THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: With the close of the 14th Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Communion comes to an end - OFFICIALLY. It is now a relic of the past. The following is quite possibly the best synopsis of the whole thing. I highly suggest you read it...
A world map showing the Provinces of the Anglican Communion (Blue). Also shown are the Churches in full communion with the Anglican Church: The Nordic Lutheran churches of the Porvoo Communion (Green), and the Old Catholic Churches in the Utrecht Union (Red).
(InsideCatholic.com) - St. Peter, as the legend goes, was fleeing the persecution in Rome when he met Christ going the other way. The Lord asked him, "Quo Vadis?" -- where are you going? He might well be asking the members of the Anglican Communion the same question. Their reply would be, "We're not quite sure, Lord, but we think we're going in about five different directions right now."The long and short of it is this. The Anglican Communion is being torn three ways, and it does not have within it's own structures the ability to pull itself back together and heal. The divisions are as follows...
In other words, the Anglican Communion is splitting up. Like a great ship that has hit an iceberg, the whole thing is breaking into pieces. This summer has seen several different events that have brought the crisis to a climax....
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- Liberal Anglicans - comprising the establishment churches of England and North America.
- Evangelical Anglicans - centered mainly in Africa with missionary outreaches to North America.
- Anglo-Catholics - scattered throughout the Anglophone (English-speaking) world in small numbers but heavily concentrated in the South Pacific.
One interesting topic the conference took under consideration was the issue of authority within the Anglican Communion, in which a proposal was made that the Archbishop of Canterbury should take on a canonical authority similar to that of the pope in Rome. As Roman Catholics we should find it curious, and ironic, that the only sure method many Anglicans saw as a resolution to their crisis was to reinvent the wheel and virtually duplicate what already exists in the Roman Catholic Church. In the end, this proposal was also left unsettled by the conference.
In the months and years ahead, this is what we can expect to see in the Anglican world. What remains of the "communion" will tear itself apart. Evangelical Anglicans in Africa will continue to spread their missionary influence into North America, creating a rival Anglican province to the U.S. Episcopal Church (ECUSA). The liberal establishment in England and North America will shrink in size, and it will not go out quietly. As more homosexual ordinations are performed, and gay-marriages celebrated, the liberal establishment of the now defunct Anglican Communion will bring legal retribution upon any parish or diocese who dares to break with them. Meanwhile the Anglo-Catholics scattered throughout the Anglican world will now seek full reconciliation with the Roman Catholic Church. We are currently awaiting Rome's response to this, but it is widely believed the Vatican may expand the "Anglican Use Pastoral Provision" to welcome entire Anglican parishes corporately into the Roman Catholic Church.
As Roman Catholics we should learn from this, and be warned, that what we are witnessing is the beginning of the end for the entire Protestant Reformation. For what existed in the Anglican Communion was nothing short of a microcosm of the whole Protestant world. It is a world that consists of...
- Liberals (most mainline establishment denominations)
- Evangelicals (more loosely affiliated and chaotic, clinging to the authority of the Bible alone)
- Semi-Catholics (those seeking a return to historic Christian orthodoxy)
As Roman Catholics we should take heed that Protestantism has failed, the death of the Anglican Communion marks the beginning of this. We should remember that in spite of the Catholic Church's historical problems, it is the only Church capable of healing itself after great trials and tribulations. The Anglican Communion cannot do this, and that is why it is breaking up. Though it was once the world's largest Protestant denomination, and the world's third largest Christian body, it could not stand the test of time. So it will be eventually for the entire Protestant world.
Though the Anglican Communion is now defunct, a relic for the history books, the liturgical treasures and sensibilities that Anglicanism gave us will not vanish. The Catholic Church is poised to reabsorb them into her bosom, so as to preserve them forever, in what is currently known as the Anglican Use Pastoral Provision. All is not lost for Anglicans. In what has become the most significant development in Church history since the Protestant Reformation nearly 500 years ago, traditional Anglicans (Anglo-Catholics) can take heart in the knowledge that they have found a friend in Rome who doesn't want to see their traditions die out, and he's willing to take extraordinary measures to insure Anglicans have the opportunity to preserve them in doctrinal safety and under pastoral protection. The ball is squarely in Rome's court. We now await a response.