Pope makes it easier for Anglicans to switch to Rome

October 20, 2009

ITALYPope Benedict has made it easier for disaffected Anglicans to convert to Roman Catholicism.

Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and spiritual head of the Anglican Church, and Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster and head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, stressed dialogue would continue between the two churches.

They were at pains to say it was not a comment on the Anglican Communion, but a response to requests from traditional Anglicans from all over the world.

Williams said he did not see it as an act of aggression, but he had no input in the new “Apostolic Constitution” and was only told about its details two weeks before it was disclosed at the offices of the Roman Catholic Church in London. A simultaneous press conference was held at the Vatican.

The head of the Anglican Church has been trying to keep together the liberal and conservative wings of the church, divided since the consecration of openly gay U.S. Bishop Gene Robinson in 2003 and the blessing of same sex marriages in Canada.

The Church of England has also experienced disagreement over the issue of women bishops.

Details of the legal framework were limited, but the constitution allows groups to join the Roman Catholic Church while maintaining some of their own traditions.

It allows for the ordination as Catholic priests of married former Anglican clergy, but not bishops.

It would allow the appointment of leaders, usually bishops, to oversee communities of former Anglicans who become Catholics and recognise the pope as their leader.

They may be able to eventually develop their own liturgy which would have to be approved by the Holy See.

The constitution poses serious questions for both churches.

For the Anglican Church, will it weaken its status? Will it clear the way for women bishops?

For the Roman Catholic Church, will it reopen the issue of celibate priesthood?


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Traditional Anglicans call themselves Anglo Catholics. This would seem to be a logical move for some of them that desire to cement their relationship with the Pope whom they already give a certain amount of respect to, if not outright deference.

Posted by Dwayne | Report as abusive

I think the people Dwayne has labelled “traditional Anglicans” are simply those who are against women bishops or gay marriage, and this has little if anything to do with their being either “traditional” or Anglo-Catholic.

Many of those who are against women bishops or gay marriage are in fact more Protestant in terms of their worship style, and there are certainly Anglo-Catholics who are in favour of women bishops or gay marriage. (I know people who would count themselves in each of those groups.)

No one alive can claim to be a “traditional Anglican” without inviting controversy over what that might mean. Most people’s notion of “traditional” goes back no further than the time of their own parents, or even less than that. What would sixteenth- and seventeenth-century people have done if they were transported to our time? And even if we could answer that, would the answer have much chance of being relevant?

In other words, no delineating line is clear in any of this, and any attempt at clarification is bound to be mistaken if applied to more than a very small and very localised set of individuals.

Posted by David | Report as abusive

The Orthodox Church (specifically the Russian and Antiochian) has had provision for services to be taken from the Book of Common Prayer and used by Orthodox people for over a hundred years.
There vare already people in England worshipping using entirely English (“Anglican”) forms – and they will start worshipping that way in London next month. The services are contained in the Orthodox “Saint Colman Prayer Book” which can be bought online. All anyone interested has to do is ring Fr. Michael on 07954 189626 or email him on frmichaelnw5 -at- gmail.com
In Australia there are already congregations worshipping this way with ex-Anglican clergy – also New Zealand and Canada – and in the USA many former Anglican congregations and clergy have moved across to Orthodoxy – including one former Anglican bishop – all using the officially approved western rite services.

Posted by Fr. Michael | Report as abusive

If they want to join up with Rome and if Rome will have them, then that’s what should happen. Just get the whole dreadful mess over with.

Posted by RichardB | Report as abusive

Quite odd that Anglicans troubled by gay clergy would move to a church historically plagued with huge, ongoing sex abuse problem of minors perpetrated by “celibate”, closeted gay priests.

Posted by Stanley Martci | Report as abusive

No offence intended and sincere apologies if perceived as patronising and insulting, but, .

The ludicrous posturing of these rev. gents, the wisdom and concern shown in discussing issues that to rational reasoning individuals appear trivial absolutely astounds rationality.

Posted by ron reece r | Report as abusive

This news speaks more about the arch-conservatism of the Catholic church rather than its so-called, “Ecumenical” spirit. It should be made clear that they are opening the door only to their staunchly conservative brothers in the Anglican Church. Is it saying, for instance, that the Catholic Church will NEVER have women ordained as priests, or NEVER accept gay people, openly, into its fold? That seems to be the current message.

For my part, I will continue to wait, unimpressed, for the Catholic Church to come to its senses.

Posted by PB | Report as abusive

I will continue to wait, unimpressed, for all these men in frocks to become a thing of the past.

Posted by Matthew | Report as abusive

Obviously, this Catholic move is the first step in the final formation of the Revelation 13 disaster that is to come.

Posted by Anonymous | Report as abusive

Several bloggers have also noted the remarkable timing of Pope Benedict’s offer to the Anglicans–that of the feast of St Paul of the Cross.

The Catholic Encyclopedias entry on St Paul of the Cross explains how he prayed for over 50 years for the conversion and reconciliation Paul’s of England.

Perhaps the timing of this offer by the Pope on St Paul of the Cross’ feast day was intentional, given Paul’s fervent desire for the reconciliation with the Church of England.

I wrote a brief article concerning St Paul of the Cross and his desire for the reunion of the Anglicans. For those interested it can be found here:
http://www.saintpaulofthecross.com/2009/ 10/rome-vatican-pope-reaches-out-to.html

Glenn Dallaire

Posted by Glenn Dallaire | Report as abusive

You will always have little imps as some of the letters above indicate to criticize people who are trying their best to better themselves and others. And these little imps do that by pointing out the faults of others. It isn’t easy to fight against a fallen nature.

I believe it is beautiful for the Anglicans and Catholics to become united and closer friends. Isn’t that what God wants? It’s sad that the little imps above try to discourage this beautiful and holy move. Let’s pray for the little imps.

Posted by Philip Saenz | Report as abusive

[…] Vatican stresses it was responding to requests from more conservative Anglicans from around the world and in no way meant to undermine Archbishop […]

Posted by The Vatican’s Bid for Breakaway Anglicans : glaadBLOG.org | Report as abusive

[…] Church of England bishops opposed to the ordination of women bishops will take up an offer by Pope Benedict and convert to Roman Catholicism, heralding a possible […]

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