What is Pope Benedict thinking about Anglicans?

The Anglican question is very hot right now, in fact, probably radioactive.

I have received perhaps a hundred e-mails in the last couple of days, with links, articles and requests for me to comment.

It strikes me that there is a lot of misinformation going about in the Catholic press and blogosphere about Pope Benedict’s thoughts about the fractures in the Anglican communion and whether or not His Holiness thinks they should approach Rome in a spirit of unity.

I think we have to be very careful and ask a lot of questions right now. 

Let’s start with this.

Does the Pope want them to swim the Tiber or not?

CNS Rome correspondent put a question to Pope Benedict on the papal airplane as they flew to Australia.

Q: While you are in Australia, the bishops of the Anglican Communion, which is very widespread also in Australia, are meeting in Lambeth Palace. One of the main arguments will be possible ways to consolidate communion between the provinces and to find a way to ensure that one or more provinces do not take initiatives that others see as contrary to the Gospel and tradition.

Is there the risk of a fragmentation of the Anglican Communion and the possibility that some will ask to be received into the Catholic Church. What is your hope for the Lambeth Conference and for the archbishop of Canterbury?

Benedict XVI: My essential contribution can only be prayer and with my prayer I will be very close to the Anglican bishops meeting in Lambeth Conference.

We cannot and must not intervene immediately [!] in their discussions, we respect their own responsibility and it is our hope that schisms and new breaks can be avoided, and that a responsible solution will be found given our times, but also in fidelity to the Gospel. These two things must go together.

Christianity is always contemporary and lives in this world, in a certain time, but it renders present in this time the message of Jesus Christ and, hence, offers a true contribution for this time only be being faithful — in a mature and creative way — but faithful to the message of Christ.

We hope, and I personally pray, that together they will find the way of the Gospel for our day. This is my wish for the archbishop of Canterbury: That the Anglican Communion in communion with the Gospel of Christ and the Word of the Lord will find the answers to the present challenges.

Some things must be said here.

First, we really don’t know what this means.  I repeat: We can’t learn from this what Pope Benedict really thinks about the possibility of Anglicans coming to Rome, en masse or as individuals. 

Pope Benedict is going to have a horror of schisms.  He is steeped in Augustine, who abhorred schism, in Bonaventure, who abhorred disunity, and in more recent Communio theologians such as Henri De Lubac, who wrote of the mystery of Christ being a mystery of unity.  Christ, for Benedict, unifies.  I don’t think we would be going out too far on a limb to ask Papa Ratzinger: are divisions in non-Catholic communions themselves profoundly non-Christian?  Even if some divided group tends toward unity with Holy Mother Church, the Catholic Church?   So, is Benedict thinking that it would be better to draw in a larger and more unified group than bring in stragglers?

At the same time, His Holiness is a realist.  Does he, or anyone else for that matter, really think that the Anglicans as a body are going to get their act together and then tend toward Rome?  It seems to me far more likely that they would get their act together and confirm their more Protestant roots by becoming something like Methodists.

Another question: Given the way the Church of England is still so deeply interwoven with English society, wouldn’t the very notion of the Church of England, as a body, coming to Papism more than a little fantastical?  Could the Holy Father really a large group of Anglicans would formally swim? 

What has Pope Benedict said to other groups who are in dialogue with Rome?  I have in mind what Card. Castrillon Hoyos (President of the Pont. Comm. Ecclesia Dei) said about the SSPX.  He said that he would rather see them come back to Holy Church as a group, though Rome would of course never refuse individuals.  Is some ecclesiological idea of Pope Benedict at the back of such a statement?  It would be better to reconcile a group with Rome and then have them preserve their identity in some way rather than have them simply dissolve into the larger Church?

His Eminence Walter Card. Kasper is at Lambeth, backed up by two other Cardinals, the English speaking Card. Diaz (the "Red Pope" of Propaganda Fidei) and the locum tenens Card. Murphy-O’Connor.  All along Card. Kasper has been doing his job in conveying the position of the Holy See.  He has stated clearly that if the Anglicans go down this loony Protestant, in the deepest sense anti-ecclesial path of ordaining women as bishops, then the warmth of the (relatively stagnant) ARCIC will take on an arctic chill.  Can we imagine that Pope Benedict isn’t behind that message?  Of course he is. 

