I should like to consider the Orders and jurisdiction of the Anglican Catholic Church (ACC). I shall do so by examining the legitimacy of the Chambers Succession on which the ACC’s claims to valid orders and legitimate jurisdiction are founded.
(1) At the Denver Consecrations of 1978, there were only two consecrators: Albert Chambers and Francisco de Jesus Pagtakhan. While the Roman Church may, in exceptional circumstances, have permitted a bishop to be consecrated by fewer than three consecrators, there is no precedent for this in the post-Reformation Church of England: the Churches of the Chambers succession cannot legitimately claim in the Affirmation of St. Louis to be “continu[ing] in the Catholic Faith, Apostolic Order, Orthodox Worship and Evangelical Witness of the traditional Anglican Church” and cannot legitimate that claim “we continue to be what we are,” and “we do nothing new,” when the Chambers succession is founded upon a grievous departure from the norm established for many centuries that the licit consecration of a new bishop requires three bishops. It is uncertain whether the letter of consent from Pae supplies this defect.
(2) Chambers was the retired Episcopal Bishop of Springfield, Il. Chambers did not possess any episcopal jurisdiction to commit to the consecrands at the 1978 Denver Consecrations, but in the article, “On Continuing Anglicanism,” on the ACC website, we read that the Churches of the Chambers Succession were founded by men who placed themselves under Chambers’ “personal jurisdiction.” Let’s be clear: there is no such thing as “personal jurisdiction” in an Anglican context. In a Roman Catholic context, a Prelature is founded under the “personal jurisdiction” of the Roman Pontiff, but the circumstances do not bear comparison: a retired Episcopal bishop who possesses no episcopal jurisdiction is not canonically equivalent to a Bishop of Rome who claims not only diocesan episcopal jurisdiction but immediate jurisdiction over the entire Church. If the Roman claims about universal jurisdiction are true, then certainly, a Bishop of Rome may place a canonical entity under his own “personal jurisdiction,” but even if this were the case, this would not in any wise imply that a retired Diocesan Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church (PECUSA) also possesses the same prerogative.
(3) In the Affirmation of St. Louis, we read that the Protestant Episcopal Church has lost jurisdiction on account of its departure from Apostolic Order, and that, on this basis, the Continuing Churches claim jurisdiction: “we affirm that all former ecclesiastical governments, being fundamentally impaired by the schismatic acts of lawless Councils, are of no effect among us, and that we must now reorder such godly discipline as we strengthen us in the continuation of our common life and witness.” In such circumstances, Chambers, as a retired bishop, could have remedied the defect outlined in (2) by claiming legitimate jurisdiction on the grounds that, since PECUSA has lost its apostolic jurisdiction, “we must now reorder such godly discipline as we strengthen us in the continuation of our common life and witness.” This, however, is not how Chambers proceeded. For a time, Chambers certainly acted in a manner consistent with an assumption of apostolic jurisdiction, by performing confirmations and ordinations without the permission of the local PECUSA Diocesan Bishop. However, when faced with the opportunity to assume apostolic jurisdiction by establishing himself as the founder of a new jurisdiction, he declined to do so. Chambers communicated apostolic orders at the Denver consecrations, but he could not have communicated apostolic jurisdiction since, instead of founding a new jurisdiction, he remained within the communion of the Protestant Episcopal Church, thereby denying the fundamental motivation for establishing the Churches of the Chambers Succession, namely that “all former ecclesiastical governments, being fundamentally impaired by the schismatic acts of lawless Councils, are of no effect among us.” If Chambers had accepted the claim of the Affirmation of St. Louis, then he would not have submitted to the authority of the bishops of the Protestant Episcopal Church. In the article, “On Continuing Anglicanism,” on the ACC website, we read that, in accordance with Canon III of the Council of Ephesus, Christians have a duty not to submit to heretical bishops, and since Chambers submitted to the authority of the bishops of the Protestant Episcopal Church, he implicitly recognized the legitimacy of their claim to jurisdiction, which means that he implicitly repudiated the legitimacy of the claim to jurisdiction of the Churches to which he had transmitted apostolic orders. The same holds for Pagtakhan, the co-consecrator, who remained in the Philippine Independent Church (PIC) and subsequently participated in the consecrations of bishops for various groups.
