Thursday, October 22, 2009

Creating an Anglican Uniat body in the Roman Church

The following is the response from the Rev'd. Canon Gordon Reid, Rector of St. Clements, Philadelphia, on the recent announcement by the Vatican concerning it's relation with the Anglican Communion.

[Tuesday's] announcement of the new arrangements for receiving disaffected Anglicans into the Roman Catholic Church have been hailed in some quarters as though the Archangel Gabriel had blown his trumpet and ushered in the Kingdom of God.

But the euphoria will soon bite the dust. It is presumably Anglo-Catholics who are expected to go over to Rome, and yet I have grave doubts if the encouragement of an Anglican Rite within the RC Church will attract many. The Society of the Holy Cross and forward in Faith in the UK, for example, consist mostly of priests whose views on the Anglican Liturgy vary from “Quite a nice little Tudor Communion Service” to “nasty Protestant invention”. Most of these priests use the modern Roman Catholic Mass in their parishes, and would be horrified if told they had to use the Prayer Book (of any vintage). And even among convinced Anglo-Catholics there are still many who love the Church of England and its claim to be the Catholic Church of the country. The old jibe that the RC’s in England were “the Italian mission to the Irish” covers the fact that however close in doctrine Anglo-Catholics are to Roman Catholics, there is often a great gulf between them in that undefinable thing called culture or ambiance or just basic ways of living the church’s life.

In the USA, on the other hand, the problems are quite different. Many Anglo-Catholics have already left the Episcopal Church for a variety of reasons, usually very conservative ones, such as a gut-dislike of the modern Mass or women priests or gay Bishops and priests.

Those who left mainly over the Prayer Book tend to be the least Catholic-minded of this group. Many are positively Low Church (not to be confused with Evangelicals) and still regard Rome with distaste. So although they would be happy to have an Anglican-Rite, they see no reason to have it authorised by Rome.

The ones who have left on what might be called “moral” grounds might feel more at home in the Roman Catholic Church. But they are led by Bishops who have committed Holy Matrimony and who will therefore not be allowed to be bishops in the new Anglican Rite (as the latest document states clearly). And, worse than that, some of these bishops have been divorced and remarried, as have many of the priests. And I am sure that almost all of them do not consider contraception a mortal sin, as they would be required to do after conversion. So I give it only a few days before we hear such ex-Episcopalian leaders explaining why the Roman Catholic Anglican Rite might not be Right for them!

And as for those who have left because of gay Anglican priests and bishops, they are going to have a nasty awakening when it dawns on them why celibacy for many Roman Catholic priests and bishops is no problem at all!

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