A lot of conversation at the breakfast table this morning on my chaplain’s course at CFB Borden about the invitation issued to Anglicans by Rome yesterday. My protestant colleagues are wondering if I’m going to be swayed by this fellow:

The New York Times reported and other media reported yesterday that the Vatican has made a very public invitation to conservative Anglicans, disaffected from their own church, to convert to Roman Catholicism while keeping some key Anglican characteristics. Here’s an excerpt from the NYT coverage:

“[Vatican City] In an extraordinary bid to lure traditionalist Anglicans en masse, the Vatican said Tuesday that it would make it easier for Anglicans uncomfortable with their church’s acceptance of female priests and openly gay bishops to join the Roman Catholic Church while retaining many of their traditions.

Anglicans would be able “to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony,” Cardinal William J. Levada, the prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said at a news conference here.”

Read the whole article here.

The Globe and Mail today was sceptical of this overture in its editorial:

“Conservative Anglicans will welcome this, but it is a one-sided attempt to reconcile faiths. The Anglican leadership in England, wracked by the defection of conservative churches, had no choice but to accept. Catholics who look for flexibility from their own leadership for themselves, over doctrinal and moral questions – communion for divorcees, abortion, female ordination – get the party line.

Catholic and Anglican faithful in Canada need a different kind of reconciliation. Weekly church attendance is in decline, seminaries are emptying, and some dioceses are struggling financially. Concrete co-operation in Canada would mean consolidation of churches and occasional joint observance of services and sacraments.”

Other Globe and Mail coverage here.

Well known conservative Anglican commentator Kendall Harmon offered his own comments, saying that the invitation shows that Rome has lost its faith in Anglican attempts at unity and reconciliation: “They [Rome] don’t see a future of greater Anglican unity they see one of greater Anglican splintering. At this level, it represents a shout which one wonders if any Anglicans will hear.”

Read Harmon’s entire text here.

For my own part, there is much to think through here and I hope to study this in more detail. However, I am mindful of several colleagues in the Anglican Church of Canada, faithful and devoted women priests with great gifts, and wonder what this invitation means to them?

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  3. I am reminded of the things I learned in my undergrad history classes: man abhors chaos, nature abhors a vacuum, and "the man on the white horse" is seen as the answer to all problems. I have issues with this opening of communion with the See of Rome as the ultimate solution to the theological turmoil within the Anglican Communion, but the Pope is a wise leader who knows an opportunity when he sees one. (And, in fairness, is responded to a need and calls to his church for aid).

    As you may recall, my issues can be summed up in one (complicated)word: Reformation. Perhaps the Tudor's via media is become as dead as they. I rather think not, though.