(4) In the article, “The Chambers Succession,” on the ACC website, the author attempts to circumvent the problems outlined in (3) by claiming that neither Bishop Mark Pae nor Bishop Charles Boynton withdrew their consent from the Denver consecrations. Now we have a situation where the two actual consecrators implicitly withheld recognition of apostolic jurisdiction from the Churches of the Chambers Succession, and where the apostolic jurisdiction of these Churches now rests solely upon the two bishops who provided letters of consent. It is impossible for the present writer to discern how this situation can be described as anything other than “radically irregular.”
(5) Pursuant to (4), there is no reason to believe that Pae or Boynton communicated apostolic jurisdiction to the Churches of the Chambers Succession either. There is no evidence that Pae withdrew from communion with the Protestant Episcopal Church: in fact, Pae subsequently moved to the United States, submitting to the jurisdiction of the Protestant Episcopal Church. At his death, the Diocese of Long Island issued a notice that gives no indication that Pae was not in communion with the Protestant Episcopal Church: his funeral service was held at the Episcopal cathedral in Garden City, New Jersey (http://eam-longisland.blogspot.com/2013/10/bishop mark-pae-died-october-20th.html). Since Pae continued and died in communion with the Protestant Episcopal Church, it is impossible that Pae, by his letter of consent in 1978, could have communicated legitimate apostolic jurisdiction. As to Boynton, he remained within the Protestant Episcopal Church until 1990, when he joined the ACC. A Church cannot seriously expect us to accept a claim to legitimate jurisdiction resting upon a bishop who remained subject to the jurisdiction of the bishops of the Protestant Episcopal Church for a full twelve years after he had issued a letter of consent for the Denver consecrations. Furthermore, far from claiming jurisdiction in 1978, it appears that Boynton may have resigned his Episcopal orders: “He retired in 1969, and in 1978 he formally resigned from the episcopacy of the Episcopal Church”.
Finally, while Boynton may have joined the ACC in 1990, he also broke communion with the ACC in 1991 by participating in the Deerfield Beach consecrations. So, at best, the claim to jurisdiction of the ACC rests upon one retired suffragan bishop who affirmed the jurisdiction of the ACC between 1990 and 1991. It goes almost without saying that this is a slender basis for a claim to legitimate jurisdiction.
(6) On account of points (1) to (5), it is virtually impossible to affirm that the Churches of the Chambers Succession possess legitimate jurisdiction. Neither the two consecrators nor the two consecrators-by-consent remained in communion with the bishops consecrated at the Denver consecrations in 1978. All four of these bishops could theoretically have communicated jurisdiction to the bishops of the Churches of the Chambers Succession. But none of them did so, since none of them submitted to the jurisdiction of the bishops whom they had consecrated or to whose consecration they had consented. On the contrary, all four of them remained in communion with bishops whose jurisdiction the Affirmation of St. Louis explicitly denies. It is unfathomable that a bishop should consecrate bishops with whom he does not intend to be in communion, but by their subsequent actions, Chambers, Pagtakhan, Pae, and Boynton did just that: since they did not remain in communion with the bishops whom they consecrated or to whose consecration they consented, they cannot be considered to have affirmed the jurisdiction of these bishops. They certainly cannot be considered to have affirmed the exclusive jurisdiction that the Churches of the Chambers Succession claim (see “On Continuing Anglicanism,” and the 10th Provincial Synod of the ACC, 1993).
