Response To Bp. Nutt
Perhaps Bishop Nutt (TCC, March) gives the conditional consecrations at Deerfield Beach more prominence than they deserve. The "main act" there was the attempt to see if those gathered could agree on essential matters of faith and practice in the Anglican tradition and, agreeing ,come together. Some were invited to participate at Deerfield Beach who chose not to do so. From their necessarily more distant perspective, and relying as they must on the statements of others, it is easy to see how their view of the events there may lack propertion.
In creating disocesan and provincial structures for the Anglican Church of America (ACA), the uniting body had recourse only to such bishops who participated fully in the process, and without any preconditions. In doing this, each such bishop resubmitted his name (to) the appropriate diocesan or provincial synod, which could accept or reject the candidate at will. So far as we know, this is the only instance in the American Continuum where bishops once in office have been willing to step aside for the good of the whole. Surely, those who rejected the invitation to participate at Deerfield Beach have not offered to do so.
Note also that the bishop who were consecracted conditionally at Deerfield Beach did not "maintain the validity" of their former ordinations. They simply stated that they themselves did not harbor any doubts, but recognized that others did. In England in particular, even among those supportive of the Continuum, certain questions had been raised on this point. The same sources publicy expressed satisfaction and resolved the matter once and for all.
No less an Anglican theologian than C.B. Moss, whose own familiarity with Orthodox theology gave him the ability to use the term 'Tradition' with a capital 'T', with accuracy and precision, has stated that:
". . . The Church must have her rules about what makes baptism, or any other sacrament, valid. If someone claims to be a member whose baptism is not such as the Church can recognize member whose baptism is not such as the Church can recognize ('invalid'), or even doubtful, he must be baptized afresh, in order that there may be no doubt about his membership, in his mind or anyone else's (emphasis added). It is the same with confirmation, and ordinatin, and marriage; if there is any doubt, the rite must be gone through again." (The Christian Faith, p.334)
It was this Anglican opinion, not the customs of Old Catholicism (concerning which Moss was also an expert) which lay behind the actions at Deerfield Beach. Well aware of the 68th of the Apostolic Canons (and of the position of the Synod of Capua in 391 AD), and of the general principal that indiscriminate repetition of sacraments which impart character is impermissible, and equally aware of the principal adduced by Moss, those involved opted for conditional consecraction simply because that places the whole matter in God's hands to let Him decide what men cannot with perfect clarity resolve to the satisfaction of all concerned.
That there is no long history of conditional ordinations is not surprising (thought there is some evidence of discussions between Anglicans and Roman Catholics on the topic back into the 19 th century). The question of merging two whole groups of Christians, and the subsidiary question of how to do so in a manner which allows all involved to recognize the Orders of all of the clergy, regardless of which of the merging bodies they have come in from, is a modern question. Solutions were attempted or suggested, e.g. in connection with COCU and the "Anglican-Methodist Union" scheme in England, and in North and South India, all of which met strenuous objection on the ground that there was not any clear act of ordination involved. In the case of Deerfield Beach that defect was remedied, only now to meet the carping that there was.
"we piped to you, and you did not dance; we walied, and you did not mourn." (Matt. 11:17)
Far from departing either from Anglican tradition or from Tradition (the terms are not identical), and equally far from taking away from God the honor due Him, those responsible for the Deerfield Beach conditional consecractions stressed in words and actions obvious to all actually present, that God was asked to do that which might be well pleasing in His sight, to the end that the uniting Church would emerge with a Ministry consecracted by Him and owing its service to God and His mission to mankind.
The Most Rev. Louis W. Falk
4807 Aspen Drive
W. Des Moines, lowa 50265
The Most Rev. Anthony F.M Clavier
2788 Hydraulic Road #3
Charlottesville, Virginia 22901
An English View
May we say clearly from these distant shores how delighted we are to see the formation of the Anglican Church of America? The forces ranged against Traditional Christianity are now so great that we can no longer afford disunity among those who profess to share the same fundamentals.
To many of us here, the Anglican Catholic Church was begining to look and sound more and more Roman and pre-Vatican II at that! The ACC is perfectly entitled to take this direction, but it cannot in all conscience call itself the natural home for Traditional Anglican. . .
However, the bully-boy tactics used by some ACC clerics against Bishops Mercer and Haley are quite disgraceful. How on earth can the ACC bishop accuse two uniting Christian bodies of schism, an act of tearing up the Body of Christ? If we have to use that overworked word, then it is the ACC who are guilty of it. We in England were very moved to see all the ACA.
Archbishop John Hepworth
Traditional Anglican Communion