Frequently Asked Questions

Are you really Catholic?

Yes.  While the Church of England (from which the ACA originates) did participate in the 16th century Reformation, in all matters essential, it never abandoned its catholic roots.  In like fashion, the ACA accepts as “catholic” what is known as the Consensus Patrum et Ecclesiae (the consensus of the Fathers and the Church).  Or to borrow a famous phrase from St. Vincent of Lérins (c.434), we hold the Catholic Faith to be that which has been believed everywhere, always, and by all.  The essentials of this faith are outlined in the Affirmation of St Louis (1977), the founding document of the Anglican Catholic Church.

 Are you under the Pope?

No.  While the ACA is a Catholic Church, it is not under the jurisdiction of Rome.  While Anglican Catholics acknowledge the Pope as the Bishop of Rome, and can even afford him such titles as the Patriarch of the West, we do not believe that he has universal jurisdiction (authority over and above that of a bishop in his diocese) or extraordinary magisterium (the power to teach infallibly without the support of an Ecumenical Council).  That said, Anglican Catholics are be open to the idea of a reinterpreted papacy, which corrects excessive claims and ties the magisterium more firmly to the limiting authority of the Tradition and the whole Church.  Under these terms, we share with John Paul II, an interest that “all might be one(Jn. 17:21).


If you are not under the Pope, aren’t you really Protestants?

No.  Just because one is not Roman Catholic does mean that one is a Protestant.  There are, for example, millions of Christians in Greece, Russia, and other parts of the world who consider themselves neither “Catholic” nor “Protestant,” but “Orthodox.”  Like Eastern Orthodox Churches, the ACA has bishops in the Apostolic Succession, believes in Christ’s Real Presence in the Sacrament of the Altar, and celebrates a liturgy that dates back to the earliest days of the Church.  This is not Protestantism.  However, since we are western in our liturgy and our heritage, a good way to describe the ACC might be as a reformed Catholic Church.


Your website says that you are a member of the Traditional Anglican Communion.  What is that?

The Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) is an international communion of churches in the continuing Anglican movement independent of the Anglican Communion and the Archbishop of Canterbury. The TAC upholds the theological doctrines of the Affirmation of St. Louis and an Anglo-Catholic interpretation of the Thirty-Nine Articles.[citation needed] Each of the respective jurisdictions utilizes a designated Book of Common Prayer deemed free of innovation. Most parishioners of these churches would be described as being traditional Anglo-Catholics in their theology and liturgical practice. Some parishes use the Anglican Missal in their liturgies. The TAC is guided by a college of bishops from across the communion and headed by an elected primate.

The TAC was formed in 1991. Archbishop Louis Falk was its first primate. He was succeeded in 2002 by Archbishop John Hepworth of the Anglican Catholic Church in Australia. At present Archbishop Samuel P. Prakash (India) is the Acting Primate.

The TAC churches have been formed outside of the Anglican Communion churches over a number of different issues. The principal issue has been the ordination of women. Other issues include liturgical revisions, the acceptance of homosexual activity and the importance of tradition within the Church.

The most common quoted membership, from the TAC itself, is 400,000.


What is the Continuing Anglican Movement?

The Continuing Anglican movement encompasses a number of Christian churches in various countries that are Anglican in faith, history, and practice while remaining outside the Anglican Communion. These churches generally believe that “traditional” forms of Anglican faith and worship have been unacceptably revised or abandoned within some Anglican Communion churches in recent decades. They claim, therefore, that they are “continuing” or preserving Anglicanism’s line of Apostolic Succession as well as historic Anglican belief and practice.

The modern “Continuing” movement principally dates to the 1977 Congress of St. Louis in the United States, at which meeting participants rejected the ordination of women and the changes that had been made in the Episcopal Church’s Book of Common Prayer.


What is the Continuing Anglican Movement’s view regarding the churches belonging to the Anglican Communion?

Continuing Anglican churches have generally been formed by clergy and lay people who left churches belonging to the Anglican Communion. These particular Anglican Communion churches are charged by the Continuing movement with being greatly compromised by adopting what they consider to be secular cultural standards and liberal approaches to theology.

