Anglicans Using a Catholic Church for their Services

Via blogging Priest extraordinaire, Fr Z:

From a reader:

I have been informed by an Anglican group that my Bishop gave the green light to let an Anglican (not an ordinariate group, but a schismatic Anglican group) use one of our school’s sanctuary and altar to celebrate their services. Is this permitted? If not, what should I do?

I get the sense that you, dear reader, want to do something about this.  Be careful not to read something negative into every ecumenical gesture.  Not all of them are illicit.

This situation is addressed in the 25 March 1993 Decree on the Principles and Norms on Ecumenism, from the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.  This is a dicasterial, not a papal document. It was not signed “in forma specifica“.  It nevertheless has binding force as an act of executive power.

The document contains these pertinent paragraphs:

137. Catholic churches are consecrated or blessed buildings which have an important theological and liturgical significance for the Catholic community. They are therefore generally reserved for Catholic worship. However, if priests, ministers or communities not in full communion with the Catholic Church do not have a place or the liturgical objects necessary for celebrating worthily their religious ceremonies, the diocesan Bishop may allow them the use of a church or a Catholic building and also lend them what may be necessary for their services. Under similar circumstances, permission may be given to them for interment or for the celebration of services at Catholic cemeteries.

138. Because of developments in society, the rapid growth of population and urbanization, and for financial motives, where there is a good ecumenical relationship and understanding between the communities, the shared ownership or use of church premises over an extended period of time may become a matter of practical interest.

139. When authorization for such ownership or use is given by the diocesan Bishop, according to any norms which may be established by the Episcopal Conference or the Holy See, judicious consideration should be given to the reservation of the Blessed Sacrament, so that this question is resolved on the basis of a sound sacramental theology with the respect that is due, while also taking account of the sensitivities of those who will use the building, e.g., by constructing a separate room or chapel.

140. Before making plans for a shared building, the authorities of the communities concerned should first reach agreement as to how their various disciplines will be observed, particularly in regard to the sacraments. Furthermore, a written agreement should be made which will clearly and adequately take care of all questions which may arise concerning financial matters and the obligations arising from church and civil law.

Therefore, the bishop is within his authority to permit what you described.

Hopefully, the bishop has a well-worded contract laying out the situations and circumstances of the use of the church.

Think of it this way.  Since this is a schismatic Anglican group, it may be part of the bishop’s plan gradually to pull them into the Catholic fold!

As for what YOU might do concretely, dear questioner, here are a few suggestions.

  • Pray for the unity of the Church.
  • Pray for these Anglicans, that they might respond to the grace that is being given to them to come into full unity with the Church of Rome.
  • Pray for the bishop, who is obliged by his office to care for souls of the baptized in the diocese.
  • Write a graciously worded letter to the Catholic bishop in question, thanking him for his zeal and pastoral solicitude not only for the Catholics, but for the souls of all the baptized of his diocese whom in his heavy office he is obliged by God to care for unto their salvation.

BTW… Benedict XVI is the Pope of Christian Unity.

21 thoughts on “Anglicans Using a Catholic Church for their Services

  1. It is so very hard theologically to hear people call Anglicanism schismatic and some even say heretical, since Anglicans are baptized in the Name of the Triune God, and believe in the Divinity of Christ as God & Man, and Lord & Savior. Also, Anglicanism believes in the Nicene Creed, with too the Apostles Creed and the Athanasius. Also, for the most part there has been a friendship with Anglicans and the EO or Orthodoxy. I know, I belonged to a dialogue group years past with the EO and Anglicans.

    One does not hear too much these days about the schism of Rome and the EO or Orthodox over the Trinity. In fact I stand generally with the EO on the “filioque”. And even Augustine believed in the monarchy of the Father. So before we start throwing stones at Anglicanism, at least theologically, we should look at the Roman position of the Filioque. It simply is an addition to the Niceno-Constantinoplitan Creed, however thankfully both the Papacy and the East have withdrawn the anathemas of 1054. But the schism actually still stands! Funny, I actually know some Roman theolog’s and priests that state their belief very near the position of the Orthodox.