Practically speaking, would it be better to try to dialogue with various splinter groups, or will a more unified body?  I’m just asking.

Finally, as we wander through this hall of mirrors which is Catholic-Anglican dialogue, edge up to the murky swamp which is Anglicanism, can we really imagine that these folks who are opining on the question of Anglicans defecting to Rome are entirely disinterested? 

Could some of them perhaps be pretty frightened of an influx of conservative, liturgically high church, clerics entering English Catholic dioceses and, because of the necessity of numbers, being made parish priests? 

Would that explain their dash to interpret Pope Benedict’s words on the airplane that he (incredibly) would be against people coming into unity with the Church of Rome? 

Would the Bishop of Rome really be against people being in unity with his person? 

So, perhaps some people writing about Pope Benedict’s words are self-interested?  

Are they seeking to derail closer unity? 

What would scare people, on either side, about high church Anglicans suddenly becoming part of the fabric of the Catholic Church in England?

I’m just asking.

We need a little time to go back and look at Papa Ratzinger’s thought on Anglicans – remember how interested he has been in Card. Newman, whose cause is moving forward.  His thought may be different in his life as theologian, then Prefect, now Pontiff.

I’m just asking some questions here.

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25 Responses to What is Pope Benedict thinking about Anglicans?

  1. Chironomo says:

    Hmm… why would the English Catholic Bishops and Clergy worry about conservative High Church Anglicans entering the Church… surely it would make for some interesting Synods in the future… Priests convocations would take on a new feel as well. There seems to be a “fear” of Orthodox Catholics returning as well. Is there a concern that the “Spirit of Vatican II” may soon find it’s promoters outnumbered? I’m just asking…

  2. Cory says:

    Or perhaps they know a certain SSPX bishop who used to be anglican……

  3. Paul says:

    If we really care about the Anglicans, we’ll make it as easy as possible for as many as possible to convert to the Catholic Church immediately. If you’re in grave sin, you don’t wait until next week for your confession. If you’re in schism, you don’t wait for “better conditions” before you leave it.

    This is a matter of salvation, and that’s not something to play games with.

  4. You know, it really helps to understand that not all High Church Anglicans are theologically or politically conservative.

    Fr. Longenecker is good on this point.

  5. Father Yohannes says:

    I would like to second Michael Tinkler’s thoughts; all you have to do is read some of the so-called Anglo-Catholic or High Church blogs and you see that a great majority of these “Clergy” are anything but theologically conservative, by which I mean, keeping to the basics of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic faith. But then, what can you expect, hum? Those who are left in the Anglican Communion, both in the USA and the Church of England are guilty, yes guilty of compromise after compromise. Please understand me; I believe there are a vast number of positives within the tradition which is Anglicanism that could certainly enrich the Latin Church. There are also the obvious and not so obvious negatives; for me the most obvious is the never ending compromising that is Anglicanism.

  6. William Tighe says:

    Well, as good a place to begin as any, for English speakers, is the essay “Problems and Prospects of the Anglican-Catholic Dialogue” which the then Cardinal Ratzinger wrote and was published in both English and German in 1983, and which has now been republished in the newly-released *Church, Ecumenism & Politics: New Endeavors in Ecclesiology* (Ignatius Press, 2008; ISBN: 978-1-58617-217-6; $19.95), pp. 69-99. I read this essay when it appeared in the journal *Insight* in March 1983, and it has lost none of its topicality; if anything, its topicality has grown. I would note particularly the then Cardinal Ratzinger’s allusion on pp. 90-93 (which was originally a reaction to responses to his original article) to the case of the English Anglican clergyman William Ledwich and his devastating criticism of the Church of England before he left it to become Orthodox in 1983. Ledwich writes (as Ratzinger quoted him):

    “That Catholicism is a party within Anglicanism no one can realistically deny … But it remains true that Jesus did not found a Catholic party in a cosmopolitan debating society, but a Catholic Church to which he promised the fullness of truth … A body which reduces its catholicity to a party within a religious parliament can hardly deserve to be called a branch of the Catholic Church, but a national religion, dominated by and structured on the principles of liberal tolerance, in which the authority of revelation is subordinate to democracy and private opinion.”

