Irish Anglicans aim for union with Rome – UPDATED

I have always been interested in the plight, and victories, of Anglicans/Episcopalians who "swim the Tiber".  The late Msgr. Richard Schuler, of St. Agnes Church in St. Paul, MN, was instrumental in helping the first Anglican priests come over to Rome (literally, he took them to meet Card. Seper of the SCDF) and I met some of them during their visits to see him, I have several good lay friends who have become Catholics, I have a few priest friends who were Anglican clergy before coming over, I have great respect for their liturgical and musical tradition, etc.

However, the Anglicans are committing religious suicide and the Catholic Church under Pope Benedict has a Marshall Plan.  They are losing their identity and we are recovering ours.

So, I was very interested to read that some Irish Anglicans, Church of Ireland, may be making the move.

My emphases and comments.
300 Anglicans defect to Rome after row over women priests

By John Cooney Religion Correspondent
Thursday October 25 2007

UP to 300 Irish Anglicans could soon be joining the Roman Catholic Church to the traditional hymn tune ‘Faith of Our Fathers’.

A report in today’s ‘Irish Catholic’ newspaper claims that three Church of Ireland parishes are Romeward-bound, and may soon be received by Pope Benedict into full communion with the Catholic Church.

This change of denominational allegiance is part of a long-standing doctrinal feud over the ordination of women.  [I think it’s more than a feud.  A "feud" suggests there are good positions on both sides and that the origin of the conflict is becoming more obscure.]

All three parishes broke away from the mainstream Church of Ireland in 1991 after the House of Bishops of the Church of Ireland decided to start ordaining women, a move which they condemned as "a defiance of scripture and tradition."

Two of the parishes are in the North and one is in the Republic.

Newtownards in Co Down, Eskra, outside Omagh, in Co Tyrone, and Stradbally in Co Laois, are members of the so-called traditional rite within the Church of Ireland.

These traditionalist members, who do not have a national profile, were not listed in a separate box about religious identity in the recent census. But they say that they are true Anglicans.  [I am guessing this means "Anglo-Catholic".]

In total, they claim to have 400,000 members belonging to the worldwide 78 million Anglican Communion. So their defection to Rome could have a dramatic effect.

Earlier this month, they sent a letter to the Vatican seeking "full, corporate, sacramental union" with the Catholic Church under the authority of the Pope.

While only a few hundred Anglicans in Ireland will be involved in converting to Rome, the move, if approved by the Vatican, will see 400,000 Anglicans worldwide admitted into the Catholic Church.

Last night, Michael Kelly, deputy editor of the ‘Irish Catholic’, said it was extremely rare for entire Anglican communities to seek corporate communion with the Catholic Church.  [Here’s part of the problem.  The progressivist Catholics won’t want to help these far more liturgically traditional folks into the fold!   That was part of the problem in the USA.]

"But individual Anglicans frequently convert to Catholicism," he added.

Only last week Anita Henderson, wife of the Church of Ireland Bishop of Tuam, Killala and Achonry, was received into the Catholic Church at a private ceremony in the chapel of Catholic Bishop John Fleming, in Ballina, Co Mayo.

The prospect of three whole parishes shifting their loyalties — and churches — under the papal flag will come as a further shock to the Church of Ireland, which has been enjoying a growth in its membership, mainly of new immigrants but also of former Catholic priests.  [HA!  More power to e’m!]

A spokesman for the traditional rite based in Northern Ireland confirmed that a decision had been made "not to give interviews at this stage".

However, the spokesman did confirm that the members of the traditional rite of the Church of Ireland fervently hope to be received into "full communion with the See of Rome". The decision to petition Rome was made earlier this month at a plenary meeting of the international body known as the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC), their umbrella organisation.

According to a statement: "The bishops and vicars, general unanimously, agreed to the text of a letter to the See of Rome seeking full, corporate, sacramental union.

"The letter was signed solemnly by all the college and entrusted to the primate and two bishops chosen by the college to be presented to the Holy See," the statement added.  [Imagine the emotions at that moment of signing….]

A spokesman for the Australian-based Archbishop John Hepworth, primate of the worldwide traditionalist communion, said the letter was cordially received at the congregation for the doctrine of the faith in Rome.

– John Cooney Religion Correspondent

UPDATE: 1640 GMT 26 Oct 07

Someone alerted me to a discussion at an Anglican blog germane to this entry.  On that blog, Fr. Jay Scott Newman wrote an interesting comment which I reproduce below with my emphases:

20. Fr Jay Scott Newman wrote:

“Both schools are asking themselves what the future of Anglicanism is going to look like. And the return to a biblically faithful, traditional Anglicanism isn’t just about our Bishops coming to agreement. It involves the whole Church–including its organs of theological education.”

This was the comment offered by the Reverend Martha Giltinan, Trinity’s Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology. That an ordained woman and seminary professor can talk about the return to a biblically faithful, traditional Anglicanism without any irony is an index of how far gone the Anglican communion is from any form of Christianity which is biblically faithful and traditional. Friends, this is the camel’s nose under the tent, and until and unless it is driven back out into the desert, every manner of tempest will sweep in through that gap. To put it most simply: if a woman can be a presbyter, there is no coherent argument left against two men marrying each other. And given that even Nashotah House, the once proud flagship of American Anglo-Catholicism, has accepted this profoundly unbiblical and untraditional distortion of the Church’s sacramental life, there remains no hope (that I can see) of Anglicanism in the States being restored to biblical and traditional Christianity.


