An ecumenical conference between scholars of the Anglican and Eastern Orthodox traditions held at Nashotah House Theological Seminary on October 8-10, 2009. Entitled “In the Footsteps of Tikhon and Grafton - Anglican and Orthodox Identity, Ministry and Mission in the 21th Century,” the Anglican-Orthodox Conference featured discussions and addresses by representatives of Nashotah House and St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary. Speakers and Moderators included:
Fr. Robert Munday - Dean of Nashotah House Seminary
Metropolitan Jonah - Primate of the Orthodox Church in America
Fr. Chad Hatfield - Chancellor of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary
Fr. William Olnhausen - priest at St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Church in Cedarburg, WI
Fr. Stephen Platt - priest of the Russian Orthodox parish of St Nicholas in Oxford, England and General-Secretary of the UK Fellowship of Ss Alban and Sergius.
Bishop Melchizedek - OCA Bishop of Pittsburgh
Anne Glynn Mackoul - Executive Chair of the St. Vladimir’s Board of Trustees
Fr. Arnold W. Klukas - Professor of Liturgics and Ascetical Theology at Nashotah House
Fr. Jack Gabig - Director of the Young Anglicans Project
Bishop Frank Lyons - Anglican Bishop of Bolivia
Archbishop William Duncan - Anglican Bishop of Pittsburgh
Bishop Keith Ackerman - Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Quincy
Fr. Platt: …St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, Crestwood, NY. This is one of the two theological seminaries of the Orthodox Church in America. And last year, in 2008, it played host to a very successful conference, hosted jointly by St. Vladimir’s and the Fellowship on Primacy in East and West, called Rome and Constantinople and Canterbury. Some of you who are present here were present also at that conference. Father Hatfield is going to talk to us this morning about the legacy of St. Tikhon and Bishop Grafton. It is particularly significant that he’s speaking first of all, as I’m not sure whether it will have been mentioned already, but today is the 20th anniversary of the canonization of Tikhon by the Russian Orthodox Church. So I can think of no more appropriate way to begin our proceedings. Father Chad, we’re looking forward to what you have to say.
Fr. Hatfield: Your Beatitude, Your Graces, Very Reverend, and Reverend clergy, your faithful in Christ Jesus. I’m deeply moved and very thankful to our merciful God for the blessing and great privilege to stand once again in this great house and to speak of Bishop Charles Chapman Grafton and St. Tikhon, Confessor and Patriarch of Moscow.
On this seminary campus, we are indeed walking in their footsteps, as this conference has been named. Today we are covered in the God-pleasing intercessions of both of these great churchmen and hierarchs. They pray with us today, as they prayed when they walked among us, that the truth of a Christian gospel will unite us one to another. To help us focus on our task today, I want to begin by giving you a little history lesson on Anglican-Orthodox relations, and especially through the friendship between Bishop Grafton and St. Tikhon, who was then the Archbishop of the Orthodox Church here in America.
Once again we have found their footprints. The challenge then will be to move forward in our own day and not to count the risk. The Orthodox theologian Christos Yannaras has said that: “To live an Orthodox life is to be engaged in a series of risk taking.” My brothers and sisters in Christ, history will judge us today whether we are worthy of the title of Orthodox Christians by the risk we are prepared to take. Or history will judge us and simply count us as amongst those, who once again, miss a God given moment and opportunity.
I have a deep personal devotion to St. Tikhon because I discovered him through devotion to another bishop, who is of course Grafton. St. Tikhon, who was canonized as a saint of the Church 20 years ago today, formed a particular relationship with the Anglicans or the Episcopalians of his time. This legacy of how we minister to other groups is the model for Orthodoxy today.
