Information on Episcopal Church


#1

My sister is abadoning ship. “Because of the priest scandal” she “can no longer be Catholic.” She is going to be Episcopal because they “are the same as us” anyway except that they are “gracious enough to allow women to be ordained as priests.” (Yes, I realize she has other issues). Anyway she continues to receive communion when she goes to the Cathoic church with my family because "the Episcopal church has the “consecration” of the “Eucharist” just like we do. I know the Episcopal belief is different, I just don’t know how. Also any help with other differences would help me have an intelligent discussion with her. Thanks, Carrie


#2

I too considered the Episcapal church (AKA Church of England) before considering the Catholic church.

As I understand it the primary difference is that the Episcapal church simply does not recognize the Pope as the church leader, allows for divorce and is a bit more progressive than the Catholic church.


#3

I’m curious to know what content the word "progressive2 actually has apart fron NOT being traditiaonal. The Episcopalian ecclesial community is run by self styled bishops who are not in the apostolic succession. Not only are they not bishops. they are not priests either. They are in no way shape or form “the same as us” for this if no other reason.


#4

And since their “bishops” are not in the apostolic succession, they do not have valid holy orders; and since they do not have valid holy orders, their eucharist is not valid either.


#5

[quote=CarrieMG]My sister is abadoning ship. “Because of the priest scandal” she “can no longer be Catholic.” She is going to be Episcopal because they “are the same as us” anyway except that they are “gracious enough to allow women to be ordained as priests.” (Yes, I realize she has other issues). Anyway she continues to receive communion when she goes to the Cathoic church with my family because "the Episcopal church has the “consecration” of the “Eucharist” just like we do. I know the Episcopal belief is different, I just don’t know how. Also any help with other differences would help me have an intelligent discussion with her. Thanks, Carrie
[/quote]

I was Episcopalian before I am Catholic. There is no easy answer to what they believe, and thus, how are they different, because one of the things Episcopalians pride themselves on is unity of worship, but not necessarily unity of belief. Now that might not seem different than the Catholic Church, but with the Church, there is an official position on many things that are left open in Episcopalianism.

One such thing is the Eucharist. Laying aside the objective reality that they do not have a valid succession, and thus not a valid priesthood, many (not all) do believe in the Real Presence and many do not. Similar to Catholics, except that the Episcopal community does not have an official position. They believe in the real presence, but leave it at that. Is it merely spiritual? Is it substantial? What does “real” mean?

Same goes for women priests. There is no such thing. But Episcopalianism leaves it up to each parish to decide what they believe about it.

Same goes for homosexuality. Each parish decides what its official position is, probably depending on what the priest’s personal opinion is. Your sister is concerned about priestly scandal. A very small minority of Catholic priests, against all Church teaching, behaved improperly. It is completely permissible within the Episcopal community to be an actively homosexual priest, and remain in good standing. It’s like jumping from the frying pan into the fire.

But maybe your sister doesn’t have an issue with homosexual acts, or women “priests”, or gay marriage, or contraception, or gay actively divorced and gay bishops, or divorce, or no apostolic succession etc.


#6

Grace & Peace!

Some interesting issues, here. There are a number of differences between Rome and Canterbury, here are a couple:

*The head of the Anglican Communion is the Archbishop of Canterbury, not the Pope.
*Anglicans do not have any official teaching on Purgatory
*The Anglicans base their understanding of Christianity on three pillars: Scripture, Reason, and Tradition.
*Unity of worship stressed over unity of belief (though the creeds remain the touchstone of the faith)–see above post
*Some Anglicans are more “Catholic” than others. Some say the rosary, others do not. For some, the Blessed Mother plays a big role, for others she does not. Anglican’s like to see themselves as the via media between Catholicism and the Reformation.

Re: the validity of Anglican orders, I’d urge anyone interested to read Leo’s letter to the Anglican Bishops, and read the response the bishops made to Leo. The argument used by Leo to invalidate Anglican orders would also invalidate Catholic orders if applied universally.

Also, consider that Anglican orders are seen as valid by the Orthodox church, meaning that in most cases, an Anglican priest converting to Orthodoxy would not be re-consecrated. If that priest were to convert to Roman Catholicism, would he then have to be consecrated if the original orders were valid to the Orthodox and given that Rome recognizes the validity of Orthodox orders?

