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Roman Catholic (Anglican Rite)

2009 October 20
by Gordon Reid

Archbishop-and-Pope-Benedict-XVIToday’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!

9 Responses leave one →
  1. Michael Thompson permalink
    October 24, 2009

    Dear Father
    Even those who do not want to see the reality surely must admit that you have surveyed the situation precisely?
    Indeed as so often you are Chrysostom.

    Whether by frail human accident or by Divine design the ill-starred and often malign events of the Reformation left Anglicanism a Catholic institution, rooted in culture of the Atlantic Islands if cruelly infected with protestantism.

    Who can know the future or where we will all end up in this world? The end of the journey will not be Rome however, or Canterbury or Constantinople but, please God, the Beatific Vision

    ‘God does not ask of us a perfect work but an infinite desire’. St Catherine of Siena

  2. Brian Gallacher permalink
    October 28, 2009

    “why celibacy for many Roman Catholic priests and bishops is no problem at all”

    Surely celibacy is only “no problem at all” for the asexual? I suspect that the Anglo-Catholic priests who live openly with their boyfriends will be the ones in for a nasty awakening when they find that celibacy is required of all in Holy Orders and that bishops in the Catholic Church won’t be as inclined to turn a blind eye to their domestic arrangements as those in the C of E. These are the ones who won’t be so keen to “cross the Tiber”.

  3. Fr. Steven A. Scarcia permalink
    November 7, 2009

    Reverend and dear sir,,
    As an Episcopalian (Anglican) priest of over 35 years, I have to say that your words are what I would have expected from an Anglican Uniat. I am often bemused by the fact that Rome is only now coming ti the help for some of our Anglican brethern – only after years of pleading for help. I guess better late than never.
    It reminds me of the fact that it took over 300 years for the Roman Church and Pope Leo XIII to “finally” declare Anglican orders “null and utterly void.” Oh yes…I forgot how long it took for the Vatican to remove the writ of excommunication on Gallileo for the sin of presuming that the earth was not the center of things.
    I do, however, agree that the poor Anglicans who swim the Tiber will find it a rather cool place on the other side. The clergy will always be treated like 2nd class clergy, especially the married priests. What as yet has to be announced is the fact that in reality, there will not be a heck of a lot of changes in receiving Anglicans as has already been in effect over the past many years. Forget Papal Infallibility – now deal with abortion, contraceptives and the like, divorce and the stigma of divorced clergy and married bishops and then the subject of celibacy hiding in the wings…only after the fact.
    What will the new Anglicans have to bring with them besides good taste in music and an abbreviated Book of Common Prayer? Their new catechism will probably be the faith according to EWTN.
    Once all of the hype and smoke clears from this news; once all of the rules, regulations and translations from Latin (which are then translated into English) are then announced, then this gesture on the part of the Holy See will seem but a puff of wind. Oh yes, I pray that we all may be one, but that doesn’t necessarily mean in the “Cookie Cutter” sense. I predict that once the great announcement is made from on high, it will knock quite a bit of wind from the sails of those vessels venturing on the River Tiber in the hopes of finding a loving, forgiving and accepting land. But then again, I was wrong…once.
    Blessings to you and I hope to be proved wrong!
    Fr. Steve+

    • Susan Carter permalink
      March 5, 2010

      Today is March 5, 2010 and I am reading through all your notes on this article and though moved by all I decided to respond to Fr. Steve.
      Our Catholic Church needs healing.
      I believe we need the Holy Spirit to pray for us to ask God to give us what He wants. We need Holy Help! Jesus will use the unexpected. He can use Holy Anglicans. Or not. But we do need to get to work to promote the Truth of Christ and the reality that sin hurts and destroys.
      I believe as Fr. Steve stated, that possibly Holy married Anglican priests could be treated as second class is true but add, as the Holy unmarried Catholic priest are treated.
      St. Patrick, whose grandfather was a married priest, pray for us! We need a miracle.
      I pray for unity for all Christians with the Catholic (universal) Church. Doesn’t the cathechism state that all Christians are part of the Universal church just not in full communion (whether they desire it or not)? Could this possibly be why a past Pope gave an English king kudo’s for defending the Truth of the church regarding keeping it One Body. How many thousands of denominations of Christianity have resulted from the ‘protestant reformation’? How much time do we spend arguing and discussing whose denomination is correct while Satan is having an easy time stealing souls?
      Could this unity be a marketing boost to Holy Matrimony, Chastity, Discernment and Right thinking?!
      We all know sex outside of Holy Matrimony is destructive. Divorce is destructive. Our children (and adults) deserve Holy homes, a safe place to grow, learn, and thrive.
      But can we recognize that we all need and deserve protection from divorce, homosexual promotion, lesbianism, autocratic feminism, AIDS, syphillis, herpes, abortion, mediocrity, and other social sins including the annihilation of American jobs by a lack of Trade, or Government Health care that promotes abortion and a lack of dignity for our seniors. Do we even have enough discernment to recognize the Truth when we hear it?
      We need Holy people to infiltrate our mediocre and fearful church society to tell the Truth of Christ.
      We need Holy people to encourage the Holy people working now in our church to continue to promote Justice and Truth.
      Mother Terese said ‘Bloom where you are planted.’ American Anglicans are planted in America –as well as the American Catholics–and isn’t it obvious that this is a missionary field.
      My message to the Anglicans and all Christians including Catholics; GET TO WORK! Wake up, help us help each other, before we die to our own sins and commit ourselves to hell.
      Whatever is the outcome of this situation I thank God for His Holy Mercy and that He is the Holy God of many second chances…because we all rest in the risen Christ.
      I pray that we all realize that we need to be in One Body; His. Mostly I thank Him for letting me see myself as a sinner and letting me come to His table in forgiveness. And I hope you have His joy everyday while working to promote Him.
      In the love of Truth,
      Susan Carter, Converted Liberal Catholic

      • J. Funk permalink
        March 9, 2010

        Beautifully said. I totally agree with you. THANK YOU.
        We should all be able to love and work together towards the peace and betterment of each other.

