23 May 2011

Encyclical - Sine Roma


To the Bishops, Regular Clergy, and Faithful of the Anglican Rite Roman Catholic Church, greetings and Apostolic Blessings.

1. Without Rome, there would be no Anglican Church. Saint Augustine of Canterbury was sent to England in the Sixth Century by Pope Saint Gregory the Great with a mission of building the Church in that country. (1)

2. The Anglican Church proper, having been thus founded by Saint Augustine of Canterbury, naturally evolved as part of the Roman Church, while retaining and developing its own customs, still within the framework of the Roman Church. In A.D. 597, Pope Saint Gregory the Great authorized special liturgy for the English people be developed by Saint Augustine of Canterbury. (2)

3. The political break with Rome by Henry VIII occurred in 1529 over the matter of divorce and annulment. However, while the Anglican Bishops were forcibly cut from communion with Rome, the mass remained the same Latin mass as had been used before. (3)

4. In 1592, the Book of Common Prayer, in English, is revised to suit Protestants, with the doctrine of the Real Presence removed, as well as vestments, holy oil, the sign of the Cross at Confirmation, the reserved Sacrament, and prayers for the departed. However, when Mary Tudor ascended to the throne, 1553, succeeding Edward VI, the connection to Rome was again restored. However, it had become clear that the Protestant influence had thoroughly taken root in England. When Elizabeth I, a staunch Protestant, became Queen upon the death of Mary Tudor, the break from Rome for religious reasons was carried out, and the Anglican Church went into doctrinal schism. (4)

5. During and after the reign of Elizabeth I, the Protestant influence has been felt within the Anglican Church, even to the present day. While many Catholics, generally referred to as Anglo-Catholics, remain present within the various jurisdictions of the worldwide Anglican Church, even in some cases at Anglo-Catholic parishes professing Catholic doctrine, they are largely discriminated against. Attempts are made to suppress Anglo-Catholics.

6. At many Anglican parishes and within many Anglican dioceses, this suppression takes the form of catering to vocal low-church Protestants who criticize their ecclesiastical leaders and other parishioners who profess Catholic doctrine and seek Catholic worship in the Anglican tradition. The result of this is to bring worship and catechesis to the least common denominator, watering down the Faith of the Ages to suit the heretical whims of low-church Protestants within the Church. The Catholics are forced to suppress their views and further suffer by not receiving the fullness of the liturgical and catechetical life of the Church. The Catholics within such parishes or dioceses are often left feeling disenchanted, offended, and as second class citizens whose needs are insignificant to the other parishioners and to the clergy.

7. While low-church Protestants may be welcomed in Christian brotherhood, clergy and faithful alike fail in their duty to God and to his Holy Church when they uphold, adopt, or profess heresies. They need not openly adopt said heresy, but may nevertheless be guilty of its promulgation by not opposing it. (5)

8. One of the greatest strengths of the Anglican tradition is that there is ability for variation in worship. This tradition is strengthened by the fact that Pope Saint Gregory the Great charged Saint Augustine of Canterbury with the task of developing new liturgy for the Anglican Church. Yet, any such variation of change made must in all cases be consistent in fact and in spirit with the doctrine of the Church and must never imply or promote doctrinal changes. The liturgical changes within the Protestant Reformation were made to promote a break with Rome, the true heritage of the Anglican Church, and to imply changes in doctrine to be consistent with Protestant thought. Such liturgy cannot be permitted or tolerated within any Anglican jurisdiction professing the Catholic Faith.

9. In 1560, "An Apology for the Church of England" was written by John Jewel, in which Rome is declared to be the schismatic force, not England. In 1563, the Thirty-Nine Articles were drafted as a statement of the new Protestant doctrine of the Church of England. Rome was viewed as the enemy, then, by the Protestants. Fear and dislike of Rome is a byproduct of the Protestant Reformation and its influence on the Anglican Church. It is not and cannot be a product of the Anglican Church simply being different, as the Anglican Church was founded by Rome. As such, the history, doctrine, and traditions of the Anglican Church cannot exist, cannot function, and cannot be explained or understood outside of the context of Rome.

10. To claim to be Anglican and take offense at Rome is both to deny one's own heritage and to profess a steadfastly Protestant viewpoint. To claim to be Anglican and Catholic (or Anglo-Catholic) while denying Roman heritage is either to be not Catholic at all or at the very least not to have a thorough understanding of one's own heritage, history, and tradition.

11. It is incumbent upon all Catholic clergy of the Anglican Rite to impress the history and doctrine of the Church upon all the faithful. The simple truth must be promulgated that to be Anglican is to be Roman. The history of the two cannot be separated if one is going to profess the Catholic Faith.

12. A further problem that stems from procedural changes beginning in the Protestant Reformation is that of a Parish Vestry or a Parish Council taking upon itself far more authority than it is due. Far too often the laity of a parish, organized often in the form of a Parish Council or a Vestry, seeks to be the ultimate authority in the parish, usurping the authority of the clergy and often mistreating them.

13. In the Anglican Rite Roman Catholic Church, it must be remembered that the authority of the Vestry or Parish Council is limited to an advisory or operational role only. (6) Furthermore, as the principal authority in a parish is vested in the Rector, a parish need not have lay officers. (7) In this way, the Church keeps with the historic nature of its organization.