Fr. Newman: Rem acu tetigisti!  This is very well said. 

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  1. JPSonnen says:

    Very nice piece and thanks for it. I still remember the boss telling the story of that Croatian Cardinal and the Anglicans.

  2. yvonne says:

    Yet another tidbit- I’m not sure if this is the same group? But quite interesting that they are asking to continue with a married priesthood. Perhaps they would agree to what we have in the Eastern rites? The numbers of membership they claim are significant..

    Traditionally Christian Anglicans Ask to Join Catholic Church En Masse
    Homosexuality the flash point
    By Hilary White

    PORTSMOUTH, UK, October 25, 2007 ( – The splits in the Worldwide Anglican Communion over the church’s secularising trends and growing enthusiasm for homosexuality has led some to seek reunion with the Catholic Church after nearly 500 years apart.

    The bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC)are reported to have met in Plenary Session in Portsmouth, England, in the first week of October 2007 and “unanimously agreed” to send a letter to the Pope seeking full, corporate, sacramental union” with the Catholic Church. The group has agreed not to give interviews until the Vatican has responded to their request.

    The TAC boasts of some 400,000 members worldwide with at least 100 parishes in the US. It has been estimated that the TAC could have as many as 500 parishes supporting its goals in the UK.

    TAC has been seeking for some years to establish some agreement with Rome that would see the entire body into the Catholic Church. In 2005, shortly after the election of Pope Benedict XVI, the head of the TAC, Archbishop John Hepworth of Adelaide, Australia, said, “We are looking at a church which would retain an Anglican liturgy, Anglican spirituality and a married clergy.” The TAC has retained a positive relationship with Pope Benedict since, as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, he was head of the Vatican’s doctrinal office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

    In related news, a group of traditionally minded members of the Church of England has warned Dr. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, that they would continue to resist the slide of the church towards secularisation. The group, called Reform, said that dozens of Anglican parishes in Britain will start ordaining their own clergy in defiance of their bishops who are overwhelmingly in favour of normalising homosexuality in the church.

    Reform, a network within the evangelical wing of the Church of England is setting up structures to allow it to operate as a resistance movement within the Church. The Rev. Rod Thomas, Reform’s chairman, cited his church’s “increasingly pro-gay” agenda when he told members they must be prepared for “courageous action” in defiance of established systems. The Church of England is the officially established religion in Britain and as such, its head since the 16th century has been appointed by the Crown. A small number of its bishops still retain their seats in the House of Lords, a position that is widely opposed among the British public.

    David Virtue, a conservative Anglican in the US who maintains an Anglican news service, wrote that the developments come at a time when the Church of England has made itself “largely irrelevant to British life”.

    “A mere 2 million (out of 60 million) consider the church part of their life.” This is roughly the equal of the number of Muslims living and practising their religion in Britain.

    Virtue wrote, “The C of E is a pale reflection of a once proud and vigorous church…New laws being implemented are increasingly and stridently anti-Christian and intolerant of any talk about the dangers of sodomy both medically and spiritually.”

  3. jJohn Polhamus says:

    I whole-heartedly endorse your description of the “Marshall plan” of the Benedictine Papacy. That’s an excellent way of putting it; and of the recovery of identity as its primary practical achievement. To be succinct, it’s about the letter of James and all that; looking in the mirror and seeing the reflection, then walking away and presently forgetting what manner of Catholic we were. We have lost our reflections. In fact, I might write an article paraphrasing C.S. Lewis called “Till we have reflections.” The progression of events and actions which have so far charactarized this papacy have set the stage for that recovery. With a round of solid appointments, the tools for continuing its enforcement may be put into place. But you’re right, Fr., at the moment the Anglicans have the platitudes; WE have the plan.

  4. Patrick Rothwell says:

    The OP is pretty jaw-dropping considering the Church of Ireland\’s reputation for being the Low in Low Church. Historically, Anglo-Catholicism was nearly verboten in Ireland. Does anyone know anything about who these people are and their m.o.? I\’m happy to read this, but I am very surprised by it.

  5. When I lived in Arlington, TX, it was sometimes convenient to attend mass at St. Mary the Virgin parish, a formerly Anglican parish which had switched to the Catholic Diocese of Ft. Worth complete with congregation, pastor, and even real estate. They used the Anglican Use of the Roman Rite, which took a bit of adaptation on my part to get used to, but they had the best parish bulletin I ever saw, filled as it was with the pastor’s articles on various points of theology and apologetics.

    I agree with you, Father (if this was the point of your “Ha!” remark), that the quality of converts we get from the Anglicans, and the quality of converts we lose to the Anglicans, are both in our favor.

    I believe it was Diogenes at Catholic World News who pointed out that Anglicans tend to convert to Catholicism because their church isn’t what it used to be, while Catholics tend to convert to Anglicanism because their church still is what it’s always been.

    I would be very interested, Father, to see you write in more detail about the Holy Father’s “Marshall Plan” which you so often refer to. What are the elements, and what are the goals, as you see them?

  6. Guy Power says:

    I wonder what will be done with all the married Anglican clergy?

    1. Will Anglican ministers become fully-ordained Catholic priests? If so, and more and more Anglican/Epsicopalian married clergy become priests, then how would the Roman Church justify her traditional views on married priests?

