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2 - The Road to St. Louis: Celebrating the Affirmation of St. Louis.

Updated: Dec 12, 2023

The Road to St. Louis

Part 4. The Canadian Experience

In Anti-Traditional theology, divinity is understood to reside within the individual and the role of the Church is to liberate the self from institutional constraints. An example of this in Canada was the failed Anglican-United Church union talks which would have united a reformation church with a church that followed the apostolic tradition. In the minds of traditionalists, the hierarchy of the Anglican Church of Canada “was determined to over-ride all opposition and bring about union from the top down.” 1 There began to emerge “experimental liturgies” 2 in spite of the fact that the 1959 Canadian BCP was only a few years old. Traditionalists saw this as a sort of preparation for church union talks. When talks finally began in 1965, the United Church members of the committee appeared confident in their doctrinal positions and in the way “they presented their stand.... as opposed to the Anglican Commissioner, Fr. Latimer, who seemed to have considerable ignorance of their own church’s teaching.” 3

The Rev. Dr. Carmino de Catanzaro (1916-1983)

In April of 1967, the Rev. Dr. Carmino de Catanzaro organized the 'Council for the Faith', “a society to fight the proposed draft plan for union.” 4Individuals that contributed to the Council were co-chairman Professor D.C. Masters, an evangelical layman, Mr. Rex Dark, secretary, Mae Haggerty, as well as many priests and people throughout Canada who established local branches. The Council for the Faith also published a regular newsletter as a means to keep everyone in touch. The goal of the Council for the Faith was to proclaim the Gospel based on the firm foundations of “the Scriptures, the Book of Common Prayer and the historic Sacraments.” 5

As the Anglican claim of being apostolic or catholic was eroding in North America, traditionalists elsewhere were taking note and were becoming conscious “that similar paths were being planned by modernist and new age theologians for them.” 6 Dr. de Catanzaro had been receiving letters from both clergy and laity upset about what was going on within the Anglican Communion. Throughout the 1970’s people from around the world and in particular Great Britain, Sweden, Australia and New Zealand expressed their concern about the future of the Church in their home countries if the trends continued.

A top advisor to Dr. de Catanzaro and the Council for the Faith was Chancellor Alan Campbell of Edinburgh, Scotland, who was both a lawyer and an excellent theologian with expertise in canon law. Another contact was Robert Mercer (b.1931), the Bishop of Matabeleland, in Zimbabwe, Africa. Bishop Cyril Eastaugh (1897-1988), retired bishop of the diocese of Peterborough, England, was another firm supporter.

Dr. Truman Dicken (1919-2000) Warden of Lenton Hall University of Nottingham

Others included Dr. Trueman Dicken, an eminent moral theologian from England, and Fr. Leslie Whiting and others from an organization known as “Ecclesia.” 7 A main reason for contact from the United Kingdom was because the C of E was also in the process of seeking some sort of unification with the Methodist Church 8and his British contacts did not want Canadian Anglicans to go in the same direction.

In 1971 Dr. de Catanzaro traveled to Scotland and England in order to consolidate ties with “resistance organizations” 9 During this period he met with international groups such as “the League of Anglican Loyalists, the Anglican Association, Truth and Unity Group, South African Faith and Unity and the American Church Union.” 10 Dr. de Catanzaro became very much part of the process to build up “the continuation of Anglicanism” 11 in both North America and around the world.

The Council for the Faith was the only medium Dr. de Catanzaro had at his disposal in Canada. According to Joan de Catanzaro, in Thou Art A Priest, it is through this body he attempted to crystallize the debate by showing just what was at stake theologically. He attempted to warn faithful Anglicans that their traditional faith was being gradually taken away from them. It was “Largely due to the efforts of the Council for the Faith in Canada, the church union proposals with the United Church fell through.” 12

However, a supporter of this scheme vowed that even though they lost this particular battle, the war was not over. He promised that change “(ordination of women, altering the Book of Common Prayer etc.)”13 would come about in a different way. The Anglican Church of Canada’s decision to “support the ordination of women in 1973 in principle until 1976 when ordination actually happened”14 was in the view of Dr. de Catanzaro, removing Anglicans from a “traditional Catholic position into a chaotic do your own thing mode,”15 believing and teaching “that each person can have his own truth.”16

Part 5. The American Experience

In spite of questionable leadership regarding the matters of doctrine and political activism, most traditionalists remained within the ECUSA. They sincerely felt that the church could be reformed from within by organizing and educating both the clergy and laity. Because of this, “grassroots pressure groups” 17 formed as the Episcopal Church moved in its increasingly radicalized direction.

