Message to Anglo Catholics

I realize that at times my posts about the Anglican Church may seem bitter and twisted. I don’t actually wish to come across that way, and I genuinely love the Anglican Church and am grateful for fifteen years serving Christ in that beautiful tradition. I am also sad at the parlous state of the Anglican Communion chronicled here.

With that in mind, I would like to make a personal offer to all Anglicans–especially clergy–who hold to the historic faith. Being in communion with the Bishop of Rome is not really what you expect it will be. If you were to become a Catholic it would be both more glorious and more awful than you think. Awful because you really do submit yourself to the Catholic Church and that is hard. More glorious because the graces you will receive through this submission and this step of faith will overwhelm you with goodness.

As the Anglican Church again faces a crisis of identity I would like to re-assure Anglicans of a Catholic persuasion that there is a real, positive option for you. You may, tomorrow, approach a Catholic bishop or priest and seek rapid reception into the Catholic Church. You may join those who are seeking to be part of the establishment of the new Anglican Ordinariate. Either of these ways forward will help you to belong fully to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

There are organizations to help you do this: in America the Coming Home Network. In England the St Barnabas Society. In whatever way I can, I am also willing to help. Feel free to drop me a line to find out what it is really like as a former Anglican Catholic priest. I am also happy to renew my offer of a free copy of my book of mostly Anglican conversion stories, The Path to Rome for any bona fide Anglican clergyman (or woman). Just email me through the contact page on my website.

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  • Arkanabar T’verrick Ilarsadin

    Oh, dear. Father, never post a clear email address on a public web page! I urge you to change that to frlongenecker AT att DOT net post haste!

  • Alice C. Linsley

    Father, Thank you for the offer of help and for your witness. I love the Roman Catholic Church and I recognize that for most Anglo Catholic priests, it is a good direction to move. When I left ECUSA and renounced vows as a priest, I considered going to Rome, but was led instead to Orthodoxy. Orthodoxy is less familiar and not without problems, but I commend it as another possibility. Many Orthoodx priests in the US today are former Episcopal priests.

  • Alice C. Linsley

    I also found that there are many opportunities for women to serve in Orthodoxy, though not as clergy, of course.

  • Jakian Thomist

    And there is the Continuum also of course. Prayer is the answer – the Holy Spirit calls we just need to listen.Alice, do you mind me asking, was it required for you to be re-baptised in order to join the (Russian? Western-rite?) Orthodox. I've read of differing initiation ritual depending on the country involved.

  • David Wagner

    I too abandoned an attempt at Anglo-Catholicism (tho' mine was only 3 years and I was not in ministry), and tho' I looked seriously at Orthodoxy, I chose Catholicism.To choose Orthodoxy would have been to go from one "national" church (tho' of course Anglicanism has "branches" in many countries) to another, whether Greek, Russian, Serbian, etc., as the case may be.Perhaps nothing IN THEORY blocks Orthodoxy from being a world church, detached from national churches. But the principle of "autocephaly" tends to pull it back in the national direction.The Orthodox Church in America (OCA), to which most of my Orthodox friends belong, was founded with the "Orthodoxy as world church" vision in mind. But how's that working out? Last I checked, OCA was not in communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate (Constantinople) or the Patriarchate of Moscow. It's largely ex-Episcopalian; perhaps less Orthodox Church in America than Ornery Chanting Anglicans.

  • Robert

    Today's Office of Reading seems very appropriate:"Elijah stepped out in front of all the people. ‘How long’ he said ‘do you mean to hobble first on one leg then on the other? If the Lord is God, follow him; if Baal, follow him.’".

  • Robert

    WRT Orthodoxy, I love the spirituality and theology. It makes more sense than the Western mindset and theology. Ultimately three things kept me out:(1) The mess in America. There is no national church in the US, only ethnic "diasopora" churches. Yes there is an "Orthodox Church of America" but Constantinople refuses to deal with it and there's a lot of hostility towards it from other sectors. This has theological consequences. Someone can get a divorce in one ethnic church and be in bad standing, but walk up to another church of a different ethnicity and be in good standing. The outright hostility you find on some Orthodox blogs to other nationalities leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.(2) Orthodoxy seems to be split in four: Those who assert that Constantinople is the center, those who are suspicious of "Hellenism" and want Russia to take over, those who want pure consilliarity, and those who think that all the other Orthdox are heretics (caledar issue, ecuminism, translations, etc). In any case, I've repeatedly heart from Orthodox themselves that if anyone tried to form an ecuminical council to resolve issues that have crept in (such as the role of Constantinople) there would be schism.(3) The lack of resources in English. There is no officially approved Orthodox Bible. The "Orthodox Study Bible" has numerous problems pointed out by Orthodox priests but it's the best that's available to most lay people. Things like the Orthodox Divine Office aren't available. The number of Orthodox books is extremely sparse. Ancient Faith Radio (the orthodox equivalent of EWTN) is a great resource, but it's not enough and there are a few podcasts that border don't seem completely orthodox (i.e. either taking a strongly historical-critical view of scripture making it seem like it is purely the work of man trying to figure out events of life must have been impacted by God or going the other extreme to a more New Age/Theosophical view). As a lay person, I wouldn't be able to know with 100% certainty what the Orthodox position really is or be able to teach it to my children. The Catholic Church has several approved Bibles with well documented strengths and weaknesses, a thorough catechism, papal encyclicals, and dozens of instructional podcasts and web resources, I'm able to grow my faith and lead my family in faith.So in the end, for a lay person like myself doesn't have much choice. I wouldn't know who to follow, how to follow, and how to lead my family if I went to the Orthodox Church.As for the theological question is concerned, I put my trust in the Eastern Catholics. Somehow both East and West are speaking about the same thing in different terminologies, so I'm free to think like an Eastern Catholic and even worship with the Eastern Catholics in the Catholic Church but still avail myself of the rich resources and unity of the Roman Catholic Church and sacraments.