I first began to get familiar with St. Tikhon, by becoming more familiar with an Episcopalian bishop. His name as we have said is Grafton, and he was the bishop of the Diocese of Fond du Lac here in Wisconsin. I am a son of this house and my devotion to Grafton began here. I remember well being deeply moved when I read a book that was published by a fellow alumnus, Father E.C. “Corky” Miller Jr. It’s a book that some of you may be familiar with because of the title which rings through so clearly today, Toward a Fuller Vision. I ask today, is that title not reflective of what has always been at the heart of classical Anglican ecclesiology? Are not Anglicans still looking for that fuller vision, for the fullness of the faith? Father Miller wrote these words about Bishop Grafton:
Bishop Grafton’s many pictures suggests a Prelate of Baroque proportions. Moreover, the theology of the Romanizing Anglo-Catholics in the first half of the 20th century is assumed to have been characteristic of their 19th century predecessors. This latter fact is ironic, given Grafton’s contempt for “Rome and Romanizers.”
As you look at a picture of Bishop Grafton you might well expect what was called a Romanizer, one who leaned towards Rome. But his writings reveal he had a very definite Eastward bent, and this comes honestly to a theologian and a hierarch of his time in the Anglican communion because he was immersed in the writings of certain Oxford Movement Fathers. The Oxford Movement, of course, began with the Assize Sermon in 1833. Probably the better know figure of the Oxford Movement would be John Henry Newman, who after his after his conversion became Cardinal Newman. But if you understand the other two figures of the Oxford Movement, Keble and Edward Pusey, you will find that what they were after was, in fact, to bypass the Middle Ages, to bypass the claims of Rome, to move back to the Patristic Era, and to find their roots once again in authentic, Apostolic Christianity. Those of us who are English-speaking Orthodox can be thankful for the translations of the Fathers that these men produced because they are, to this day, some of the best of the translations.
Bishop Grafton published a tract entitled The Reunion of Oriental and Anglican Churches, which is published by the Young Churchman Company in Milwaukee. It was based on articles which originally appeared in The Living Church. Bishop Grafton writes in 1903 and 1904:
We have thus a great educative work to do before the churches can be united. It calls for divine patience, divine enthusiasm, wonder-working faith. It is not to be the work of a day or generation. Our church is in the transition period of recovering her Catholic heritage. The progress made in the century from 1803 to 1903 is indeed wonderful and shows how God has been with us. It is the Lord’s doing and it is marvelous in our eyes. If we are faithful in 2003, our successors will find a like advance. Man is ever impatient and in a hurry. God works slowly, but His work endures. The cause is God’s cause and our position cannot overthrow it. God will bless in the future as He has in the past our hindrances to the sanctification of His church and the promotion of His glory. Let us go in charity toward all our brethren in Christ. Our weapons are not carnal, but spiritual, that the sanctity of our lives bear witness to the truth, that the possession of the indwelling God-Man, by the means of sacramental grace, produces a peace, joy, strength, and more illuminated vision, than the lesser and more imperfect union with God by virtue of His immanence in Nature can give.
What we need to emphasize, today in 2009, I believe is what Grafton said about Anglicanism as he envisioned it in 2003. His words are: “If we are faithful.” There has been a dramatic change in the character and nature of Anglicanism from 1903 to the present. The understanding that Bishop Grafton had of his Anglican identity and that which was presented to St. Tikhon in his time, as our Archbishop in this country, has changed dramatically. Bishop Grafton was right when he said “A great educational task lies before the churches.” And he was right when he said that it calls for patience and enthusiasm and wonder-working faith. Bishop Grafton was also right when he reminded people in his day that as Episcopalians, and listen closely he’s speaking of Episcopalians: “It was to our advantage, if our portion of the church is in recognized fellowship with the East.”
As an undergraduate at Harvard, Bishop Grafton wrote:
While I shall not see the church recover her heritage of doctrine and ritual in my day, it is well for a man to give up his life in an endeavor to bring a revival of the church to pass. It is greater work to free the church than it is to free the slaves.
These are remarkable words, and these are the words from Grafton that would have been spoken to St. Tikhon in their friendship. This is the understanding of Anglicanism that St. Tikhon was able to perceive, recognizing that what Anglo-Catholics sought, what they were asking for, the Orthodox possess. And he knew that Orthodoxy had an obligation, a duty, before Almighty God to share this faith in an active dialogue. Today my brothers and sisters in Christ, we attempt to rekindle that dialogue.
