Andrew Sullivan recently wrote a very perceptive blog about the huge number of Roman Catholics who are so dissatisfied with their Church’s teachings on divorce, homosexuality, pre-marital sex, married priests, women priests (not to mention dear old contraception), that they have almost stopped going to Mass.
He ended by saying that the solution was surely an American Catholic Church, separate from Rome and all connexions with the Vatican curia.
My first reaction, as you may imagine, was to exclaim: “But we already have that; it’s called the Episcopal Church”. And of course, any Episcopal parish priest will tell you that their congregation contains a large percentage of ex-Roman Catholics who have quit their own Church for one or several of these reasons. And some of our best priests were RC priests before they were received into the American Catholic Church – oh, sorry, I mean the Episcopal Church.
Then today I read of half a dozen groups of RC’s in Belgium who have set up dissenting parishes of their own for similar reasons. And of course many members of the Church of England were formerly Roman Catholics.
So maybe the time has come for the Archbishop of Canterbury or, failing him, the Presiding Bishop of the American Episcopal Church, to set up a “Catholic Ordinariate” to receive R.C’s who have had it up to their ears with sermons against contraception, celibate old men declaring that young married men who have embraced the Sacrament of Matrimony have thereby disqualified themselves from embracing the Sacrament of Holy Orders, divorcees banned from receiving the Sacrament of the altar, homosexuals declared “intrinsically disordered” (by these same suspiciously celibate old men in the Vatican!).
I doubt if Rowan or even Katharine will follow this path. But what fun it would be if they did – we might have to buy all the closed Catholic churches that stand so sadly in cities like Philadelphia, and reopen them under new management.