robert_mercer : Anglican Church of India

Deerfield Beach Statement By Bishop Robert Mercer

The Union between The American Episcopal Church (AEC) and Anglican Catholic Church (ACC) was decided by the Bishops of Anglican Catholic Church (ACC) under the Chairmanship of the Most Rev. Louis W. Falk. Later the ACC bishops were divided into two groups on this Union with AEC, so the Most Rev. Louis W. Falk was serious and in favour of the Union with AEC. The Most Rev. Louis W. Falk, Primate of the ACC resigned from the Anglican Catholic Church (ACC) on September 18, 1989, after eight years of standing as Metropolitan of ACC. Thereafter Archbishop Falk along with his faithful Bishops formed the Anglican Church in America. The unfortunate schism in the ACC was the result of tension among the Catholics. In 1990, the traditional groups of various Anglican Provinces joined hands to form the Traditional Anglican Communion in Deerfield Beach including the Province of India and elected the Most Rev. Louis W. Falk as its first Primate. There was no jurisdiction left for the ACC to suspend or remove any member or Bishops, who are not with the ACC.

There was no binding on the Anglican Church of India from the ACC while our elected Metropolitan the Most Rev. Louis W. Falk was separated from ACC and gave direction for conditional consecration. The Most Rev. Robert Mercer under the series of the apostolic succession under the Canterbury performed the conditional consecration of about 9 Bishops on 3rd. October 1991, being the feast of Teresa in the Church of St. Peter in the city of Deerfield Breach, Florida. This was the historical event in the Traditional Anglican Communion.

Then the request was sent to the Most Rev. Louis W. Falk in 1982 through Bishop Adams. The Archbishop Falk accepted the request and visited India in 1982 to take round of Lucknow, Amritsar and Delhi Dioceses. During this time he examined the candidates for Bishops elect, and gave his consent to consecrate them. He invited (Late) Bishop John A Prakash to consecrate him at Pokepse New York and 10 Anglican Bishops laid their hands and authorized Bishop John A. Prakash to serve the Anglican Communion in India.

On October 6, 1984 Archbishop Falk the Chief Consecrator along with Bishop Mote of Denver and Bishop John A. Prakash of Delhi Diocese Consecrated the following Bishops: 1. 1. Bishop Samuel P. Prakash (Bishop of Lucknow) 2. 2. Bishop P.P. Rao (Bishop of Amritsar) 3. 3. Bishop E. J. Gideon (Asstt. Bishop of Lucknow)

The great function of Consecration and the meeting of the first "General Council" after revival was held at Y.M.C.A. New Delhi. Then the Anglican delegation along with six Anglican Bishops met to the President of India. This News appeared in T.V. News bulletin on the same evening. Anglican Faithful were very happy to hear the news.

Deerfield Revisited

The Question of the Conditional Consecractions Spokesmen for what is left of the ACC (USA) have declared the conditional consecrations done at Deerfield Beach by Bps. Mercer, Boynton and Mize to be "invalid". In response, some have speculated that this declaration is no more than a variation on the theme of fox and grapes. Perhaps; but that does not answer the arguments that such spokesman have put forward. On what grounds do they base their claim?

Their first argument is that, taking place as they did in Deerfield Beach, FL, the conditional consecration constituted an 'invasion' of the ACC Diocese of the South. The second is that, since (on their view) there could be no good reason to doubt the validity and regularity of the Orders of the (former) ACC bishops who were conditionally consecrated, therefore the act amounted to a "second ordination", and was thus an act of 'sacrilege.' Such an act, they claim, would not only be void, but would constitute grounds for excommunication of consecrators and consecrated alike. Many ancient Canons with language using terminology about 'invasion,' 'Re ordination and 'invalidity' have been cited (in English translation). How sound is the case?

As to the first argument, it is sufficient to point out that the ancient Councils and the Canons issued by them presupposed a situation in which there was only one Catholic Church, and where, as a consequence, the dictum of "One Bishop for one city" could be applied not only to jurisdiction over souls, but over territory as well. That situation patently no longer applies. We have, at the very least, Roman Catholics, Orthodox and Anglican Christians, all Catholics, occupying the same geographical areas. Dare I say that, every time he ordains a priest, Bishop Bullock (Roman Catholic, Diocese of Des Moines) "invades my Diocese?" The argument depends upon the claim, absurd on its face, that the "rump-ACC" (as one English correspondent now calls it) is the only Catholic Church in the United States.

