Open Wide the Doors

UPDATE: Go here to read the response of John Hepworth, the leader of the Traditional Anglican Communion.

Go here to read Fr Rutler’s astringent analysis.
The announcement has now been made that the Catholic Church has set up a structure called a ‘personal ordinariate’ to be recognized globally to welcome disaffected Anglicans into full communion. Rorate Caeli has the text here as well as the statements of the Archbishops of Canterbury and Westminster and the traditionalist bishops of the Church of England. Damien Thompson enthuses about it here. Yahoo news explains it clearly here. Catholic Online writes eloquently here.

It will work like this: a priest or bishop will be appointed by Rome in particular areas to oversee the reception of Anglicans into full communion individually, on the congregational level and on the denominational level. He will continue to minister to them as their bishop. Former Anglicans will be able to retain their own traditions of worship. Presumably this means they will use the already approved Book of Divine Worship. Married former Anglican priests will be dispensed from the vow of celibacy and be ordained to serve as Catholic priests.

The structure will be similar to that of the military bishops who serve a dispersed flock or the structure of the Eastern Rite churches where a bishop in communion with the Holy See ministers to a dispersed flock with their own ethnic and historic spirituality and liturgical patrimony.

That’s how it will work. The big question is, how will the Anglicans respond? There will be a range of responses. The Archbishop of Canterbury seems rather stunned by the whole thing, and yet there has been talk of this happening for a couple of years now. I think the mainstream Anglicans have been putting their head in the sand about this possibility for some time, and have considered the overtures of the TAC to Rome to be ‘just a few former Anglican schismatics flexing their muscles.’ That Rome has taken them seriously will come as a slap in the face to the mainstream Anglicans who keep investing in the ‘past-the-sell-by-date’ forms of the old ecumenism.

So what will the Anglican response be? Worldwide we may see whole Anglican provinces come into full communion. They will be small ones like the Anglican Church in Papua New Guinea for instance. More likely we will see several of the Anglican splinter groups come into full communion en bloc. Many of these groups in the United States, for instance, already have their own buildings and clergy, and could come over very easily. Next you will see particular congregations vote to leave the Episcopal church or Anglican Church. Then there will be a fight for the buildings. It will be better for these groups of people to leave quietly and work with the Catholics in their area to find a suitable building and maintain their worship.

I am most interested to imagine what will happen in England. I doubt very much whether we will see whole congregations of Anglo Catholics coming over. Damien Thompson is very enthusiastic, but Anglicans love their buildings. I doubt if the Anglican Church will release any of their property, and without the beautiful church will Anglicans step out on their own? I doubt it. However, I may be wrong. What if the Anglican Church were to respond in kind and say, “You know, we have too many churches already. In each major town we are going to hand over one church to the ‘Anglican Use’ Catholics.

It could happen. Pray for the progress of this exciting step forward.

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  • truthfinder

    Wow! I'm speechless with joy!

  • Andrew

    Glory to God!Thanks to the Holy Father!This is earthshaking.Party time!and to you Fr. L – thanks for your graciousness.

  • Natasa

    Wonderful news. Let's hope it will bear fruits in England.

  • Dean

    Wasn't the Church of England looking at selling (or giving) some of the church buildings to other denominations a few monthes ago?Of course that could end up like my kids toys, ignore them until a brother wants it.

  • kkollwitz

    I'm awake now. Amazing.

  • R

    never mind that the church of england itself seized catholic properties way back when …

  • Karen

    R said exactly what I was thinking! Don't suppose the Catholic Church can claim their stolen property.

  • The Cellarer blogged about buildings quite by chance a few days ago, my parish v the episcopal parish. The post has pictures of what Anglo Catholics generally will be leaving to what they may well be facing. Not for the faint hearted…

  • Just another mad Catholic

    perhaps things won't change much in England but where the rod of cantebury rules has lost is force I forsee many miracles

  • Giovanni A. Cattaneo

    Yeah its about damn time they return Church property. Oh let us not even start on the monasteries the English Gov would be paying the Church back for centuries.

