Rome Builds a Bridge for Anglicans to Cross Over
by Shaun Willcock
Benedict’s New Offensive
Ecumenical relations between the Roman Catholic and the Anglican institutions have been progressing for decades. Much ground has been gained by Rome, at Canterbury’s expense. But now the pope of Rome has boldly and aggressively marched right into the Anglican ranks and made them an offer many will find difficult to refuse. On October 20, 2009, Benedict XVI made it possible for groups of traditionalist Anglicans to convert to Rome while still retaining many of their distinctive Anglican traditions!
Over the years, many traditionalist Anglicans have approached the Vatican expressing their disillusionment with the “progressive” bent of the modern Anglican institution, many of whom have left Anglicanism and already consider themselves to be Roman Catholics at heart, but have not found an official home within the Roman Catholic institution. Romish cardinal, William Levada, the Vatican’s chief doctrinal official, essentially the Inquisitor General as he heads the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – formerly the Inquisition which, it must be remembered, Benedict himself headed before becoming pope of Rome – said at a news conference when this plan was announced: “Those Anglicans who have approached the Holy See have made clear their desire for full, visible unity in the one, holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. At the same time, they have told us of the importance of their Anglican traditions of spirituality and worship for their faith journey.” He declined to give figures on how many such requests the Vatican had received, or how many Anglicans the Vatican anticipated would take advantage of the new structures.
He also said: “The initiative has come from a number of different groups of Anglicans. They have declared that they share the common Catholic faith as it is expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and accept the Petrine ministry as something Christ willed for the Church. For them, the time has come to express this implicit unity in the visible form of full communion.”
He said, “It has always been the principal aim – the principal aim – to achieve the full, visible unity” of the Roman Catholic and Anglican “churches”. But because of such issues as the Anglican ordination of women and acceptance of homosexuality, the prospect of full unity “seemed to recede.”