In our century, the concept of 'jurisdiction' can apply only to people, not to turf. And it can apply only to those who submit voluntarily to the claim of any bishop to some authority over them. Those conditionally consecrated at Deerfield Beach were unwilling to submit to any such claim by Archbishop Lewis of the ACC Diocese of the Original Province of the ACC. The consecrations were done on behalf of another Church body, independent of and not a part of the ACC. Archbishop Lewis can no more claim "invaded jurisdiction" from such an act than he could forbid the pope to sell a painting from the Vatican art collection.

The second argument contains two premises. The first is that ACC Orders are absolutely valid and regular. The second is that any further ordination (even conditional) of someone in such Orders is invalid and further subjects both ordainer and ordained automatically to Degradation from Holy Orders, so that not only that ordination but any future Ministerial acts of such persons are absolutely null and void. We need to look at these premises one at a time.

The ACC derivers its Holy Orders from the consecrations at Denver, CO on January 28, 1978. At that event, four men were consecrated. One of these, Bishop Morse, was accused of having secured election (for the Diocese of Christ the King) at an irregular meeting, reportedly held at a restaurant and under some conditions of secrecy, involving only some of the people who should have had a voice in the selection of a bishop. Another of these, Bishop Mote, was elected at a hastily called, late-night meeting of the newly invented Diocese of the Holy Trinity during the course of the St. Louis Congress, a meeting clearly not called for the purpose of electing a bishop. Further, in a letter to Mr. Michael Mansbridge-Wood (who was then assembling a dossier on the ACC for presentation to the Bishop of Ballarat), Chuck Buell, then Administrative Assistant to the Metropolitan of the ACC, admitted that such documents as warrants and testimonials of election were unavailable at least in part because it was important to keep the hierarchs of ECUSA ignorant of what plans were going forward. This adds the further question of proceeding "in secret."

Any or all of these unusual goings-on may well be perfectly justified on grounds of expediency based on the highly unusual circumstances in which they were in any sense 'regular' proceedings cannot be claimed by any sane, much less reasonable, individual.

The same may be said of the actual consecrations themselves. Two bishops (Albert Chambers and Francisco Pagtakhan), neither acting with jurisdiction or with the permission of his own Church, consecrated one bishop-elect (Dale Doren) A telegram from Bishop Mark Pae of the extra-provincial Anglican Diocese of Taejon, Korea indicated his assent to Bishop Doren's consecration, but was later repudiated (but after the fact) by Bishop Pae.

The newly consecrated bishop then joined the other two in consecrating three more (Robert Morse, Peter Watterson and James Mote). That is a most unusual and irregular proceeding. Further, the question of the intention and state of mind Bp.Pagtakhan has been raised, inevitably, by his activities since that time in consecrating, and often shortly thereafter repudiating, some dozens of men in and for at least three different "continuing Anglican" jurisdictions.

Again, under the very unusual circumstances which pertained, resort to these equally unusual methods of securing the Episcopate may well be entirely defensible. what is not defensible is any claim that such methods were 'normal,' 'canonical,' or 'regular.'

Does this mean that 'ACC orders' are invalid? No, it certainly does not. But at this point it is necessary to bring into our discussion the concept of a discussion the concept of a distinction between 'validity' and 'regularity.'

During the period of about a century at the time of the after the issuance of the 'ancient canons' cited in opposition to the Deerfield consecrations, the questions arose of whether sacramental acts by clergymen of unworthy character had any effect, and as to whether sacramental acts administered in ecclesial bodies separate from the Catholic Church had any efficacy.

The great theologian, St. Augustine, was foremost among thinkers in the West in treating these topics. He pointed out that, if the unworthiness of a clergymen vitiated the sacraments administered by him, then faithful Christians could never be sure whether they were receiving true sacraments or not. Further, it would make the sacraments acts of men rather than acts of God. Likewise he insisted that when the Church's sacraments were properly administered even outside of the Church, they were in a real sense act of the Church. Those, for example, baptized by heretics might not receive the benefits of grace which baptism should bring, but once reconciled to the Church they were not to be baptized again.

Out of this discussion arose what later became the distinction between 'valid' and 'regular.' A sacramental act not done according to the rules" would be irregular, yet still have its effect, i.e., be valid. This distinction became a commonplace of theology in the Western part of the Church.

Prior to that time, however, the word 'invalid' (akvpos) could be taken to mean either 'of no effect' or 'un canonical.' It is so used in the 'ancient canons' cited against the Deerfield consecrations. But that is an anachronism. It can no longer be used in that way, at least by those of us in the Western Church. (The distinction to which St. Augustine's position led has never been fully accepted in the Christian East, which still tends to regard sacramental acts done outside Orthodox canonical requirements as of no effect whatsoever.)

