What do you give up when you convert?

When Anglicans in England come over to Rome, they will give up a great deal.

In many cases they may have to give up their churches.

For you in the burbs, that wouldn’t be a big deal.  But consider how beautiful some of these churches are in England.  And there is the emotional attachment to a church, even if it isn’t old and beautiful.

Some of us who are converts know what you have to give up.

From Holy Smoke:

Bishop of London tells Ordinariate worshippers: we don’t want you using our churches

By Damian Thompson

The Bishop of London, the Rt Rev Richard Chartres, had long had a reputation for being less appreciative of Roman Catholicism, shall we say, than many of his High Church colleagues. So the following statement he made to the London diocesan synod strikes me as entirely in character. (H/T: Ordinariate Portal.) In it, he tells London clergy and worshippers joining the Ordinariate that he will NOT let them take any buildings with them, and he’d rather they didn’t share Anglican churches with C of E congregations but took themselves off to the Italian Mission to the Irish. (OK, so he didn’t use that last phrase, but he might as well have.) Here’s the statement. Oh, and for more background on this delightful prelate, here’s an article I wrote about him in the Spectator a few years ago.

There does however seem to be a degree of confusion about whether those entering the Ordinariate like Bishop John might be able to negotiate a transfer of properties or at the least explore the possibility of sharing agreements in respect of particular churches. For the avoidance of confusion I have to say that as far as the Diocese of London is concerned there is no possibility of transferring properties. As to sharing agreements I have noted the Archbishop of Westminster’s comment that his “preference is for the simplest solutions. The simplest solutions are for those who come into Catholic communion to use Catholic churches”. I am also mindful that the late Cardinal Hume, whom I greatly revered, brought to an end the experiment of church sharing after the Synod’s decision of 1992 because far from being conducive to warmer ecumenical relations it tended to produce more rancour.

Nicely crafted phrasing, don’t you think? I couldn’t possibly say, looking at it, whether the reference to “rancour” is hypothetical, a prophecy or a threat.

Benedict XVI is the Pope of Christian Unity.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Dorcas says:

    What did you convert from? I converted from …secularism, I guess.

    Hey Fr, can you put your old podcasts on itunes? For some reason only the most recent one shows, sometimes even it disappears after a while. I’m a techno-dummy…how can I get the older ones?

  2. moon1234 says:

    Maybe a prompt reply from the FORMER anglican Bishops coming over would be “Please return the CATHOLIC churchs that the C of E and Anglicans STOLE from the Catholics.” Those are, afterall, Catholic churchs that have been occupied by the Anglicans.

  3. Dorcas says:

    That is a very good point. In these days of reparative claims for past wrongs, it should be only logical to start the negotiations.

  4. Grabski says:

    Perhaps the British Anglicans could do the right thing and return our Churches, or at least pay for them – with interest.

  5. As cherished as many of our places of worship are, especially those not “wreckovated” and with great history, it is good to reflect on what Christians in other parts of the world must endure. In parts of the world today, Mass must be held in secrecy, in someone’s home. Early Christians also celebrated in secrecy and in caves. There is something much greater than the buildings in which we worship. For many of us, this is a luxury.

    May God grant them all discerning Anglicans, the strength to endure this suffering.

  6. Dr. Eric says:

    Most of us give up going to hell when we convert, I know I did.

  7. Dr. Eric says:

    As much as we would all love to see our new Catholic clergy get those churches that are rightfully ours, remember the old saying, “possession is 9/10ths of the law.”

  8. Tina in Ashburn says:

    As a cradle Catholic, I’m still praying for my complete conversion of heart.

  9. robtbrown says:

    My understanding is that ownership of Anglican parishes is not as simple a matter as the London C of E District Manager portrays it. If a parish council votes for the parish to enter the Ordinariate, I don’t think that any C of E District Manager has the legal authority to prevent them from taking the building with them.

    There is also the matter that upkeep on a parish church that has lost 75+% of its members is not likely to be possible.