At any rate…

–Mark

Deo Gratias!


#7

Carrie:

The Episcopal Church practices ‘open communion’; any baptised Christian is welcome to receive communion at most Episcopal churches. However–the Roman Catholic Church practices ‘closed communion’–only Catholics in good moral standing with the RCC should be receiving communion. Your sister is not behaving in a fashion which is consistent with the wishes and directives of the RCC and I for one would not countenance such behavior. If she does not conser herself a Roman Catholic any longer, she ought not to receive communion at an RCC church.

I happen to be an Evangelical Protestant who became a traditionalist Anglican. That’s not really very common, though I know several like myself. Most of us have read somewhat amongst the Orthodox and Roman Catholic traditions prior to settling upon some form of Episcopalianism. Some of us dance on the knife’s edge of leaving it for Orthodoxy or the RCC, though I’m not planning on going anywhere personally. There has been some ‘seepage’ of liberal Roman Catholics from the RCC into the Episcopal Church, USA or other liberal Protestant churches. Most of the defections, however, have been going in the opposite direction–towards the Roman Catholic Church or the Orthodox Church. The ECUSA was once the largest single Protestant body in the USA but it has declined precipitously. largely due to the ordination of women and homosexuals. I can suggest some titles which record the movement of Protestants and Catholics into the Episcopal Church. See for example:

Finding Home: Stories of Roman Catholics Entering the Episcopal Church” by Christopher L. Webber, Cowley Publications, 1997.

Evangelicals on the Canturbury Trail: Why Evangicals Are Attracted to the Liturgical Church” by Robert E. Webber, Jarrell: A Special Imprint of Word Books, 1985. (Probably out of print but available in libraries or via Amazon.com).

Roman Catholics publish similar collections of testimonies of Anglicans who have become Roman Catholics; the Orthodox likewise. Sorry but I don’t have the titles–someone here most assuredly will. The best information available on what Episcopalians believe is the Book of Common Prayer, available in several versions here:

anglicansonline.org/resources/bcp.html

Don’t try to muddle through the liturgical sections, unless you enjoy that sort of thing: look in the back, for the catechetical material and the Articles of Faith. You can also browse here:

anglicansonline.org/basics/index.html

Hope this helps.


#8

[quote=CarrieMG]My sister is abadoning ship. “Because of the priest scandal” she “can no longer be Catholic.” She is going to be Episcopal because they “are the same as us” anyway except that they are “gracious enough to allow women to be ordained as priests.” (Yes, I realize she has other issues). Anyway she continues to receive communion when she goes to the Cathoic church with my family because "the Episcopal church has the “consecration” of the “Eucharist” just like we do. I know the Episcopal belief is different, I just don’t know how. Also any help with other differences would help me have an intelligent discussion with her. Thanks, Carrie
[/quote]

Carrie,

I’d like to add a few things. First, the Episcopal Church claims that it does indeed have the Apostolic Succession. They lost it, however, starting during the reign of King Edward the something (Henry VIII’s son) when the Anglican Church (from which the Episcopal Church is descended) adopted a prayer book called the Edwardine Ordinal. In this prayer book they dropped giving the priest the power to bless and curse out of the list of things done at an ordination; their reason was that they wanted to get rid of the “Romish superstition.” Thus both the form and the substance were lacking. The Anglican Church kept the Edwardine Ordinal for over a hundred years, guaranteeing that at the end of that time there were no validly ordained priests or consecrated bishops.

A Pope late in the 19th century issued an edict declaring that Anglican orders were invalid. This was a recognition of an existing condition; it did not in and of itself make the Anglican orders invalid.

Another note regarding the Episcopal Church is that they appear not to be able to say of anything sexual that “this is sinful, we have always taught that this is sinful, and we will always teach that this is sinful.” The Anglican Church flip-flopped on artificial birth control in 1930, and the path has been downhill ever since.

