On the Deficiencies of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer


To the Bishops and Regular Clergy of the Anglican Rite Roman Catholic Church,

The 1928 Book of Common Prayer (BCP) of the Protestant Episcopal Church has long been the staple of the liturgy for the groups of Anglicans known commonly as Continuing Anglicans, who separated from the same Protestant Episopcal Church mostly in the late 1970s. Some such groups use various editions of Anglican missals, which are principally the 1928 BCP with the addition of the missing Catholic elements taken from different editions of the Tridentine missal. It is worth noting, and it is indeed most important to note that those jurisdictions, though typically claiming Catholicism in one form or another, often under the name of "Anglo-Catholicism," are rife with Protestants and Protestant influence. It is this prevelent Protestant influence that renders it not possible simply to claim that the 1928 BCP is inherently Catholic in nature simply because Continuing Anglican tend to use it. Furthermore, it is known that there was much Protestant influence in the compilation of the 1928 BCP, as captured and summarized within the Articles of Religion, which we consider a shame due to the many beautiful elements the book otherwise possesses.

Within the Anglican Rite Roman Catholic Church, the 1928 BCP is not the standard of liturgy. The standard of liturgy is found within the Missale Anglicanum Editio Latina et Anglica and the Anglican Breviary. The aforementioned missal is not the 1928 BCP with certain elements added from Roman liturgy, but rather is essentially the pre-1955 Tridentine mass with certain acceptable elements added from the 1928 BCP, viz., the Collect for Purity, the Summary of the Law, the General Confession, Absolution, and Comfortable Words, and the General Thanksgiving after Communion. Indeed, our Particular Church is not a Continuing Anglican community, but rather an Old Roman Catholic Patriarchate that has, through her special history, inherited the blessing of Anglican heritage. It is important that our liturgy represent out heritage and, above all, the true Catholic doctrine, for lex orandi lex credendi.

While Can. 68 Sec. 1 of the Code of Particular Canon Law permits the use of certain other traditional Anglican and Roman liturgy, this is not intended to be the norm or standard use. It is never intended that there should be within our jurisdiction some parishes that use the official missal of our Patriarchate, other parishes that use different missals, and still other parishes that use the 1928 BCP. Such a mismatched collection of liturgy across parishes acts against the unity so essential to our mission. Yet, certain other liturgy may be, under Canon Law and with proper permission, use on occasion. Can. 68 Sec. 2 specifically addresses the issues pertaining to the effects of the Protestant Reformation on the 1928 BCP and earlier Books of Common Prayer. These effects cannot be ignored by anyone professing the Catholic Faith.

Can. 68 Sec. 3 specifically states that no liturgy may be used if said liturgy is used with intent to deny Catholic doctrine. This may further reasonably be interpreted to imply any liturgy which is inherently non-Catholic, regardless of the intent of the officiant and participant. In a valid sacrament there must be valid intent in accordance with Catholic doctrine on the part of the one performing the sacrament. The rite used is an external form, by the action of which the intent of the one performing the sacrament is realized and the grace of the said sacrament is conveyed. Therefore, it is illogical that a rite devoid of Catholic form could or should be used to convey a valid Catholic sacrament with the intent of actually conveying a valid Catholic sacrament. Due to the Protestant influence on the 1928 BCP, there is definite cause for concern as to whether it may be used in its unaltered and unedited form for the adminsitration of valid Catholic sacraments.

First, let us note that the current rites for ordination to the Minor Holy Orders under the Pontificale Anglicanum 3rd Ed. are derived from the ordination rites contained within the 1928 BCP, in order to provide stylistic influence from our Anglican heritage. These rites, though, are modified in order to be sufficient in form and intent for the administration of a valid Catholic sacrament. Furthermore, the 1928 BCP rites of marriage, visitation of the sick, and burial (outside a Requiem mass) are similarly found in our Rituale Anglicanum, again modified where needed to render them of a form appropriate to the admission of a valid Catholic sacrament. Such was and is the similar practice of the Anglican Use and the Anglican Ordinariate of the Roman Communion, i.e., that Anglican-style liturgy may be used, having been properly and sufficiently modified to be in accord with Catholic doctrine and tradition.

The chief concern pertaining to the use of the 1928 BCP regards its use for the administration of Holy Communion. Used in its unaltered form without any additions or deletions, it lacks many essential Catholic elements in the Sacrament. These may be briefly enumerated as follows:

1. There are no Prayers at the Foot of the Altar at the beginning of the communion service. This removes the act of the priest, servers, and people preparing themselves for the Holy Sacrifice. This also promotes Luther's refusal to accept the Catholic teaching that the priest is judge, witness and intercessor with God.

2. There is only a minimal calendar of Saints, consisting essentially only of the Apostles. Hence, there are also no collects of commemoration. Coupled with the statements made in the Articles of Religion, this can only be taken to be a denial of the Catholic doctrine pertaining to the Saints. That they are not included in the 1928 BCP renders it impossible to keep the Catholic feasts of the Saints. The various editions of Anglo-Catholic missals have had to remedy this chiefly through the addition of Roman Catholic collects.

