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Ecclesiastical Fascism Rearing its Head in Anglican Communion

Ecclesiastical Fascism Rearing its Head in Anglican Communion

News Analysis

By David W. Virtue

Ecclesiastical fascism is sweeping across the Anglican Communion.

Consider the following:

In New Zealand, a gag order was placed on a vicar by a revisionist archbishop because he allegedly blew the whistle that Canadian Bishop Victoria Matthews had been nominated Bishop of Christchurch, ahead of the general synod's vote later this month. Even though he vigorously denied it, the vicar of Avonhead's St. Christopher's Church, Mike Hawke, got a letter from Archbishop Brown Turei banning him from talking to the media about the nomination.

Matthews supported a resolution in 2004 stating that the blessing of same sex unions did not conflict with the core values of the church, which might have had something to do with it. So muzzle a priest who might talk to the media.

As one NZ observer noted, Hawke only repeated a common enough comment regarding Matthews' willingness to be counted on same-sex marriages and he gets "gagged". Whereas, when Bishop Richard Randerson (retired) goes public (papers, radio, TV) with his agnosticism, with his not believing in the physical resurrection of Jesus, or his skepticism that Jesus is uniquely divine, he is commended by the ACANZP House of Bishops as a courageous thinker and speaker of fresh ideas.

"I guess it is perfectly acceptable for a bishop to marginalize the Christian faith, but a mere archdeacon must not slight a bishop. It appears that these are the sensitivities in place within the ACANZP."

In the Anglican Church of Canada, the heavy-fist of Bishop Cyrus Pitman came down on the clergy in the Diocese of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador when he demanded that they declare their loyalty to the Anglican Church of Canada as they renewed their ordination vows and received new licenses from him.

The bishop denied it was a "power grab", but the former Bishop of Newfoundland, Donald Harvey, believes otherwise. He told VOL that Pitman's actions were "ironic" and "extraordinary" because Pitman had been in office for three years. "He did an extraordinary act. He made all the clergy relinquish their licenses, swear loyalty oaths and renew their ordination vows. To have new licenses issued when a new bishop comes in is unheard of in Anglicanism," Bishop Harvey told VOL.

"It was definitely a coercive act. Immediately after I joined the Province of the Southern Cone, Bishop Pitman sent out a letter to be read in all the churches saying I now could not function in any capacity in his diocese. Then he made sure the only person to invite a visiting preacher in pulpit or parish would be himself. In the past, priests usually exercised their own discretion, but this is no longer the case. Now it is entirely up to him who can or cannot come into the diocese. He then dissolved the Cathedral Chapter all, (of whom I had appointed) with no reason given."

This past week revisionist New Westminster Bishop Michael Ingham filed Ecclesiastical charges against the rector of the largest Anglican parish in Canada, the Rev. David Short, as well as one of the world's top Anglican theologians, Dr J.I. Packer because both men had chosen to align themselves with an orthodox Primate whose views on the gospel are light years away from those of Ingham. The vast majority of St John's, Shaughnessy recently voted overwhelmingly to seek episcopal oversight from Archbishop Gregory Venables of the Diocese of the Southern Cone.

Ingham, a theologically light weight bishop, has been a supporter of same-sex blessings, while Packer has a 40-year history as a respected theologian, historian and author.

The charges not only seek to revoke their licenses, but also seek to nullify the ordination of Mr. Short and Dr. Packer.

In Canada, clergymen have gone to jail for speaking out against sodomy; accused of homophobia when all they are saying is that this particular form of behavior can kill.

In the Episcopal Church, we have seen the heavy fascist fists of men like Charles Bennison, Bishop of Pennsylvania, whose hatred of orthodoxy led him to "inhibit" and "depose" a godly Anglo-Catholic priest. In a remarkable turn about, he now finds himself facing both ecclesiastical and civil charges for fraud and much more.

The fictional "abandonment of communion" used by revisionist Episcopal bishops to deny and dump orthodox priests has now become a standard mantra by those who want to retain power and repress those who would uphold the faith, demanding that they accept the church's new fangled theology, and bless same-sex marriages using new rites allegedly appropriate for the occasion.

When the President of the House of Deputies, Bonnie Anderson, came uninvited into the Dioceses of Ft. Worth, Albany, San Joaquin, and the Rio Grande, it was with veiled threats to those who thought they could leave the Episcopal Church with their properties. She created division by offering spiritual club sandwiches to those remaining "faithful" to The Episcopal Church.

In the Diocese of San Joaquin, a diocese that has chosen unanimously to leave the Episcopal Church, a couple of reconcilers came into the diocese saying they had been sent by Mrs. Jefferts Schori, in an effort to undermine a unanimous decision by folk in that diocese. Bishop John-David Schofield heard about the intrusion into his diocese and wrote a stiff "stay out of my diocese" letter to the two interlopers. That did not deter them from coming, however. Never mind that the bishop told them that the diocese was no longer under the ecclesiastical authority of The Episcopal Church. "You are entering into the internal affairs of a diocese of another province," he told them.

The persecution of Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan by liberal clergy in his diocese, with endless lawsuits as well as a failed attempt by Mrs. Jefferts Schori to inhibit him, shows the level of angst and anger towards a man who only wants to uphold what the church has been teaching for 2000 years against its cultured despisers. Liberal and revisionist church leaders want nothing more than to crush him - the heavy fascist hand at work in The Episcopal Church.

In Australia, the heavy fist of fascism descended on Fr. David Chislett when he was consecrated a bishop in the U.S. for the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC). He was summarily tossed out of his parish by the Most Rev. Phillip Aspinall, now the Primate of the Anglican Church. His license was then revoked even though he holds a license from the Anglican bishop of the Murray diocese.

In England, the Church of England has mercifully been spared such fascist tactics and has not been divided up to now, nor has it seen persecution along the lines experienced in the U.S., Canada and New Zealand.

A knowledgeable insider told VOL that there were two reasons for this.

"One is that the culture of live-and-let-live, which was institutionalized in 1992-3 with the creation of the Flying Bishops, has become a way of life in which the necessity for tolerating diversity has become generally accepted and even valued, for the most part. We would have had women bishops by now if the shriller elements of the Women's Ordination (WO) lobby were not insisting on abolishing the Flying Bishops. Most of those in favor of WO are not willing to sacrifice traditionalists in this way.

"Secondly, the freehold system here means that it is hard to menace an incumbent, who is very firmly attached by law to the parish, and can only be removed after due process in a trial which is regulated by state law, rather than just a canonical system, which is so evidently open to abuse in TEC and Canada. There is nothing like the "abandonment" canon. There is much to be said for being an established church!"

On very rare occasions it becomes personal, but this is very much the exception, he concluded.

Observing the break-up of the Anglican Communion and the fascist type behavior in some of the liberal provinces, Archbishop Gregory Venables of the Southern Cone said this, "This is about two versions of Christianity which are in a strong state of difference. You've got the original biblical Christianity which the church, the Christian church throughout the world has held to over the past 2000 years and then you've got this new liberal postmodern Christianity which has evolved especially in the western world over the last 100 years or so. It's like two ships that have gradually pulled apart and can no longer really sail together and the trouble is, it's pulling the church apart as it does that."


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