This is astonishing news. Pope Benedict XVI has created an entirely new Church structure for disaffected Anglicans that will allow them to worship together – using elements of Anglican liturgy – under the pastoral supervision of their own specially appointed bishop or senior priest.
The Pope is now offering Anglicans worldwide “corporate reunion” on terms that will delight Anglo-Catholics. In theory, they can have their own married priests, parishes and bishops – and they will be free of liturgical interference by liberal Catholic bishops who are unsympathetic to their conservative stance. (h/t Telegraph)
Couldn’t have said it better myself. This is an amazing move. The New York Times refers to it as “an extraordinary bid to lure traditionalist Anglicans en masse.” What this means is that traditional Anglicans (or self-described “Anglo-Catholics” not formally in the Church) can join, while keeping the liturgical elements they love from their Anglican days. This is a great example of a pope who knows what’s indisposable (theology) and what’s flexible (liturgy).
Of course, even from a liturgical level, the Anglicans likely to convert are going to be the ones who love beautiful old Cathedrals over new-wave post-Vatican II “worship spaces” built to look as Protestant as possible. So in an incredible move, the pope may well help to revitalize Catholicism with an influx of Anglican converts who’ve seen both sides of the fence. Remember, these converts have seen firsthand the impact that things like women’s ordination, homosexual ordination, increased pelvic license and the like have had: and they reject it. Instead of “gathering us in,” these moves have created schism in all but name within Anglicanism.
What’s aggrevating about this is that some of the professional Catholic ecumenists are opposed to it. Let’s be clear on what’s going on. We’re making it easier for Anglicans to convert, and keep their own unique liturgical styles. If the ecumenists have their way, and we don’t accept Protestant converts (or at least, not en masse), we’re dooming ourselves to constantly decline, because Evangelicals and others don’t follow some sort of “don’t convert Catholics” rule. Indeed, certain fundamentalist churches count over 25% of their membership as ex-Catholics; and these ecumenists who forget what it means to proclaim the Gospel are directly to blame for much of that. If whatever’s right for you is right for you, why would anyone choose all the restrictions in Catholicism? Catholics are Catholics because Catholicism is right, not because we have some natural aversion to condoms which we want the Church to support.
Don’t get me wrong: ecumenism is good. But it can’t come at the cost of authenticity or devotion to the Gospel and to the Church. If you sacrifice those things, what do you even bring to the ecumenical table? Pope Benedict seems to agree on this. Allowing these traditional Anglicans to enter the Church is the fullest form of ecumenism: they’re going to be in total communion with the Roman Catholic Church, while preserving those distinct elements which they can bring to the table (liturgy, etc.).