Anglican 21st Century?
What strange times we live in! Ireland’s Prime Minister has delivered a speech condemning the Church of Rome in a manner that would have been impossible a decade ago. Attendance at Mass is at an all-time low in Ireland. Meanwhile, the (Anglican) Church of Ireland reports steady growth, and that mainly from RC’s disgusted with their own Church for its complicity in child abuse.
And, on another front altogether, if only we had an Archbishop of Canterbury with a spine, he would be off to China to have top-level talks with the Catholic Church leaders there, inviting them to become part of the Anglican Communion. It seems to me that the Chinese Catholic church is at the very stage where the English Catholic Church was in the 16th century, thoroughly fed up with interference in its life by the Bishop of Rome. The Chinese Church leaders are ignoring Rome and choosing Bishops of their own (and being encouraged in this by the Chinese Government), while remaining Catholic Christians. That would have sounded familiar to Archbishop Cranmer!
With the vast majority of RC’s despising their Church’s laws on artificial contraception, and - in some countries – a majority against their Church’s laws on remarriage after divorce, clerical celibacy, a male-only priesthood, even conservative RC’s are beginning to say that their Church would be better smaller but purer in belief. This must surely leave a lot of impure Catholics around to be welcomed into the Anglican Church!
So perhaps the 21st century will benefit from a renewed Anglicanism which will, as always, be a non-Roman, Catholic church. A relaxed, English form of Catholicism, faithful to the Gospel of Good News for the poor, the needy, the unloved, might prove a much greater converting power than the legalistic concerns of the centralized, secretive, power-obsessed rule of old men, which is the reality of the Vatican.
How about Beijing for the next Lambeth Conference?!