    Ratzinger modestly comments: “I do not presume to give any judgment on this depiction.” However, the “judgment” of the ensuing 25 years had been overwhelmingly to endorse Fr. Ledwich’s critique.

  7. MAH says:

    The spin some have put on Pope Benedict’s words has been ridiculous. The Holy Father is clearly not rebuffing the traditionalist Anglican bishops. He is speaking in their defense by appealing to the liberal element at Lambeth not to offend against charity (to say nothing of the Gospel) by passing measures directly contrary to the conscience of the traditionalists. He is showing his pastoral sensitivity because he knows that any breach with a communion to which one has given one’s life service would inevitably be painful. Anglicans who swim the Tiber do so happily but not without a certain regret at having to leave their medieval church and worship in the brick bunker that is the Catholic church up the road. This is a legitimate sadness and was crucial to discussions last time round when women were ordained priests. Many Anglican parishes petitioned to be received into the Catholic Church en masse but one of their concerns was whether they would still be able to keep their parish churches. This sense of attachment to place was also a significant issue during in the Reformation as Eamon Duffy’s research has so clearly shown. No doubt Benedict longs for reunion but he is also the living definition of Cardinal Newman’s gentleman. He does not voluntarily inflict pain. To make denunciations would be called meddling in Anglican affairs and make the treatment of the traditional bishops much worse. This way he signals to these bishops that he is already acting as their shepherd so that when the inevitable comes they will know exactly where to turn. And they said he had too little pastoral experience to be Pope!

  8. Larry says:

    I think in reading the Pope’s remarks on the subject he is telling us several things. First I think he see schism as a distinct problem, even if it a schism in a schismatic group. The very notion of schism is opposed to unity. Schism is different from an awakening to the Truth. While the “Flying Bishops” are seeking a soft landing in Rome they are not simply coming there to seek unification or con or reversion. They are seeking to leave their church and that is a problem. Second, schism is like a grenade going off. There are fragments flying everywhere. The hope of the Church is to gain a unified reversion of those whose heritage is a chruch that severed itself form Rome under Henry VIII. Here Rome is faced with the fragments of the self destruction of the Church of England. The Holy Father does not want to enter into an internal upheaval and prays that the bishops in their synod will think carefully about what they are proposing and its’ consequences. This is not the same as praying that the Cof E will simply solve its’ problems and go on its’ merry way. Third, the Church in Rome has the ability to bring home all those who honestly seek haven in the Church. While the problems are many it is a crisis for the C of E not for the Roman Catholic Church which is always teady to birth her children and nurture them with the life giving milk of the Sacraments. Indeed: pray for all the bishops in England both their’s and our’s.

  9. Being married to a wonderful Anglican woman and having gotten to know a good bit about her church (The Falls Church which is about as a good a Protestant church as you will find in the world), I have some observations:

    1) The only good portion of the Anglican Communion is the evangelical portion which dominates in Africa. That being said, they are much closer to classic evangelical beliefs than to Catholicism in areas of ecclesiology, sacramental theology, etc.

    2) The Anglo-Catholic portion of the Anglican Communion is nearly non-existant and should only be considered on an individual basis for conversion.

    3) The remainder of the Anglican Communion is apostates and in a few years time what will Rome do when the Anglican Communion elects a woman as the Archbishop of Canterbury? Can’t imagine an invitation for Vespers…

    4) Even among the evangelicals there are splits concerning woman’s ordination and various factions (AMIA, CANA, etc).

    5) There is absolutely no hope of a “major” body of the Anglican Communion coming into the Catholic Church so forget about it.

