Posted by: Fr. C. | July 17, 2014

A Congress of Catholics

Several days ago, I returned from the combined meetings of the Fellowship of Concerned Churchmen (some of the folks who brought you the Affirmation of St. Louis) and Forward in Faith North America. The gathering took place at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in beautiful Belleville, Illinois.  This would be the very same Shrine that also is sponsoring, “Mindfulness: Sitting, Walking, Running the Buddhist Way,” but, at least for a week they folks were “Kneeling, Praying, Celebrating the Anglo-Catholic Way.”

At this point, I simply can’t resist an editorial comment. In what could best be described as a true mixed metaphor, the Buddhist get-together is to be led by the “Venerable Sha’ul Hirschmann, Senior Priest at Blue Lotus Dharma Center” in St. Louis.  Sha’ul, whose family may well be sitting shiva over the Buddhist bit, will talk on July 19th about Buddhism and mindfulness whether in sitting, walking or running. Following Sha’ul’s presentation, he will lead interested people in a meditative walk through the Shrine grounds.  You can bet is won’t likely involve the outdoor Stations of the Cross that are among the few traditional touches at the Shrine.  No matter.stations

Amidst the moderne architecture (post-Vatican II Cube with a water feature/font) and unfailingly cheerful staff, the FCC/FiFNA activities drew together many old warriors of the Anglo-Catholic movement, including some who still are locked in litigation with the “former ecclesial body” that has grown more vicious as it has grown in apostasy.   The mood was forward-looking, and I did not observe an Angrican(TM) in the bunch.  Ok, I saw one whom I will not name, but he has been cranky for years since his return to “the former ecclesial body” following at least one scandale amongst the Continuing Anglicans.  The rest of the lot, which included a number of old friends, was quite upbeat.

shrine-belleville

The “Cube Church” with Water Feature

The program consisted of a series of speakers and panels on the topic of prayer variously by Bp. Parsons (Quincy, retired), Bp. Morales (Quincy, current), and Mother Gabriella (Orthodox).  The speakers offered meditations on prayer by St. Therese of Avila, prayer within the Rule of St. Benedict, and the Jesus Prayer.

On the “business” side, the major announcement was to call for a gathering of Anglo-Catholics in Ft.Worth in July 2015.  There is not yet a theme or even a template, but an hotel has been booked and the wheels are turning.  The meeting has been termed an “Anglo-Catholic Congress” after the famous Congresses of the 1920’s and 1930s. The question is who, amongst a fractious lot with Donatist leanings, will tip up at the “Congress”? (I even have been pondering whether “Congress” is the right term for a group of Anglo-Catholics-perhaps “Parliament” would more apropos, but its been taken.)

Parliament of Owls (S. Gustaf)

Parliament of Owls (S. Gustaf)

Obviously, at least some of the Continuing Anglicans will manifest themselves.  Indeed, Bp. Chandler Holder Jones of the Anglican Province in America (APA) was named to the FiFNA Council.  So, it seems likely that there will be participation from that part of the Continuum.  Recent events including several developments during the Belleville meeting cloud the horizon.

First, there was the decision in England to “ordain” women as “bishops”.  This makes any association with Canterbury highly problematic.  Weigh this bit o’ heresy with the ongoing “ordination” of women clergy in the ACNA, a body in communion with parts of FiFNA, and orthodox Anglicans likely begin to experience serious gastric distress.  The ongoing “study” of the issue by ACNA is of little comfort, as there is nothing to study.  Indeed, even agreeing to (another) study of women’s ordination lends a measure of credence to an issue that has has but one answer.

Were this not problematic enough, the CofE continued its descent into hell with several bishops and a former primate lending support to a euthanasia bill in Parliament.  The topping on this unholy dessert was…wait for it…the appearance of on photos on Facebook showing Fr. Andrew Newcombe, Vicar of Holy Trinity, Hoxton, showing his family enjoying London’s Gay Pride Festival. Fr. Andrew’s wife, Dr. Lindsay Newcombe, shown replete with gay pride sticker, happens to be Vice Chairman (apt title) of Forward in FaithThis follows Bishop Jonathan Baker, Chairman of Forward in Faith, becoming a signatory of the controversial Pilling Report which advocates a revision of the Church of England’s stance on same-sex relationships.

Whilst FiFNA has repudiated all of this stuff, it predictably has prompted ridicule of Anglo-Catholics by the neo-Zwinglians that populate the “Evangelical” wing of Anglicanism, and the renewal of pronouncements by Tiber-swimming Ordinariate enthusiasts (no, you are Roman Catholics now) that Anglo-Catholicism is dead and all should sail away on the barque of St. Peter.  Questions raised publicly by one priest during the FiFNA meeting were met with an answer that sounded more than a bit relativistic.  I am sure that was not what was intended, but, to paraphrase the late Ricky Ricardo, “FiFNA got a lot of ‘splainin’ to do” before the Congress if there is to be the broadest possible participation.

In the meantime, feeder events to the Congress are in the works.  This writer and Fr. Michael Heidt have undertaken the incredibly contorted legal steps to revive the Festivals of Faith(tm) which we put together some years back We are working on two festivals to take place six-months before the Congress.  Whilst these will be stand alone festivals, they are intended to renew enthusiasm for the Anglo-Catholic expression of the faith and, concomitantly, interest in the Congress.  If you would like to be involved in a festival, or would like to sponsor one at your parish, please be in contact with me or Fr. Heidt care of this blog.

In the meantime, let us pray for the “Congress of Anglo-Catholics”, for its success, for unity amongst us, and for clarity of purpose.

O GRACIOUS Father, we humbly beseech thee for thy holy Catholic Church; that thou wouldst be pleased to fill it with all truth, in all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in anything it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, establish it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of him who died and rose again, and ever liveth to make intercession for us, Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord. Amen.


Responses

  1. I attended the Forward in Faith Conference in Australia 5 years ago and found it very uplifting. May Christ bless your efforts and the Holy Spirit prepare the way. May all be done to the praise of the Holy Trinity.

  2. Appropriate somehow that the Anglo-Catholic Congress convene in Fort Worth, site of the original gathering of the Episcopal Synod of America. Are there grounds to hope that the Congress will bear any more fruit than the ESA did? That’s a rhetorical question, as I fear the answer is obvious.

  3. I’m encouraged to learn about this. Would this be an appropriate event for young people to attend? I’m in the ACA.

    • Anne, It might well be depending on the program. It looks like there is quite a bit going on. I think we’ll have a better picture as the program unfolds later this summer. In the meantime, I think that the “feeder events”-Festivals of Faith-likely will have some great things for young people of Confirmation age and up. Stay tuned! Blessings, Fr. C.


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