Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Are Traditional Anglicans Suddenly The New Catholic Left?

I don't imagine Archbishop Rowan Williams is pleased with the latest Vatican overture to the Anglican Church. Maybe he should extend a similar offer to disenfranchised progressive Catholics to come over in bulk, with their Churches and all. Imagine the mess that could cause.

First there are talks with SSPX and now dissenting Anglicans. The door to St. Peter's is wide open to the right, and closing very fast on the left.

Vatican News Services 20/10/2009

With the preparation of an Apostolic Constitution, the Catholic Church is responding to the many requests that have been submitted to the Holy See from groups of Anglican clergy and faithful in different parts of the world who wish to enter into full visible communion.

In this Apostolic Constitution the Holy Father has introduced a canonical structure that provides for such corporate reunion by establishing Personal Ordinariates, which will allow former Anglicans to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony. Under the terms of the Apostolic Constitution, pastoral oversight and guidance will be provided for groups of former Anglicans through a Personal Ordinariate, whose Ordinary will usually be appointed from among former Anglican clergy. (Can't wait for the property disputes. Will these new Catholics keep the status of their property free from the encroachment of their local Catholic Ordinary?)

The forthcoming Apostolic Constitution provides a reasonable and even necessary response to a world-wide phenomenon, by offering a single canonical model for the universal Church which is adaptable to various local situations and equitable to former Anglicans in its universal application. It provides for the ordination as Catholic priests of married former Anglican clergy. Historical and ecumenical reasons preclude the ordination of married men as bishops in both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. The Constitution therefore stipulates that the Ordinary can be either a priest or an unmarried bishop. The seminarians in the Ordinariate are to be prepared alongside other Catholic seminarians, though the Ordinariate may establish a house of formation to address the particular needs of formation in the Anglican patrimony. In this way, the Apostolic Constitution seeks to balance on the one hand the concern to preserve the worthy Anglican liturgical and spiritual patrimony and, on the other hand, the concern that these groups and their clergy will be integrated into the Catholic Church. (Welcome back Fr. Cutie.)

Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which has prepared this provision, said: "We have been trying to meet the requests for full communion that have come to us from Anglicans in different parts of the world in recent years in a uniform and equitable way. With this proposal the Church wants to respond to the legitimate aspirations of these Anglican groups for full and visible unity with the Bishop of Rome, successor of St. Peter."

These Personal Ordinariates will be formed, as needed, in consultation with local Conferences of Bishops, and their structure will be similar in some ways to that of the Military Ordinariates which have been established in most countries to provide pastoral care for the members of the armed forces and their dependents throughout the world. "Those Anglicans who have approached the Holy See have made clear their desire for full, visible unity in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. At the same time, they have told us of the importance of their Anglican traditions of spirituality and worship for their faith journey," Cardinal Levada said.

The provision of this new structure is consistent with the commitment to ecumenical dialogue, which continues to be a priority for the Catholic Church, particularly through the efforts of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity. "The initiative has come from a number of different groups of Anglicans," Cardinal Levada went on to say: "They have declared that they share the common Catholic faith as it is expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and accept the Petrine ministry as something Christ willed for the Church. For them, the time has come to express this implicit unity in the visible form of full communion." (Thy accept the primacy of Peter when it comes to institutional misogyny and gay bashing. What about birth control, stem cells, IVF, and divorce? Will they accept that too, or just ignore them,)

According to Levada: "It is the hope of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, that the Anglican clergy and faithful who desire union with the Catholic Church will find in this canonical structure the opportunity to preserve those Anglican traditions precious to them and consistent with the Catholic faith. Insofar as these traditions express in a distinctive way the faith that is held in common, they are a gift to be shared in the wider Church. The unity of the Church does not require a uniformity that ignores cultural diversity, as the history of Christianity shows. Moreover, the many diverse traditions present in the Catholic Church today are all rooted in the principle articulated by St. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians: ‘There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism’ (4:5). Our communion is therefore strengthened by such legitimate diversity, and so we are happy that these men and women bring with them their particular contributions to our common life of faith." (I wonder if this will apply to progressives?)