    2. Will Anglican ministers, instead, be ordained as deacons? This path appears to me to be more in line with Roman tradition, correct? If this route is taken, would it be an insult to an Anglican minister to be seemingly “downgraded” (in his mind?) to deacon? (No offence by me to deacons!!)

    3. Will the Anglican Use become its own separate rite in the tradition of the Byzantine Rite (or is it that way already)? As I understand it, marriage is allowed in the Byzentine Church: married men may become ordained but may not remarry if they become a widower; single men who are ordained as a Byzantine priest may not marry after ordination — is that correct? This begs the question of how to handle divorce amongst married Anglican Use priests.

  7. Joshua says:

    It must be borne in mind that the Traditional Anglican Communion is probably not so large in numbers as it claims. Also, its Primate, John Hepworth, is a renegade Catholic priest, putting him in a rather unique situation.

  8. fr william says:

    I can confirm the facts in this report – I had a long conversation two days ago with one of the signatories to this letter. I gather it had been unclear before the meeting how many TAC bishops would sign up to it, but in the event it was unanimous.

    It should be pointed out that the TAC, though thoroughly adhering to an Anglican liturgical and spiritual patrimony, is not part of the Anglican Communion, i.e. is not in communion with the See of Canterbury, and therefore these parishes are not Anglican in the ordinary sense of the word, and certainly not Church of Ireland (other than historically). Though the TAC is pretty marginal in Britain and Ireland, I believe it is a fair bit stronger in other Anglophone parts of the world.

    One obvious problem is that they have married bishops. I wonder if Rome would consider allowing this, obviously for a single sacramental generation only, or would they need to function just as priests? If the latter, that might effectively “decapitate” the whole of the body which is seeking corporate union. That would be most regrettable, as this has the potential to have far-reaching consequences (exceeding the rather limited scope of the TAC itself), in that Anglo-Catholics from mainstream Anglicanism might be presented with a bridge which they too could cross. A bit ironic, that Catholic-minded Anglicans might be brought into communion with Rome hanging on to the coat-tails of a rather lesser body like the TAC; but then John got to the tomb before Peter – so those who are swiftest of foot may get there first regardless of precedence and seniority.

  9. Brian2 says:

    I’ve heard the bit about the primate being a renegade priest before. But is that really a problem, So the prodigal son returns home and brings ttens of thousands of his friends. Sounds good to me.

    As far as the rest goes, assuming this all works out, the most I can see is an expansion of the Pastoral Provision of JPII, perhaps raising it up to an Apostolic Administration or personal Prelature, but not a seperate rite.

    In the past, married Anglican clergy men have been ordained to the priesthood upon conversion. I suspect tha that would still be the case — without setting a precedent for an ongoing pgractice.

    The big question is — when this generation of Anglican converts retires and dies off, will there be a system (i.e. seminary) to train replacements, or will the Anglican Use
    fade away

  10. yvonne says:

    This might be of some interest…

    Isnt the Anglican use only approved for the United States? Is this going to pose a problem for those outside the US? I would guess that many of the Diocesan Bishops might be hesitant to accept?

    I also looked at the page and there was a meeting/pilgrimmage to Rome in September with Archbishop Meyers.. does anyone know what occured? I haven’t seen any updates/news on it. Nor if Archbishop Meyeres has made any commentary on this.

  11. Eamonn says:

    Married clergy for this group won’t necessarily be a problem. Look at previous Anglican clerical converts. For example, Fr John Saward (of the Maryvale Institute and the diocese of Birmingham, UK) was one of many who were conditionally re-ordained while continuing in married life. It’s a blip, so to speak, in that there will be only one generation of men in that difficult position. I too am amazed at Irish High Anglicans crossing the Tiber; most of the Anglo-Catholics I’ve met (here in Dublin) are vehemently anti-Roman. What they are like in Stradbally I simply don’t know. It’s happy news, anyway, God bless them!

  12. FrV says:

    It’s interesting that the seculars see Anglicans coming into full communion with the Catholic Church as “defecting” rather than returning home. The Anglican parson reminded a parishioner in a Dorothy Sayers’ mystery novel “The Nine Tailors”: “We were all Romans once.” 300 have acted on that knowledge and come home.

  13. Patrick Rothwell says:

    \”Defect\” is not a nasty word in that particular context. The nasty terms formerly used were \”seceding\” to Rome or (my favorite) \”perverts\” as in \”Romish perverts.\” That sounds strange to American ears, but not if the Anglican Church is the establishment, as in England or (at one time) Ireland.

  14. Syriacus says:

    Mehrere Mitglieder der traditionellen Anglikanischen Kirche von Irland streben offenbar eine volle Gemeinschaft mit der Katholischen Kirche an. Das meldet die Nachrichtenagentur CNS. Ein entsprechender Beschluss soll auf einer Vollversammlung der Traditionellen Anglikanischen Gemeinschaft Anfang Oktober gefasst worden sein. Demnach haben Mitglieder von drei Gemeinden der Kirche Irlands sich dem Votum von traditionellen Anglikanern aus zwölf weiteren Ländern angeschlossen und in einem Brief an den Vatikan um die Aufnahme in die volle sakramentale Gemeinschaft gebeten. Die traditionelle Anglikanische Gemeinschaft sieht ihre Aufgabe nach eigenen Angaben darin, einer Säkularisation entgegenzuwirken und den Glauben zu bewahren. Eine offizielle Bestätigung des Vatikans gibt es bisher nicht. (cns)

  15. dad29 says:

    Well–I’d heard rumor that Nashotah House had gone a bit wacky (they’re here in Milwaukee-area.)\

    Sorry to see that.