3. There is no true Offertory. The priest merely "sets the table" for communion rather than formally offering the host and chalice. Without suitable words in the ritual by which the bread and wine are offered, the door is left wide open for any interpretation of the elements of communion, including that they do not become the very and true Body and Blood of Christ, but merely are representative and constitute a memorial meal. Even though the words "And the Priest shall then offer, and shall place upon the Holy Table, the Bread and the Wine" appear in the rubrics, this is far from sufficient to indicate the sacrificial nature of a true Holy Communion. The non-sacrificial interpretations that are clearly possible on the part of the priest and the people are entirely Protestant in nature and not consistent with Catholic doctrine.

4. In the Prayer for the Whole State of Christ's Church, the phrase "We humbly beseech thee most mercifully to accept our [alms and] oblations" appears, without any further comment that would suggest a sacrificial nature. Indeed, that the oblations of bread and wine are written next to alms further weakens any possibility that the oblation of bread and wine in the 1928 BCP rite is necessarily and unambiguously a sacrificial offering to which the people may join themselves.

5. The 1928 BCP communion service lacks Secrets, by which the priest offers special prayers silently on behalf of the people. The lack of these prayers weakens the role of the priest in the sense of a Catholic priesthood, i.e., an alter Christus.

6. Most troubling is the prayer of consecration itself. The prayer refers to the Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross at Calvary. Instead of then referring to the present act on the altar as that same, true and living Sacrifice to which the priest and people join themselves, it explictly refers to the present act as a "perpetual memory" of the Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. If it is the intent of the priest that communion be merely a memorial, then it is indeed no sacrament at all.

7. While the phrase in the Invocation "...in remembrance of his death and passion, may be partakers of his most blessed Body and Blood" does refer to the Body and Blood of Christ and may otherwise not be a troubling statement, taken in the context in which the 1928 prayer of consecration is phrased renders the statement in the Invocation merely the furtherance of the Protestant heresy that Holy Communion is merely a memorial. Further in the Invocation is stated "And here we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, our selves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto thee." This statement merely by itself represents Catholic doctrine. Yet, in the context of the entire rite, it becomes highly confusing as to the true nature of the communion service, i.e., is it a Sacrifice (Catholic doctrine) or merely a memorial (Protestant heresy).

8. The Agnus Dei is completely missing.

9. There is no invocation of Saints, and there are no prayers for the dead, furthering the various Protestant heresies regarding the Saints and intercession for the dead.

10. There is no Domine non sum dignus per se, but there is the following prayer: "We do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy: Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body, and our souls washed through his most precious blood, and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen." This prayer further adds to the confusion regarding the sacrificial nature of a true mass. Given the earlier aspects of the 1928 rite that suggest communion is not a sacrifice, but a memorial, this prayer furthers both that notion and the idea that the presence of Christ is mystical. That is, a denial of transubstantian, and hence of Catholic doctrine. Indeed, Article 28 of the Articles of Religion explicitly denies transubstantiation. Hence, all statements in the 1928 rite referring to the Body and Blood of Christ must be interpretted merely in a symbolic fashion. Thus, taken in its unaltered and unedited form, the rite of the 1928 BCP is not a true sacrifice.

11. The priest in the 1928 BCP rite does not keep his thumbs and forefingers joined until the ablutions. This action is done in traditional liturgy to prevent profanement of any particles of the Body of Christ that may be on the priests thumbs and forefingers. Furthermore, there is no explicit act of ablutions of the sacred vessels. That these actions are absent in the 1928 BCP rite is rather telling and certainly consistent with Article 28 of the Articles of Religion.

12. The Articles of Religion themselves, under which the intent of the 1928 BCP rites must be interpreted and considered, contain numerous anti-Catholic doctrine. This leads to the serious question of valid intent on the part of anyone celebrating Holy Communion under the 1928 BCP rite.

It is, therefore, not permitted for any priest in the Anglican Rite Roman Catholic Church to celebrate the Holy Mass under the 1928 BCP without the permission of the Patriarch, in accordance with Can. 68 Sec. 1, and then only if the rite is celebrated under the following conditions:

1. It is celebrated out of an altar service book not containing the 39 Articles of Religion.

2. A nine-fold Kyrie Eleison is used.

3. The Gloria in excelsis, when liturgically required, is said after the Kyrie.

4. The Prayers at the Foot of the Altar are said as given in the Missale Anglicanum.

5. The Offertory must be said in accordance with the Missale Anglicanum.

6. The Canon of the Mass is said in its entirety as given in the Missale Anglicanum.

7. The intent must be in accordance with Catholic doctrine as delivered through Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, which same is also promulgated through the Catechism of this Particular Church.

8. It must not otherwise violate rubrics and liturgical norms and instructions.


Given this day at the Court of Saint Mary of Walsingham, 15 July, in the year of our Lord 2012.

+Rutherford Card. Johnson
Patriarch of Saint Stephen


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