Anglicans, Welcome Home!

Pope Benedict has just invited the Anglicans into true communion, that is, communion with the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church! This is probably the best news I have heard all year!

In a stunning move [last] Tuesday, the Holy Father issued a decree which created a provision allowing whole Anglican communities to become one with the Roman Catholic Church while retaining their own leadership and traditions. This move is unprecedented! In reality, it has been so long in coming, and I often wondered why acceptance of these willing communities was not done decades ago. Clearly, the progressive penchant for increasing “dialogue” and endlessly maintaining “diversity” made it impossible for them to switch sides, but now that barrier has been wiped away. It would seem that such willingness on the part of so many to rejoin the One True Church would be an opportunity of epic proportions for evangelization. Yet, it took a clear-thinking German Pope to reverse, in part, the damage that his countryman Martin Luther and King Henry VIII did to the unity of the Church almost 500 years ago.

It is said that as many as 50 Anglican bishops and their communities around the world have asked for union with the Roman Catholic Church. There is one group of traditionalist Anglicans who number between 400,000 and 500,000 members and are expected to be the first to take the leap. I pray that many more will walk through the doors that lead to full Catholic unity!

The real question is why anyone at all should stay in the Anglican Church. What is there to stay for? Anglicanism is basically committing doctrinal suicide, much the same way that England’s population is about to implode due to their excessively high abortion and contraception rates and their hedonistic culture. All of that culture rot, of course, is symbiotic with the Anglican rebellion against traditional morality which slid precipitously from Henry’s heresy to a homosexual hierarchy in a few short centuries. I am glad to see that some Anglicans are not taking it any more. Many have now realized that the only place they can find the unadulterated (no pun intended, Henry…) Truth is in the Church that Christ founded to be the “pillar and bulwark of truth” (1 Tim 3:15) for all ages. Those who stand on the Rock of Peter have solid footing for answering all the most important issues of any day. The holy English martyrs must be rejoicing in heaven knowing that they did not shed their blood in vain!

In order to “manage expectations,” however, we have to let the Anglicans know that they will not enter a perfect Church by any means, just a True Church, but that is the reality of this human institution with a divine soul. They may meet some who are still mired in the relativistic morals they thought they had left back in London. They may meet others who work precisely against the teaching of Christ while remaining within our chanceries. They will find a Church that badly needs a leadership overhaul and a good scouring of the Temple, but more important than any other consideration is that they will be in Christ’s Church and they will now strengthen us in our fight for the Truth! We can only be overjoyed at their entrance. Their orthodoxy will amplify the voice of traditional Catholics hopefully enough to drown out the voices of dissent with our ranks. May the entrance of the faithful Anglicans serve as example of authentic faith to all who belong to our Lord!

Now I have a request for all faithful Catholics who love unity. Whenever we hear of those from the Anglican Communion returning to the Church that Christ founded, please seek them out and give them a hero’s welcome! I have already written to the community of Anglican nuns in Maryland that recently embraced the Ancient Faith, and it was such a joy to do so! Let us thank them and tell them how inspiring their journey is to us who were born into this Church. Their entrance into full communion reminds us of the precious gift we have been given in the authentic Catholic Faith. Let us also assure them that they are welcome in the Church to which Christ promised the very keys of the Kingdom of Heaven!

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  • Kathryn

    Personally, I’d love to see these people “come home” as it were, and if the Episcopal church in our town were to make the switch, I would love to go there. I grew up in a lapse Episcopal family that once attended that church and then I could “go home”. I have no problem with a “married priesthood.”

    My fear though is that they will not entirely cross the Tiber–they will continue to contracept, if not abort. (And I do wonder about the divorce rate amoung the married Anglican clergy.) What cousel will they give to the penitent who is struggling with family size, difficult pregnanies, and sterilizations? Will they support TOTB, NFP, and/or the Natural Law with regards to contraception?

    We do not need more Anglicans like Tony Blair entering the Church.

