Monday, October 29, 2007

Three Anglican parishes in Ireland to unite with Rome?

This just in from the BBC:

Churches set to become Catholic

Three former Anglican congregations have asked to be received into the Roman Catholic Church, a Catholic newspaper has reported.

The ex-Church of Ireland communities in Down, Tyrone and Laois, were part of the 'traditional rite'.

The Irish Catholic newspaper said the congregations asked the Vatican for "full, corporate, sacramental union" under the authority of the Pope.

This would see the communities being received into the Catholic Church.

A spokesman for the congregations confirmed that the members of the traditional rite of the Church of Ireland did hope to be received into "full communion with the See of Rome".

A decision was made at a plenary meeting of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC), the umbrella organisation for traditional Anglicans, to petition Rome for such a move earlier this month.


According to a statement from the TAC "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.

The traditional rite broke away from the Church of Ireland in 1991, after the House of Bishops of the Church of Ireland decided to start ordaining women.

Traditionalist Anglicans described the move as a "defiance of both Scripture and Tradition."

It is rare for entire Anglican communities to seek corporate communion with the Catholic Church whereby every member of the parish becomes Catholic and the parish effectively becomes part of the Catholic Church.

There have been a number of high-profile individual conversions.

Most recently, Anita Henderson, wife of the Church of Ireland Bishop of Killala was received in to the Catholic Church in a private ceremony in Ballina, Co Mayo.

To say that this is surprising would be an understatement.

Conditions within the worldwide Anglican Communion must be really, really bad if three entire parishes of Anglican Traditionalists are now seeking full union with Rome.

It is interesting that, with the exception of the group in Co. Laois, these communities are not based in the more liberal, easy-going south, but are from what is considered the most protestant part of the Church of Ireland, namely Northern Ireland.

The website of the Traditional Anglican Communion in Ireland can be viewed here. That of the umbrella organisation is located here.

This story seems to go further than this, however. It is not merely three Irish parishes that are seeking union with Rome, but the entire TAC (see here for further details). It will be interesting to see how this develops. Doubtless the Anglicans will wish to retain—within the limits of Catholic orthodoxy, of course—such features of their praxis which are distinctively Anglican and not at the same time incompatible with the profession of Roman Catholicism. If such a compromise can be agreed upon by both TAC and Rome, we might witness further mass migrations of disaffected Anglicans Romeward, particularly in the United States where the accelerating collapse of ECUSA has created a large pool of displaced Christians seeking alternative primatial oversight since they cannot in conscience continue in the communion of an organisation which so openly and brazenly repudiates central tenets of the Christian faith. Melancholicus would be in favour of such a compromise being reached; he has no wish to inflict upon these his long-suffering brothers and sisters in Christ the barbarities of the Novus Ordo and tasteless ICEL liturgy. A properly-constituted ‘anglican rite’ retaining elements of the classical Prayer Book within Roman Catholicism would be an enrichment to Catholic liturgy. He has said elsewhere that choral evensong is the outstanding contribution of the anglican church to Christian liturgy, and if this liturgical gem could be incorporated within the practice of Catholicism, so much the better!

In the meantime, we await the response of the Holy See.

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