The American Church Union (ACU) was the oldest and one of the most important of these groups. According to Douglas Bess, the ACU's position was that the Episcopal Church should remain as part of the Catholic faith, meaning that they should hold to the same basic doctrinal tenets, such as the Trinity and the Eucharist, held by the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches.

However, Anglo-Catholicism faced challenges at this time as well. High-Church members of the ACU were confronted with the Second Vatican Council, which in 1965 “brought about a mild revolution in both the liturgical and theological explorations of the Roman Catholic Church.”18 What they found was that the Roman Catholic Church was not immune to new forms of the Mass and the teaching of non-traditional theologians. 19

Out of the more Protestant or Low-Church end of the traditionalist Episcopalian spectrum came a group which had been formed in 1966 known as the Foundation for Christian Theology (FCT). The FCT originated in 1962 as a group from Michigan calling themselves the ‘Society of Fishermen,’ and publishing a newsletter called The Christian Challenge (TCC). The FCT made this little newsletter the leading traditionalist Episcopalian journal commenting on the news and events of the church.

An example of TCC’s effectiveness was in its 1962 report stating that “several Episcopal dioceses and parishes had adopted resolutions or withheld funding to register concern about ECUSA’s involvement with the NCC.” 20 The journal reported and that the ECUSA “made numerous unnecessary political, economic and social pronouncements and taken theological positions contrary to the Catholic Faith” 21 which was repugnant to the traditional beliefs of many Episcopalians. The TCC exposed the fact that a third of ECUSA’s national budget was earmarked for use in connection with the activities of the NCC and WCC.

The main concern for the Foundation for Christian Theology was the theological decline of the Episcopal Church, which it saw as a root cause of the political radicalization of the church. The FCT worked on four principles: (1) “to defend the Christian Faith as embodied in traditional Anglicanism, defined in Holy Scripture and enshrined in the historic Book of Common Prayer,” (2)“to work for the unity of the Church under Christ, based on sound doctrine and discipline, as exemplified by the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral of 1886-1888,” (3) “to resist false teaching within the Church” and (4) “to restore the Church to her primary mission of proclaiming the Gospel.” 22 Both the ACU and FCT represented early dissident voices within the Episcopal Church, and were unquestionably the early leaders of orthodox Anglicanism challenging the radicals on every front.

A third body joined the fray when worries over liturgical revisions led to the establishment, in 1973, of the Society for the Preservation of the Book of Common Prayer (SPBCP). The Society initially published reports and tracts stating their opposition to the changes and according to Bess, they grew to just over 13,000 members prior to the 1973 General Convention held in Louisville, Kentucky. Officially, the SPBCP was not so much against liturgical change, but, as reported in the June 10th, 1973 publication of The Living Church, they were more against changes that would affect basic Christian doctrines such as the Trinity, the Divinity of Jesus Christ, the Atonement, and the Resurrection. Along with the activism of the ACU, FCT, and the SPBCP, the battle against women’s ordination and Prayer Book revision was also taken up by other groups. For example, Perry Laukhuff of Connecticut began a widely distributed newsletter in 1972, The Certain Trumpet, which took up the causes of the traditionalists.

It is in the early 1970’s that positions were developed and shared across traditionalist lines as groups coalesced for the upcoming battle. High-Church traditionalists worked together with low and broad-church traditionalists to fight the common cause of maintaining their shared Anglican heritage; that being the Book of Common Prayer and the male priesthood. As traditionalist groups emerged to resist Anti-traditional theology, Anglican Catholics found a united voice in both their objection to radical change and their desire to defend the Catholic heritage of the Anglican Communion. Even though their experiences were somewhat different in each country, Anglican Catholics shared a common concern and understood almost immediately that something must be done to preserve their Catholic heritage.

