Stand Up And Be Counted

By Fr. Michael Heidt (2012): 

Like it or not, Anglicans claim to be catholic Christians. Every Sunday we proclaim that we believe in a Church which is “One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic.” In doing so we are not pledging allegiance to a vague universality but to what Chesterton referred to as The Thing, a clearly identifiable entity, with a common set of beliefs and practices handed down to us by Christ, through the Apostles. This Thing is the Church founded by Our Lord and its beliefs are not up for negotiation; they are not opinions, neither are they human inventions to be set aside at will according to expediency or context. On the contrary, they are God-given truths and, as such, we are not free to play fast and loose with them. 

For example, we do not have the liberty, if we wish to remain consonant with the Church we tell the world we believe in, to redefine marriage as anything other than the union of a man and a woman. Likewise, we are not free to parse the Real Presence of Our Lord out of the Sacrament of the Altar. In the same vein, because we believe that God created us and holds us in being, became one of us at the Incarnation and loved us to death on the Cross, we also believe in the sanctity of life. 

Traditional Anglicanism, including the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), is fully catholic in this regard. ACNA’s Canon Law, Section 4 and 5 of Canon 8 in Title II, states, “God, and not man, is the creator of human life. The unjustified taking of life is sinful. Therefore, from conception to natural death, all members and clergy are called to protect and respect the sanctity of every human life.” 

In holding to this we stand shoulder to shoulder with the Roman Catholic Church, Orthodoxy and conservative Evangelicals. All of us share a catholic commonality, at least insofar as we believe that human life is sacred, and because of this we are implacably opposed to the murder which is abortion. With Cardinal DiNardo, we refuse to regard pregnancy as a disease to be treated by federally subsidized infanticide clinics masquerading as “women’s health care centers”.

Here we find ourselves diametrically opposed to the prevalent wisdom of the temporal power and its religious shills in the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC). And let’s make no mistake, the authority in question is just that, a power, with the full coercive means of the state to enforce its will. 

What this means, in practical terms, is becoming painfully evident with the current administration’s unprecedented attack on the Roman Catholic Church’s freedom of conscience. If President Obama’s legislation is not overturned, all employers, regardless of religious belief, will be forced, in law, to provide not only contraception and sterilization coverage to their employees but also abortifacients. With that, catholic Christendom, synonymous with Christianity in its fullness, will be effectively driven out of the business of healthcare, education and charity. Freedom of religion will have become, at best, freedom of worship, and Forward in Christ has to question whether even that liberty will remain longstanding. 

In sum, we are slowly but surely coming face to face with a dominant cultural secularism that is hostile at best to the Church and the values it fosters. This should not surprise us. We have no reason to suppose that a governing class which has shed its Christianity will legislate in a Christian manner. That such legislation is tantamount to a declaration of war on Christ’s Church should be clear to all with eyes to see. It should be equally clear that the Church, of which we are a part, will suffer in the conflict. Christ has promised us nothing less; it is the Way of the Cross which leads, against the death-dealing wisdom of the world, to life.

It is surely no exaggeration to say that the time has come for the faithful to stand up and be counted, to pick up our cross and follow the Lord in resolute defense of the Faith. Christ, who is the Lord of life, expects no less.

Holy Michael the Archangel, defend us in the day of battle; be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do thou, Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust down to hell Satan and all wicked spirits, who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.

Forward in Christ

Proclaiming the Faith and Order of the Church, given to us by Christ.