08 November 2010

Good news

Today we have the happy news that five Bishops of the Anglican Church have accepted the Holy Father's invitation to enter into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church:

The five Bishops issued the following joint statement (with my emphases):

Like many in the catholic tradition of Anglicanism, we have followed the dialogue between Anglicans and Catholics, the ARCIC process, with prayer and longing. We have been dismayed, over the last thirty years, to see Anglicans and Catholics move further apart on some of the issues of the day, and particularly we have been distressed by developments in Faith and Order in Anglicanism which we believe to be incompatible with the historic vocation of Anglicanism and the tradition of the Church for nearly two thousand years.

The Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum cœtibus, given in Rome on 4th November 2009, was a response to Anglicans seeking unity with the Holy See. With the Ordinariates, canonical structures are being established through which we will bring our own experience of Christian discipleship into full communion with the Catholic Church throughout the world and throughout the ages. This is both a generous response to various approaches to the Holy See for help and a bold, new ecumenical instrument in the search for the unity of Christians, the unity for which Christ himself prayed before his Passion and Death. It is a unity, we believe, which is possible only in eucharistic communion with the successor of St Peter.

As bishops, we have even-handedly cared for those who have shared our understanding and those who have taken a different view. We have now reached the point, however, where we must formally declare our position and invite others who share it to join us on our journey. We shall be ceasing, therefore, from public episcopal ministry forthwith, resigning from our pastoral responsibilities in the Church of England with effect from 31st December 2010, and seeking to join an Ordinariate once one is created.

We remain very grateful for all that the Church of England has meant for us and given to us all these years and we hope to maintain close and warm relationships, praying and working together for the coming of God’s Kingdom.

We are deeply appreciative of the support we have received at this difficult time from a whole variety of people: archbishops and bishops, clergy and laity, Anglican and Catholics, those who agree with our views and those who passionately disagree, those who have encouraged us in this step and those who have urged us not to take this step.

The Right Revd Andrew Burnham
The Right Revd Keith Newton
The Right Revd John Broadhurst
The Right Revd Edwin Barnes
The Right Revd David Silk

Capello tip to Fr. Z.

Father Dwight Longenecker, himself a former Anglican priest and now a Roman Catholic priest, offers his own thoughts on the matter, most notably these (with my emphases):

Finally, we should remember what the Anglican Ordinariate is about. It is not a clever ploy by Rome to steal sheep from the Anglican flock. It is not a smart move to boost the number of Catholic clergy because of our clergy crisis. It is not a smack in the face to the Archbishop of Canterbury or the Queen. It is none of the above. As Rome has said from the start, it is simply a response to the long standing and persistent pleas of a group of Christians to find a way to be in union with the Bishop of Rome while retaining their distinctive customs and culture.

The Catholic Church could well do without the headache of such a novel and troublesome group--as the Anglican Ordinariate will undoubtedly be. The Vatican has enough to worry about without creating this new structure for a relatively small number of people. It would have been much easier to say to all the Anglicans pleading for a structure like the Ordinariate--"Just join your local RCIA". However, the Holy Father takes his role as chief shepherd seriously. He's going to a lot of trouble to reconcile these separated brethren.

I, for one, am amazed at the good will and the amount of time and trouble which the Vatican has invested and the risks it has taken. I don't wish to join the ordinariate, but I wish it well, and I hope when it is established a seed is planted which will one day bear much fruit.

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