Are the opponents of the Deerfield consecrations, then adopting an "Eastern position" on this question? Are they insisting that the Augustinian Distinction be rejected in favour of the older view? Hardly that, for then the Denver consecrations would be struck down equally. You cannot say, "One set of rules for me, but a stricter set for you." Nothing is gained by shooting your opponent with a bullet that must first pass through your own heart.

So ACC Orders then are surely valid but hardly regular, and one widely recognized good reason for conditional ordination (or consecration) has been exactly the matter of 'regularizing' Orders where some question of 'canonicity could be raised. As to the second premise, that "re-ordination" of those in valid Orders is a sacrilege and vitiates all further sacramental acts of those involved: it begs the question by assuming, falsely, that the conditional consecrations at Deerfield were 'second ordinations' in the sense used by the Councils. They were not.

Further, those who put forth this claim simply have not done their homework. Just as one easy example, the Polish National Catholic Church (the recognized Old Catholic Church of the Union of Utrecht in America) re ordains (conditionally) every clergyman who joins the PNCC from another Church, and it does so as a matter of course. This is true whether the joining clergyman is Anglican - Roman Catholic or Orthodox. The PNCC takes the position that, by doing this in every case, they are in fact saying nothing, one way or the other, about the Orders of any cleric who joins. It is simply universal policy and procedure. Thus Roman Catholic priests, e.g., who have joined the PNCC, have been re - ordained all along. Yet the ACC, from Denver on, has assiduously courted the favour of the PNCC and sought to establish talks aimed at Intercommunion.

Further, the practice of preordination, even absolutely rather than conditionally (the latter being fairly a fairly recent phenomenon) is not as non-existent, even in the West, as the critics of Deerfield would have us believe.

An Archbishop of Canterbury no less, Theodore of Tarsus, regarded the British Christians he found in England as heretics (because of their method of determining the date of Easter), and their sacraments as null and void (the Eastern view again, not surprising in an Easterner). A French theologian (Saltet) who investigated this topic in the 19 th Century quotes a statement by Eddius that Theodore required even that St. Chad be re ordained, "... through all the ecclesiastical grades." Pope Constantine II (767 AD), having been ordained irregularly by passing through the grades too quickly, was then deposed by the Lombard, and his ordinations declared 'invalid' (not just irregular) by his successor Stephen III, thus adding to the confusion of terms. In 880 the Archbishop of Milan, one Ansbert who had been excommunicated for contumacy, consecrated a bishop (Joseph) of Vercelli. Pope John VIII declared third consecration uneconomical, then declared it null and required Joseph to be re- ordained. In the 10 th Century Ratherius, Bishop of Verona, determined to re - ordain all clerics ordained by this opponent Milo during the twelve years in which Milo had held the See. These are only some of the examples available even to the casual historian.

It is not necessary to approve of this sometimes rather seedy ecclesiastical politicking with the sacrament of Orders to see that, if the simple act of re ordination were sufficient to vitiate all future sacramental acts by those involved, the whole matter of the Apostolic Succession might well be brought into question, so frequently has it occurred. These is also the matter of what such a theory would have to say about thousands of faithful Christians having been deprived of true sacraments throughout the course of Christian history.

Thus neither basis of the attack on the conditional consecration at Deerfield Beach can stand examination. That the ACC had such exclusive possession of 'Catholicity' as to make any act by any other Church any act by any other Church an "invasion" of its rights and territory is a claim of almost unimaginable arrogance. It betrays the very attitude that, once it became pervasive among the ACC hierarchy, caused many to give up on that body and seek another home. That an act of humility and pastoral intent, the Willingness to give up to God whatever claims to "better Orders" one might think one has and proceed with one's brothers within a common heritage, and to minister to the consciences of those who held sincere (even if misguided) doubts: that such an act should an act should be deemed 'sacrilegious' says more about the 'religion' of those who so name it than we are comfortable in knowing. It appears to be a religion in which man-made laws must bind even God, so that He must reject the prayers of those who seek to do His will and come together. Such claims violate not only the facts of the case and the logic of the argument, but also the spirit in which we are required by our Master to approach each other: "See how these Christians love one another


