Church

SSJC and the Traditional Anglican Communion: Cooperation?!

Very, very interesting… The Society of the Cross and the Traditional Anglican Communion (the emphasis mine):

From the Office of the Superior General
Lancashire, United Kingdom
23 July 2012

Dearest Faithful:

Recently I have been in warm communication with both counterparts and superiors of the Traditional Anglican Communion. It has been my stated intention never to be a party to the appearance of division in that wing of the Catholic Church which holds Christ alone as the exclusive means and Saviour of Humanity, through whom a public and genuine faith will bring salvation.

Clearly, due to our nature as a faithful religious society and no more, the 1917 Code of Canon Law prevents us from juridically establishing formal ecclesial relationships. We can nonetheless serve one another as needs may require.

However, for the good of the Body of Christ, and after much reflection, the SSJC is committed henceforth to cooperating to the utmost with the hierarchy and members of the Traditional Anglican Communion.

To borrow from the incisive summary of the realities on the ground by Vicar General for the UK, the Rev. Fr. Ian Gray, with which we entirely agree and whose motives we endorse and in action support, “We all share the very same foundation of Faith that binds us as one in Christ Jesus. I am certain that we can work together in these difficult, challenging and dangerous times. The enemy is at the gate and seeks to devour by exploiting division and dissent.”

If there are any questions, please contact my office directly.

Yours Forever in Christ

V. Rev. Gregory. Bellarmine, SSJC+
Superior General, Secundus

Now if you, like me, are wondering just what the Society of St John of the Cross is?

The Society of St. John of the Cross (SSJC) is a clerical society professing pre-Vatican II beliefs and practices, but who condemns no other traditional catholic group for their views of the changes. They are in no way associated with the mainstream Roman Catholic Church.

When Lawrence Miller was a young man, he witnessed the changes in the Church during the late 1960s and early 1970s. In turn he approached the North American Old Roman Catholic Church under Archbishop Marchenna and was later ordained to the priesthood, so he could continue with his pre-Vatican II practices while he pastored St. Michael the Archangel’s Mission.

After Archbishop Marchenna’s death, the NAORC splintered into separate jurisdictions, and shortly thereafter, Fr. Lawrence’s parish diminished. But Bishop Robert Bowman of the United Catholic Church approached Fr. Lawrence and consecrated him a Bishop on July 22, 2002 with the Costa and Old Catholic lines of apostolic succession. A lifelong dream to establish a traditional order, he later broke with the UCC and established the SSJC as a Traditional Catholic priestly fraternity.

Thus together Bishop Lawrence and the new priest repudiated their ties with the UCC and founded the Society of St. John of the Cross – with a province in Canada and the United States.

Both the young priest and Bishop Lawrence made the Oath Against Modernism as well as the Profession of Faith before the Blessed Sacrament. Additionally they posted a formal abjuration of error on the internet for all to read.

November 18, 2002, Bishop Miller publicly resigned from the Society. On this date he handed over the office of Superior General to Fr. Gregory Bellarmine, saying “With your dedication to the Tridentine Mass and the old ways of the pre-Vatican II church, you are ideally suited to be Superior General. I look forward to hearing great things concerning the Society as you take the reins.”

Since that time the SSJC has expanded to the UK and continues to concentrate on spiritual means rather than political ones to deal with the crisis of conscience for many tradition-oriented Catholics.

The SSJC are the only Traditional Catholic Society publicly to condemn the SSPX Bishop Williamson for his deplorable stance on the holocaust.

The special charism of the SSJC is a reliance on the Pre Vatican II Code of Canon Law, such that the Church requires the protection of the Jewish people.

Further:

Latin Rite Priests who are openly affiliated with the Society are listed in Fr. Morrisson’s Worldwide Latin Mass Directory. However, the majority of others are either retired or inactive due to laicization due to factors other than moral laxity…

Our position is that although the Chair of Peter is materially occupied, an unrepentant heretic is automatically suspended from his or her Office in the Church. This is true according to Canon Law, the declarations of Church Councils and a brilliant letter by one of the Holy Fathers.

We cannot disobey what isn’t there. We conclude as with others that the Vatican and its hierarchs are no longer allowed to act as though they represent the Catholic Church. They may have the buildings but we have the Faith, and thus they are outside and we still within until they repent of Assisi 1, 2 and 3 as well as a variety of local ecumenical activities that caused their “suspension a divinis.” Thus we remain in obedience to the Faith. This is why we were active during the reign of Paul II and why we chose to become inactive during the first part of the reign of Pope Benedict XVI but have restarted out ministry…

Please, someone, tell me: What is the TAC doing with this Old Roman Catholic group, when the possibility of union with the One Holy Catholic Church proper was (is) open?!

