Thursday, December 14, 2006

A Message to Episcopalians in Newark

An Episcopal/Anglican church in Newark, New Jersey has decided to proselytize Catholics (see here).

Here's my message to the helpful folks of this congregation who have decided to attack the teachings and authority of the Catholic Church:

If you want to be part of the Church Jesus Christ founded, feel free to check out either the Catholic Church, in her various rites (or the Polish National Catholic Church, which is not a "rite" of the Catholic Church, but--it's sui generis identity notwithstanding, preserves apostolic succession and the Depositum Fidei such that Rome has no problem with intercommunion with the PNCC)*, or the Orthodox Church, in her various rites, or one of the Ancient Churches of the East. These originate in the Apostles chosen and empowered by the Incarnate Lord, and you will be assured of true sacraments, because you can be sure they have valid, sacramental orders. In the Catholic Church, you are in union with the successor of Peter, to whom our Lord said, "You are Rock, and upon this Rock I will build my Church."

Of course, if questions of truth don't matter very much, if you aren't too concerned about belonging to the Church the Lord founded, but you do value aesthetics and a good show of music and liturgy, regardless of whether the sacraments are valid; if you want a church which affirms you right where you are, always jettisoning unwelcome truths when they become incompatible with the secular culture -- but at least you can feel churchy . . .

Why, then, stay right where you are in a church founded not on the Rock of Peter, but on the monumental ego of a king whose lust and financial problems dictated his invention of a new church headed by . . . himself.

Yes, but isn't it a pretty church!

(Biretta-tip: Open Book.)

* Updated 12/15


Ellyn said...

You really told it like it is!

Anonymous said...

Many, many years ago, when the "changes" started happening back in the '60's, I used to say that the Episcopalians were all form and no substance and that we were all substance and no form. Gross oversimplification, but people got the point. Speaking of points... we used to joke that needlepoint was the 8th sacrament in the Anglican communion... I've never seen an Anglican church without exquisite needlepoint. Ut unum sint!

Deacon Jim said...

Excellent post.

Just remember, if you are considering a Catholic Church with real sacraments you might also want to look at the Polish National Catholic Church.


Deacon Jim said...

Just to add,

But if you want to choose a church where you make up your own rules, make your own determinations, recite the creed even though you are allowed to cross your fingers during certain parts, the Episcopalians are just right for you.

Fr Martin Fox said...


You're right, and I apologize for not mentioning the Polish National Catholic Church.

Deacon Jim said...

Thanks Father. No problem... we're often in the fine print ;)

Fr. Larry Gearhart said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Fr. Larry Gearhart said...

The book by Harry Crocker, entitled Triumph: The Power and the Glory of the Catholic Church, makes a similarly saucy (and accurate) comparison between the Protestant revolt and the centuries-prior Albigensian heresy. It's quite striking.

Fr Martin Fox said...


No longer in the "fine print," if you will consult the updated original post.

As you probably know, many Catholic clergy simply don't know about the PNCC, let alone what to make of the church. I pay attention enough to know dialogue has progressed well, and intercommunion is allowed -- or at least, so I understand. But then, I was recently in the seminary -- the farther one gets from the seminary, the less up-to-date one is on a variety of issues.

Question: did I "get it right"?

Deacon Jim said...

Father, thank you.

As to intercommunion, not exactly. I think Canon 844.2 (I'm guessing because I don't have my references in front of me) is controlling as to reception of the Eucharist (and other sacraments). Like the Orthodox and Eastern (Oriental) Churches PNCC members may present themselves are receive the Eucharist in any R.C. Church when they cannot avail themselves of their own Church.

PNCC members must respect their own discipline (no receipt of the Eucharist in the hand, 2 hour fast, etc.)

R.C. members must respect the discipline of their Church and generally may not present themselves in a PNCC parish for the Eucharist (although we have no problem if they do). They may only do so in certain (more limited) circumstances.

So generally our mutual understanding does not rise to the level of intercommunion per-se.

The two pertinent documents establishing the basis of our understanding are the jointly issued:

Journeying Together in Christ: The Report of the Polish National Catholic-Roman Catholic Dialogue (1984-1989)

Journeying Together in Christ - The Journey Continues: The Report of the Polish National Catholic Roman Catholic Dialog (1989-2002)

I seem to remember that the only sacrament where there was some disagreement was over marriage.

The R.C. side of the dialog had no particular issue with our understanding of the Word as a sacrament (i.e., a combination of the reading of the Lessons and Gospel and the Homily). As a deacon I particularly love this sacrament. The conveyance of sanctifying grace through a physical means - aurally.

Anonymous said...

Deacon Jim, there isn't an Orthodox bishop alive who would give permission for an Orthodox layman to receive communion at your eucharist. Herein lies a problem. This is like my son being told by his friend's father that it is OK to have a sleep-over at their house. Correction, it is OK if he asks me first, and the two fathers agree. The Catholic authorities insist on acting like I am one of their laymen and are able to issue such an invitation. I could be mistaken, but I believe Fr. Alexander Schmemann commented on this as an official observer for the Orthodox at the time of Vatican II. --- Bob

Fr Martin Fox said...


Perhaps you have a misunderstanding of exactly what the Catholic Church says about intercommunion with the Orthodox (and I believe this applies to the PNCC and Ancient Churches of the East):

We do not ask or suggest members of these other communions to violate the discipline of their own communions!

Rather, IF THEY ASK ON THEIR OWN, and they are otherwise properly disposed, we will not refuse them; but we encourage them to follow the discipline of their own communions.

Anonymous said...

Okaaaayy....If I really want to go to communion at the Catholic parish, I'm *encouraged* to ask my Orthodox priest if it's all right. But if I ask the Catholic priest, he'll let me? This amounts to suggesting I disobey the teaching of my Church. If my wife is out of town, and I'm properly disposed to the option of another woman...Well, you see the problem. There just is not a context for what you suggest being licit. A Catholic layman would be politely refused communion at an Orthodox altar. The fact that the offer is made itself undermines the discipline of the church you suggest a layman adhere to. Your offer violates the discipline already, and may result in an undisciplined layman doing so as well. -- Bob

Fr Martin Fox said...


Lemme get this straight: you would prefer the Catholic Church declare Orthodox Christians are unfit for communion in the Catholic Church, and refuse them -- even though we have no reason to do so?

Do I have that right?

Anonymous said...

Fr. martin, Not only do you have the right to refuse, I think you are obliged to. As I said, no Orthodox bishop would give his blessing for it. With that, it becomes wrong for any Orthodox to do it. Any suggestion that it's OK with you for an orthodox layman to commune is saying you have more authority than the person's bishop; it is an invitation to sin for an Orthodox. One doesn't get closer to God by that method. To an Orthodox you just don't have the right to make the offer, because there is no legitimate way to accept it. And, for exactly the same reason, no Orthodox priest or bishop would make the offer to a Roman Catholic. Or anyone else we aren't in communion with. As I said, it's a marriage.
We can't step outside it even for what looks like a real good reason.
I also don't have to *like* it.
I can think of Catholics that make me wish very much the unity was there. It can be very frustrating.
AND, have a blessed Nativity, by the way! --- Bob