When heresy leads to apostacy

Who is Addison Hart? And why should we care?

Addison Hart was an Anglican who joined the Catholic Church.   Now, he is leaving the Church and sliding back into the Anglican communion.  I hear they have some job vacancies right now.

Hart delivered a bit of a manifesto on his blog The Continuum

I wouldn’t be posting about this fellow, except for the fact that I got some pithy emails about him.

Given the backdrop of the recent conversion of the former Anglican bishops to the Roman Church, and given Hart’s theological errors in his “Dear John” letter posted on his blog in a comment under the main entry, I figured I should add some observations.

My emphases and comments.

Great encouragement to your congregation and readers, brother. First, as your brother, I send greetings to your wife and children, and wishes for a happy new year.

Second, as an Anglican priest who, with high ideals but considerably lower savvy, “poped” back in 1997, all I can say to those who may be thinking likewise is this: Unless you know in your heart you can believe in such super-added dogmas as papal supremacy and infallibility (very late inventions), [There is no dogma of papal supremacy.  The writer could be referring to the Pope’s universal jurisdiction, which is a matter of canon law, not dogma. As to papal infallibility, did Hart not hear of this dogma before he “poped” back in 1997? What exactly has happened between 1997-2011 whereby this dogma has caused him problems?] that Jesus did not need to possess “faith” during his earthly years (to which I respond, was he or was he not fully human?), [Where, exactly, did Hart learn that Roman Catholics are required to believe that Jesus lacked faith?] and that the bread and wine physically change into his body and blood during the Eucharist without any palpable evidence of it; [I’ll get rid of the BOLD, or this will be impossible…. In fact, Roman Catholics do not believe that the bread and wine physically change during the Eucharist. The change, referred to as Transubstantiation, is sacramental and metaphysical, not physical. The “substance” of Christ’s body is a reality apart from its “accidents” or specific physical manifestations. It is this substance which is present under the accidents of bread and wine. If “physical” is understood in the sense of “accidents” (or that which is empirically verifiable), then in Roman Catholic dogma, physically speaking, the bread and wine remain bread and wine. Did this guy study at all before he “poped”?] unless you can believe in Mary’s “Immaculate Conception” (an unnecessary and unverifiable belief, if ever there was one), [Roman Catholics recognize a hierarchy of truths, according to which, for example, belief in the Resurrection of Christ is more important and more central to the Faith than belief in Mary’s Immaculate Conception.  Is he bothered that dogmas “unverifiable”?   Catholics respond, that’s why dogmas require faith. As to belief in the Immaculate Conception of Mary being “unnecessary”, as Hart holds, I reply with the following argument.  We can accept that someone may be saved while not really sustaining a strong belief in Mary’s Immaculate Conception.  St Augustine of Hippo, for example, did not believe in Mary’s Immaculate Conception as it is formulated in later Catholic dogma. However, it is another matter entirely to accept that someone who denies, and even strongly objects to Mary’s Immaculate Conception, can really believe in the Incarnation. Think of what such a position would logically entail. It would mean accepting the strong likelihood that Mary had sinned. How could the eternal Word of God be born of a sinner, of someone who, at some point in her life, had rejected God? Admittedly, Mary’s sinlessness is a different matter from her Immaculate Conception. However, because Roman Catholics also accept as dogma the existence of original sin, it is difficult for Catholics to explain how Mary could be sinless if she had been tainted by original sin.  St Augustine, who believed that Mary had contracted original sin, nevertheless believed that Christ cleansed her of that sin prior to his conception in her womb. But Augustine does not explain when that cleansing by Christ took place. So even Augustine, who admits that Mary was conceived in original sin, had to find a miraculous way for her to be cleansed of that sin prior to Christ’s conception in her womb. Later Roman Catholic dogma represents a development of Augustine’s reasoning to a logical conclusion. If Hart truly believes that the dogma of the Immaculate Conception is “unnecessary”, he might want to think harder about Mary, Christ and the problem of original sin.] her bodily assumption, [The corruption of one’s body is a direct result of death, both of which are, in Roman Catholic doctrine, consequences of original sin. In other words, had they not sinned, Adam and Eve would not have died. But, one might object, Christ died, and yet he had no sin. Yes, but he died not because he had to die as a result of sin, but because he wanted to die in order to save us. Could Mary have been spared a death that even her Son, the eternal Word of God, suffered? Who knows? Perhaps God wanted to spare her death. God can do whatever He wants. Roman Catholic dogma does not claim that Mary didn’t die. Eastern Orthodox Christians speak of Mary’s Dormition (falling asleep), by which they indicate a belief that she died. In addition to believing that Mary was conceived without original sin, Roman Catholics, along with all orthodox Christians, believe that Mary is the Mother of God. Is it really strange to believe that God would not allow the body of His Son’s mother to rot in a tomb?] and so on, then I would urge you to stay put. [“And so on“? What are the other Roman Catholic beliefs that so offend your sensibilities, Addision? “And so on”? Why on earth did you “pope” in the first place if belief in Mary’s Immaculate conception, in her glorious bodily assumption into heaven, “AND SO ON”, so deeply offended you? Did you not know in 1997 that Roman Catholics believe in Mary’s Immaculate Conception, in her glorious bodily assumption into heaven, AND SO ON? When did you discover these strange, “unnecessary and unverifiable beliefs” that Catholics hold?] You already have everything you need, and, what Rome would add to you, you not only do not need, but should positively avoid weighing yourselves down with. Anglicanism is doctrinally sound and blessed with great forms of worship. Rome is neither. [Anglicanism is doctrinally sound? To which Anglicanism are your referring? To the Anglicanism that believes in the Incarnation and Resurrection, or to the Anglicanism that regards these teachings as myths? According to Anglican doctrine, does the Bible approve of homosexual behavior, or does it not? Does Anglican doctine believe that abortion is morally wrong, or does it not? And who exactly decides what Anglican doctrine is? Is is up to the individual conscience of each Anglican to decide, or does doctrine depend on the Church?  If the latter, to which Province of the Anglican Communion does it pertain to decide what Anglican doctrine is? To the Americans? To the Ugandans? Does the Apostolic Tradition matter to contemporary Anglican doctrine, or does it not? Why did you leave whichever Anglicanism you believed in in the first place?] As for Rome’s claims to a vastly superior moral authority — well, I would venture to say that after such revelations as clerical sexual abuse on an international scale and their bank’s money-laundering, the lie has been put to that. [Tisk, tisk. Because Anglicans in Canada, the United States, Australia, and Great Britain never had a massive problem with clerical sexual abuse and its coverup by bishops! I think you know better than that. If not, check the internet. Christians believe that all men and women are sinners. In case you missed that bit in your theological training, that means that the Church possesses from God a teaching authority which derives from fidelity to Scripture and Tradition, but that the human beings who administer the Church’s worldly affairs are frail and oftentimes betray that teaching, sometimes tragically so. The fact that Jesus called Judas and Peter to be apostles did not mean that the authority of the college of apostles as teachers was weakened by Judas’s betrayal of Jesus or by Peter’s denial.]

