100 Anglican parishes actually becoming Catholic?

April 03, 2012
Source: District of the USA

One hundred congregations of the Anglican Church in America have voted to take up the offer made by Pope Benedict XVI in November permitting vicars and their entire congregations to defect to Rome while keeping many of their Anglican traditions, including married priests...

Pastor's Corner for Third Sunday of Lent (March 11, 2012)

One hundred congregations of the Anglican Church in America (ACA) have voted to take up the offer made by Pope Benedict XVI which permits vicars and their entire congregations to convert to Rome while keeping many of their Anglican traditions, including married priests.[1]

This group is the American branch of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC), a global community of about 400,000 members that took the historic step in 2007 of seeking full corporate and sacramental communion with the Catholic Church—a move that, if fulfilled, will be the biggest development in Catholic-Anglican relations since the English Reformation under King Henry VIII. TAC members split from the Canterbury-based Anglican Communion of 77 million members headed by Archbishop Rowan Williams over issues such as its ordination of women priests and episcopal consecrations of women and practicing homosexuals.

The pope was accused of attempting to poach Anglicans who were unhappy about liberal decisions taken in their church. But the Vatican insisted that the move to create self-governing "personal Ordinariates", which resemble dioceses in structure, came as a result of requests from at least 30 disaffected Anglican bishops around the world for "corporate reunion" with the Catholic Church.

Yes, this is something to be rejoicing about if we take into account that these were entire communities away from the true sacraments and true doctrine. It is great to see them submit to the authority of the papacy. It is good to see some of these converts using the English Missal which is largely (though not entirely) the translation of the traditional Roman Missal with texts from the earlier English Sarum Rite of pre-Reformation times.[2] Such rites are far more Catholic than the Novus Ordo, but others are more dubious. One Anglican priest expressed the hope to see the TAC become the 28th rite within the Catholic Church, along with the Eastern Churches, which have the same sacraments and are recognized by Rome.

Yet something seems amiss. Are we witnessing the Oxford Movement headed by John Henry Newman and leading to the conversion of great ex-Anglican Church figures? Is it only that times and places have changed? Nowhere are we hearing of abjuration of errors. Nothing is said about the “Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion”, the historic doctrinal position of the Anglican Church. Long-time Anglican priests and bishops are given only a few months before they are ordained to the Catholic priesthood to teach their own former flocks about a doctrine which is substantially distinct from pick-and-choose moral and doctrinal teaching. Who do they respond to if not to their ex-Anglican Ordinary? This looks like an autodidactic organized group with a varnish of Catholicism with little to prepare them by way of teaching, sacramental practice, and moral discipline.

We are all concerned about a married Ordinary sitting along with Catholic bishops and of the possibility for married men to become priests. We are worried about the disunity which might result from having an incoherent group as a member of the Church of Christ. We are worried about the ecumenical dimension which such a movement might affect as it could be the mixing of dirt with the pure gold of Christ’s spouse. By way of illustration, here are the terms of Msgr. Keith Newton, the UK Ordinary:[3]

We've not been asked to deny anything. In most of the ordination services, there is a prayer for the 'graces that have been received through past ministry…' It is a continuation of the ordained ministry but being ordained as a Catholic priest is a completion of it… The Ordinariate is about entering into full communion with the Catholic Church, with which we were only in partial communion before, and that is to do with a personal choice, a personal profession of faith… People talk about receptive ecumenism today, but in the Apostolic Constitution there is a practical expression of working that out, of saying 'here we are, a group of Christians who believe the same things but have slightly different traditions and ways of doing things, maybe different pastoral methods.'”

So, what are we witnessing here? The growth of the Spouse of Christ in the fullness of its life blood? Or the incoming of a foreign element into the veins of the Church which can only accelerate the process of decomposition?


1 The Telegraph, March 6, 2012.

2 See this link for the text of the Knott Missal.

3 Vatican Insider, March 3, 2012, "Anglican Catholics and the experience of the Ordinariate".