Part 6. The Fellowship Of Concerned Churchmen

The Reverend Canon Albert Julius Dubois (1906-1980)

Also in the early 1970’s, a coalition of sixteen Episcopal publications and organizations formed a fellowship, with members in both the United States and Canada, dedicated to combat the change being proposed by the Episcopal Church to move further away from a more Catholic or High-Church perspective. This group became known as the FCC or the “Fellowship of Concerned Churchmen.” 23 The creator of the Fellowship was the American Church Union leader, the Reverend Canon Albert Julius Dubois. For decades, Canon Dubois had been a thorn in the side of the Episcopalian hierarchy. While they sought greater unity with Protestant ecclesiastical communities through organizations like the WCC and NCC, he sought greater unity with Catholic ecclesiastical communities.

A Friday, June 23rd, 1961 Time Magazine article expressed the church establishment’s frustration when they complained that “the only groups they (Dubois and the High-Church party) think worth talking to are other apostolic successionists, such as the Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Churches.” 24 Canon Dubois, in 1973, saw a need for a Catholic coalition. He felt that such a body would be the best way of bringing together “loyal orthodox elements of the Church” 25 in opposition to the controversial changes about to be introduced.

The Fellowship organized itself and intensely debated the issues before it went on to challenge the “heretical and apostate forces” 26 of the Episcopal Church. It began in earnest when Canon DuBois called for a meeting, in New York City, for the purpose of bringing together different groups who were concerned with the upsetting events in the Episcopal and Anglican churches. Leadership present at the meeting were Canon Francis W. Read of the ACU, leaders of the SPBCP, Dorothy Allen Faber (1924-1982), editor of the FCT’s The Christian Challenge, and Perry Laukhuff, editor of The Certain Trumpet.

Originally called the ‘Coalition of Concerned Churchmen’, they were against “the ordination of women to the priesthood, the proposed revision of the Prayer Book, and the loosening of church standards on issues such as divorce, sexuality, and abortion.” 27 Over time, the Fellowship issued statements to the Bishops and the Church. The purpose of the statements was to keep morale up and present a unified opposition, as well as represent traditional Anglicanism.

According to Eric Badertscher on page twenty-two of his MA thesis, A Measure of a Bishop, the FCC issued their first declaration on October 2, 1973; on the eve of the Episcopal Church’s vote to legalize the ordination of women. The declaration listed seven principles on which the FCC would not compromise: (1) the authority of the Bible; (2) The maintenance of the catholic creeds; (3) The maintenance of baptism and confirmation by bishops in the Apostolic line; (4) The maintenance of the Eucharist by those possessing orders in the apostolic line; (5) The perpetuation of the practice of limiting the episcopate and priesthood to men; (6) The integrity of the Episcopate in its sacramental functions, and (7) the 1928 Book of Common Prayer in order to maintain worship and doctrine.

For traditionalists, the church’s direction was clear proof of the “abandonment of Christian Orthodoxy” 28 and it became even more evident on July 29th 1974 when retired Bishops (Daniel Corrigan, Robert Dewitt and Edward Welles) from the U.S. Episcopal Church (ECUSA), in spite of Bishop John Maury Allin’s (1921-1998) protestation, “illegally ordained” 29 eleven women at Philadelphia's Church of the Advocate. Likewise on September 7, 1975, retired bishop George Barrett “ordained four additional women” 30 to the priesthood.

The opposition to the ordination of women in the Episcopal Church was argued from two points. First,” for sacramental reasons,” 31 it was impossible for women to be priests. And secondly, the ECUSA's General Convention “did not have the authority” 32 to decide the issue, and therefore such a matter would have better been put in the hands of a board or council to find consensus within Christendom. {The ordination service of the Philadelphia Eleven was held on Monday, July 29, 1974, on the Feast of Saints Mary and Martha, at the Church of the Advocate in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.}

While the FCC did their very best to be much like a loyal opposition, advocates for women's ordination began to take a more politically radical approach. Because of this, though representatives of the opposing groups were present and allowed to make a dissenting statement before the ordinations took place, they “were jeered repeatedly by the crowd of 1,500.” 33 Two weeks later, the House of Bishops, in Chicago, voted 129 to 9 to express their disapproval of the non-canonical ordinations of those who came to be known as "the Philadelphia Eleven." 34

They adopted a resolution chastising the four (mostly retired/resigned) prelates who had done the deed, “and declaring the 11 women’s priestly ordinations invalid. Defiant, ten of the eleven women said they would decide for themselves how and when they would exercise the `priesthood’ they believed was theirs.” 35 The problem with this vote, for traditionalists, was that the bishops objected to the ordination of women only because it occurred prior to it becoming canonically legal. The House of Bishops would break the back of the traditionalists by stating their support for women's ordination, “in principle,” 36 at their next regularly scheduled meeting.