No, don’t make my mistake. I wouldn’t make it again myself, and, as it is, I’m making my way out the Roman door. [GUH-BYE! You so obviously didn’t belong to the Roman Catholic Church in the first place. Given your views about the papacy, the Eucharist, and Mary, you probably should have “patriarched” into Eastern Orthodoxy, but instead you “poped” into Roman Catholicism. We are not better off without you, but we are better off without your Protestant beliefs.]

Just a word to the wise.

[Because you’re so wise!]

Remember… if you dissent from Catholic teaching, there is still a church for you out there.

Heresy can lead to schism.  Worse, it can also lead to apostasy.

Benedict XVI is the Pope of Christian Unity.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in The Drill and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. shadowlands says:

    Is this chap in his early twenties? I only ask, because his writing style when talking about serious matters reminds me of an adolescent. Then again, he obviously has to be older than a teenager, if he ‘poped’ in the late nineties. Either that, or he’s entering a mid-life crisis and Roman Catholicism is possibly not the best religion to be apart of if one is planning to hurl oneself off the rails. He reminds me of a middle aged man trying to sound all ‘hip’ and flashy. I remember men like that in my youth, yuk! His evangelising of other Anglicans is nothing more than wanting other people to agree with him, in his decision. He calls himself their brother, surely that’s for them to say to him, if they welcome him back? He’s frightened of being alone. If I were an Anglican, I would avoid him, he might turn on me in a few years, turncoats are not converts. And he is a turncoat. His actions are proving that. I wish him a speedy spiritual maturity, although as my most favourite ever Anglican once warned, that kind of maturing can only come about, generally, through suffering. “Pain, God’s megaphone, to rouse a deaf world” C S Lewis.

    This comment I have just typed, sounds very judgmental. I am far from being a perfectly matured catholic myself. However, I must defend Jesus and this man is making a mockery of God to please man. I was in a car with a chap the other week, on my way to the hospital and he kept blaspheming. Not loudly, just as part of his everday speech. I didn’t know how to protest verbally, so I thumped him, on his arm. He was so shocked! Then I told him why. I said that I was praying to the name he was cursing with, for my son’s good outcome, in an operation, so to hear him blaspheming was insane and not right. He said sorry. He’ll remember that thump.

  2. sea the stars says:

    Please correct me if I am wrong, but is it not the case that Jesus did not possess the virtues of faith or hope (by virtue of His beholding the Beatific Vision even whilst on earth) any more than the Saints in heaven possess these virtues now?

  3. Sixupman says:

    The trouble is that many UK bishops and clergy are of a similar mindset to this guy, that is also why they do not want the Anglo-Catholic ‘Trads’ moving to Rome and more particular to your particular parish. Your parishioners might twig there exists a different quality of worship than the pap they serve up.

  4. jules1 says:

    Hi Father Z. I really enjoyed reading your commentary. It never ceases to amaze me how people, especially those who call themselves ‘catholic’ can protest doctrines that they have not thoroughly researched. One of the reasons I admire people like G. K. Chesterton, Scott Hahn and Blessed John Henry Newman and many more is the fact that their faith was always seeking understanding. They found that Catholicism gave them a deep satisfaction. That satisfaction gives one a great hope and peace.
    Love this quote from Chesterton:”The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected.”
    Addison will make another mistake by walking out the ‘Roman door’. Let’s pray for his reversion.

  5. Anagnostis says:

    “Apostasy”? Heretical views and schismatic attachments do not amount to “apostasy”. I think more care is required to maintain just distinctions, rather than allowing our indignation to overturn them. A heretic and a schismatic is not an “apostate”. [I agree. A heretic and schismatic is not necessarily an apostate. On the other hand, both heresy and schism can lead to apostasy.]

  6. cyejbv says:

    //[GUH-BYE! You so obviously didn’t belong to the Roman Catholic Church in the first place. Given your views about the papacy, the Eucharist, and Mary, you probably should have “patriarched” into Eastern Orthodoxy, but instead you “poped” into Roman Catholicism. We are not better off without you, but we are better off without your Protestant beliefs.]

    Just a word to the wise.

    [Because you’re so wise!]//

    In the words of our tween, you Father Z, are the BOMB.COM!!

  7. Scott W. says:

    Where, exactly, did Hart learn that Roman Catholics are required to believe that Jesus lacked faith

    He may be confusing faith with knowledge? That is, afaik, Our Lord had full knowledge of His identity and mission, and thus didn’t need to believe it, he knew it and was it?

  8. thickmick says:

    A special Hail Mary going out to my man Addison. The Holy Queen needs to interceded on his behalf that’s for sure. That dude’s playing with fire.

  9. Pius says:

    Jesus did not have faith not because he was faithless, but because he did not need it. We need faith because we have no direct ‘vision’ of the divine essence. Jesus, because he is personally united with the Word, does. From the moment of his incarnation he possesses the beatific vision

    From the Notification on the works of Fr. Jon Sobrino, S.J.:

    “The filial and messianic consciousness of Jesus is the direct consequence of his ontology as Son of God made man. If Jesus were a believer like ourselves, albeit in an exemplary manner, he would not be able to be the true Revealer showing us the face of the Father. This point has an evident connection both with what is said above in number IV concerning the relationship between Jesus and the Kingdom, and what will be said in VI below concerning the salvific value that Jesus attributed to his death. For Father Sobrino, in fact, the unique character of the mediation and revelation of Jesus disappears: he is thus reduced to the condition of “revealer” that we can attribute to the prophets and mystics. ”


  10. I’ve never met an angry Catholic convert nor a happy lapsed Catholic.

    Hart’s contempt for the Faith is only matched by his ignorance of it.