  • Mary LaBrenz

    Someone suggested "Orthodoxy" as a possibliity. However, although the Orthodox have valid sacraments, they do not have authority. Jesus entrusted His Church to Peter and his successors. "Where Rome is, there is the Church." Like it or not, if you want to have a guarantee of the truth of what is being taught (both in matters of faith and morals), you need to "swim the Tiber."

  • Gaza

    Apostate! You are not remotely Catholic. The last 5 "popes" have been antipopes and we are in the Great Apostasy prophesied in the Bible. Vatican II was a false and heretical council. Things are completely out of control right now and most people don't even know what's going on or even have a clue about it.Don't believe me, then go to and read all the files there carefully, and VERIFY if what is said there is true or not – it all is – don't simply reject it because you won't like it, VERIFY if what is said there is true or not. All is backed up by the very teaching of the Church, so there's no way it can be false and it is not.Behold! We are in the Great Apostasy!

  • Robert

    For all of you who are complaining about the jurisdictional situations in Orthodoxy. Watch this video, and it will change your mind. Changes are coming in Orthodoxy!. And sooner than you think.

  • Robert

    I would rather deal with the jurisdictional problems in Orthodoxy than the problems that are taking place in the Roman Catholic Church in Austria any day. At least my faith would be in tact.

  • StevieD

    Thanks, Robert for spelling it out. Orthodoxy is chaotic, internally competitive and disunited as well as being (for the most part) extremely anti-Catholic. It is a choice made by western Christians who cannot bear to submit to Peter's successor.

  • truthfinder

    Robert@2:35 – You referred to the "Eastern Catholics". I assume you are referring to something like the Maronite Catholics (not just "Maronites", which is different) or some of the other Eastern-flavored Rites which are very much in communion with Rome?Like you, I looked at the Orthodox Church briefly before becoming Catholic,(one of them, anyway), but they permitted artificial methods of birth control, so I swam the Tiber.

  • veritas

    Fr Longenecker said:If you were to become a Catholic it would be both more glorious and more awful than you think. Awful because you really do submit yourself to the Catholic Church and that is hard. More glorious because the graces you will receive through this submission and this step of faith will overwhelm you with goodness. *******************************I agree with you father, except for one thing. For me submission to the Pope was never a problem. It was a glorious release from trying to follow the meaningless meanderings of various Anglican leaders. And that does not mean that I accept every personal opinion of the Popes. I was disappointed with several things Pope John Paul II did and said. But never did I doubt that his official teaching role in the Church was wrong. I really see the doctrine of Papal Infallability as being a fulfilment of Our Lord's promise to be with us to the end of time. It is His act of love to His Church.I totally agree with you that the graces received are glorious.

  • Little Black Sambo

    Sorry to seem a bit sour, but I feel patronized by this article. I do appreciate the expressions of goodwill, however.

  • Alphonsus Rodriguez

    In 1889 the Russian Orthodox philosopher Vladimir Soloviev (or Solovyov)published La Russie et l"Eglise Universelle (published in English translation in 1948 as Russia and the Universal Church). The first chapters of the book are an eloquent exposition of the necessity of the papacy for the unity of the Church and the difficulties encountered by the various Orthodox churches because of their separation from Rome. Catholic Answers published an abridged edition of the book under the title, The Russian Church and the Papacy (this includes everything in the original book regarding the importance of the papacy). I think some western protestants who feel drawn to a church with deeper historical roots naturally look to Orthodoxy because they have no ingrained prejudices regarding the churches of the east. Certainly the protestants among whom I grew up (Baptists and Evangelicals) had deep prejudices against the Catholic Church. I believe that those among them who eventually became Orthodox did not seriously consider the claims of the Catholic Church. This may seem strange. I mean, you might think the average westerner would be favorably disposed towards the Church which is largely responsible for the contours of his civilization, but in many instances this is by no means the case.