Background information

Since the sixteenth century, when King Henry VIII declared the Church in England independent of Papal Authority, the Church of England has created its own doctrinal confessions, liturgical books, and pastoral practices, often incorporating ideas from the Reformation on the European continent. The expansion of the British Empire, together with Anglican missionary work, eventually gave rise to a world-wide Anglican Communion.
Throughout the more than 450 years of its history the question of the reunification of Anglicans and Catholics has never been far from mind. In the mid-nineteenth century the Oxford Movement (in England) saw a rekindling of interest in the Catholic aspects of Anglicanism. In the early twentieth century Cardinal Mercier of Belgium entered into well publicized conversations with Anglicans to explore the possibility of union with the Catholic Church under the banner of an Anglicanism "reunited but not absorbed".

At the Second Vatican Council hope for union was further nourished when the Decree on Ecumenism (n. 13), referring to communions separated from the Catholic Church at the time of the Reformation, stated that: "Among those in which Catholic traditions and institutions in part continue to exist, the Anglican Communion occupies a special place."

Since the Council, Anglican-Roman Catholic relations have created a much improved climate of mutual understanding and cooperation. The Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) produced a series of doctrinal statements over the years in the hope of creating the basis for full and visible unity. For many in both communions, the ARCIC statements provided a vehicle in which a common expression of faith could be recognized. It is in this framework that this new provision should be seen.

In the years since the Council, some Anglicans have abandoned the tradition of conferring Holy Orders only on men by calling women to the priesthood and the episcopacy. More recently, some segments of the Anglican Communion have departed from the common biblical teaching on human sexuality—already clearly stated in the ARCIC document "Life in Christ"—by the ordination of openly homosexual clergy and the blessing of homosexual partnerships. At the same time, as the Anglican Communion faces these new and difficult challenges, the Catholic Church remains fully committed to continuing ecumenical engagement with the Anglican Communion, particularly through the efforts of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity. (Apparently it's more Christ like to be a sneaky self hating closeted homosexual clergyman, than an open and honest one.)

In the meantime, many individual Anglicans have entered into full communion with the Catholic Church. Sometimes there have been groups of Anglicans who have entered while preserving some "corporate" structure. Examples of this include, the Anglican diocese of Amritsar in India, and some individual parishes in the United States which maintained an Anglican identity when entering the Catholic Church under a "pastoral provision" adopted by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and approved by Pope John Paul II in 1982. In these cases, the Catholic Church has frequently dispensed from the requirement of celibacy to allow those married Anglican clergy who desire to continue ministerial service as Catholic priests to be ordained in the Catholic Church.

In the light of these developments, the Personal Ordinariates established by the Apostolic Constitution can be seen as another step toward the realization the aspiration for full, visible union in the Church of Christ, one of the principal goals of the ecumenical movement.


It's pretty apparent that Benedict's vision for a leaner and meaner Church includes an open invitation to anti semites, misogynists, and homophobes. It seems a real conversion has nothing to do with Jesus. It only takes confirming the status of the papacy. For that conversion you get to keep your married priests, your own seminaries, your own rituals, and your own notions of exclusion. I wonder if they get to keep their own sexual morality. Gays are one thing but the papal ban on birth control actually effects Anglican couples. Maybe this will become the Vatican approved version of Catholic Lite.

I bet the rest of the Anglican and Episcopal Church won't see this as 'ecumenism'. They might be inclined to see it as poaching, giving into dissenters, stirring the waters of schism, hypocrisy of the highest order. Anglicanism didn't come into existence because it was a grass roots movement. It came into existence because an angry king who couldn't get a divorce, forced it on his people. Speaking of divorce, I wonder how these new Catholics will feel about paying for both a civil divorce and a sacramental annulment. Putting up with gay blessings and women priests might prove to be a lot cheaper.