In the 1992 issue of a publication The Evangelical Catholic, which at that I served as the book review editor, we ran a forum which asked this question: “With Whom Should Orthodox Anglicans Seek Unity First? Rome, Evangelical Protestantism, Lutherans, or the Orthodox?” Canon H. Boone Porter, who has been referred to already a former professor of this seminary, and the senior editor of The Living Church, wrote these words in his opinion piece, and remember, he’s writing as an Anglican theologian and church historian. He wrote these words: “Orthodoxy represents, for us as Anglicans, most of our unachieved goals.” Again, these are remarkable and powerful words, and this is something that St. Tikhon grasped; it’s something that he understood fully. And he did not judge the Anglicans, and he did not hold them apart as some posture of superiority. Instead he reached out in friendship to them, knowing that the treasure they sought was his to share.
The Orthodox-Anglican dialogue is in fact the oldest of all ecumenical relationships, dating from 1862, and Father Klukas will give us more of that history. But things have changed. We saw great progress in the dialogue, watching as Patriarchates began to make positive statements about Anglican Orders. The heydays of the 1920s and the 1930s are worth returning and studying exactly what progress was made in those decades. But again, it changed. As promising as it all looked in that era, and as something that was encouraged and promoted by St. Tikhon, it has now all changed. Because the Anglicans have made a decision to follow the Zeitgeist in many, many provinces and in many, many conventions. It is a German word which means the spirit of the age. It has often been said that he who weds himself to the spirit of the age soon finds himself a widower. Having institutionally wedding themselves to the Zeitgeist, it has in fact fueled amongst the faithful Anglicans, those who cling to the historic faith that Grafton clinged to, those who desire to possess that fullness described by Father Miller. This is the question of our day and once again, through the Orthodox Church in America and through faithful Anglicans, we are prepared to pick up where the good work came to an end. The groundwork that St. Tikhon laid for us is waiting for builders in our day to begin once again.
After the approval of the ordination of women to the priesthood in 1976, there was an amazing collapse in Anglican-Orthodox relations. But there was a certain bishop of St. Albans in England named Robert Runcie, who went on to become the 102nd Archbishop of Canterbury, who took it upon himself to personally visit the heads of the autocephalous Orthodox churches to plead for the continued dialogue with the Anglicans, for the Orthodox not to abandon this great dialogue, which was so important to Grafton and to Tikhon. His efforts were somewhat successful. The Orthodox consented to Bishop Runcie’s request, but the goals were changed. They were changed from “full unity and communion” to “theological understanding and common witness.” Bishop Grafton was well aware of the potential that the Anglican-Orthodox dialogue held in his day. St. Tikhon was well aware of the same potential, and together they worked. And together they knew that the kind of homecoming that these Anglicans needed was not something that would result from former theological dialogue, but that it would be borne out on the grassroots level.
And with this is mind, as we shall see, Bishop Grafton invited Bishop Tikhon to the consecration of Bishop Weller as the Bishop Coadjutor of the Diocese of Fond du Lac in November 1900. St. Tikhon accepted the invitation. In 1905 St. Tikhon, through the encouragement of Bishop Grafton, was granted the degree Doctor of Divinity Honorus Causa from this seminary. If you read the correspondence that was so active in that time period, between Grafton and Tikhon, you can see humbled St. Tikhon was to be honored with that degree. St. Tikhon recognized that the Anglicans associated with this theological school was where the activity in the dialogue was to be found.
The friendship which developed between Bishop Grafton and Bishop Tikhon is really an amazing story. It’s one that I would encourage you to read, through some of the documents that are circulating today, to become more familiar with their friendship. I want to give you a little more insight into the character of St. Tikhon through something that he spoke when he was consecrated as the Bishop at age 32. The Holy Synod had to make an exception because 33 is the age; exception was made for him. But it’s so clear, he said this and it reflects, I think, what it is that we see sanctified in his life. He’s speaking these words as a newly consecrated Bishop. He said:
In my youth the office of a bishop seemed to me to be dignity, power, might, and honor. When I was a child, I had childish conceptions, now I know it means work, striving and sacrifice. It is not easy to be weak with those who are weak, nor is it easy to be an example to the faithful in word, in one’s bearing, in love, faith and chastity, and, it is certainty not easy to admonish, to threaten and to punish in all patience. The life of a true bishop is daily dying in cares and concerns for others. Therefore the success of a bishop’s activities depends not so much on human qualities and facilities, but much more on the power of God which is given to those who are conscious of their weakness.