  • alicoop8608

    Pray pray pray pray pray pray…. There is such an abundance of grace to be had if we only ask for it! By the way, I enjoy your blog. I'm a long time reader, first time poster!

  • Éstiel

    Returning church property? There would be titles that were bestowed, newly landed aristocrats who bought or were given abbeys, monasteries, etc., in exchange for signing Henry's lie. If these were returned to the Catholic orders to whom they belonged, I wonder if the sundry earldoms, dukedoms, etc., would vanish along with the property. This question is quite outside the one of returning actual churches. Where, oh my, would the artificial English monarchs get crowned? Or hold their weddings and funerals? Idle chatter. The news from the Church is wonderful. We'll see what the Anglicans do with it…. The threat to leave the Anglican Church is one thing, but ….

  • Joseph

    I asked this at WDTPRS but I'll ask it again here (it was written before the announcement so some of it may be in the wrong tense, etc.):I think I am missing something big about this whole thing. If there are Anglicans who recognise the truth of the Church (infallibility, dogmas, etc.) then why won’t they convert individually or without hanging onto their Use? Do they just like the olde-fashionede English? I am a convert and I had to make sacrifices – why can’t they just convert individually, accepting that they will lose some of their old ways? If they accept that the Church is the true Church of Christ, isn’t there therefore a moral onus on them to convert?

  • Éstiel

    That has always been my question, too, Joseph, but I have been chastised for being "insensitive".

  • Edward Elkins jr.

    When I was in my early 20's I was fellowshiping at a St. Mary's parish in Corvalis,Oregon. One day I decided to visit the episcopalean church and take a peak inside. The choir leader asked me to sing in the choir. I attended a few practices and the man had a mirror to look at himself on the piano. OK just a bit vain. The singers were awfull to myself if others wanted to hear them. I sang out loudly over them to drown their voices out and he got upset. He told me he thought I needed to be a more disciplined singer to not sing out louder than the others. I didnt want to tell him I didnt want to hear their voices. I later sang in another anglican choir in Sacramento California. It never seemed to be an anointed to worship service like the catholic worship always has been to me. Even the communion just not a mystical experience for me. I hope and pray that the Anglicans wont try and make something celtic out of being catholic. I am an american decendant Elkins. The very first ship to request to come to america was owned by The Elkins Man I supposedly am decendant to. The state of Oregons first senator I am 5 generations from. However I never had any desire to worship being anglo. I am a bit scandinavian and I have had my own experience understanding my own existance I should hope they would recognize that the baptism of the Holy Spirit made us joint heirs with christ and makes us citizens of heaven . I definately dont want to honor all the rituals and rites of the anglican like they have some kind of spiritual lineage because of their anglican order. I dont believe in Celtic church or all their feudalist chivalry thing.

  • Neophyte

    Converts galore! WOW.

  • CPT Tom

    In some parts of the US a building to worship in shouldn't be a big issue, considering some diocese there are empty/mothballed churches a plenty. This is of course if the current dioceses are charitable to those fleeing the holocaust that is the The Episcopal Church.

  • The Bovina Bloviator

    What if the Anglican Church were to respond in kind and say, "You know, we have too many churches already. In each major town we are going to hand over one church to the 'Anglican Use' Catholics.I don't think we may expect such gracious behavior from Ms Schori and the Episcopal Church.

  • Neophyte

    It's all about Location, Location,Location.

  • Just another mad Catholic

    @JoesephI think that they wanted cetain assurances such as their status in the Church before they took the last few steps across the tiber, remember that there have been bishops in the past who've wanted to stop this sort of thing all in the name of false ecuminism

  • RomanCatholic Deacon

    Oh! How I longed and prayed for this day and hopefully the future day when our Eastern brethren come aboard too! I sure love their Liturgies! BTW Father, there is a few Anglican churches in my area of Florida. How would one find out which are contemplating this move towards Rome? I would love to meet with them.Deacon John Giglio

  • margaret

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Éstiel

    I never thought of that, Margaret. I believe you're right.