Wednesday, 12 December 2012

ACNA leaders meet Pope Benedict

Mired as we Anglicans are in Britain in endless disputes about sexuality and women's ordination, this story may have been overlooked here. 
Its significance is debatable, make of it what you will, but it is at least interesting that those 'orthodox' Anglicans in ACNA who have been pushed out of (or escaped from, as it must seem to them now) the official structures of the Communion in North America (TEC)  are beginning to look to the rock from which we were hewn.... or at least to make important contacts for the future...

A report and comment here from Fr David Allen [here] Here's an excerpt:
"... When the two Anglican bishops were introduced to the Holy Father, Archbishop Duncan conveyed greetings from the ACNA and the GAFCON movement, and both he and Bishop Sutton thanked Pope Benedict for the historic greeting he sent – as then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger – to the 2003 “Plano” conference sponsored by the American Anglican Council.Their meeting with high-level Vatican officials continued the next day with discussions on Christian unity, in which they were joined by Bishop Michael Nazir Ali of England and Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, Primate of the Anglican Province of Kenya, who is chairman of the FCA/GAFCON primates. The honor was accorded them as “heroes of the faith” who have stood as witnesses for Christ against the secular liberalism of the West. Bishop Sutton recounted the sincere respect and appreciation of Pope Benedict for the work of traditional Anglicans in the ACNA and GAFCON worldwide. Future conversations are anticipated..."...But Archbishop Duncan has done the right thing by visiting the Holy Father. An important part, a very important part, of restoring North American Anglicanism is repairing the ecumenical relations, which TEC has wrecked. Bishop Sutton is a good man, a Catholic Christian in the Reformed Episcopal Church and very dedicated to the cause of Christian Unity. Bishop Sutton has been working to revive Anglican relations with the Polish National Catholic Church. I bet that he is the man behind this most recent development. But, whoever is behind it, it is good to see Anglican bishops like these men talking with Rome and the Holy Father. They, unlike the Rowan and Justin, actually have something to talk about with Pope Benedict. .."
The ACNA website has this brief report and photographs [here



  1. Now that it seems that the possibility of corporate re-union with Rome is at an end for mainstream Anglicanism (or is at the very least on extreme indefinite hold) I wonder is their the potential for groups that are Anglican & Catholic to achieve some form of unity ... perhaps even as some kind of equivalent of the Byzantine Catholic Churches ... having its own traditions & identity while in full communion with the Holy See?

  2. If I were going to express an opinion on that, it would be that Anglicanorum Coetibus represents Rome's changed and definitive approach to ecumenism with a radically changed and increasingly heterodox Anglicanism, dealing with relatively small groups rather than anything on a more corporate basis - if you accept the Catechism, then come on board and we will ease your way into the Church.
    However, there has not, so far at least, been an instance of a whole diocese or even province seeking unity with the Holy See, and one wonders whether the Apostolic Constitution was designed to meet such an eventuality: Rome deals with realities above all.
    My own considered view is that with ACNA we are talking about the medium to long term (decades or more rather than years), given its very theologically diverse nature - women's ordination in some dioceses etc..
    But any discussions between ACNA or GAFCON and the Vatican could at least begin to lead somewhere, whereas Rome's 'official' dialogue (and that of Orthodoxy, of course) with the Anglican Communion has now, most neutral observers agree, reached an impasse (ironically to anyone with any knowledge of Anglicanism's historical claims) because of Anglican unilateralism and 'innovation' particularly in terms of the Church's moral theology. Realistically, I wouldn't get too excited about this, but the Holy Spirit does have a different way of working...

  3. A very considered response, Father - thank you.

  4. The corporate reunion of an Anglican diocese with the Church of Rome already happened in India in 1975 with the Anglican diocese of Amritsar. It's hard to find traces of this as it happened before the numeric era, but it did indeed happen, even with provision for the ordination of married former Anglican priests. So the corporate reunion of a diocese or even a province is not unfeasible. The diocese of Carpentaria of the Anglican Church of Australia, now separated from that ecclesiastical body and called "Church of the Torres-Strait" has petitioned for an ordinariate to be erected on its territory with it Bishop named the ordinary. This is being worked on by Bishop Elliott down under and has good chance to happen in the next few years.

    + PAX et BONUM

  5. Many thanks indeed for that clarification. I still think it's very difficult to imagine that happening with what we could call 'non-Ordinariate-bound' ecclesial bodies such as ACNA without a great deal more theological convergence than has taken place so far, something which would undoubtedly take a considerable period of time and on-going discussion. Yet if the will to obey the Lord's command of unity is there ...


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