Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Vatican opens arms to conservative Anglicans

Interesting headlines on Yahoo News today about the efforts of the Roman Catholic Church to pave the way for disaffected conservative Anglicans to join the RCC church.

To quote the article:

The decision, reached in secret by a small cadre of Vatican officials, was sure to add to the problems of the 77-million-strong Anglican Communion as it seeks to deal with deep doctrinal divisions that threaten a permanent schism among its faithful....

Until now, Anglicans had been allowed to join the church primarily on an individual basis. With the new provision, groups of Anglicans from around the world will be able to join new parishes headed by former Anglican prelates, who will provide spiritual guidance to Anglicans who wish to be Catholic. Called personal ordinariates, they will be established within local Catholic dioceses.

The new provision also allows married Anglican priests and even seminarians to become ordained Catholic priests — much the same way that Eastern rite priests who are in communion with Rome are allowed to be married. However, married Anglicans cannot become Catholic bishops.

Fascinating, eh? Essentially the Episcopal/Anglican church worldwide is split between the conservative and growing liberal sides. As this rift widens, the Catholic church is looking at the conservatives and showing them that they have a place in the Catholic church. It'll be interesting to see if many Anglicans respond to this. I doubt there will be a mass exodus into the Catholic church, but that would sure be interesting! How will it affect the Catholic church? The growing numbers of formerly Anglican priests that are now married Catholic priests must cast an interesting dynamic in the RCC church.

I'm working on the second half of my story of faith, but it takes a while to organize one's thoughts!


That Married Couple said...

Yes, apparently this is quite a big deal. Here's a link-filled blog post by another gal all about this: http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/theanchoress/2009/10/20/pope-anglicans-liturgy-welcome/

Kacie said...

Ah, I love First Things! I took it off my blogroll months ago mostly because I was too busy to read it, but I read it for years.

Question for you as a Catholic - I know that the issue of priests marrying or not is a big one in the Catholic church - is the fact that they have been and increasingly are allowing converted priests to stay married seem like a movement towards allowing marriage broadly, or no?

Togenberg said...

Well there goes 30 years of Roman-Anglican dialogue and steps toward reunion.

The Anglicans who would join the Roman Catholic church are in some ways higher church than most Roman Catholics. Supremacy of the pope, married clergy and a few other issues are what separate them. But as for liberal High Church types, and especially the large numbers of low church/Evangelical and broad church peeps, this puts a greater distance between Roman and Westminster.

Hard to say what it shall mean or bring. Maybe it will be a really good thing for Christendom. Along with Evangelicals becoming Eastern Orthodox, liberal Roman Catholics becoming Anglicans et al. I hope that it's not simply a reshuffling of allegiances and religious cul-de-sac formation.

Kacie said...

Yeah, I have a feeling most Anglicans will be less than thrilled - Catholics view themselves as the mother Church but I doubt Anglicans feel similarly. I suppose I think both Anglicans and Eastern Orthodox are quite happy to pursue unity but neither are okay with the supremacy of the Pope and Catholic magisterium, which of course is at the very center of Catholic theology, and is indeed what also keeps me away.

That Married Couple said...

Hm. I guess I'd have to say no, I don't think that this would move towards allowing marriage broadly. The marriage of priests is something that could be changed, theoretically, and of course has changed in the past. But I don't see it happening in the Latin Rite. Of course, it is already allowed in the Eastern Catholic Churches.

And of course, take everything I say as merely my semi-informed opinion as a new Catholic!

Kacie said...

Huh. So - I've heard a theological arguement from a Catholic perspective for why marriage is not allowed - but what I don't understand is why they would allow it for the Anglican and Eastern Catholic churches, but not for the Latin Rite? If it is allowed some of the time, then it can't the a theological arguement at all, right? I don't understand.

That Married Couple said...

I'm not really sure why it's allowed in one rite but not another. I believe it's because celibacy is not unchangeable dogma, but a doctrine. Actually, I believe it's a "discipline." I'm looking through Currie's "Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic" for these definitions. He says, "Disciplines are those rules that govern the everyday life of faithful Catholics. ... This is a bitter pill for Evangelicals to swallow, but disciplines are supposed to be mandatory when in force, yet some of them may be changed over time. ... It has to do with obedience." I know that's your favorite topic :)

Here's another apologetic page about this, although it doesn't get into why it's allowed for one but not the other: http://www.catholic.com/library/Celibacy_and_the_Priesthood.asp
And very similar to that: http://www.ewtn.com/library/ANSWERS/WCRB.HTM

My only other observation is that, while married priests are allowed into these other rites, I believe they are not allowed to marry once they become priests. I could be wrong on that, but I think if you are a single man and become a priest, you cannot get married later on. And the bishops are never married.