Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Anglicans are Coming! The Anglicans are Coming!

The Catholic blogosphere has been humming with the news about the Vatican issuing a document that will enable Catholic national conferences of bishops to set up special ordinates for disaffected Anglicans/Episcopalians. Those Anglicans that do come to the Catholic Church, will be able to maintain their own congregations, liturgy, and clergy (including married clergy). The National Catholic Reporter, America magazine, and the blog, Whispers in the Loggia, all have stories and commentary about this.

While I think it is good that the Church is willing to offer a spiritual home for these Anglicans who feel abandoned by their church; there are some issues to be concerned about. First is a case of "the grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence." While Rome promises to be accommodating to the liturgies, spirituality, and traditions of any Anglicans who come into the Church; there is the possibility of culture clash. I think that any Anglicans, no matter how traditionalist or conservative they may be; come with a very different view of church governance. Some congregations have an empowered lay vestry, where the laity have had a strong voice in the decision making process. They will come up against a Catholic tradition of centralized, clerical, authority; with the laity having limited input.

This possible culture clash also has a risk for Catholic authorities also. Seeing laity taking an active role in decisions; could influence the Catholic laity. Also, a more visible married clergy, could cause Roman Catholics to raise questions anew about the practice of priestly celibacy.

Finally, there is the question of a Catholic Church that may have a sign at the door, "Conservatives welcomed! All others need not apply." As I have read in another blog, this is an additional act that, taken with the attempts to reconcile with the Society of St. Pius X, and the appointment of an archconservative cardinal to the congregation that nominates bishops; gives one the impression that even progressive, moderate Catholics are not welcomed in the Church.

It is going to be interesting to see how this is all going to work out, as the various conferences of bishops decide how to implement the Vatican's policy on Anglican converts. Stay tuned!

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