Sunday, January 31, 2010


I think that it's a real test of the tolerance and comprehensiveness of the church. - Jack Iker on his election in 1992

Those Bishops who stand in solidarity with Gene Robinson should withdraw themselves from further participation in the Lambeth Conference. - Bishop Iker, 2008


Virtue is claiming that the Archbishop of Canterbury's addressing ++Bob Pittsburgum as "Most Reverend" legitimates his primacy. I refer to the Ecumenical Patriarch as His All-Holiness. That doesn't mean I'm in communion with him.

Our best bet I think is to assume a similar stance toward the Anglican Church in North America as our sister church does to the Lutheran Church - Canada. We're happy to be in communion with them if they should want it.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Churchmanship pond differences

Correspondents in the Church of England are bemused that, for years, the traditional Anglo-Catholic kingpin in the Canadian House of Bishops was a woman.

In Canada, Evangelicals do Morning Prayer from the BCP twice a month. In England, they have free-form services of the word and, when the bishop looks the other way, lay presidency. All of this assumes the universal 8 or 8.30 low celebration. St Paul's, Bloor Street, has an additional one Tuesdays at ten minutes past noon, for the laudable evangelical purpose of attracting downtown employees who can't make it to church on Sunday mornings.

In Canada, Anglo-Catholics typically (but not invariably) use the BCP or the BAS "Toronto Rite" developed at St Mary Magdalene. Vatican II hasn't really kicked in. Even at SMM, which has largely adopted the modern Roman Rite, you will still see burse and veil, a mark of "middle of the road" and not pure laine Anglo-Catholic churchmanship in England. A lay subdeacon in dalmatic and maniple assists and the choirs sing the sequence after the Alleluia verse. Given the thinness of Anglo-Catholic parishes here, "FiF" and "AffCath" types (in attitude: the formal organizations have no real presence here) tend to coexist in the same parishes. (As far as I am aware, only Toronto and Montréal have more than one Anglo-Catholic parish, unless St David of Wales, Vancouver, remains as such).


In places where literacy is commonplace, any language may be "understanded of the people" if printed with a paralinear translation.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Canada's head of state

There was a lot of argument recently when the Governor General spoke of places she has "travelled as head of state." It ended up being a fairly predictable republican-monarchist polarity (in much the same way any discussion of abortion other than among ethicists rarely advances beyond allegations of premeditated infanticide and fascist designs on women's bodies). Since today we had a lecture on Kripke and identity, I have the following reflection to offer:

I think it's uncharitable at best to read Her Excellency's remarks as being a claim that There is a head of state of Canada and I am she and I have travelled. The phrase is relational - she "travelled as head of state." And this she certainly does, for while royal prerogatives undoubtedly continue to have their font in the Sovereign, they are permanently delegated to the Governor General. The Sovereign remains the ordinary minister of these powers, if you will, as monarchists rightly remind us. But by convention she is pleased to entrust them to her viceroy when she is not present to exercise them in person.

Her Majesty, we must recall, is the queen of no fewer than sixteen independent states. The Letters Patent form part of our constitutional inheritence. While the Sovereign is free to alter or revoke them, in the meantime the Governor General's role is enshrined in a special, permanent way, in contrast to the office of prime minister, which was unknown in the written constitutional law prior to the Canada Act of 1982). She exercises royal prerogative at the Sovereign's pleasure, but the office of Governor General is especially set up for this purpose in an officially defined and permanent (though not in the sense of irrevocable) fashion.

We mustn't think of the viceroy as like the White House press director, simply the Sovereign's mouthpiece when she isn't around to speak for herself. Instead, her function is perhaps more like that of the president pro tempore in the United States Senate - the Vice President of the union remains senate president, but there is an officially authorized delegate. Or think of the Bishop of Dover, who functions as the diocesan bishop of Canterbury even though he is not such, when the incumbent's duties are international in scope and he must often be away from his see trying to provide primatial oversight to the United States* (who most definitely did not order that pizza) to ensure that they don't go soft on teh gayz. Indeed, we rightly use the title "Commander in Chief" to refer both to the Queen and to her duly delegated viceroy, who in her absence is appointed to exercise executive authority on her behalf. Think of the Governor General as the Holy Ghost, if you will. Her power does not contradict the sovereignty of its origin.

I'm not a constitutional lawyer, but it seems to me that republicans have at times misused the Governor General's special rôle as a means of reducing the Queen's visibility, while monarchists have at times been too dogmatic in playing down that rôle.

*Yes, I know that the province also includes Haiti, China, Colombia et. al. but there is no good non-US-centric name - just ask the Scots how they feel about their daughter church's rebranding - so tough.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

"Man in the street" interviews: the lowest form of journalism

One article I read in the aftermath of the new papal bull included a quote from an Anglican layman who said that he was attracted to the RCC's strong stance on abortion and homosexuality, but didn't think he could join if it meant signing off on the stuff about transubstantiation or the Virgin Mary (hint: it does). As a gay man who reluctantly swam the Thames in spite of my assent to those doctrines, I was astonished that he would seek out a church on such narrow grounds while sweeping away central Catholic dogmas.

I couldn't believe that he was so offended at the thought of sharing a church with gays and lesbians that any church with a more conservative line thereon than the Anglican Church of Canada was preferable to him, regardless of whether or not he agreed with its central tenets. The Eucharist, the role of Our Lady in the communion of saints, purgatory, the number and efficacy of the sacraments, the definition of the Canon of Scripture - all of these were secondary to the important church-shopping question: are you sound on gays?

Apparently this gentleman couldn't care less if he was Coptic or Amish.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Man, woman, and priesthood

A couple of years ago at the Trinity College book sale I managed to acquire a small volume, bearing the ex libris of the chaplain to Royal St George's College, entitled Man, Woman, and Priesthood. (If you're about to Google Book it: it's not the one edited by Monseigneur Leonard, but the other).