We believe that the Chair of Peter remains occupied, but that the last truly loyal Pope was Pius XII, and that the rest have departed dramatically from the Traditional faith given to Peter by Christ. Their illicity commands ought to be resisted: attendance at the new mass, teachings that non-Catholics are saved, that dogma can change etc…

Good grief!

And just let me add here, in conclusion, something that Msgr Jeffrey Steenson once said, that seems to keep coming up in my mind:

“I don’t have any interest at all in the extraordinary rite,” the Latin liturgy often referred to as the Tridentine rite, “or in any move of retrenchment against the Second Vatican Council. Vatican II is the reason I was able to become a Catholic.”

“I am extremely happy with the church as I find it,” he said.

Instead, we are now unhappily told there is cooperation with pre-Vatican II schismatics who have separated themselves from the One Holy Catholic Church? And learn of it over on their blog? Unacceptable.

UPDATE:   Fr Bellarmine writes:

Gentlemen,

Fr Bellarmine here. Permit me please to offer a response.

Correct, we in no way support the behaviours of the Vatican hierarchy, nor could we be in communion with their clergy given the multifaith Assisi events 1, 2 & 3. Christ is the only way to salvation. Full stop. And no, we cannot help build up or support any group that works against this public faith. But the TAC expresses our faith on this cornerstone belief, which many large modernist churches in practise do not.

We also are NOT in communion with ANY group but are open to all Catholics, including the TAC. What we are doing is cooperating and yes I initiated contact, because I believed that working together to build the Church locally would be better for Christendom in a hostile secular age than working apart.

So we are “traditionally-ecumenical.” This position is clearly stated on our website.

That means when we come across Anglo-Catholic faithful the TAC have graciously offered to supply sacramental services such as confirmations. The order of communication was the Rt Rev Michael Gill, after which Bishop Botterill and finally Fr. Ian Gray.

By cooperation the sense is similar to that of “Churches Together” but for the conservative Catholic, Roman, Anglo, etc

I fail to see the storm this cooperative relationship has raised? Should we not work together?

V. Rev. Gregory Bellarmine SSJC+

fregregory@latinmass.org.uk

V. Rev. Gregory Bellarmine

http://www.latinmass.org.uk

I have nothing more to say.

25 thoughts on “SSJC and the Traditional Anglican Communion: Cooperation?!

  1. Well, to be fair, it is a two way street. We have only the SSJC’s view of their relationship with the TAC, and nothing from that side. One thing you will find with Episcopi Vagantes is that many of them will exploit any imaginable connexion to give themselves legitimacy. If the Universal Patriarch of the South Bronx finds himself next to Cardinal Egan at an awards banquet, and they have a pleasant chat, you’ll soon see H.E. listed in their literature as their “Cardinal Protector.”

    The thing about Vagante-dom is that every body within is whatever its bishop wants it to be – from “Celtic Catholic” to “Mozarabic-Armenian.” This lot are sedevacantists and Mathew succession people – the latter phrase meaning nothing to those unfamiliar with the topic.

    The other thing that must be kept in mind is that “Vatican II” means many things to many people. To theologians it is one thing; to laity who lived through the second “Stripping of the Altars,” in which the most brutal acts were justified by bishops and pastors in the name of the Council, it can mean something entirely different. Archbishop diNoia, very tellingly, recounted how – since his Dominican House was very Conservative, he had no idea until acquiring knowledge of the era after his ascension to the prelacy, of how it was actually experienced by most Catholics.

    All that having been said, I have been afraid since Johannesburg that the Continuum as a whole (not just the TAC) would head toward Vagante-dom. It is a strong temptation to folks with episcopal orders and no effective higher oversight; every disruption in Church affairs (not just Catholic or Anglican – the same thing happened when the Russian Orthodox Church in the United States collapsed after the Russian Revolution) generates a new wave of Vagantes, who somehow always find the older pool.

    1. Let’s not forget the concalvist groups! These groups and their anti-popes are just… They’re so outlandish that I don’t know what to make of them. And their particular flavor of anti-popes are nothing like the old Western Schism Popes. They all popped up after Vatican II, which isn’t really all that surprising. These people suddenly think that one becomes pope because five people (and their parents) say so.