The illegal and, to many, heretical ordinations in Philadelphia pushed a number of traditionalists to think the unthinkable, the possibility of splitting away from the national church. As an act of demonstrating their displeasure with the Episcopal Church, in 1975, the ACU stripped the above mentioned retired Bishop of West Missouri, Edward R. Welles II, honorary vice-president of the organization, from its membership rolls because of his participation in the Philadelphia service.37

Throughout the summer of 1976, the FCC kept up the pressure by organizing a massive prayer vigil. According to the July 21st, 1976 issue of the Episcopal News Service (ENS) the Fellowship of Concerned Churchmen put out a call for all Episcopalians to “pray and to stand fast” 38 in their defence of the Church and their faith. They clearly stated that they were determined that the Church would continue in its present “Doctrine, Discipline and Worship.” 39

Sources for this article:

1. Joan de Catanzaro p.44

2. ibid p.47

3. ibid p.48

4. ibid p.48

5. ibid p.48

6. ibid p.66

7. ibid p.66

8. Ivan Clutterbuck Marginal Catholics: The Anglican/Methodist Affair. Chapter 16, p.179- 197

9. de Catanzaro p.49

10. ibid p.49

11. ibid p.60

12. ibid p.59

13. ibid p.60

14. ibid p.62

15. ibid p.62

16. St. Matthew’s Anglican Catholic Church. Who We Are & What We Believe. ( 2006) p.1

17. Louis W. Falk. * Confirmation from a primary source, former Primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion, the Most Reverend Louis W. Falk, regarding statements made in Bess’ book Divided We Stand

18. Bess p.78

19. * Some Catholic theologians of note from this period were: Leonardo Boff, Brazilian, ex-Franciscan, ex-priest, co-founder of Liberation theology, Yves Congar (1904–1995), French Dominican ecumenical theologian, Joan Chittister, OSB, a nun who is a lecturer and social psychologist, John Dominic Crossan, ex-priest, New Testament scholar, co-founder of the Jesus Seminar, and Hans Küng, Swiss theologian. Had his license to teach Catholic theology revoked in 1979 because of his rejection of the doctrine of the infallibility of the Church, but retained his faculties to say the Mass, Edward Schillebeeckx, Belgian Dominican theologian.

20. TCC 1962 Report

21. ibid

22. Badertscher Chapter 2, Footnotes, p.10

23. Perry Laukhuff The Making of the Affirmation of St. Louis: Magna Carta of Continuing Anglicans. (North American Review, 1977) p.1

24. Time Magazine, High-Church Lowdown, Friday, June 23rd, 1961 Copyright Time Inc

25. Laukhuff p.1

26. ibid p.1

27. Bess p.82

28. Anglican Catholic Church (Original Province) website

29. de Catanzaro p.62

30. Brian Marsh. Saints and Buccaneers. Belchertown, MA, 2001, p.16

31. Badertscher Chapter 2, p.10

32. ibid p10

33. Bess p.83

34. Bess p.84

35. TCC 1974 Report

36. Bess p.84

37. * On July 29th, 1974 in Philadelphia, along with assisting with the ordination of the other women, Bishop Welles ordained his daughter, Katrina Martha van Alstyne Welles Swanson.(1942-2004), The ECUSA, http://ecusa.anglicanorg/41685_68888_ENG_Print.html

38. Episcopal News Service 16 Episcopal Groups Endorse Prayer Vigil, July21st, 1976, 76243

Out of the more Protestant or Low-church end of the traditionalist Episcopalian spectrum came a group which had been formed in 1966 known as the Foundation for Christian Theology (FCT). The FCT originated in 1962 as a group from Michigan calling themselves the ‘Society of Fishermen,’ and publishing a newsletter called

Next issue on the Road to St. Louis: The 1976 ECUSA Minneapolis Convention & Preparing for the 1977 St. Louis Convention

This article was taken from the Doctoral thesis Recognizing Anglican Catholic Identity: An Historical Review of the Anglican Catholic Movement, the Affirmation of St. Louis and the Traditional Anglican Communion, which has been added to the database for scholarly works by Acadia University. For anyone interested in the complete thesis, it can be found at:

© Dr. Charles Warner 2010

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