Many Continuing Anglicans believe that the faith of some churches in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury has become either unorthodox or un-Christian and therefore have not sought to also be in communion with them.   Although the term Anglican refers also to those churches in communion with the Church of England and the Archbishop of Canterbury, many Continuing churches, particularly those in the United States, use the term Anglican to differentiate themselves from the Episcopal Church.

Many continuing Anglicans feel that they are remaining true to historic Anglican tradition and Biblical Christianity and that it is the Episcopal Church in the United States, as well as other parts of the Anglican Communion, which have become unorthodox.


Which Book of Common Prayer do you use?

The 1928 Book of Common Prayer is beloved by Anglican traditionalists throughout the United States. Unlike the 1979 book that was adopted by the Episcopal Church, the 1928 BCP stands in direct line of descent from Thomas Cranmer’s 1549 Book of Common Prayer, and as such, its collects preserve the beauty of the Archbishop’s original prose. The Epistles and Gospels are taken from the Authorized Version (otherwise known as the King James Bible) and the Psalter remains that which has been used by generations of Anglicans throughout the world, that of the Great Bible of 1539.


Why do you use old fashioned language in worship?

The whole idea of liturgical worship is traditional rather than contemporary.  The idea of people sitting, listening, singing, and praying mostly in quiet for an hour is radically not contemporary and unlike anything else people do these days.  Likewise, church is an opportunity for talking to people about things that are also not at all contemporary:  death, judgement, heaven, hell, God, immortal souls, sins, righteousness, faith, hope, charity, virtue, vice, grace, and eternity.  These things are important and abidingly relevant, because human nature and human needs never change at their roots.  We need a mode of speech that reflects this, and to the Anglophone world of the twenty-first century, one of the best options available to us is the English of the Elizabethan age.


Why are there candles on the altar?

In the early days of the Church, Christians were persecuted by the Romans, fed to lions and burned alive  to entertain crowds. To protect themselves, the early Christians met in tombs below the city of Rome. The candles remind us that the Church was born in persecution. Also, they symbolize the presence of the Holy Spirit during the service.


Why do people do things like bow in worship and make the sign of the cross?

As Catholic Christians we believe in the importance of involving the whole person–spirit, mind and body–in the act of worship.  Incorporating the physical side of our being reminds us that in the beginning God created matter and pronounced it “good.”  It also reminds us that God became man so that he might bring us eternal life.  And it directs our attention toward our own partipation in Christ’s Resurrection, which will not be merely a spiritual event, but involve a glorified body as well.  Specifically, when we bow, we are fulfilling the injunction of Philippians 2:10, that “at the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow.”  We make the sign of the cross for a similar reason–to remind ourselves that we “are crucified to the world” (Galatians 6:14).


What does it mean to touch the chest three times?

In the Roman army an officer in charge of 100 men was called a centurion. When given an order, a Roman soldier would strike his chest to acknowledge the order. This act of beating the chest is symbolic of the faith and humility shown by a centurion who begged Jesus to heal his sick servant but said he was not worthy for Him to come into his house:

The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not thy that thou shouldest (should) come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. Matthew 8:8

The Priest and people do and say something similar just before they receive the Sacrament of Eucharist.


What is so powerful about the Holy Communion service?

God, the Holy Spirit, uses music, art, colors, smells, physical movements, chanting, and the intellectual message addressed to both the heart and mind to reach us as whole persons. The Mass combines all these elements. For example, the sermon appeals to the intellect, the colors (which change according to the church calendar) and the incense appeal to the senses, and the music appeals to both.

All of these elements have an effect on the subconscious mind, week in, week out with repetition of various parts of the Mass and brings on a strong feeling of having been with God, even if there is a poor sermon. But then, when the colors change for the church calendar so does the various prayers associated with it.


Who are some Anglicans that I might have heard of?

William Shakespeare, Thomas Cranmer, Jonathan Swift, George Fredric Handel, William Law, George Berkeley, John Wesley, Charles Wesley, John Newton, William Wilberforce, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Keble, Charles Dickens, Florence Nightingale, Evelyn Underhill, Charles Williams, Dorothy Sayers, C. S. Lewis, and T. S. Eliot, along with eleven former U.S. presidents and most of our nation’s founding fathers.