There is speculation in Rome that Pope Benedict might receive about 400,000 (yes, 400,000) Traditional Anglican Communion members into the Roman Catholic Church this summer, after the official Anglican Communion finishes its ten-yearly Lambeth Conference on August 3. Both the Church of England Newspaper in the U.K. and the National Catholic Register in the U.S. have run stories on this. Both sides are subscribers only, so all links here are to reports about them.
According to the Church of England Newspaper, talks between the Vatican and the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) focus on the question of whether a group can enter into full communion with Rome as an independent rite, similar to the Eastern rite churches that keep their own traditions and leadership. That sounds like it means they would want to use the Book of Common Prayer, keep their married clergy and retain some autonomy of member churches.
The newspaper quotes the Episcopal Bishop of Fort Worth, Texas, the Rt Rev Jack Iker — now in Rome on study leave — that “it is thought that the Pope is sympathetic to the dilemma of traditionalists in the Anglican way.”
It noted that “no formal dialogue exists between TAC and the (Council) for Promoting Christian Unity — the Vatican agency tasked with ecumenical relations.” Catholic Online commented:“The TAC may be getting ahead of itself on how quickly such a request will be acted upon.”
This is still speculation and we have no inside track on this. But it should be noted that Benedict has shown a taste for surprising us on such issues. Remember the baptism of the Italian Muslim Magdi Allam at Easter? The Vatican dicastery following Islam reportedly knew nothing about that in advance, even though it caused a flap in Vatican-Muslim relations.