I wonder if Fr. Cutie will be welcomed back with open arms. Given the current level of hypocrisy in the Vatican, I bet Cutie returns to EWTN as their expert on all things Anglican. See there is a silver lining in every cloud--unless you are a current Roman Catholic priest and this would feel like another kick in the teeth. Maybe Cutie won't come back, but I personally wouldn't put any money on that bet.

I'll be curious to see just how emphatic the Vatican is with SSPX on accepting the teachings of Vatican II with regards to Judaism and ecumenical dialogue. I guess it will depend on how badly they want to take over their priests and seminaries. If that's the case then I'm sure the emphasis will be on the 'pastoral' nature of Vatican II and the fact it wasn't a dogmatic council. Now that I think about it, I wonder how SSPX will take this Anglican initiative. That married priesthood thing might cause them some problems. Even the heretical Vatican II didn't mess this issue up. Compared to SSPX, traditional Anglicans could be considered the new Catholic progressive movement.

In the meantime the real Catholic progressive movement waits for the Emerging Church. The one that really is inclusive, has no addiction to clericalism, and has matured beyond the need to base it's identity in misogyny and homophobia. It can't come soon enough and maybe this latest pronouncement from the Vatican will hasten it's emergence.


  1. Colleen,
    "In the meantime the real Catholic progressive movement waits for the Emerging Church. The one that really is inclusive, has no addiction to clericalism, and has matured beyond the need to base it's identity in misogyny and homophobia, (poor scientific understanding, sacrifice of noted theologians, misunderstanding of sexual theology, bad fiscal administrators and etc., etc.) It can't come soon enough and maybe this latest pronouncement from the Vatican will hasten it's emergence."

    I very much share your view and hope for the future. I think that some Anglicans that try to change to a Roman church that refuses communion to those that use Birth Control will soon find displeasure about this issue alone.

    I think if anything, the more Christlike group with a better structure is in the 70% of the Episcopal people in the US and their cohorts in Canada and Europe. So I remain a Catholic that looks to the European Benedictine model of Church and clergy. I do feel the ground shaking but wonder, even believe that this development is little more than a tremor that pales what is to come as the current poor Roman Catholic Episcopate certainly has failed its people and its ability to understand or prescribe better ethical and Christ like behavior. The Bishops seem to completely forgotten about spirituality in their quest for power and money. We have looked for the intrinsic evil and we see it in ourselves that would support such corrupt leadership.


  2. I don't think the incoming Anglicans will want to dump their married clergy or the Lambeth Conference and embrace NFP. They will also not be happy once the Catholic diocesan ordinary (the bishop or archbishop) starts making claims on their church property a la Raymond Burke.

    The other issue is that I wonder if Benedict is willing to abandon Pope Leo XIII's pronouncement that the Roman Catholic Church regarded Anglican holy orders as invalid. Really, I don't think Rome had any grounds to make statements like that. The Anglicans were more than capable of deciding the validity of their own holy orders.

    I don't think the Anglicans will also get along well with the SSPX crowd.

  3. Just think about it. With an influx of the disaffected Anglicans into a new "Rite",
    this means that Roman Catholics will be finally be able to:

    *Run their parishes via vestries, rather than priestly fiat.
    *Own their own property.
    *Have a distinct say in electing their bishops.
    *Have a say in who their pastors will be, and the removal therof if things aren’t working
    *Ordain women and married men.

    Also, former RC priests who left and joined Anglicanism and got married will be back in the church.

    Sounds good to me; bring it on! The internal stampede to join this new Rite will be overwhelming!

    Maybe the Holy Spirit IS micromanaging things after all.

    Jim Color Me Optimistic McCrea

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  6. Sorry, it's late and I wanted to make a change to what I wrote two times.

    I hear the rustling of frou frou and new money for the Vatican.

