By Bp. Paul Hewett
There is still time, and space to book your place at the International Catholic Congress for Anglicans, to be held this July 13 – 17 in Fort Worth, Texas. Our host parish is St. Andrews, and the hotel is the Hilton Fort Worth.
The Congress is modeled on the great Anglo-Catholic Congresses in England in the early 20th century. The saintly Bishop of Zanzibar, Frank Weston, gave an address at one of them which is now famous. The Congresses were prophetic calls to return to the Fathers and the consensus of the undivided Church, with renewed commitment to the Gospel and the Catholic Faith, to extend the Kingdom, and cure souls, ministering to rich and poor alike, throughout the world. World War II put a stop to these Congresses, and the one this July 13 – 17 in Fort Worth represents their resumption.
Our patrons are Bishops Michael Nazir-Ali and Keith Ackerman. Archbishops, bishops and clergy and lay theologians and laity from all over the world are planning to attend. Our goal is to let our Lord form His mind in His Church, so that we as Anglicans overcome our ecclesiastical deficits and grow in the mind of Christ, to be, to think, to speak and to do all that He wills for us. That means restoring the conciliar Church, the Church of the Councils and the Fathers, the Church of the undivided first millennium. The Congress is vitally important because it deals with the next steps we must take as Anglicans.
On behalf of all Anglicans who aspire to and embrace orthodoxy, we ask the question, “What is our doctrine of the Church?” The Greek word for this subject is Ecclesiology. Innovators see the Church as a denomination which can vote on matters of faith and order and morals, and write the rules as it goes along. We see the disastrous results of this ecclesiastical deficit throughout the world, especially in affluent, First World countries, but also spreading like a cancer in Africa and elsewhere. The Orthodox Christian knows the Church to be an organic whole, through time and space, going back through the apostles to our Lord Jesus Christ. Her faith, orders and morals are apostolic. Orthodox ecclesiology is conciliar. One aspect of conciliarity is that we do not even put on our synod or convention agendas anything pertaining to faith, order or morals that has already been decided by Holy Scripture, ecumenical councils, and the mind of the ancient Fathers. The mind of Christ is already clearly known in all essentials of faith, order and morals, transmitted to us through the apostles. Austin Farrer used to say in Oxford, that “if the apostles did not have the mind of Christ, it is pointless for us to think we ever shall.”
The upcoming International Catholic Congress of Anglicans is set up to address the deficit in ecclesiology, and model for the world what a global, re-aligned and fully orthodox Anglicanism looks like. We are committed to live in conciliarity with all Christians today who embrace the Catholic Faith, or put more properly, who let the Catholic Faith embrace them. All told, what we are doing at the Congress is dealing with the root causes of the crisis we are in. The ordination of women, abortion, divorce, homosexuality, breakdown of the family, euthanasia, confusion in sexual roles and escalating violence are all interrelated symptoms of a deficit in ecclesiology, and in how we read the Bible. Anglicans throughout the world are being invited to have a hard look at the root causes of our crisis, and how as Anglicans, in the great re-alignment, God is helping us to get our act together, so that we can go on to fulfill our ecumenical vocation.