More on the Anglican ordeal...
I’ve dreamt of a reunion of the Catholic and Anglican churches in the past but I always imagined it would be a marrying of the best of both, not a rallying of the worst.
Frank Skinner, "My Church is not a safe haven for bigots"
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An article today inThe Independent, considers the question of how many Anglican priests will actually make the move:
It is in many people's interests to big this up. There has been talk of as many as a thousand CofE priests leaving, plus thousands more in America and Australia. The 1,000 figure comes from the church's traditionalist Forward in Faith faction (whose critics call it Backward in Bigotry). (emphasis added)I find that hard to believe. There are fewer than 18,000 priests in the Episcopal Church. Many of the conservatives, I imagine, tend more toward the evangelical wing rather than the Catholic one.
As for the number that will actually "carry out the threat," the article says,
When women priests were first ordained it was said 1,000 priests would quit. In the event only 441 took the financial compensation package on offer, and scores of those have returned from Rome disillusioned since.Later it says the Vatican "may want a separate Anglican Ordinariate in order to quarantine the newcomers from cradle Catholics. Rome doesn't want the influx of married priests to add legitimacy to the call for married priests among mainstream English Catholics."
I'm not sure how it can fail to do that, actually.
Here's a bit by John L. Allen, Jr. from NCR:
What's the deal on married priests?
The Vatican announcement on Tuesday clearly ruled in current Anglican ministers who are married and who wish to become Catholic priests, and clearly ruled out married bishops. It's still vague, however, what the situation will be going forward. During the briefing, Levada appeared to suggest that married Anglican seminarians could also be ordained Catholic priests -- but will that be a transitional allowance, or a permanent exception to the discipline of celibacy? In other words, will be the personal ordinariates be like the Eastern churches, able to ordain married priests in perpetuity?
Jesuit Fr. Tom Reese has raised two related questions along these lines:
- Could a married Catholic man join the Anglicans, enter an Anglican seminary and then return to the Catholic Church?
- Could married Catholic men from the traditional dioceses join the Anglican ordinariate and become seminarians and priests?
Obviously, the question becomes what impact such allowances might have on the broader debate over priestly celibacy. Whatever happens, it seems likely that the Vatican will be concerned that the opening to Anglicans not evolve into a massive loophole that ends up eroding the discipline of celibacy on a wider basis.
A New York Times article made the following observation:
The overture toward the Anglicans speaks to a central theme in Benedict’s papacy: his desire to bring in traditional believers at all costs to help Catholicism become a “creative minority” in increasingly secular Europe.I think it's funny that he said that. Because, as we all know, conservatives are so creative.
The "creative minority" is what historian Arnold Toynbee called the small number of people in any society who stave off decline by being the ones to find solutions in every age to the big challenges the society faces. They succeed when they are followed by a large enough segment of the population.
In our time -- or in any time, actually -- "traditional believers" are hardly the ones we should be looking to for such solutions. Creativity requires divergent thinking, which is obviously not a conservative strength.
Slightly off-topic, but it needed to be said.