      I facepalm at this general post-Vatican II madness. I certainly hope another Ecumenical Council happens again to clarify things already. (But as we know, we probably won’t live to see such a council so soon. Unless they call it “The Second Vatican Council: Part II”)

  2. Is there any evidence that there was any approach made by Canon Gray to this group? Or is the SSJC trying to find legitimacy by association? I suspect the latter. I see no sign of any inclination on the part of the TAC clergy to move into any kind of communion or other relationship with such a group.

      1. I’m sure the “Universal Patriarch of the South Bronx” would say what he wants in his “official statement”, but that doesn’t make the content true – unless something else comes up to verify the claim.

  3. I think there are several important questions to ask here. How big is the SSJC? And speaking seriously, how big is the actual TAC now? The Australian branch is beset by serious scandal, brought about by accusations against the former Primate and his cronies. The US ACA has definitely renounced any intention of going into communion with the Roman Catholic Church and is in the process of purging any remaining opinion in that direction, suspending David Moyer as a bishop for his own unconsummated movement in that direction. Both the ACA and the TAC have officially dissolved the Patrimony of the Primate, which had been Hepworth’s structure for this movement. I don’t see what kind of structure the TAC will replace it with.

    But also, the US branch of the TAC, the ACA, is losing parishes and membership faster than TEC. My understanding is that right now, there are only two full bishops for its dioceses, several of whom have only single-digit numbers of churches. Beyond that, one of those, Bp Strawn, is a defendant in litigation over the St Mary of the Angels situation and is liable for $500,000 in damages. Both Strawn and Presiding Bishop Marsh have refused to disavow physical violence perpetrated by their supporters at St Mary of the Angels, which was done in the presence of Strawn’s Canon to the Ordinary, Anthony Morello. Are these guys even Christians? I’m not sure what the reaction of the ACA rank and file will be as this story develops.

    Stephen, I’d be interested to know your estimate of the worldwide membership of the ACA. I think I’ve read that its presence is most significant in India and South Africa, neither of which seems likely to get an Ordinariate. I believe its presence in the UK is minimal. Given the sizes of the SSJC and the TAC, and the countries in which the TAC remains viable at all, I’m not sure if the SSJC is doing anything more than blowing smoke.

    Why not see if you can get Bp Prakash to comment?

    1. John,

      When it comes to the one true Church, size does not matter. Never did. Some material for your reading list here: http://www.huttongibson.com/books.php

      Click on the free downloads. They will probably answer all the questions you have about the TAC/TEC, the SSJC, all current traditional groups, and the one true Church.

  4. One thing that might not stand the TAC in England in good stead is its lack of communications. The last Vicar General’s letter came out in June and mentioned an updated website for the beginning of July. It hasn’t happened, and the website is as Fr Michael Gray (not the VC Canon IAN Gray) left it. I am uncertain how many remain in the TTAC. I received an e-mail from Canon Gray some months ago welcoming me into the TTAC from the defunct Patrimony of the Primate, and have heard nothing since. I hope there will be a synod before the end of the year.

  5. Indeed the ‘Episcopi Vagantes’ (Latin, for “wandering bishops”), is a tough and lonely road! Thankfully for us Anglican Evangelicals, we don’t need to worry over such paths, we can note as far back as John Jewel’s “Apology” of the CoE, that Anglican’s have a positive historical and too political (social-human) and theological statement of faith, as seen in the Thirty-Nine Anglican Articles, and too the Irish Articles 1615, from Archbishop James Ussher. And indeed Protestant and Anglican Orthodoxy begins with the Nicene Creed itself! If any of you “Anglican” people have not read Bishop John Jewel’s “Apology”? I would certainly recommend it, for both its history and Reformed – reformational theology, in the CoE… “Thus we have been taught by Christ, by the apostles and holy fathers; and we do faithfully teach the people of God the same things . . .” (III.2). Indeed the very Biblical and Evangelical Orthodoxy is itself part of the history of the Anglican Communion! And speaking at least for myself, I will always enjoy people and men of God, Anglican, like J.C. Ryle, of course first English Bishop of Liverpool! The great Evangelical list of English, Irish and Scottish men of God, is laid! And with other “catholic” and Anglican men of God, I would stand! For too long now they have been forgotten, may their memory and ministry be renewed! 🙂

  6. Does anybody know about the current Church of England priests who apparently have been ordained as Episcopi Vagantes not in the church where they are paid out of?

  7. This group is non-existant in the sense it is a handful of people and no more. In Accrington in Lancashire there were 3 priests and a sub-deacon (the latter quickly laicised and re-admittwd to his RC parish) with no parishioners who belonged to a similar nonsensical group. Not worth a mention Fr Smuts.

