This week, the AM embraced Kevin Donlon’s Constitution, which is based on the charters of a hodgepodge of Roman religious orders. The three streams mantra was repeated and a lot of cool things were said about being ‘Celtic.” For example, Apostolic Vicar Murphy issued a document that says things like:
While these qualities have created a very distinct and very effective culture for mission and church planting in the life of the Anglican Mission, this culture is not always appreciated or valued by those firmly committed to the more jurisdictional model for structuring church life. There is an anxiety about the very “cultural distinctives” that we identified and listed above in describing our life together in the Anglican Mission. There is a strong bias against this vocational model and structure for ordering church life that can be traced back to the period of the Celtic tradition. The same tensions and struggles that we find recorded in church history between the “Roman” and the “Celtic” models for ordering and structuring the church that more or less culminated in the Synod of Whitby in 664 A.D., remain very much with us to this day.
Essentially, last year’s flight from Rwandan church discipline was akin to the struggles that led to the Synod of Whitby! Ignoring for a moment the false nature of the Vicar’s claims that this was about culture and not simple disobedience, I would like to focus on the new “Celtic” angle that theAM is pushing. It is even used in the blurbs from the paper’s intro where both Bishop Fitz Allison and Bishop Rodgers mention “our Celtic heritage” and “the older Celtic pattern.” Concerning the supposed “Celtic” model that has now been transplanted to South Carolina, historian Richard Fletcher says:
The argument is further advanced that branches of the Christian church in close proximity to Ireland, such as Wales, developed in the same manner; and that this distinctive model was exported to further neighboring areas – from Wales to Brittany, from Ireland to western Scotland. Thus, the argument concludes, there came into existence a Celtic church which differed in its organization and customs from the Roman church.
It is now recognized that this is misleading…There never was a ‘Celtic church.’ Irish churchmen repeatedly and sincerely professed their Roman allegiances and if there were divergent practices between Rome and Ireland, well, so there were between Rome and Constantinople or Milan or Toledo. The terms ‘Roman’ and ‘Celtic’ are too monolithic.
The Barbarian Conversion, p. 92
Rather than admitting that last year’s defiance of Episcopal authority has caused a collapse of what was the AMiA (in addition to a drift towards Tridentine theology under Kevin Donlon), the Apostolic Vicar is now talking up the supposed Celtic model, which seems to believe that doctrine doesn’t much matter (the Roman Catholic church is just ‘another net’ used to catch fish) and the main thing is the ability to maintain command and control with no meaningful oversight from above. All the rest is window dressing to backfill a theology over this command and control ecclesiology.
We don’t read of anyone from the Congo being at this session, but another website tells us: “However there was no official word as to whether the Anglican Province of the Congo would receive them now that they are no longer under the Anglican Province of Rwanda. VOL has been told the letter to Bishop Murphy from Archbishop Henri Isingoma is on its way. It remains an open question if the AMIA has a solid link with an Anglican province (apart from three retired archbishops) and if so, whether they can be called Anglican at this time. Canonist Kevin Donlon told VOL that the last communication with the Archbishop of the Congo confirms that the missionary vicariate, as established, continues as agreed through the 180 days (till October 3). Additionally, 4 dioceses are committed to being partners through Concordat.”
The ACNA has a lot of faults: women’s ordination, horrible three streams theology and bad ideas like working with idolaters such as Metropolitan Jonah. But one key differentiator between ACNA and whatever theAM is called now is that ACNA isn’t a one man show. Archbishop Duncan will move on and someone will take his place, while Apostolic Vicar Murphy will move into the College of Consultors and probably still be a major (if not the decisive) influence on affairs. You can see now that the strategy is for him to officially take a different role and plead “why can’t we be part of ACNA” when there is new leadership. “Why stay divided over old conflicts?”