Its chapters include contributions from the Church of England, the Episcopal Church USA, the Church of Sweden, Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism, and Judaism. (Jonathan Sacks and Kallistos Ware are among the contributors). In reading them, I began to get the sense that I, were I around in the 70s, might have sympathized or even broadly shared their position. While they don't address my fundamental objection to their argument, they express worry about the use of secular rights-based arguments to support a change in Tradition.

It seems likely, then, that neither group articulated its case well. Proponents were not able to persuade a minority of Anglicans to accept that women in the priesthood and episcopate were an acceptable theological development. (There does not seem to have been any controversy about the diaconate: female deacons can even today be found within such bodies as Forward in Faith and certain Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches, and besides they're in the Bible, which settles it for Anglicans at least)*. These Anglicans were not assuaged by the arguments used at the time. And again today, we find the Church of England on the defensive on women in the episcopate, stuck in a situation considered ecclesiologically incoherent by all parties.

The authors of the book evidently had not been given coherent theological arguments for the opposing position, and that is precisely the language we need to speak when discussing the sacraments. While I'm proud of Canada's human rights laws, I think the ordination of women is justified not because God is bound by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms but because a male ordained ministry is questionable theology, and should be challenged on those grounds. It rests on an assumption of a metaphysically distinct and binary manhood and womanhood. In Ordinatio sacerdotalis, the Ven. John Paul II makes no attempt to reconcile the traditional position with the principle that what was not assumed was not redeemed, which is where any argument for the traditional view needs to begin. The age of this apparent incoherence is not an argument in its favour. The fundamental problem with a male-only ordained ministry is not that it violates the principles of the secular feminist movement; it's the creation of two classes of baptism, the preservation of a sacrament of the Church to those of a wholly arbitrary characteristic. What needs to be given first is a credible explanation of what would constitute a fundamental difference in the esse of all women to that of all men. We need to hear why it is important for ministerial priests to share this particular attribute of the historical Jesus, and what it means to be "female" and coated in a sort of ontological Teflon that ordination-proofs women.

Until we know what that argument would be, we cannot possibly begin to answer it, and we just won't get anywhere with each other, will we?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

My list of churches to hit up when I make it to New York one day

*Church of the Resurrection
*St Mary the Virgin, Times Square (for Solemn Evensong & Benediction)
*St Thomas', Fifth Avenue (to experience the now rare "Frankenmass" in one of Manhattan's toniest settings)
*St Ignatius of Antioch (in hopes of spotting a bemanipled female priest offering Solemn High Mass ad orientem).
*St Peter's Evangelical Lutheran Church (on an incense day)
*the Cathedral Church of St Thomas the Apostle, Harlem
*First Reformed Episcopal Church. (No website, but photo here: whence the Welsh flag, I wonder?).

And out of town:
*Christ Church Bronxville (for the increasingly hard to find Sarum-derived ceremonial tradition)

Apostolicae Curae: an observation

Are you a Roman Catholic who accepts the teaching of Apostolicae Curae? If so, you should contact your local Anglican or Episcopal church about reception into the Anglican Communion. According to Leo XIII, an explicit conferral of sacrificial ministry is essential to valid priestly ordination. Therefore all Roman Catholic ministers "ordained" since 1969 except by indult lack the grace to confect the Sacrament, and the bread and wine you receive from them lacks the effect of transubstantiation. But fear not, for Anglicans have picked up the slack and incorporated such a formula, so there is still a place of refuge for the conscientious Catholic. So get on it, separated brethren! Catholic obedience obligates you to submit to Canterbury!

Old 100th

Another musical treat from YouTube. Some may find the video content unpalatable.

Doings at S. Clement's

S. Clement's, Philadelphia (see links at right) is perhaps unique in the Anglican Communion: faithfully adhering to the Roman Rite as it existed in 1955. The only Anglican interpolation into the kalendar is S. Charles Stuart, and the Easter Vigil is at four o'clock in the afternoon. The deacon at High Mass serenades a blank wall with the chanting of the Gospel, a historical anomaly in the manner of the "north-ender" that only a sedevacantist would defend if pressed. (Even Christminster's Vigil is at night). Our Clementine readers will be able to tell us whether Holy Communion is administered at the Mass of the Pre-Sanctified on Good Friday.

A message from a member of the S. Clement's staff yesterday tipped me to a change in the Sunday services, specifically Solemn Vespers & Benediction, which is sung at three o'clock from October to Pentecost. Previously Vespers followed the Anglican Breviary. Now the Breviarium Romanum and Liber Usualis in Latin will be used, according to the Solesmes method. Benediction is bilingual.

Our correspondent Paul Goings writes that "the Hours (Prime, Terce, Sext, and None) were recited before the Mass of the Vigil, and Prime on Christmas Eve has that interesting passage from the Martyrology. First Vespers of Christmas was solemnly sung, but without coped assistants. The Midnight Mass was followed by Lauds, and the Hours and Second Vespers of Christmas were recited the next day, before and after the High Mass."

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Naming and Circumcision of Jesus, II

Festal Te Deum and Sung Mass yesterday at St Matthias, Bellwoods. Fr Craig wore a splendid gold chasuble. The Te Deum paraphrase, to Rustington, was delightful, as was "Judge eternal, throned in splendour" to Rhuddlan. Also fun to trot out "Unto us a boy is born" and "'Twas in the moon of wintertime" (I always like belting out Gitchi Manitou).

The four o'clock time is very student friendly, and the Te Deum offers a fun alternative to the Levee at the Cathedral (but then, pontifical concelebration!)