  2. Any former Anglican in communion with the Bishop of Rome who wishes to use a Roman Catholic Building, are entitled to its use whether as laity who wish to fulfill their obligation, or clergy who wish to use their approved rites.

    Any schismatic, heretical Anglican groups who wish to use Catholic buildings are NOT entitled, and as such must first get the permission of a bishop before doing so. I find this disturbingly close to a sort of false ecumenism, and though laity cannot stand in judgement over bishops (of whether or not they are heretical), we have all rights to criticize the things they allow to happen. Because it’s OUR Church first. Who do these other people think they are, first protesting against Papal authority, then wanting to use ROMAN Catholic buildings? Submit to the Pope, then you can use the building all you want.

    Anglicanism is a Protestant heresy. It is a step away from all the pro-abortion, pro-homosexual, pro-contraceptive, left-wing cultural Marxist, camouflage Catholics that plague the Church today. All this lovey-dovey talk about “Ecumenism”, is a mockery of actual Christian Unity.

    Anglicanism as a whole will crash and burn from its own heresy, and a few will be salvaged and incorporated into the Catholic Church for their salvation, or the entirety of the Anglican Communion would all convert into Catholicism en masse, and subject themselves to Papal authority, not just conciliar or Scriptural authority.

    The Holy Spirit Proceeds from the Father, (and) through the Son. Filioque is not heretical in Latin, but is heretical in Greek. Anglicanism and Eastern Orthodoxy are schismatic and are deficient in faith, reason, and theology. But especially Anglicanism for its Protestant “Reform” roots.

  3. Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on one’s point of view, indignation at the gall of heretics wishing to carry out their empty mummeries in Catholic places of worship seems to fade by the time one is old enough to be a bishop. The CofE Diocese of Europe is full of parishes worshipping in Catholic churches: Boulogne, Strasbourg, Assisi, and San Pedro on the Costa del Sol, to name just a few.

  4. Occasionally Ioannes reminds me of the Boanerges offering to call down fire on the Samaritan village. Our Lord didn’t seem to feel that they had completely gotten the message.

    1. Being called a “Son of Thunder” is something I would gladly accept as a compliment, the same with “Integrist” and other names hurled by those who have gone into freefall towards modernism.

      Though pleasing it may be to some lowly aspect of myself, burning heretics is impractical and was not done by the Church. It is better to destroy their books and their teachings, and It is better to turn them orthodox Catholics than to commit an act of murder.

      What I follow is not the sad attempt of the Church trying to be acceptable to the World- it is the WORLD that should try to be acceptable to God and His Church. What I follow is the orthodox teachings of the Pope, especially The Syllabus of Errors condemned by Pope Pius IX:


      [It is erroneous to accept that:]

      15. Every man is free to embrace and profess that religion which, guided by the light of reason, he shall consider true. — Allocution “Maxima quidem,” June 9, 1862; Damnatio “Multiplices inter,” June 10, 1851.

      16. Man may, in the observance of any religion whatever, find the way of eternal salvation, and arrive at eternal salvation. — Encyclical “Qui pluribus,” Nov. 9, 1846.

      17. Good hope at least is to be entertained of the eternal salvation of all those who are not at all in the true Church of Christ. — Encyclical “Quanto conficiamur,” Aug. 10, 1863, etc.

      18. Protestantism is nothing more than another form of the same true Christian religion, in which form it is given to please God equally as in the Catholic Church. — Encyclical “Noscitis,” Dec. 8, 1849.

