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ACA: ECUSA Must Regain Legitimacy, Orthodoxy And Authority Or Die

ACA bishop blasts ego driven Continuers for failing to unify

By David W. Virtue

WILMINGTON, DE (9/17/2004)--A leading Continuing Anglican Bishop says that for the Episcopal Church to recapture the legitimacy it has lost in the eyes of the faithful Anglican world it would have to acknowledge its corporate sin, confess that it made a grievous error in electing and consecrating a man unfit to hold episcopal office; repent and renounce the Robinson election, remove him from office and for the ECUSA to declare its solemn intent to "lead a new a new life" as a church upholding the authority of Scripture.

The Rt. Rev. George Landberg, Bishop of the Anglican Church in America (ACA) told delegates to the Fellowship of Concerned Churchmen and Festival of Faith that the Robinson affair was not slipped through the cracks against the will of the vast majority of the church by a clever and sneaky minority, but that the majority saw it as no big deal and that good and faithful Anglicans were "bigots" for opposing it.

"Corporate repentance for the ECUSA as presently constituted is about as likely to occur as the appearance of Elvis at tonight's banquet or the election of Ralph Nader on November 2," said the bishop.

The outspoken bishop said his own jurisdiction was growing in the Diocese of the Northeast even as the ECUSA was shrinking and said unity among conservative Anglicans was "absolutely essential" as The Episcopal Church faced possible discipline as a result of the Lambeth/Eames Commission report.

Landberg then ripped the Continuum for its failure to come together since the Affirmation of St. Louis in 1977. "If Jesus complained that the money-changers had made His Father's house of prayer into a den of thieves, we have made the Body of Christ into a meat market of body parts."

"We have watched as a seemingly cohesive Anglican movement has been torn to shreds, primarily by bishops whose egos, personal agendas, and turf battles were more important to them than the good of the Church. Virtually every bishop with any history in the Continuing Church bears some responsibility for this debacle, shared with priests and lay leader who have also betrayed the Church they claim to serve."

Landberg blasted groups of people all proclaiming the same things and all seemingly unaware of each other's existence and for their failure to give up their autonomy to merge with anyone else.

"We don't need a bewildering assortment of conferences, networks, councils and convocations - we need a church to replace the one that has gone belly-up." Landberg ripped what he called the "trap of self-preservation."

Unity is essential but it won't come easily. The die was cast in ECUSA 30 years ago with the combination of the emasculation of the BCP and its presumptuous redefinition of the apostolic priesthood, said Landberg.

"The catholicity inherent in Anglicanism means that unity, if it is to have meaning at all, must be based on sacramental union. Anything less is just ecumenical cordiality, not unity.

Landberg said those that find themselves on the side of Rome and the East cannot and will not capitulate on the issue of women's ordination, and said the great majority of those who have embraced the innovation show little or no inclination to undo it.

"No church can claim legitimacy and authority without orthodoxy. Legitimacy and
authority has been lost precisely to the extent that orthodoxy has been abandoned."

Landberg said that the second requirement for Anglican orthodoxy is that it must incorporate the full spectrum of Anglican liturgical practice. "A narrow liturgical focus has never been characteristic of any major Anglican body." The bishop condemned what he called "extremes of Evangelicalism or Anglo-Catholicism as outside the experience of everyone other than the devotees of those particular eccentricities."

Landberg then launched a bitter attack on ECUSA's lost legitimacy saying that "we need to find a way to achieve a reasonable balance between our number of bishops and our numbers of clergy, parishes and laity."

Citing statistics, Landberg said the Roman Catholic Church had 65 million followers in the US with about 275 active bishops - one bishop for every 250,000 laity. The 2.3 million member Episcopal Church has about 150 active bishops - one for every 16,000 laity while the other Anglican bodies in the US who have separated from ECUSA have about 40,000 members (probably closer to 30,000) with some 400 clergy with 50 to 60 bishops.

"We can hardly justify a single bishop for all the conservative Anglicans in the US! It is difficult to imagine than an Anglican body ridiculously top heavy with bishops would be taken seriously by others in the Anglican world, or for that matter, any church in Apostolic Succession.

Landberg said orthodox Anglicanism had some major obstacles to overcome before it could be seen as a legitimate alternative or successor to the ECUSA, but it may have to settle for two entities - one ordaining women and the other not - but any more than two isn't going to cut it.

Can it be done? "With God all things are possible."

Will it be easy? "Don't count on it."


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