Thursday, July 10, 2008

Speculation on Vatican Provisions for Anglo-Catholics

Time and Damian Thompson are speculating on what Roman Catholic provisions for English Anglo-Catholics crossing the Tiber in the aftermath of Synod might look like. Traditionalist Roman Catholic Thompson has some interesting detail to his wishes “informed guesses”:

1. Rome will set up an "apostolic administration" under a Catholic bishop to offer pastoral care to former Anglican priests and their parishioners.

2. The ex-Anglicans will form an umbrella organisation called something like the Fellowship of St Gregory the Great. The Fellowship, under the guidance of their new Catholic bishop, will consist of former Anglican priests who have been ordained into the Catholic priesthood. Their parishes, though open to anyone, will consist largely of ex-Anglicans.

3. Some Fellowship parishes will occupy their former church buildings, though this will require an unprecedented degree of co-operation with the Church of England.

4. Former Anglican communities may - if they wish - be allowed to use parts of the Book of Common Prayer adapted for Catholic use, as in a few American parishes. In practice, there will be little demand for this concession, I suspect.

5. Former Anglican priests will undergo an accelerated programme of study allowing them to be swiftly ordained. (Conditional ordination is unlikely to be on offer.) Marriage will be no bar to ordination, but no actively gay priest will be knowingly ordained, and this will be strictly enforced.

6. However there will be no question of married lay former Anglicans becoming priests, since this would effectively abolish the rule of celibacy in the Western Church.

7. There will therefore be no Uniate Anglican-Rite Church; there is not enough demand for it, and it raises too many questions about celibacy and jurisdiction.

8. That said, there could well be a future for the Fellowship of St Gregory once its original supply of ex-Anglicans has died out. The treasures our new brethren will bring with them - a poetic and contemplative spirituality, glorious prayers, fine music - will permanently enrich the Catholic Church in England; they belong to us all.

As I say, these are just informed guesses.

A scary thought for those who (like me) want orthodox Anglo-Catholics to stay within Anglicanism: Rome’s provisions for English Anglo-Catholics would likely provide a model for other Anglo-Catholics who wish to cross the Tiber. What the CofE Synod did Monday may have set off a chain of events that decimates the ranks of Anglo-Catholics not just in England but throughout the Anglican world.

MORE: Ruth Gledhill is skeptical about any big reception from the Romans.

1 comment:

Matthew said...

I know what I would do, were I Pope. I would welcome any fugitive A-C's under a regime deliberately similar to the Jesuits, and then use them as the Jesuits were used before they ran off the rails.

For surely no group of priests would ever be more firm against the inroads of popular theology than former Anglicans who had just been run out of their church home by progressives.

This would multi-task nicely (something the Vatican loves to do). First it would challenge the aforementioned Jesuits and encourage them to clean up their act.

Second, it would light a fire under the English bishops, many of whom are enamored of touchy-feeliness and woolly thinking. It would also help revive English Catholicism. These are men who are sincerely devout and committed to their faith.

Third and last, it would provide a framework for receiving Anglican clerics in the future.

I doubt anything of the sort would happen. But if it did, I think ++Rowan would plotz.