Traditional Anglicans Coming Home?
Bishops Mercer and Wilkinson… This time we met with the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the body appointed by the Holy See to receive applications for “Corporate Reunion” from churches that are not in Communion with the Holy See.
This time, we carried to the Holy See a letter signed by the Bishops and Vicars General of the Traditional Anglican Communion in the venerable church of Saint Agatha in Portsmouth, England, where we had just completed a powerful Plenary Meeting.
The letter rehearses the long and frustrating history of attempts to unite (in the words of Paul VI) the “church of Rome and the church of Canterbury”. It dwells on the reaction of those who dreamed that at last Anglicans were to become “Anglican Catholics” as the Anglican Communion took step after step to distance itself from the unity that had been promised.
(From the letter to Rome)
“a worldwide community of Anglican Christians has united under the name “The Traditional Anglican Communion” for three main purposes:
To identify, reaffirm and consolidate in its community the elements… conduct that mark the Church of Christ…
To seek as a body full and visible communion, particularly eucharistic communion, in Christ, with the Roman Catholic Church..
To achieve such communion while maintaining those revered traditions… that constitute the cherished and centuries-old heritage of Anglican communities throughout the world
On acceptance of the ministry of the bishop of Rome:
We accept the ministry of the Bishop of Rome, the successor of Peter, which is a ministry of teaching and discerning the faith and a “perpetual and visible principle and foundation of unity” and understand this ministry is essential to the Church founded by Jesus Christ.
On acceptance of the catholic faith
“We accept that the most complete and authentic expression and application of the catholic faith in this moment of time is found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church…”
And their appeal to the Church
“Driven by these realizations, which we must now in good conscience bring to the attention of the Holy See, we seek a communal and ecclesial way of being Anglican Catholics in communion with the Holy See, at once treasuring the full expression of catholic faith and treasuring our tradition within which we have come to this moment. We seek the guidance of the Holy See as to the fulfillment of these our desires and those of the churches in which we have been called to serve.”
Anglican-Roman unity is not a new idea. In 1966 Archbishop Michael Ramsey met with Pope Paul VI to begin dialog at the Basilica of St. Paul Beyond the Walls. As a sign of the desire for unity the Pope took his papal ring and put it on the finger of Michael Ramsey. He also called the Anglican Communion “our dear sister church” and talked of Anglicanism being “united not absorbed.”
The 1968 Lambeth Conference affirmed the Archbishop’s actions and the work of the new Anglican – Roman Catholic International Commission. In the years since, however, the Anglican Communion has moved too far afield in women’s ordination and other issues for the work of unity to continue.
The TAC may be picking up where earlier Anglicans have left off.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
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