  16. Aelric says:

    “To put it most simply: if a woman can be a presbyter, there is no coherent argument left against two men marrying each other.”

    Sed contra, this comment of Father Newman’s, I believe, is very poorly said. The first is a matter of divine revelation (as part of the Church’s divine constitution, c.f. Ordinatio Sacerdotalis) whereas the second pertains to the natural law: alternatively put, he confuses the supernatural and natural orders (albeit the natural order is properly oriented towards the supernatural).

    It should be no surprise to find “conservatives” or “traditionalists” amongst the female Anglican clergy. It is all one with the Anglican Communion’s perennial inability to articulate a theological understanding of authority in the Church – thus, in this specific case, the fact that the same authority that supports the definition of the Canon of Scripture also articulates that the Church cannot ordain women is simply ignored or rationalized away.

  17. Sean says:

    I too am surprised that the CofI contains such people. It is perhaps hard for outsiders to understand just how much religious affiliation feeds into personal identity in Northern Ireland. Catholic belief strongly indicates Irish national identity while protestant belief strongly indicates British national identity. These people are swimming the Boyne as well as the Tiber! I certainly would not feel comfortable living in Newtownards as a Catholic, even these days.

  18. JHCN says:

    This is a matter that is quite personal to me. My faith reawakened in an Anglican context, especially with the 1549 Prayerbook. Then I read Newman…

    So I have mixed feelings (soft and hard). On one hand, I have always desired an Anglican Rite in full union with Rome, with its liturgy so amended, and its musical tradition celebrated: Anglican Chant, Marbeck, and the Sarum Rite. (Of course, none of this is for me to decide.) On the other hand (and pardon my being blunt), when I was in an American Catholic seminary, the homosexuals there, who controlled the liturgy, really wanted to be Anglican. They clothed themselves in “Laudian” vestments. One of them always kept us informed about the goings on of the British Monarchy (I never told him that I’m a Jacobite). They had an “ecumenical day”; insisting that the Anglican tradition was Catholic, Lauds and Vespers that day were taken from the latest issue of Common Prayer, and we had “evensong” and “morning song”. (I say “latest issue” because Liturgy lately in all churches — like French constitutions — ought to be filed under “periodic literature”.) I had been assigned previously to be lector, and thus was obliged to say: “here endeth the lesson”. In Advent we had an “Evening Song [sic] Caroling Service”. For the rest of the year our hymns were almost always either taken from 18th Century Anglican Service or, to satisfy another group – who were at least “straight” – from the risible Glory and Praise, complete with guitar obligato. Let me add: I am aware that guilt by association isn’t guilt.

    To say the least, the Straight vs Three Dollar Bill division continues, and not just between Anglicans.

    What are the chances of union with Rome? My guess is that it depends on what kind of Anglican one is talking to. For, to my doubtless benighted eye, the Anglican church is really three or four churches:

    – 1) Low Church Evangelical,
    – 2) Broad Church (a.k.a. Latitudinarian),
    – 3) High Church (many of whom call themselves “Catholics”), and,
    – 4) Anglo-Catholic (not quite the same thing as #3).

    The High Church had that disaster called Laud (there ain’t no “cult of William Laud, the Martyr”, as there is for Charles I Stuart), and then sealed its fate by refusing to support either James II or William and Mary in 1685-1688. Since 1688, the Broad Church took over the leadership, with Quarterly Communion and “liberalism”/Modernism in faith and morals. Yet during the Ritualist controversy in the later 19th Century, the Broad stayed Broad in faith and morals and became High in liturgy (weekly Eucharist, etc.). So ## 2 &3 seem to have merged.

    Talk to the 4th group, the Anglo-Catholics, who may have emerged first with the Oxford Movement, and you find them subdivided into
    – (1) those who still accept some kind of Via Media (and thus leaning to the High Church),
    – (2) those who are Roman Catholic in almost everything except the teachings of Vatican I and the validity of Anglican orders, and
    – (3) what I call “Tract 90″ Anglo-Catholics, who are between the other two: rejecting the Via Media, accepting Catholic doctrine, yet wishing to keep Anglican liturgy and tradition – Charles Williams, Eliot, and perhaps Lewis.

    I stand corrected if above is wrong.

    My guess, for what it’s worth:
    1. Only Anglo-Catholics and those High Churchmen who are disgusted with the Anglican liberalism will consider crossing the Alps.
    2. The Low Church will go off on its own and become Wesleyans with a 3rd Order. Low Churchmen’s views on sexual morality will still be close to Authentic Catholics.
    3. The Broad-High establishment will increasing join what I call The Church of Californianity (with my apology to all’y’all out West) and will become indistinguishable from pop psychologists in spirituality, social workers in politics, sexual revolutionaries in morals, Age of Aquarius space cadets in dogma, – and everybody groovin’.

    Sorry to be so scathing. I just can’t sugarcoat it. There is so much in the Anglican tradition that is noble, and now it is going. I’d like to think that what is noble can only be preserved by crossing the Alps. Pray that many Anglicans will so cross.