These words give us a great insight into this saint who used them, not only as a model of his own episcopacy, as he shepherded Orthodox Christians, but also as he reached out and was a shepherd and a pastor to those beyond his canonical boundaries. His work here in America set a tone; it set a pattern which is still a model for us today. But they found problems. On the program today, we see this famous “Fond du Lac Circus” photo. In it, there are of course, a couple of other Orthodox figures here. One of them is now known as St. John of Chicago, Father John Kochurov, who was in fact the first Orthodox priest martyred in the Bolshevik Revolution. He was visiting from America. And Father Sebastian Dabovich, a Serbian Archimandrite. But it was Father Sebastian who responded to some of the criticisms, and he wrote a letter to the editor of the Churchman, and again, they’re worth hearing today. He wrote:
I wish to say that I was present at the consecration of the Right Reverend R. H. Weller, being attendant of the Right Reverend Tikhon, Bishop of the Orthodox Greek-Russian Church in North America. My present introduction, or intrusion, if you please, is the consequence of the prominent editorial in your issue of the 24th of November, 1900. Under the head ‘Ritual Anarchy,’ it seems to me to be extremely harsh. In the Orthodox Church, at least, there was profound and historical reasons for the expression of the visible and invisible life of the body and soul of the church. If according to your belief, ritual is the secondary matter in the church, why then should you openly scandalize one another? Who has the power and the word to condemn the godly, the godly representations of nine dioceses united in prayer, in love and in earnest desire for strengthening the possibilities of the union of the churches in doctrine and in sacraments as well?
This question is a vital one for us, we too are anxious to extend the hand of fellowship. Our church would not be orthodox nor the church of Christ, if she did not desire, yea, if she did not yearn with the anxiety of mother who pains to gather all in the bond of union. There is a large number of divines in this country that desire to adhere to the seven ecumenical councils, but who, it seems to me, are to a great extent debarred from their intention by the love they bear for their uncharitable brethren.
There are American Bishops that repudiate the late and erroneous additions to the creed, etc., etc.
Now there are central questions. If in the Protestant Episcopal Church the General Convention is the
supreme power, we pray that the coming convention in San Francisco next year, may not be a protesting one in the way of your editorial ‘Ritual Anarchy,’ is Protestant, but that it may be, we pray, a Catholic convention of the church in the United States.
Again, amazing words written over 100 years ago. Bishop Tikhon, for his part, in a telegraph to Bishop Grafton, dated the 20th of November, 1900, wrote:
Having returned safe and well to San Francisco, I deem it my duty to express to your Lordship my heartfelt gratitude for the excellent way in which you have received me. I shall always remember with happiness your hospitality ex tended to me both officially and personally. By this mail I send you our feral liturgical book which has just been published in English, together with some incense, which is used in Orthodox Eastern Churches during services, as a slight token of my esteem for you. I am, my dear Bishop, your coworker in the Lord’s vineyard. Russian Bishop Tikhon.
Eventually, there would be more exchanges. And Grafton would be invited to attend, though illness kept him from being present, at the consecration of St. Raphael Hawaweeny, who was the first Orthodox hierarch consecrated in the New World. The warm relations that we see between these two men, ended up having a scar— a scar that involved a certain Episcopal priest who converted to Orthodoxy. And the exchange between the two, over his re-ordination, strained the friendship incredibly. But eventually, this too was to pass. And in responding to the controversy surrounding Dr. Irvine, there were those who sought to take what Bishop Grafton had worked for with St. Tikhon and to dispense of it forever. There was a piece written in a publication called The Congregationalists in Boston in which these words were published:
We believe the evolution of the Protestant Episcopal in this country will not carry it towards St. Petersburg or Rome. The vast majority of its laity and a preponderance of its weightiest clergy have far more in common with the nonepiscopal sects in this country than they have with either Roman or Greek Catholicism.
