Are Anglo Catholics Catholic?

A reader has sent the following quotation which sums up the question when Anglicans who like to dress up chortle, “Oh, we’re much more Catholic than the Catholics!”

Reed, an Episcopalian who teaches at the University of North Carolina, sums up the irony of Anglo-Catholicism: “A movement that originally championed orthodoxy had come to defend freedom; begun in opposition to religious liberalism, the movement now appealed to liberal values for its survival. Cardinal Manning, once an Anglo-Catholic clergyman himself, saw the irony, and maintained that ‘Ritualism is private judgment in gorgeous raiment, wrought about with divers
colors.’ He declared that ‘every fringe in an elaborate cope worn without authority is only a distinct and separate act of private judgment; the more elaborate, the less Catholic; the nearer the imitation, the further from the submission of faith.’”


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  • Andrew

    You need not beat up on Anglo-Catholics, father. There are not enough of them left to fight back, and they have been so beaten up by their co-religionists in the Episcopal organization, you might have an encouraging word or two. The future is the Ordinariate, and a kindly word goes much father than condemnation. I would frankly rather be with faithful Anglo-Catholics than in a dissenting Roman parish.

  • Independent

    The dedication of”The Panther and the Hind” by Fr Aidan Nichols, OP is to “Eric Lionel Mascall, magistro catholicae veritatis “. Dr Mascall was the outstanding Anglo-catholic intellectual of the 20th century. Fr Nichols says that of (p 128) Darwell Stone, Kenneth Kirk, Austin Farrer, Rric Mascall , Henry Chadwick, and John Macquarrie “the orthodox Roman Catholic can recognise with but little effort ‘separated doctors’ of the Catholic Church”. Fr Nichols himself, with his lecture on “Anglican Uniatism” and his encouragement of the Traditional Anglican Communion – the body which petitioned the Holy See for doctrinal union and set off the process which resulted in Anglicanorum Coetibus – can be regarded as one of the inspirers of the Ordinariate.

  • Fr Levi

    those who are into it for the sake of dressing up are no more Catholic than a transvestite is a woman: they may look the part, but there is no substance or reality. But keep those who are less concerned with fancy copes and the latest imported incense than they are with orthodoxy of faith in your prayers … who knows in what way those prayers may be answered …

  • FW Ken

    My church history professor, an Episcopalian of protestant convictions, taught me that “Catholic” is simply that body in Communion with Rome. If your bishop is not in Communion with the bishop of Rome, you are not a Catholic, biretta or no.

  • Lynda

    How can “Anglicanism” ever be universal/unitary?; it can only ever be derivative, basing itself on that from which it continually separates itself (for anachronistic, local reasons).

  • Deb

    Anglo-Catholics are only as Catholic as their submission and allegiance to the Holy Father and the Magesterium. The Anglican tradition is a wonderful example of how liturgy alone can neither unite nor maintain purity in Christ’s Church.

  • flyingvic

    I suppose it was too much to hope that Father’s few years’ sojourn in the wilderness that is the south of England might have awakened a capacity for irony. Instead, we have the patronising “when Anglicans who like to dress up . . .” presented as being entirely devoid of any Christian faith or content whatsoever. It seems to be offered here as being a simple statement of truth, and that is how some commenters appear to have taken it also. So here’s a question: if we are simply to look upon the surface of things and assume in our infinite wisdom that there is nothing of substance to be found there that is worthy of our notice, ought we to prefer the liturgy to be offered with due reverence, proper ceremonial and with a healthy respect for tradition? Or with the casual, slapdash, anything-goes attitude that seems to characterise almost every Roman Catholic Mass I attend?

  • Romulus

    I have no experience with Anglo-Catholics, but plenty with magpie Protestants — Episcopalians and others — long separated from the Church of their ancestors, but still incapable of resisting its gravitational attraction, who in vain pursuit of authenticity adorn their worship haphazardly with all manner of alien found objects and practices.

  • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    I think you have read too much into the quote. Manning was simply saying in his own way an old Texan witticism that a fellow who dresses as a cowboy doesn’t necessarily own any cattle: “He’s all ten gallon hat and no cattle.”

  • Independent

    Manning at times suggested that Newman, who did not share his ultramontanism, was not really a catholic.

  • veritas

    Manning’s comment: “the nearer the imitation, the further from the submission of faith”, sums it up.
    Any Anglo-Catholic who copies the externals of Catholicism, yet fails to accept the authority of the Rock appointed by Our Blessed Lord Himself, i.e. St Peter and his successors, is ultimately living a lie.

    I pray regularly that they will come home. The Ordinariate is a great way for them to become real Catholics, not just Protestants in fancy dress.

  • LT

    Are they Catholic? Have they taught the same thing in all places and at all times?

  • Elleblue

    I am very nervous when there is so much emphasis put on externals (garments, language, etc.) Unfortunately I have heard this statment about Anglicans being more Catholic than Catholics more times than I care to remember.

    What makes me very nervous is when a person is drawn to something because they are so unhappy with what they have. I’d feel better if they were drawn to the Catholic Church out of respect and love, not because they can’t stand what they have!

  • Independent

    LT – on your criteria one might doubt whether the early church was catholic as uniformity of teaching was not always present and the development of doctrine took a long time.

  • Jonty

    At Mass yesterday I was feeling a little nostalgic for my own anglo-catholic days.

    Music was a guitar and an accordion, nobody sang the hymns, the Extraordinary Ministers made an unholy show during the ablutions as they drained the chalices. I could go on.

    Don’t get me wrong. Am glad to be a Catholic. Just wish Mass wasn’t so awful.

  • Keith Fraser

    A few days ago @Flyingvic remonstrated with me about my comment in this post when I said that Anglicans/Episcopalians don’t call us “Roman Catholics”, they call us “Romans” as a form of insult. You can find it here:

    It didn’t take too long for @Andrew to prove me right in the face of Flyingvic’s response when he said above:

    “I would frankly rather be with faithful Anglo-Catholics than in a dissenting Roman parish.”

    Roman parish: Sorry Andrew we aren’t “Romans”, we don’t dress in togas, attend Senate and then clear out for an orgy. Can we just straighten that point up now please? Neither have you stepped in “dog Roman”. So let’s have some clarity of terms, you are no more Catholic than I am Roman. OK? Thank you though, for inadvertently proving what Flyingvic denied.

  • Paul Susac


    Classic in-goup dialogue: Are those people over their REALLY members of the in group? You sound like a bunch of Protestants!