      God is my ultimate Judge, and His Vicar, the Pope of Rome, or any of his obedient, orthodox bishops and priests would have to tell me of my error for me to relent, not some strangers on the internet, and especially not some heretical, apostate minister who thinks he’s “catholic”

  5. When the word ecuminism or church Union comes up we all seem to be fired up and defend our own corner in the Church of God. How can we, if we are filled with the Holy Spirit call one another schismatics, how can we if we are filled with the Holy Spirit ban each other from the Eucharist in each other Churches, especially if both parties believe in th “True Body and Blood of Christ.”
    A former Roman Catholic Bishop of Christchurch gladly gave us ( TAC) permission for our
    Bishop and myself to conduct Mass in a local country Roman Catholic Church. I had already done my postulant training in this Parish and served at the alter and assisted with funerals , all with the permission of the Bishop concerned.Let me explain I was a TAC Postult then.Roman Catholics attended our Mass, but did not communicate. So be it. At my ordination
    all my Roman Catholic friends attended including Fr.D. Things offcourse changed after I was
    ordained Priest and the relationship with RC became a bit estranged. Before I returned as
    a Priest to Australia, FrD allowed me to take Holy Communion of my farewell visit. I know
    of one RC Parish in Australia, who hosted a TAC afternoon Eucharist.
    We seem to have a lot of difficulty interpreting the word ” Union in Communion”, which our
    former glorious leader Abp Hepworth advocated. Union in Communion is when people of the
    two denominations share in the sacrament. It is not a carefully orchastrated Anglicanus Coetibus,
    which asks Anglicans to become Roman Catholics and allows them still to dabble a bit in their Anglican things. Both Hepworth and Entwistle told their people a pack of lies, i.e. that they
    would remain Anglicans. One must be really a foo if one falls for this. Entwistle told three
    former TAC Priest, who were Roman Catholic rejects that they would still be Anglican Priests.
    I hope that they dont believe it.

    What can we learn from all this ? If we pray ” for the Union of all Christians in one Holy Church”, may we be guided by the Holy Spirit in order that we mean it and really understand it. Otherwise this prayer will be in vain I am afraid.

    Like most Continuing Anglican Priest, I believe that my ordination is valid, in no way am
    I going to break my promises . If I really wanted to becom a Roman Catholic then I
    would have joined up years ago. Present TAC Priests and friends of mine, who are going to the Ordinariate, well I hope we can remain friends and I fully respect their decision and I know that
    they respect mine.

    Father Ed Bakker OPR

    1. There’s nothing wrong with prayer. Even I pray for Christian Unity. But I am wary of compromise and rationalizations. They are dangerous when covered with the fig leaf of conciliatory language, and even more dangerous when clergy who speaks in “nice” sort of tone of language don’t know what they’re saying.

      1. I dont think I said there is anything wrong with prayer Ioannes. I was intrigued by your
        comments ” even I pray for Christian Unity”. I do not know much about you as a person, but does that mean that you are very sceptical towards Christian Unity? The point I am making is that if you pray for Unity, but dont really mean it or dont really want to make an effort working towards it, then there is no point in saying that prayer. Unfortunately there are many clergy in the Church of God, who , as you say use recommend compromise by using conciliatory language or as you put are pretending to be nice but dont know what they are saying.
        I think it is an area that I identified well in my previous comments. Church Union is Union in Communion not being absorbed as Anglican Catholic by the Roman Catholic Church.
        Church Union is not being told by the Australian Ordinariay as a rejected Anglican Clergyman, that you remain an Anglican Priest.

        For the first time I had the opportunity to visit the blog spot by ” extra ordinary blogger ” Fr.Z.
        I think as a visiting Anglican Catholic Priest you get the feeling that you are nothing , you are not welcome, your orders are not valid. Here is another Priest going on about Schismatic Anglicans that they should seek Union with Rome, what he fails to tell them is that they all should convert to Roman Catholics.

        Furthermore I am truly amazed how Roman Catholics give the SPPX a good kick in the teeth.I have a set of video’s from the Church of Saint Nicolas du Chardonnet of the Mass
        of the last Sunday in the Church year. The Church is packed with young and old, Mothers take their children to be blessed, there so much reverence and deotion, and the youngster, who are being trained as servers, many in the future will find a road to the Priesthood.

        With all due respect for His Holiness Pope Benedict, who is being called the Pope of Church Union, but is it not the ultimate goal to move everyone under the wing of the Holy See?

        As long as the Church is full of sinners, clergy and lay people alike , Union can only be accomplished if we love one another and worship God together, withhout one Denomination dominating. But it will never come to that. What we can do, is work together for the common good, towards to the coming of God’s Kingdom on earth, and most of all , love one another as Christ has loved us.

