So the Good Pope Benedict, when he was a lad, wrote the members of the Network saying that the Roman Catholic Church was looking on their efforts with some favor. The great and powerful OZ was, it appeared, willing to give some attention to them.
Only... stand over there in front of the throne, don't look behind the curtain. Back there there is the same crowd that, when it comes down to it, states that the poor miserable churches that took part in the Reformation are "deprived of a constitutive element of the Church." We are ecclesial Communities, not the church. We all are without, "a sacramental priesthood" and "cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called "Churches" in the proper sense."
If not here is the Vatican word on the matter, taken from HERE.
"Fifth Question: Why do the texts of the Council and those of the Magisterium since the Council not use the title of "Church" with regard to those Christian Communities born out of the Reformation of the sixteenth century?
Response: According to Catholic doctrine, these Communities do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church. These ecclesial Communities which, specifically because of the absence of the sacramental priesthood, have not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called "Churches" in the proper sense."Even Ruth Gledhill, who in recent times has spoken kindly of the doings of the Pope, got it.
What it is saying, dear friends is that (i) The Anglican Communion is not a "Church" (but we knew that already... it is a fellowship of churches) and (ii) The Church of England, The Episcopal Church, The Church of Nigeria (Anglican) or even The Episcopal Church of Scotland (who would like to share the title, "The Episcopal Church"). not to mention our dear brothers and sisters in the Lutheran Church of America, or the Provo Churches, or (Lord forbid) the Methodists and the Baptists and the Presbyterians, and everybody else... none of these are "Church" either. So much for our ecclesia quarrels...they are not church quarrels, but only the mutterings of misguided Christians. We might have been more than "ecclesial communities" if we really had sacraments, priests, etc but we don't. The importance of anything we do is suddenly made clear: it is unimportant to the body of Christ, the Church, because we are not in or of the Church.
So why does the Network congratulate itself on being noticed by the Roman Catholic Church? And for that matter why do regular not too ticked off Episcopalians worry about what Rome thinks about our polity and our willingness to ordain Bishop Robinson? They don't believe our priests are priests, our sacraments are real or that we are a church. By the way, they don't believe our bishops are bishops either.
Members of our church who came from Rome often chuckle about how it is impossible to get Rome out of one's system. So maybe that's it... here in the West its hard to get Rome out of our system. But that doesn't mean it doesn't stick in the craw.
This is not new news. It is old news. But we might remember it in days to come. Swimming over to Rome just became harder to take. It is not, "we receive you into this Church, we hope you will find some comfort here," it is "we receive you into The Church, we are thankful that you gave up your ecclesial community for the real thing."