  11. bookworm says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, or being unintentionally heretical here (I sure hope not!), but Jesus did grow and learn things in his HUMAN nature as he matured — how to walk, read, take care of Himself, etc. — otherwise he wouldn’t have needed human parents. However, throughout the entire process His DIVINE nature remained perfectly in union with the Father so even as He learned things in His human nature, He was always aware of Who He was and what His ultimate goal was to be. Therefore, He didn’t “need” faith in the same sense we do. Is this accurate? If not, please let me know so I don’t make the same mistake this guy did!

  12. Dafyd says:

    As a point of clarification, the Continuum blog is moderated by several folks, including one Fr. Robert Hart, a priest in the Anglican Catholic Church, and Fr. Addison Hart’s brother. Addison Hart, I believe, had been an Episcopal Priest who successfully entered in under the Pastoral Provision in the late 1990s. Another brother, David Hart, is an Orthodox theologian with several good titles, such as his most recent “Atheist Delusions.”

    I don’t expect Fr. Addison Hart to return to the Anglican Communion, however, and the Anglicanism for which the Continuum Blog apologizes shouldn’t evoke images of The Episcopal Church or the Church of England of any time recently. It cleaves far closer to the Anglicanism of Lancelot Andrewes’ discussions with Cardinal Perron in the 1600s, which are worth reading, as well as the Anglicanism of Pusey, Hooker, Keble, and C.S. Lewis.

    The main difference, I suppose, between most “Continuing Anglicans,” as they are called, and The Anglican Communion lies in doctrine. Continuing Anglicans are more than willing to set clear doctrinal and liturgical boundaries, whereas the Anglican Communion . . .isn’t.

  13. Kerry says:

    “Doctrinally sound”…? Sounds like his doctrine is hooey. Don’t let the Rood screen hit you on the way out!

  14. The Continuum blog lot tend to be nasty, belligerent and ant-Catholic in the extreme. They are dead against the idea of anyone leaving ‘Continuing Anglicanism’ for Rome. Fr Robert Hart is particularly vocal in that. It’s almost as if they think that the truth resides with them alone, yet sadly, they (as ‘Continuing Anglicans’) are unable to see their own very fractured state… Not a friendly blog and not worth visiting at all.

    Moreover, what’s with leaving the Church on such a note? Insulting and attacking it? That does not seem at all like a Christian thing to do.

  15. ContraMundum says:

    I know this is just a bit of terminology, but I have to be pretty emphatic about it. Is transubstantiation a physical process? It depends what you mean by physical.

    Physics is the science whose object is bodies. Since the bread becomes the Body of Christ, the body which is present has changed. In that sense it is a physical change.

    On the other hand, physics as a methodology of physics necessarily deals only with the accidents of bodies — mass, charge, temperature, volume, position, etc. Since the accidents do not change, no physical experiment could detect the change.

    I suppose you could go back to the Greek origin of the word. From what I have been able to find (I’m no scholar of Greek), “physikos” means “natural” (or perhaps “nature”?). Since the change is supernatural, not natural, in this sense it would again not be a physical change.

    Well, I’m biased in this. I am a physics professor. To me, a real change in the nature of a body must by definition be a physical change, even when it is not observable by experimental physics. [It would be different if you were to say that it was only an “authorized substitute”, the way an ambassador may speak for a king or a silver certificate is worth (and redeemable for) a fixed amount of silver. Those 2 examples (which I toyed with on my journey to the Church) really have nothing to do with transubstantiation, though.]

  16. Michael in NoVA says:

    Two notes. First, the original post is by Robert Hart, who seems to be Addison’s brother. So, I don’t think Addison Hart is a contributor to the overall blog.

    Second, I knew former(?) Fr. Hart when he was an Associate Pastor at the NIU Newman Center. I am greatly disturbed to hear this news of his reversion to the Episcopal/High Anglican that doesn’t exist in the U.S./Episcopal Synod church. While there, I knew Fr. Hart to sometimes critique the operations of the Church (ie, the speed or lack thereof with which it often addressed matters- great debate and deliberate pace works well when working with theological issues. When there is excessive delay that pertains directly to an individual’s livelihood, however, Vatican time is an issue), but to be quite forceful in his proclamations of Catholic doctrine. In fact, his homily on the Assumption in 2007 was one of the most profound and memorable that I have ever heard. He referred to the Eastern Church’s term of the “Dormission of Mary” and emphasized what the Assumption truly meant (and also what it didn’t mean). Perhaps he was trying to convince himself of the Truth as much as to proclaim it to everyone else.

    I will pray for Fr. Hart. He is hurt and confused by something, and he has responded by lashing out against and abandoning the Church.

  17. ContraMundum says:

    Also, I don’t think he could have “patriarched” with any greater success. They may not use Aristotelian philosophy, but their beliefs about the Eucharist are substantially the same as Catholic beliefs, and their Marian beliefs (including her sinlessness and Dormition) are much too robust for this Anglican.

  18. Supertradmum says:

    As an Anglican priest entering the Church, did he not go through at least two years of Catholic seminary training before RC Ordination? I dread to think that he did not get decent theology at that juncture, but, that is possible.

    This poor man needs a conversion of the heart. Let us pray to Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman for him.

  19. youngcatholicstl says:

    While Addison Hart has clearly gone off the rails here, his blog post highlights some things we all need to be aware of and take into consideration as more Anglicans join Rome:

    1. After 600 years of separation, the Anglican Church and the Catholic Church are two very differernt places. I think many people on both sides tend to believe the only difference between the two sides is the recognition of papal authority. This may have been largely true just 50-100 years ago, but there are clearly some very significant theological differences now.

