First of all we have to ask who “Bishop” Tony Palmer is. He is billed as a bishop in the Anglican Episcopal Communion. However, in an online search I couldn’t find such a body. This webpage lists the well over one hundred Anglican breakaway churches worldwide. For readers who do not know what an Anglican breakaway church is–it is a group of Christians who, for some reason or another, have split away from the official Worldwide Anglican Communion which has the Archbishop of Canterbury as its head. There is an Anglican Episcopal Church in the USA, and here is the webpage of the Anglican Episcopal Diocese of Europe. If this is the organization that Bishop Palmer belongs to, then it is one of the many Anglican schism groups. Mr Palmer is also listed as a leading member of “EuroChurch” which seems to be a confederation of Protestant Evangelical leaders working in Europe.
At the EuroChurch page it says Mr Palmer is a member of the Anglican Episcopal Church of the CEEC (Celtic Anglican Tradition). CEEC stands for Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches. The CEEC website is here and it seems this Anglican body accepts women as priests. Is this the CEEC that Mr Palmer belongs to or is it another one of the many Anglican styled groups, and what is the “Celtic Anglican Tradition” The CEEC website says they “stand in the Celtic and Anglican traditions.”
If by “Celtic” they mean that they affirm Celtic spirituality there would be nothing wrong with that, but I suspect they have embraced a bogus historical theory that has been growing in popularity in Anglican circles: this is the idea that there is a pure strand of British Christianity which dates right back to the Roman times when Coptic Christians brought Christianity to the British Isles along with Joseph of Arimathea who came to Glastonbury as a missionary. This Anglican legend has been promoted because they then claim that “from the beginning there was a pure British church that was not tainted by Roman corruption. This British Celtic Church existed in an autonomous way separate from Rome until the Synod of Whitby where Rome imposed her authority on this church. Therefore Anglicanism continues that same ancient strand of Christianity free from the dominance of Rome. The whole theory is completely and crazily bogus–rather like British Israelitism or the Mormon claim that the native Americans were the lost tribes. You can read my demolition of the loopy theory in an article here that I wrote for Catholic Answers some years ago.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy that the pope sent a heartwarming message of love to the Pentecostals, and I’m happy that he is friends with Tony Palmer, but we can’t be too starry eyed or sentimental about this.
Tony Palmer is clearly from one of these enthusiastic (and usually conservative and for the most part theologically orthodox) schism groups. If he is then I have a novel and potentially exciting proposal for him. If he is an Anglican bishop of sorts, and if he truly desires unity with the Holy Father, then he should join the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. Bishop Palmer lives for a good bit of the year in Wiltshire in England. Why don’t he and his fellow clergy and people in the Anglican Episcopal Church join the Ordinariate?
Such a step would strengthen his claims to desire unity. It would also provide encouragement and a bridge for other schismatic Anglicans to come into full, corporate and recognizable unity with the Bishop of Rome in a way that they can still exercise their ministry and affirm their Anglican traditions.
Interesting. But what Anglican traditions do the charismatic and evangelical Anglican groups adhere to? The Prayer Book? No. Hymns? Doubtful very many.