(7) In a post dated July 20th, 2007, Fr. Matthew Kirby, (former?) member of the G4 Doctrine Commission writes: “Apostolic Succession is succession of jurisdiction, not just orders.” We agree, but we do not agree with his claim that the ACC possesses legitimate jurisdiction. The
ACC claims orders and jurisdiction, but all it received at the Denver consecrations was orders: neither of the consecrators communicated legitimate jurisdiction to the ACC, and neither of the consecrators-by-consent communicated legitimate jurisdiction to the ACC. Accordingly, the status of the ACC on the basis of the Chambers succession is as follows: it possesses orders, but not jurisdiction. Therefore, it does not stand in the legitimate “Apostolic Succession.”
(8) In the reports on ACA/APA Orders and DHC Orders, the ACC Committee on Validation of Orders states that, “the term ‘validity’ is treated as a technical term, so that when a particular clergyman’s Holy Orders are pronounced by us to be ‘valid,’ that means simply that the authorities of our Church are able to warrant to our people that to a moral certainty the man in question stands in the legitimate Apostolic Succession.” In light of (7), in which Fr. Kirby, in continuity with the ACC’s position, states that “Apostolic Succession is succession of jurisdiction, not just orders,” it is impossible for us to pronounce ACC Orders as “valid,” since, on the basis of their own definition of validity, this would require us to affirm that the ACC “stands in the legitimate Apostolic Succession,” when this is patently not the case on the basis of the Chambers succession.
(9) In “On Continuing Anglicanism,” the ACC states that the Orders of post-1976 PECUSA clergy and, by extension, ACNA clergy are “canonically invalid” on account of the androgynous character of the ordained ministry of the Protestant Episcopal Church. Here, however, we must state that the Orders of the Churches of the Chambers Succession are “canonically invalid” on account of their defective Apostolic Succession. To quote Fr. Kirby again, “Apostolic Succession is succession of jurisdiction, not just orders.” In its report on Diocese of the Holy Cross (DHC) Orders, the ACC Committee on Validation of Orders states that the DHC “can in no sense be accused of being one of those vagantes bodies in which Holy Order is treated not as Christ’s gift to His Church but as a species of personal magic possessed by a ‘bishop’ who has claims to tactile succession but no visible apostolic jurisdiction or mission.” While we appreciate the ACC’s affirmation that the DHC is not a vagans Church, it is regrettable that, in light of the foregoing evidence, we might enquire whether the ACC possesses a vagans character since their bishops have “claims to tactile succession but no visible apostolic jurisdiction or mission.”
(10) Pursuant to (9), even if we do not have any doubt about the competence of the ACC bishops to transmit orders, these bishops have no competence to transmit jurisdiction. This raises certain problems in light of the ACC’s definition on validity. However, our definition of validity should certainly be more charitable than the definition presented in the reports of the ACC Committee
on Validation of Orders: we should recognize as sacramentally valid all those orders conferred by a man in episcopal orders who uses a valid rite of ordination (in this case, the 1928 Book of Common Prayer rite of ordination).
Accordingly, we should recognize that ACC Orders are valid, but only on the basis of our definition of validity, since on the basis of the ACC’s definition of validity, ACC Orders are gravely dubious.
(11) In its Report on American Episcopal Church (AEC) Orders, the ACC Department for Ecumenical Relations affirms the precedent that clerics who hold a claim to tactile succession but not to jurisdiction (e.g. episcopi vagantes) should be prohibited from the exercise of any orders received upon their reconciliation to the Church. We should certainly be more clement towards the ACC than the ACC Department for Ecumenical Relations would be…
(12) To summarize the above points: the presence of only two consecrators at the Denver consecrations establishes the Denver consecrations as “canonically irregular,” and the failure of any of the consecrators or consecrators-by-consent to remain in communion with the consecrands and accept their jurisdiction indicates that the consecrands did not receive legitimate jurisdiction from the consecrators or consecrators-by-consent, which establishes the Chambers Succession as “canonically invalid.”
