The letter is measured and well sums up matters as they currently stand. It also makes my point: Reconciliation above all must be the goal and there is no (and should not be) any animosity towards those leaving the Traditional Anglican Communion in order to become Roman Catholics.
Diocese of Canada
Anglican Catholic Church of Canada
January 11, 2012
Dear Faithful in Christ:
As you approach your decision on whether or not to leave the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada to become Roman Catholics, I pray that God the Holy Spirit will guide and direct you. In this regard I wish to set certain facts before you. The Anglican Catholic Church of Canada, as the Canadian Province of the Traditional Anglican Communion is and will remain an Anglican Church. The Constitution of the Traditional Anglican Communion, known as the “Victoria Concordat” enshrines the Affirmation of Saint Louis as the foundational statement of doctrine and belief of the T.A.C. and its Provinces.
The Affirmation of St. Louis provides “We declare our intention to seek and achieve full sacramental communion and visible unity with other Christians who ‘worship the Trinity in Unity, and Unity in Trinity’, and who hold the Catholic and Apostolic Faith in accordance with the foregoing principles . . .”.
This declaration has been interpreted by some to mean that we seek “unity” with the Roman Catholic Church alone – but that is clearly not what the Affirmation says. We seek unity with other denominations and jurisdictions – other Continuing Anglican Churches, the various churches of the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Polish National Catholic Church, the Nordic Catholic Church, and with the various churches that are in communion with the Roman Catholic Church.
You are aware that in pursuit of such unity the Bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion petitioned the Pope in 2007 to find ways to “permit us to remain Anglican Catholics” while returning to full communion with the rest of the Catholic Church. Rome’s response, “Anglicanorum Coetibus”, promised the “corporate reception” of Anglican groups, such as the various Provinces of the Traditional Anglican Communion. On that basis the Synod of the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada asked to be corporately received (as an intact entity) into communion with the Pope as an Ordinariate. Our request was rejected, and in its place we were invited to each make an individual conversion and become Roman Catholics.
That is not our idea of “unity”. This idea has been rejected by the majority of bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion, including those of the United States, South Africa, and India. We are, and will remain Anglican. Perhaps one day in the future the Roman Catholic Church will respect us enough to grant us the visible, sacramental, unity between our churches that we sought, without demanding that we abandon being Anglican to become Roman Catholics. Nevertheless, some clergy and laity in the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada have made a personal decision to accept this invitation to convert and become Roman Catholic. To honour their decision and to permit their graceful and orderly departure from the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada we have created a “Pro-Diocese” of Our Lady of Walsingham for those parishes that wish to leave the A.C.C.C. and convert to Roman Catholicism.
That is an option open to your parish. The other option is to remain in the Diocese of Canada (the original Diocese of the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada), and thus to remain Anglican and remain members of the Traditional Anglican Communion. Some have interpreted the declaration to seek unity set out in the Affirmation of Saint Louis as meaning that the parishes of the “Pro-Diocese” will become Roman Catholics in the near future, while parishes of the original Diocese will join the Roman Catholic Church at a later date. This is not what the Affirmation says or provides for, as you can clearly read for yourselves. No amount of political persuasion can make this so. While we will strive to achieve visible, sacramental unity with other denominations and jurisdictions, we will not do so at the expense of no longer being Anglican.
So in summary the choice before you is simple:
1. Join the Pro-Diocese of Our Lady of Walsingham in order to leave the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada to become Roman Catholics, or;
2. Remain in the (original) Diocese of Canada, and thus remain Anglicans who are and will remain members of the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada and of the Traditional Anglican Communion.
With every blessing to you and your parish as you approach this decision, I have the honour to remain,
Your Obedient Servant in Christ,
The Rt. Rev. Craig Botterill, Q.C. Provincial Chancellor, Anglican Catholic Church of Canada Suffragan Bishop and Apostolic Administrator, Diocese of Canada