Wednesday, March 15, 2017

29th April: a Jubilee for the ACC!

The Anglican Catholic Diocese of the United Kingdom was Twenty Five years old on 24th January this year. Our celebrations will centre around two events this year, namely our Synod High Mass at 11AM on April 29th at Central Hall Westminster, and hopefully with the visit to the UK by our Archbishop, Dr Mark Haverland later in the year.

All are very welcome to join us for the Synod High Mass. You will be able to meet us, see what we are about, and hopefully see that, even if you do not wish to join us or even disagree with us, that we are Christians nonetheless, praying for you and seeking to find some way of sharing God's grace with you.

The Diocese was founded in this country after the CofE made the decision to ordain women. Now, let me be perfectly clear. It was not the ordination of women, per se that created the need for the Diocese of the United Kingdom. As our statement of on Church unity makes clear:
It is popularly supposed that the matter which has brought the former Anglican Communion into such division and disarray is the ordination of women. That is not the case. The ordination of women has been merely the occasion, not the cause, of most of the splits within Anglicanism: the straw that broke the camel's back. The fundamental cause has been a crisis of authority within Anglicanism, having its origins in the Protestant Reformation of the 16th Century and the tensions of the Elizabethan “Church Settlement.” Formed a thousand years earlier, the Church of England emerged from the Protestant Reformation as a “Continuing Catholic” Church, not as a Protestant sect. However under the terms of the Elizabethan “Settlement” the Church of England, whilst maintaining all the essentials of Catholic Faith and Apostolic Order, was required by State Law to accommodate all the Queen’s subjects within it, whether Catholic or Protestant or both. From this tenuous arrangement, wrought in the religious and political crises of the time, was developed a “comprehensive” church polity. There are those who refer to this characteristic as “the glorious comprehensiveness of Anglicanism,” sometimes adding: “As long as you believe in God, we have room for you.”
Recent developments in the CofE demonstrate clearly that this is not true. Any form of comprehensiveness is now an illusion. It really does vindicate the decision that we made back in 1992 to leave the CofE to the consequences of its decision, leaving it to flourish as it would want to flourish without us battling the inevitable at every turn. While we wish Forward in Faith well in its attempt to keep this comprehensiveness alive, we are necessarily sceptical and feel that events have, very regrettably, proved us right. We hate passionately the hurt that is being cause to all parties here: the traditionalists and the progressives. male and female CofE clergy, the individuals and the whole corporation of the CofE. Honestly, we pray to God for a holy resolution to this whole situation.

In commenting on Bishop North's withdrawal from the See of Sheffield, I was accused of trying to recruit members of Forward in Faith to the ACC. I rather deny this, given that I was investigating several options that a Catholic member of the CofE might take. Yet I would be dishonest if I did not include the ACC as an option. We exist to be what the Church of England was and what we believe it should be. We are an alternative to the CofE in that every Catholic in the CofE can recognise what we are doing, and yet can rest assured that we do not believe that we can develop as an organisation apart from the Doctrine of the Primitive Church.

If you attend, you will find a motley crew of clergy and laity of all sorts. You will find our best attempt at the High Mass. You will meet our Bishop and be able to hear his charge to our Diocese. You will be able to ask us why we are here, and hear our stories and how we see our position in this tiny little Church.

This is why I bring to the attention of my readers the Synod Mass this year. Of course, it issues a big challenge to us in the ACC to examine ourselves, particularly this Lent, to see if we are ready to engage with new people, to discuss peacefully, respectfully, and lovingly with people with whom we might passionately disagree. We therefore beg your prayers that we may bring the love of Christ to you and to all who would meet us. Even if you don't want to join us, it will be good to become friends and establish good contacts.

11AM on 29th April at Central Hall, Westminster. Just come and see!

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