    6) Other bodies outside the Communion such as the TAC can be brought in as a full body as these groups want nothing to do with the Anglican Communion so will either a) Wither away to nothing eventually or b) Enter into the Catholic Church. That said, bringing these groups in as entire groups is filled with immense difficulties as they are not exactly highly structured themselves and are fraught with their own difficulties.

    What will Pope Benedict do….? He can’t do anything with the Anglican Communion as it is hopeless. He can try to craft full union with certain groups (TAC) outside the Anglican Communion but that will take much time. I personally hope he saves the English Missal and the Anglican Breviary as they are excellent treasures than can enrich the Catholic Church.

  10. Woody Jones says:

    The latest Anglican Usage Conference was held in San Antonio last weekend, with the participation of both Archbishop John Myers of Newark, the Ecclesaistical Delegate for the Pastoral Provision, and Archbishop Jose Gomez, of San Antonio. I was not able to attend but the reports I received were to the effect that all was very encouraging, and that there were a number of Anglican clergy there as well, obviously checking things out. Perhaps Fr. Christopher Phillips, of Our Lady of the Atonement, the host parish, will pick up this blog and file a more substantial report.

    I am one of those Father Z mentions who opine on this subject with an agenda, mine being, “come on in, united not absorbed…” despite the fact that I personally did it the old-fashioned way (as one of our parishioners rather aptly described it: “crawling discalced up the steps of the cathedral hoping for mercy…”). Along these lines, I can agree with just about everything Greg Hessel says but would not be quite so hard on some of the more conservative members of the TEC; my wife also attends the local (and largest in the country) Episcopal church and she reports plenty of fine people who seek to be orthodox in their beliefs, including the clergy. They are somewhat in a ticklish situation, standing out without women clergy or the like.

    My agenda is largely driven by the fact that despite all the good will on the part of the current PP leaders, much remains to be done to solidify the Anglican Usage as a long-term viable usage within the Latin rite, offering its own brand of conservative liturgy, hymn sining, and English style beauty, to complement the triad of truth, goodness and beauty, all three of which the human heart craves. We need more parishes, and more priests, and even a seminary, where, among other things, the Anglican clergy who are too irregular in their personal situations to be reordained Roman priests could at least teach, and be counted on to teach the straight Catholic Faith, too, I am convinced. Not to mention that this would provide a pipeline of (no doubt celibate) clergy to replenish the AU parishes as the incumbents age. For this we need an organization to exist, and that is why I personally put so much hope in the TAC being brought home, because that should be in the form of something like an apostolic administration (as Damian Thompson sees it) that could serve us all.

    For further reading one could see what Fr. Aidan Nichols, OP, a great Dominican and reputed to be the premier theologian writing in English today, says about this:http://www.anglicanuse.org/Anglican_Uniatism.pdf .

  11. jh says:

    Father I might add what the Holy Father said at the Ecumenical Rrayer meeting in New York. I think that comes into play too

    \”Too often those who are not Christians, as they observe the splintering of Christian communities, are understandably confused about the Gospel message itself. Fundamental Christian beliefs and practices are sometimes changed within communities by so-called “prophetic actions” that are based on a hermeneutic not always consonant with the datum of Scripture and Tradition. Communities consequently give up the attempt to act as a unified body, choosing instead to function according to the idea of “local options”. Somewhere in this process the need for diachronic koinonia – communion with the Church in every age – is lost, just at the time when the world is losing its bearings and needs a persuasive common witness to the saving power of the Gospel (cf. Rom 1:18-23).

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2008/april/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20080418_incontro-ecumenico_en.html

  12. PMcGrath says:

    I don’t think we would be going out too far on a limb to ask Papa Ratzinger: are divisions in non-Catholic communions themselves profoundly non-Christian?

    It depends on what is being divided and separated.

    The main division is between the Christ-faithful groups, and the apostate groups (e.g., the leadership of the U.S. and Canadian Episcopal Organizations). The apostate groups are no longer Christian–they are pagan. This is the kind of separation that a Christian wants to have.

    What was not anticipated was that there would be two camps in the Christ-faithful groups — the “High Church” group, mostly in the Church of England, and the more Low-Church oriented Anglicans of the Global South (a.k.a GAFCON).