That wasn’t the end of the story. The light of the friendship of these two men have carried us to this day. So we have to ask this question today: “Where is this legacy that St. Tikhon and Bishop Grafton helped to form and to build and to promote?” I can say to you that it is alive, and you participate at this very moment in the place where these two hierarchs walked, in good times and in bad. Now in response to the question: “where is this legacy today,” I want to leave you with these words. On the 23rd of August, 2006, not so very long ago, there was a letter sent to six orthodox traditionalists, struggling, fighting, Episcopalian bishops in this country. It was sent by Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad. He now, by the way, is the Patriarch of the Russian Church. In his letter, he assured these struggling, trying to be faithful, bishops that their struggle had not gone unnoticed by the Russian Orthodox Church, and that he wished to convey the hand of friendship to those bishops. He reminded them just as St. Tikhon did in his day that: “When you have finished the fight and won the peace, you will find a home and friends waiting to receive you.”
Fr. Platt: Thank you very much Father Chad. We’re going to take questions and discussion at the end of the whole session, so I’m going to move straight on now to introduce Father Klukas, whose presentation is also a historical one but in a rather broader context—looking at the overall history and background of Anglican-Orthodox relations.
Fr. Klukas: Father Chad has stolen most of my thunder, but I thought it might be appropriate to allow us to see in a larger context something of the nature of this relationship. And as I pondered how to take really 1500 years of Anglican-Orthodox interaction into some kind of way that can be encapsulated into twenty minutes, I came up with the vision of the dance. And this vision is that our relationships over the last 1500 years have often been that of a tango—a tango between two fiercely independent, yet very needy lovers, desiring each other but always having trouble pulling back and forth. For a few blissful moments in time, there was also a coordinated waltz—Bishop Tikhon and Bishop Grafton being one example of that waltz at its greatest manifestation. And we’ll see again, with Arthur Michael Ramsey and Bishop Athenagoras, a similar kind of waltz. But all too often, there’s been a third kind of dance— a tap dance, with lots of noise but little cooperation. Well these three analogies may seem not all that appealing, they are better than what we have at the present moment—stony silence. Although, I occasionally here wisps of music in some odd corners, and indeed there was music beginning months ago in Texas where there was a quiet but compelling rhythm that came from a new quarter, a dancing Beatitude and a dancing Bishop. Maybe tonight, we’ll actually see them do that. Audience laughter I would love to see them do that.
But let’s begin with the first initial tango. Our score opens in the earliest years of Christian witness in the British Isles where the Celtic churches of Wales, Ireland, and Northumbria had a clearly Greek rhythm to their calendar and to their customs. The dance had a sudden halt at the Synod of Whitby when Archbishop Wilfrid and his Roman boots tended to stop the dance. But then it was picked up again only a few years later by a remarkable exile named Theodore of Tarsus who, for as of Paul of Tarsus, had come from the Eastern World and in 680 became Archbishop of Canterbury. And as a Greek monk, sent by a Roman bishop, brought a great ecumenical quality to the Church of England that was greater than that of anywhere else in Europe.
That dance continued on and off for the next 500 years, but it took on a greater desire and a greater urgency in the 16th century. The 16th century reformers realized that they had a problem of either continuing with a Roman order or taking the folk tunes of Switzerland and Germany. But then Cranmer, among others, began to see the importance of an Eastern dance—that here in the East, they could avoid the tarantella of Rome and begin to have a slightly new, sliding into, of a tango. The new partner was a foreigner. She didn’t speak the same language, but she had impeccable credentials. These national churches of the East, speaking their own languages in worship, yet united in common bonds of affection and belief—hierarchical churches that were free of papal influence, but yet thoroughly and authentically a part of the apostolic order; historic churches that had claimed the faith of the New Testament and the Fathers and Councils of the undivided Church. Here was a partner that was exotic, distant, yet held to the same rhythms and was ever so tantalizing.
