Why Conservative Anglicanism is Doomed

On Friday, the Anglican Church announced that the next Archbishop of Canterbury would be the current Bishop of Durham, Justin Welby. This appointment is important, since the Archbishop of Canterbury is the highest-ranking bishop within the Anglican Communion. Archbishop-elect Welby is a complex man: he’s an Evangelical with an admiration for Catholicism, and a traditional-minded bishop who supports women’s ordination.

In a way, he reflects the complex situation that the Anglican Communion finds itself in. The Communion has two major factions. The liberal wing is pushing for women’s ordination, church blessings of same-sex relationships, the ordination of practicing homosexuals, and in some cases a rejection of the inspiration of Scripture and the historicity of the physical Resurrection. Meanwhile, there’s a conservative Anglican wing that’s fighting against all of these things, and trying to preserve what remains of Anglican tradition.

Unfortunately (and genuinely, I say this with regret), I believe that the conservative wing is doomed for failure. Conservative Anglicanism will either cease to be Anglican, cease to be conservative, or simply cease to be. As a movement, it is unsustainable, for the following reasons:

You can read those reasons here.



Another Episcopal Priest to Join the Ordinariate

Some Holy Communion members turning to Catholicism

The breakup in the Episcopal diocese has led some members of one local parish, the Anglo-Catholic Church of the Holy Communion, to make a move of their own.Five families will follow the Rev. Patrick Allen, curate at Holy Communion, into the arms of the Roman Catholic Church.

The Rev. Dow Sanderson, rector of Holy Communion, will remain part of the Episcopal Church, along with most of the congregation, and strive to be neutral as the drama plays out, he said.

The fracture comes as no surprise; worshippers at this historic downtown parish at 218 Ashley Ave. have long preferred to uphold Catholic traditions.

Holy Communion adheres to the Oxford Movement’s assertion that the Church of England (and other Anglican Church bodies) has been, and is now, an apostolic church, a direct descendant of St. Peter’s church, a true inheritor of the word of Christ.

Protestantism, instead, holds that there is no “one true church,” that individuals have the authority to forge a personal relationship with Christ and don’t really require the aid of an institution.

The 19th-century Oxford Movement asserts that the doctrine of apostolic succession accommodates “One True Church” with three branches: Roman Catholicism, Orthodoxy and Anglicanism. Its ideas were promoted in a series of pamphlets called “Tracts for the Times” (1833-41).

Allen said the process of becoming Catholic will take several months.

“I will continue to serve as curate at Holy Communion through the end of the year,” he said. “Of the families who are making this move, several adults are involved in ministry and leadership positions here, so they will serve out their terms.”

In January, Allen and the others will join the congregation at St. Mary Catholic Church on Hasell Street to worship. Allen said he hopes to be confirmed as a priest in the Catholic Church by late spring or early summer.

“At that point, we will begin having our own ordinariate (Catholic community of former Anglicans) and Mass,” he said. The group will share St. Mary’s.

More than a year ago, Holy Communion, as a parish, considered opting out of the Episcopal Church and joining the Catholic Diocese of Charleston, but that possibility faded, according to Allen, who addressed the matter in a Nov. 7 letter to the congregation.

With the split in the Episcopal diocese, Allen saw a new opportunity to pursue his goal, though the controversies were not central to his decision, he wrote.

“Mine is a move forward to the Catholic Church, and I am nothing but grateful for my own years in the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of South Carolina,” Allenwrote.


You can read his official letter (doc.) here.



Vatican Officials to Headline Symposium on Ordinariate in US

And still with US Ordinariate news:

Archbishop Gerhard Müller (right), Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, and Mgr Steve Lopes, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and Secretary to the Anglicanae Traditiones working party, will be featured speakers at a symposium to mark the first anniversary of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter in Houston, Texas.

The symposium will be held on Saturday 2 February 2013 at St Mary’s Seminary in Houston. Topics will include the ecclesiology of Anglicanorum Coetibus, and the evangelization and liturgical missions of the ordinariate.

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, will greet participants. Additional speakers include Bishop Kevin Vann of Orange (California), who also is the Ecclesiastical Delegate for the Pastoral Provision; and Mgr Jeffrey Steenson, Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter.

The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter was established by Pope Benedict XVI on 1 January 2012 for former Anglican groups and clergy seeking to become Catholic while retaining elements of the Anglican traditions and heritage. The US Ordinariate is centred around the church of Our Lady of Walsingham in Houston, Texas. Its clergy and communities are located across the United States and Canada.

Further details on the symposium will be posted online soon at



Msgr Steenson Addresses the USCCB Plenary

As Deborah Gyapong reports:

Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson  gave a report this afternoon on the progress of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops that was livestreamed via the website.

