traditional Anglicans">Vatican offers home to
traditional Anglicans

It may be a while before anybody can speak with any real knowledge about the impact of the development described in the AP story below, which contain a major error in its first paragraph.

The Associated Press:

Pope Benedict XVI has created a new church structure for Anglicans who want to join the Catholic Church, responding to the disillusionment of some Anglicans over the ordination of women and the election of openly gay bishops.

The new provision will allow Anglicans to join the Catholic Church while maintaining their Anglican identity and many of their liturgical traditions, Cardinal William Levada, the Vatican’s chief doctrinal official, told a news conference.

The new church structure, called Personal Ordinariates, will be units of faithful within the local Catholic Church headed by former Anglican prelates who will provide spiritual care for Anglicans who wish to become Catholic.

“Those Anglicans who have approached the Holy See have made clear their desire for full, visible unity in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church,” Levada said. “At the same time, they have told us of the importance of their Anglican traditions of spirituality and worship for their faith journey.”

The problem is that the group that has petitioned the Catholic Church for this new status, the Traditional Anglican Communion, broke from Canterbury in 1991, twelve years before Gene Robinson was made a bishop. But hey, the fact that the Anglican Communion was going to break up over the gay issue is such a well-established article of faith among so many journalists that Nicole Winfield decided not to let the facts get in her way.

The Guardian’s story is a little better. It gets at the nub of the matter:

… [U]nder the new arrangements, Anglican communities that joined the Catholic church would be able to keep their own liturgy while remaining outside the existing dioceses. Their pastoral care would be entrusted instead to their own senior prelates, who would not necessarily become Catholic bishops.

The question is whether there are large numbers of people who want to do this. The Traditional Anglicans claim 500,000 worldwide. That wouldn’t make it a significant denomination in the U. S., let alone worldwide. So the question is whether larger numbers of theologically conservative Anglicans have been waiting for an opening from Rome to make their move.

A joint statement from the Archbishops of Canterbury and Westminster seems almost willfully obscure.

Lionel Deimel has weighed in. Ruth Gledhill’s Twitter stream of the Canterbury/Westminster press conference is worth reading. As is her blog.

The National Catholic Reporter’s story is solid, but again, how anyone knows that “sweeping” changes are coming is beyond me.

UPDATE: comments from the UK:

George PItcher comments in the The Telegraph (h/t to OCICBW:

All I would add is that this is marvellous news for the Church of England’s prospects for making up women priests to bishops, without creating an Anglican schismatic bloodbath. Traditional Anglo-Catholics, many of whom do not want to relinquish their Anglican identity, have had nowhere to go on this issue, other than conversion to Rome with a complete abandonment of Anglicanism.

Pope Benedict has thrown them a timely lifeline. He has also thrown one to Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury. The issue of women bishops, approved by the Church of England’s Synod, was running into the sand, with a controversial proposal this month to impose a two-tier structure, with male bishops still having oversight in dioceses over those Anglicans who couldn’t accept women’s episcopacy. Women priests quite rightly resisted the suggestion that they would be second-class bishops.


Damien Thompson writes that the ABC is humiliated.


Reform has put out a less than enthusiastic response to the Vatican announcement (see below). Seems there will not be wholesale defections regardless of the popular press prognostications. h/t to Maggie Dawn

See statement by The Episcopal Church below. According to Bishop Christopher Epting, this formalizes what has already been happening informally, and “we will … continue to explore the full implications of this…”

Simon has quite a round-up at Thinking Anglicans. And, as Peter Owen points out in the comment section there, something akin to what is on offer has been available to dissatisfied Episcopal priests for 25 years. Andrew Brown sees this development as “the end of the Anglican Communion,” which I don’t get at all. Although he is the first one to begin to guess at the numbers the Church of England might lose. (One thousand priests, two?)


Statement from the Episcopal Church Ecumenical Officer:

We have received the Vatican’s statement and the joint statement signed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of Westminster. We are in dialogue with the Archbishop’s office and will, in the coming days, continue to explore the full implications of this in our ecumenical relations.

The announcement reflects what the Roman Catholic Church, through its acceptance of Anglican rite parishes, has been doing for some years more informally.

We in the Episcopal Church continue to look to the Holy Spirit, who guides us in understanding of what it means to be the Church in the Anglican Tradition.

We continue to remain in dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church through participation in the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Consultation (ARCIC) and the Anglican-Roman Catholic Dialogue in the USA (ARC-USA).

The Episcopal Church is a member of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and works together with other Provinces and with our ecumenical and interfaith partners to promote God’s reign on earth.

Bishop Christopher Epting

Deputy for Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations

The Episcopal Church

October 20, 2009

More here.