On Thursday, October 3rd, eleven bishops of the uniting Anglican Church of America (ACA) were given conditional consecration to the episcopate by three Prelates whose orders stem from the "official" Anglican Communion, and therefore are unquestioned. The Chief consecrator was the Rt. Rev. Robert W.S. Mercer, CR, of the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada, former Bishop of Matabeleland, Zimbabwe, in the Anglican Province of Central Africa. Assisting him were the Rt. Rev. Robert Mize, formerly Bishop of Damaraland, in the Province of Sothern Africa, and more recently, Assistant Bishop in the Episcopate Church Diocese of San Joaquin, California, Where he is retired; and the Rt. Rev. Charles Boynton, formerly Episcopate Church Bishop of Puerto Rico, and, before his retirement, Suffragan Bishop of New York. Bishop Mize took Part with the approval of Several bishops of the traditionalist Episcopal Synod of America (ESA), of which he is a member. Bishop Boynton, Who Lives in retirement in Florida, resigned from the Episcopal Church three years ago to join the Anglican Catholic Church (ACC), and is now a bishop in the uniting ACA.

The three bishops, Who were all consecrator by bishops of Anglican Communion Provinces (Central Africa, Southern Africa, and United States, respectively), and none of whom has ever been acted against or placed under discipline by his Church, were asked to take part in the conditional consecrator when it became apparent that external questions from within the ACC about the regularity of the America Episcopal Church's orders , and Suspicions of some within the ranks of official Anglicanism about Continuing Church orders generally called for further action.

Bishops Mercer, Mize and Boynton Presided over a service attended by some 300 unity conference Participants, Who Witnessed the questions, laying on of hands and other Ceremonies as directed by the 1928 American edition of

The Book of Common Prayer

The bishops who received conditional consecration include (listing their Pre-ACA Positions): From the American Episcopal Church: the Most Rev. Anthony F.M. Clavier, AEC Primus and Bishop Mark G. Holiday of the West, William Millsaps of the Southwest, two Suffragan Bishops in the Eastern United States, Walter Grundorf and G.Raymond Hanlan; and Bishop Norman Stewart, Assistant in the eastern diocese. From the Anglican Catholic Church: the Most Rev. Louis W. Falk, ACC Metropolitan Archbishop and Bishop of the Missouri Valley, along with Bishops Bruce Chamberlain of New England, Robin Connors, Assistant to the Metropolitan for International Affairs and Director of the International Anglican Fellowship (IAF), and Robert Wilkes, Suffrage in the Pacific Southwest. Also taking part was the Rt. Rev. Samuel Prakash Jr., Commissary to the Metropolitan of the Anglican Church of the India, who was attending the Deerfield Beach meeting on behalf of the House of Bishops of the now-united India Church, Which includes diocese formerly allied to the ACC and AEC.

Before taking part in the conditional consecration Service, three of the AEC bishops (Clavier, Grundorf and Hanlan), who had not received ordination as deacon or priest from bishops in normal "Anglican Succession", Submitted to Conditional ordination as deacon and priest. These Services, Which took place on Tuesday, October 1, and Wednesday, October 2, at St. Peter's Cathedral in Deerfield Beach, was taken by Bishop Boynton. Among other things, they answered a Curious "theological", criticism made by some rivals of the ACE that, Somehow, Conditional Consecration to the episcopate might not remedy alleged "defects", in these Particular men's Previous ordinations to the lower orders of the ministry, and that, because of that, they would be "incapable", of receiving even conditional consecration to the higher order of bishop. Though the assertion is an obscure and debatable one, and though AEC members did not share such doubts, it was considered Prudent, for the Sake of non-U.S. Anglicans thoroughly befuddled by American Anglicans' criticisms of one another, to have the three bishops mentioned submit to conditional ordination to the diaconate and Priesthood as well, on two Successive days Previous to their conditional consecration as bishops with the other eight men. In Statements read by Bishop Boynton before each Service, he clearly Stated that the ordinations were conditional and, like Bishop Mercer would explain later Regarding the conditional consecractions, indicated they were not meant to Cast doubt but to ask God to make complete anything which human frailty had left incomplete, and to offer any tender consciences the "balm of certainty".

At the October 1 service, Bishop Boynton also said in part: "That this Order of Deacons is necessary in the Church, we testify well enough simply by our presence here today and by what we do. It may well be, as the highest Office and Order includes the lower; we have no cause to doubt it. Even so, there is about the diaconate the characteristic that given the focus of its duties upon helping God's people and assisting his priests, the centrality of service to all Christian Ministry is made all the more clear. Here lies the basis of our esteem for this Office: it shows us Jesus who came not to be served but to serve. Thus it is appropriate that we start the process of unification and healing with service. . ."

