Anglicanorum Coetibus – Rome welcomes its separated Brethren

In recent days the blogosphere has been ‘buzzing’ with the news that five Anglican Bishops  have chosen the path to Rome via the Ordinariate, which we understand will come into being at Pentecost 2011.

It is not my intention to examine the detail of this generous provision made by the Holy Father last year in his Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus. I leave that to the more informed.

What my intention is, dear reader, to ask you to think very carefully about this. I have been saddened by some of the comments that have been ‘floated’ on the Internet. Some, downright rude, some most uncharitable, some cautious and suspicious, and some joyous and welcoming. I am of sufficient vintage to remember those days pre Vatican ll when at each Mass we prayed ‘for our separated brethren, that they would return to the one true Church’. I have probably (with the passage of time) paraphrased the actual words, but I am sure you understand that this is something the Church has prayed for for many generations.

So – here we have five Bishops publicly announcing their resignations from the Church of England to become part of this Ordinariate. I do not know any of the reverend gentlemen, but I am certain that they would not have collectively taken this step without much prayer, consultation, heart-searching and yes – pain. I hesitate to call these Bishops ‘flying bishops’ – I cannot imagine a worse title, but these are shepherds who, over many years, started to walk along this path, probably often in anguish and always with a will to serve Our Blessed Lord. I read one wag venture that we should have a cold war type exchange – with five of our Catholic Bishops as a gift to Canterbury (where it was felt they would be more at home) in exchange! I will not mention the names of those Bishops, but I am sure you will know who they are.

Here we have Bishop Broadhurst, Silk, Newton, Barnes and Burnham. Bishop’s who have over a period , walked warily towards Rome, but have stayed with what, for them as for us, was the faith of their fathers. But, while the Bishop’s path to Rome is considered ‘high profile’ there are other Anglican vicar’s who, as I write this, are considering where their future might lie. They have, I believe, nearly all have families, and this probably will make their walk that much more painful. In my own parish we have an Anglican vicar who converted  and became ordained some years ago. Although retired he occasionally celebrates Holy Mass. I can still remember the apoplexy in the back of the pews when, during a homily, he referred to his ‘wife’s gift in the rearing of baby lambs’. This dear man, whilst not a bishop, had also attained some level of responsibility in the Anglican church, but I imagine felt unable to convert until he had faithfully discharged his duties to those of his flock the Lord had given him.

In conclusion I beg you – welcome these priests. Conversion is rarely a ‘Eureka’ moment (unlike St. Paul), but a process. Pray for them. If you know their families be sure to extend your welcome there as it might be a lonely place they find themselves in. I know this is not always easy in parishes that have never had wives of priests, but we must all learn. Our Holy Father welcomes them – we should do likewise. One vicar, having made the decision to join the Ordinariate recently described  his decision as ‘jumping out of a plane not being sure if the parachute will open’. To embrace such change, at any stage in life, can be scary  – we are creatures of habit.

Great will be the rejoicing in Heaven of each person that, at whatever stage in life,returns to the One True Church. Great should be our rejoicing too.

Our Lady Help of Christians – pray for us.


About Gertrude

Sáncte Míchael Archángele, defénde nos in proélio, cóntra nequítiam et insídias diáboli ésto præsídium.
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22 Responses to Anglicanorum Coetibus – Rome welcomes its separated Brethren

  1. joyfulpapist says:

    It is a lonely road to walk for a layperson, as all converts know. We leave our family and our friends; some try to understand, others cut the connection. It must be much harder for those who also leave their flocks, their livelihood, and the work of their lifetimes.

    May God bless our Holy Father for smoothing the path somewhat; and may He inspire us with love for these our brothers who are returning Home.


  2. mmvc says:

    The Protestant Episcopal Bishop Levi Silliman Ives (1797 – 1867), had this to say on his conversion to the Roman Catholic Church:

    “I will not attempt to say what it cost me to make this surrender. But one thing I will say, the sacrifice has been repaid ten thousand fold in the blessings of present peace, and in the certain hopes of eternal life.”

    Let us pray that these Bishops and any of their flock will also experience such consolation and reward for their sacrifice.


  3. joyfulpapist says:

    To be able to receive our Lord in the Blessed Eucharist is worth any sacrifice.


  4. mmvc says:

    Indeed, Joyful. I couldn’t agree more.


