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Anglican 21st Century?

2011 July 21
by Gordon Reid

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?!

24 Responses leave one →
  1. Canon Jeremy Haselock permalink
    July 21, 2011

    You are outrageous! I look forward to the follow up comments from this latest effusion!

    • Peter Bolton permalink
      July 21, 2011

      Less outrageous than the claims of Rome, perhaps?

  2. July 21, 2011

    Dear Father

    This are indeed strange times! Though I’m not sure that your appreciation of the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association is quite right. These are the Bishops who submitted to the Communist regime to avoid persecution for the sake of maintaining communion with the Holy See. There is a Catholic Church in China in full communion with the Holy See much the poorer for it and a persecuted sibling of the CPCA with many thousands of unsung martyrs and confessors.

    In recent years, some CPCA Bishops have sought Papal mandates for their State appointed consecrations, betraying a desire for reconciliation with the Holy See – rather than a greater distance from it. Many claiming to maintain a personal desire for communion but external forces prevent them from expressing it. Since the Novus Ordo was introduced in the 1980′s by CPCA congregations, it has become a test to see whether the Holy Father is mentioned by name as the Canon is now said aloud, to discern the spiritual loyalties of the celebrant. Rome has never declared these Bishops “schismatic” though canonically they have most often incurred automatic excommunication by the schismatic act of accepting consecration without Papal mandate. Even so, the Vatican is always open to acts of reconciliation and many Bishops have sought canonical approval for their consecrations by personal letters to the Holy See.

    In short, I would counter the situation in China is far from that of 16thC England? Though you’re right and Rome itself acknowledges that there are Catholics not in communion with her who are yet, wholly Catholic.

    Part of the ongoing issue for Anglican Communion Anglo-Catholicism though is to prove that its member churches are still “Catholic” in “thought, word and deed” irrespective of a desire for unity with Rome. For aside from Rome, the wider Church Catholic i.e. the Oriental and Eastern Orthodox as well as other historically Latin Rite jurisdictions (e.g. PNCC) remain as yet unconvinced and are becoming futher removed from the appreciations they had once attained only twenty years ago. Just because ecumenical relationships continue, does not mean that they are regarded in the same way as they once were…

    I’m in full accord with the sentiments of your last paragraph however!

  3. John Reilly permalink
    July 21, 2011

    This “relaxed, English form of Catholicism” is passive-aggressive: It cares not a whit for the religious freedom of fellow Catholics persecuted or imprisoned by a repressive communist regime. But it is positively indignant about the “Church of Rome,” its “centralized, secretive, power-obsessed rule of old men,” and its “interference” in the Catholic Church in China.

  4. Bill George permalink
    July 22, 2011

    Dear Father, it is sad to read – not for the first time – your rant against the Roman Catholic Church in general and ad hominem terms which a) are unworthy of your mind, b) are insulting to many of your readers and c) could be just as reasonably, and as unfairly no doubt, applied to your own and other congregations.

    Is it possible that you are letting your emotions and deep-held prejudices (typical of many Brits in respect to the Scarlet Lady) cloud your prudential judgement?

    For a man who weeps in his pulpit (“gracious tears”) as he reads Dom Dix’s immortal words on “doing this” and again at the Requiem of a parishioner, you clearly are in touch – as the modern saying goes – with your emotions. But are you in touch with your powers of reason?

    Not being under the authority of Holy Church’s magisterium, or indeed as an Episcopalian, not being under much authority at all, you are free to rant. Indeed in the RC Church there are imperfections and things to be regretted, but they pale beside the catalogue of inventions, heresies, “accommodations” and “do your own thingness” of EC and Ms Shori & her Companions of present and recently past times – where pretty well everything is tolerated in the name of “inclusivess” except those faithful people who merely want to keep on believing what faithful Catholic folk always have believed. In a neighboring diocese, a dog was recently given the Sacrament by a priestess who was let off by her bishop with a request she not do so again.