In the late 16th century people, like Jewel and Hooker, looked to the East and to the undivided Church—seeing the Eastern Church and the undivided Church of the Early Fathers being one in the same. With Lancelot Andrewes and the Caroline Divines, the tango became a waltz of elegance and intimacy—coming to a crescendo when in 1679 the Archbishop of Canterbury and York and King Charles II built a church for Archbishop Samos and the Greek community in London. Also the Bishop of London organized a college at Oxford, it’s now Worcester College, that was to be for Greeks and twelve seminarians came from Greece to establish this college in 1680.
However, the waltz turned back into a tango again beginning in the 18th century. On the Byzantine side, Turkish domination and oppression brought several of the Eastern Churches to England in search of help, both financial and spiritual. In 1712, for example, Patriarch of Alexandria sought aid for those suffering in Egypt, and the Patriarch of Armenia came to seek help and redress. On the Anglican side, the Glorious Revolution wasn’t so glorious for many who were faithful to the catholicity of the church. For in 1688 when King William came to the throne, also came a desire for a latitudinarian attitude about the church as a Protestant institution, not a Catholic one. And many clergy, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, had to actually renounce their orders and their offices in order to become non-jurors, holding to the truth of their vows. After having been expelled from their office, they sought some way of finding continuity. And so they turned to the Patriarch of Constantinople, and in 1717, asked whether their orders could be seen as recognized valid or could they be absorbed into a new Western Orthodox jurisdiction. Although the latitudinarian Archbishop of Canterbury denounced them as schismatics, and the Patriarch, finally, did not give them much hope, they left a rich legacy of piety and liturgy that had the broadest influence on the catholic parties in the Church of England. And those of us who know the prayer book, at least those of you who have taken my classes, know that Samuel Seabury was himself consecrated by non-jurors and brought back with him to America, the Eucharist with Epiclesis, something that had been lost in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.
Now emerging at this time were two concepts, or you might say two tunes, that were being played by the Anglican branch. One was a thing called the Branch Theory, that the Church of England was one branch of the Universal Church and that although visibly divided and still invisibly united in apostolic succession, ancient creeds, and common sacraments. There is no hope for the possibility of recognition from Rome, but here again, that wonderful, exotic woman facing East was the possibility of giving them legitimacy. Also grew a concept from these non-jurors of an idea what was called Northern Catholicism—that the Church of England was a national church among other national churches and that these churches had all retained episcopacy and the creeds and rightly taken on the sacraments to claim a universal order. And again, to the East, national churches were sought to dance. Both of these theories about the Church of England were claimed by the more catholic parts of the American church as well. A book called Northern Catholicism, published by the English Church Union in 1933 had a report edited by a young Canon from Durham named Michael Ramsey, given to the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1947, talked about the importance of the Eastern Church as a sign and relationship of Orthodox-Catholic order. Both books emphasized that this Eastern look of the Caroline Divines and the Oxford Movement, and as my compatriot has said so beautifully:
Dr. Pusey was very concerned to repudiate the tendencies of the Erastian state to make, in 1841, a Bishop of Jerusalem—for reasons of politics, not for reasons of piety.
And John Mason Neale, of blessed memory, who wrote a remarkable book in translation from the Russian called Voices From the East, in 1859, where he helped the Western Church to recognize the value and the treasures that were found in Russian Orthodoxy. He then helped to begin, in 1862-63, the most longstanding ecumenical organization in the West, called the Anglican and England Churches Association. Here the tango began again, with both partners in desperate need of one another. The Tractarians needed a non-papal catholicity, and the Eastern Churches needed Western people with power and influence to help them in their fight for their own independence with spiritual and physical.
In 1909 one result of all of this was that in Japan there was an attempt to merge or relate in common the Anglican Church, both of America and England, with the Russian Church functioning in Japan. And interestingly, it was promulgated by an alumnus of the house, Bishop McKim, who is depicted over on the south side of the aisle. The Lambeth Quadrilateral, begun in America in 1886 and then ratified by Lambeth in 1888, was an attempt to say to the whole church that we wished of reuniting with all those churches that had episcopacy and the creeds. Much was beginning to happen from 1909 to 1918, but World War I put a halt to any dancing because the music had to stop. But both the Episcopal Church and the Church of England became deeply involved in providing relief to the Balkan churches as well as providing aid to refugees, who were coming in increasing numbers to North America.