Reform Initial Response To ‘Apostolic Constitution’ Announcement

Revd Rod Thomas, chairman of Reform, makes four points as an initial response to today’s announcement from the Archbishops of Canterbury and Westminster: “Anglicans concerned about protecting the basic Christian faith need not go to Rome, because we now have the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA (UK)) which holds together those who want to stop the orthodox faith being eroded. We can remain Anglican. Furthermore, the FCA Primates have recognised that problems with episcopal oversight are arising here in the UK. They have expressed the hope that these will be solved locally, but if not, they are willing to step in.” “This development highlights the need for robust legislative provision to cater for those who cannot agree to women bishops, such as that recently suggested by the Revision Committee.” “If priests really are out of sympathy with the C of E’s doctrine (as opposed to the battles we are having over women’s ministry and sexuality), then perhaps it is better they make a clean break and go to Rome. However, when they do, they will have to accommodate themselves to Rome’s top-down approach to church life, whereas the C of E has always stressed the importance of decision making at the level of the local church.” “It is illusory to pretend that this development is an outcome of ecumenical dialogue. It illustrates the difficulties the C of E faces and the need for stronger leadership, rather than the ‘softly softly’ approach so far taken to those holding liberal views who are splitting the church.”

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  1. Greta Getlein

    Call me crazy, but it seems that Rowan++ is looking forward to the day when we will all be subsumed (assumed?) into the Catholic (not catholic) church. Does such a relationship include accepting papal infallibility and obedience?

  2. Greta,

    Yes, this means assenting to all dogma of the church including papal infallibity (a doctrine most misunderstand) and the Assumption/Immaculate Conception of Our Lady.

    This is huge.

    It’s long been thought in certain quarters that much of the Anglo-Catholic defection to ACNA was a waiting move for something like this to come about so they could make the Evangelicals pay the legal fees while they headed off to Rome.

    Furthermore, this is a really big deal for British Anglicans who can’t theologically agree with women bishops. (Of course, in their case they’ll have to *rediscover* Anglican liturgy and spirituality since they’ve been using the Novus Ordo mass ever since Vatican II…)

    As Jim says, we’ll be able to say more on when more becomes available.

  3. tobias haller

    Maybe I’m just being cynical, but two things:

    1) doesn’t having one’s own bishops and liturgies sound just a little bit “federated”? and

    2) Is Rowan’s mind eased by the possible outflux of some of the more strongly anti-WO crowd from England? (Of course, as you note, TAC folks left some time ago. But surely this opens the door for more.)

  4. Derek, help me out here. Who is it huge for? How many people? Outside of clergy circles and blog jockeys, I havne’t foundanybody who gives damn about this.

  5. Jim, this is huge first for the Traditional Anglican Communion whose presence in the USA is in the Anglican Church in America. They seem most visible in Australia, but they have congregations in the US, Canada, and the UK. They have been in these discussions for some time, and this sort of Uniate status may well suit them. We might note that ACA was invited and was an observer for a while as ACNA was forming, but backed away.

    In addition, Ruth Gledhill’s commentators might be right in that this will have effect in terms of women’s ordination in England. Do those who are militantly opposed now have a place to go that they didn’t have before?

    In parallel, one wonders how it might affect ACNA and FoCA. Will this be a wedge issue between the conservative evangelicals and the FiF crowd? That remains to be seen, but it’s an interesting question.

    I have said elsewhere that Rowan wanted some sort of recognition from Rome, but I don’t think this is what he envisioned. Rather, he has wanted enough cohesion in the Anglican Communion to be seen as a “church” in Roman terms, a peer with Rome and Constantinople without “ecclesial deficit.” The fact that Rome admits no peer (check that press release: when Rome speaks of the “universal Church,” they mean only themselves) hasn’t disuaded him so far. Will this? I just don’t know.

    Marshall Scott

  6. You can be sure that there are millions of Anglicans who would never become Roman Catholic. We don’t have to worry about that.

    What I think would be lovely would be for the Anglican Communion to reciprocate such generosity and create a similar structure to welcome into our fold those Roman Catholics who wish to worship as their conscience dictates. Or at the very least have such an organization here in The Episcopal Church to welcome American Roman Catholics whop are disaffected with the RCC. To open our arms to those who know that the repressive dogma, second class citizenship of women and their view of homosexuality has directly contributed to the abuse of and violence against women, children and GLBT all over the world.

  7. Derek Olsen

    First, Jim, who do you think reads this site? For people who are interested in World Anglicanism, this is something very big.

    In England in particular, this may be significant occurrence. Whereas in the USA FiF and others have teamed up with evangelicals n whom they agree about wedge issues, that’s not been the case in England. They’ve also looked across the Tiber more than we. Clearly no one can say for sure and the details will be significant but there could be a fair amount of movment from English Anglo-Catholics into the Roman Church.