    2. While the Anglican Church may seem to be changing its traditions and beliefs at every corner, the Catholic Church’s traditions and beliefs remain unwavering (although its practices may change). It is incumbent upon those in the Catholic Church accepting these converts to ensure that they are trained in the faith and aware of all of the beliefs that the Church holds (and for that matter, doesn’t hold). Many of the doctrines that Addison Hart’s blog post singles out would be extremely difficult for any convert to accept (and in fact, are often quite hard for non-convert Catholics to accept as well), but these are not new beliefs, but are rather theological truths that the Catholic Church has preached for centuries.

    3. For those joining the Catholic Church, the decision needs to come from something more than mere disillusionment with the Anglican Church’s recent practices. Those converting need to make a full spiritual turning to the Catholic Church and acceptance of the Church’s teachings and beliefs. It will not be easy, and these men and women must be willing to accept much on faith and trust in God.

    4. Those in the Catholic Church need to pray more than ever for the Anglicans. Conversion to the Catholic Church is not a matter to be taken lightly, and can only be accomplished with true obedience to Christ’s plan.

  20. AnAmericanMother says:

    Poor man. He’s obviously very angry and very confused, and that’s what’s driving his furious ravings. It appears that he didn’t do even the most cursory study before he crossed the Tiber. I suppose we were fortunate (or blessed) that we were very High Church Episcopalians and had thus considered and accepted all these matters of belief before converting.

    This is what happens when you are ‘low’ or ‘broad’ or ‘evangelical’ Anglican and are simply running from what the Anglicans/Episcopalians at large have become.

    In any event, he is a lost and angry soul and needs our prayers desperately.

  21. SimonDodd says:

    Heresy often leads to apostacy, but the chain always starts with poor catechesis, as Fr. Z’s comments imply. Unless we are to assume he is a liar or just terminally dim, how and why was this man received into the Church in the first place, despite apparently having less knowledge of the Church’s teaching than one might glean from “Catholicism for Dummies”? One has to suppose that he (and we) were failed by his catechists.

  22. AnAmericanMother says:

    Btw, the red-to-black ratio in this posting is a fairly sound indication of serious error afoot.

    I’m not a mathematician or a physicist, but isn’t there some sort of cosmic consequence as the distribution of black approaches zero? Is there a “Father Z Theorem” to be gleaned here?

    [Except that sometimes my red-bold comments are positive! Though obviously not in this case.]

  23. anj says:

    Has anyone confirmed that this blog comment is genuine?

  24. William Tighe says:

    Henry VIII, Act II, Scene ii:

    * Lord Chamberlain. I left him private,
    Full of sad thoughts and troubles.

    * Duke of Norfolk. What’s the cause?

    * Lord Chamberlain. It seems the marriage with his brother’s wife
    Has crept too near his conscience.

    * Duke of Suffolk. No, his conscience
    Has crept too near another lady.

    Verba satis sapientibus …

  25. SimonDodd says:

    Without meaning to quarrel with the doctrine (or Fr. Z), I’m not sure that I understand the question “How could the eternal Word of God be born of a sinner, of someone who, at some point in her life, had rejected God?” If Christ was born into a world corrupted by sin, and full of sinners; He did so in order to save those sinners, who not only had at some point in their lives rejected God spiritually but would in fact reject Christ in person by crucifying their savior. Not only did he not abjure sinners during his life, he scandalized many in the Jewish hierarchy by actively surrounding himself with sinners. With this in mind, I don’t understand why it inexorably follows that He must have been born into that sinful world by a sinless mother?

  26. Archicantor says:

    Let me confirm what a couple of others have said, namely that “The Continuum” has nothing to do with the Anglican Communion. “Continuing” Anglicanism is a comparatively tiny movement that began in the 1970s after the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada began to ordain women. Its manifesto is the 1977 Affirmation of St. Louis, which held that mainstream Anglicanism had fallen into apostasy by changing its doctrine on Holy Orders (and they were unhappy about other changes on the horizon). “Continuers” are highly fragmented: they include the “Traditional Anglican Communion”, which was heavily involved in the appeal to Rome that led to Anglicanorum coetibus, and the less Rome-friendly “alphabet soup” of jurisdictions that comprises the constituency of “The Continuum” blog.

    Members of the Anglican Communion and members of the Continuing Anglican churches do not like to be confused with each other! And members of the Continuing churches are often equally touchy about other Continuing groups. I remember seeing a documentary about Islamist militancy in which a British specialist on the subject observed that the various factions tend to divide and divide as disagreements arise over theology and political action. He noted the existence in Afghanistan of a militant group that had in fact declared all human beings outside the two dozen members of their group to be apostate/infidel and deserving of death! He suggested that the logical extreme of this approach would be for everyone to commit suicide. Of course I’m not comparing traditionalist Anglicans to Islamic militants. But the analogy underscores Newman’s conversion experience, in which his mind thundered with Augustine’s words, securus judicat orbis terrarum. If we begin to find ourselves in an ever-shrinking righteous minority, it may be time to re-evaluate our views.

  27. Re: Jesus and faith — Perfect knowledge and foreknowledge as God doesn’t mean you “don’t need” faith as Man. Faith isn’t something you either need or discard as useless baggage. It’s not a possession or a mental state. Faith and hope and love are all about what you will to do, not how you feel or guess. Jesus’ will as Man and God was perfectly united, so His faith and hope and love were all perfectly complete.

    Re: Mary and the Eucharist, I don’t think your man’d get much joy in Orthodoxy from rejecting the all-holiness of Mary or their mystery of the Eucharist doctrines, because their beliefs are analogous to Latin Rite Catholic ones even if their formulas ain’t. Heck, they’re even more respectful of Rome’s authority over in Orthodoxy than he is.

    Re: Mary’s Immaculate Conception, I suppose Jesus could have re-created the human race with just a New Adam free from original sin and no New Eve. But He’s not sexist like that. Male and female, created He them.

  28. spock says:

    I guess my understanding was what “sea the stars” says above. Our Lord is in the Beatific Vision so he has no faith or hope. Not 100 % sure where I got that from so I won’t cite a reference here. If that is wrong, I would like to know about it. Help.

