Catholic priest Fr. Alexander Lucie-Smith enumerates the reasons he thinks Catholics would desire to become Anglicans.
Firstly, marriage, and in recent times, civil partnerships: Because the Anglican church will often bless unions the Catholic Church does not recognise, some people have gone to the vicar for weddings or services of blessing and then stayed with the vicar’s community.
In other words, a Catholic-to-Anglican convert is someone too lazy to do the work of remaining within an environment that exacts his or her patience beyond the point of conscience and especially when civil rights are in question.
Okay – sorry, go ahead:
Secondly, aesthetic reasons: I know of some who have decided that their pretty village church with its warm-hearted community is the place where they want to be. Many of these people, in my experience, have not been particularly religious. While they may consider themselves parishioners, they would but infrequently go to the Anglican Church.
Fr. Lucie-Smith’s main body of church experience is within an environment that privileges some other tradition over Catholicism (due to establishment). You can hear a little of the attendant vinegar in his voice when he describes the local Church of England parish church as “pretty.” But I hardly understand what a beautiful church building has to do with frequency of attendance, nor do I grasp why you wouldn’t want to be a part of something you consider “warm-hearted.” (And let’s not assume that visually unattractive churches are the only places to find unrelatable cold-fish Christians.)
Thirdly, church politics: usually when people have a blazing row with the parish priest over the positioning of the hymn board or some other cutting edge matter, they vamoose to another parish. Sometimes, though I have heard of only one case, they storm off “to join the other lot”, as they put it.
Pettiness, in other words, is a chief hallmark of an Anglican. “Anglican,” in this case, being a person not equipped for subtlety, but rather with a blunt imagination and the inability to carry on an adult relationship with another human being.
Fourthly, female ordination: some Catholic women have left the Church to join the Anglicans so that they can be ordained. Some lay people may have joined the Anglicans because they support female ordination.
Yes, some Catholic women have left to join the Anglicans to be ordained. Others have left with them, so that the women who are dear to them and are clearly so called can experience that ordination – not as some cheap novelty, but because they are the right people for that sacrament and the right people to serve the people of God.
The foregoing arguments mostly strike me as a pretty superficial reading of the situation. Not that marriage equality and women’s ordination aren’t tremendously important matters, but this only touches the surface, and in a painfully careless way.
Or at least it does if the list is thought to be exhaustive. I’m afraid Fr. Lucie-Smith presupposes that at the very least, the doctrine, structure, theology, preaching and music (indeed all the liturgy) of the Anglicans will be left wanting. In his world, Catholics become Anglicans in order to be more explicitly lazy, petty, irreligious, and heretical.
But of course, that’s just not the church we know. Is it?