  5. toadspittle says:

    “It is a lonely road to walk for a layperson, as all converts know. We leave our family and our friends; some try to understand, others cut the connection.”

    I don’t doubt Joyful for a moment, but I am somewhat surprised.
    If myself, or any of my friends or family – decided to change our religious beliefs – either taking one up or putting one down – nobody else would have the slightest problem.
    Or, if they inwardly did, they would not be so crass as to say so openly.
    Of course, we know it happens, but not to us, not nowadays, not here in civilisation?

    Did anyone ‘cut the connection’ with you, Joyful? It all sounds very Victorian – if not downright Mediaeval – to Toad.


  6. joyfulpapist says:

    Yes. All but two of my close friends ‘cut the connection’ – and one of those was not in a position to show any offence, having married my husband’s brother. My close relatives all came round, having expressed strong disapproval, and having failed to bribe me to change my mind (a world trip was indignantly refused – the youthful me failing to realise that I could accept the bribe then meet my beloved on the way and take him with me). Some of my uncles and cousins were never reconciled to my marriage, but – finding I didn’t notice when they ignored me – eventually acknowledged me again.

    That was 35 years ago. Things have, I think, changed in NZ. Families in the mainstream churches would be more accepting, I think. But my daughter met with huge resistance from her intended’s Brethren inlaws just nine years ago because she was Catholic and intended to stay that way. In fact, the mother-in-law said she wasn’t coming to the wedding right up until the day of the ceremony, and then she turned up in black and sat glumfaced and silent throughout the ceremony and the reception!


  7. frmichael1 says:

    Joyfulpapist wrote “To be able to receive our Lord in the Blessed Eucharist is worth any sacrifice.”

    You don’t have to be a Roman Catholic to receive our Lord. As an Anglican I do so every week in the Eucharist. Our Lord cannot be confined within a Roman prison but meets those of every denomination.


  8. Gertrude says:

    Dear Toad. I think you misunderstand the depth of some firmly held religious convictions. I am sure you have read the anti-catholic rants in certain areas, and sometimes, just sometimes this extends, sadly, to families. It does of course depend on how firmly these religious convictions are held. In families that have no firm belief I doubt that conversion would pass with more than raised eyebrows perhaps, but where religious belief is held of paramount importance I think you might be suprised of how ‘mediaeval’ people can be. Perhaps Spain is different having acquired the ‘secular society’ label. This country too has that label, but scratch beneath the surface and you will find not only faith in those that have, but a great desire for faith in those that don’t. This was beautifully illustrated during the Holy Father’s visit, and maybe was replicated on his recent visit to Spain.


  9. joyfulpapist says:

    frmichael1, I first met our Lord in private, and in response began attending my local Anglican church. I later became a pentecostal evangelical with the Assemblies of God. I then returned to the Anglican faith for nine years, before converting to Catholicism.

    I speak from and of my own experience. When I became a Catholic, I did so because I had come to accept that this was the Church that Christ founded. My first Communion was a revelation to me, as has been each one since.

    I do not doubt that Jesus meets each of us where we are. He does so to draw us to himself.


  10. bwr47 says:


    As another convert to the RC Church, in my case from the C of E, I too recognise that Christ is all around us. He is there wherever two or three gather in his name. He is there, no doubt, when a person calls on him from the depths of despair.

    But Christ is sacramentally present in the Eucharist in a way that is deeper than any of these other ways. He is there body, blood, soul and divinity. He is there because he appointed a priesthood – that of the Catholic Church – to re-present his sacrifice on the cross at every Mass. Once the line of that priesthood is broken, as Catholic teaching holds it to have been in the case of the Anglican communion as well as with all other Protestant churches, then there can be no sacramental presence of Christ. It is not a Roman prison, but Christ himself acting through the priesthood that He appointed.

    Many Anglicans do not believe in the Real Presence, of course.

