THE assistant general secretary of the Catholic bishop’s conference of England & Wales has praised the contribution that Anglican clergymen have made to Christian Unity through their conversion to Catholicism.
Mgr Andrew Faley said there had been a positive impact since that Anglican priests first started making approaches to convert to Rome around 15 years ago.
He said: “It’s had a very good impact on the Catholic Church in that most of the candidates who have been received, formed and ordained, who were former Anglican clergymen, have brought a huge wealth of pastoral sensitivity, experience and wisdom into the Catholic Church.
He added: “The bishops were always aware that it wasn’t a good enough reason for a man who was a former Anglican, became Catholic and wished to be considered for the Catholic priesthood, to do so because he didn’t approve of women as priests. That’s not the issue.
The issue is clearly to do with what it means to belong to the universal church and the decisions made within a particular church, in this case, the Anglican Church, to ordain women to the priesthood.
That decision is much more deeply engrained as a reason for the deeper reflection that it stirred in Catholics, Anglicans and other Christians as to what it means to belong to a Church that believes itself to be universal, in communion through the bishops with the Holy Father as the first among equals.”
Praising Anglicans for conversion of their members to the Catholic Church and contributing to Christian unity seems to me to be a back-handed compliment. Though he is certainly right that the issue of women priests is not a sufficient reason for conversion. Though this issue along with others just helps to many to reevaluate the authority of the Anglican churches and when you start questioning on the issue of authority this generally leads to the Catholic Church. Looking around at the issue of authority in other Protestant churches only reveals the same problem.
Maybe we can start passing out "Pushing them across the Tiber" awards to select Anglican bishops. It really seems at time that some are doing everything they can in this regard. It is like they are saying "Here is the Tiber, a boat prepared for you, and this is the direction to row to."