If I may give the history of women’s ordination in the Episcopal Church, their 1976 General Convention was to debate the subject and decide whether they should change their doctrine to allow women to be ordained. It takes a two-thirds majority to change a doctrine. The supporters of women’s ordination knew that they had a simple majority but they also knew that they didn’t have a two-thirds majority. So shortly before the 1976 General Convention, their Bishop John Spong ordained several women as priests. When the General Convention met, the supporters of women’s ordination declared that this was a disciplinary matter as to whether Spong had done the ordinations illegally. Since disciplinary matters required only a simple majority, Spong was found not guilty and the General Convention declared (again by a simple majority) that since Spong was not guilty of wrongdoing here the ordination of women to the priesthood must be okay.

  • Liberian

(truth in advertising disclaimer)
… whose sister is an Episcopal priest
… whose mother is an Episcopal deacon
… who left the Episcopal Church in 1989 over its political policies regarding South Africa


#9

[quote=John_Henry]I was Episcopalian before I am Catholic. There is no easy answer to what they believe, and thus, how are they different, because one of the things Episcopalians pride themselves on is unity of worship, but not necessarily unity of belief. Now that might not seem different than the Catholic Church, but with the Church, there is an official position on many things that are left open in Episcopalianism.

One such thing is the Eucharist. Laying aside the objective reality that they do not have a valid succession, and thus not a valid priesthood, many (not all) do believe in the Real Presence and many do not. Similar to Catholics, except that the Episcopal community does not have an official position. They believe in the real presence, but leave it at that. Is it merely spiritual? Is it substantial? What does “real” mean?

Same goes for women priests. There is no such thing. But Episcopalianism leaves it up to each parish to decide what they believe about it.

Same goes for homosexuality. Each parish decides what its official position is, probably depending on what the priest’s personal opinion is. Your sister is concerned about priestly scandal. A very small minority of Catholic priests, against all Church teaching, behaved improperly. It is completely permissible within the Episcopal community to be an actively homosexual priest, and remain in good standing. It’s like jumping from the frying pan into the fire.

But maybe your sister doesn’t have an issue with homosexual acts, or women “priests”, or gay marriage, or contraception, or gay actively divorced and gay bishops, or divorce, or no apostolic succession etc.
[/quote]

Exactly exactly. One of my teachers is an Episcopal priest and I asked her about the Episcopal/Anglican belief on the Eucharist and she said there is no formal belief; it’s basically left up to the people to decide. Which is now putting the authority of the consecration into the hands of the laity and dependent on whether or not they choose to believe it. Sorry, Episcopalians, your priests and bishops don’t even have the ability to perform a valid consecration, so how could it be left up to the laity.
This teacher of mine is a great person, and very knowlegable about Christianity. Her PhD is in English history of the Reformation, so she is also very knowlegabe about Catholicism. So knowlegable in fact that I am surprised she can still be Episcopalian.


#10

[quote=Liberian]… who left the Episcopal Church in 1989 over its political policies regarding South Africa
[/quote]

I haven’t heard about this. What was it about?


#11

for the Episcopal Church, when they celebrate the Lord’s Supper, “it is for them a means of grace” according to John paul II.


#12

I know in our area, the “High” anglican’s go to the catholic basillica because the local anglican churches have drifted too far away from catholicism.


#13

[quote=Jayson]I know in our area, the “High” anglican’s go to the catholic basillica because the local anglican churches have drifted too far away from catholicism.
[/quote]

. . . and my “High” Episcopal Church congregation was nearly all disaffected Catholics who couldn’t stomach the changes after Vatican II. We accepted every Catholic doctrine, except some accepted contraception: many did not. We even believed in Papal *primacy *though not *supremacy. *That congregation has a big festal celebration of the Assumption on August 15 every year and celebrates the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. They have votive candles at the shrines of Our Lady, St. Anthony of Padua, and St. Joseph. There is a near-life size statue of the Sacred Heart above the centrally placed Tabernacle. They kneel at the communion rail to receive the Eucharist – on the tongue.

When I became Catholic, I cried for months because in order to become authentically Catholic, I had to leave the “catholic” cultural world of my Anglican parish for an experience on Sundays which can best be described as “Eucharist – the musical!” at St. Watchamacallit Catholic Church of the suburbs . . .


#14

Actually, I believe this is an Anglican “urban myth”, but perhaps some Orthodox posters here will correct me.

Also, how Anglicans interpret Leo’s ruling considering the validity of their orders is rather moot. Only the official Catholic interpretation can have any practical significance, and this hasn’t changed.