    From the High Church group: You may have already seen the announcement from one of the “flying bishops” caring for traditionalist Anglicans that he was swimming the Tiber, and openly others to do the same.

    The problem for the GAFCON group is this: Unless they find their own way to Rome, they will find themselves in the same Christian/pagan split in their group. In other words, only communion with the See of Peter will preserve their communion with the Lord Jesus. But the GAFCONers don’t know that yet.

  13. It may be important to remember that the Holy Father, as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, was Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith when the special commission (on which I served) gathered at the Vatican to work on the Book of Divine Worship. This contains the complete liturgy for the Anglican Use. The commission worked with the Sacred Congregation for Sacraments and Divine Worship, in conjunction with the SCDF. As a Cardinal, the Holy Father was very supportive of this effort for the Catholic Church to approve a liturgy using the Book of Common Prayer as its source, to be a way of welcoming Anglican converts, and to recognize the sacral form of English which was developed so well within Anglicanism. I wouldn’t think there is any reason to suppose he has changed his mind.

  14. “…What would scare people, on either side, about high church Anglicans suddenly becoming part of the fabric of the Catholic Church in England?…”
    I have two Anglican friends. We’ve had plenty of religious discussions. As they wouldn’t want me or a rush of Catholics to join their force, I am equally positive that I prefer them in stay within their sect. Just too religiously liberal for me. Contradictory, I want all to be in communion with the one, true faith. My fear would be a more progressive watering down of the faith.

  15. Woody Jones says:

    I have been directed to the web site of the Anglican Use Society for transcripts of some of the talks and homilies given at the just-concluded AU Conference:
    http://www.anglicanuse.org/

    I would especially note that Most Rev. John J. Myers, Archbishop of Newark and Ecclesiastical Delegate of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for the Pastoral Provision gave an address in which he quoted Pope Paul VI, in his homily at the canonization of the English martyrs, speaking of the reunion of Canterbury and Rome, to come in the Good Lord’s own good time, the Holy Father saying the following:

    “ ‘There will be no seeking to lessen the legitimate prestige and the worthy patrimony of piety and usage proper to the Anglican Church when the Roman Catholic Church – this humble ‘Servant of the Servants of God’ – is able to embrace her ever beloved Sister in the one authentic communion of the family of Christ.’”

    Archbishop Myers later went on to say; “ Through the Anglican Use liturgy, individuals from the Episcopal Church who reconcile with Rome have the option to worship in a manner that is familiar to them, which many practiced from childhood, and which has nourished their faith in Jesus Christ. The value of this experience is important. For others, the Use is a welcome place where the beauty of the liturgical action, music, architecture and art enables them to raise their hearts and minds in praise of Almighty God. In some cases the sense of the sacred conveyed in the Anglican Use liturgy has been a vehicle of return for Catholics who had fallen away from the practice of their faith because of liturgical abuses during the implementation of the Novus Ordo. The Holy See, through the work of the Pastoral Provision, recognizes that there is a legitimate historical patrimony of the Anglican Communion.”

    It is especially welcome that Archbishop Myers recognized in his address the legitimate value of the Anglican Usage for those of us who are not, strictly speaking, former Anglicans, and thereby, by implication, its value for all Catholics.

  16. CPKS says:

    “What would scare people, on either side, about high church Anglicans suddenly becoming part of the fabric of the Catholic Church in England?”

    A wonderful question. Given the considerable experience of many distinguished converts here, it may seem temerarious for cradle catholics like CPKS to hazard any sort of contribution. So it is with trepidation that he ventures an answer.

    Anglicans are acutely aware that they are but a tiny minority of what they were brought up to think of as the “church catholic”. They are the hardy moths that have learned to fly very close to the candle: how do they avoid getting burned? One might draw upon the analogy of two magnets which, being similarly aligned, repel more strongly as they are drawn into closer proximity. The force which repels is the very same as that which attracts: the goal of fidelity to the Gospel.

