Updated: May 18
The Right Rev. Albert A. Chambers (1906-1993)
As we have witnessed from our Neighbours to the south, traditional Anglicans can work together even when past issues seemed insurmountable and kept them apart. Over a twelve-year period (2005-2017) Continuing Anglican jurisdictions that can trace their episcopal linage back to the 1978 Albert Chambers consecration worked diligently on the process of reunification.
On October 6th, 2017, the Primates of the Anglican Catholic Church, the Anglican Province of America, the Anglican Church of America, and the Diocese of the Holy Cross successfully concluded the process by signing an agreement proclaiming 'full, institutional and organic union with each other'. Perhaps the old adage 'time heals all wounds' applies here. But most likely these Churches simply took a sober look at their situations and came to a very logical conclusion that as a unified body they could achieve more for the sake of the mission of Jesus Christ.
So, with the Affirmation of St. Louis as their guide they originally came together as 'The Group of Four or G-4' (Name Pending). Additionally, traditional Anglicans in the United States are also working toward unity through The Union of Scranton with other 'Non-Papal Catholics' from around the world, such as the Polish National Catholic Church and the Nordic Catholic Church. It seems that the Holy Spirit is truly leading our faith communities toward a Western Catholic-Orthodox Church in both piety and theology.
But what motivated these traditional Anglican Churches to come together? A good theory might be that a move towards creating a single American Continuing Anglican Church would allow all Churches to move forward and frankly put the past in the past. Doing so would free everyone up to a creative process; not re-creating something from the past but creating something new for the future.
Brothers and Sisters, creation is an exciting thing, and it opens us up to new possibilities. The creative process affects us, and it also gives us an opportunity .to be whole and complete both as individuals and as a Faith Community. Indeed, we can begin to see opportunities to grow as faithful Anglicans. Any unrealized potential has at least a chance to carry out God's mission for us, which is to go out into the world to spread the good news of Jesus Christ. Through the creative process potential can become a reality and this new reality can make us spiritually fulfilled, both as a Community of Faith and as individuals.
A Lesson Learned: Moving Forward with Mutual Respect
The first thing the American Churches did was to acknowledge each other's very capable leadership and committed themselves to work together for the sake of the entire Church. They recognized each other's giftedness and what they could offer each other. They agreed to utilize each other's talents and treasures and create something bigger than what they had as individual faith communities.
Each traditional Anglican Church is recognized for what they are today. All G-3 members respect the integrity of the other in true Christian fellowship. Such Christian charity unites us with God. The American Churches are willing to acknowledge, with respect, the autonomous nature of the other and I believe, with confidence, that they have begun to put the past behind them and are now moving forward to advance the Kingdom of God. Such unity is a visible sign of the Holy Spirit at work and a true marriage of like-minded traditional Anglicans.
I believe that the American coalescence shows us that if we work hard enough and are determined enough, all 'Affirmation of St. Louis' Sister Churches can develop that same kind of relationship. Visible evidence of this fact is that there has already been a number of Joint Synods. Alleluia!
So where do we Canadians go from here?
The Right Rev. Dr. Carmino Joseph de Catanzaro (1916-1983) First Bishop of the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada
In April of 1967, the Rev. Dr. Carmino de Catanzaro organized the Council for the Faith. 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." The Council for the Faith was the only medium Fr. de Catanzaro had at his disposal in Canada
and through it he attempted to warn faithful Anglicans that their traditional faith was being gradually taken away from them.
In the view of Father de Catanzaro, who became the first Continuing Anglican Bishop in Canada in 1980, Anglicans were moving from a "traditional Catholic position into a chaotic do your own thing mode," believing and teaching "that each person can have his own truth." The legacy of de Catanzaro is the foundational ethos for traditional Anglicanism in Canada, and it goes back fifty-two years; twelve years prior to the establishment of the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada in 1979.
Our Church has been an enclave of devoted Anglo-Catholics upholding its English Catholic heritage. Over this time, we have remained true to the values of our founders. Even after the destructive consequences of the Roman Catholic Ordinariate process we have stayed the course and remained a devoted Faith community of traditional Anglicans.
Naturally, it is advisable to carry on with Bishop de Catanzaro's dream of being a Church that is guided with the help of the Holy Spirit through "the Scriptures, the Book of Common Prayer and the historic Sacraments." I believe that a new relationship for Anglo Catholics in Canada is possible, especially if it is based upon continuing our Anglican heritage.
On October 13, 2017, The Most Rev. Shane Janzen, then Primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion (now the Traditional Anglican Church) and Metropolitan of the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada, together with the Right Rev. Craig Botterill released a statement expressing the hope that the "initiative will lead to further ecumenical dialogue, cooperation and reconciliation between and among the Continuing Anglican Churches around the world, as well as here in Canada".
So, brothers and sisters, as we enter the third decade of this century, I pray that we will become more creative as a Traditional Anglican Church and look seriously at the example of the American Coalescence as the template for the future.
Perhaps the lesson learned here is that if we seek an opportunity to create a constructive path, with other like-minded traditional Anglicans in Canada, it will be based upon mutual respect for each other. I hope that everyone will look at the larger picture and see what's good for Anglo-Catholics in Canada.
Let us work toward Creating a Bridge for a truly united traditional Anglican Church in Canada. I believe that this is an imperative for the Church! So let us trust each other again and work together with mutual respect; Coast to Coast! Then, and perhaps only then, can movement toward a more dynamic and renewed Church be possible. Of course, this is simply your humble servant's opinion and nothing more.
Published when I was a member of the Traditional Anglican Church of Canada Anglican Catholic Church (G-3) under the original title, Continuing to Build Upon a firm Foundation: The American Coalescence in The Traditional Anglican News Volume 7 Issue 11 on November 15th, 2019 plus, additional commentary (August 26th, 2021, November 29th, 2022 & February 2nd, 2023)
© Dr. Charles Warner 2023