Friday, March 20, 2015

The Portsmouth Petition With Its Aftermath

was, let's face it, a fiasco and an embarrassment for the Traditional Anglican Communion, the Anglican Church in America, and, to only a slightly smaller extent, Anglo-Catholicism generally. In fact, given the account from Mr Chadwick cited below, I'm inclined to add the term "scandal" in its full Catholic meaning. The failure of Anglicanorum coetibus to bear anything like its predicted fruit continues to be a major elephant in the room for the movement, and I would suggest is a big reason behind the disappearance, by and large, of the Anglo-Catholic cheerleading blogs.

The participants in the Portsmouth conference, either in person or, like Brian Marsh, by proxy, have a great deal to answer for, and this includes Mr Chadwick, who responds to my fact-finding over Marsh's involvement and manifest bad faith on his blog. Chadwick, let's recall, played a major role in the conference as its translator and de facto recording secretary, as well as a subsequent cheerleader.

Nevertheless, his post is a bizarre effort at minimizing the disgrace:

Quite frankly, I didn’t think most of the bishops took this thing very seriously. No one believed Rome would give any response to the Anglican question in our lifetimes. They did, but to the Forward in Faith clergy from the Church of England and the American Episcopal Church who had been secretly discussing things with Rome since about 1994. The TAC had the most canonically irregular Archbishop John Hepworth as Primate, and some of its clergy might be worthy of being considered on a piecemeal basis. This “interpretation” was beginning to become clear in 2010 to 2011.
Well, given the subsequent actions of all but a few TAC bishops, I suppose it's not out of line to believe they didn't take it seriously. However, a knowledgeable party told me,
There is a videotaped recording of the Bishops solemnly signing the Portsmouth Petition, in October 2007. This occurs during a High Mass. They are all vested in cope and mitre. A more solemn setting can hardly have been imagined.
Well, if they didn't take it seriously, that's fine, it's their problem. The trouble is that their hypocrisy did in fact mislead many people. Mr Chadwick again:
I had the impression that the bishops were going along with Archbishop Hepworth because it seemed a good idea, and signs seemed to suggest the impossible: some kind of “uniate” arrangement with Rome.
He continues, "I had a long conversation not very long ago with a former TAC bishop, and he confirmed many of these intuitions and conjectures." So let me figure this out. Mr Chadwick says this was a big charade, everyone was going along to get along -- and just so we don't think Mr Chadwick is any sort of dupe or rube, he more or less says he was in on it. In fact, he translated any necessary flummery into French, just in case any Francophones couldn't see the wink behind the whole thing.

Mr Chadwick's argument, it seems to me, is a variation on "everybody does it, what's the problem?" Everyone tells lies, for instance. Does that make it good? But the fact is that everyone doesn't do it. Bishops Campese and Moyer took that high mass in October 2007 seriously. Does Mr Chadwick suggest they were dupes and rubes, and he's the sophisticate?

It's hard to avoid thinking Mr Chadwick is trying to ease his conscience.