THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: Yes, Anglicanism is imploding around the world, not just in England, but the Anglican Communion is in good company. Lutheranism is on it's last leg too, as well as Methodism, Presbyterianism, etc. In fact, the only two Christian denominations that are growing right now are the Catholic Church and Evangelical/Pentecostal communities. Everything else is in decline. So Anglicans shouldn't feel too bad about that. It's nothing specific to their brand of Christianity. That being said however, Anglicanism does present an interesting microcosm of what is happening in the entire Protestant world.
(Telegraph) - Here’s the reality. The Anglican Communion has disintegrated on Rowan Williams’s watch, partly thanks to his habit of saying one thing to fundamentalist Africans and quite another to liberal Americans. His own bench of bishops is hopelessly divided on key moral issues, and Rowan’s hand-wringing isn’t uniting them.
Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams
No, I don't know what he's doing.
Out of four bishops commissioned to look after traditionalist congregations, three have left the C of E to become Catholic monsignors. Over fifty Anglican ministers are being ordained RC priests this month.
You may or may not sympathise with their decision. But one thing’s for sure. When Pope Benedict is confronted by a major crisis in his Church, he doesn’t take time off to guest edit a secular magazine in the hope of impressing his mates...
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Before I go on, let me say what this is NOT about. This is not about English Christianity or English Christians in general. It certainly has nothing to do with English heritage. So this is not an attack on Anglicanism in particular. What this is about is Protestantism in general, and specifically, it is about the very premise of what Protestantism is built on. It's taken about five-hundred years, but in that time we have witness the complete and total erosion of the Christian faith.
The problem goes right back to the Protestant Reformation itself (AD 1517 - 1648). It really begins with Martin Luther actually, and believe it or not, his Ninety-Five Thesis has little to do with it. It actually begins in 1520 with a declaration made by Martin Luther of Sola Scriptura or "Scripture Alone" which teaches that the Bible is the ONLY inspired word of God, that it is the ONLY source of Christian doctrine, and that the Bible requires no interpretation outside of itself, meaning that anyone may interpret it authoritatively. This is in direct contradiction to the historic teaching of Christianity that the Bible can only be authentically interpreted in the context of Apostolic Tradition and by the successors of the Apostles themselves. This idea of Sola Scriptura was later adopted by the Church of England in the Westminster Confession of Faith in 1646...
VII. All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all; yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed, for salvation, are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.So began a "hermeneutic of rupture" with historic Christianity in the Protestant world that began with Martin Luther, spread across all of Europe, and found it's way into the Church of England. Now the Church of England, and the broader Anglican Communion, has undergone many transformations over the centuries, and I don't propose to suggest the Westminster Confession captures the heart and soul of Anglicanism today. I simply mean to say this was one of the seeds that started it all. By adopting Sola Scriptura, the Anglicans set themselves up for a train wreck in slow motion that would take hundreds of years to see it's final devastation. If scripture, tradition and reason are all anyone needs, than by one man's reason, Scripture can be reinterpreted anyway one wants based on the tradition one chooses. So began the formula of Anglicanism's demise. In the Oxford Movement the Anglicans saw a brief reprieve of hope, in which for a moment, it looked as if things might turn around, but this hope was soon lost in the twentieth century with the Anglican adoption of artificial contraception, followed by liberal attitudes toward abortion, feminism and homosexuality. The only thing the Oxford Movement provided was a way out for those Anglicans who wanted it -- a way to step off the train wreck before the final crunch -- a way that is seeing it's completion in Pope Benedict's personal ordinariate for Anglicans.
With the rise of the Anglican ordinariate in the UK, English Christians are now faced with a crystal clear choice. Pope Benedict has effectively adopted the Anglican Book of Common Prayer (or 98% of it anyway) as an authentic Catholic liturgy. He has created a means for Anglo-Catholics to govern themselves within the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. He has given English Christians everything that could possibly be given, and now the ball is squarely in their court. Aesthetically, the ordinariates are in every way English. They fully embrace the Anglican Patrimony of the last five-hundred years and beyond. The clergy of these ordinariates are autonomous, in the sense that they cannot be absorbed by the larger Roman Rite. It is everything the Oxford Fathers could have imagined and then some. So now, with that being said, what will English Christians choose? That is a matter for history to decide. The choice is no longer between English and Roman. Rome has retreated, shall we say, at least liturgically, but it has done so with dignity, and the English ethos now permanently rules through the ordinariate. Of course the general Roman Rite will always be available for those who want it, but no more will English Christians have to choose between Rome and their Anglican heritage. Now, if they want it, they can have both.
The choice is no longer between Rome and Canterbury, but it is now simply a choice between Catholicism and Protestantism. All the Church of England, and the broader Anglican Communion, has to offer now is a difference in doctrine. Anglicans can no longer boast of a unique Christian culture, heritage and ethos. All of this now exists in the ordinariates. So the real choice is simply between doctrine and nothing more. Is Scripture subject to one's own private interpretations, or is it part of a broader Christian Tradition that should be interpreted by the successors to the apostles? Is Christ only spiritually present in the Eucharist, or is he really truly there in a physical sense? Does moral relativism rule Christianity, or is there really such a thing as absolute right and wrong? These are the questions that face English Christians now. This is the choice they must now make. It is no longer an issue of "being English." That can be done within the ordinariates. The question is now one of being Christian. What would the apostles do?
As for the Church of England, and the broader Anglican Communion, I think we all know what it's future holds. The Communion is now in the process of being shattered. The Africans and Asians will go the way of the Evangelicals, breaking communion with Canterbury and England just as they already have with The Episcopal Church in the United States. These Anglo-Evangelicals will follow the rest of the world's Evangelicals into their own discovery of the inadequacies of Sola Scriptura. As for what remains of Anglo-Catholicism in England, North America, Australia and New Zealand, it will continue to follow the path of Liberal Modernism to it's ultimate conclusion -- which is total relativism and final apostasy -- creating an anti-church that in every way looks and sounds Catholic but in reality teaches an entirely different gospel. Like all liberal churches, it will eventually shrink to practically nothing, and then rely on inter-communion with other liberal churches to shore up it's lost numbers. The irony of the whole thing is this. Liberal Anglicans make the accusation that Rome will eventually absorb the ordinariates into the Roman Rite, leaving nothing of the Anglican patrimony behind, even though Rome has already made such action impossible though canon law. While at the same time, the Canterbury communion has itself consigned itself to it's own absorption of relativist syncretism through denominational inter-communion.