    If any Anglican comes to consider why he is in the Anglican minority rather than the “RC” majority, he will need to adopt (or construct) an account or “story” explaining why membership of the minority expresses fidelity to the Gospel. In all but the most superficial stories, this will include some element of faithfulness to scripture and the notion that the majority have misinterpreted it by superimposing on the bedrock of scripture certain (non-scriptural or counter-scriptural) man-made encrustations.

    Any Anglican considering conversion, therefore, will have had to look critically at claims that X is pure, unadulterated scriptural truth, whereas Y is a man-made fabrication. Evaluating these claims entails engagement in at least one tradition.

    An Anglican convert has gone one stage further. He has evaluated and compared at least two traditions: those in which he was raised, those that he has considered as alternatives but has rejected, and finally that which he has preferred. In making that preference, he has necessarily made a sacrifice, one perhaps akin to martyrdom! And in the process, he has acquired authority – the authority of someone who has successfully made the journey and who demonstrably knows the road.

    What, then, of the authority of those who were already at the destination, who did not (through good fortune) have to undergo the martyrdom of conversion? Surely people will tend to trust the seasoned traveller, who has surveyed the whole country and understands all the byways and pitfalls, more than the man who stands rooted to the spot and proclaims “the truth is here!” And this is true, even if the latter is quite right and the professed traveller is a charlatan.

    But so far, this is true in general of converts to anything from anything. More specifically, in the period since the second Vatican Council, the relationship between contemporary Catholic episcopal teaching and the larger (diachronic) Catholic tradition can be called into question. An Anglican convert, as I have said, will have had to wrestle with his own tradition. Necessarily, he will have had to deal with the historic claims of that tradition, and that will mean re-evaluating the historic Catholic claims with which they are in conflict. Might a Catholic bishop, accustomed to surfing on a tide of contemporary collegial episcopal bravado, have cause to fear a more thorough understanding, won at greater price, in the possession of a body of intelligent, theologically literate converts? This is offered as a question, or a potential consideration, but not as an insinuation or slur.

    Finally though, we must remember that since the Church of England started ordaining women, a great many wonderful ex-Anglicans have fortified the Catholic Church in England. Many journalists writing about the current situation raise issues that were significant in the early 1990s, before the English hierarchy had any real idea what might happen if several hundred disaffected Anglican clergy joined their ranks and, in many cases, pursued their vocations as Catholic priests. Since that time, the English hierarchy has had the opportunity to learn and benefit from this experience. It would not be unreasonable to presume that, as a body, the English clergy had as clear an understanding of Anglican converts as any collection of people anywhere.

    For this reason, I would hazard the following answer to Fr Z’s question: “Nothing”.

  17. Michael UK says:

    A great deal of misinformation on the subject has emanated from The Tablet and Ecclestone Square [London] at the behest of the England & Wales Bishops’ Conference.

  18. David says:

    The SSPX and Anglican relations with Rome are not analogous at all. Cardinal Castrillon is trying to prevent a split in SSPX to avoid a “formal schism” – as he has pointed out that SSPX priests and faithful are most definitely within the Church and hold to the doctrines of the Catholic faith.

    Anglicans are Protestant through and through, even those those of the “High-Church” variety, who continue to prctice some Catholic-like rituals. Anglicans are outside the Church and do not hold the Catholic faith.

    This is where the ecumenical movement is very dangerous…trying to avoid offending English politicians and the Anglican Church at the expense of the souls of many who might otherwise convert to the One True Church.

  19. Matt Q says:

    David wrote:

    “The SSPX and Anglican relations with Rome are not analogous at all. Cardinal Castrillon is trying to prevent a split in SSPX to avoid a “formal schism” – as he has pointed out that SSPX priests and faithful are most definitely within the Church and hold to the doctrines of the Catholic faith.

    Anglicans are Protestant through and through, even those those of the “High-Church” variety, who continue to prctice some Catholic-like rituals. Anglicans are outside the Church and do not hold the Catholic faith.

    This is where the ecumenical movement is very dangerous… trying to avoid offending English politicians and the Anglican Church at the expense of the souls of many who might otherwise convert to the One True Church.”