  19. Invicta Veritas says:

    John Hepworth, the Primate of the TAC, was ordained a Catholic priest in 1968. He was laicized in order to marry in 1976. He married and within a short time divorced. He remarried and became an Anglican. At some point he rec’d an annulment of his first marriage — but whether that annulment came from a Catholic source or an Australian Anglican one (as an Anglican he served in the Anglo-Catholic diocese of Ballarat under its militantly orthodox Anglo-Catholic bishop, the late John Hazlewood) I do not know. He left the Australian Anglican church in 1992 when it began to “ordain” women to the priesthood and joined a new “Continuing Anglican” body there, the “Anglican Catholic Church of Australia.” He became its bishop in 1998 and Primate of the “traditional Anglican Communion” in 2002.

    Three American TAC bishops are also divorced-and-remarried men.

  20. Scott Smith says:

    Aelric- “Sed contra, this comment of Father Newman’s, I believe, is very poorly said. The first is a matter of divine revelation (as part of the Church’s divine constitution, c.f. Ordinatio Sacerdotalis) whereas the second pertains to the natural law: alternatively put, he confuses the supernatural and natural orders (albeit the natural order is properly oriented towards the supernatural).”

    But I answer that objection: “although the argument from authority based on human reason is the weakest, yet the argument from authority based on divine revelation is the strongest”(Summa, First Part, Question 1, Article 8: Whether sacred doctrine is a matter of argument? Reply to Objection 2)

    Sacred doctrine, is not a matter of argument, it is a matter of fact. If the supernatural order can be over thrown by the human intellect, then the natural order can likewise be over thrown by the human intellect.

    The substance of Revelation is not arbitrary and it does not overthrow the natural order. “Since therefore grace does not destroy nature but perfects it, natural reason should minister to faith” (ibid).

    The doctrine of the Church concerning the ordination of males only rests upon the very nature of Christ. Christ the Lord and Redeemer was in fact a male human being incarnate of the Virgin Mary. The Apostles “did not in fact receive only a function which could thereafter be exercised by any member of the Church; rather they were specifically and intimately associated in the mission of the Incarnate Word himself” (Ordinatio Sacerdotalis 2). His mission was the salvation of the human race, which he wrought through the sacrifice of his body. Those who represent him, the Lord and Redeemer, give the saving gift of his body to us after they first pray to the Father offering with Christ the Sacrifice of his Body and Blood saying “This is my body”. Was it a female body that was given up for the life of the world or was it a male body? How intimate is the union of the presbyter with Christ the Priest? Is not the presbyter also in union with Christ the Victim? Does the presbyter simply recount the words of Christ or does he share in them himself? As woman is from man, so is the Church from Christ, and thus the masculinity of the priesthood lies more in the masculinity of the victim who lays down his life for his bride.

    If this can be overturned by egalitarian ideology where a woman can substitute for a man who images Christ at the altar of God as priest and victim, then where is the argument that a man cannot stand in for a woman in the relationship between a husband and a wife?

  21. Victor says:

    I think I read that Bishop Hepworth and the other bishops declared that they were willing to step down from their office and orders, should it be necessary in order to achieve communion with Rome.

  22. Little Gal says:

    I wish someone could provide me with an explanation for allowing married male clergy in other faiths who convert to Catholicism to become Catholic Priests…I understand that JPII was responsible for this change. I understand that currently there are only 100 of these married priests in the U.S. If large numbers of protestant clergy are allowed to do this, I think this would have a negative effect on those Catholic priests who-only because they came to be a priest by a different route-are not allowed to marry.

  23. Aelric says:


    Let me try again.

    (I)Homosexual marriage:

    (1) Can be refuted by natural law arguments with no recourse to explicit sources of Divine Revelation (based on the goods of marriage and sexual complementarity).
    (2) Can be refuted (yes, more powerfully for those that accept it) by appeal to Divine Revelation.

    Point being, however, than even atheists should be, based on right reason, opposed to homosexual marriage.

    (II) Ordination reserved to men alone:

    (1) Purely belongs to the deposit of Faith in Divine Revelation (as I quoted from S.O.)as part of the constitution of the Church.
    (2) Arguments of fittingness can be and are made, but in themselves are not obligatory to reason (such arguments only show a proposition is not unreasonable, not intrinsically true).

    Reservation of sacerdotal ordination to men alone cannot be argued (or, perhaps, demonstrated) on the basis of natural reason alone.

    That is why arguments based on “social justice” or “equal opportunity” fail to apply to sacerdotal ordination (and why men have no “right” to ordination either). The quote attributed to Fr. Newman suggests an equivalence in the two by asserting that a defeater of one implies collapse of the other). My assertion is that even had Our Lord willed men and women both to be priests, it would not follow that no argument again homosexual marriage could be made. The two issues are incommensurate.

    I also find your argument regarding Christ’s body unconvincing. If the maleness of Christ’s body was the essence of the Sacrifice of the Cross, how then are women saved by it? No, the person who offers the Sacrifice of the Cross is the 2nd person of the Blessed Trinity; what was offered was His perfect humanity, His assumed human nature (truly incarnate in a male body). It may be fitting (i.e. for our benefit) that Christ willed a male priesthood for His Church for all of the classical reasons offered in S.O. and which you ably cite above, but it could have been otherwise without loss of the natural order of distinction between male and female as oriented towards material generation – and the natural law basis of argument against homosexual marriage.