On October 2, Bishop Boynton said before the service of conditional ordination to the priesthood, in part: "If it be true, and I think it is, that offering sacrifice is central to the Duty and Office of a priest, and if it be true, as I Know it is, that central to sacrifice is the turning over to God of that which is offered, then what we do today shows forth those truths to the fullest. These men have come to turn over to God of that which has been the subject of dispute among men , and themselves with it. That is a priestly act. Such an act of oblation, writ large by the hand of Him who was God and men, lies at the centre of our faith and of our worship. To give us entry into the eternal reality of that oblation is why priesthood was bestowed upon the Church by her Lord, and made essential to her being. Into the offering of this oblation priests are admitted, however unworthy we may be, and for it their Office is to be held in high esteem. A great Martyr of the Church, Thomas Becket, following the same short road as these men now follow, thus gave himself over to the use of this heavenly Master. Like Thomas, they seek to show forth the glory of God. No human pomp or pretension could ever do so as brightly as the act of humility and love which brings them here today. . .". Finally, on the morning of October3 at the Howard Johnson Resort on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean, the unity conference's headquarters hotel, all eleven bishops listed above received consecration sub conditional to the episcopate. Bishop Mercer made clear the consecrations were conditional, rather than (as claimed by one ACC report) abilities (from the beginning), saying:

"we three Bishops are here this morning to bestow conditional consecration upon all those Bishops present who propose to come together in a united, traditional, continuing Anglican Church in the United States.

"We three Bishops are here this morning to bestow conditional consecration upon all those Bishops present who propose to come together in a united, traditional, continuing Anglican Church in the United States.

"What we do here says nothing regarding what opinion any one of us might have as to the 'validity' of Holy Orders of those who will submit to this administration. No doubt he is already a Bishop, nor do we cast any doubt of our own upon that conviction. Those who have asked us to minister to them in this way have assured us that they are so proceeding as an act of penitence for the divisions which have separated them, as an act of charity of each towards the others, as an act of humility in which none claims any status not shared by all, and as an act of unity so that all may walk together from a common waypoint. They, and we, are simply asking God to make right whatever in his all-seeing eyes may be imperfect. They, and we, are merely seeking to provide quiet and ease for any consciences in which a shred of discomfort may remain, and for any minds in which may rest, for whatever reason, some element of doubt.

"Since the purpose of this service is merely to supply anything which our Heavenly Father may find lacking, and to quiet all consciences and remove all doubt, the liturgy will be simple, without much of the solemnity which normally accompanies the consecration of a Bishop. Readings of testimonials, certificates of election and warrants for consecration are not relevant to these proceedings. We are not putting a Bishop into a See; we are merely supplying what, if anything, may have been lacking when that happened. What our Anglican formularies tell us must be done, will be done, that and nothing more.

"We bid your prayers for these men that they may continue in unity and charity together according to the will of God. We bid your prayers for the Church, that its unity may be strengthened by the events of this day, and that the heritage bequeathed to us by so many generations of Anglican practice and devotion may be preserved to fulfil that mission which we trust that God has given us." perhaps criticism of the conditional consecrations among those remaining in the ACC may stem from two facts: the ACC has lost a lot of ground in its claims to be the only "legitimate" embodiment of the continuing Church movement (by the departure of some to ACA), and Second, the conditional consecration service at Deerfield Beach, since it involved some ACC bishops, leaves the ACC in the position of having to defend its orders, which all stem from the irregular, ad hoc consecration of four bishops at Denver in 1978, at the hands of only two rather than the normal three bishops, Albert Chambers (a retired Episcopal Bishop) and Francisco Pagatakhan (of the Philippine Independent Catholic Church), neither of whom had permission from his ecclesiastical colleagues to take part, with a letter of "consent" having been received from a third bishop, Mark Pae of Korea. It was what had to be done at the time, but it was unusual.

The discomfort of this new defensive position, and exclusive claims to legitimacy, are evidently among reasons ACC leaders have been eager to have the Deerfield consecrations repudiated by colleagues in the Anglican Catholic Churches in Canada and Australia, whom they have also asked to reaffirm their intercommunion with the "loyal" ACC bishops, and to disavow any action to enter into communion with the new ACA , which demand has, at last report, fallen on unreceptive ears.

However, there is an interesting aspect to the charge that the Deerfield consecrations were abilities: since some remaining in the ACC viewed AEC orders as completely "null and void" anyway, it is hard to see what objection there can be to a rite which is "from the beginning."

After the October 3 service, the nearly 500 delegates faced what many assumed would be a long and arduous day of deliberations toward seeking consensus on a uniting Church. However, as worshippers filed out of the room to go to breakfast, one participant was heard to remark, "The rest is anti-climax. The union just took place here."


The Rt. Rev. Robert Mercer

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