I have been hoping that property issues surrounding Church of England Anglo-Catholic parishes that decide to cross the Tiber would be handled in a gentlemanly manner. But I am now afraid “hope” is the operative word.
[R.C. Archbishop Vincent Nichols] added that Dr Williams had already ruled out the purchase of Church of England buildings as "impossible".
. . .
Forward in Faith, the largest Anglo-Catholic group, has estimated that 450 parishes are considering the Pope's offer and as many as 200 of them might accept it.
Anglican Bishop John Broadhurst of Fulham, chairman of Forward in Faith, said: "We have 1,000 priest members in my organisation and there are many others who agree with us. The main issue for many Anglican priests is now the ownership of parish churches.
Understanding the attachment of Anglo-Catholics to their church buildings, many of which are listed or historic, the Catholic commission is expected to look at the possibility of church-sharing and also the chances of taking out 100-year leases of some Anglican parishes, including a commitment to maintain and repair them.
Fr Anthony Symondson, a former Anglo-Catholic vicar who became a Jesuit priest, doubted however whether mass conversion was inevitable. He predicted that if an English Ordinariate relies on "shared churches and temporary buildings" he felt it would "represent a very small number of people with a very limited future".
"None of us really know how the Church of England is going to respond to it and how the Church Commissioners are going to respond to it in terms of letting property go," he said. Congregations are likely to be split by the decision and may be tempted to experiment with parish-sharing, he said, but he explained that when this was tried at a church in west London in the 1990s it was soon halted by Cardinal Basil Hume because of divisions between Catholic converts and the resident Anglican congregation.
I do not want to comment too much on this as I am not expert on peculiar CofE property laws and the like. Nevertheless, I am puzzled as to why the sale of some CofE buildings is “impossible”. Doesn’t the Church of England need the money to put it bluntly? Aren’t many of these buildings very expensive to maintain?
Surely, accommodations can be made that would benefit both the Church of England and departing parishes. Surely, the ugliness exhibited by The Episcopal Church won’t at all be practiced in the Church of England.
Hat tip to Jeffrey Steel.