Traditional Anglo-Papist

01 June 2006

Conformity vs Obedience

Yes, I am still on about that.

I am troubled by the confusion amongst a large portion of people between Anglo-CATHOLIC and Anglo-PAPIST. It appears, to some, that Anglo-Papist is a stronger version of Anglo-Catholic: those who refer to the pope as the Holy Father and speak of the Holy See. I will not even attempt to try to define the adjective Traditional but just to focuses in on a definition of Anglo-Papist.

To me the easiest way to philosophise about the difference is in terms of obedience and conformity. At the root of this difference is, of course, ecclesiology. Is there a living voice for God in the Church today which requires my obedience? Or is Tradition disembodied? Can I just adopt the liturgical usage of another Communion without needing to obey that Communion in matters of Faith and Morals?

Conformity is defined as the act of consciously maintaining a certain degree of similarity (in clothing, manners, behaviors, etc.) … Usually, conformity implies a tendency to submit to others in thought and behavior other than simply clothing choice. Conformity does not include the idea of authority, especially an authority which has a divine claim on me.

Obedience starts with the question of authority: whom must I obey? By definition that someone must be outside of myself. Yes, above all else I must obey God and seek to be a saint in my daily life. Yet how does God speak to me today? Does God have a living voice in the world today? I think Fortescue puts it well in his book The Early Papacy:
The only real standard is a living authority, an authority alive in the world at this moment, that can answer your difficulties, reject a false theory as it arises and say who is right in disputed interpretations of ancient documents.
So, as opposed to conformity, obedience is behavior intended to comply with explicit demands of authority.

So the Anglo-Papist Spencer Jones could write in 1930: "... our differences [with Rome] are due to our separation, not our separation to our differences".

So some interesting articles on the topic of obedience from a traditional (sometimes tradionalist) point of view:
Michael Davies, True and False Obedience - Part I
Michael Davies, True and False Obedience - Part II
SSPX District Superior's Letter to Friends & Benefactors December 2004


  • Father,

    I have so say that I'm not sure what you're getting at in this post. Obedience is a virtue; conformity is generally desirable, but probably should be called something else because of the negative connotations. S. Benedict's "conversion of manners" springs to mind, and there is also an element of what is sometimes called "discipleship."

    In any case, obedience is difficult for everyone, but for traditionalists and Anglo-Papalists (to say nothing of traditional Anglo-Papalists!) it is even more so. We correctly look to Rome and the Holy Father, and that's all very well, but on the local level things aren't so good in most places. For traditional Anglo-Papalists does this situation (the S.S.P.X. calls it a "state of emergency") justify continuing in material schism? I believe that it does; salus animarum est lex suprema, after all is said and done. I'm not sure that I'm entirely correct about this, but I do know that my liturgical and devotional life would be eviscerated if I were to make my submission immediately. Maybe that's a good thing, but I doubt it. And what would I gain? There are many who are in juridical communion with the Apostolic See, but dissent openly about any number of things; and then there are those who have only a "communion of faith and practice," but find no place for ourselves in the brave new world of post-Conciliar Catholicism.

    What should we do?

    By Blogger Paul Goings, at Friday, June 02, 2006 11:44:00 PM  

  • A branch theory Anglo-Catholic (or even a modernist) can celebrate the Tridentine rite quite happily. But an Anglo-Papalist must surely accept the whole magisterium, not just the liturgy.

    I don't know that I am an Anglo-Papalist. I have always looked to Rome for the answer to any particular question of faith and morals. But my only justification for being an Anglican is more or less the branch theory, albeit with the goal of communion with Rome and an acceptance of the Primacy on a first millenium basis. Sometimes I do think like a thorough-going Anglo-Papalist, but then I think I should go all the way. When I feel that way I have used the SSPX argument, but I don't know ... It would be nice if FIF or TAC could work something out for us.

    I must also say that when I am feeling most Anglo-Papalist, I sometimes feel that I should be celebrating the Novus Ordo Mass (although it would never fly here) or at least the BCP with the ceremonial of the Novus Ordo. Of course I would celebrate the way they do at S. Silas, Kentish Town, with eastward position, Roman chasuble, biretta, etc. Haven't done it though.

    By Blogger frbader, at Saturday, June 03, 2006 5:48:00 PM  

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