Friday, February 6, 2009

Traditionalist Anglicans Seeking Union with Rome

One of the main focuses of the Papacy of Benedict XVI has been the desire to bring unity within the Church and also unity with separated Churches and Ecclesial communities. This is in continuity with the principles of ecumenism established by the Second Vatican Council and put into practice by Paul VI and John Paul II as well. Last year there was an approach by the Traditionalist Anglicans who were disenchanted with the new policies of the Anglican Communion, especially their refusal to take a strong stand against the ordination of homosexual Bishops and even more fundamentally the refusal to confess that the practice of homosexuality is simply sinful and incompatible with the values proclaimed by the Gospel. There are also other significant issues like the ordination of women, and the blesssings of homosexual marriages. At that time during the summer the Anglican Bishop Andrew Burnham of Ebbsfleet pleaded for "magnanimous gestures from our Catholic friends" to accommodate those Anglican traditionalists who were seeking to enter the Catholic Church. There was the possibility that a large number of conservative Anglicans might seek to enter the Catholic Church. Talks have been conducted with Cardinal William Levada, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Cardinal Walter Kasper, the president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity. Another Anglican prelate, Bishop Keith Newton of Richborough, was reportedly involved in the conversations as well.
Interestingly enough because he is married, Bishop Burnham himself cannot expect to become a Catholic bishop. While married Anglican priests have been accepted into the clergy of the Roman rite, the Catholic Church has maintained the rule of celibacy for bishops. Yet Bishop Burnham has continued to seek full communion. And it seems like Pope Benedict has been listening to their requests and considering the different options to bring them into the Church without creating conflicts with the local Catholic Churches of England and even Australia where a large number of believers is also seeking communion with Rome.

I guess one issue to be concerned about, and I am sure the Cardinals and the Pope are aware of it, is the possibility that these people are joining the Catholic Church simply as their last refuge, and my hope is that they truly embrace the Catholic Church for what the Church is, and uphold the truth and the faith that she proclaims in its entirety.
Recently there has been talk of this reunification taking place soon. Vatican officials have been working on the terms, which could include a separe prelature for the Traditionalist Anglican Communion, similar to the Opus Dei. We will see what happens.

We must bless Pope Benedict XVI for his ecumenical efforts, and for remaining true to the principles of Vatican II like his predecessors, one of them being the fact that any dialog with other Churches or communities is based on the truth, and the truth and the faith cannot be compromised, while maintaining and open dialog which includes a respectful to approach to listen to one another in a spirit of charity. We must continue to pray for this gift of unity among all Christian Churches and ecclesial communities.


  1. This is very hopeful news. I am a Catholic with some non-Catholic roots in England and I am always anxious and excited to hear about sincere new growth of the Catholic Church in England. I read about a year ago that Catholics had once again outnumbered the Anglicans there after several centuries. With all the evils of relativism pervading society today--which no one can escape the effects of--it is a blessing and a comfort to have our beacon of God's unchanging Truth in the Roman Catholic Church and such a holy Vicar of Christ as Pope Benedict XVI to lead us under the guiding wisdom of the Holy Spirit. I will be following the progression of this story with interest.

  2. Yeah, I don't know if these Anglicans who want to join really embrace all the doctrine of the Church as an infallible teacher, or if they just figure that Catholicism is the closest match to their own beliefs. Even if it's the latter they probably understand and believe more than the average cradle Catholic does... and maybe the rest will grow on them. :)

    Father, what does "Cloud of Fire" refer to? It makes me think of the cloud and fire that led the Israelites in the desert...

  3. Rachel,Cloud of Fire
    It refers to several things
    It is certainly an OLD testament theme.....
    God led the Israelites with a column of fire during the night and a cloud during the day. So I combined the two of them :-)
    TO me the cloud symbolizes the mystical aspect of the spiritual life and the trascendence of God, somehow there is that fact about God being beyond us. The fire repesents the flame of love, that love of GOd which purifies, and also sets hearts ablaze.


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