jQuery Slider

You are here

What has been won - Robert Hart

What has been won

Fr. Robert Hart
The Continuum
December 31, 2011

This year we have won a battle for truth and unity. The battle for truth came in the form of liberating some of our fellow Continuing Anglicans from the false notion that another church body, in this case the Roman Catholic Church, has some superior claim to being truly "catholic." We have witnessed the death throes of the entire spectacle of Continuing Anglicans buying a thoroughly revised version of Anglo-Catholicism, one that aggressively misrepresented itself as authentic Anglo-Catholicism, used by Abp. Hepworth and his fellow travelers to sell the idea that Anglicanorum Coetibus would lead to unity.

In fact it would have led only to conversion from one denomination to another, which is all it was ever designed to do. It would have caused a bitter surprise to people, in some cases whose marriages would have been deemed invalid, by many others whose entire sacramental history would have been treated as worthless except baptism, and who would have found themselves disappointed with their new home, barred from Communion until further notice, and treated to unbearable rules made by men.

For several years in recent history a new and unrecognizable version of Anglo-Catholicism had been setting the stage for the tragedy we helped to avert. I do not say Anglo-Catholicism, not the real thing as Dr. Pusey and his colleagues saw it (who never argued that Anglicanism needed to become catholic, but that it always has been truly catholic). Instead many had accepted a modern and counterfeit version that has never amounted to much more than imitation of Rome, except when inconvenient, building in people a great inferiority complex about their own church tradition and the validity of its sacraments, and rejection of the vast wealth of its teaching and liturgy.

Finally, a good number of these people see that we have inherited a treasure that includes all the best of Christianity in accord with the most ancient catholic doctors and bishops. For years I had come across people who doubted the validity of their sacraments, who discredited the Book of Common Prayer, and who thought they should look to the bureaucratic Roman Church, despite its many scandals and disorder. They had been brainwashed and indoctrinated, had been ever learning, never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. They readily accepted the criticism of people who sought to convert them by twisting the meaning of such powerful and thoroughly orthodox liturgy as the traditional Anglican Prayer Book Holy Communion, imposing standards unknown to the Apostles and the Fathers, often with absolutely no witness in Antiquity. As a result, they were ripe to be picked.

The work of turning the light on and banishing the darkness of misinformation has come with a price, a price we have paid in some fairly minor ways - after all, no one has had us beaten or killed. But, mostly the work of this blog has come to be recognized as one of the factors that has restored appreciation of our Anglican heritage and identity. The result of winning the battle for truth is that we played a role in furthering the cause of unity. Ironically, we often were told otherwise; but the facts have been rather obvious now for several months, and we have reason to be happy with what has become clear.

The Continuing Church has a new generation of leading bishops. What I have witnessed personally is hearing Archbishops and Presiding Bishops of the major jurisdictions saying the same thing, saying it in the same room at the same event, saying it in concert with each other, making all of us the most important promise they could have made: To establish unity. None of them caused the divisions, and having inherited those divisions, they have said that they plan to end them. The one good thing that Anglicanorum Coetibus, and the push for it, has accomplished, is to give the leading bishops an occasion to end our own divisions and bring unity to the Continuing Church.

Let us pray, all of us, that in the coming year we will see it taking place by the work of the Holy Spirit.


Robert Hart is the rector of St. Benedict's Anglican Catholic Church in Chapel Hill, NC, a contributing editor of Touchstone, and frequent writer for the blog, The Continuum

Get a bi-weekly summary of Anglican news from around the world.
comments powered by Disqus
Trinity School for Ministry
Go To Top