  10. SonofMonica says:

    I made a brief stop in the Episcopal Church before swimming. I gave up a well-done liturgy with kneeling at the altar rail, fine vestments, ad orientem in some cases, and a strong sense of feast days to become Catholic. So there’s that.

  11. Luke says:

    I gave up being able to attend church with my family, kind people, a well-funded community with lots of outreach and activities, and good music. That being said, I have gained so much more.

  12. frdgss says:

    Everyone gives up something to become a Catholic – but it’s a price worth paying for peace of mind and a surer hope of Heaven!
    The Convert Clergy I know have given up: their income; their identity; their home; their job; some of their friends…and that’s just the beginning.
    Please make them welcome!

  13. TJerome says:

    How Christ-like. The Anglican “bishop’s” lack of charity is the best evidence one needs for abandoning that rotten plum of a Church.

  14. William Tighe says:

    For those of you who are interested, I here provide a link to the blog of Ed Tomlinson, the Vicar of St. Barnabas, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England — an Anglican clergyman who, along with most of his congregation, has decided to become Catholic:


    If you peruse recent entries, say for the last month, and the comment threads especially, you will get an idea of the obstacles that have been put in their way, and of the obloquy and ridicule that has been directed at them.

  15. Winfield says:

    I was Episcopalian for a number of years after being raised Presbyterian. I gave up fine liturgy, beautiful music, lovely vestments (although all those things are coming back), and ad orientem on many Sundays. Many Episcopal clergymen enjoy a benefit few Catholic priests can hope for: a more relaxed life with time to visit their parishioners, head out for a leisurely lunch, and discuss all manner of things. There was also a sense of social familiarity and kinship that, as one whose ancestors were British Protestants and Anglican clergy dating back to the seventeenth century, I am only now rediscovering after almost 14 years as a Catholic. A recent move to another state and a far more orthodox parish is reinforcing bonds with my coreligionists through far more important theological and cultural issues. As with Luke, what I gained far outweighs what I gave up. Comfort isn’t really what we should be after, is it?

  16. HyacinthClare says:

    I think what I missed most was the music from the Episcopalians, where I tried to settle after leaving the Methodists. But now that we have an EF mass in Phoenix, EVERYTHING is gain. As my father used to say, “Cheap at ten times the price.”

  17. Baylor_convert says:

    Having been raised low church Protestant – Missionary Baptist, nondenominational, and Southern Baptist, I gave up peace with my family and, little did I know at the time, my future in-laws. Then again, my parents were quite angry with how high church my Presbyterian church was that I used as a stepping stone, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. I must echo all the others who have commented: it has all been worth it. God is good.

  18. contrarian says:

    Yeah, the property issue is a big one. I know of a few high-church Lutherans stuck in a synod that is in…la la land…but would be out of a building if they made a formal declaration of dissent. So they do their best to distance themselves in practice from their synod as much as they can. But its a tricky situation.

    I feel for these Anglican folks. It’s a tough deal. Sad. I hope they get to at least *use* the current property they call home.

    On a similar note, I wonder if there is a not-too-distant future went elements of the Lutheran church will have the option of joining up with the RC while keeping their own traditions, much like current situation with the Anglicans. Maybe that’s too romantic a thought.

  19. Rich says:

    It’s just in-your-face 0bvious this guy is just trying to avoid “rancour”.

  20. JonM says:

    There should be a structure in place to assist with the clergy of Christian groups, especially Anglicans and Lutherans.

    Practically speaking, it is an enormous change for them as they give up sizable incomes and networks. The Church should commit resources to help encourage conversion by making it easier with respect to those pesky temporal needs.

    I think this development is another example that the warm and fuzzy version of Catholicism ultimately does not work. The Church ought to drop its smiley face committees and instead be at the forefront for those who are trying to convert.

    A strong statement that reminds Anglicans that they stole Churches, ecclesiastical property, and private property of those loyal to the Church is in order. But more than words, legal resources should be directed to assist local parishes in arguing their cases; often the covenants indicate local ownership rather than diocesan.