  24. I think the point is that once you admit the ordination of women, and argue that this is justified based on Scripture, then you are probably likely to move along to justify anything else you want, and claim to be able to defend if from Scripture. Never mind if various things people might want to be justified via Scripture, it is sloppy thinking and, as he put it in the entry above, like the proverbial camel’s nose under the tent. Once the nose gets under the tent (i.e., once the ordination of women is approved), then the whole camel can’t be far behind (i.e., every other aberration will soon be introduced and approved).

  25. Aelric says:

    cont …

    Just to add a couple of further points:

    O.S states quoting Mulieris Dignitatem “In calling only men as his Apostles, Christ acted in a completely free and sovereign manner.”

    Although this sentence was intended primarily to refute the charge that Christ was not acting according to the mores of His times or Jewish tradition, it also implies that He could have acted otherwise. Nowhere in S.O. is there a suggestion that Christ was constrained to choose only male Apostles.

    Also, in paragraph 1 is found: “These reasons include: the example recorded in the Sacred Scriptures of Christ choosing his Apostles only from among men; the constant practice of the Church, which has imitated Christ in choosing only men; and her living teaching authority which has consistently held that the exclusion of women from the priesthood is in accordance with God’s plan for his Church.”

    There is no philosophical (natural law) argument given; the matter is entirely in the realm of Divine Revelation and the charismatic grace of the Magisterium.

    I simply wish to add that I am not advocating in favor of either women priests or homosexual marriage. I am simply attempting to assert, contra Scott Newman, that one issue does not impinge on the other if properly understood (though many attempt to conflate them on the basis of “justice” issues).

  26. PMcGrath says:

    Dear Friends:

    Two blogs that I read faithfully each day are this one and Chris Johnson’s Midwest Conservative Journal, which is a daily chronicle of the radioactive fissioning of the Anglican Communion.

    You can read Chris’s archives for a blow-by-blow telling of that story — constantly from primary sources — but, briefly put, the two main sub-nuclei of that fissioning are Episcopalianism, found mostly in the liberal West, and Anglicanism, more and more being led from the “Global South.”

    Very Important to Note: Because the centrality of LGBT identity for Episcopalianism — in other words, Buggery is their First Sacrament — Episcopalianism is a rejection of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and must be considered by now a form of Paganism.

    This leaves the quite large communion of Anglicanism in the Global South — but with significant adherents in the U.S. and other places — and what’s going to happen to them? My prediction has always been:

    1. Once the final fissioning completes — which may happen very soon — the Anglicans will form themselves into a polity, and choose (for lack of a better word) a Patriarch to lead them.

    2. After a while, the Patriarch and his Council will come to the conclusion that the only way to hold steady in the Faith is to unite with Rome.

    3. They will then, just like the Traditional Anglican Communion (Hepworth’s group), come knocking on Rome’s door. Only instead of (maybe) 400,000 souls in TAC, we’re now talking in the tens of millions, maybe a lot more, in the Global South led group.

    As I keep on saying: It’s the Union of Brest-Litovsk all over again! (That’s the 1598 action that brought Eastern Rite Catholics in union with Rome.)

  27. I, of course, did not intend to conflate divine Revelation with natural law. Please remember that I was not writing an article for a professional journal; I was making a quick point on a blog.

    Remember, too, the context: An “ordained” Anglican woman who opposes the blessing of same sex relationships was making an appeal for a return to “biblically faithful, traditional Anglicanism.” My fundamental point is that anyone who misses the irony of a priestess pleading for a return to “biblically faithful, traditional Anglicanism” is too far gone to understand that the first step on the path to “homosexual marriage” was the “ordination of women.”

    My secondary point is that both of these aberrations flow from the same anthropological mistake: that the human person is an incorporeal, spiritual Self temporarily encased in a body, the gender identity of which is an arbitrary cultural construction. This ancient error is mother to countless kinds of mischief in our civilization, and in its modern form it renders well educated people too confused to say why what two women do together in bed is essentially different from what a husband and wife do. It also makes it impossible for a certain sort of Christian to understand that a priest, like a husband and father, must (of necessity) be a male of the species.

  28. Invicta Veritas says:

    I am afraid that I have to disagree, with regret, with Mr. McGrath. Most \”Anglicans\” in the \”Global South\” are Evangelicals rather than Anglo-Catholics, and some of those \”Global South\” Anglican churches that have been most forward in intervening to provide support for conservatives within, or just leaving, the Episcopal Church, themselves practice the \”ordination\” of women. The Ugandan Anglican Church began to ordain women in the late 1979s, and has vigorously defended the practice; Kenya began it a short time later; and Rwanda likewise — such that, when the Anglican Mission in America (which is under Rwandan sponsorship) decided that it would no longer ordain women, except to the diaconate, the Archbishop of Rwanda insisted that the AMiA allow his to create a \”parallel structure\” in which women could be \”ordained\” as priests. The (mixed Anglo-Catholic and Evangelical) Tanzanian Anglican Church allowed \”diocesan option\” wrt WO in 2005, and the Francophone Congolese Anglican church accepted WO in that same year. Even the Anglican Church of Nigeria, which is largely Evangelical but which does not ordain women as bishops, priests or deacons, has given no other reason for its stance than \”we have not yet considered the issue\” and allows its American \”dependency,\” CANA (Convocation of Anglicans in North America) to ordain them. Only the Anglo-Catholic \”Province of Central Africa\” has refused to ordain women as a matter of principle — and that \”principle\” is under attack from within, as a few of its younger bishops, who have either been trained in the West or are in receipt of funds from Western granting bodies, are urging a reconsideration of the matter, and even that that province \”mute\” its opposition to homosexual practice to please its paymasters.

