Traditional Anglicans Comment on Proposed Unity with Rome

As previously reported on CMR, the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) has delivered a letter to the Holy See seeking full, corporate, sacramental union. While the TAC has prudently decided to keep mum until they hear from Rome, they have issued a follow up statement along with the homily of TAC Bishop Peter Wilkinson.

The statement, by Bishop George Langberg, seeks to clarify some the reasons for the petition and to reply to those who claim that the TAC must not be “real Anglicans.”

Bishop Langberg addresses both these questions by recalling the history of Anglican – Catholic relations and efforts toward unity.

A recap of some events of the last 50 years seems to be in order. In the first place, Anglican-Roman unity is not a new scheme cooked up by the TAC. Archbishop of Canterbury Geoffrey Fisher visited Pope John XXIII in Rome in 1960, and among the topics discussed was unity between Anglicans and the Roman Catholic Church. A short time after that meeting, Pope John wrote: “A new hope arises that those who rejoice in the name of Christians, but are nevertheless separated from this apostolic see, may be able to make their way into the one Church of Christ … to seek and to follow that unity which Jesus Christ implored from his Heavenly Father with such fervent prayers.”

He goes on to recount similar statements and efforts in 1966, ’68, and ’70. He then tells us how it all went wrong.

All of these events took place more than 35 years ago. Had the Anglican Communion not subsequently run off the rails, it is entirely plausible that the unity sought now by the TAC would have been established between Canterbury and Rome a generation ago. Progress toward that unity came to a halt, not because the Anglicans decided it was wrong, but because their journey into apostasy, begun in the early 1970’s, destroyed all possibility of coming together.
The foregoing raises an interesting question for the TAC’s current critics. Where would they be now if the Anglican Communion had not come unraveled, and the vision shared by both sides in the 1960’s had come to fruition? Would they have cried “foul” and broken with Canterbury, claiming that “real Anglicans” must ever be separate from Rome? One can only wonder.

Bishop Wilkinson in his homily also recounts the various efforts at unity by the Anglican Communion. He then endeavors to directly answer the question of why?

Why are we doing this?
The TAC has simply determined to continue the process begun by Archbishop Ramsey and Pope Paul VI, since the impediment of uncatholic Faith and Morals does not exist within our Communion. And there is another reason. Having had our communion with the Anglican Communion shattered, we cannot remain “a church on the loose”. To hold the Catholic faith requires that faith be exercised in communion. Bishops cannot exist cut off from the mainstream of the Church’s life; they must be in communion with other Bishops. Unity is not an option. Jesus commanded it.

Jesus commanded it. That is a pretty good reason.