        Grace and Peace
        Father Ed Bakker

      2. You see, Mr. Bakker, like peace, everyone wants unity, but in their own terms.This is my own observation in a lot of discussion between Orthodox, Catholics, Protestants, etc. of various temperament. Mind you, I am not skeptical about Christian Unity, in fact, I am borderline fanatical about it. I have faith that Christian Unity will be attained, because it is the Will of God, not my will, nor yours, nor the Pope’s- We would do well to align ourselves with the Will of God, though we are given Free Will to do otherwise.

        I am, however, incredibly skeptical about the people who talk about “Christian Unity.” as if it were so easy. If it were so that “Everyone is right” with regards to Christian Unity, it is easy to lose any sort of objectivity, and that leads to a false union, a false ecumenism. The result is too chillingly similar to the same sort of Political Correctness that forces, say, children’s television shows and other media to suddenly feature characters of a different skin color, characters with disabilities, and more recently, sexual orientation. I suspect that “Christian Unity” that many speak of is in fact a strain of Cultural Marxism that glorifies not God, nor does His Will, but glorifies a sort of pluralistic secularized Christianity, comfortable and the diametric opposite of the sort of asceticism Our Lord demands from us, and that should characterize our One, True Religion.

        This is not to say that all in communion with the Pope NEED to be Latinized; they just need to be in accordance to orthodoxy. And a lot of people “Are not there” yet, so to speak. In fact, a lot of people WITHIN Roman Catholicism “Are not there” yet. This is why I am a traditionalist in sympathy with SSPX. I am a Roman Catholic, and a lot of people seem to think that it’s acceptable to murder children inside their mothers, to contracept, to engage in sodomy, and so forth. This is laxity and ignorance, and this has colored a lot of the entire discussion with regards to ecumenism. This is why, though I align myself closely with the Holy See, the Pope, the orthodox teachings of the Popes before, even I pray for Christian Unity, so that it is not based on weak and easy compromises, but an actual result of the Holy Spirit dwelling in those who share the same hope, and not the result of the “Spirit of Vatican 2”

        If you feel that you are drawn towards Catholicism, or consider yourself Catholic despite the lack of any sort of recognition from Rome, just like the SSPX, you must understand the sort of hardship that will fall upon you, even from the people you seek to be reconciled to. It has to be that way, and this sort of hardship should be realized even with the “Cradle Catholics” who are close to spiritual death or are already spiritually dead. There has to be rigor, and unless there is that, that is, if we are lukewarm, I don’t see anything worthwhile coming from any talk of “Christian Unity.” It’s nothing more than happy talk without any substance.

  6. In my Diocese the Salvation Army share a catholic chapel…..I feel far happier about them doing so, than a denomination which pretends to be Ctholic..even if they don’t baptize.

    Any Christian who is not in communion with the Pope is in schism..but God judges their culpability as founded on their knowledge.

    1. Indeed the “Church” has been in so-called “schism” since the First Century! (Rom. 16: 17-19) Note Rom. 16: 20, that our peace is only in “the God of peace”, Who “shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.”

      The whole point here is that as long as the Church is in this fallen and evil world, it must engage “the evil one”! Note here the great theological problem of “theodicy”, defending the goodness and omnipotence of God in the face of the suffering and evil of the world. Only the “theologia crucis” answers here! Christ alone is the Victor!

    2. True! Any Christian who is not in communion with the Pope is in schism, or outright heretics. And yes, let us hope that God does not judge us by what we don’t know.

      Yet ignorance is not a virtue.

      1. Who is Mr.Bakker Ioannes? I know of a Father Ed Bakker and a Father Stephen Smuts.
        Mourad wrote a good piece. , it is true it is not your Church , it is the Church of God
        and I reject being called a heretic or being in schism.God said:” In my Father’s house
        there are many mansions, heaven is not a reserved place for Roman Catholics and
        all those who are in communion with the Pope. God will not look at your identity tag
        as an RC or mine as an AC, but He will look at our souls and ask: What have you done
        with your life.

