Anglicanorum Coetibus attracts Anglicans desperate to get out of Anglican Communion

By David W. Virtue

The Metropolitan of the Anglican Catholic Church, (ACC) the Most Rev. Mark Haverland, says his Continuing Anglican body is not the slightest bit interested in taking the Pope up on his offer of an Ordinariate as a safe harbor from the tribulations facing world Anglicanism.

Writing in The Trinitarian the official gazette of the ACC, Haverland said the pope’s terms, which include a total rejection by Rome of the validity of Anglican Episcopal acts and, therefore, also require re-confirmations and re-ordinations of all Anglicans, was of “no significant interest”. While there may be some sympathy within the ACC for Anglicanorum Coetibus which has gone unvoiced, his experience has shown that there is little interest by his priests and people in the Pope’s offer.

“From the Roman Catholic perspective the papal offer is generous. The offer permits the continued existence, at least for a time, of elements of traditional Anglican worship within the Roman Church. It also permits married Anglican “ministers” to be ordained as Roman priests while still married. These things are not new, as they already existed within the Pastoral Provision in North America. But the new Constitution extends these concessions to England and elsewhere and in addition offers leadership in organized quasi-dioceses (Ordinariates) by former Anglicans.”

Haverland described these concessions as “trivial”. He said there is no attempt to reconsider the rejection of Anglican Orders by Rome in the light of recent Roman Catholic (much less Anglican) scholarship.

“There is no deepening of reflection concerning the papal office to help accommodate the concerns of traditional Eastern Orthodox or Anglican Christians, though John Paul II opened the door to such a truly exciting possibility. There is nothing, in fact, of any theological significance about the offer. The offer, therefore, cannot be of interest to ACC members on the level of theological principle it can only attract Anglicans who are desperate to get out of Anglicanism.”

Haverland opined that the numbers of those seeking union with Rome are overblown. “In late 2009 the champions of the papal proposal spoke confidently of tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of converts to Rome. Now they are speaking more of “tiny remnants” and of seeds from which something substantial may eventually grow.”

Haverland further commented that he saw those converting to Rome as falling into two camps. “First, there are those, particularly in England, who have either never worshipped using classical Anglican forms or who long ago abandoned such forms. Many English Anglo-Catholics use the Roman Catholic Church’s liturgies. If one is already dieting on the mess of pottage which is the Novis Ordo, conversion is liturgically easy. But such people will not reconstitute Prayer Book or Anglican Anglican missal (even if “corrected”) worship in the Roman Church. They will just improve the quality of the music a bit and perhaps for the sake of of an occasional nostalgic kick might sing Evensong and Benediction in an Anglican fashion. In a generation this group will probably assimilate fully into existing Roman diocesan and parochial structures. The converts in question do not really value their liturgical patrimony, because they willingly abandoned that patrimony years ago. For such people conversion is a matter of finding a safe berth after their comfortable jobs and guaranteed incomes in the Church of England become too costly for conscience to permit them to continue to enjoy.”

Haverland believes that in North America and elsewhere very few people will take up the [Pope’s] offer. “Those who do, however, will tend to be more traditional liturgically than the English converts. They also will tend to be unhappy with their current Church homes. They will tend to belong to ‘Continuing’ Churches that are unstable or poorly led or they will come from the Episcopal Church or other bodies of the old Canterbury Communion.

“Whether in England or elsewhere, those who take up the papal offer will be fleeing something very inadequate. They will not be leaving sold traditional Anglicanism or the faith summarized so well in the Affirmation of St. Louis. Few people now seem to feel it necessary to flee the ACC.”

Haverland thinks that the profound lack of interest in the papal offer by ACC members is a sign of stability, maturity, and contentment. “We are not refugees looking for a perch on which to settle. We are adherents to one of the great traditions of Christendom, whose treasures we value and will preserve. Some day Rome may care to talk to us as happy traditional Anglicans, not as wannabe Roman Catholics.”

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