  29. Fr. Basil says:

    \\[GUH-BYE! You so obviously didn’t belong to the Roman Catholic Church in the first place. Given your views about the papacy, the Eucharist, and Mary, you probably should have “patriarched” into Eastern Orthodoxy, but instead you “poped” into Roman Catholicism. ]

    Shame on you, Fr. Z!

    His views on the Eucharist and the bodily Assumption of the Theotokos are TOTALLY unacceptable to Eastern Orthodoxy!

  30. Joseph-Mary says:

    He never really converted; he always remained a protestant. Faith is a gift after all and not everyone can accept the Truths of our faith; and it also can be lost.

    It is better for him to be an official protestant than an unbelieving ‘Catholic’ who might lead others astray. Although the very best case scenario for his soul would have been for him to have been a true and faithful and believing Catholic.

  31. Ceile De says:

    Don’t be too hard on the poor man – if he relied on RCIA materials like those my wife was given, it is entirely possible he became a Catholic without ever having been exposed to those beliefs in the materials.

  32. dcs says:

    Where, exactly, did Hart learn that Roman Catholics are required to believe that Jesus lacked faith?

    Faith implies an imperfection, a lack of knowledge, something Our Lord did not have. Therefore He did not have faith. To say that Our Lord did have faith is to imply that He did not have the beatific vision in His time on earth.

  33. Gail F says:

    What a very sad post. I am in no position to judge the differences between the various factions of Anglicanism, so I don’t know what Continuing Anglicans believe or don’t believe. But this post shows clearly why it’s important to actually believe what the Catholic Church teaches before “switching” to Rome, or at least to understanding what the Catholic Church teaches and pledging to accept it whether you understand it or not. Just hopping the Tyber in a fit of pique and hoping you’ll figure it all out later is not going to work out for anyone. All you’re doing is waiting for the next fit of pique to jettison you.

  34. nhaggin says:

    Like Michael In NoVA, I knew then-Fr. Hart through the NIU Newman Center, and this does not square at all with what I knew of him then; he was a devoted priest and a wonderful preacher who knew better than to make these mistakes. Prayers are urgently needed here.

  35. BobP says:

    Fr. Z, I’m glad you posted and commented on the article. I learned a few things about the faith which I had somewhat conveniently tossed aside all these years. God bless.

  36. Conchur says:

    Dr. Tighe has it. Hart’s reasons for leaving Rome are about as “theological” as Henry VIII’s or Alberto Cutié’s.

  37. Randii says:

    Whether he should have converted to Orthoodoxy to begin with or still might is an interesting point.

    It’s not unheard of – a number of Catholic converts end up then converting to Orthodoxy. Catholicsm can be a half-way house especially for evangelicals who can’t take the full immediate leap to Orthodoxy because it can be such a cultural change.

    Rod Dreher of Dallas newspaper fame is one “famous” person who recently has taken the evangelical to Catholic to Orthodox route. His testimony of his conversion to Orthdoxy is compelling. In his case the scandals were a big part in his leaving Catholicism. As a newspaer person covering this he had access to information the regular person in the street does not have and it was simply too much for him.

    Whatever is the cause, Catholic converts have among the highest if not the highest reversion rate of any convert group – whether these converts return to their religion of origon or move onto Orthodoxy or to no religion at all – sort of as Rice recently did.

    One can be critical of Hart and his reasons but his is just another example of the major problem the Catholic church has with converts.

  38. Harper MacDonald says:

    Although my first impulse is to shout, “Good riddance!“, this man really does need our prayers. Just who taught him his theology?

  39. Maria says:

    As a fairly new Catholic, I find it hard to trust a leader of the Church who ‘jumps’ churches and then jumps back again. It is like being married to someone, then he goes off with someone ‘better’, then wants to come back.

    I think he is very wrong, mainly because he has gone public about it.
    I did post earlier.
    Either I didnt hit the right key or else I offended someone.

    Sorry if I did.

    I am not anti Anglican, I think Rev. Rowan Williams is a good chap and very kind, compassionate and sincere, and perhaps this fellow is too, but I think he is unstable as a leader.

  40. Jack Orlando says:

    First thoughts after reading Fr Z’s fisk:

    I have spent 35 years thinking what are the chief and unbridgeable differences between the Catholic and Protestant Faiths. I find it odd that Fr. Hart really hasn’t touched on what seems to be these chief differences. Martin Luther (not “poped” he!) considered the Immaculate Conception was just fine; he likely would have had no problem with Our Lady’s Assumption, given his deep Marian piety. The idea that there should be no supreme authority to decide what is to be believed and what is not is an idea that would have been literally incinerated in Calvin’s Geneva. Ditto homosexuality and clerical abuse. As for Transubstantiation, Luther with his consubstantiation and Calvin with his virtualism at least thought something happened to the elements and that it was efficacious to the believer. Only Zwingli, with his memorialism thought otherwise. (I don’t know what Arminius thought about the sacraments.)

    The chief differences between the Faiths, it seems to me, is on the questions of sanctification/justification and in ecclesiology. Mr. Hart doesn’t even touch on these matters. Odd.

  41. SimonDodd says:

    Randii says:

    Rod Dreher of Dallas newspaper fame is one “famous” person who recently has taken the evangelical to Catholic to Orthodox route. His testimony of his conversion to Orthdoxy is compelling. In his case the scandals were a big part in his leaving Catholicism. As a newspaer person covering this he had access to information the regular person in the street does not have and it was simply too much for him.

    Why is that admirable? If that’s all there is to the story, he either joined the Catholic Church while rejecting what she professes, or left her under the impulse of purely human issues. I truly don’t understand the mentality of someone who, despite believing the fullness of the Catholic Church’s teaching, nevertheless leaves in dismay simply because there are a few bad apples among the clergy (or laity, for that mater), groups that are, as Fr. Z points out, composed of human beings with all the failings that attend fallen humanity. If someone leaves on that pretext, my immediate thought is that they either didn’t believe the Church’s ecclesiology in the first place, or they’ve traded worldly concerns for eternal ones. The Church is a liferaft in a world destined to sink; what kind of idiot jumps overboard because too many of the captain’s officers were corrupt?

