I have often written that the Church of England needs to issue their document Romanorum coetibus, by which they will give a safe-haven to catholic liberals who want to keep their large puppets and pottery, 60′s music and the ordination of women, prayer to the earthmothergoddess… all without the spirit-repressing domination of masculine Rome! And they can use whatever translation they want!
In the Guardian there was this recently:
Why be a liberal Catholic when you could be an Anglican?
What’s the appeal of Roman Catholicism to a fairly liberal person? Why don’t they jump ship? They say they dislike clerical celibacy, which they largely blame for the abuse scandals. Well, there’s a church close at hand that rejects it. They say they want to see the ordination of women. Well, there’s a church close at hand that ordains women (more or less). They say they dislike the church’s intransigence on homosexuality. Well, there’s a church close at hand that has an honest, messy debate about this issue. They say they dislike the church’s legalistic approach to birth control, abortion, and various other moral issues. Well, there’s a church close at hand that rejects such an approach. They say they dislike the church’s authoritarian structure, the monarchical aura of the papacy. Well, you know what.
Why do they stay in a church that is so full of things they dislike, when there is one close at hand that is more or less free of those objectionable things? Presumably they would reply: because, despite everything, the Roman church seems to us the authentic church, and the Anglican church does not. But there is a sector of Anglicanism whose style of worship is scarcely distinguishable from that of Roman Catholicism. Yes, they might reply, but the institution lacks authenticity: it was founded by a randy monarch, and remains confined by its national character. Fair point perhaps, but does it really outweigh the benefits of Anglicanism to a liberal believer? Is this really a reason to stay in an authoritarian, illiberal church – that at least it wasn’t founded by Henry VIII? The man had his faults but he wasn’t Satan.
So what’s Rome’s appeal to these people? Is it that they want the prestige of belonging to an exotically large, old tradition? Do they feel a sort of thrill to be connected with an institution that strikes their friends as baffling, mysterious, romantically gothic? Do they like seeing eyebrows raised at dinner parties, when they state their allegiance?
This might be a factor, but it misses the central point. It seems to me that the central appeal of Roman Catholicism is its bold insistence that Christianity must be embodied in culture. For Catholics, religion is not confined to a carefully demarcated sphere, or to the realm of individual faith: it must be holistic, public, all-embracing – it demands to be known as the meaning of cultural life. By contrast, Anglicanism seems to accept the marginalisation of religion, and seems to approve of liberal culture. Religion is a wonderfully rich bit of culture, Anglicanism seems to say, but it’s just one bit of culture; it knows its place. [It's the state religion. Of course it does.] No, says Catholicism: the place of religion is everywhere; its role is to be everything. [Isn't it interesting that this is the same point that the National Schismatic Reporter made in griping about Pope Francis. HERE.]
Benedict XVI was the Pope of Christian Unity.