Traditionally-minded Anglican bishops ready to come to Rome

Everyone should be calling Benedict XVI "The Pope of Christian Unity". 

His provisions for traditionally-minded Anglicans issued in the Motu Proprio Anglicanorum coetibus are concrete demonstrations of his desire to bring separated Christians into unity with the Catholic fold.

With my emphases and comments, look at the story in The Daily Telegraph:

Anglican bishops in secret Vatican summit

Leading traditionalist bishops in the Anglican Church have secretly told senior Vatican officials that they are ready to defect to Rome, taking clergy with them. [OORAH!]

By Jonathan Wynne-Jones, Religious Affairs Correspondent
Published: 9:00PM BST 01 May 2010

In a move likely to raise tensions between the two Churches, [Remember… the traditionally-minded Anglicans approached first… they came to the Holy See.] a group of Church of England bishops met last week with advisers of Pope Benedict XVI to set in motion steps that would allow priests to convert to Catholicism en masse.

They are set to resign their orders in opposition to the introduction of women bishops and to lead an exodus of Anglican clerics to the Catholic Church despite Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, urging them not to leave. [Gee whiz!  I bet that will convince them!]

It would be the first time for nearly 20 years that large numbers of priests have crossed from the Church of England to Rome, and [Wait for it….] comes only weeks ahead of a crucial General Synod debate on making women bishops.

The Sunday Telegraph has learnt that bishops travelled to the Holy See last week to hold face to face discussions with senior members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the most powerful of the Vatican’s departments.

The Rt Rev John Broadhurst, the Rt Rev Keith Newton and the Rt Rev Andrew Burnham, the bishops of Fulham, Richborough and Ebbsfleet respectively, are understood to have informed senior Catholic officials that Church of England clergy are keen [as in "eager, interested, enthusiastic"] to defect to Rome.

It is the first significant response to the Papal offer made last year, which opened the doors for Anglicans to convert while retaining key elements of their tradition.

[Get this…] The Most Rev Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, was unaware of the summit, which is likely to prove embarrassing to the Catholic Church ahead of the Pope’s visit to Britain later this year as it will rekindle fears that it is trying to poach Anglican clergy. [Remember: They approached the Holy See!]

One source close to last week’s discussions said that the Anglican bishops raised concerns with the Vatican officials that there is opposition to them defecting from Catholic bishops in England. [I take that to mean that they raised concerns with Vatican officials about "opposition from Vatican officials".  And I believe that there is opposition in some sectors, from liberals who don’t like the idea of liturgically sound clergy entering the ranks!]

Nevertheless, they made clear they have become so disillusioned with the Church’s liberal direction that they are keen to accept the Pope’s offer if they can finalise plans to implement it. [Do I hear an "Amen!"?]

The Vatican summit will raise the stakes at the General Synod in July when the Church of England’s parliament will vote on how to treat traditionalist clergy opposed to the introduction of women bishops. [I would love to listen to that.]

Although the number of priests who have openly said that they plan to defect has been small so far, the group is likely to grow if they are not given adequate provisions.

A leading Anglican cleric said: "This will seriously embarrass the Pope. [HA!  I think not.  The Pope issued the provisions to those who approached him.  Benedict XVI is the Pope of Christian Unity.]

"It’s a plot within the Vatican [ROFL!] that they are desperate to keep quiet until they are ready to go public.

"Many will see this as proof that the Catholic Church is intent on poaching clergy from the Church of England despite its reassurances to the contrary."

This is great.

All along Card. Kasper communicated to Anglicans the position of the Holy See.  If Anglicans go down this loony Protestant, and in the deepest sense anti-ecclesial, path of ordaining women as bishops, then the status quo will not be maintained. 

Remember what Prefect of Propaganda Fidei Ivan Card. Dias told 650 Anglican leaders at their 2008 Lambeth meeting:

Much is spoken today of diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. By analogy, their symptoms can, at times, be found even in our own Christian communities. For example, when we live myopically in the fleeting present, oblivious of our past heritage and apostolic traditions, we could well be suffering from spiritual Alzheimer’s. And when we behave in a disorderly manner, going whimsically our own way without any co-ordination with the head or the other members ecclesial Parkinson’s.