    In the US, I doubt we’ll see a whole lot of impact directly on the Episcopal Church. Most of the Anglo-Catholics for whom Women’s Ordination was a non-negotiable left either in the 70’s with the Continuing Movement or recently with the formation of the ACNA. The way this could play out here is to deflate the AC side of ACNA which is a fundamentally conservative evangelical movement at heart.

  8. I continue to find this story difficult to get a handle on. The media is responding as though it is extremely significant, and a number of my correspondents agree with them. Yet, something that seems to me quite similar to what is now being put on offer globally has been available in the United States for some time, and it hasn’t exactly changed the religious landscape.

    Take a look here:

    Then here, where you will learn that while the pastoral provision has been available for 25 years has ammased a whopping seven parisehs under its jurisdiction.

    This may, of course, play differently in England than it does here, but unles I am missing something, I don’t see this affecting the Episcopal Church very much.

    But as many, many people seem to think I am wrong about this, I am eager to learn what I might be missing.

  9. Fair enough, Derek. What I am trying to get a grip on is not why people think it may be huge for a small number of people, and possibly for the Church of England–although we shall see–but why it is playing as big news in the secular press.

  10. David Allen |dah • veed|

    So huge may mean 1,000,000 people, give or take 10,000. Which is really nothing.

  11. Derek Olsen

    It’s very big amongst the people I talk with, but I’m not sure why it’s big in the secular press other than the obvious reason: using “church”, “controversy”, and “sex” in the same sentence.

  12. laurenstanley

    Jim, it’s big in the secular press because the secular press doesn’t understand what it means, or how it impacts anyone. To them, TEC and the AC are falling apart over Gene Robinson, so the press decides that all this is linked together. Note that the media aren’t speaking much of women’s ordination, which is what caused much of the split in the first place.

    Sister Gloriamarie suggested that we create a similar thing in TEC for disaffected RCs who want to come over … we already have that. It is called The Episcopal Church, and we do welcome RCs in, many of whom never officially are received because they cannot bring themselves to leave the “one, true faith.” I know, because it took me years to do so myself.

    What’s happening is (a) it’s a slow news day in religious reporting; (b) people are getting all wrapped up in what they think is something new, when it is NOT new; and (c) ++Rowan hasn’t helped with his response, which makes this sound new and surprising. If the ABofC had merely said, “Yes, well, this has been an offer on the table for more than two decades, so there are no surprises here,” then folks wouldn’t be getting all wound up about it. But no, he had to issue a letter that shows his version of graciousness, which means that he’s compromising. Since he’s under attack for compromising on everything under the sun, it seems, this is just one more piece with which to beat him over the head.

    Now, how does this affect the average Episcopalian? Not at all. For most of us, this is as remote as the goings-on in … (fill in the blank with the most remote place you can think of). It has little or nothing to do with us.

    What it DOES seem to do, however, because of the way the media are playing this, is make TEC and the AC look ever more conflicted, confused and wrapped up in politics.

    Perhaps it’s time that we all figured out how to tell a POSITIVE story about ourselves, and quit reacting to things that matter not.

  13. Sam Candler

    I am enjoying these comments. Whether the information can be considered “big,” or not, I welcome the news. Disenchanted Anglican Christians can already make a choice for centralized jurisdiction and order (as I posted further at

    Sam Candler

  14. Derek Olsen

    According to a letter at Ruth’s site, the two major English AC bishops have set a decision date of February 22nd.

  15. Cheryl A. Mack

    Y’all who want to go to the Roman Catholic Church,go right ahead and I sincerely hope you enjoy it. Speaking for myself, there a few things in this life I absolutely refuse to do, and join the RC’s is one of them.

    C. Mack

  16. Thomas Heard

    I saw the announcement about the press conference last night and I was really hoping for something positive. Alas, disappointed again.

    It seems as though the ABC has been working to find homes for those who have left Canterbury, rather than working toward some reconciliation with those who remain in communion, albeit somewhat stressed.

    I find this particularly distressing. Of course, Rowan’s intent could be to disestablish the AC; then he won’t have to put up with those pesky national churches anymore and can concentrate on the imploding CofE.

  17. David Allen |dah • veed|

    Benny6teen said that he would most likely leave a smaller, purer Roman Church. He may well do the same for us!

    Now, do you think we can get a deal for Rick Warren to take the Calvinists?

  18. tgflux

    I just can’t bring myself to care.

    When I got involved in ecumenism 20 years ago, I was rather shocked, even then, how many Episcopal (and moreso, Anglican) ecumenists were Roman Wannabees.

