Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Can the Church be Honest with Anglo-Catholics?

Anglican Samizdat raises some pertinent issues about the recent bid by the Church to open the gates to dissatisfied Anglo-Catholics:

For the Anglicans who accept what the charitable view as a more than generous offer and the cynical as opportunistic poaching, I wonder how they will feel when the Pope acts – and he or his successor will – on something they don’t agree with. Presumably those who are tempted by the current offer were not sufficiently tempted by previous ones or they would already be Roman Catholic; which means they don’t believe that the Roman Catholic Church is the one true church. Or perhaps some of the RC specific dogma about Mary, the authority of the Pope or praying to the saints stuck in their craw. For the priests, maybe it was the prospect of losing Anglo-Catholic paraphernalia – which now they can keep along with their wives; if that was the case, though, it seems like a shallow reason (well, apart from the wives) for resisting the call which has now become so compelling.

I have a friend who used to be an evangelical and converted to Roman Catholicism – mainly because he became convinced of the truth of transubstantiation. I asked him how he copes with some of the RC beliefs that are quite opposed to his previous views. His answer was that he ignores them – after all nothing is perfect. True enough, but I wonder how long Anglo-Catholic euphoria will last once the “Anglo” part fades under the weight of the Roman Magisterium.

I like the Anglo-Catholics. Really I do. But to be Catholic, you have to accept it as a package deal. There are lots of significant differences between traditional Anglicanism and Catholicism. Papal Supremacy being one. Marian dogmas are another. Prayers to saints. Purgatory. Sacred Tradition. And on and on.

Did no one else think of this?

My fear is that we'll be offering Anglo-Catholics a false deal. I'm afraid that there will be a lot of Marshmallow Bishops (to borrow John Pacheco's term) who will let all these people in because they are so morally correct, without requiring a profession of the Catholic faith.

And then when the Church defines another dogma, such as Mary Co-Redemptrix (which is even a hot dispute among Catholics) they'll be all miffed and say "we never signed on to this".

And the truth is, they won't have, but no one would have had the courage, honesty and charity to tell them.

The last thing we need in the Catholic Church is more dissidence and spinelessness.