WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR ANGLICAN CATHOLICS IN ENGLAND? is the January 6, 2009 commentary published by VirtueOnline.org, the Global Voice of Orthodox Anglicanism.
Many of its members [Forward in Faith, a group of conservative Anglicans] have been sustained by the fantasy of a rescue operation from across the Tiber, oblivious to the failure of such dreams in 1992 when women priests became a legal reality. The Roman Catholic hierarchy in England mostly rebuffed those who had hopes of a fresh beginning with the See of Rome, including the Cardinal at the time, Basil Hume OSB, who had hopes of restoring some of the damage done during the English Reformation.More importantly, how will the Roman Catholic Church look when its "stone face" is viewed in the mirror of God? Should the Church not welcome these separated brothers and sisters who cannot accept women and homosexual priests and bishops? Surely, surely, Pope Benedict XVI will have the courage to meet them and personally invite them in.
However, nothing has changed since. The English Catholic hierarchy has given many hints of its reluctance to take in Anglicans, for a variety of reasons. For public consumption, they say that opposition to women's ordination is not a sufficient reason to convert. Privately, they are fearful of a large phalanx of conservative clergy, more loyal to the Holy See than many of their own clergy and colleagues, upsetting what has become a remarkably liberal RC ecosystem in England, in which many clergy and bishops privately have no objection to women priests, or for that matter, gay priests, or various kinds of interfaith interface.
Even new Pope Benedict XVI, who has in the past shown himself strongly sympathetic to the cause of orthodox Anglicanism, has studiously avoided making any commitment for fear of straining tenuous relationship ties with Dr. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury. Rome would prefer Canterbury to work out its own problems internally.
Even the aspirations of some, such as the Bishop of Ebbsfleet, Andrew Burnham, who have explicitly requested a Roman solution to the Anglican problem, have gone nowhere.
Furthermore, there is no sign that the Pastoral Provision being made for United States Anglicans will be extended to England or anywhere else. Despite numerous visits by various bishops and other leaders, including the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) archbishop to a number of Vatican secretariats, there is no hint of any alteration to the stone face shown to Anglicans by the Roman authorities in England and in Rome.
Options for Anglican Catholics in England are being closed off steadily as each stage of the Measure draws nearer to the statute book. There is no way out, around or through it. In February, the formal consideration of the worthless Code of Practice by the General Synod will cease, and approval by a large majority will be a foregone conclusion. As one editorial observed, "We need not hold our breath nor sit poised on the edge of our seats." How then will Forward in Faith respond when it meets the following day and looks into a mirror?
From what I see, many conservative Anglicans (and Episcopalians) will become far better and more faithful Catholics than current pew-sitters. Shouldn't these Anglicans be diligently pursued, giving them what has been provided at Our Lady of the Atonement in San Antonio, then work to resolve any remaining issues that remain divisive.