In 1920, in the aftermath of the war, the Patriarch of Constantinople published an appeal to all Christian people and asked very much for a sense of reunited Christianity. And it was responded to by the Archbishop of Canterbury who began immediately to have Orthodox relationships and asked for, especially, a council to be formed of Anglicans and Orthodox who together would become concerned about how to share each others’ doctrines and understandings. With help from the American Episcopal Church in 1927, a conference on faith and order, which in many ways was the beginning of the World Council of Churches, was held at Lassan, heavily supported by us. It did much to make Western churches aware of the East, and it contributed to a new identity for Anglicans that’s still, or at least until 1970, was a part of our understanding of ourselves, that of the “bridge church,” the church that could bridge the West with the East, catholic with the protestant. The tango was beginning to slow down into a waltz.
As Randall Davidson pushed in 1930, the Lambeth Congress authorized a continuing relationship with the Eastern Churches that bore fruit in 1936 with a conference in Bucharest, regarding the relations with the Romanian Church. And their delegation at the end of that conference decided unanimously to recommend to their Holy Synod, the acceptance of Anglican orders. And important agreements were made on the nature of sacraments and importance of Holy Tradition. In the next year, 1937, the Convocations of both York and Canterbury accepted and approved the findings of that conference. And in spite of extreme opposition from Protestants in England, the Church in both Convocations approved, almost unanimously, this relationship. The waltz is becoming elegant again.
But then World War II came, and the music stopped. Soon after the war, in a book I’ve mentioned, the book Catholicity, put together by Arthur Michael Ramsey, there was a great concern that there’d be this relationship, that there were four terms of reference that were essential for Anglicans in their understanding of a “Bridge Church,” especially in relationship to the East. They asked the question: “What is the underlying cause of conflict? What doctrines crystallize these differences? Is a synthesis at all possible? And if not, can a coexistence with one ecclesial body be possible?” That led to the 1955 visit of eight members of a delegation of Russians from Moscow, who met with the Archbishop of Canterbury and suggested a theological conference that was held the next year in Moscow. The delegate head was Arthur Michael Ramsey.
The waltz reached its zenith in 1967 when the newly made Archbishop of Canterbury, Arthur Michael Ramsey, met with Bishop Athenagoras and they set up the Anglo-Orthodox Dialogue. There were so much frustrated by its slow beginnings, but in 1973 the first meeting was held jointly. And from that then grew, what we all know as “Three Reports,” which have come from this consultation—the first report being called The Moscow Agreed Statement within 1976; then in 1984 The Dublin Agreed Statement. The third phase began in 1989 but circumstances in Anglicanism made the going difficult. Women’s ordination and various heresies promulgated by the American Episcopal Church became a major obstacle to the dance. The Cyprus Agreed Statement, of 2006 moves from the desire for total unity to merely being that of cooperation and information. The dance had stopped. But by God’s grace, may that dance begin again. And may it not be a tangled tango, but may it be a continuing waltz. Thank you.
Fr. Platt: Thank you, Father. We now have according to the timetable about ten minutes for discussion and questions. But before that, perhaps I could ask you to join me in showing our appreciation for both of our speakers. Audience applauds I imagine that there will be a number of questions for our speakers who have given us a very thorough historical overview. When I asked Fr. Klukas how far back he was going to discuss the history of Anglican-Orthodox relations, and he told me Theodore of Canterbury, I saw that he meant business. I asked him if he was going to consider what would have happened had, as history tells us might have been the case, had Queen Elizabeth I of England in fact married Ivan the Terrible, which was a serious possibility. Perhaps, we would not be having this meeting today. Do we have questions for our speakers?