  4. Carroll W. Mears permalink
    November 24, 2009

    The Pope actually gave Henry VIII the title of “Defender of the Faith” for the paper he wrote against Martin Luther. The Queen still uses this title.

  5. February 27, 2010

    “I predict that once the great announcement is made from on high, it will knock quite a bit of wind from the sails of those vessels venturing on the River Tiber in the hopes of finding a loving, forgiving and accepting land. But then again, I was wrong…once.”

    I think you might well be wrong again. The Anglicans have much to bring to the Roman Catholic Church: an abiding love for the older liturgy, good ecclesiastical music sense, a communion of theology on current items that are quite disturbing, a desire to be one within a singular Catholic Church, many good priests (both celibate and married), inter al. And they won’t be second class citizens within the one Church. I look forward as a Roman Catholic of participating in an Anglican-rite liturgy, of realizing without any doubt that the Eucharist is truly valid. I have often attended Anglican liturgies and wondered whether the liturgy was authentic and valid, or otherwise; or maybe this Anglican priest has true orders as a result of some historical wiggling or whatever. Bottom line, I believe you might be a bit too hard on everything and not so positive as many sincere Anglican and Catholic Christians might be.

  6. rugerdon permalink
    March 6, 2010

    As a cradle Episcopalean, I crossed the Tiber several years ago after the ECUSA (Episcopal Church USA) decided to ordain openly gay Clergy and the Church of England was powerless, or refused, to do anything about it. Unlike the Pope, the Archbishop of Canteberry is not in charge of anything; the Anglicans are a loose Confederation of different Provinces. In short, my political views were moving to the right as my Church was moving to the left. There were other things as well, which caused me to view the Episcopal Church as being nothing more than a Sunday Social Club, like the lack of emphasis on Confessions.

    Besides, I was married to a Roman Catholic in the Catholic Church. I found no difference in the litergys of the two Churches so having an Anglican Rite would have made no difference to me.

    One thing that has bothered me with some Roman Catholic services is the music. Most Episcopal services have very dignified music and many Roman services are what I call: “Bongo Masses” (guitars, drums, and tamboreens). I find this extremely distasteful, vapid and distracting from what should be “dignity”. This does not bother my wife however, but I do my best to avoid these Masses.

  7. Father Steve+ permalink
    April 18, 2010

    I’m writing again as an Episcopalian/Anglican priest, with regards to Anglican clergy and the See of Rome. I guess I was wondering where the Roman Church is going to go with those of us Anglicans who were Ordained by Bishops, who were Consecrated by Bishops of the Polish National Catholic Church (PNCC)? This is especially a thorny question as the PNC Church is now “In Communion” with the See of Rome. For example, as far back as I can remember, the Bishops of the Episcopal Diocese of Albany, New York, were Co-Consecrated by Bishops (Zilinski etc.) of the Polish National Catholic Church.

    Unfortunately, since the ordination of woman in 1976, the PNC Church broke Communion with the Episcopal Church over this and other issues. However, in speaking with the former Ecumenical Official of the PNC Church, they still recognize male priests who were ordained before the break with Canterbury in 1976.

    Not long ago, at the 65 Anniversary of our local PNC Church, the current Ecumenical Officer of the PNC Church was present and after introducing all of the other local clergy, including the Roman priest, he introduced me to the congregation as truly a PNC Church priest. It surprised me – but as he explained, my ordination was secure by Apostolic Succession, through the line of PNCC Bishop Zilinski. I also Con-Celebrated the 65 Anniversary Mass.

    All said and done – and with the Church teaching unbroken Apostolic Succession, Validity of Orders etc., this seems to me to be a fly in the ointment and a loophole, with regards to Anglican Orders. How could the See of Rome accept one set of PNCC Orders and reject others from the same Apostolic line?

    I’m sure there is some Canon Law out there for such a situation – something like “Valid but Irregular.” I just thought it funny yet little know subject to breach. I guess that that all of our Ecclesiastical Closets have somethings in them which we would rather not have to deal with now or ever, for that matter. Oh, by the way, many of the PNC Church priests in the United States are married with children. They’re recognized as Catholic priests and are still able to function as good and faithful pastors – even without the “gift” of celibacy. I think that would probably make St. Peter’s mother-in-law very happy to know!

    I still pray that we all may be one – despite our differences. I could just see God shaking his head as we try to see how different we are rather than to work together with how many things we have in common in faith! “and they continued in the Apostle’s Teachings and fellowship, in the Breaking of Bread and in the prayers.” (Acts 2:42)
    God Bless,
    Father Steve+

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