  42. Jordanes says:

    Father Zuhlsdorf said: There is no dogma of papal supremacy. The writer could be referring to the Pope’s universal jurisdiction, which is a matter of canon law, not dogma.

    I don’t think that is right. Vatican I’s Pastor Aeternus chapter 3 includes the following:

    9. So, then, if anyone says that the Roman Pontiff has merely an office of supervision and guidance, and not the full and supreme power of jurisdiction over the whole Church, and this not only in matters of faith and morals, but also in those which concern the discipline and government of the Church dispersed throughout the whole world; or that he has only the principal part, but not the absolute fullness, of this supreme power; or that this power of his is not ordinary and immediate both over all and each of the Churches and over all and each of the pastors and faithful: let him be anathema.

    The preceding eight paragraphs of chapter 3 lay out the case that the pope’s universal jurisdiction is de fide, something that must be believed. For example, paragraph 1 says, “And so, supported by the clear witness of Holy Scripture, and adhering to the manifest and explicit decrees both of our predecessors the Roman Pontiffs and of general councils, we promulgate anew the definition of the ecumenical Council of Florence, which must be believed by all faithful Christians, . . .”

  43. therecusant says:


    I’d love to the know the source on which you claim “Catholic converts have among the highest if not the highest reversion rate of any convert group.”

  44. Gregg the Obscure says:

    Addison Hart’s sudden remorse at having joined the Catholic Church, coming so close on the launch of the Ordinariate, puts me in mind of the parable of the workers in the vineyard. Hart came in some years ago, setting many things aside. Now some latecomers get to keep some of those same things (reverent vernacular language, authority, liturgical custom) which he had to lately set aside. Those latecomers enjoyed considerable clout in the small communities of the continuing Anglican world, but left a vacuum in their departure. Addision Hart could become a rather popular and influential individual in continuing Anglican circles among those who, for whatever reason, aren’t ready to embrace the unity of the Holy Church. Hope I’m wrong in my speculation, but that’s how it seems to me.

  45. tttr83 says:

    I feel bad for Father Hart and can honestly see how disillusionment can creep up on you. Perhaps his Brother David Hart should talk to him more about his experience in Orthodoxy. = /

    I used to visit the Continuum blog and the associated message board but all too often I found critical kneejerk responses to anything about Rome.

    High Church Anglicans often assume more than they should about the state of affairs in the Roman Church. Their staunch traditionalism is often met with Daggers from the “Spirit of Vatican II” Crowd. There was also the notion of being “Western Orthodox” and somehow this would give them a higher degree of “Freedom” whether that was real or imagine when they came back to Rome. I do think the popular conception of Universal Jurisdiction of the Papal See should be reworked and will be reworked as the Patriarchates of Eastern Churches become more visible (As was the case with the middle east synod recently) and as dialogue continues with the Orthodox Churches. As Father Z said, this is a matter of canon law…

  46. tttr83 says:

    Dear Jordanes:

    That is true, however the Melkite contingent left the First Vatican Council in protest and Patriarch Gregory II issued this statement :

    “The Eastern Church attributes to the pope the most complete and highest power, however in a manner where the fullness and primacy are in harmony with the rights of the patriarchal sees. This is why, in virtue of and ancient right founded on customs, the Roman Pontiffs did not, except in very significant cases, exercise over these sees the ordinary and immediate jurisdiction that we are asked now to define without any exception. This definition would completely destroy the constitution of the entire Greek church. That is why my conscience as a pastor refuses to accept this constitution.”

    And when it came time for the Patriarch to sign his endorsement of the dogmatic promulgation he amended the document with the phrase from the Council of Florence.

    “Excepting the rights and privileges of the Eastern patriarchs.”

    I am told by fellow Melkites that the Church still believes in its exemption from aspects of Papal Jurisdiction which the Roman Church does not.

  47. Faith is the acceptance of Divine truth on Divine authority. If Jesus had not been obedient to His Father, He would not have been able to have faith in what He knew was true. Since Jesus was obedient, He had faith. Jesus at Gethsemane and Jesus on the Cross show us that Jesus had faith and hope, and need for it as a man.

    And yes, humanity is perfectly able to be irrational despite knowledge. Look at Eve and Adam. They knew what was going on better than us; but they let themselves be duped because they wanted to believe what the serpent was selling. They didn’t even have concupiscence as an excuse, like we do.

  48. Apparently, the Thomistic way to look at faith, hope and love is to see them all as ways of living totally in God, by the light He gives us. In that case, you can’t see the world as God sees it any more truly than by being God. :)

  49. Pius says:

    Surburbanbanshee: No.

    James 2:19: “You believe that God is one. You do well. Even the demons believe that and tremble.” Even the devils have faith.

    As St. Thomas Aquinas makes clear, the object of faith is the first truth, as unseen. As a result of the knowledge of God gained by faith, then we are able to submit to Divine authority. Jesus, on the other hand, is able to submit not because of an unseen knowledge of God as First Truth, but because he sees First Truth immediately, from the moment of his incarnation. To believe otherwise is to be an Arian.

    As the quote from the CDF I listed above makes clear, it is simply not theologically correct to say that Jesus had faith, as the Church understand the theological virtue of faith. Not because he wasn’t obedient. Rather, it is because of the manner by which he knows God. Jesus does not see “darkly as in a mirror”. Rather, he sees God “face to face”. His manner of submitting to God is by the direct and personal union he has with God, because he is a divine person.

  50. green fiddler says:

    In answer to his disbelief “that the bread and wine physically change into [Christ’s] body and blood during the Eucharist without any palpable evidence of it”…

    A Eucharistic miracle happened in the 8th century at Lanciano, Italy, in response to doubts about the Real Presence. A consecrated host formed tangible accidents of flesh and blood which have remained incorrupt for hundreds of years. Precise scientific tests in the 1970’s showed the flesh to be heart tissue and the blood type to be AB, the universal receiver. (AB was the blood type found in the Holy Shroud of Turin.)

    Pray that unbelievers may receive the grace to know that this same miracle happens at every Catholic Mass, though we cannot grasp it with our human senses. It is a gift of faith to know Jesus in the Eucharist. Those who possess this truth are unworthy, but very blessed.