(13) While not without its own infelicities, the Diocese of the Holy Cross possesses a much stronger claim to legitimate jurisdiction than the Anglican Catholic Church. The Diocese of the Holy Cross was formed by Bishop A. Donald Davies, a retired Episcopal Bishop, who publicly broke communion with the Protestant Episcopal Church over its liberalizing tendencies, forming the Episcopal Missionary Church. Davies consecrated Patrick Murphy and Robert Waggener to the episcopate for the Episcopal Missionary Church. Davies was assisted by two co consecrators, Kennaugh and Clark, Anglican Rite Jurisdiction of the Americas (ARJA) bishops who had been consecrated in Philippine Independent Church (PIC) succession. Since there were three consecrators present at the consecrations of Murphy and Waggener, these consecrations do not possess the defect of the Denver consecrations and so can be accredited as canonically regular. In addition, since Davies consecrated Murphy and Waggener in the context of a jurisdiction he had founded as an act of rejection of the claimed jurisdiction of the Protestant Episcopal Church, and since he remained in communion with Murphy and Waggener after he had consecrated them, Davies was clearly claiming legitimate jurisdiction and was clearly transmitting this legitimate jurisdiction to those whom he consecrated. Murphy and Waggener, along with others, subsequently joined the APCK, thereby conferring jurisdiction upon the APCK, and they transmitted this jurisdiction to Bishop Paul Hewett when, after leaving the APCK over the question of divorced and remarried bishops, they revived the corporation of the Diocese of the Holy Cross, served along with LaCour of the APCK as Hewett’s co-consecrators along with A. Donald Davies, and, most importantly, remained in communion with Hewett after they had consecrated him.
(14) The points raised in (13) lead us to a potential solution to the problem of jurisdiction. Since Davies possessed legitimate jurisdiction and transmitted jurisdiction to Murphy and Waggener who in turn, along with Davies himself, transmitted jurisdiction to Hewett, we may affirm that the Diocese of the Holy Cross possesses legitimate jurisdiction. There may be issues with certain aspects of the DHC’s claim to jurisdiction, but it is certainly on a far more secure footing than the claim to jurisdiction of the Churches of the Chambers Succession
(15) Now that it has been established that it is more probable that Bishop Paul Hewett of the Diocese of the Holy Cross possesses jurisdiction, it is possible that this may resolve the issue of the ACC’s defect of jurisdiction. As reluctant as the present writer is to concede this, by entering into full communion with the ACC, and by joining the ACC and making himself a canonical subject of Mark Haverland, one might plausibly argue that Bishop Paul Hewett has implicitly recognized the jurisdiction of Mark Haverland and has thereby remedied the defect of jurisdiction that the ACC possesses. Accordingly, the ACC may, on final analysis, be deemed to possess legitimate jurisdiction. However, any legitimate succession the ACC possesses is founded not on the basis of its Chambers Succession but on the basis of the gracious actions of the Bishop of the Diocese of the Holy Cross. Let us, therefore, give thanks to Almighty God for the one true holy catholic and apostolic Diocese of the Holy Cross, whereby the legitimate Apostolic Succession of Orders and Jurisdiction has been maintained. And let us unite around its bishop, Paul C. Hewett, legitimate successor of the apostles, and legitimate patriarch of the 1976 exodus.
Postscript: the Deerfield Beach consecrations cannot reliably be deemed to have transmitted legitimate jurisdiction, since these consecrations were intended only to transmit legitimate orders to bishops who were to serve in a united Anglican province that never materialized. In addition, Mercer’s continued membership of the Community of the Resurrection, which is part of the Church of England, indicates his ambivalent attitude towards apostolic jurisdiction, and his continued membership of the Community of the Resurrection after his reception into the Roman Catholic Church indicates his ambivalent attitude towards apostolic orders. Furthermore, there is no evidence that Mize broke communion with the Protestant Episcopal Church: indeed, Mize signed statements in 1996 and 1998 identifying himself as a bishop of the Episcopal Church. We have already discussed the case of the third consecrator, Boynton.
The Rev’d. Fr. Richard P. Cumming is Rector of the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Liverpool, NY in the Diocese of the Holy Cross and a former member of the G4 Doctrine Commission on Holy Orders