  21. priests wife says:

    In Eastern Europe, if one decides to convert from Orthodoxy to Catholicism, one loses the ‘security’ of worshiping in the state church, usually in a physical church given to the Orthodox by the state. What happened to my husband’s church under communism is similar to what the new Catholics in England are facing- but at least, those in England are making a free choice.

  22. Supertradmum says:

    Security is what we all give up when we give our lives to Christ and His Church. At least, the security of the world. We can only hope and look towards the Beauty of Heaven. I do feel for those Anglicans who are giving up their history and lovely churches, but perhaps they can offer it up for all those Catholics who suffered in Penal Times.

  23. Dorcas: can you put your old podcasts on itunes?

    I don’t know how to do that. I don’t know why they disappear. I think it has something to do with the feed appearing on iTunes as long as the blog entry is on the front page. When it scrolls off, iTunes loses the link.

  24. Dave N. says:

    Given the vast number of unused and underused churches in England (to say nothing of the maintenance costs that would be incurred on even MORE abandoned churches) this really sounds more like sour grapes than an expression of legitimate concerns. I’m sure deals could be struck if the parties were open to it.

  25. Andy Lucy says:

    I converted in 1993… leaving the Southern Baptist Church. In doing so, I lost much of my family. My grandmother, who died in 2002, went to her grave grieving over the fact that I am going to hell because I converted. She refused to speak with me. She refused to see my children (her grandchildren) because they are being raised as Catholics. My mother was distinctly cooler with me, following my conversion… however, my stepfather went right on talking with me, just as before. We have an Army bond… helps us through religious tribulations.

  26. maynardus says:

    “On a similar note, I wonder if there is a not-too-distant future went elements of the Lutheran church will have the option of joining up with the RC while keeping their own traditions, much like current situation with the Anglicans. Maybe that’s too romantic a thought.”

    Given that the current supreme pontiff just happens to be a German theologian known in certain precincts as “The Pope of Christian Unity” I have no doubt that this question is being studied seriously and in depth. But it’s not simply a matter of doing a search-and-replace of “Anglican” with “Lutheran” and a “Save As: Lutheranum Coetibus”. (Of course from what Fr. Z. says it would probably be more like “White-out”…)

    There was a unique opportunity with the Anglicans, an “opening” if you will. There was a history of inquiries in the past and the issue had been examined by several popes. Benedict himself was quite familiar with the most recent, which he’d supported, but which was scuttled by the English hierarchy. And the impetus was coming from the Anglicans, not from Rome, and it was purportedly over a doctrinal issue; all of this insulated the Church against accusations of “poaching” or “predatory ecumenism” (not that there’s anything wrong with that!)

    I’d think that a similar opening toward the Lutherans would only come if a group within the Lutheran community petitioned Rome. But if and when that happens a lot of the homework would already have been done…

  27. Banjo pickin girl says:

    I gave up a lot of so-called friends who no longer speak to me. I also lost the knowing for certain that I was saved (presumption is a mortal sin). I gained the communion of saints, who are my best friends now. I gained more than I lost of course.

    I feel with those converts who are posted.

  28. aladextra says:

    There are a great many Anglican churches already for sale all over Britain. They can’t afford the upkeep. There is a site that lists them that I saw a while back, but I can’t seem to find it right now. Maybe someone knows the link. The point is that there is no shortage of available beautiful churches in England. Some of them might need the altar replaced, a rood loft put up and the Lutheran communion table used for kindling, but we can take care of that in short order.

  29. jarthurcrank says:

    Some of the more glorious London parishes post-date Henry and Elizabeth, so technically those parishes weren’t “stolen.” All Saints, Margaret Street, comes immediately to mind. But, many of the parishes of the Diocese of London pre-date the Reformation, though not necessarily the buildings – think of all the Wren churches built after the Great Fire.

    I am not surprised by Bishop Chartres position, but I am saddened by it, as it seems to represent a dog in the manger mentality.

  30. TJerome says:

    Bishop Chartres would probably be happy to give these Churches to Muslims because that would get him praise, laud and honor from the BBC!

