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  • Writer's pictureFr. Paul A. F. Castellano

Anglo-Catholic is NOT Anglo-Papism

One of the most frustrating aspects of attempting to engage, inform, and educate is the inability of those with whom I interact to be critically analytic in their use of language.

I understand that the culture in which we live is quite sloppy in the use of language, but that is a political maneuver predicated upon a particular ideological perspective intended to manipulate and control the "masses."


Terms such as "equal," "freedom," "liberty," "fairness," and so on, used to have a common, accepted definition in the "marketplace of ideas" whereby we all knew, whether we agreed or not with the argument being proffered, what each of these terms meant.

What I am now finding is the same pattern being used in Christian dialog. The difficulty with this is it is usually generated by laziness, sloppiness, or sheer apathy to be precise on the part of the individual employing such language.


However, there are times when the individual(s) using certain terms "should" know better, and yet (a) they continuously and regularly employ certain terms, either equivocally or ambiguously, creating unnecessary confusion in dialog; or, (b) deliberately use the term(s) incorrectly, in order to mislead, misinform, and engender acceptance and support for their argument or particular position or view.


One term that I continuously hear and see incorrectly used in conversations or in FB posts is the term, "Anglican-Catholic," or "Anglo-Catholic." There are those who know better, yet use this term incorrectly in order to smear those who consider themselves a part of that position. The term, Anglican-Catholic or Anglo-Catholic can have two distinct meanings.


The first is a broad meaning for those who see and believe that Scripture - biblically and theologically - plus with historical attestation, contains and presents a view of worship and polity that incorporates "high" ceremony and ritual. This would include certain actions, ecclesiastical attire, and elements in a worship service that specifically identify them with the ancient church and, thereby, should be a part of current ecclesiological understanding. For example, I'm a Reformed High Church Anglican who is Anglo-Catholic. But I do not accept the Roman understanding of liturgy, especially when the ceremony and ritual revolve around the Consecration of the elements, the Eucharist itself, the meaning of vestments, Sanctus Bells, incense, etc.


However, this term has been used in reference to me in order to marginalize and dismiss me and my teachings out of hand.


The Second is a very narrow understanding specifically identifying the term with Roman Catholic theological definitions and praxis.


What is so disturbing is, that this distinction is generally not widely known or recognized. Yet, the term is used without definition or explanation as to what one means. If this is merely an oversight, it can be forgiven and those using the term must remedy this by defining HOW they are using the term when they invoke it.


The simple solution is to cut the Gordian Knot and make the necessary linguistic distinctions by using the correct terminology - Anglo-Catholic vs. Anglo-Papism. This then allows us to define each position and arrive at a consensus of meaning(s) in dialog.

The truly troubling aspect is that what you see when this is prosecuted in this way in current discussions, is a subtle act of slander. The attempt to smear one position by identifying it with another, "unfavorable" position, with which it has no connection or affiliation, in order to drive people away from the other position. There is this constant identification of Anglo-Catholicism with Anglo-Papism and, beyond being sloppy, lazy, uncritical, and academically weak, it is a falsehood; in other words, slanderous and a lie.

I truly wish and hope that those who use the term improperly would correct their usage in order to avoid the sin of slander.


Please, I'm not attempting to deride my Christian brethren in the Roman communion, I'm simply pointing out that in non-Roman communions there is a marked rejection of Roman thought espoused by those other communions. This then makes it problematic for those NOT in the Roman communion to be identified with Rome for, let's say, Anglo-Catholics. The history of disagreements and differences Rome has with others is well documented. This shouldn't be a surprise and it is to that that I'm simply referring.

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6 Comments


Kenneth Shaw
Kenneth Shaw
Jul 06

Hi Father Castellano,  is there a High Church Anglican Mystical Theology.  Does Saint Maximos the Confessor fit in somewhere?

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Fr. Paul A. F.  Castellano
Fr. Paul A. F. Castellano
Jul 06
Replying to

He would fit some of the elements, but to say there is an explicitly High Church Anglican Mysticism probably not.


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Kenneth Shaw
Kenneth Shaw
Jul 06

The page has built in X buttons...🤪

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Fr. Paul A. F.  Castellano
Fr. Paul A. F. Castellano
Jul 06
Replying to

Ok I "think" I figured it out. Try clicking on X and look for RevFrPaulPhD as my user name.

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Kenneth Shaw
Kenneth Shaw
Jul 06

The link to X isn't working. I wish to post this to X

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Fr. Paul A. F.  Castellano
Fr. Paul A. F. Castellano
Jul 06
Replying to

Kenneth,

Thank you for commenting. Also, thank you for the update. I don't have an "X" account so I'll have to make one. I had a Twitter account but I essentially abandoned it.

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