  • http://catholichawk.com PrairieHawk

    My experience as an RCIA catechist working with new Catholics is that these are the most faith-filled, sober people who ask the toughest questions and demand the very best of what I have to give. Having thousands more like them can only be a great help to our Church. God bless them!

  • isidore

    Celibacy, that’s what. Anglican priests will not be forced to give up their marriages, so why will our faithful and celibate priests not become Anglican priests, marry, and then “return home?” What about our Roman Catholic priests who were not faithful to their vows of celibacy, married, and were forced out of active ministry -– will they be welcomed back home? What about our Roman Catholic priests who ARE faithful to their vows of celibacy — what is their status? Will my parish need to build a rectory for our new (former Anglican) priest, his wife and their children? These are some of the questions that will need to be answered as we welcome home our separated brothers.

  • DWC

    For me, married priests is not a concern (that exists today, and could be a blessing). No difference than many of the eastern rite groups. I suspect there will be strict guidelines regarding their eucharistic theology. As I understand it, some Anglicans align well with our belief .. while others stray off into consubstantiation and worse. Of course, those groups “joining” us would most likely be aligned. It will be interesting to see what ripple this has.

  • Kathryn

    DWC is correct: The Eastern Rite Churches (Byzantine rite, for example) do sometimes draw from the “married men crowd” to be priests (as oppose to allowing a man who is already a priest to become married…the marriage vows must come before the vows to the priesthood. You cannot take priestly vows, then get married.) Not all Eastern priests are married–I think in the US most of them are not–but it does happen. I think the Eastern Churches only draw their Bishops from the non-married priest group.

    It is my understanding that the Western Church, in order to stop abuses of power (nepotism) decided to stop ordaining married men, and only ordain those who had already accepted celibacy.

    Unfortunately, in my experience (I am a convert) that RCIA programs vary a great deal. Ours is a liberal area, and my fellow students never asked questions regarding abortion or contraception. Even if they had, the issue would have been swept under the rug. Just look at Tony and Cherie Blair–still promoting both contraception and abortion, and as far as the Vatican is concerned, they are good Catholics.

  • http://arkanabar.blogspot.com Arkanabar Ilarsadin

    Kathryn,
    much remains to be seen, but I have no doubt that full and informed assent to all Catholic doctrine will be required. Hopefully they will live it better than cradle Catholics like myself so often do.

    Bear in mind that the practical effect of the Personal Ordinariates will be to marginalize “progressive” *CATHOLIC* bishops, and reduce the amount that they are able to hamper the process. My guess is that the Anglicans who want to convert are probably also those most likely to fully assent to Catholic doctrine.

    I expect the heaviest stumbling block will be marriage discipline.

  • HomeschoolNfpDad

    The discipline of priestly celibacy dates all the way back to apostolic times. Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking otherwise! Even deacons were expected to be celibate in the early centuries of the Church. This expectation extended to married men who were ordained. There is a reason why the Church retains the tradition wherein a man’s wife must assent to his being ordained to the permanent diaconate. Not because celibacy is necessarily required*, but because it used to be. In the early Church, a married man ordained to the priesthood was expected to be celibate in his marriage after ordination. It is perhaps likely that some individuals were exempted from the discipline, but priestly celibacy is the norm for the Catholic Church (and not just the Western rite) and it always has been the norm, even for married priests. It remains a disciplinary norm (and not a dogmatic or doctrinal norm), but it is a norm nonetheless.

    Whether or not this ancient norm will be applied to incoming Anglican priests under the new rules is entirely up to the Pope. But even if exemptions are granted, they will be exemptions and nothing more. But such exemptions to the order of discipline are entirely the prerogative of the Vicar of Christ.

    I don’t care if the entrance of the Traditional Anglicans into the ancient Church ruffles some feathers and requires certain exemptions to certain disciplines. I’m glad they’re coming home. To be frank, it’s about time.

    Next up (and may God grant it speedily): the Society of Saint Pius X.

    * There is a defensible argument that canon law extends the requirement of celibacy to permanent deacons and then mitigates against the requirement (see http://www.canonlaw.info/a_deacons.htm and http://www.canonlaw.info/a_deacons2.htm).

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