14. The Church is and has always been organized from the top down. Jesus Christ gave the authority to the Apostles at the first Pentecost. The Apostles gave authority to the Bishops. The Bishops have passed their Apostolic authority down through the ages to the present day through unbroken Apostolic succession. Bishops ordain priests and deacons, and commission to the Minor Orders in order to carry out the functions of the Church's ministry.

15. The Church is not a grass-roots organization in which the laity gives authority to the Rector, who gives authority to the Bishop, and so forth. To assume that it is organized in such a fashion is an affront to the Church and ultimately to Jesus Christ himself, who established the Church in a particular way.

16. Those clergy who wish to usurp the positions of higher authorities within the Church, as well as those members of the laity who seek to usurp the rightful position of the clergy commit the sin of pride. If such usurpations continue, it breeds an atmosphere of discontentment and instability within a parish, a diocese, or even the Church as a whole, rather than a prayerful, peaceful atmosphere that is intended.

17. The clergy and faithful who seek to impose their own will in matters of liturgy, doctrine, and ecclesiastical law and practice in contravention of Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and higher ecclesiastical authority, lay no claim to call themselves Catholic. This individual arrogance is one of the largest impediments to Christian unity today, even unity within the Anglican Church.

18. Therefore, all members of the clergy and faithful are exhorted to keep the Catholic Faith in all matters of life, upholding the doctrine, and never forgetting the completeness of our Anglican heritage. This heritage includes, as a matter of historical fact, the heritage of the Roman Church. This heritage is not merely a point of history, but rather an inseparable aspect of the spiritual nature of our Church. Only the Protestants seek to deny this. To be Anglican is to be Roman. Without Rome, there is no Anglican Church.

Rutherford Card. Johnson
Patriarch of the Anglican Rite Roman Catholic Church

Given at the Court of Saint Mary of Walsingham
on the Fourth Sunday after Easter
22 May A.D. 2011.

(1) New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia; St. Augustine of Canterbury.
(2) Anglican Timeline. E. Friedlander.
(3) Idem.
(4) Idem.
(5) Eph. 4.25.; 2010 Anglo-Catholic Book of Common Prayer. Ways of Being an Accessory to the Sin of Another.
(6) Can. 276, Sec. 5, Code of Particular Canon Law.
(7) Can. 276, Sec. 1, Code of Particular Canon Law.

20 May 2011

Statement on the Killing of Osama bin Laden


Much debate has been witnessed regarding the killing of Osama bin Laden at his hideout in Pakistan. Some have questioned whether such an act was justified, particularly if he was unarmed. Some have also questioned whether or not the invasion of sovereign territory without permission was ethical. These are questions that are worth addressing in terms of Christian morality.

First, the killing of Osama bin Laden was a justified act against a terrorist and mass murderer who has killed and engineering the killing of countless innocent people, all in the name of the Mohammedan religion. While in some ways a trial might have been preferable from a legal standpoint, the matter of his guilt is without question. He was the self-admitted mastermind of Al Qaeda. Furthermore, this was not a legal matter as such. Osama bin Laden was head of a non-governmental organization with members from several nations that waged war on the United States, Great Britain, and other Christian nations around the world to further their agenda of Muslim supremacy. As this was a global war for the survival of the Christian faith and freedom, a military operation to eliminate the direct threat of bin Laden was fully justified by just war theory.

The second matter that has raised concern is whether or not Osama bin Laden was armed when he was killed. If he was not armed, then some suggest that the killing was murder. Whether the killing was justified, however, must be analyzed purely based on whether or not, in the brief time the shooter had to make a decision, said shooter could reasonably assess that there was no threat posed by bin Laden or others. The history of Osama bin Laden is one of extreme violence and trickery. He was known to have been very dangerous. Al Qaeda and other Islamic militants are known for using suicide tactics. Given his history and that of his organization, it is entirely reasonable to assume that bin Laden may have been concealing a weapon or had ready access to a weapon that was otherwise not visible to the American operatives. Under very few and extremely unlikely circumstances would said operatives have been truly safe from potential harm by bin Laden and his associates. Therefore, the operatives were fully justified in the killing based on reasonable assumption of threat due to the history of bin Laden and his organization.

Lastly is the issue of the operation being carried out in Pakistan without the knowledge of the Pakistani government. There are limits to national sovereignty. If a national harbors a known military threat, such as bin Laden, then they lose rights to redress for violation of sovereign territory. Osama bin Laden had been in a town in Pakistan near their military academy for at least five years. Given that the Pakistani government was aware of the possibility of his being somewhere in their nation, and they promised full support against Al Qaeda, it is highly unlikely that the Pakistani government was completely unaware of bin Laden's presence. While they may or may not have been actively supporting his presence, it is highly likely that they were at least turning a blind eye to the extreme likelihood of his presence. Given the actions of the Pakistani government and the very open pro-Islamist and even pro-Al Qaeda attitudes of a large or at least vocal segment of the Pakistani population, the operation was fully justified without informing the Pakistani government.