  • Robert

    If any group is "anti-Catholic" it is the Roman Catholic Church in Austria. Did you all see the way they mocked the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in Vienna. About half the Austrian clergy feel that women should be ordained. So let's stop pointing fingers. Actually the Patriarch of Constantinople along with the Patriarch of Moscow are close supporters of Pope Benedict XVI and what he stands for. Unlike Austria!. Want to talk about "anti-Catholic" Check this article out. forced to abandon Latin Mass community – Brazil

  • Friar Rex

    Thanks for the generous offer of the book, Fr. Dwight. I will point a couple of my Anglican clergy acquaintances who are considering a return to the Catholic Church in your direction.

  • Fr. Andrew

    David Wagner — Some factual notes in response to your comments:1. The OCA's main population is made up of descendants of Carpatho-Russian converts to Orthodoxy from Eastern Catholicism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The ex-Episcopalian contingent is actually quite small.2. Constantinople is in communion with the OCA and also "deals with it," as witnessed to by concelebrations, shared communion, and common inclusion in both SCOBA and (now) the Episcopal Assembly of North and Central America.3. The OCA is also in communion with the Moscow Patriarchate and has been so steadily since 1970.

  • Fr. Andrew

    Just as a further note with regard to nationalism vs. globalization in Orthodoxy:It is true that nationalism is a problem which afflicts many Orthodox churches, but certainly not all. This is not unique to Orthodoxy, however, and especially if one were to go back in time a few decades in the US, one could be overwhelmed at the ethnocentrism of many Roman Catholic parishes, to say nothing of Lutherans, etc. (Most Lutherans in America worshiped in German, Swedish or Norwegian before World War I.) The difference is mainly in terms of the chronology of the immigration.In any event, the ecclesiological issue is much more paramount (the "in theory" bit). Globalization, which certainly appeals to modern, secular man, is certainly not the ancient tradition of Christendom, nor even of pre-WW2 America. Rather, there was always an emphasis on the local, the particular, the incarnational. It is a powerful thing when a leader actually has to live with the people whom he leads. All sorts of evils are possible (and usually occur) when there is no living connection between the leaders and the led (which is why national politics tends to be so rather dysfunctional).The difference here really is the centralizing vision of post-Schism Roman Catholicism (and of modern secularism in general, honestly) as contrasted with the localist approach of the ancient Church and of Orthodox Christianity. Assuming that globalization is the norm is anachronistic and explicitly choosing an ecclesiological "side." Globalization is not necessarily a good (and indeed, I argue that it's generally an evil). The localist approach of the Apostles and the Apostolic Church of course is subject to certain kinds of problems, but those are the result of abuse, not of anything inherent in traditional ecclesiology.Robert: I'm not sure where you've been looking for resources on Orthodoxy, but my own experience is quite different from yours. Resources in English are bountiful (all I have to do is look at my bookshelf or my parish library, or any of the numerous websites where one can purchase Orthodox books in English). Pretty much the entire universal liturgical tradition (including all the elements of the Daily Office) is now available in English. Your comments were probably true in this regard decades ago, but much has changed.

  • Fr. Andrew

    Robert, you also wrote: Orthodoxy seems to be split in four…Anyone who has experienced much of Orthodoxy as it is lived by Orthodox Christians knows that what you're referring to is a tiny phenomenon, mainly visible on the Internet.Similar things hold true with regard to Anglicanism and Roman Catholicism. Most people who follow those faiths are just getting on with their lives and are not particularly interested in "asserting" anything.If there is one thing we might all want to take to heart, it's that religion as represented by the Internet (of whatever stripe) is largely being misrepresented.

  • Glenn Juday

    The real issue is ‘Is it true?’ Religion deals with the most important question in life. What is real, and what is illusion? What is the nature of God, and what does God expect of me? What has God done in the world, and what is my ultimate fate? How does God expect me to worship Him? Has God commanded anything that is binding on me? So, the question of whether the religion you are considering teaches true answers to these questions is of supreme importance. Being interested in the answer is not a hobby or a personality quirk, it is sanity. What is amazing is that for some time Anglicanism has given up on even trying to answer these questions. Anglicanism is a collection of philosophies that have moved on from an origin in a sophisticated, robust culture steeped in and formed by the Catholic faith. Anglicanism is now unified by the elevation of approval and passivity, in the face of varying degrees of rejection of essential elements of the Christian Faith and life, to the supreme value of all. It has become, tragically, an embrace of contradiction over and above the essence of the mutually exclusive propositions that underlie contradiction. Accurate? Of course. It’s what the critical mass of respected, “right-thinking” modern Anglicans insist is their charism. No amount of dialog has been able to get them to budge on the point. Harsh? No more harsh than life itself, which is guaranteed to end in your death in this life. No more harsh than Christ’s repeated warnings, teachings, admonitions. If there is not something out there (your willing embrace of sin) that will pull you down to the pit of Hell, then Christ was a kook – just essentially unbalanced, off-message, politically maladroit. Tragic? Yes – it’s historically tragic. If it hadn’t happened to a great, and at times glorious culture it would not be so worth remarking on. The punishment? They will get what they are asking for, namely voluntary rejection of Christ, and all the ultimate solace and comfort and meaning and significance that comes from being able to answer the really great questions of life only on the basis of an expedient and purely human construct.