  31. Luke says:


    As to iTunes, I believe that permalinks need to be used. I wouldn’t even begin to know who to implement that though. Sorry, I know that’s not much help.

  32. Jayna says:

    Nevermind how many of those churches were Catholic to begin with…

  33. Sword40 says:

    I converted way back in 1970 (of all years) and I have never felt the attachment to a building that I have seen in so many cradle Catholics. I have friends who would rather attend a “black mass” in their church than go to another for the EF or even a reverent OF. It just leaves me speechless.
    I just don’t get it.
    Going to another OF parish tonight where it will be more reverent than the Mass this morning. I couldn’t bring myself to go to communion.

  34. cyejbv says:

    I sincerely hope this doesn’t sound contrary to the question being asked, or trite, or I don’t know – floofy la la- but I converted 6 years ago at 37 , and when I think about what I gave up, it was:
    1. The headache of trying to figure out what Holy Scripture said.
    2. The angst of trying to decide what being a Christian meant.
    3. The exasperation of which church was closest to what I thought was right.
    It was way too much ‘freedom’, besides being incorrect-I was like a kid with zero rules but who was dying for some structure in my upbringing! I am just BEGINNING to understand much… since finding Fr Z’s blog I have gone back and re-read the gigantic and ridiculous “Come and See” binder I got when I went through RCIA years ago, which means I have added something else to be given up:
    4. Some free time because I hafta of course petition our parish priest for a change of RCIA venue ;) if that’s possible (?) But that may be ‘nother blog.
    Thanks Fr Z for all you do!!!

  35. VEXILLA REGIS says:

    Father Z,

    It would be a great beginning as Catholics if they were to offer up any discomfort they personally experience in reparation for the pain and distress experienced by their Catholic ancestors when, at the time of the Deformation, their often beautiful churches ,Abbeys and Cathedrals were stolen from them, and they had to endure their desecration by enemies of Christ’s Church. Yes, I think that would be fitting. Well said Moon1234.

  36. catholicmidwest says:

    I wonder how many people are having fits because they are attached to a particular church building, and that’s what’s fueling this. We’ve seen this among cradle catholics too, and I don’t understand it either, Sword40. But then, I’m not a cradle Catholic. I’m a convert too.

  37. K. Marie says:

    I gave up my last bit of protection? I’m a cradle Catholic on my mom’s side, but she fell away when I was 6 and with the help of my older sister I entered back into the Church at the age of 10. At the time I was being abused by her then husband who hates the Church for some reason that was never explained so at the time I resolved to offer up the abuse for those who were in greater suffering. I’m not sure if that really counts as giving something up since his violence increased after I re-entered, but I suppose that’s for God to judge. Like the others said I gained more than I lost since I gained the knowledge that even if I was being tortured at home I was loved by a much greater Father.

  38. Dorcas says:

    Sorry to go off topic here, but I think if you create a separate RSS feed just for podcasts, they will be stable on itunes…can you make an additional RSS feed for the podcast tab contents…it would be really great to have these available on itunes…any experts out there who can give advice?

  39. relee54 says:

    Moon 1234 is right on, but why stop at reparations for the many churches and the treasures within that the evil monarch Henry VIII and his henchman Cromwell stole from the Catholic Church to enrich the crown treasury? Why do you think Queen Elizabeth remains one of the richest people in the world today? The Queen of England should pay reparations to the Church of Rome and to the descendants of those loyal Catholics the English crown murdered just because they would’t swear allegiance to a phony religion that arose just so Henry could satisfy his lust. Thank goodness that many conservative Anglicans of today are seeing the light, and returning to the true fold.

  40. Brad says:

    I gave up willful/ignorant (combo pak) ignorance of sin at my adult baptism and confirmation, to say nothing of my first confession and communion. Shortly thereafter I read in Ralph Martin’s The Fulfillment of All Desire that St. Teresa of Avila wrote that the venial sins “were what destroyed [her]” until she was 40.

    Here’s a synopsis of her thoughts on the matter:


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