Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 51 year old Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit. Piety Hill refers to the old name for our neighborhood. The neighborhood has changed a great deal in the over 150 years we have been on this corner (but not our traditional biblical theology) and it is now known for the neighboring theatres, the professional baseball and football stadiums and new hockey/basketball arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Thursday, October 22, 2009

An opinion on the recent Anglican/Roman news

There is much buzz about the recent pronouncement from Rome setting up a pathway for en masse Anglican defections to the Roman Catholic Church. In many ways this mirrors a similar program already in effect in the USA only, allowing for re-ordination of married Anglican clergy and for parishes to continue to use Anglican Prayer Book worship while Roman Catholic (there are several in Texas, Massachusetts, and I believe Virginia already). This would now be available world-wide with the additional caveat that they would be able to set up parishes and have their own hierarchy without depending upon local RC bishops to give permission (a stumbling block in some places). What has not changed is that Anglicans still have to convert to Roman Catholicism and clergy have to be re-ordained (not have their orders recognized as valid).

Impact in the USA? Minimal to ECUSA I would think. Many who have been leaning Rome-ward have already jumped. It might be an attractive option to some of the alphabet soup of continuing churches who have already separated from The Episcopal Church, particularly those who separated in the 1970's and are of a more Catholic Anglican understanding. I would also speculate that only a minority of those who are recently separated into the Anglican Church in North America will be interested since most involved are of the Evangelical Party, and have adopted non-catholic understanding of Holy Orders (not to underestimate the long-standing animousity by evangelicals toward Rome). Those from the more Anglo-catholic dioceses of Ft. Worth, San Joaquin, and Quincy, as well as those under the new ACNA Bishop Ilgenfritz from Forward in Faith would have a better fit with Rome than the ACNA in the long run.

Impact on the Anglican Communion? This could be devastating to the Catholic Anglican movement in the Church of England, which has been pushed to the edge over recent legislation to introduce women into the Episcopate.

This could also gain steam in Australia and Catholic Anglican pockets in Africa.

And the formal document itself has not been released in full, so details are scarce at this time.

My biggest disappointment is that it will further weaken the witness of the Catholic position in the Anglican Communion.

So, what about St. John's on all this?
1) We are still a parish of the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan in good standing.
2) There are no plans for St. John’s to investigate this option.
3) I have a hard time believing Anglican Orders are "utterly null and completely void" as Leo XIII promulgated about us (or something to that effect). As the USA option currently stands, I am not eligible for re-ordination because I was confirmed as a child in the Roman Catholic Church. There is no hint by Rome that this would be changed.

We have had a small number of parishioners leave St. John's in recent years and convert to Rome, and we have also had former and lapsed Roman Catholics join us. Ultimately God is in charge and we remain faithful to the 'faith once delivered to the saints' as a parish, and as a priest, in The Episcopal Church. This puts us at odds with Rome (being in the Episcopal Church), and most of ECUSA (the faith once delivered to the saints).

May God help us all.

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