    You know little of the complexities of the RC’ relationship with the government of China.

    It is a bit rich for you to fulminate about the RC Church when your own accommodating house, EC, is so conspicuously in disorder. It is only possible for you to do so from the ease and comfort of a great shrine church where – with great beauty and faithfulness and only good intentions, all of which I admit and I honour – you pick and choose from elements of the former’s beauty of holiness to present your version of a Tridentine Solemn High Mass cum BCP cum Reidisms cum St Clement’s Use.

    I hope you will think on these things.

    • July 22, 2011

      Dear Bill,
      If you think this was a “rant” you should hear me when I get annoyed. I think we differ in our sense of humour, and you don’t quite understand how little I care about liturgy or purity of doctrine or how convinced I am that “authority” is another word for bullying. I love the Episcopal Church, in which I was brought up and in which I hope to die.

      • Clark Mitchell permalink
        July 22, 2011

        I second that, Father Reid. As a faithful Anglo-Catholic, I care more about the bigger picture than doing things according to what someone in power believes to be right. I’d rather live in a disorderly house than one that appears in order, but is crumbling on the inside. And by the way, Mr. George, it’s the Most Reverend Dr. Jefferts Shori.

      • July 23, 2011

        Hear, hear!

    • John Noyman permalink
      July 22, 2011

      It’s Dr. Schori, not Ms. She does, after all, have a Ph.D. in oceanography!

      • Bp. David permalink
        July 14, 2013

        Maybe “Dr.” Schori should be sailing a skiff instead of trying to “man” the helm of a once great province!

  5. Bruce Bridgewood permalink
    July 22, 2011

    Gordon me’ dear

    I really can’t be doing with the ABC as being spineless. That is the one thing he is not

  6. Joe permalink
    July 22, 2011

    Father — Respectfully, I don’t understand your comment about “how little [you] care about liturgy.” If that’s so, why do you feel the need to follow and preserve the ancient catholic liturgy? Are you saying that there’s no meaningful difference — of course, there’s a literal difference — between the Anglo-Catholic liturgy and the low church Episcopal liturgy?


  7. Georges of Burgos permalink
    July 22, 2011

    Being a spanish catholic, I was very edified visiting your wonderful site, and admiring what the life of a traditional parish church might resemble. May the Lord concede us returning to a healthy spiritual and liturgical life! But your comments have desappointed me very much.
    True, what you are seeing now at Vatican or throughout the world has little resemblance with true catholicism. Since Vatican II, we have endured a true revolution, whose results are that conciliar church is NOT the catholic church, Conciliar Popes and Bishops are No legitimate shepherds, and conciliar liturgy is NOT AT ALL catholic liturgy. Examining your parish, we could feel the temptation of being ourselves anglo-catholics, as one of the best mights to preserve our Tradition. But your apparent hate toward roman catholics is surprising as well as repellant to us. I would have expected another attitude fron a learned and traditionally minded clergyman as you are. For mutual understanding sake, let us pray for one another!

  8. John Noyman permalink
    July 22, 2011

    People in glass houses shouldn’t cast stones, Father. What’s your average attendance these days?

  9. Canon Dirk van Leeuwen permalink
    July 23, 2011

    Rome has much to be commended for, but Enda Kenny, the Irish Taoiseach or Prime Minister, has spoken concisely on her tasks ahead: see

    The practical purpose of excommunicating bishops consecrated without Rome’s approval is to claim them as part of the Church of Rome … lest they become the Church of China …

  10. Canon Dirk van Leeuwen permalink
    July 24, 2011

    Ruth Gledhill writes about the Chinese consecrations at [NB: Pay Wall]

    One wonders whether the Roman usual and legalistic approach to things that matter wouldn’t rule out these consecrations as defective, when the consecrators were acting VC ["vi coactus" or "under duress"]. If only one (himself ‘validly’ consecrated, even if ‘irregular’) consecrator (whether previously excommunicated or not) acted freely [and as an Anglican I would say tongue-in-cheek: with the right intention] that the consecration would be ‘valid’ but ‘irregular’. The mind boggles ..