Irenicist


#15

How can anyone be so deluded as to think that there can be a unity of worship if there is no unity of belief? Some Anglicans deny that Jesus resurrected from the dead, and some do not. Some Anglicans are apostates (e.g. Bishop Spong), and some are not. How can a Christian have a unity of worship with an apostate?

The problem with Anglicanism is that “Anglican beliefs” is a synonym for Anglican vacuity. No sane person can take Anglicanism seriously - it is a religion that will tolerate any belief, which irreconcilable with the Gospel.


#16

It’s not Episcopal, and it’s not a Church.


#17

[quote=Rand Al’Thor]I haven’t heard about this. What was it about?
[/quote]

Rand,

All through the 1980’s the Episcopal Church was part of a larger movement to force the white South African government to abandon its apartheid policies. While I certainly have no desire to defend apartheid or the South African government, my own experiences in Africa showed me that South Africa was pretty much the garden spot of the continent. (For example, they had a serious illegal immigration problem with black Africans deciding that they would rather suffer under apartheid than live in their own native countries.) The Episcopal Church was trying to change that, and there was no indication that the change would be for the better. In Liberia …

Under Tubman, the government was corrupt. Then there was a change in government.
Under Tolbert, the government was corrupt and incompetent. Then there was a change in government.
Under Doe, the government was corrupt and incompetent and violent. Then the civil war broke out.

A few months after I returned from Liberia in 1985, there was a coup attempt. The US government (which was very friendly to the Liberian government at the time) admitted to between 3,000 and 5,000 civilians being slaughtered in reprisals. A friend of mind who was still there said that the number was considerably higher. The coup leader was killed in the fighting and his body was cut up and eaten. (Don’t take my word for it; look up “Thomas Quiwonkpa” on the web or find back issues of West Africa magazine from December 1985 and the first few months of 1986.) Similar things were happening in Zimbabwe, which had a few years earlier gotten rid of a white minority government.

I brought these things to the attention of the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church and asked him what he thought apartheid should be replaced with and what indication he had that change in South Africa would be for the better. The reply that I received from him essentially denied that there had been any such evils perpetrated in Liberia or elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa. The day I received that reply was the day I left the Episcopal Church.

  • Liberian

#18

[quote=Deo Volente]Grace & Peace!

Re: the validity of Anglican orders, I'd urge anyone interested to read Leo's letter to the Anglican Bishops, and read the response the bishops made to Leo. The argument used by Leo to invalidate Anglican orders would also invalidate Catholic orders if applied universally.

[/quote]

And also with you!

Care to explain about Leo’s argument? Catholics never used the Edwardine Ordinal.

  • Liberian

#19

[quote=CarrieMG]My sister is abadoning ship. “Because of the priest scandal” she “can no longer be Catholic.” She is going to be Episcopal because they “are the same as us” anyway except that they are “gracious enough to allow women to be ordained as priests.” (Yes, I realize she has other issues). Anyway she continues to receive communion when she goes to the Cathoic church with my family because "the Episcopal church has the “consecration” of the “Eucharist” just like we do. I know the Episcopal belief is different, I just don’t know how. Also any help with other differences would help me have an intelligent discussion with her. Thanks, Carrie
[/quote]

Carrie,

I don’t know if you saw this thread on a different forum …

forum.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=57673

but if you haven’t you or your sister may want to check it out.

  • Liberian

#20

[quote=Liberian]And also with you!

Care to explain about Leo’s argument? Catholics never used the Edwardine Ordinal.
[/quote]

I think he means that some Catholic Eastern rites lack some of the specific ordinal features that the Reformers purged when drawing up the Edwardian ordinal for the Anglican Church. While this is true, the Catholic Church has ruled that the omission in the Eastern rites is merely traditional, implying no intent to deny the relevant underlying points of dogma. The omissions in the Edwardian ordinal, on the other hand, were intentional and specifically aimed at such a denial.

All sacraments, to be valid, must respect both form and intent. As Edwardian ordination is deffective in intent, it is ipso facto devoid of validity unless proper intent in specific cases can be ascertained explicitly, such as by an impromptu orthodox statement of intent in conjunction with the ordination that effectively reversed the omissions. The ordination might still be invalid on other grounds, however, such as lack of apostolic succession in the ordaining minister.

Irenicist


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