I hope the Holy See presses forward to resolve their questions quickly.


See Damian Thompson‘s remarks.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Salvatore_Giuseppe says:

    If by poaching, the quoted cleric means actively preaching the Truth of the Catholic Church in hopes of converting those who have rejected or denied it, then yes, I suppose the Pope is poaching clergy.

    The quoted person makes it sound as if the converts are being forced into this. Even if the Pope acted first by allowing it, these people are making their own free choice to leave a church that they have been in, presumably, all their lives, and which they have begun to see is not following the precepts laid down by Christ and his followers.

  2. Jacob says:

    I am all for AC, but at the moment, I am slightly concerned by comments from certain sectors of the traditional, orthodox Anglican clergy who are contemplating making the jump, but who have made clear their differences with the Council of Trent and the codifying of the Mass at that point in time.

  3. catholicmidwest says:


    By poaching, they mean “sheep-stealing,” which is generally regarded as reprehensible among Christian groups. I’m not sure how reprehensible it is, just that it is considered so.

    It needs to be clear to Anglicans coming over that they’re not just fleeing a bad situation with all their claptrap and just coming over here to engage in business-as-usual. They would be becoming Roman Catholics–not as they so fondly put it “English Catholics,” which are not catholic at all, but protestant. This is something Anglicans are loathe to admit, but it must be admitted. IT’s part of becoming truly Roman Catholic.

  4. Maltese says:

    Great news indeed! If God wanted female bishops, one of the apostles would have been a woman. But the greatest saint is a woman, whom I pray to daily: the Blessed Virgin Mary.

    These ex-Lutheran clergymen have a real zing to them; I was just re-reading Boyer’s “The Decomposition of Catholicism,” today; Boyer is an ex-Anglican minister (later, a Catholic priest.)

    I, too. am a convert; but a feisty one. I was once an atheist, but since the Church has gotten into my blood I’m both a bane and a blessing (or so I think so) to the modern Church.

    I’m not a Vatican II modernist, so I guess I’m a bane, but I love, and believe in, the Church hilt and holt, so some words I utter might be a blessing; though, I don’t know….

  5. Oleksander says:

    Well, good news! I hope their conversions are sincere, and I think they are (jumping from one religion to another is hard to do I suppose) and not totally reactionary, but the Bishop of Ebbsfeet is a very good man and good Christian. If he was celebrate and I pope, I would make him bishop of the Anglican ordinate in England.

    I just wish this kind of ecumenism was taken in the East. Russian’s get their a** kissed by certain elements in Rome (even our Church in Need founds go to them!! Sure help your brother but what of your own?), while they in Ukraine file lawsuits to steal back the our churches – they were given to the Russian courtesy postwar Soviet Union, then returned to Ukrainian Catholics after the USSR fell. Even the Macedonian Orthodox Church I heard from rumor was declined union with Rome in order not to offend Constantinople/Istanbul and Moscow!! And the Macedonian Orthodox are NOT even members of the Eastern Orthodox communion . us greek-catholics get no love (officailly)- treated by modern ecumenists like we are a counter-reformation mistake :( and so mnay for us died for union with Rome, not only during WWII and communist days, but in 19th and 18th century too, untold numbers martyred at the hand of the westward expanding russian empire, refusing to give up the Catholic Faith for russian religion.

    sorry for the rant, this post is about anglicans and i digress :/

  6. Oleksander says:

    Maltese, nothing wrong with zeal for your faith – im a convert from atheism too (well, was athiest then got into little new age stuff for short time before converting)

  7. Gail F says:

    Please, English readers, enlighten me. Why do so many English people seem to leap to the conclusion that these clergy don’t really want to be Catholic, they just don’t want women bishops? As an American, it seems perfectly logical to me that (among other things) the prospect of the Anglican church making women bishops would make even your average Anglican pew-sitter take another look at the whole Anglican project and determine that there’s no “there” there, as we say. Am I naive in assuming that they decided that the Catholic Church is correct after all and that they DO want to be Catholics?

  8. TNCath says:

    Verse 3 of “Long Live the Pope”:

    His signet is the fisherman’s
    No scepter does he bear
    In meek and lowly majesty
    He rules from Peter’s chair
    And yet from every tribe and tongue
    From every clime and zone
    Eight hundred million voices sound
    The glory of his throne.

