This message from Anglican Bishop Edwin Barnes is astonishing. Bishop Barnes was one of the so called Flying Bishops in the Anglican church. (He’s now retired) These men were appointed to minister to Anglo Catholic congregations and clergy who could not accept the ministry of women as priests. The Church Union is a confederation of Anglo Catholics within the Church of England.
Bishop Barnes speaks very clearly about the end of Anglo Catholicism. He recognizes that the Church of England establishment has spoken and that they want Anglo Catholics out. He says he ‘feels relief’ that this is so. He also calls on fellow Anglo Catholics to realize that the game is over and pleads with ‘our Catholic friends’ to offer a warm welcome.
I say this is astonishing because the Anglo Catholics are very good at staying in and fighting. They are very good at insisting not only on their own Catholic credentials, but the core Catholic credentials of the Church of England. They’re very good at insisting that they can be Catholic within the Church of England.
That one of their leaders speaks so clearly and firmly, saying that being a Catholic in the Church of England is impossible is truly amazing. I, for one, am being corrected. I thought the Anglo Catholics would just whine a bit, then get on with the job of doing things in a Catholic way in a Protestant Church. It looks like I was wrong, and that a good number of them plan to act on their consciences and come home to Rome.
The other intriguing thing about the events developing this summer is that what happens in the Church of England inevitably reverberates around the world. They are a small church, but a very important church. What the Anglo Catholics do in England echoes throughout the Anglo Catholic circles of the whole Anglican Communion. Furthermore, what the Anglican church does, invariably influences what other Protestant Churches do. If the Anglo Catholics can be successfully received into the Catholic Church it will influence the thoughts of Catholic minded Lutherans and Methodists.