Corporate Reception of Anglicans

Corporate Reception of Anglicans August 7, 2009

All this talk about ‘corporate reception of Anglican bodies into the Catholic Church.’

When are people going to get real? This is not going to happen, and even if the pastoral provision is extended and the Anglican Use is extended why does anyone imagine that a large number of Anglicans–corporate or otherwise are going to come into communion with the Catholic Church?
There are several reasons why not. First one is that any Anglo Catholic group in the USA or England would have to give up their beautiful building, their vestments, their organ, their candlesticks and chalices and altar hangings and statues and copes and monstrances etc etc.
 They’d have to say an Anglican Use Mass in the local Catholic Church wearing day glo polyester vestments or launch out and find new premises and buy new kit. The vast majority won’t do that, and if they had the courage and faith to do such a thing they’d have taken the step and left the beautiful buildings behind already and become Catholic. Second thing is that their leadership would have to step down from being bishops. What give up the pointy hat and become pew fodder!? Not likely. Most of them would rather be big fish in a small pond. Thirdly, for all the ecumenical chit chat the Anglican and Episcopal churches would not hand over a thing–not one key to one building, no access to pension plans, not sharing of premises, no severance pay for clergy. Nothing. Does anyone seriously think that the Church of England or the Episcopal Church are going to come to some sort of agreement with Rome by which dissident clergy and people can just transfer over to Rome lock stock and barrel? 
But even if Rome provides some way for some breakaway Anglican group to come into full communion, all it would do is split that breakaway group. Those who want to be Catholics will accept it, but most Anglicans (even in the breakaway group) will just split off and join one of the other schisms or start another one. People on both sides of the Tiber should be realistic: most Anglicans (of whatever stripe) don’t want to be Catholics otherwise guess what? They’d either be Catholic or be lined up to join their local RCIA.
So this is the underlying reason why it won’t fly, and why most Anglicans won’t buy it; and this is why: because they haven’t already. Where are the Anglicans out there who can tell us what they want that Rome has not already provided? What is it? Married clergy? Got it. Their own liturgy? Got it. Their own buildings? Got it. What they really want is for Rome to say, “OK then. Your orders are valid after all. You are Catholic after all. You are priests after all. We were wrong. Your church can continue to exist and be like one of the Eastern Rite Catholic Churches or be a personal prelature.”
Well, that’s not going to happen, and even if it did happen I’ll tell you what the Anglicans would do: Most of them would stay put in their little Anglican schisms and smile and say, “See, we told you we were Catholics all along…” But because it’s not going to happen they’ll stay put anyway and keep saying, “However, I think I would like to respectfully disagree with the Holy Father, you see, I believe my orders are valid and I really am a priest.”

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