An Episcopal ordinariate for disaffected Catholics?

The esteemed Mark Silk, professor of religion in public life at Trinity College (CT) surveys the recent unpleasantness between Episcopal Bishop Marc Andrus and Roman Catholic Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone and asks a question worth pondering:

[W]ith Catholic bishops on the warpath against SSM [same-sex marriage] and the ECUSA [The Episcopal Church] officially endorsing it, I'd say it's time for Andrus and company to man up and announce the establishment of an ordinariate for U.S. Catholics who want to become Episcopalians. Last January, you'll recall, the pope announced a U.S. ordinariate for Episcopalians who want to become Catholics but would like to retain some of their own liturgical and other traditions.

If what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, the new Episcopalians would be able to retain some of their Roman traditions. Of course, the pope thing would have to go. On the other hand, priests and bishops would now have the opportunity to marry, including (in some jurisdictions) members of the same sex.

The pope's ordinariate is headquartered in Houston. Where better to locate the Episcopalians' than in San Francisco?

Comments (15)

If the patrimony to be retained includes the English Missal, sign me up!

Ha ha ha, are Episcopalians bold enough to do this?

Mark Post

Is there a need to? Our Rite II Eucharist is so similar to the RC Mass before Rome inflicted a new translation last year that every Roman Catholic will understand it (as I did when I converted from the RC Church).

I vote "Nay." No offense intended to the disaffected RC'ers.

If anyone is going to swim the Thames, then swim it. We have plenty of room for them in Anglo-Catholic parishes. They'd feel at home and they'd be welcomed.

IMO, creating an ordinariate is creating more problems for us than it solves regarding identity, community, et al. Thanks!

Kevin McGrane

One of the pieces of Anglican history that I appreciate is that while Rome and Constantinople excommunicated each other and Rome excommunicated the C of E, historically Anglicanism has not returned the favor. Perhaps there is some wisdom in non-reactivity, while increasing our welcome to and reconciliation of all people, including disaffected RCs without sinking to the tactical level of Benedict XVI.

Sean Ferrell

No. But an easily-accessible and continuing Catechumenate in every diocese would be helpful.

JC Fisher

Not to express offense Kevin, but seeking to be clear: Former Roman Catholics have joined all sorts and conditions of Episcopal churches and felt at home, not just Anglo-Catholic.

Just in case there was any doubt, no Episcopal Church should be afraid that they would not be attractive to a former Roman Catholic.

The basic problem is that the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church is that it is the only true church. That is often the stumbling block for a disaffected Catholic.

To get a tad pedantic, Silk isn't (I hope!) suggesting we offer an ordinate where former Catholics could be Episcopalians but practice the Vatican II missal.

He's suggesting we get less passive in evangelizing Catholics. Not just working with those who come to us seeking to be evangelized, but actively evangelizing disaffected Catholics. The pope announced an initiative to evangelize them. But they aren't returning unless his church changes. We are the viable alternative and we need to say it loud and proud.

It's about time!

As a former disaffected Roman Catholic I wouldn't give up the prayer book liturgy for the Novus Ordo of Paul VI the prayer book liturgy is intensely more beautiful and meaningful. I'm happy and at home in God's Catholic Church on the Thames. Don't miss the Tiber at all. Jesse St Elizabeth Episcopal Church, Zephyrhills, FL.

There seems to be enough evidence that disaffected Roman Catholics are glad to escape from their tradition - as viewed by the present Magisterium. I'm not too sure they would want to carry on with their 'patrimony', which most of them have found wanting already.

Father Ron Smith [name added by editor]

There was a campaign in the RC diocese where I grew up that had signs in front of all the parishes that read "Catholics can always come home". I would love to see us develop a similar campaign that sends a message of intentional welcome to those who are leaving the RCC and need a new home and that strikes a balance with not stealing sheep.

Some friends and I offered a program a few years back entitled: "Leaving Home/Leaving Rome" and it was pretty successful on the one occasion we were able to offer it. It focused on highlighting the differences in polity and on allowing people to tell their (horror) stories in the hopes of letting the past be the past so that they might move forward in freedom. That second part was very important. Most of the time people seem to be overly concerned about offending the local RC pastor or bishop. We worry about that way too much.

John: I agree (speaking as a former Roman myself). I am at a "broad" parish, and I felt right at home on Day One.

I would suggest to the readers, as I have at other times, that the primary reasons why Romans don't flock to our or any other church are two-fold:


One, they still think what they learned about other churches from the RCC is correct (e.g., CoE and it's children were started by a despot who wanted to murder his wife to marry his mistress).

Two, the RCC is not just their church, but their entire culture and identity. It was ghetto-ized that way here in the New World to innoculate its members from evangelism.

When we ask RC'ers to join, we are asking alot from them. It is only recently that the trickle out has turned into a steady stream.

Kevin McGrane

I thought thinly disguised Anglican Uniatism was a horrible idea when Rome instituted it, and it's equally horrible with the roles switched.

Another reason RCs might be reluctant to join a TEC parish instead of becoming a "none" might be because they are tired of civil wars in their church. The RCC's civil war has been getting worse and worse. The civil war in the Episcopal church seems to have quieted, but still is ready to flare up again there, and also in world Anglicanism. As an RC who now sits in an Episcopal pew on Sundays, I sometimes think that those who are "spiritual but not religious" have the right idea - too many political battles within the churches as well as out of it. I tend to agree with Sean's suggestions. And also wish to say hello to Maplewood, with whom I used to "chat" online under the name WaveringCC.

Add your comments

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Reminder: At Episcopal Café, we hope to establish an ethic of transparency by requiring all contributors and commentators to make submissions under their real names. For more details see our Feedback Policy.

Advertising Space