Reunion with Orthodox next?

To answer the question in the title, probably not. Still, the article, written from the Roman point of view, is worth a read.

Father Rutler discusses Vatican’s Anglican provision

Fr. George Rutler, a convert from Anglicanism, was asked by the Catholic News Agency on October 20 what his reaction is to the Vatican’s new Anglican provision. Fr. Rutler’s reply follows.

Celebrating inclusiveness

Celebrating inclusiveness

It is a dramatic slap-down of liberal Anglicanism and a total repudiation of the ordination of women, homosexual marriage and the general neglect of doctrine in Anglicanism. Indeed, it is a final rejection of Anglicanism. It basically interprets Anglicanism as a spiritual patrimony based on ethnic tradition rather than substantial doctrine and makes clear that it is not a historic “church” but rather an “ecclesial community” that strayed and now is invited to return to communion with the Pope as Successor of Peter.

The Vatican was careful to schedule simultaneously with the Vatican announcement, a press conference of the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster and the deeply humiliated Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury to enable the Anglicans to save some face by saying that this recognizes the spiritual patrimony of Anglicanism and that ecumenical dialogue goes ahead. That is like George Washington at Yorktown saying that he recognizes the cultural contributions of Britain and hopes diplomatic relations flourish. The Apostolic Constitution is not a retraction of ecumenical desires, but rather is the fulfillment of ecumenical aspirations, albeit not the way most Anglican leaders had envisioned it.

The press, uninformed and always tabloid in matters of religion, will zoom in on the permission for married priests. They will miss the most important point: that this reiterates the Catholic Church’s insistence that Anglican Holy Orders are invalid, and perforce so is their Eucharist. These married Anglican priests have to be fully and validly ordained by a Catholic bishop. Following Orthodox custom, they are allowed to marry only before ordination and not after. And no married man may become a bishop. (Thus, any Anglican bishop joining one of these “ordinariates” would no longer be recognized as a bishop. Under special provision, Anglican bishops would have some right to pastoral authority, but would not be bishops.)

It remains to be seen how many Anglicans (Episcopalians in the USA) will be received into the Catholic Church under these provisions, but it is a final nail in the coffin of the rapidly disintegrating Anglicanism at least in the West and will radically challenge Anglicans in other parts of the world. Perhaps most importantly, it sets a precedent for reunion with Orthodox churches whose Holy Orders the Catholic Church already recognizes as valid. I should not be surprised if the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury eventually is received into the Catholic Church, at least when he retires and gets a patent of nobility and a pension.

Fr. George Rutler is pastor of The Church of Our Saviour in New York City and is a convert to Catholicism from the Anglican Communion.


  1. I wonder what the recent Episcopal break-away group, the ACNA, will do? Assuming that the Anglican Church in North America felt a prompting to unite with a Pre-Reformation church – will they remember their 2009 summer with +Jonah and continue to befriend the OCA, or will they contact the USCCB?

  2. Rome can join the WRO anyday….

  3. George Michalopulos :

    Bravo to Benedict! By this brilliant move, he undercut all the nonsense of the “dictatorship of the tolerantariat” that has taken over Anglicanism. We Orthodox however are in not the same position in my opinion. The reason? The liturgical and theological differences between traditional Anglicans and Rome are not that great. All the Pope had to concede was allowing their priests to remain married.

    The divide between us and the Anglican Traditionalists however is somewhat vaster. It not only includes different liturgical rites, but the Filioque and Calvinism. We can concede to them (I suppose, I’m not a bishop) the Western Rite, but not married bishops, in addition to Calvinism and the Filioque. Unless they get their minds right in these regards, then we’ll have to do it the Nashotah way, that is with extreme patience and love. Eventually, I think more than a few may come over.

  4. Several years ago, the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) requested that Old Rome come up with a Unia-style scheme for Anglicans.

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