Thursday, January 29, 2009

London Telegraph: "Traditional Anglicans 'to be offered personal prelature by Pope'"

Interesting speculation by Damian Thompson of the Telegraph regarding reports that the Pope may be preparing to recognize the Traditional Anglican Communion (with about a half a million members, including about 5,200 members in 100 parishes in the United States) and may offer "personal prelature" or a non-geographic diocese with a bishop to the breakaway group. The Telegraph speculates that "if this happens, Anglo-Catholics in the C of E [Church of England] will move to Rome in unprecedented numbers under a similar arrangement."

The American Catholic reports that "the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is reportedly recommending that the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) be offered the status of personal prelature. The Traditional Anglican Communion is a group of approximately 400,000 Anglican’s that have broken away from the Anglican Communion seeking to preserve their Anglo-Catholic traditions. They formerly requested entry into the Catholic Church in 2007. "

The Record reports that "History may be in the making. It appears Rome is on the brink of welcoming close to half a million members of the Traditional Anglican Communion into membership of the Roman Catholic Church."

"Such a move would be the most historic development in Anglican-Catholic relations in the last 500 years, The Record speculates. But it may also be a prelude to a much greater influx of Anglicans waiting on the sidelines."

The Record goes on:

The TAC's case appeared to take a significant step forwards in October 2008 when it is understood that the CDF decided not to recommend the creation of a distinct Anglican rite within the Roman Catholic Church - as is the case with the Eastern Catholic Churches - but a personal prelature, a semi-autonomous group with its own clergy and laity.

Opus Dei was the first organisation in the Catholic Church to be recognised as a personal prelature, a new juridical form in the life of the Church. A personal prelature is something like a global diocese without boundaries, headed by its own bishop and with its own membership and clergy.

Because no such juridical form of life in the Church had existed before, the development and recognition of a personal prelature took Opus Dei and Church officials decades to achieve.

An announcement could be made soon after Easter this year. It is understood that Pope Benedict XVI, who has taken a personal interest in the matter, has linked the issue to the year of St Paul, the greatest missionary in the history of the Church.

The Basilica of St Paul outside the Walls could feature prominently in such an announcement for its traditional and historical links to Anglicanism. Prior to the English Reformation it was the official Church of the Knights of the Garter.

The TAC's Primate, Adelaide-based Archbishop John Hepworth, told The Record he has also informed the Holy See he wants to bring all the TAC's bishops to Rome for the beatification of Cardinal Henry Newman, also an Anglican convert to the Catholic Church, as a celebration of Anglican-Catholic unity.
Read it all here.

In the United States, according to Wiki, the Traditional Anglican Communion counts only 5,000 members (though there are other congregations that follow the Anglican Rite in the Roman Catholic Church). "The Anglican Church in America was created in 1991 following extensive negotiations between the Anglican Catholic Church and the American Episcopal Church," Wiki reports. "The effort was aimed at overcoming disunity in the Continuing Anglican movement. This was only partially successful. Most ACC parishes declined to enter the new ACA, resulting in a continuing existence for the ACC, while the remainder of its parishes and some of its bishops joined the AEC in forming the new church. In 1995, some parishes which had formerly been part of the AEC, primarily in the East and the Pacific Northwest, withdrew from the ACA and formed the Anglican Province of America under the leadership of Bishop Walter Grundorf."

The Anglican Province of America has been a member of the Common Cause Partnership, but last summer its Provincial Synod voted against officially joining Common Cause, taking a wait-and-see attitude as the Common Cause Partnership folds into the Anglican Church of North America, led by the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh Bishop, the Rt. Rev'd Bob Duncan. However, the majority of the APA's Diocese of the West did vote in favor to join the Anglican Church of North America now. The Bishop Richard Boyce of the Diocese of the West "has moved to disaffiliate the twenty-three parish Diocese of the West from the Anglican Province of America so that it could affiliate instead with the Reformed Episcopal Church," which separated from The Episcopal Church in the 19th century. The Reformed Episcopal Church is a member of the Common Cause Partnership and is moving forward as well into the new Anglican Church in North America. The Anglican Church in North America is all ready recognized by a growing number of Anglican Primates in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

So what do we have? On one hand we have a potential new diocese being formed, the Traditional Anglican Communion under the authority of Benedict XVI for traditional Anglicans and Anglo Catholics to join who will be permitted to retain essential parts of the Anglican character but be united with Rome, while on the other hand we have a new province being born, the Anglican Church in North America, that seeks to keep Anglicans in the fold and remain in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Wonder what he thinks about all this?


Athanasius Returns said...

Probably thinks about it a lot already. As to actually DOING ANYTHING about it, well...

1662 BCP said...

I wonder what affect this will have on the Forward in Faith people? It might drain-off some of the Anglo-Catholics who have been looking at the New Province option in North America.

redleg82 said...

In a global sense, I wonder if the Pope senses a strategic opportunity to vastly expand the Catholic Church by offering a similar arrangement to Orthodox Anglican Provinces that may prefer the doctrine of the RC Church while simultaneously being able to retain parts of the Anglican rites and traditions? I am sensing that in offering a smaller Anglican group this prelature that he is testing the waters to see what Canterbury's reaction might be and gauge future possibilities. It could be that the Orthodox Primates could tire the constant bickering over such issues and approach the Vatican of their own accord? How feasible is this?

Anonymous said...

Welcome Home!

Anonymous Catholic

1662 BCP said...

Interesting point raised a by a friend. Bishop Hepworth is himself a former RC priest and is divorced. So it is rather unlikely he will be accepted by Rome. A number of Continuing clergy, including some bishops, are divorced. So what will become of them. A number of Anglo-Catholic clergy are known homosexuals, Rome has clamped down on homosexuals in its own ranks, why should anyone think that they will turn a blind eye to Anglo-Catholics.

Tito Edwards said...

Keep in mind that these are just rumors.

But I pray for this to come to fruition.

RWG said...

This would certainly give a wonderful option to those who feel excluded from Anglicanism. If it had been available a year ago I might not have crossed the Tiber.

liturgy said...

Everything you read on the internet and in newspapers is true.
Pass it on.