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Is the Catholic Church headed for Anglican Communion-scale tensions?

Is the Catholic Church headed for Anglican Communion-scale tensions?

A three week synod opens at the Vatican starting October 4th.

Religion News Service paints this picture:

Geographic splits have already emerged, with bishops in German-speaking countries, in particular, leading the call for reform while churchmen in Africa, along with many Eastern European prelates, are charging the Western Europeans with a kind of neocolonialism for trying to foist changes on a faith they say they are preserving.

Many bishops at last year’s synod raised questions about how the church could better welcome those whose lives don’t conform to the ideals of the catechism — cohabiting couples and those who are divorced and remarried without an annulment, for example, and even gay couples.

While those categories weren’t the only issues raised at the synod, they became flashpoints for controversy, and came to stand for the larger, more neuralgic debate over whether church teachings and practices could change.

Those who follow the Anglican Communion will be familiar with the charge of neocolonialism resulting from changes in church teaching.


Photo: 2014 Synod (credit)



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Marshall Scott

You know, there is actually a long history of schismatic groups leaving the Roman Catholic Church, sometimes with significant Church-wide consequences. Just because we are heirs of the Reformation doesn’t mean that the Reformation wasn’t this sort of event (or, really, series of events) from the perspective of Rome. We have seen more recently the departure of the Old Catholic Churches, and schismatic groups either marginalized or reinterpreted in Brazil and in Europe (LeFevre, anyone?). Perhaps the first such division led to the Great Schism of the Orthodox East and the Catholic West (and that’s if we don’t think of the separation of the Oriental Orthodox or the Ancient Churches of the East, among others).

So, it seems to me Rome has been through this before, and, remarkably, and continued. Perhaps that’s a better perspective for us to bring to our own difficulties.

Cynthia Katsarelis

I agree with Bill. They aren’t going to change their beliefs. They just might stop being oppressive jerks about them so that they can move on with the clearer and more pressing Gospel issues.

Bill Carroll

I think that any schism would be even smaller and less consequential then so-called continuing Anglican groups. The great advantage of Roman Catholic polity is clarity. I do think that any teaching coming out of the meeting is unlikely to change the substance of Roman Catholic teaching on the family. I think in some ways the papal visit to the United States was a prelude to what we are likely to see. The old teaching will be applied in a more generous spirit. Naysayers will see this as a non improvement, but it will represent a real opening to the possibility of genuine change in my view.

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