Sunday, January 30, 2011

Pope Makes Aggressive Maneuvers to Tear Apart the Anglican Communion – And Succeeds!

Have you all heard something like this in the news today, or seen similar headlines? I have! 

But behind the misinformed media frenzy, something really did happen today – and just in time for the next part of our discussion of the modern relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion! It has been announced that hundreds of British Anglicans are preparing to come into communion with the Roman Catholic Church. This year. Before Lent!

So naturally, the media is making it sound like Pope Benedict XVI has hatched some sort of evil scheme to divide the Anglican Communion – and has succeeded! I mean, why wouldn’t he be interested in doing this? I’m sure he has nothing better to do with his time than to make unsolicited provisions for whole congregations of Anglicans to become Catholic. But to be serious, these kinds of accusations are almost as ridiculous to me as the atheists who opposed the Mother Teresa stamp – even the Daily Show, who is no friend of the Catholic Church, did a little mockumentary on the whole silly thing. Check it out – pretty funny:

But back to the Catholics and the Anglicans. Can I explain to you what really happened? Or the little I know of it, anyway? Thanks.

There have been provisions for quite some time now for individual Anglicans/Episcopalians who wanted to join the Roman Catholic Church. I personally know a former Episcopal priest, a married man with children and grandchildren, who became a Roman Catholic priest. And an amazing one, at that! 

But in recent years, something new began to happen. The Catholic Church started receiving requests – many requests – from whole groups of Anglican clergy and faithful from all different parts of the world, requesting to enter into full visible communion with Rome.

And so, understandably, the Catholic Church needed to seriously consider a way to make a provision for this to happen. In October of 2009, Pope Benedict XVI wrote an Apostolic Constitution (the highest level of decree that can be issued by a Pope) allowing for something called “Personal Ordinariates.” (Some of you may have heard of Military Ordinariates, and this has some similarities.) These Personal Ordinariates basically offered a canonical structure by which these groups of former Anglicans could enter into full communion with the Catholic Church, while still retaining certain aspects of their distinctive Anglican liturgical and spiritual heritage. And the other thing is that these groups will be led by an Ordinary (usually a bishop) who will usually be appointed from among former Anglican clergy. Pretty cool, if you ask me.

Let me repeat, these groups of Anglicans requested to become Catholic. As a group. They want to be Catholic. They did not receive some sort of flier or e-mail from the Vatican inviting them to a “Personal Ordinariate Orientation Night.” The Pope didn’t come to Mass one Sunday at their local Anglican church and say, “What are you fools still doing here? Time to come to Roma!” No, on the contrary, the Anglicans made the request -- the Pope made the provision to accommodate their request.

A couple weeks ago, the theoretical concept of Personal Ordinariate was brought to fruition when the first one was established shortly after three former Anglican Bishops were ordained Catholic priests, and one of them was named the Ordinary. And today, hundreds of British Anglicans (who have likely been planning on doing this for a long time, but were simply waiting until the canonical idea became an institutional reality) have formally expressed their intent to join the ordinariate, as well, and thus enter into full visible communion with the Roman Catholic Church by Lent of this year.

Now, I do have some other things I’d like to share about modern differences and dialogue between the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church (to finish answering yesterday’s question), but I was so excited about today’s related news that I wanted to share a bit about it! So be assured that I will write again soon on this topic.

In the meantime, why not mosey on over to that little “How Old Are You” poll on the sidebar of my blog? In case all this theology talk has been a little heavy, I figured a good old-fashioned poll would lighten up your night.

As always, thanks for tuning in, and be assured of my prayers, Coffee Talkers!

Peace and all good,

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