Where now for traditional Anglicans?
On 22nd February this year we are taking part in a nationwide Day of Prayer for the future of the Church.
This was prompted by, among other recent developments, the offer of Pope Benedict XVI of a place for Anglicans (throughout the world and not just in the United Kingdom) who will be increasingly unable to remain within the sadly divided Anglican family.
This is part of the continuing prayer, discussions and, indeed, heart-searching within both the Church of England and the Church in Wales as to what the future has in store for those who hold to traditional Anglican practice in the Church’s life and ministry.
The changes which have taken place and which will take place over the next few years will affect everyone, regardless of their own views on the rightness of the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate and the continuing debate within Anglicanism on issues of human sexuality.
Realistically, parishes, families and friends will all continue to be divided in their response to the issues which face us. So whatever our own convictions may be, and we are all aware that these are issues of profound importance on which feelings run high, we must try especially hard during this period of significant change, upheaval, and religious realignment to behave courteously and with sympathy towards those with whom we may strongly disagree and to pray both for them and alongside them.
The remarkable and historic offer from Pope Benedict, made in response to approaches from Anglican groups throughout the world, consists of what is being referred to as an “Ordinariate,” which will be a permanent place within the Catholic Church where Anglicans, under their own leadership and church structures may keep many aspects of their liturgical inheritance and spirituality. Someone has described this as an important experiment in ecumenism whereby on the basis of a common faith traditional Anglicans will be enabled to enter into unity with Rome without losing their distinctiveness or having to renounce their past.
Nothing has yet taken place, and it seems that this process will take some years before we see how it will develop. No one has to make any decisions at present as to their future, but this may well prove to be a very significant moment in the history of our Church and one which, far from increasing our divisions in the long term, may prove a catalyst for greater unity and understanding among Christians who are now so fundamentally divided on such issues as the authority given to Scripture and tradition in the life of the Church.
O God of unchangeable power and eternal light, look favourably on your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred mystery, and by the tranquil operation of your perpetual providence, carry out the work of salvation: that things which were cast down may be raised up, and that all things may return to unity through him by whom all things were made, even your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
Lord Jesus Christ, reigning from your eucharistic throne, establish the throne of your vicar, our Holy Father, Pope Benedict, in faithfulness, justice, truth, and peace. Uphold him, defend him, enlighten him, console him, enliven him with all graces to lead your Church boldly in your footsteps and to gather together into one flock those who look to you for salvation.
Lord Jesus Christ,
You said to your apostles,
'I leave you peace; my peace I give you.'
Look not on our sins,
but on the faith of your Church;
and grant her the peace and unity
which is according to your will;
who live and reign for ever and ever. Amen.
Significant News today from Forward in Faith:
'Friends of the Ordinariate' launched in UK
Forward in Faith is happy to commend to its members a new initiative, Friends of the Ordinariate, which invites all who are interested in the possibilities raised by the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus to register their names and then receive occasional email updates as plans for the Ordinariate develop in the UK.