Anglican trads reach a crossroads

Pope Benedict XVI's homecoming offer to Anglican opponents of women bishops looks more enticing now that the Church of England Synod has rejected a proposal for a separate jusrisdiction to accommodate them. The scheme put forward by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York was voted down by the Church's ruling body at the weekend, following years of wrangling, politicking and threats.

Although there are still two more years of committees before the legislation is ready to go to Parliament -- and would need a two-thirds majority in 2012 -- the notion that opponents will be able to create a separate jurisdiction of refuseniks is now dead in the water. The Guardian's veteran religion reporter Andrew Brown wrote: "I have been watching this story, more or less, for nearly 25 years now, and in all that endless wrangling this is only the second time I can remember the synod making an unequivocal choice."


That doesn't mean that the 1,300 clergy and 10,000 parishioners in the Anglo-Catholic wing will be rushing into the Catholic Church; the term "exodus" in a CNS report is too strong. But there is little doubt now that an ordinariate in England and Wales will be set up: last week 70 Anglo-Catholics met the Catholic bishop of Nottingham, Malcolm McMahon, for a preliminary discussion.A number of traditionalist Anglican bishops have had talks with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in Rome before now, but this is the first time the hierarchy of England and Wales have been seriously approached.

The ordinariate allows for the corporate reception of Anglicans into a special canonical jurisdiction -- such as exists for the armed forces -- which would make them full Roman Catholics but allow them to preserve their distinctive "patrimony". This means, in essence, a separate liturgy: according to Anglicanorum coetibus, "the Ordinariate has the faculty to celebrate the Holy Eucharist and the other Sacraments, the Liturgy of the Hours and other liturgical celebrations according to the liturgical books proper to the Anglican tradition, which have been approved by the Holy See, so as to maintain the liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions of the Anglican Communion within the Catholic Church, as a precious gift nourishing the faith of the members of the Ordinariate and as a treasure to be shared."

That is the principle; what, in practice, is approved and not approved by Rome is still to be worked out, and will only become clear when it happens -- which is why only the keenest will jump first. The rest will stand back and watch how it turns out -- not just in England and Wales but in Australia and elsewhere.

But this weekend a threshold was crossed. Long stranded between the Protestant drift of their Church and a Catholic Church which refuses to recognises the validity of their orders, the Catholic Anglicans now find that the "halfway house" they have been inhabiting since 1992 through the "flying bishop" scheme is no longer feasible. It may take a year or two for them to decide, but this weekend the choice was crystallised. It's decision time.

Austen Ivereigh


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Peter Lakeonovich
8 years 6 months ago

It's no fantasy that the Roman Catholic Church, which the "world" would like to see finished and about which many continue to predict its demise, is the Church that is there to welcome our separated brothers and sisters (in the Anglican/Episcopal and other communities) who are the lost sheep - - - lost because they have leaders but no real Leader; teachers but no real Teacher; teachings but no Authority.  How can this be amidst all the "filth" in the Church?  Simple: because it is what Jesus promised us.  For this, thanks be to God.
Gerelyn Hollingsworth
8 years 6 months ago
Maybe this will inspire Catholic women and men to become Anglicans
Eugene Pagano
8 years 6 months ago
A few comments from someone who has gone in the other direction (to the Episcopal Church) — yes, from one factionalized community to another.
Anglicanism is highly diverse, almost all diverse as all Western Christianity, from High Church (like Roman Catholics without the Pope) to Low Church (like evangelicals with bishops).  The dominant grouping in Africa is low church, and has already shown a lack of interest in Angicanorum Coetibus.
Angicanorum Coetibus, moreover, like the previous Pastoral Provision, allowed exceptions to priestly celibacy.  Indeed, many of the Anglican priests who accept Anglicanorum Coetibus will probably be married.  Mr. Lake, if you think that priestly celibacy is Roman Catholic doctrine, you are in error — a cafeteria Catholic going for extras at the Tridentine counter.

Joseph O'Leary
8 years 6 months ago
Something like 9 priests were ordained for England and Wales last year.
Never fear, a horde of Anglican priests will fill the vacuum.
The English RC Church will thus acquire a married priesthood and perhaps some of the spiritual and aesthetic glow of Anglicanism.
Peter Lakeonovich
8 years 6 months ago
Faithful Catholics are not going to leave The Church for the Anglican or any other church.  Did you not read my posts?  It may be that some so-called Catholics will leave because of purely personal and private reasons since the teachings of Christ and of his Church are difficult; that even happened to Jesus Himself.  But no faithful Catholics will leave for spiritual or dogmatic reasons of faith; on the other hand, most who enter the Catholic Chruch do so precisely for spiritual and dogmatic reasons of faith.  Who would leave Truth for anything less?  That we can welcome these communities in full communion and implement procedures to validate their sacraments so that they can begin participating in the sacramental life of the Church is something about which to be grateful and thankful.
Peter Lakeonovich
8 years 6 months ago
Kevin, with all due respect, the term "exodus" is appropriate in this context because you have to consider that it is the truely faithful of the Anglican communities who will be accepting the Pope's invitation to enter into communion with the One True Church founded by Christ.  What will be left of the Anglican church after that?  Prince Charles has already stated that he is not the head of any church?  The Anglicans are church without a head, which is no church at all.
In addition, think about how great this will be for the Anglican community in Africa, who are sure to follow this lead and also chooose to enter into communion with Rome.
Is it not a sign of how truely blessed by the Spirit our Holy Mother Chruch is that amidst all the scandals, that amidst all the accusations and name-calling in the media, it is to our Church that this fractured and scandalized Anglican community turns?  To where is the so-called "exodus?"  To the Church of Rome, the one that upholds priestly celibacy and rejects the ordination of women.  And it is an exodus from a church that allows such things.  The exodus is to the Church that stands for Universal Truth amidst the culture of relativism.  That may shock secular intellectuals, but to the faithful it is no surprise (a joyous occasion, but surprise) because this is Christ's Church and with God all things are possible.
Jim McCrea
8 years 6 months ago
Fantasize away, Pete.
Jim McCrea
8 years 6 months ago
"Maybe this will inspire Catholic women and men to become Anglicans."

Gerelyn - they HAVE; they HAVE.  Check out your local Episcopal church and find out how many parishioners - and priests of both genders - come from a Roman background.

Ditto for the UCC, particulary the ministry. 


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