The leading "Anglican Catholic" group in the United Kindgom, Forward in Faith, conveniently celebrates its annual conference this Friday and Saturday - conveniently for all of us who want to understand what Anglo-Catholics want after this week's momentous news. You may listen online to the various interventions in the website of FiFUK.
Tip: Sub Tuum (cf. our blog roll).
(UPDATE) Listening to the speeches with an open heart, one feels shocked and appalled by most of the speakers (not all of them, but most). For any convert to Catholicism, it is truly painful to listen to words such as those of a certain "Father" Alan Rabjohns, of "The Church in Wales", who declared, "I will not become a Roman Catholic unless I am forced to become a Roman Catholic."
On June 7, 2009 I resigned as a priest in the Church of England. On July 18, 2009 I was received into full communion in the Catholic Church. I have been asked numerous times if I am sorry that I left when I did as a result of the news this week from the Vatican on what Pope Benedict XVI is graciously offering Anglicans. The answer is a theological profound no way. I am a Catholic now and I have never been more happy about my personal decision to depart when I did. I could do no other as it was an issue that impacted the salvation of my soul as one who was theologically convinced of Catholic theology and what it meant to be a Catholic in communio with the Holy Father and the universal Catholic Church.
This decision was all the more confirmed after listening to my former affiliation FiF UK's discussion at their general meeting tonight. I was at the meeting this past February and it was at that meeting where I decided that what I understood to be Catholic was not what I was hearing from many. This present meeting is even more clear than the one in February that all the talk of being Catholic 'seems' to be not much more than what the individual wants to believe is Catholic. To be perfectly honest, it almost feels like a bluff has been called. Sitting and listening to those speeches made me sad and realise that for many in the C of E, the issue that alone makes them 'feel' Catholic is being against the ordination of women or so it seems. Let me state clearly that I did not leave the C of E over women's ordination or homosexuality though in regards to both of these issues I hold the Catholic orthodox line. I became Catholic because being Catholic was true, the primacy of Peter and his infallibility is true and the lack of the Magisterium in Anglicanism leaves the priest with nothing other than his (or now her) own opinion. I am afraid that this sort of approach has nothing to do with true Catholicism. This approach has nothing to do with the theological idea of communio in the writings of the Holy Father either.
... I am finding the addresses to be very difficult to listen to. I honestly wonder how it is that I belonged to a movement that gives appearances of not really wanting real reunion with Rome when it has finally been offered with some real substance. What I hope becomes clear to those at this Assembly is that the Holy Father is NOT putting forth some document to be revised by a revision committee or determined by a popularity of a majority as something akin to a general synod. Sorry folks, that is not the Catholic way. It's not about lace and birettas; it's about authority and truth. There is all sorts of talk about Eucharist and ecclesiology and an ecclesial solution to their problems but this language is becoming all the more nothing save fancy rhetoric. It is really time to take a closer look at what is the substance of being Catholic. I was absolutely shocked and grateful for the generosity and love our Holy Father is offering the Anglican worldwide communion and then only to hear the voices of people claiming to be Catholic at this meeting and longing to remain Anglicans and CofE blows the mind.
.... I am afraid that what has not yet really happened to many is a true conversion to a Catholic way. I mean that in the best sense of the definition of Catholic. Because it is a real conversion of heart to make one give up everything and follow Jesus' call to unity. Sacrifice is involved and one has to be willing to sacrifice all if we are to have the substance of the Christian life. There is nothing to be salvaged in my opinion about Anglicanism as an 'ism'. The Reformation is one of the greatest tragedies in ecclesial history. Why the assembly is not falling down on its knees and thanking God for answering their prayers in this Newman moment is really mind-boggling.
Many might ask me why I care. The answer is, because our Holy Father and pastor just extended a hand of welcome for reunion and reconciliation beyond what any could imagine and they have to think about it...I hope the Vatican isn't listening to that assembly.
What I feel is most problematic is that so many claim to have been praying for the very thing that the Holy Father has given and even more and now what is in reality a lovely piece of fish seems to be treated as if it were only a stone. Sadly, this all seems a bit ungrateful to me.
Jeffrey Steel is right: there has been no true conversion to the Catholic way for most of those gathered there. Until those people understand, in their hearts and minds, what it means to be a Catholic, they should please remain where they are; it is not as if they are prodigal sons, but reckless stepchildren who refuse to embrace a Father who extends his open arms, or who will only do so, reluctantly and half-heartedly, if urgent circumstances force them to act. Draw not nigh hither: Rome is holy ground!