Last week, I urged prayers for the Anglican Church in America (ACA). I had no idea how much prayers were needed. For this week is proving a difficult one, particularly for the ACA House of Bishops.
The ACA is split over whether to cross the Tiber in response to Pope Benedict’s invitation, the Anglicanorum Coetibus. Some most definitely want to swim. But indications are that they are a minority. Most want to remain Anglican, not to be absorbed by Rome.
And that division puts the House of Bishops in a difficult position. It appears that no matter what course is chosen, a number of parishes will, sooner or later, depart the ACA.
And now pressure from outside is making the situation more difficult. The Archbishop of the Traditional Anglican Communion (of which ACA is a member), John Hepworth is hell bent on swimming the Tiber and is not pleased that some ACA bishops have announced they will not be swimming with him. Worse, he has written a hectoring public letter, complete with very thinly veiled threats of discipline. It is hardly the letter of a good shepherd. And he is not the only one giving ACA bishops flack.
Of course, this is not helpful. With the ACA split and with a likely majority not wanting to cross to Rome while the TAC most definitely is, the bishops have some very difficult decisions to make. They do not need high-handed pressure.
Meanwhile, the House of Bishops has issued a statement:
A Unanimous Statement by the ACA House of Bishops after a full morning together of questions and answers with regard to everyone's true intention.
Some of us are prepared to seek entry into an American Ordinariate the moment it exists. Some are not yet ready at this time. None has decided never to seek entry. Those not ready to do so at this time are determined to remain within the TAC/ACA and continue their ministry until the time a final decision can be made.
The House of Bishops of the ACA has not taken any steps in the direction of any other form or plan of union, but will follow scrupulously the process required by the Canons of the ACA and the Concordat of the TAC in that regard.
So it appears the proposal to move toward union with the APA is tabled for now. That is understandable given that the ACA bishops have too much on their table already.
Again, the ACA needs our prayers . . . not flack.