in the Church
Bishops, Regular Clergy, and Faithful of the Anglican Rite Roman
Catholic Church, greetings and Apostolic Blessings.
1. Christ desires unity in his Holy Church. Natural segments of the
Church have developed over the many centuries, though they all remain
one as the Trinity is One, through the closest possible bonds of
Apostolic Succession and valid Sacraments.
2. Yet, for various reasons, various schismatic factions have arisen.
Even when formed through the best of intentions, such as maintenance
of true doctrine, they nevertheless create fractions within the
Church. Walls are erected, and animosity, mistrust, and confusion
develop on both sides of that wall.
3. Some of these factions further seek the destruction of other
branches of Christ's Holy Church. This is the worst possible result,
even if the initial intentions of those factions were good. No entity
of the Church can consider itself truly Christian if it seeks the
destruction of other entities of the Church.
4. Schism is by far worse than heresy. Schism contains with it
heresy, viz. the heresy that promotes fraction of the Church and is
opposed to unity and charity. Saint Augustine said that a schismatic
is one who holds the same faith as the rest, but takes pleasure in
the mere disunion of the Church. No one can be fully Christian if
they seek, promote, or take pleasure in mere disunion.
5. When the formation of a faction or even a new and otherwise
legitimate Apostolic branch of the Church is carried out for the
preservation of doctrine and the Faith handed down from the Apostles,
there exists a strong possibility to become exclusionary against
other parts of the Church. Continuing Anglican churches, for example,
often are hostile against the Church that they left, i.e., the
Episcopal Church or another branch of the Anglican Communion, even to
the point of seeking its ultimate destruction. Continuing Anglican
Churches and Independent Catholic Churches are often hostile against
Rome. Even validly-formed entities of the Church lose their doctrinal
validity when they act in hostility, whether active or passive,
against the other branches of the Church. This is not to say that
they cannot and should not maintain their doctrinal position, or that
they cannot express their belief that the opposing side is wrong.
This is, however, different from hostility, as it implies an inherent
respect for other members of the Corporate Body of Christ.
6. All Particular Churches must strive for unity. It must be
remembered that doctrinal issues are beyond the capability of one
person to decide. These matters will not be decided or resolved
necessarily according to our time table. What is left to us is to be
faithful stewards of what we have been given to preserve, doing this
the best possible way that we can. While we have very strong reasons
for our beliefs, doctrine, practices, and procedures, it must be
acknowledged that other parts of the Church have equally strong
reasons for their beliefs, doctrine, practices, and procedures, even
when they differ from ours. It is, therefore, cooperation that is
needed, not compromise or hostility.
7. We are all, therefore, called to work for cooperative unity.
8. The Anglican Rite Roman Catholic Church has inherited a unique
lineage and legacy to maintain that puts us in a prime position to
heal wounds and work towards unity. With this comes a great
responsibility. All the clergy and faithful of this Particular Church
are expected to work for unity, shun schism, maintain the Faith, seek
cooperation where possible, build bridges, and serve the needs of
those whom God puts in our path to help. This is our mandate and our cause.
9. Furthermore, it is our firm belief that those churches in the
Anglican Continuum should work to cooperate amongst themselves and
with the various entities of the Anglican Communion, e.g., the
Episcopal Church and the Church of England. Similarly, the various
branches of the Anglican Communion should extend a hand in Christian
fellowship and seek ways to cooperate for the greater good.
Independent Catholic Churches and the Roman Communion ought to do
similarly, as well as the western Church and the great Orthodox
Churches of the East. No person, group, faction, sect or church ought
to seek the destruction of any other branch of Christ's Holy Church.
Those who are suffering due to internal doctrinal and structural
crises within their Church need not give hope. Always trusting in
Christ, it is our firm belief that they must not participate in
schism, but wait and hope in the Lord. In all these situations,
differences need not be laid aside, and compromise is not suggested.
Cooperation and Christian brotherhood, however, are essential, for
how can anyone call themselves Christian without those fundamental
Rutherford c.p.p. I
at the Court of Saint Mary of Walsingham
on the Feast
of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary
August A.D. 2011.
(2) Acts 4.32; I Peter 2.17; Rom. 15.6.
(3) Thomas Aquinas S.T. Question 39
(4) Contra Faust. xx, 3; Contra Crescon. ii, 4