Every now and then, I come across a piece of writing that delights me for its craftsmanship, clarity, and insight. That happened yesterday when I came across this article in the Catholic Herald by Andrew Petiprin, a former Episcopalian canon who came into the communion of the Catholic Church with his family on Jan. 1. This man can write!
In We’ve come a long way since Cranmer called the pope the antichrist , Petiprin takes a look at relations between the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church and how they’ve evolved over the years. Please read the whole thing to enjoy how he has structured his essay. I’m going to zero in on what he says about Anglicanorum coetibus.
With the advent of the ordination of women in the Episcopal Church in the late 1970s, many faithful Anglicans whose spiritual forebears had remained when Newman left saw the writing on the wall. By the 1990s the same innovations were washing over the Church of England. The high-profile conversion of the Bishop of London, Graham Leonard, was further proof that the result of ecumenism would prove to be different from its original goal. In 2001, the now Mgr Graham Leonard was asked whether “concessions should be made in the ecumenical dialogue to attain unity more easily”. His reply was in the fashion of Newman: “Truth is not discovered through negotiations, but in obedience.”
And yet, Rome has not abandoned ecumenism in favour of conversions. As Unitatis Redintegratio teaches, “When individuals wish for full Catholic communion, their preparation and reconciliation is an undertaking which of its nature is distinct from ecumenical action. But there is no opposition between the two, since both proceed from the marvellous ways of God.”
So what are the goods of ecumenical action from the Catholic perspective? Present circumstances are proving that the ecumenical movement’s greatest gift to Catholics may turn out to be a more generous vocabulary for welcoming newcomers into the one fold – to help make obedience ever more appealing. And in this way, Anglican-Catholic dialogue continues to be a particularly prominent success story.
The publication of Anglicanorum Coetibus in 2009 and the establishment of the personal ordinariates by Benedict XVI have brought the seed sown in the meeting between Ramsey and Paul VI to its full flourish. Even diocesan priests outside of the ordinariates are now able to use the Anglican-influenced Divine Worship where there is a pastoral need.
Please read the whole thing.