicans comes in a response he rapidly “dashed off” the same day as the Vatican’s surprise announcement. And without any sense of irony, he refers to those he hates as being the ones who are “angry” and “reactionary” as part of his angry reaction to the Vatican.
  2. This one’s darker irony. Provenzano owes his position as bishop to the libertine excesses of Long Island Anglicanism. Or more specifically, his immediate predecessor, Orris G. Walker, was forced to resign, but not before the church threw a banquet honoring him. One Anglican priest told the VirtueOnline reporter covering the story, “What a strange sort of event it will be, the main honoree is perhaps the most disgraced bishop to serve the American Church in memory.” Provenzano became bishop in the equivalence of a special election, where they needed someone to fix things, and quickly.

This “anything-goes” approach has been a disaster for Long Island Anglicanism, which only a half-century ago could boast a feverently Anglo-Catholic bishop, James Pernette De Wolfe.

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