    This opens a real can of worms: can holy orders be transmitted ‘outside’ the Church .. etc

  11. Chris Bates permalink
    July 25, 2011

    Well said, Fr Reid!! You are proof positive that Anglicanism is truly a viable alternative to a “Centralised, secretive Vatican.” How soon can a parallel ordinate be set up for Anglo-Catholics in The Church of England? Spot on as always.

  12. John permalink
    August 3, 2011

    Father, you are seriously deluded if you think that Anglicanism is making big inroads in Ireland.
    It is wishful thinking on your part. You are talking about at most 2,000 Catholics who have become Anglicans in Ireland in the last 5 years. Now there are also Anglicans in Ireland who are becoming Catholics. I know them. They attend my church each Sunday. In the Republic of Ireland about 3% of the population would be classed as Anglican. The Catholic population is around 85%. Anglicans are as scarce as icebergs in the Sahara in most parts of the Republic of Ireland. The small increase in the Anglican population can be accounted for LARGELY by African and English immigration.
    Now lets turn to the UK, which is supposedly an Anglican country. Anglicanism has crumbled. Less than one million Anglicans attend church weekly in the UK. That is roughly the same as the number of practicing Catholics in Britain. There is a steady drift of Anglicans into the Catholic Church.
    Whether you like it or not the attraction of the Catholic Church is that its doctrines remain constant. The Catholic Church preaches the word of God. It does not change its doctrines to suit liberalism and secularism. There is an unbroken link between the present pope and the first pope (St. Peter). So you may continuously snipe at it but you cannot change the reality. It is the Church founded by Jesus Christ.
    Anglicanism is a man made religion. It broke away from the Catholic Church. You appear to have forgotten the split with Rome came when King Henry VIII broke off relations because he was denied a divorce. He then declared himself head of the Church in England. That is the genesis of the split. Not much evidence there that the Anglican church is the Church founded by God. Henry then proceeded to destroy monasteries and take Church lands. He had the Marian Shrine at Walsingham destroyed. (in fairness in 1922 the then Anglican Vicar of Walsingham decided to undertake the restoration of the Shrine.)

    Doctrinally and organisationally the Anglican Church is in chaos. It seeks to make an accomodation with the prevailing norms in society instead of fearlessly proclaiming the truth. Just look at its position on divorce. Where does it stand on abortion? You speak about contraception. You trumpet the fact that many Catholics ignore their churches teaching on contraception. So what? That does not invalidate the Catholic Churches position on contraception.
    Are you proud of the contraceptive culture? Contraception has lead to a massive increase in infidelity on the part of married couples with a resultant explosion in divorce rates. Promiscuity amongst singles is rampant with an explosion in sexually transmitted diseases. Where contraception fails the woman often resorts to abortion (the killing of the innocent unborn child). Pope Paul VI has been vindicated on the issue of contraception. Do you seriously believe that Jesus Christ if preaching on earth today would be supporting abortion, contracepttion and divorce? They are the antithesis of Christianity. They are cancers corroding society.
    I have been reluctant to post here but for quite some time I have watched you savage the Catholic Church on your blog. You really appear to detest it.
    You speak about China. The so called Patriotic Church is run by the Communist authorities. The Vatican position is fully justified. I note that you failed to mention the persecution of the Catholic Church in China.
    Sure the Catholic Church has its problems but doctrinally it is rock solid and preaches the word of God. It does not allow secularists and liberals to dicate to it. In short it is the Church founded by Jesus Christ.
    Finally there are approximately 80 million Anglicans in the world. There are approx 1,200 million Catholics.
    Maybe you should visit some of the Catholic Marian shrines like Lourdes and Fatima. You should also visit Walsingham. You will note the great friendship there between Catholics and Anglicans.