    Now, I imagine that most of these Wannabees are ARES, or WILL BEEs…

    …potentially leaving their positions open to Yours Truly. Ooops, they took ecumenism with them (for some strange reason).

    JC Fisher

  19. Clint Davis

    The big news in this is that Rome recognizes an “Anglican Patrimony”, which in layman’s terms means that Rome thinks Anglicanism did something right, and that grace was present and working in the Anglican Church even when outside the Communion of Rome. That is a big step, because if Rome didn’t see something he liked, he wouldn’t have created an Anglican Uniate situation. I think this is the only place I can see a Reformation tradition given this kind of recognition from Rome. Remember, the Eastern Rite was Catholic for 1000 yrs so that’s not nearly as big a deal to admit patrimony in the Orthodox Churches.

    I think a part of this is meant to be a lesson to the larger Roman Communion about how a vernacular tradition is supposed to be done, and is not supposed to be done. It is about time that Anglicans are given the recognition for a job well done, concerning vernacular liturgy and Biblical translation.

  20. Peter Pearson

    Back when I was in seminary, RC seminary, I did a paper on what Leo XIII did back in 1895 declaring Anglican orders invalid and how that one turned out. Even then I was disgusted with the manipulation and dishonesty of the whole thing but pleased that it made very little difference to Anglicans who continued on their way. I suspect the same thing might happen here. Besides that, what if we started publicizing all the stories of folks who were making the exodus in the other direction (at least here in TEC)? I suspect the tables would be, in fact, turned dramatically. Have hope and wait to see how this unfolds.

  21. Andrew Brown

    Hi, Jim: my reasoning is that the Vatican is explicitly splitting the AC into two parts, one of which it can deal with, and the other of which is heterodox: they echo the Gafcon diagnosis. ++RW is on the heterodox side, according to the CDF.

  22. Thanks for stopping by, Andrew. I am wondering why you think that the AC exists at the sufferance of the Vatican. I don’t know how many CoE’ers will go to Rome, but if the effect is minimal, as it has been in the US, Benedict won’t have a big enough body to constitute a credible alternative AC. Additionally, I think RC and Anglicans will continue to work together at the national level, as they have almost without a hitch in the US. This is another media-event humiliation for Rowan, but I think people are being awfully quick in assessing its signficance. The right wing has been much more succesful in giving the impression that it has broken up the Angican Communion than in actually doing it.

  23. wrpd4

    One of the problems I foresee it that there probably be a minimum number of congregants to form an Anglican Rite parish. The New Romans who live in areas where there are not enough people to form an Anglican Rite parish will have to worship in regular RC parishes. The same thing will probably be true of reordained New Roman priests. I don’t think any denomination could afford to support a dozen or so priests plus their families in one parish.

    I had a rector here in the US who always used the roman sacramentary with some materials from the BCP stuck here and there. He’s now in prison, but not for that.

    Bill Daniels

  24. I posted this comment below regarding Benedict XVI and Anglicans on ->

    An Inch At A Time: Reflections on the Journey: Rev. Susan Russellhere

    “Would you like to swing on a star

    carry moonbeams home in a jar

    and be better off than you are

    or would you rather be a mule”

    “A mule is an animal with long funny ears

    he kicks up at anything he hears

    His back is brawny but his brain is weak

    he’s just plain stupid with a stubborn streak

    and by the way if you hate to go to school

    You may grow up to be a mule”

    Read more -> Lyrics

    I write extensively about early childhood psychological development growing up LGBT, though by no means am I an expert though I read from the best. But having previously done research on the Holocaust, I cannot even begin to imagine what it would be like to grow up gay during Hitler’s rise to power in Germany.

    The terror must have been traumatizing to say the least. I think in many ways we are seeing it lived out in Benedict XVI. Because of the past research that I have done, I feel the traumatizing effects every time Benedict XVI attacks LGBT people overtly or covertly.

    I think that the man has been tortured beyond belief growing up in Germany right at the time Hitler comes to power. Benedict XVI, appears, so closely to be following Hitler’s example of attacking the homosexuals. Of course not in the least do I think that he is doing this consciously, as many us do not, when, as adults, we become the aggressor and begin abusing others the way we have been abused as children. Not until we realize that we have become the same terrorizing person or persons of our past do we in deep sorrow repent and make amends.

    However, even though, I feel this deep empathy for Benedict XVI, he still must not be allowed to abuse people, especially children. It has to stop!!!

    You are so inspiring to me thank you for your enduring efforts for Marriage Equality for everyone.

    Fr. Marty Kurylowicz

  25. If Rowan was not thinking that the RC move was proselyting or agreession – wonder how he came to the idea to say it was “not”

    ..sort like how you have to read Paul — things that he talks against are what’s really happening.

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