    My conclusion to all this is, that if \”Catholic Anglicans\” turn back to \”the Rock from whence they were hewn\” (by the will, first of a tyrant king, and then of his illegitimate daughter), it will be only a small remnant everywhere, and that the longer they wait to come to their senses the smaller that remnant will be.

  29. JML says:

    From the AP Wires. Makes me wonder about the left coast:

    “Delegates representing Episcopal churches in the San Francisco Bay area have approved three sets of prayers that clergy can use to bless same-sex couples, despite a pledge by the denomination’s bishops not to authorize special rites for gay unions.

    During the annual convention of the Diocese of California, about 500 lay delegates and clergy members also approved a resolution challenging last month’s decision by Episcopal bishops to refrain from approving any more gay bishops to preserve the global Anglican community.”

  30. RBrown says:


    “America is a land so geographically tilted that everything loose rolls to California.”

    HL Mencken

  31. JML says:


    Not to hijack a thread, and Dear Father if you deem I have, mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. You can put this post in the wastedump.

    Say what you will of Elizabeth I, but she is(was?) one of England’s greatest monarchs. Who knows, if the Armada was successful, what would this country (USA) be like today?

    Plus her speech to the troops awaiting the invasion is up there in the top 5.

  32. RBrown says:

    Married clergy for this group won’t necessarily be a problem. Look at previous Anglican clerical converts. For example, Fr John Saward (of the Maryvale Institute and the diocese of Birmingham, UK) was one of many who were conditionally re-ordained while continuing in married life. It’s a blip, so to speak, in that there will be only one generation of men in that difficult position.

    It’s different with a parish or two. But these people seem to want to have a certain status like the Eastern Churches. I doubt that will happen.

    BTW, there is no conditional re-ordination. It is conditional ordination.

    I too am amazed at Irish High Anglicans crossing the Tiber; most of the Anglo-Catholics I’ve met (here in Dublin) are vehemently anti-Roman. What they are like in Stradbally I simply don’t know. It’s happy news, anyway, God bless them!
    Comment by Eamonn

    It’s fine if people want to convert. Quite another thing if they want Rome to conform to them.

  33. RBrown says:

    O.S states quoting Mulieris Dignitatem “In calling only men as his Apostles, Christ acted in a completely free and sovereign manner.”

    Although this sentence was intended primarily to refute the charge that Christ was not acting according to the mores of His times or Jewish tradition, it also implies that He could have acted otherwise. Nowhere in S.O. is there a suggestion that Christ was constrained to choose only male Apostles.

    There is no philosophical (natural law) argument given; the matter is entirely in the realm of Divine Revelation and the charismatic grace of the Magisterium.
    Comment by Aelric

    I do not agree that it is implies that Christ could have acted otherwise.

    It is true that the male only priesthood is known with certitude only through Revelation. But in that, there is no implication that His choice had nothing to do with nature. To say it is independent of nature would be typical of the Voluntarism of Ockham (and perhaps also Scotus).

    There are arguments from reason that God chose men–they are ex convenientia, i.e., appropriateness. These are arguments of probability.

    There are other similar examples of argumenta ex convenientia re the mysteries of the faith, among which are the appropriateness of Bread and Wine for the Eucharist and the Virginity of Mary.

  34. To answer a couple of questions posed above:

    Yes, the Pastoral Provision (sometimes known as Anglican Use, which more properly applies to the liturgy) is a U.S.A.-only institution.

    The Pastoral Provision document from John Paul II specified that while married clergy from the Episcopal Church might be ordained as Catholic clergy, that any other priestly vocations from the “common identity parishes” (i.e., Anglican Use parishes) in the future would be bound by clerical celibacy. (Since there is no word from Rome about the letter from TAC, nor any sure knowledge about the details of that letter to Rome, we cannot know if this is even addressed yet, nor how it would be.)

    The first married Protestant clergyman who was ordained a Catholic priest while remaining married was, I believe, a Lutheran minister who converted, during the reign of Pope Pius XII.

    The Pastoral Provision pilgrimage to Rome was attended by over 100 members of Anglican Use parishes, from Boston, Scranton, PA, Arlington, San Antonio and Houston, TX. You can see some photos and some description on Fr. Phillips excellent blog, Atonement Online.

    While not a convert myself (I’m a cradle Boston-Irish Catholic) I’ve somehow found myself in the position of being the editor of Anglican Embers, the quarterly journal of the Anglican Use Society. The Advent embertide issue will have an article detailing the Rome pilgrimage.

  35. woodyjones says:

    As one also who is a member of an Anglican Usage parish, it is greatly encouraging to see so much good discussion of these kinds of issues here. I highly recommend “Anglican Embers”, incidentally, as well as “Salve”, the parish bulletin from St. Mary the Virgin in Arlington (TX). My big regret, as an AU parishioner, is that I cannot assist at Holy Mass at AU parishes in other cities to which I sometime have to travel, such as Los Angeles, San Francisco or New York. The Anglican heritage has so much to offer (especially in its liturgical sensibility) to the Church that it is a real shame that it cannot be more available to more Catholics.