        Grace and Peace
        RevdFr.Ed Bakker

      2. Welcome btw, to Rev’d Fr. Bakker! Yes, I have been enduring “Ioannes” lack of Christian respect and charity for some time on this blog. Seeking to dialogue with ignorance and error, by-them-selves is hard enough, not to mention the lack of human respect. I admit I shoot pretty hard theologically myself, but then this is a blog – and we all know the difference between the blog, and standing in the reality of someones presence or person, (sad but true).
        And btw, just a point, but one should learn to respect another’s title, just as in the military, you respect the rank, etc.

        Also, several here (both Ioannes and Mourad) need to do some theological study as to “schism”, “heresy”, “apostate”, etc. Both have called me an “apostate”, since I have left Roman Catholicism (many years ago), and like both Luther and Calvin (and today also Barth). Note the EO use the term heterodox more often. Perhaps a better term here, as in etymology.. it has connection with opinion.

        Indeed, let’s dialogue, which is to listen.. before we fire our rounds! 😉

        *And we should note in Revelation 12:9, the present participle is used with the definite article, as a title of the Devil, “the Deceiver,” lit., ‘the deceiving one.’ Often it has the sense of deceiving oneself.

  7. @ Ioannes

    My dear chap, one call call a spade a spade without being obliged to call it a “bloody shovel”.

    (i) We have quite a few Churches in England which are shared between two congregations one of which is Catholic and one of which is Anglican. Quite often it is the only way that the respective congregations can find a place to worship. It is done with the licence and agreeement of the respective bishops and it is expressly permitted by Rome. So please stop trying to be more Catholic than the Roman Curia – it is an act of impertinence which, yes. can lead down very dangerous paths such as that followed by the SSPX.

    (ii) “Any former Anglican in communion with the Bishop of Rome”, is by definition “a Catholic” pure and simple and you should refer to them as such. When the CofE decided to start ordaining women, something over 400 former Anglican priests joined the Catholic Church and in this day and age with the shortage of vocations, very welcome they were too. In fact, one of the Auxiliary bishops in the Archdiocese of Westminster is a former Anglican and a very holy man. He is also the Delegate of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales for the implementation of Anglicanorum Coetibus and has ordained quite a number of the Ordinariate clergy as deacons or as priests.

    (iiii) I grew up in a time where there was some real emnity between Catholics and Protestants. There were two schools in the adjoing streets, one CofE, one Catholic, They called us “dirty papists”, we called them “proddy-dogs” and the name calling quite often degerated into fisticuffs or stone-throwing. I served two tours in Northern Ireland trying to keep the peace between Catholics and Protestants and lost a number of comrades.

    I know what schism is and I have some knowledge of what constiutes heresy but I have no wish at all to see any more unchristian behaviour between separated brethren or emnity between Jews, Christians and Muslims who all believe in the One God.
    You wrote:

    “Because it’s OUR Church first. Who do these other people think they are, first protesting against Papal authority, then wanting to use ROMAN Catholic buildings? Submit to the Pope, then you can use the building all you want”

    1. It is not “OUR” Church first. It is “GOD’s Church first.

    2. The buildings are not “our” buildings, they are “God’s” buildings. That’s why they are blessed when completed and consecrated when debt free.

    3. The expression “Roman Catholics” is a CofE usage. We are simply Catholics.

    4. We do not want to keep protestants, or non-Christians or unbelievers out God’s churches we want them to come riight on in, to make them feel welcome. That’s mission.

    1. Mr. Mourad, I will trust you on this, because I know you are a Catholic and you would know more due to your experiences and can filter them through a Catholic lens. Based on your past posts, you are certainly more knowledgeable and have orthodox stance with regards to the faith. That, I can respect.

      I never said that I will disobey bishops, only that I will relent and say nothing more if a Catholic priest or bishop, who have valid authority to teach to me and to preach to me about Catholic doctrine, tells me to stop. Not so much these Protestant “Fathers” and “Reverends” and “Excellencies” who are to me, “Misters.”

