Monday, May 02, 2005

Anglicans and the Catholic Church

A reader tipped me off about this news item concerning Pope Benedict and the Anglicans.

I think it would be a great thing if more Anglicans came into the Catholic Church. In Boston a few years ago, an Anglican congregation came into the Church with their priest, who was then ordained a Catholic priest. The parish name is St. Athanasius, and they follow the Anglican Use rite. I've never been to their church but once at Christmas I went to a service of lessons and carols that they had, and it was very beautiful. One of our convent chaplains, Father (now Bishop) Lennon was the priest who coordinated their entrance into the Church and he would say something about it from time to time. The people wanted to become Catholic because they were disturbed about trends in the Anglican church. It looks like there's a real opportunity here. What's your reaction?


Joanne said...

I hope to see more Anglican use parishes. I would join one in a heartbeat, because I think their liturgy is more dignified than the typical suburban parish fare.

My son, who is an aspiring sacred musician, would LOVE to get an appointment at an Anglican use parish someday. I am afraid he will abandon Catholicism simply because he perceives the theological differences as too small to matter, and the difference in the musical approach is too tempting for him.

Sr. Lorraine said...

I hope he can find something in the Catholic Church that will suit his musical preferences. There must be something, I would hope.

Seismic said...

Of course such a Anglican/Catholic reunion would have repercussions throughout the Christian world:

This would all but force the Catholic Church to allow for the marraige of priests.

How would the other Protestant denominations react? Would it mark the beginning of a reunification of all of Christianity.

Pope Benedict is a German. Would he be able to work out a similar arrangement with the Lutherans?

wtb said...

Seismic: I'm not sure I agree with your point: "This would all but force the Catholic Church to allow for the marraige of priests."

If there is a reunion, it will assuredly be to the Catholic Church's advantage. At the moment they are holding all the cards. Most likely, reunion will be predicated on some kind of restoration, rather than recognition. That is, the historically Roman Catholic elements in
Anglicanism will be retained and Roman Catholic elements that were dispensed with during the Reformation -- e.g. clerical celibacy -- will be restored.

When people think about Anglican/Catholic reunion, I think they have in mind something like the Eastern Rite churches, many of which permit clergy to marry as well as permitting other practices which the Roman Catholic Church disallows (for Roman Catholics.) However, these are ancient practices which antedate or are contemporary with the correlative teachings that the Church proscribes for Roman Catholics.

Also, keep in mind that the Anglican Use is not a Rite. I was instructed on the difference between a Rite and a Use thus: "a Rite has more permanence and autonomy than a Use. Right now (Rite now, you could say) there is an Anglican Use, but not an Anglican Rite. A Use can be taken away at almost any time. Anglican Use parishes can be dissolved at the order of a local bishop. A Rite is more protected, and enjoys a greater degree of autonomy. They have their own bishops."

Having gotten that out of the way, here's my answer to the question "It looks like there's a real opportunity here. What's your reaction?"

Yes, personally speaking, as a disgruntled Episcopalian, I certainly represent an opportunity. I'm considering at least visiting the Anglican Use parish in my town. But it's a big step for a WASP like me.

Sr. Lorraine said...

Thanks, WTB, for the difference between a Rite and a Use. The Catholic Church already allows Anglican priests who have become Catholic to be married and ordained as Catholic priests. If more Anglicans were to come over en masse, I think that the Church would not want to place more of a burden on them than would be necessary. But allowing these priests to marry would not mean that the discipline of celibacy in the West would be done away with. Right now it's co-existing with at least a few married priests.

Seismic said...

But you would have a situation where catholic men would switch to the Anglican church get ordained and returned to the church as married clergy. Don't laugh - my high school theology teacher (too many years ago) left the catholic church and became an Anglican priest a few years after I graduated.

If someone like him would be welcomed back in the Catholic church as a full-fledged priest, what would other young catholic men think?