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St. Mary Magdalen's
Catholic Church
Willesden Green
London NW10
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Wednesday, November 18, 2009
33rd Sunday-15/11/09 - What’s This About Anglicans Becoming Catholics?
Two big Anglican groups representing large numbers from across the globe, mainly outside Britain, have asked the Catholic Church if they could become Catholic but keep some of the their traditions, particularly the way they are used to praying, and some of the ways they organize themselves. The Pope has given v. positive responses, saying for instance that they could have their own non-geographical dioceses.

Why do they want to become Catholic? Presumably they believe Catholicism is the true Church.

Why so many at this time considering becoming Catholic? To them the Anglican Church has more clearly lost its claim seems to be faithfully Christian. The Church of England has continued to try to change traditional Christian doctrine to make it harmonious with modern fashions– for instance in allowing women Bishops and seeing less and less problem with sex outside heterosexual marriage.

Isn’t it a bit strange to make it so easy for them? It’s good to be generous - and it’s never easy to change your community and to acknowledge, that, to some extent, one has been wrong.

Isn’t it a bit unfair on the Anglican Communion – even a bit anti-ecumenical? It may be possible that there had not been enough dialogue and consultation – however ecumenism is about the humble search for truth, and should not discourage people from searching for and following the truth wherever they sincerely and responsibly believe it to be found.

What about this Times editorial worry: “The Church of England is a valued, historic, civic resource. Its position has been dangerously weakened”? Fostering the truth about Man is the way to peace and love in the world. Maintaining institutions irrespective of their validity is irrational.

Will “hundreds of thousands” become Catholics? Probably not given practical, political & remaining doctrinal difficulties. But we are entitled to hope and pray for a fulfilment of all those prayers for the so needed “conversion of England”. The secretary of the Forward in Faith Group (of which our own St Andrews is a member) has already said he would like to become Catholic with his London parish.

What about the Catholic comedian Frank Skinner’s worry that the prospective newcomers might be “reactionary bigots who want to reinforce my Church’s most unpalatable aspects: its antipathy to women and openly gay men as priests”? This would seem paradoxically to combine a judgmental attitude about personal motives with the very secular opinion that Catholic teaching about priesthood and sexuality is “judgemental”. A very fashionable position, but actually upside down. Catholics should not make such personal judgements about bigotry. And although we believe, against the flow, that there is a specific complementarily to male and female we are not anti-pathetic to sections of humanity. In short Mr Skinner has doubly forgotten the Catholic principle: hate the sin, love the sinner.

Will it mean more married priests? As with the big 1990’s conversions there will likely be individual consideration for each married convert who has already ministered a priest, without them being allowed to become Parish Priests, given their other significant practical and spiritual commitments.

posted by Sinead Reekie at 9:17 pm