    The reasons for this situation are somewhat complex, but to a certain extent seem to involve some of the same problems that are discussed on this topic, as well as the analogous situation of the Extraordinary Form before SP. For this reason, I very much hope and pray that the TAC and Rome can find a way to get over the hurdles discussed in the above posts and effect the re-union on a basis that would permit a “common identity” to continue for all of their parishes, wherever they are, and whatever the otherwise contrary sentiments of the local bishop. An Apostolic Administration, such as the granted to the traditionalist Society of St. John Vianney in Campos, Brazil, might very well be the answer, as a uniate-type church (apologies to our Ukrainian/Melkite/Byzantine friends who don’t like the word “uniate”, but it is a convenient way of expressing things) is likely out of the question given that Anglicanism came from the Latin church to begin with.

    Pray for the re-union of the TAC with Rome, and for us already in the Church in the AU, please.

  36. woodyjones says:

    And one more thought in response to the usual and tiresome comment about “conforming to them”. I trust that the writer does not think that the Ukrainians/Melkites/Byzantines/Maronites/Chaldeans, etc. expect Rome to conform to them. In fact, the history, as many of them will tell you, was quite the opposite for a long time until the Council. The formula for the returning Anglicans (and it was hoped other Protestants) was to be “united, not absorbed.” And believe me that’s the only way you will ever get the Orthodox back into full communion.

  37. Sean says:

    RBrown: It’s different with a parish or two. But these people seem to want to have a certain status like the Eastern Churches. I doubt that will happen

    Rome is not Antioch. Rome has had a single sui iuris particular church from antiquity. There can be no ‘Patriarch of the West of the Anglicans’.

  38. David Mills says:

    As another convert (my family and I were received into the Church six Easter Vigils ago) and as someone who worked for 15 years at Trinity seminary and still teaches occasional writing courses there, i.e., as someone who knows that world intimately, I read Fr. Newman’s comment as assuming their (the conservative Anglicans’) own understanding of things. I assumed it was prefaced with an unstated “Even on your own grounds.”

    It seems to me very hard, if not impossible, to argue for the ordination of women in a characteristically Anglican mode, which stresses the “plain meaning” of Scripture, in a way that does not logically require the approval of homosexual relations – or, perhaps more accurately, that does not remove one’s ability to object to advocates for homosexual relations who use the same arguments.

    The conservatives argue that the Anglican tradition as expressed through its practice has developed to see the rightness of ordaining women, and the homosexualists say the same about homosexuality. They argue that Jesus choosing of solely male disciples and St. Paul’s strictures have to understood in their cultural context, one that makes the restriction to men merely a matter of culture, and the homosexualists argue the same about St. Paul’s strictures on homosexuality. And so on.

    In response the conservatives, driven by the need to distinguish their innovation from the homosexualists’, offered more and more involved exegetical arguments, which when I read them as an Anglican struck me as unconvincing. (And on the other side of things, I heard conservatives worry about some arguments being made against homosexuality that they would undermine the case for ordaining women.)

    For what it’s worth, I think this development reflects the practical evolution of modern Anglicanism. In the 60s and 70s and 80s, the innovation being pressed by liberal Anglicans was the ordination of women, to which many conservatives had only mild objections and which some of them approved, a few strongly. When it became institutionalized, they went along with it, establishing in their collective mind the basic arguments and mode of arguing that seemed to prove it. Their movement is now one that includes women ministers and men who have lived under their authority, and honestly can’t see any problem with this.

    But then the movement to approve homosexuality arose and they found themselves facing an innovation they could not approve, being asserted by people using the same arguments they themselves used for the first innovation. Why they can’t (and many Anglo-Catholics and some Evangelicals have come to accept it also) is an interesting question. In his book One Nation, After All, the sociologist Alan Wolfe argued that middle class Americans are instinctive moderates on every issue . . . but one. They really do not like homosexuality. It’s not unfair to ask if the Episcopal conservatives who support women’s ordination but reject homosexuality reflect their culture in what they see as the Bible’s plain meaning.

    I’ve written more than I intended in defense of Fr. Newman’s argument. Aelric’s comments and the discussion that followed are very interesting, but don’t affect the internal contradiction Fr. Newman was, I think, pointing out.

    Many of the people we’re writing about I know, and like a great deal, and respect a great deal, but I think they find themselves in a theologically impossible position.

  39. Little Gal says:

    From the website

    “When asked the difference between being an Episcopalian priest and a Catholic priest, one former Episcopalian priest answered, “about twenty thousand dollars.”

  40. Cyprian says:

    Footnote to Invicta Veritas: I think the number cited (“three”) for D&R American TAC bishops is too low. I can think of four off hand. If these bishops resign upon reception, as +Hepworth has said on numerous occasions, what is to be gained for their clergy who could proceed by the means of Anglican Use in a much more canonical way? If TAC bishops must resign, the TAC clergy will have the dioscean as their bishop anyway. But they’re looking for a bit more, aren’t they–an Anglican “rite,” an Anglican jurisdiction, seminary, perpetuation of Anglican parishes, etc.?

  41. Gary says:

    Footnote to Invicta Veritas: I think the number cited (\”three\”) for D&R American TAC bishops is too low. I can think of four off hand. If these bishops resign upon reception, as +Hepworth has said on numerous occasions, what is to be gained for their clergy who could proceed by the means of Anglican Use in a much more canonical way? If TAC bishops must resign, the TAC clergy will have the dioscean as their bishop anyway. But they\’re looking for a bit more, aren\’t they–an Anglican \”rite,\” an Anglican jurisdiction, seminary, perpetuation of Anglican parishes, etc.?

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