    This will backfire on them and as Jim Color Me Optimistic McCrea says it opens doors to some interesting possibilities. The new recruits from the Anglican Church will have plenty to argue about amongst one another. The Anglican Church will become the backdoor to the Roman Catholic Church, for those that Colleen points out are gay bashers and misogynist and probably diehard rich capitalist of the Milton Friedman variety.

    "Compared to SSPX, traditional Anglicans could be considered the new Catholic progressive movement."

    They'll be slinging mud at each other in no time flat.

  7. My prediction is that Rome has made a mistake in a number of ways with this one. It's not bright to welcome the spiritual cancer of one Religion into your own. Especially when that spiritual cancer has advantages the main body does not.

    TAC whined their way into Rome's heart and what worked for them once, they will continue to use. There are all kinds of issues on which they can continue to whine with in Catholicism.

    This may turn out to be a match made in hell.

  8. I have a feeling this is going to be a non-story after awhile. If conservative Anglicans, angry with their communion's progressiveness (I almost wrote "sanity"), have refrained from joining the RCC up until now, there is probably a reason for that. I doubt the numbers will be very significant.

    As for the SSPX crowd's reaction to married priests, there are already a number of married former Anglicans serving as Catholic priests. Now there will be a few more.

  9. "Historical and ecumenical reasons preclude the ordination of married men as bishops in both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches".

    ## Ecumenism ? Oh, *that*. And there I was, thinking the RCC couldn't care a brass farthing for ecumenism, after it tore up forty years of ecumenism with the Cof E & Anglicans, by doing this:

    "When it comes to elegant funerals, no one can beat the Vatican. Look at the phrases with which it buried all hopes of reunion, or even significant negotiations, with the Anglican Communion, by announcing that it would now welcome whole groups of Anglicans, with their own bishops, liturgies, and even – if they must have them – wives, to become Roman Catholic priests. "Without the dialogues of the past 40 years, this recognition would not have been possible, nor would hopes for full visible unity have been nurtured. In this sense, this apostolic constitution is one consequence of ecumenical dialogue between the Catholic church and the Anglican Communion."

    Rest of article here:


    Wasthe Archbishop of Canterbury informed of this "welcome" ? Yes - at almost the last moment. Before that, Rome intrigued - there is no other word for it - with two of the C of E's
    "flying" bishops, who went to Rome and talked things over without letting the Archbishop of Canterbury know what they were planning: viz., to "jump ship" taking a few hundred Anglican priests with them.

    "VATICAN CITY – The Vatican announced Tuesday it was making it easier for Anglicans to convert to Roman Catholicism — a surprise move designed to entice traditionalists opposed to women priests, openly gay clergy and the blessing of same-sex unions.

    The decision, reached in secret by a small cadre of Vatican officials, was sure to add to the problems of the 77-million-strong Anglican Communion as it seeks to deal with deep doctrinal divisions that threaten a permanent schism among its faithful."


    "Add to the problems..?" What a coincidence [exits in search of sick-bag].

    The whole thing is more than disgraceful - it's unbelievable. Each time I think I can't possibly be more shocked by the ghastliness of Rome, some new vileness happens :(

  10. As I said elsewhere on the Commonweal blog:

    What makes optimists think that these folks will become Catholic in the true sense of “full communion?” They will always be Anglicans who will soon enough discover that they are apples in a larger church of persimmons.

    Episcopalians are used to lay leadership in their parishes in the form of a responsible and authoritative Vestry. And then there is the average RC Parish Council ---- major wimp time. Wait this those who "pope" come up against RC "Father is in charge of it all" practice. Oh, yeah --

    I wonder how many will stick it out once they are badgered with Roman disagreement with their parish polity, their way of electing bishops (THAT won’t last!), their desire to ordain married men as priests, and — here’s the good’un: the Roman obsession with the evils of divorce and abortion.

    Oh, it will be a long hard ride to “full communion” for these folks. I suspect that the recidivism rate will be hushed up, but substantial, particulary in the early months and years.

    Jim McCrea

  11. Grrrrrrrrr --

    That should be "wait UNTIL those who 'pope'"