    1. The association bothers me, yes, but I believe it speaks also to the direction and/or thinking of the TAC (whoever is or isn’t involved in the ‘cooperation’). That is my main concern. We have a saying in Afrikaans: ‘soort soek soort’. Loosly translated, it means ‘Birds of a feather,’ or literally,‘sort seeks sort’.

      1. You know, if this were in France or the USA, there would be denials and warnings from the TAC saying they had nothing to do with the SSJC. In England, the way tends to be “dignified silence”, no communication and life goes on. I would imagine that if you asked Canon Gray, he would say – Who? What? I’ve never heard of them.

  8. (This brilliant satire from ‘Pi in the High’ by The Revd. Dr Eric Mascall might help!)

    THE ULTRA CATHOLIC

    I am an Ultra-Catholic – No ‘Anglo’, I beseech you!
    You’ll find no trace of heresy in anything I teach you.
    The clergyman across the road has whiskers and a bowler,
    But I wear buckles on my shoes and sport a feriola.

    My alb is edged with deepest lace, spread over rich black satin;
    The Psalms of David I recite in heaven’s own native Latin,
    And, though I don’t quite understand those awkward moods and tenses,
    My ordo recitandi’s strict Westmonasteriensis.

    I teach the children in my school the Penny Catechism,
    Explaining how the C. of E.’s in heresy and schism.
    The truths of Trent and Vatican I bate not one iota.
    I have not met the Rural Dean. I do not pay my quota.

    The Bishop’s put me under his ‘profoundest disapproval’
    And, though he cannot bring about my actual removal,
    He will not come and visit me or take my confirmations.
    Colonial prelates I employ from far-off mission stations.

    The music we perform at Mass is Verdi and Scarlatti,
    Assorted females form the choir; I wish they weren’t so catty.
    Two flutes, a fiddle and a harp assist them in the gallery.
    The organist left years ago, and so we save his salary.

    We’ve started a ‘Sodality of John of San Fagondez’,
    Consisting of the five young men who serve High Mass on Sundays;
    And though they simply will not come to weekday Mass at seven,
    They turn out looking wonderful on Sundays at eleven.

    The Holy Father I extol in fervid perorations,
    The Cardinals in curia, the Sacred Congregations;
    And though I’ve not submitted yet, as all my friends expected,
    I should have gone last Tuesday week, had my wife not objected.

    1. I think it was the Anglican Wilfred Knox who prefered the term English Catholic, to that of Anglo-Catholic! Btw, speaking “anon” is a form of intellectual or mental cowardice to my mind! Again btw, what has happened to manhood today?

  9. In light of the fact-checking I did on the post giving the totals for TEC and TAC memberships in the comments on the denominational populations, I think a highly optimistic estimate of TAC wordlwide membership outside India would be 10,000, and I suspect that any of the national churches are so poorly staffed that they would not have anyone available, or probably not even qualified, to answer the SSJC claim officially. This says almost as much about the TAC as it does about the SSJC..

  10. It might be well to remember that churches are not run by answering any and all claims made on blogs, especially when they are designed to provoke controversy!!

    Indulging in speculation is unwise as well as dangerous. The unhealthy part is that the average non-thinking individual laps up whatever is carried in the social media, and proclaims the ill-founded facts as gospel.

    Some issues are best treated with the contempt it deserves.

  11. Gentlemen,

    Fr Bellarmine here. Permit me please to offer a response.

    Correct, we in no way support the behaviours of the Vatican hierarchy, nor could we be in communion with their clergy given the multifaith Assisi events 1, 2 & 3. Christ is the only way to salvation. Full stop. And no, we cannot help build up or support any group that works against this public faith. But the TAC expresses our faith on this cornerstone belief, which many large modernist churches in practise do not.

    We also are NOT in communion with ANY group but are open to all Catholics, including the TAC. What we are doing is cooperating and yes I initiated contact, because I believed that working together to build the Church locally would be better for Christendom in a hostile secular age than working apart.

    So we are “traditionally-ecumenical.” This position is clearly stated on our website.

    That means when we come across Anglo-Catholic faithful the TAC have graciously offered to supply sacramental services such as confirmations. The order of communication was the Rt Rev Michael Gill, after which Bishop Botterill and finally Fr. Ian Gray.

    By cooperation the sense is similar to that of “Churches Together” but for the conservative Catholic, Roman, Anglo, etc

    I fail to see the storm this cooperative relationship has raised? Should we not work together?

    V. Rev. Gregory Bellarmine SSJC+

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