I took notes.  Here are some highlights of his talk.  (I missed the beginning).

Msgr. Steenson told the American bishops the Ordinariate has three employees, but can only afford to pay for one, the executive assistant.   The Washington D.C. diocese is providing Fr. Scott Hurd for three years who is vicar general, and Steenson receives his sustenance from the Galveston-Houston archdiocese by teaching patristics at St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston.

He described “a very busy life doing administrative work and teaching at the same time.”

“The human mind is not designed to teach and do administration at the same time,” he said, to laughter from the bishops.

He spoke of the formation of clergy, noting the second formation for clergy from the U.S. and Canada would be starting soon.   “It’s a very accelerated program of four or five months,” he said.

It’s already been used twice in the United Kingdom, and was approved the CDF two years ago.

“We teach these classes at St. Mary’s Seminary through a marvelous distance learning” program?  that was a gift of the Knights of the Columbus.

The lectures are structured on the Catechism, he said.  ”We do not underestimate the challenges of forming priests.”

“I’m all too aware of the awesome steps of moving into full communion” and then into the priesthood so quickly, he said.

“We will have to notch up the question of post-ordination training in the future.”

“How are you going to pay for them?” he said is another “nightmare that has plagued my life” and that of his colleague Keith Newton.

He’s called for a prospective priests to provide a signed statement outlining their financial condition, including their future compensation, resources, indebtedness, retirement resources, saying he will only go forward when they are satisfied a priest can support himself.

Ordinariate clergy are allowed to receive compensation from work in local dioceses as well as from “compatible secular professions so we can provide adequate financial support.”

The Holy See has given instruction on how to establish Ordinariate communities, he said, noting the Pope called for close cooperation with local bishops.

“We’ve had our governing statutes approved,” he said. “The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has joined with us in asking for a deanery for canada and we have also set up particular norms which have been approved” ….(missed which dicastery approved them.)

Steenson said he wished to “pay tribute” to the Episcopal Delegate Cardinal Wuerl for his “wise counsel in laying the foundatinos for the Ordinariate.”

He also thanked him for helping to “found us under the title of the Chair of St. Peter, something we carry with great pride.”

Galvestan-Houston Cardinal DiNardo  thanked Msgr. Steenson and his work and his “Catholic heart and mind to bring some very yearning priests and people to full coming with Rome whose reaction to all this is with thanksgiving and joy.

An Archbishop asked about married priests and whether they would be allowed to marry after they were ordained.   Steenson said the priests being received right now are married, and this involves special permission by the Holy Father for each one.  But after they are ordained they cannot remarry.   [A celibate former Anglican priest cannot marry after he is ordained a Catholic priest].

Another bishop asked when ordinariate clergy might make their contributions in the form of books on the theological contributions of the Ordinariate, helping us to think more deeply, books on spirituality, or on insights into the thinking of Cardinal Newman.

“Certainly!  Soon!, said Steenson who mentioned the reception recently of U.K. church historian Edward Norman.

“My prayer is that I might eventually have a little free time to write something myself,” he said, noting there were several well-trained men received into the Ordinariate who were capable of teaching at the seminary level.

Cardinal Wuerl offered a “word of appreciation to Msgr. Steenson” and thanked him for the “extraordinary job to organize this Ordinariate, launch it and provide it with direction.”

Wuerl then thanked his brother bishops.  ”You welcomed this whole process with open arms,” he said.  He also thanked Bishop Kevin Vann and Bishop Robert McManus for their help.

“Thank you all of your for welcoming this concept and actually making it possible,” Wuerl said.

A bishop asked about Anglican bishops wishing to come in and how one might follow their status.   Steenson replied the Complementary Norms give recognition to the significance of that man’s ministry.  ”He can be permitted to retain the symbols of the office he once held.”

“When men are ready to come forward, to make that step, we meet with them and make sure they recognize the significance of that step,” he said.

The “first read” goes to CDF, which determines whether there are any impediments to ordination. “Then it’s simply a pastoral process of helping the individual work through the spiritual and theological things that have to happen, the transitions . . “

“In my case it took two years,” he said, noting he went through the Pastoral Provision.  ”The Ordinariate process practically speaking takes close to a year.”

Cardinal Dolan, the president of the USCCB, thanked Steenson for his presentation.  ”We rejoice with you.”

Steenson ended by remarking “how wonderful it is to be Catholic.  That’s what you would hear from us.  We are so happy to be home!”

“Excellent!” said Dolan. “That’s the new evangelization!”

There is a video of the address here.