    Robert Hugh Benson (son of an Archbishop of Canterbury) is one of many converts to the RC Church to have given witness to the difference. He described, too, the experience of another Anglican friend of his on converting:

    ““[A] friend of mine, now a priest also, told me that his supreme difficulty in making his submission was the thought that he must repudiate his own Orders. Up to that time he had been a Ritualistic clergyman, doing a devoted work among the poor in one of the great English towns and celebrating every day for years what he believed to be the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. He told me that he almost dreaded his First Communion, because he was afraid that, since it was inconceivable that Our Lord could be more gracious to him than He had been at Anglican altars, he himself might be tempted to doubt the reality of the change. But the moment that the Sacred Host touched his tongue he knew the difference. He told me that never again after that moment did he doubt for a single second that hitherto he had received nothing but bread and wine, accompanied by unsacramental grace, and that this new gift was indeed nothing else than the Immaculate Body of Christ. He is, moreover, a middle-aged, unemotional man.”


  11. kathleen says:

    I am a cradle Catholic, and so was my father, but my mother became a Catholic soon after leaving school amidst a lot of horror and even anger within her Anglican family and friends. Her own uncle and godfather (a clergyman) never wanted anything more to do with her. Although it was a long time ago, and I agree that on the whole there is less nastiness towards Catholic converts today, it is still a path of suffering and difficulties for many Anglicans whose consciences lead them home to the Catholic Church. One of my brothers in law became a Catholic without any problems in his C of E family, so yes, there are exceptions.

    bwr47, thank you for those beautiful moving words of R.H. Benson’s. I have often found that converts to Catholicism are often among the most devout and knowledgeable of the Faith; an enrichment for the whole Catholic Church, Deo gratias. Let us pray for these courageous Bishops mentioned in the article, and all the many unknown converts too.


  12. toadspittle says:

    Very interesting posts. And optimistic, I like to think. Things are lightening up.

    But, then, Toad must admit that someone close to him has recently become a Muslim, which fills Toad with the deepest gloom.
    Vastly deeper than if they had become a Catholic. Or a even Quivering Brethren.

    Go figure, as my New York (Jewish) friends would say.


  13. omvendt says:

    “But, then, Toad must admit that someone close to him has recently become a Muslim, which fills Toad with the deepest gloom.”

    That is indeed desperate news, Toad.


  14. toadspittle says:

    “His conclusion: the anti-Catholicism is the anti-Semitism of today.”

    Says Teresa,

    I suggest that, in fact, anti-Islamism is the anti-Semitism of today. And, to my shame I am more than a little guilty of it.


  15. omvendt says:


    GC posted this link on DT’s blog recently:

    It’s well worth a look.


  16. toadspittle says:

    thanks for the lovely video, but I see it is nearly two hours long. Far too for this venerable Toad. And, I did see it starts with some sort of Christian clergyman praying. Surely a little loaded? Anyway I expect I know the ending. Death.


  17. toadspittle says:

    “I think you might be surprised of how ‘mediaeval’ people can be.”

    Suggests Gertrude.

    Well, as a keen follower of CP&S, and to a lesser extent Damian, no.Not a bit.


  18. toadspittle says:

    I suppose what I am getting at – as you can all plainly see – is why, since I don’t really go along with any organised religion, should I find one so much more offensive than others?

    Relativism, I suppose.

    Whoops! Used the ‘R’ word!


  19. rebrites says:

    The estimable Joyful writes: “When I became a Catholic, I did so because I had come to accept that this was the Church that Christ founded.”

    This is always an interesting and very Western assertion, assuming the RC is The Original Christian church, and all the other Christian-flavored churches are breakaways. You will find at least 200 million Orthodox Christians out there with perfectly sound claims to apostolic succession. Many of them are praying the schismatic Roman church will someday return to the True Church as founded by Christ!


  20. Gertrude says:

    You are absolutely right Rebrites. I imagine that union with the Orthodox looks more likely now than union with the Anglican church. There is much common ground, and the Holy Father has had much dialogue with the Orthodox Eastern Churches. Please God – one day – all will be one.


  21. omvendt says:

    “thanks for the lovely video, but I see it is nearly two hours long. Far too for this venerable Toad”


    You should make the effort.

    You might learn something.

    And I suspect you might enjoy some of the humour too.


  22. kathleen says:

    Anti-Islamism just might be because many people are scared of being blown to bits as they innocently go about their daily lives, do you think? An understandable fear in this day and age.

    And believe me, no one doubts (at least I don’t) that the vast majority of Muslims abhor these crimes of the fanatic jihadists amongst them….. but it’s a mystery why they aren’t more outspoken about condemning these attacks, isn’t it?


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