  9. Tom Ryan says:

    Even the Armstrongs admit to the Plain Truth in all of this, in their own way ;-)

  10. becket1 says:

    Glad to see this!!!. And God bless everyone of them!.

  11. sejoga says:

    I love how these sorts of criticisms of the Catholic/Anglican reunion always use phrases like “poaching,” “fishing in the Anglican pond,” “angling for converts,” etc., like it’s a bad thing.

    Imagine, the successor of Peter, acting like he thinks he’s a Fisher of Men or something! The gall of that guy!

  12. B.C.M. says:

    Let me preface by saying that I love AC…. But remember it was in response to the Anglicans. In response to the Anglicans. We welcome anyone who wants to jump into the barque. And if it makes it easier, let’s build them a ramp (AC) but shouldn’t we be actively letting down our nets in places OTHER than Africa and S.E. Asia? Is it an embarrassment for us to be trolling for souls in the West? Uncouth? Unseemly? Who cares?

    I really and truly reject the notion that this is poaching at all. In my estimation this is not even close to enough from our side. I mean, seriously friends. Are we right? or aren’t we? And if we are right, and are justified in our rectitude by God’s Holy Writ, then this sort of passive “ecumenism”, to use the gentle term, is a load of hogwash. I don’t give a hoot about the political manifestos of the Schismatic East or the Protestant West. Our responsibility is to preach the Gospel without compromise, gaining for the Glory of God all the souls of mankind.

    While it might be amusing and self-righteous of us Catholics to say that “they asked the Holy Father”, when confronted by accusations of “poaching”, I truly think it’s a slight mark of shame that they HAD to ask. And I’m not faulting BXVI, PoCU here, but it seems to be an institutional policy not to ruffle feathers.

    Those Chinese Catholics are hanging on by the teeth to be Catholic. Heck, most of us here are persecuted for hanging on to an authentic Catholic identity… why does that not also include a healthy triumphalism? I understand diplomacy, but I do honestly believe that we should be sending in priests not only to Communist China, but to Humanist England, and Free-thinking France, not to mention Atheist America and the (former?) Soviet Bloc. There should be an aggressive campaign going on constantly to gain wayward souls who are in schism and are separated from the True Church.

    Pardon my shrill triumphalism, but the Anglicans have got it wrong. The Lutherans have got it wrong. Russian-et-al. Orthodox? Wrong. Roman Catholicism? The only right path.

    Am I alone here in being slightly embarrassed by the fact that there is no militant Holy Office of Getting Them All Back?

  13. nzcatholic says:

    Thats why im looking foward to the creation of new evangilisation at the holy see

  14. Warren says:

    This is great news! I recall listening to the presentations at the FIFA (Forward in Faith Assembly, not Fédération Internationale de Football Association) National Assembly 2009 and being humbled by the genuine desire for unity in truth and love for the Pope expressed by the various speakers. I hope these folk will be reunited soon. Such joy and peace awaits these separated brethren. When that day arrives, may there be many masses said in thanksgiving for their homecoming. Let’s continue to pray for the homecoming of all other separated brethren.

  15. sejoga says:

    Yes, BCM, it does seem a little odd that the Church, which is supposed to “fish” for souls as it were, expects the “fish” to jump into the boat themselves rather than the Church pay out her nets for a catch…

    Of course, it seems Benedict is reversing this trend. AC is the first serious evangelical outreach to a non-Catholic Christian group in, what, a century? At least? He seems to be on pretty good terms with the Russian Orthodox as well. I read that a Serbian Orthodox metropolitan is keen on meeting with the Pope in Nis, Serbia (Constantine’s birthplace) in 2013 to commemorate the 1700th anniversary of the Edict of Milan… and I imagine the Holy Father has actively courted such an invitation. And those rumors about Cardinal Fisichella being appointed to some position for the Evangelization of the West…

    I think Pope Benedict himself has been a bit timid in reaching out, but I think it’s because he’s carefully, almost stealthily, laying the foundation for a much broader outreach.

