Anglican – Catholic Re-union?

Ruth Gledhill of The Times reports that the Anglican and the Catholic churches are just about to unite??!! Read the whole story here: (Hat tip to Jay)

It’s an inflated headline. When you read the full story, it turns out that the report suggests ‘ways forward’ and calls for continued work. Fr Christopher comments pretty sharply on the whole idea, and dismisses it as so much diplomatic wind. So does Jimmy Akin. Check it out.

High level diplomacy is surely necessary, but Rome will never be able to unite with Anglicanism at it now stands because Anglicanism itself is too divided. No one speaks for “Anglicanism”. If any agreement were to come into existence it would only be an agreement between the Vatican and the individual Anglican theologians or bishops who signed the paper. If the proposal ever came before the Church of England General Synod it would be dropped like a hot coal. The Evangelicals (who neither understand Catholicism nor want to) would walk out, and the Liberals (good protestants that they are) would object to the papacy just as violently. If that is the response of teh Church of England, you can be sure the Episcopal Church would give such an agreement even shorter time.

The only groups that might, just might come into a full agreement are some of the continuing churches or some individual provinces of the Anglican Church worldwide, but don’t hold your breath.

The real question is not whether whole groups of Anglicans will be reconciled to Rome, but whether an increasing number of individuals will. In fact, individual conversions are often more important than whole groups because from individual conversions come more individual conversions, and from some individual conversions many many individual conversions result.

So individuals need to think where they stand. I can remember as an Anglican priest having prayed for church unity for many years; then having the very clear conviction that there was one tangible, unmistakeable, concrete and real thing I could do to stop schism and re-unite the Church.

I could end the schism and dis-unity in my own life by becoming a Catholic. It was only one person’s decision, but you know, one person’s faithful decision has far reaching consequences. Every action of obedience enters the universe as a positive action, and the ripples spread throughout eternity.

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  • RC

    In late ’05, there was some talk about contact between the Traditional Anglican Communion and Rome; that seemed to have a stronger basis than the sort of reconciliation Gledhill’s writing about.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Fr. Dwight,We just left our Anglican Church in the fall to head for Rome. It was a VERY difficult decision, especially because our anglican priest spoke often about “talks” (his word) toward reconciliation that were supposedly ongoing between Anglicans and Rome. He continues to hold out hope that Anglicanism will eventually be recognized by Rome as the third “branch”. We believed him for a long time and therefore stayed (probably longer than we should have) until we began to realize that unity as he described it will probably never happen. When we left, he took it very personally and has not spoken to us since. As for us, it’s good to be headed “home”. Your blog has been such an encouragement.

  • There are few things I’d rather see, but there are a lot of loose ends to be tied up. I’m starting to wonder if “God’s Rottweiler” might not be the one to actually achieve some of the unity we’ve been hearing about for decades. It just goes to show that those who hold firm to the truth manage to get real dialogue.

  • @Jeffrey:I agree with you. His firm stance may bring about real talk!@Anonymous:You’re referring to Anglican branch theory. Don’t hold out hope for it! I don’t mean that in a nasty way, but Apostolicae Curae quashed that over a hundred years ago. @Fr Dwight:IARCCUM are protesting The Times‘ spin on the article. That much as may be, I still think people should seize this opportunity for all it is worth and not let the constraints of others distract them from their goal of unity. I personally feel IARCCUM is not strong enough at times!By the way, have you read Bill Oddie’s The Roman Option. I was heartbroken when I realised the book was firmly set in the past and that the Roman Option, in the UK at least, was dead.

  • Which fragment of which Anglican-like organization would have what ties with whom? It’s like saying “Eastern Orthodox reunites”. They’re not even united amongst themselves. The only reunion between Anglicans and the Catholic Church that will happen in this lifetime is the flow of souls across the tiber.As a former Anglican, I see too many permanent barriers to unity. So-called “female ordination”, married bishops, the liberal Anglicans oppose all Catholic moral principles and the conservative anglicans generally remember the Articles, and all that stuff about “the Pope of Rome”. Even now.Never happening.Warren

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  • Actually, the hubbub about what the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission is saying is a media spin. ARCIC has said the same things in stronger terms a long time ago, circa 1999 in ‘The Gift of Authority’. All of the proposals here aren’t novel at all.Universal Primacy under the Pope, joint ad limina visits, etc. Been there and done that.

  • A strange turn up for the books:TEC put on notice – Episcopal Church given 7 months, or face being kicked out

  • There seems to be consensus here that reconciliation between Anglicans and the Catholic Church will mainly be by individuals. With this I as a current Anglican I concur. Groups larger than parishes or perhaps groupings of parishes simply carry too much current and historical baggage to make such reconciliation a realistic prospect. And let’s face it,given the absence of a clear doctrinal line even among so-called conservative Anglicans, it’s difficult enough to get agreement within the kraal so to expect a common position by more than a handful of people at a time vis a vis the Catholic Church verges on a pipe dream.On a tangentally related matter, if anyone is in contact with Fr Alvin Kimel (Pontifications) who is taking a Lenten sabbatical from blogging for health reasons as far as one can gather, please pass on greetings, best wishes and an assurance of prayers. His site is a veritable gold mine.