  51. ContraMundum says:

    Pius: A specific acceptance of an observable fact does not constitute faith.

    CCC 155 In faith, the human intellect and will cooperate with divine grace: “Believing is an act of the intellect assenting to the divine truth by command of the will moved by God through grace.”

    Faith is a virtue bestowed by grace. It is something of a stretch to assert that demons “assent to the divine tryth by command of the will moved by God through grace.”

  52. Fr. Basil says:

    \\ A consecrated host formed tangible accidents of flesh and blood which have remained incorrupt for hundreds of years. Precise scientific tests in the 1970?s showed the flesh to be heart tissue and the blood type to be AB, the universal receiver. (AB was the blood type found in the Holy Shroud of Turin.)\\

    If it no longer has the appearance of bread and wine, it’s no longer the Eucharistic Body and Blood of Christ.

  53. Jordanes says:

    tttr83, Patriarch Gregory II’s erroneous scruples regarding the doctrine of papal universal jurisdiction as defined and promulgated at the First Oecumenical Council of the Vatican do not in any way lessen the binding nature and de fide status of what Vatican I taught about the pope’s universal jurisdiction. The doctrine of universal jurisdiction and the exercise of that jurisdiction are two different things. Again, what Melkites may believe and what the Catholic Church of which they profess to be members teaches may not be the same thing.

  54. tzard says:

    Just an observation, people can change. They can seemingly lose all reason and do things which make no sense to what they once purported to believe. A famous actor and a couple of noted authors come to mind. We shouldn’t doubt their original intent, that’s sort of like the “saved forever” crowd (where if you sin, you obviously never believed). I’ve known people who changed after a stroke, or after the death of someone or some other traumatic event. Perhaps the devil just wore him down – I’m sure Satan wasn’t happy in the first place.

    We should realize that it could just as well be us saying these things, were it not for the Grace of God. Prayers.

  55. PaterAugustinus says:

    Just so as to speak a word in defense of the Orthodox Church… you told Addison Hart that his “Protestant” beliefs were not welcome in Catholicism, and then told him that he should have “Patriarched” into Orthodoxy with such views. You seemed to equate his views on the Virgin, the Eucharist and the Papacy with both Protestant and Orthodox views, and this naturally confuses and upsets me!

    The Orthodox do indeed reject the dogma of Papal Infallability, but we are actually quite emphatic on the Pope’s position of supreme honour and even canonical authority, which a good Anglican would doubtless find to be very unbritish, especially since he would fall within the direct jurisdiction of the interference of the Roman Patriarchate. When it comes to the Immaculate Conception (of the Virgin), we do side with St. Augustine and St. Ambrose (and the other Fathers and the sacred liturgical texts) in believing that the Virgin was not conceived immaculately (St. Ambrose specifically says that only Christ was conceived immaculately, and the other Fathers – most especially the Latin Fathers – teach that Christ’s conception was free from the taint of Original Sin because it was free from concupiscence and the human mode of sexual generation, which is not the case with the Virgin’s Conception). The Fathers’ whole vision strongly implies – and, in a few spots outright states – that the Virgin was not exempted from either the natural or unnatural consequences of the Fall in her conception. Rather, the fact that she was conceived via sexual procreation and the fact that she underwent a series of purifications (beginning in the womb and culminating in the overshadowing by the Holy Spirit at the moment of the Incarnation), indicates that the Virgin was not as pure and sinless as possible from the first moment of her conception. It is in consequence of the aforementioned series of purifications, that the Virgin is all pure, all immaculate and sinless. Because the Virgin was so *effected* by these purifications, and was not so *conceived,* the Fathers have always recognized that Mary did indeed come into contact with human sinfulness and that the quality of her sinlessness is altogether different from Christ’s. Hence, the Eastern Liturgy frequently refers to Christ as “Thou Who alone art sinless,” or as “the Only Sinless One,” even though we confess that the Virgin is sinless and immaculate very frequently, but in another sense.

    Finally, it is essential to make the distinction between the natural and unnatural consequences of the Original Sin, producing the ‘natural passions’ and the ‘unnatural passions.’ Christ was free from both, because His conception was without concupiscence, which is the element that transmits the unnatural passions to each new generation. But, things liked death, sorrow, hunger, thirst, etc., are “natural passions,” and Christ endured all of these because he inherited them from his mother’s nature. Obviously, He did not inherit anything unnatural from His Mother, and He Himself was conceived without any unnatural thing, by virtue of His Virgin Birth. In the case of the Virgin, however, the Orthodox Catholic Church rejects the notion that the Virgin was free from either the natural or the unnatural effects of Original Sin. If the Virgin were conceived without ever coming into contact with Original Sin, then she would never have suffered interior temptation, since this is borne of concupiscence and this is inherited from the unnatural elements of Original Sin (which is why Christ, despite being fully human in a natural way, nevertheless was free from interior, unnatural temptation towards sin). In the Orthodox Church, we believe that part of the Virgin’s sanctity came from her heroic struggle against temptation, and hence we confess that, if she struggled with concupiscence like all other men (and women), then she must have a nature that came into contact with Original Sin and its concupiscence.

    Some Roman Catholics have tried to tell me that the Virgin still inherits concupiscence, because she was preserved from Orginal Sin in the same way, in which a Christian is cleansed from it in Baptism (i.e., still retaining its power to tempt our nature, but no longer dominated by it as a predicating principle of our existence). To this I would say that the reason a Christian still struggles with concupiscence after Baptism, is because the New, Interior Man is renewed and given the task of expelling concupiscence from all of its strongholds in the yet-existing Old Man. But the battle itself would be unnecessary if we were preserved from any contact with concupiscence “from the first moment of our conception,” because then even our “Old Man” would be free from this power, whether as an after-effect or as a still vigorous tyrant. So, we reject this theological error.

