A reader writes:
What do you think of the rumors of an autonomous rite for Anglicans who wish to be in communion with the Holy See? As a former Episcopal priest who came into the church, I have mixed feelings about such an arrangement. I miss some of the accidents of Anglicanism, e.g., the hymnody and the quasi-Tridentine precision of a solemn high Mass the way we did it, but I do not miss the culture of dissent that is so much more prevalent in Anglicanism or the devaluation of theology in practical terms. I am very interested in what you think.
I don’t know that I personally have a lot to say. I’m in support, in principle, of the restoration of other bodies of Christians to full communion with the Catholic Church, and historically this has often been accomplished through the creation of a new "rite" in the Church–or what would more properly be called a new church sui iuris (Latin, "with it’s own law").
If that’s the best way to faciliate the reunion of (some) Anglicans, then I’m for it.
Such matters have to be handled very carefully, though, to ensure that it is a true restoration of full communion and not a papering over of differences.
There are also other risks as well. I was aware of it when a similar effort in the 1990s was underway (claims vary about whether was to be a new church sui iuris or some other kind of canonical structure), and it all fell apart when the former Anglican bishop who would have been the head of the new rite defected from the Church.
"Once burned, twice shy," as they say. The Vatican will need to make very sure of the leadership of the body coming into union. You don’t want to have the spectacle of a grand reunion followed by a new schism of the same people hot on its heels.
It is my understanding that the Anglicans involved in this process may not have the dissident ethos that you mention, though I don’t know if that applies to these bodies as a whole. My
familiarity with the precise theological tenor of these circles is quite limited.
So I don’t know whether the time is right for this, though I hope so. I’d like to see a new church sui iuris added to the Church in my lifetime, but it needs to be done the right way, and there are a number of significant issues to be solved.
For more on all this,
SEE THIS POST OVER AT PONTIFICATIONS, which links to a number of things, including