THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: The Church of England is about to learn a painful lesson. It's a lesson learned by The Episcopal Church USA some thirty years ago. The only sad thing about this lesson is that once it's learned, there is no turning back. A little over thirty years ago The Episcopal Church USA began ordaining women priests and modified it's prayerbook to accommodate newer and more innovative means of worship. Of the 3.5 million Episcopalians in the United States, about 1 million saw the writing on the wall. Some of them immediately split from the national province, creating for themselves various traditional provinces. These came to be known as part of the greater Anglican Continuum. Many Episcopal priests converted to Rome, and brought many lay faithful with them. Some Episcopal priests and laymen converted to Eastern Orthodoxy (where it was available to them). Some left for other Protestant churches. Within just ten years The Episcopal Church USA lost nearly a third of it's membership! The denomination has yet to recover.
At a recent meeting in York, the General Synod voted to move forward on the new policy, which provides no real protection for those who oppose the practice. Dr. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and honorary head of the Anglicanism was powerless in his efforts to provide compromise...
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Now the Church of England is about to learn the same lesson. Sadly, however, as learned by The Episcopal Church USA, once you go down this road there is no turning back. You see, the people most likely to leave are the conservatives and traditionalists. Thus the only people left behind are the liberal modernists. Once the denomination has been "liberated" from the conservatives and traditionalists "holding it back" it is free to explore further liberal innovation, and so it does, eventually driving out the moderates too, until all that remains are the most liberal of the bunch. With the loss of traditional Anglo-Catholics, and conservative Evangelicals, the Church of England will soon become a left-wing liberal laboratory, fit for nothing but to implement the next wave of experimental innovation. Today it's women bishops. Tomorrow it's gay and lesbian bishops, along with gay marriages, and who knows what next! That was the pattern of The Episcopal Church USA, so it is now the pattern of the Church of England.
For all the talk on this blog about traditional Anglo-Catholics going to Rome, we often overlook the conservative Evangelicals in the Church of England. This is also a sizable bunch, which is one more reason why the decision to elect women to the episcopacy (without provision for those who object) is especially tragic for the Church of England. These Evangelicals are likely to wander away from the C of E as well. In time, many of them will find their way into non-affiliated Evangelical churches, while others are likely to start their own "continuing" Anglican divisions, apart from Canterbury, but perhaps aligned with some African metropolitan willing to oversee them.
In the 20th century we saw the demise of the British Empire. In the early days of the 21st century we are now seeing the fall of the Church of England and the broader Anglican Communion. Perhaps this has some prophetic implications. Only time will tell. What is certain now is that the Catholic Church and the Evangelical world will both have a lot to gain from the British Isles over the next decade. For Catholics there is a lesson to be learned. This is what happens when you compromise with liberal modernists. You give an inch, they take a mile, and they absolutely will not stop - EVER - until they have destroyed everything the Church once was. When we Catholics look upon the Anglican Communion, we must understand that there is a reflection of ourselves without orthodoxy. Were it not for the stubbornness of the pope, and those faithful bishops in union with him, we too would find ourselves in the same pickle.