    )(

    Very well put, David.

    ======

    Woody Jones wrote:

    “It is especially welcome that Archbishop Myers recognized in his address the legitimate value of the Anglican Usage for those of us who are not, strictly speaking, former Anglicans, and thereby, by implication, its value for all Catholics.”

    )(

    Are those the same books being used now by Walsingham/Atonement, Houston? Do they have an Imprimatur on them already or need to be submitted for one if they the Anglicans come in? In another thread, it was stated the book used by the High Anglicans is the Tridentine Missal of 1955. Are they the same ones you’re talking about? Interesting.

    ======

    Father Z wrote:

    “…I don’t think we would be going out too far on a limb to ask Papa Ratzinger: are divisions in non-Catholic communions themselves profoundly non-Christian? Even if some divided group tends toward unity with Holy Mother Church, the Catholic Church? So, is Benedict thinking that it would be better to draw in a larger and more unified group than bring in stragglers?

    **[[** Father, I would venture to suggest it opportune to let in those who want in, with the proper scrutiny of course, regardless of whether it's a group or a few stragglers. Like waiting in line for an iPhone. Should they be told get in line or you don't get in at all? I hope not. **]]**

    At the same time, His Holiness is a realist. Does he, or anyone else for that matter, really think the Anglicans as a body are going to get their act together and then tend toward Rome? It seems to me far more likely that they would get their act together and confirm their more Protestant roots by becoming something like Methodists.

    **[[** True, again, part of the scrutiny. Do these Anglicans really want to be Roman Catholic or continue as the "Protestant Reformed Religion" by way Juridical sanction? **]]**

    Another question: Given he way the Church of England is still so deeply interwoven with English society, wouldn’t the very notion of the Church of England, as a body, coming to Papism more than a little fantastical? Could the Holy Father really ( ?? believe ?? ) a large group of Anglicans would formally swim?”

    **[[** Personally, I believe if they really wanted to Roman Catholic, they would have attempted this effort long ago and not because their Anglican Communion is falling apart. Also, if they really wanted to be Catholic, they could have had communication with the Anglican-Use parishes to see what their options are and what they could begin to do about it. **]]**

  20. katie says:

    Dear Father Z,
    This is off topic, or rather it’s a topic related protest. Does it really matter what the Holy Father is thinking about the English Anglo-Catholics? Why are we inundated with information about splits and schisms in the C of E and AC when the situation of the Catholics in England is simply ignored. This simply feeds the English national prejudice (to which many Catholics who don’t want to be thought unpatriotic subscribe) that the real Church in England is the C of E. The Anglican Bishop of Durham even has the effrontery to write recently in First Things that he is ‘in a real sense’ the Bishop of all in his diocese, including the Catholics. Many of our (Catholic) clergy are theologically indistinguishable from Anglicans. Please pray that the Pope can find a good theologian to replace the present incumbent at Westminster. Do you have any news about the beatification of Newman?

  21. katie says:

    P.S. Why do we use this absurd phrase ‘swim the Tiber’?? At points in Rome and elsewhere you can walk across. It’s no big deal really except that the salaries and the housing accommodation, the perks etc are not so good. Oh and of course, you don’t get to sit in the House of Lords if you are a Bishop and your wife is not called ‘Lady’ as a result of your ennoblement. In my opinion, we should be thinking about how to revive the Church in England, and give aid and encouragement to English Catholics, not worrying about whether Anglicans might need to be rescued from falling into the river. The parlous condition of the Catholic Church in England is one of the reasons why the Anglicans are going in for all kinds of lunacy.

  22. RC says:

    Yes, the phrase “swimming the Tiber” never did seem an apt image. It would make more sense to “cross the Channel” — leaving behind the church of the island and adopting the Catholicism of the continent.

    Anyway, is there any chance that the chief archbishop of the Traditional Anglican Communion — an Australian — might seek to meet the Pope during His Holiness’ visit?

  23. Ed the Roman says:

    One reason to bring intact structures in is to reduce the number of intact structures external to Mother Church. It leaves fewer wrong places to end up.