A former Episcopalian tells fellow conservative Roman Catholics that they should take the Ordinariate seriously in North America. To prove his point, he plays with numbers and even made a Google map.
Randy Sly, writing on Catholic Online, says that Roman Catholics should take the ordinariate seriously in North America because there are so many of them...the implication being that there lots and lots of former Episcopalians just itching to become Roman Catholics (who keep their prayer books and their married male priests). He quotes the work of a former Episcopalian, now a Cistercian monk:
Br. Stephen Treat, O.Cist., a monk of the Cistercian Abbey of Our Lady of Spring Bank in Wisconsin provided an interesting statistical comparison of American Ordinariate parishes with the current Episcopal Church (TEC) in the United States.
A frequent contributor for The Anglo-Catholic which is moderated by Christian Campbell, Brother Stephen posted the following observations based on the number of parishes remaining stable at 36 with an Average Sunday attendance (ASA) of 2500 - a very modest estimate.
The average parish attendance would be 69, three larger than the 2009 Episcopal Church parochial ASA of 66. (67% of Episcopal parishes had an ASA of 100 or fewer in 2009. Only 5% had an ASA of 300 or more.)
Sly then compares the relative ASA to some of our smaller dioceses. He says that there are more Anglican-style Roman Catholics in all North America than there are Episcopalians in Northern Michigan. This, he says, is a force to be reckoned with.
There are a few other things he forgets to mention (besides the dozen or so Roman Catholic clergy who are received into the Episcopal Church every year): first, Brother Stephen's map includes congregations that are already Roman Catholic using an Anglican-style rite under the old Pastoral Provision. It also includes members of the Traditional Anglican Communion, who were never Episcopalian to begin with, and those who have joined up but apparently have no connection to either the TAC or TEC. So there are some new former-Episcopal groups who would come under the ordinariate, but not as many as Br. Stephen indicates.
Does this sound familiar? Remember ACNA's numbers game a few years back? Sly follows the same argument (and appears to use the same numbers) that appeared on the breakaway Diocese of Fort Worth's web site in 2009.
Back then, when they were first counting up members of ACNA, they lumped together defecting Episcopalians, members of the Reformed Episcopal Church and other groups who were never Episcopalian in the first place. By itself, that's okay. Just stop claiming that the whole group is made up of disgruntled Episcopalians. Same game. Different board.