    • Stephen permalink
      August 3, 2011


      I often hear it stated from the pulpit that our Holy Mother Church (and I love her too!) has preached the word of God consistently for 2000 years. All I can say, is repeating something many times does not make it a fact! In fairness to all concerned, I have no doubt that has been the intention, but can you honestly tell me that papal oppposition to the small pax vaccine was upholding the word of God? How about the deafening silence on slavery? I realize you could quote papal statements against the slave trade, but that teaching was far from uniform and in fact, our American bishops interpreted it very narrowly as only condemning the slave trade and not the owning of slaves. How about the treatment of women (IE_women not being allowed past the altar rail) has that been unchanging and in accord with the word of God? Why then do we now have women lectors and Eucharistic ministers today when the very idea of either one would have been unthinkable half a century ago? Take it easy, John! I don’t think Father Reid’s thoughtful criticisms are an attack. I’m not saying I agree with every word he writes BUT, He and his parish are more faithful to the traditional Roman liturgies and devotions than the vast majority of Roman Catholic parishes, and for that, they have my respect and admiration!

  13. Gary (NJ) permalink
    August 3, 2011

    The vitriol in many of the above comments just confirms what many of my agnostic and atheist friends have to say about religion. It seems like too many people suffer from idolatry of the Church and of Doctrine instead of just treating ‘your neighbor’ the way Christ taught us to and exemplified every day of His life. I left the RCC in the early 70s and had no involvement with religion until I joined St. Mark’s several years ago. (I visit this website occasionally).
    Most of the people in our reception class were ex-Roman Catholics, 2 Mormons and several ex-Baptists. I joined TEC because of the inclusive attitude towards women and lgbt people, the way Jesus would have treated us/them.
    ps…I was just wondering if John above had that much rage towards his own RCC when he found out about the decades (centuries?) of child abuse and molestation that was profoundly covered up by the hierarchy and could be traced right on up to Ratzinger, who specifically told bishops in Ireland (and other countries I’m sure) NOT to cooperate with the secular police forces in bringing these heinous criminals to justice. Shameful!

  14. Robert McCormick permalink
    August 5, 2011

    What entertaining reading. I think Fr. Reid is spectacular. I also think some others ought to try medications to ease their digestive troubles.

  15. franciscanapple permalink
    August 15, 2011

    I very much enjoy your blog, Fr. Reid. I do agree with the last paragraph in this post.

  16. August 16, 2011

    I don’t think that there is much chance of many Irish Catholics becoming Anglican. Some may well be attracted to the musical delights of St Patrick’s Cathedral,Dublin , Christchurch Cathedral, St Bartholomew’s,Clyde Road. Sadly, St John’s Sandymount no longer represents old style Anglo-Catholicism. The Church of Ireland has never been really Anglican; few churches have or have had even a service of Holy Communion every Sunday; little or no specifically anglican doctrine is/was taught in the churches. Many churches now have all-age services “of the word” with little connection to and classic Anglican forms or devotion or spirituality. A Church of Ireland bishop wrote to me two years ago saying that one of the problems for the C.of I was that it didn’t really know what its beliefs about the Eucharist were. I think it is more likely that diasaffected Irish Catholics will just give up. If the Church of Ireland was liturgically,doctrinally, spirituality Traditional, Prayerbook-reformed & Catholic it would stand a good chance of attracting many. Indeed, speaking for myself, I might well not have converted to Catholicism.

  17. LaVallette permalink
    August 9, 2014

    Reject the diktats of the Christian Pope for those of the Atheist Communist Party of China in the same way that the Anglicans and the other European Protestant established churches rejected the diktats of the Pope but submitted to those of their Sovereign and Parliament (who are currently mostly Atheist/non Christian). Those who do not learn from history are bound to repeat it.

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