      If one day, in my own parish church, I find out that there are non-Catholics in attendance, I will let them sit and let them listen in peace, but to the PRIEST. I certainly will not listen and may leave once non-Catholics suddenly appear in the sanctuary, talking about Muhammad, and how we’re “all the same” and so forth.

      In response:

      i. If Rome says so, then fine. I will say nothing more about it, even if I don’t like it. I don’t profess to know more than the Pope, but rather I try to be precise and accurate in differentiating between being charitable and being permissive (with regards to my own attitude.)

      ii. I never said anything against former Anglicans who are now Catholics. I try to not even call them “Roman Catholics” because I know that they are not Roman, unless they identify as Roman, like how Eastern Catholics are not Roman. I can respect that, because they are in communion with the Pope. I just try to distinguish between those Catholics, and “Anglo-Catholics” whose usage of the term makes me understand the irritation of Eastern Orthodox who object to the practices of Eastern Catholics that look Orthodox, though not being (according to the EO) of the same theological understanding as the Eastern Orthodox.

      iii. I can very well leave alone people, so long as they do the same. The moment they start insulting, not me, but God’s Church and its Pope, its Scripture, etc., It’s hard to not call a spade a “bloody shovel” And it’s not just protestants, it’s those atheists and other nonbelievers who certainly believe they’re right when they’re actually wrong. But again, I’ll trust you on this, and on the other points you’ve made. Because I think you’re worthy of trust on that issue.

      Not so much protestant ministers. I can probably call them “Doctor” at most, but I cannot recognize them as a member of the sacerdotal priesthood that is validly ordained by a bishop in communion with Rome. They are not my spiritual fathers, they are some others’.


      1. Yes, it is God’s Church first, and we are members of that Church, which is the Mystical Body of Christ on Earth. So it’s the Church of God’s (Not that Protestant denomination) first. So it’s ours (Catholics) first.

      2. Okay, that makes sense. I agree. They were built by Catholics, though. Unless they were like Christ Cathedral. And then the entire provenance gets messy. I will say one thing, though; Catholic churches should look like Catholic churches. Not Protestant, modernist sculpture or office buildings. No wonder people make mistakes of thinking that “Episcopalian, Anglican, Catholic, they’re all the same!” It’s just confusing. But church architecture is another topic.

      3. I use “Roman Catholic” to denote Latin Rite Catholics. I have no idea what to call “Former-Anglicans-but-are-now-Catholics” who have their own patrimony and Rite. Unless one calls Sarum Rite as just another variation of the Latin Rite. It’s an entirely separate problem, but yes. I agree that non-Latin Rite, English Catholics are Catholics.

      4. They are supposed to go into the church so that they can be -saved- not so that they can be -comfortable- about their error. And what is the purpose of the Church if “God loves them the way they are!”? But again, I will trust you, Mr. Mourad, If it works to make them feel welcome, so that they would renounce their error, okay, I suppose?

    2. A short addition: I am well aware that I am like a man who is not even a priest who dares slam a monstrance at heretics in hope of their conversion and realization of their errors. I fear that if I do not do so, I would fall asleep and I might as well be dead and useless.

      Perhaps I am unpleasant because I am formed by an unpleasant world. Ideally, a Christian is formed by Jesus Christ and the world’s ugliness cannot touch him because of God’s Grace. In my case, I lack this blessing, and I have to make do with what little I have and pray to God to grant me what I need, not what I want or demand or feel that I deserve.

  8. Morning Ioannes,
    All of us face the same dilemma like you, living in an unpleasant world.However that does not mean that we, especially as Catholic Christians have become intolerant and unpleasant
    ourselves. When I as an Anglican Catholic Clergyman write to a Roman Catholic Priest, and
    I still do, I address the comment with dear Father and I really mean that. In other words
    I never give the impression that his ordination is invalid, I dont even hold that opinion.
    I feel that if you become less critical for the wrong reason and show a willingness to discuss and respect filled with the love of Christ for others, like Christ loves us, you will be blessed.
    I wish you a blessed Sunday.

    Father Ed Bakker

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