10.22.2009

Some thoughts on the Anglican situation...

Some progressive may worry, with Michael Sean Winters, "that some of these newcomers will also be nostalgists, anti-feminists, and anti-gay bigots."

Of course they will, but let's not worry about that. I mean, this is the Roman Catholic Church. A few thousand more of each would be a drop in the bucket compared to what we already have.

* * *

I doubt the numbers will be very substantial. I've seen a couple of articles that pointed out that the Anglican converts will be expected to accept the teachings about divorce, contraception, transubstantiation, and the pope as "God's representative on Earth." For many of us brought up in the Church, these are easily shrugged off as relics of a bygone era, but for prospective converts I imagine they will loom a bit more largely and will likely be stumbling blocks for many.

* * *

This could well hasten the arrival of a married Catholic priesthood, which was already inevitable. As someone who thinks the ordained ministry needs to be reformed far beyond the celibacy issue, I don't know how I feel about that. It will only delay the changes that really need to be made.

* * *

An article in The Times claims, "A 'rush to Rome' would resolve Catholicism's shortage of priests, win back some ancient church buildings annexed at the Reformation and reduce Anglicanism to an anxious, liberal rump."

Actually, it will do none of those things.

With Anglican laypeople coming over along with Anglican priests, the layperson-to-priest ratio is not likely to change much at all, much less "resolve" the problem.

In a comment attached to that story, a Rev. Peter Hawkins wrote,
Most ancient Church property in England is owned by the same officials that owned it at the time of the separation from Rome in 1570 with the excommunication of Elizabeth I. It is owned by Bishops, Deans, Chapters and Incumbents. They cease to hold their office if they become Roman Catholics or any other denomination. Modern Roman Catholic Church Property is owned by Diocesan Trusts. The Church of England in this matter is a series of linked corporations. It is most unlikely that any ancient property could or would be transferred to any Roman Catholic Trust.
Finally, there is good reason to believe that a lot of conservative Anglicans aren't going to see Rome as a solution to their problem. Some of the conservative Anglicans who have already broken away from the Anglican Church of Canada, for example, have already indicated their intention to stick with the Anglican Communion.

I have a feeling we'll look back on this in the future and wonder what all the fuss was about.

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3 Comments:

Anonymous Terence Weldon said...

I agree that numbers are unlikely to be substantial, and that those coming across will be unlikely to differ too dramatically on doctrine, or they would not do it. Their influx may open some debate on celibacy, but restrict it on other aspects of ordained ministry.

But one aspect which has not had much comment is the impact on attitudes to church discipline and decision taking. Anglicans are accustomed to decision making procedures involving all - bishops, clergy and laity. They are unlikely to take easily to the Vatican top-down style.

Will this lead to any loosening up of style?

3:43 PM  
Blogger colkoch said...

There has also been some early rethinking around the status of married clergy in that it will not be a permanent part of the Anglican Rite, but only pertains to currently married priests.

This might be OK for the current TAC generation, but not so OK for future generations.

I just can't see the Vatican giving up the control inherent in the all male celibate priesthood. The appointment of Burke to the Congregation of Bishops is probably just as telling a sign as the invitation to TAC. The old guard is not going to give away their exclusive control---certainly not to TAC, and in that Terence I think you are right on target.

4:56 PM  
Blogger PrickliestPear said...

Terence:

"Will this lead to any loosening up of style?"

I would say almost certainly not. There are already far more existing Catholics resisting the Vatican's top-down style. It hasn't made a difference.

Colleen:

"I just can't see the Vatican giving up the control inherent in the all male celibate priesthood."

I agree. I have no doubt it will apply only to presently married Anglican priests and maybe existing married Anglican seminarians. It will be interesting to see how they handle that.

12:11 PM  

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