    When it comes to the Eucharist, our views are nothing like Addison’s. We believe that the Eucharist is metaphysically, spiritually, symbolically AND physically, Christ. We do not believe that the bread and wine remain “physically,” and in fact we would defrock and excommunicate a cleric for (persistence in) saying so. We believe that what appears to be bread and wine is entirely Christ in the Eucharist, even on a physical level. How this remains is a mystery, which is why we could accept the theoretical categories of transsubstantiation as helpful explanatory devices, but frequently avoid them as possibly confusing. At the end of the day, the Eucharist is NOT “physically” bread and wine but “spiritually” something else in Orthodox thought. It is physically and spiritually, our Lord Jesus Christ. We teach, however, that it is Christ’s nature as it is in the Resurrection – where, as the Scriptures affirm, His Body can take on greater or lesser corporeality. The old forms of the bread and wine remain to our senses because the physical presence of Christ is so finely material as to almost be “spiritual” in this instance, having no investigable effect upon what was once mere bread and wine… but even on the physical level, they are the divinized and inscrutable body of our Risen Lord. Even so, if a microscope looked at our Lord’s flesh after His Resurrection, it would sometimes have seen something very like human flesh, and at other times would probably have seen nothing at all. Yet, for all that, Christ is still physically present, but His physicality is very fine so as to be almost incorporeal (as they say of the Angels). In this way He inhabits the spiritual heavens.

    In short, I’m quite sure Addison would not fit in to Orthodox views, either, and I wanted to make it clear how Orthodoxy disagrees from both Addison’s views and Catholicism’s on these points, stressing that Orthodoxy is hardly Protestant and has just as developed an “extraneous” tradition, to which Addison would doubtless object.

    A joyous Epiphany to all,
    Fr. Augustine

  56. benedictgal says:

    Sadly, I believe that the other side of this tragic coin is Alberto Cutie, who renounced the Sacred priesthood and became a minister in the Episcopalian ecclesial community. I do not know what worse, someone like Addison Hart who seems to just wallow away in a sea of tragic confusion and seeming dissatisfaction for something that he seems to not understand (or want to understand, let alone accept) or someone like Alberto Cutie who actually knows the Truth of the Faith of the Catholic Church and has chosen to walk away from it.

  57. Clinton says:

    Where are his godparents? Where are the folks in his parish? Was he involved in a parish,
    or once he converted was he just left to flounder on his own? How can someone be accepted as
    a convert who so obviously had third-rate catechesis? Why do I get the feeling that Addison
    Hart never brought his doubts and dissatisfactions and questions to his parish priest, but
    instead just let them fester? Shouldn’t these things come up in Confession?

    I hope that someone, anyone in the Church that knows Addison Hart will seek him out and try
    to fix this.

  58. A couple of points:

    1) Those who describe a difference between the Anglican Communion and the Anglican Continuum are quite correct. The Continuum is just that: it is an alphabet soup of competing jurisdictions with differing agendas, agreeing only that the Anglican Communion has gone off the rails. Some elements of the Continuum are larger than others, and their numbers in relation to the Anglican Communion is probably larger than many people expect.

    2) In my experience, there is a certain school of Anglo-Catholicism which must be anti-Catholic by definition, in order to justify their own existence. Other Anglo-Catholics do desire corporate reunion (and it seems these are the ones taking the Ordinariate seriously.

    3) Questions have been raised concerning Addison Hart’s formation. I was present at his ordination in 1997, as a close friend (also a former Episcopalian priest, only single and celibate) was also ordained. They were ordained in the Diocese of Rockford, IL by Bishop Doran — and judging from my knowledge of what my friend experienced, I don’t think that improper formation was the problem.

    4) Prayers are needed. As several other posters have commented, this sudden change of heart/direction/perspective, etc. does not square with everything I’ve heard and know about him.

  59. Banjo pickin girl says:

    I can understand what this guy says though I think the reasons he is giving are just excuses, that there are more personal internal reasons for his new reservations. And obviously Satan has a hand in it, as Satan is never happy with a convert and often he starts to work on us immediately after conversion.

    I converted 4 years ago and have had a terrible time of it. While the Church gives me the tools to deal with my chronic illness I have had to deal with such bad things from priests and the really “holy” people that I have almost lost my faith. Being able to receive the sacraments keeps me alive. I have to avoid some people who use the seal of the confessional as an excuse to be abusive, etc. It is very hard.

    So don’t yell at this guy too much. He hurts really bad like I do.

  60. Banjo pickin girl says:

    Fr. Augustine, thank you for your post. I almost became Orthodox instead of Roman Catholic. It was a painful decision. I hope we can be more agreeable with each other than we have sometimes in the past.

  61. Lili of the fields says:

    The difficulties of believing in all Church dogmas and teachings strike many many people. Some react with anger and leave, some get discouraged and leave, some try to learn and understand, some also get scared. How we react is more a question of character than the Church shortcomings. Poor man, I hope that other converts and converts-to-be will take the time to learn and think before they act. The same is also true for those who are leaving…

  62. newtrad says:

    Without having read all of the comments, all I can say is this is one more example of our wonderful RCIA program in most diocese. I came in in 1993 and never learned about the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Nor did I learn about most of the dogma of the Church. SO I can totally understand how he became Catholic without being taught this, but the question is why did he become Catholic if he wasn’t studying his way in? Very unusual path to Rome, obviously he took a shortcut and got lost along the way. Hope he find his way back!

  63. green fiddler says:

    \\\ A consecrated host formed tangible accidents of flesh and blood which have remained incorrupt for hundreds of years. Precise scientific tests in the 1970’s showed the flesh to be heart tissue and the blood type to be AB, the universal receiver. (AB was the blood type found in the Holy Shroud of Turin.)\\\

    \\If it no longer has the appearance of bread and wine, it’s no longer the Eucharistic Body and Blood of Christ.\\

    Fr. Basil, I have a feeling this an empty room after everyone has left, but if you should ever see this, I want to thank you for your clarification and for all your contributions here. I’ve been pondering what you wrote and understand now why it was incorrect of me to say that it is the “same miracle”.

    In the miracle at Lanciano the consecrated bread and wine changed to human flesh and blood in a host not meant to be consumed, as an outward sign. It would not have the same substance as the consecrated host we receive at Mass which is the entire Eucharistic Presence of our Lord: Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.

    Fr. Z, thank you and God bless you for all you do. I think of your blog as a giant feeder for hungry souls. Your intentions are remembered in my prayers.

Comments are closed.