Questioner 1: I wonder if either or both of you could comment, there seems to be in both historical overviews a difference in the way Anglicanism is approaching Orthodoxy and the way Orthodoxy is approaching Anglicanism. For instance, difference in comments such as: “The Orthodox are simply telling the Anglicans that they’ll find a home here, friends waiting for you when you get out,” to the idea of the Anglicans seeing themselves as a bridge to the West. Those seem very different ways of looking at it. It seems like the Orthodox are kind of saying: “We’re kind of here, and when you guys figure this out come here,” and the Anglicans seem to be saying: “We could meet in the middle somewhere.” Is this historically accurate? Is this kind of been the way this has worked for these historical talks, or has there been times when both sides see themselves on the same level?”
Fr. Platt: Well, we have both an Orthodox and an Anglican to answer that question. Father Chad would you like to approach that question?
Fr. Hatfield: I think that the nature of your question is a good one, but it has to do with ecclesiologies—for instance within Orthodoxy the term valid. As an Anglican, there was a constant sort of obsession with validity, valid. It’s a term that in Orthodoxy doesn’t exist because within that household there has never been a question of identity crisis. Within Anglicanism, there’s always been this searching, this back and forth—the move to Rome, which direction to go? And I think that the differences here is what I said in my statement about Tikhon. Tikhon never stood in judgment with Anglicans at all, and the dialogue it was a hand of friendship. And it was a cooperation of assisting one another. As Father Klukas said, and is true in this country and many other places around the world, Anglicans extended to Orthodox Christians, 100 years ago, physical hospitality. Many Orthodox communities started in Episcopalian chapels and churches and other ways, and there was this huge hope and cooperation that we see so clearly in the 1920s and 1930s. And it’s with that understanding that I think that we’re trying to rekindle that dialogue here today—not a case of superiority posturing, but just two churches who have got different approaches of how they see each other and this hand of friendship which is being extended.
Fr. Klukas: I fully agree with what Father Chad said. I may be going out on a limb, but I think that one of the difficulties is an arrogance that is very evident in the Episcopal Church but also in the Church of England. I think one of the major crises in Anglicanism is the fact that the Church of England, which was part of the British Empire, still thinks of itself as part of the British Empire and has had difficulty recognizing the fact that its children, as it were, now our grown adults and no longer need “Mother Church” in England to tell them what to do. And this has been also true in America with an attitude, especially since so many of people who were ethnically Orthodox came as refugees and there was a great noblesse oblige, but there was a tendency also to have a certain condescension. The desire for validity was, I think, very much on the one side, but also on the other side a certain sense of superiority, if culturally, if not necessarily theologically. And so in a sense, there was a need for validity from the Anglicans wanted from the Orthodox. It’s only now, I think, that there’s real parallels. The strength of the Orthodoxy in America now is a major thing to be understood, and I think it’s becoming a vital force in the ecumenical movements in our society. So that Orthodoxy now stands equal, if not in many ways, I would think, with greater confidence against other Protestants or the Anglican Church in America or whatever.
Fr. Platt: Do we have any other questions?
Questioner 2: Given that relations between Rome and Orthodox churches are probably warmer now than they have been in 1000 years, how can the Orthodox-Anglican dialogue progress, without degenerating into anti-Romanism, while also holding to both Anglican and Orthodox understandings of primacy?
Fr. Platt: Do either of our speakers want to answer that question?
Fr. Klukas: All I’ll say is that at least Orthodox and Anglicans, both who are decent, don’t wear lace.
Fr. Platt: In that case, there are at least a number of indecent Anglicans and Orthodox.
Fr. Hatfield: You know you’re right that this is again historically an interesting time to study the dialogue between Rome and the Eastern Churches. But the particular thing that we’re focusing on here is the fact that in terms of ecclesiology, there is a much shorter bridge in an Anglican and an Orthodox dialogue than between Rome and Orthodoxy. It’s much, much closer, and particularly when you couch that in terms of classical Anglican theology.
Fr. Platt: Yes I suppose in a sense Father Chad, that you hit the nail on the head in your final phrase. The question is what kind of Anglicanism. Although, and this is something that came out really in both of your papers in historical context, very often the most fruitful interaction between the Anglican and the Orthodox worlds has been between the Orthodox and between those who have adopted a minority position within the Anglican world. And those minority positions have grown into something that was both prophetic and fruitful, which I think has particular relevance to the times at which we are in the present momen, that I find very significant.