  16. We have commentary on this report over at The Anglo-Catholic, which site I’d recommend for all those interested in the developments related to the implementation of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus:

    [I take that to mean that they raised concerns with Vatican officials about “opposition from Vatican officials”. And I believe that there is opposition in some sectors, from liberals who don’t like the idea of liturgically sound clergy entering the ranks!]

    While there are, of course, opponents in the Roman Curia, no, it means what it says: the liberal English Catholic bishops have been maneuvering to thwart the AC from the very beginning. Curial opposition has largely been sidelined; it is the uncooperative local establishment that poses the biggest barrier (and has all along!).

  17. asperges says:

    Poor old Williams: he’ll be in an even worse mood now when he meets the Pope!

  18. robtbrown says:

    We have commentary on this report over at The Anglo-Catholic, which site I’d recommend for all those interested in the developments related to the implementation of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus:
    Comment by The Anglo-Catholic —

    Are you recommending your own site?

  19. Irish says:

    Father, I’m confused. Are these the TAC (Traditional Anglican Communion) bishops who are already in talks with Rome, or are these a new group of COE (Church of England) bishops who were not part of the TAC?

  20. These are Church of England bishops.

  21. MikeM says:

    It’s mighty good of the Anglican Communion to come together to determine “how to deal with” clergy who hold the traditional Christian faith. What ever would the “traditionalists” have done without their kind pastoral care!

  22. Andy Milam says:

    Perhaps this has been asked already, but since King Henry VIII “poached” the Anglican sect from Rome, how can it be that it is considered “poaching” if Anglicans are reconciled to the Church which their ancestors left?

    I’m just askin’….

  23. doanli says:

    This is high on my prayer list.

    My husband is an Orthodox Anglican and his priest at his church here is keeping close tabs on this (meaning, he sounds willing to reunite with Rome and he likes Pope Benedict).


    I had been wondering about this the past few days. :)

  24. tcn says:

    Andy: The hallmark of most protestants that I have met is an acute lack of historical understanding. Of course that isn’t true of all protestants, but for the most part, very few look before the 16th Century except to find ways to demonize the Catholic Church. After all, we are what they are protesting against, and if they truly knew their history, the wind would come out of the sails, so to speak.

    I once asked my husband’s ELCA pastor (DH is Catholic now, thanks be to Mary’s intercession) why they took Jesus off their cross. His response was something to the effect that protestants worship the risen Lord, not the dead One. I’m still trying to figure out the logic there, but you get my drift. Any excuse to be NOT CATHOLIC.

  25. Are you recommending your own site?

    In this case, indeed I am. There’s a great deal of misinformation out there about the Apostolic Constitution and its implementation. The Anglo-Catholic is a joint project of priests and laity of the Anglican Use/Pastoral Provision, TAC, and FiF UK and it focuses on this historic development in the life of the Catholic Church. The site is also the official “unofficial” web site of the Anglican group which, by means of its petition for corporate reunion, prompted the Holy See to promulgate Anglicanorum Coetibus and is endorsed by its Primate and episcopal college. It is not some personal blog, but an authoritative site for those Anglican and Roman Catholic (Anglican Use) groups availing themselves of the provisions of the AC.

  26. AnAmericanMother says:

    If the Catholic hierarchy in England is as liberal as it seems to be from this side of the pond, then it’s no wonder that they are at best lukewarm about receiving a mass migration of orthodox Anglicans.

    Over here, the “high church” Episcopalians are often referred to as “more Roman than Rome” — because they have kept many of the traditional practices (and quietly adhered to much of the theology, despite the XXXIX) that were jettisoned by some modernists in the American Church.

    It seems to me that the last thing modernist bishops would want would be a large influx of orthodox, traditional, enthusiastic converts!

  27. irishgirl says:

    This is great news!

    And yes, I refer to Benedict XVI as ‘the Pope of Christian Unity’ when I offer my Rosary intentions….

  28. catholicmidwest –

    They are expected to be Roman Catholics, of course. This goes without out saying, does it not? They are not, however, expected to be Italian Catholics, nor French Catholics, nor Hispanic Catholics. They are not expected to practice the peculiar cultural or folk piety associated with these cultures and alien to their own. They can be perfectly fine Catholics without Our Lady of Guadalupe or apparitions or medals or chaplets.

    English Catholicism is not Protestant, it is as Catholic as Newman and Manning.

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