ARE YOU ANGLICANS? We
have no connection with any Churches of the Anglican Communion.
THEN WHY DO YOU CALL YOURSELVES 'ANGLICAN'?
Because we use the Book of Common Prayer. The particular version
we use for the Mass (or Holy Eucharist) is called the Anglican
Missal. We use this because it teaches us clearly both the Real
Presence and the Eucharistic Sacrifice in the sense that the holy
Fathers of the early Church understood them.
ARE YOU ROMAN CATHOLICS?
We have no connection with the Roman Catholic Church.
SO WHY DO YOU CALL YOURSELVES 'CATHOLIC'?
Because we do not agree that the Roman Catholic Church has a monopoly
on the word Catholic. When we say in the Creed "and I
believe One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church" we
believe that we are members of the Catholic Church just as much
as Roman Catholics.
WE'VE GOT SO MANY CHURCHES NOW, WHY DO WE NEED
ANOTHER ONE? CANNOT MEMBERS OF THE ACC SIMPLY BELONG TO ONE OF
THE CHURCHES ALREADY IN EXISTENCE? To
answer that question we need to introduce a technical term: ecclesiology.
The word ecclesiology means the way a Church defines itself. For
example: Roman Catholic ecclesiology claims that the Pope is 'Vicar
of Christ' in a unique sense and that the Pope has universal jurisdiction
over all Christians. In other words, that the Pope is a bishop
placed over the Church rather than a bishop within
the Church. The ACC does not accept the claims which Roman Catholics
make for the Pope. They are innovations and do not accord with
the Holy Tradition of the Undivided Catholic Church; that is to
say, the one Catholic Church as it existed before the split between
Rome and Orthodoxy in the eleventh century. In fact, the papal
claims were the primary cause of that split - the false Roman
ecclesiology was the major cause of division.
POINT TAKEN! BUT WHAT'S WRONG WITH ANGLICAN ECCLESIOLOGY?
First, there's no such thing a single worldwide Anglican Church.
The Anglican Communion is a loose federation of local churches,
each empowered to do almost anything it wishes - so long as remain
loyal to the way in which Anglicans operate. Both the Roman Catholic
and Anglican Churches have this in common: their ecclesiology
is based chiefly on maintaining the Church as an institution.
The institution is seen as guaranteeing the validity of the Sacraments
and the acceptability of Doctrine. The Roman Church is a centralised
institution, Anglicanism is a federation of institutions.
SO WHAT IS THE ECCLESIOLOGY OF THE ANGLICAN CATHOLIC
CHURCH? The same as the ecclesiology of
the Eastern Orthodox Church. The ACC sees the Church as the extension
of Christ's presence and ministry - through the gift of Holy Spirit
whom Christ promised "I will send in my name". The Holy
Spirit brings the risen Life of Christ to us through the seven
Sacraments (especially the Mass), and through the faithful proclamation
of the Gospel. Whereas other Churches believe that the Church
is an institution possessing Sacraments, the ACC believes that
the institution is created by the Sacraments and, especially,
by Christ's sacramental presence in the Mass. This was well expressed
by St. Ignatius of Antioch who in 107AD wrote: "LET THAT
BE A VALID EUCHARIST OVER WHICH THE BISHOP PRESIDES, OR THE ONE
TO WHOM HE COMMITS IT. WHERE THE BISHOP APPEARS, THERE LET THE
PEOPLE BE, JUST AS WHERESOEVER CHRIST JESUS IS (in the Holy Eucharist)
THERE IS THE CATHOLIC CHURCH". (this is the first ever
use made of the word 'Catholic' as applied to the true Church,
and the ACC uses it in exactly the same way. Remember that St.
Ignatius was born in Apostolic times; so he knew what was what.)
WHO CAN BE THE KIND OF BISHOP ST. IGNATIUS SPOKE ABOUT? The bishop must be in the Apostolic Succession. This means that each bishop must have received the Sacrament of Holy Orders from other bishops in unbroken chain right back to the Apostles. He must uphold and proclaim the same doctrine as the Apostles. He must be in communion with other bishops who also uphold right belief. The Church is built upon Jesus Christ, present, through the Holy Spirit, in his people as they are united with their bishop in the Faith and Sacraments (especially the Mass) received from the Holy Apostles. This, the ecclesiolgy of the undivided Catholic Church, is known as Eucharistic Ecclesiology.
IS THE ACC THE ONLY CHURCH THAT HAS A EUCHARISTIC
ECCLESIOLOGY? The Eastern Orthodox Church
and the ancient Oriental Orthodox Churches have the same belief
about what the Church is. The same pattern also lies underneath
the papalism of the Roman Church. The ACC has a different tradition
of liturgical worship from the Orthodox Churches but differences
in expressing the Faith are secondary. The Catholic Church has
always lived with wide cultural differences which do not matter
so long as the Sacraments are the same and the same Apostolic
Doctrine (known as the Holy Tradition) is taught.
WHERE DOES THE ACC BELIEVE THE WORD OF GOD TO
BE FOUND? IT IS FOUND IN THE HOLY TRADITION
OF THE UNDIVIDED CATHOLIC CHURCH - that is to say, that which
the whole Catholic Church believed and practised before the eleventh
century break between Rome and Orthodoxy. The Bible as 'God's
Word' is the inspired and indispensible witness to the Holy Tradition,
its earliest permanent record.
The Holy Tradition consists of: 1. The Holy Scriptures, 2. The teachings of the Fathers, such as St. Ignatius of Antioch, and especially those Fathers guided into all truth in the seven Ecumenical Councils of the Undvided Church, 3. The example and teaching of the great Saints from New Testament times to the present. Since all parts of the Holy Tradition come from the Holy Spirit in fulfilment of Christ's promise (see St. John 16:13), it follows that no part of Holy Tradition can contradict any other part of Holy Tradition. Christ is one, and therefore the Faith must also be one.