The Archbishop of Canterbury writes his bishops, and the Primates

Here it is: The Archbishop's letter to his bishops and the Primates of the Anglican Communion regarding the just released plan by the Roman Catholic Church to allow for something called, "personal ordinariates," which would allow some Anglicans to form church communities within the Roman Catholic Church with Anglican sensibilities but Roman approval. Priests and deacons could marry, bishops could not.

It appears one can now one can ask, "Are you a personal ordinariate?" Watch out, you could get a slap in the face in return.

There has been talk for about two years that the Traditional Anglican Communion and some other groups were in conversation with Rome about a scheme of reunion, taking Anglican sensibilities with them. Now, here it is.

The internet is abuzz of course. Just go out there and find the articles, all over the place. One of the best pieces is by Elizabeth Kaeton, titled "Hello? Anybody home?" She points out that this strange bit of news which is considered by some to be gasty news at best is coming forward at just the time that Uganda's new law making "agressive" homosexuality a capital offence. She notes that Lambeth, when it finally caught on that the Roman Catholics were making this ecclesial move, was right there with a message to the Primates. But where is the letter from Lambeth, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Primates, the Episcopal Church or wherever calling the whole communion to oppose the Uganda law, a genuinely awful proposal.

If some Christians, Anglican in spirit or fact, want to become part of the Roman Catholic Church, that is mixed news. I think the RCC is a mess. It is too big, too imperial, too complex, and doesn't have much of a moral backbone about its own blindness. But still, it is a place where very many people do indeed grow in the faith. It is also time for those who miss Rome too much to go home to Rome. We will still be here as Anglicans and they know they are welcome to return again to us.

But how Christians can stand by without a shout out against NEW repressive legislation against homosexuals in Uganda or anywhere else is beyond me. Neither the Pope in Rome, the Archbishop in Canterbury or any other Church seems to have taken a stand yet. It is high time.

Elizabeth writes with better rant and greater spirit than this. Read her article HERE.

Some time ago I predicted that there was some possibility that the Archbishop of Canterbury might step down along about now. I don't think he should. But I do think the cry will go up that he ought to do so. A combination of events beyond his control and his own way of working through conflict have led to a very messy situation. He has schism within the Communion and growing conflicts at home and now there is this move from Rome. I think he should stay, but I don't think it is likely to be good for his spiritual health. It is not a job to envy these days.

What does this mean in the good ol' Episcopal Church? Who knows. Maybe now Bishops Schofield, Ackerman and Iker can think about going on to Rome. Too bad about the marriage thing, however. I'm not sure what sort of news this is for the Anglican Church in North America. Probably not good. But for The Episcopal Church? Not much here. All the reasons for being a bit leary of the Roman Catholic Church are still around. And meanwhile, TEC is I think, getting its voice back.

As usual the best gathering of stuff around this issue is found at The Lead and Thinking Anglicans.

Meanwhile, here is the Archbishop's letter culled from Ruth Gledhill's article HERE.
Note that this is different from the joint letter from the ABC and the Archbishop of Westminster.

To the Bishops of the Church of England,
and the members of the Primates Meeting of the Anglican Communion
20 October 2009

The Vatican has announced today that Pope
Benedict XVI has approved an ‘Apostolic Constitution’ (a formal papal decree) which will make some provision for groups of Anglicans (whether strictly members of continuing Anglican bodies or currently members of the Communion) who wish to be received into communion with the See of Rome in such a way that they can retain aspects of Anglican liturgical and spiritual tradition.

I am sorry that there has been no opportunity to alert you earlier to this; I was informed of the planned announcement at a very late stage, and we await the text of the Apostolic Constitution itself and its code of practice in the coming weeks. But I thought I should let you know the main points of the response I am making in our local English context – in full consultation with Roman Catholic bishops in England and Walesin the hope of avoiding any confusion or misrepresentation. I attach a copy of the Joint Statement that I agreed to make alongside the Archbishop of Westminster, the President of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales. It can also be found on my website.

It remains to be seen what use will be made of this provision, since it is now up to those who have made requests to the Holy See to respond to the Apostolic Constitution; but, in the light of recent discussions with senior officials in the Vatican, I can say that this new possibility is in no sense at all intended to undermine existing relations between our two communions or to be an act of proselytism or aggression. It is described as simply a response to specific enquiries from certain Anglican groups and individuals wishing to find their future within the Roman Catholic Church.

The common heritage of the achievement of the ARCIC agreed statements, and the IARCCUM principles for shared work and witness (in Growing Together in Unity and Mission, 2007), remain the solid ground both for our future co-operation as global communions, and our regional and local growth in common faith and witness. For those who wish to enter into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church in the near future, this announcement will clarify possible options, and we wish them God’s strength and guidance in their discernment. Meanwhile our ecumenical relationships continue on their current cordial basis, regionally and internationally.

+ Rowan Cantuar


  1. I can say that this new possibility is in no sense at all intended to undermine existing relations between our two communions or to be an act of proselytism or aggression.

    Perhaps, the intention to undermine was not there. I can't read minds. However, the result will be a mess for the Church of England. As I said elsewhere, if you play with fire, you should not be surprised if you get burned. Rowan should have known that the Vatican will not share authority with what they consider to be just another "apostate, heretical, and schismatic" church.

    The effect of the Vatican plan on TEC will be less, because many of the disaffected are already gone. The question for those married bishops who have left and those with one foot in and one foot out of TEC will be mainly whether they are willing to become lowly priests forever to join up with Rome. To those bishops, priests, and laity who wish to go to Rome, I say Godspeed. Don't forget to leave the keys.

  2. l'eveque clandestine20/10/09 7:19 PM

    Perhaps Mother Kaeton, whom you quote with such approval, should drive to Uganda, cut off the president in her Volkswagen, chew him out, and snatch away his cell phone.

    It seems to work just fine in New Jersey, after all.

    Have you, Father Harris, ever performed a gay marriage, using that terminology, and intending the marriage to be the same as a heterosexual one?

  3. Some things aren't worth thinking about, and others are just mere distractions. My guess is this is a disaster for most of the "Anglicans" who would be Roman and a pain in the anatomy for the Romans who have to deal with their "Anglican Uniates".

    Let's see what Friday's report on the RC Church in Ireland says and ehat will come out of Bridgeport, Ct when their legal documents are put to light.

    As my Irish Catholic mothert-in-law says - God love them

  4. James David Walley21/10/09 5:31 AM

    Once again, mealy-mouthed ++Rowan tries to put the best face on a situation that refuses such a prettification. Why not call sheep-stealing what it is?

  5. Oh, good, another nutjob calling themselves a bishop and with an unhealthy obsession over sex.

    I thought we sprayed for those damn things.

  6. I was struck by +Rowan saying "I was informed of the planned announcement at a very late stage".

    This means, at least to me, that the Vatican does not take +Rowan, or the Church of England seriously, and more importantly, it seems our ABC seems to quake in his cassock by pronouncements from Rome.

    Once again it appears we are being led by a sheep in sheep's clothing.


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