Let's face facts: "Anglo-Catholicism" in the 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th and, now, 21st century has applied to radically different impulses. By the standards of the last century, I am closest to the "Prayer Book Catholic" or "English Use" movements: but neither of these two possibilities still exist. They are both as dead as the proverbial doornail.
So, there is a good article from which I would like to springboard to a slightly different take. There are three remaining motives for "a-c" (now, lower-case):
- Romanitas I: These are the people who longed for corporate reunion with Rome (and hence tended strictly to follow Rome, adopting whatever was the flavour of the month). They are now all either RCs or in the Ordinariate. These people have my respect because they are either logically consistent or willing to subordinate themselves to the higher goal of Christian unity.
- Romanitas II: These are the only sorts still found in the Communion (or the Continuum): "AffCaths." They ape Rome but they cannot be Roman, almost exclusively for obvious moral irregularities, as accurately described in the aforementioned article:
Some of the folks I know who fall into this category started out in the Roman Catholic Church but departed; others started out in some form of low protestant Evangelicalism and in their way up the candle stopped in the high section of the Episcopal Church. One priest I know started out in an Assemblies of God type tradition and began moving in a Rome-ward direction. However, now divorced and in a same-sex relationship, there is no way that he could be a priest in the Roman Catholic Church. As a result, he remains Episcopal, but assimilates as closely as possible to Roman theology and practice. I know several who were ordained Roman Catholic clergy who switched and are now married whether to different or same-sex partners. A number of formerly Roman Catholic women and divorced people also appear in this group.
These people have my contempt because they are logically inconsistent (or just outright incoherent) and simply have found a strange perch from which to preen their borrowed feathers (usually "they have no real desire to be Anglican or Episcopalian; it’s just the next best thing to what they truly desire").
- The Third Way: This doesn't have a catchy name. It is a rare and obscure beast. One attempt:
The Historical Approach rejects a narrow sense of Anglican identity and the notion that Christianity began at the Reformation. The Historical Approach see Anglicanism as a purification of the catholic tradition and, in particular, is interested in the practices, theologies, and spirituality that informed the English church prior to the Reformation [my emphases]. This Approach is interested in reconnecting with broader Christianity but tends to look “back” rather than “across” as in the Ecumenical Approach.
Only the last has any remaining claim to the name of Anglican: the first have formally crossed the Tiber (and the barque of St. Peter has left the port) and the second are mere crossdressers who are simply exploiting the lack of any real disciplinary boundaries. In a sense, I'm not fond of 'historical' because that opens into the old 'British Museum' insult; yet, the interest in history is to inform present practice and because "The past is never dead. It's not even past."
Here we are not "borrowers" (who never repay) but rather rag-pickers on the junk heap of history. We are picking up what others have wilfully discarded (and that includes Sarum and all the rest). Nor are we interested in cold uniformity but rather in a marvellous diversity of living forms.
Call it "renovationism" or "reconstructionism" or whatever you like. The goal is not formal closure (i.e., absolute consistency) but rather living "openings": the crossing and reconnecting of different but related streams (as per the title of this blog). It is about life (and health), not death.
The origins of Anglicanism are indeed horrific. Neither in theory or in practice can we claim to have a monopoly on purity or truth. Institutionally speaking, there was never any 'golden age' -- only individuals who sought to make things right. And so it remains. It is simply not a matter of "groups."
Post scriptum: Unlike the author of the post, I do not support WO or SS (as the past will not support these but neither will it, properly interpreted, support hate either).