Fr. Dwight Longenecker continues his look at what Bishop Tony Palmer means in terms of what is happening with the wider Anglican world. (My bolds.)
I hope the post did not come across as totally negative. While I wanted to make a critique of Tony’s message, I also want to make clear my underlying interest and excitement at this very interesting and historic development. To understand exactly why this is so historic one needs to understand what is happening in the Anglican world.
Now add to this heady mix a new stream of Anglicans. These are Evangelical Protestants who never were Anglicans, but who have come into the Anglican tradition as converts. However, instead of joining an existing church of the Anglican Communion, they have simply started their own Anglican styled Church. My friends Mike Cumbie–the Catholic Evangelist, and Fr Randy Sly–a priest in the Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter–were both members of the Charismatic Episcopal Church. In the early 1990s this was a new church start up in which Evangelicals who were inspired by various church fathers and contemporary writers wanted a “historic church” that was not part of the Anglican Communion, had no historic links with England and was independent of Rome and Orthodoxy.
Then here comes the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches. Also established in the early 1990s the CEEC was another fresh start. Clearly distancing themselves from the “continuing” Anglican churches, the CEEC (here’s their website) was founded not only by Anglicans, but a whole range of Protestant leaders who see themselves as part of a “convergent church” movement. In a step away from the traditionalist slant of many continuing groups, the CEEC used the 1978 Episcopal liturgy and were happy to ordain women as deacons and priests.
This post is not an attempt to judge Tony Palmer or the convergent church movement or the continuing Anglican movement. What I am most interested in is that these movements are growing and that they are clearly fresh starts within Protestantism. That they see themselves as “convergent” means they must eventually come face to face with the reality of the Catholic Church and decide what to do about it.
What is also remarkable is the willingness of the Vatican to talk to representatives of these groups and to accept them. Pope Francis is not the only one to welcome them as brothers in the Lord. It was Pope Benedict who had his own remarkable interaction with the continuing Anglicans. In 2007 a group of Anglicans from the Traditional Anglican Communion ( a confederation of continuing churches) presented a signed Catechism of the Catholic Church to Vatican official asking to come into full communion. This led to the establishment of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham and then the establishment of the American Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter and then the Australian Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross.
Within the so called “Anglican Ordinariate” former Anglicans (and now by decision of Pope Francis) other Catholics, members of other denominations and non Christians, may join the Ordinariate. They may worship in an Anglican style and enjoy a certain amount of autonomy. Their married priests may be re-ordained and they will be in full communion with Rome.
The Ordinariate was first established for continuing Anglicans, but if we may call the start up groups the ‘convergent’ Anglicans then the Ordinariate could also be a home for what is clearly a dynamic and growing Christian body.
Of course individuals will have to decide if they want to really come into full communion through this option. They will need to make sacrifices. The ordained men will have their credentials examined. Some will have to go through further training. They will have to take doctrine seriously and grapple with the fullness of Catholic beliefs. Marriages will be examined. If there are women priests and deacons they will need to be guided into other forms of ministry.
Tony Palmer, with his Catholic wife, English-South African international background, mixture of Charismatic, Evangelical and Catholic theology and sympathies, enthusiasm and willingness to walk by faith is a perfect ‘face’ for this new Anglican movement.
Interesting. Of course, the Genesis of the Ordinariates is much more complex than what he describes above, the TAC’s request being only one of many requests from Anglicans, including many from the Church of England’s Forward in Faith who were not Continuing Anglicans. But it’s nice to see the old TAC get a mention, since in so many other instances my former affiliation seemed to get airbrushed from history.
It seems my charismatic Catholic friends are deeply moved by the Pope’s message to these Protestant leaders and feel greatly affirmed, too, since charismatics, like traditionalists, have often felt like persona non grata in many dioceses.
My hope is for greater convergence among traditionalists and charismatics! And I would love to see the Ordinariates become a home for the Tony Palmers of the world.