THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: The above video is a fair representation from PBS, and I highly encourage everyone to watch this. There is however, one small section I would like to point out. The interview at this point is between PBS Correspondent Bob Faw and Reverend Ian Markham, who is the Dean of Virginia Theological Seminary, an Episcopalian institution....
FAW: Even though the number of Episcopal congregations converting to Catholicism is relatively small, the impact on the Episcopal Church has not been negligible. Indeed, here at Virginia Theological Seminary, the country’s largest Episcopal seminary, the president and dean calls the movement “a real threat.”
REVEREND IAN MARKHAM (Dean of Virginia Theological Seminary): There’s quite a lot of traffic currently going both ways between the two traditions, especially at the level of congregants. What’s interesting here is you’ve got entire congregations and clergy making the shift. So, yeah, I think the Roman Catholic Church is a threat, because we’ve lost the sense of our theological understanding and identity.
FAW: Dean Markham believes that among Episcopalians there’s still anger today over the pope’s 2009 decree.
MARKHAM: There was a perception that this was poaching by the Roman Catholic Church of Anglicans around the world. It was discourteous, it was stealing sheep, it was unecumenical.
FAW: It is seen as a kind of poaching?
MARKHAM: It’s viewed as not recognizing the value of and integrity of our traditions.
I would just like to add my own thoughts here, and in The Catholic Knight's traditional way, I will be as blunt as possible about it. Father Markham is about as wrong as he can be here. The Episcopal (Anglican) Church in the United States has been shrinking in size for the last thirty years, and this is nobody's fault but their own! That's right; I said it, and as a former Anglican I'll say it again. If you want to know the cause of The Episcopal Church's demise you need look no further than the mirror. I know why I left, and it wasn't because Rome had "poached" me. It is precisely because of The Episcopal Church's so-called "vision" of the future that I left. Not just I, but literally one-million others. That's right father, let's review the history shall we? The Episcopal Church began ordaining women in the 1970s, and during that same decade the prayerbook was changed as well, to accommodate "more modern expressions" of the Anglican faith. That resulted in the mass exodus of approximately one-third of all Episcopalians (one million members) over the following three decades. Had the U.S. Catholic Church suffered a proportionate loss, the number would have been approximately twenty-million. Indeed the Catholic Church has lost many members over the last three decades, but nothing on that scale. Which brings me to my next point.
There are many Catholics who convert to Episcopalianism, and this has been going on for quite a long time. I see no cries of "poaching" over that. Why not? In fact, Anglicanism itself was founded on "poaching," was it not Father Markham? I seem to recall something about a king wanting an annulment, or something to that extent, and when the pope would not grant him one, he "poached" against their will, every single Catholic in England. That's all water under the bridge now, but the fact remains that Catholics are crossing over to the Episcopal Church every day, and in fact, I dare say that some reading this article may be contemplating it.
The liberal innovations in the Episcopal Church are driving every traditional Anglican out, and Rome is just trying to accommodate those who beg to be received into the Catholic Church, because they feel they have nowhere else to go. Somehow that is supposed to be "sheep poaching?" Give me a break!
You want to blame somebody, blame yourself, and your denominational leadership. For everyone familiar with the situation knows that your church created the crisis it now finds itself in. When you change a religion from top to bottom, how can you possibly be surprised when a lot of people leave? When you teach that homosexual "marriage" is a sin for nearly five-hundred years, then turn around and bless it as a sacrament, how can you be surprised when people object to this to the point of wanting to leave. When you ordain women to the priesthood, when the New Testament itself says not to place women in spiritual authority over men, how can you be surprised when traditionally-minded Anglicans walk out the door? When you elevate a female priestess to bishopess, how could you expect anything other than more exodus. Seriously father, you've got a lot of nerve suggesting this is somehow Rome's fault.
Well Father Markham, let me help you out a little, in the spirit of "fairness" and "respect for your traditions." We have a lot of Catholics here in the Catholic Church who want Rome to do the things you all have already done in The Episcopal Church. So in the interest of ecumenical brotherhood, I am now going to encourage those people who feel this way to leave the Catholic Church. That's right, I encourage them to stop being such whiners, and put their feet where their mouths are. I encourage them to walk right out of their Catholic parishes, and knock on the door of the nearest Episcopal Church. There they will find everything they've been asking for. They will find female priestesses, acceptance of homosexuality, blessing of gay-marriage, and a general liberal attitude for just about everything. In joining with the Episcopalians, they will still retain all of the liturgical and sacramental appearances they have grown to love and cherish. They can receive open communion without even having to become members. They will smell incense and hear bells. The liturgy will be beautiful (most of the time anyway), and bear striking resemblance to the Catholic liturgy. In fact, Rite Two from the Book of Common Prayer looks much like the older translation of the English mass, where the priest says "The Lord be with you" and the congregation responds "And also with you" instead of "And with your Spirit." Yes, that's right. If they miss the old translation of the English mass, they can virtually get it back again, simply by going to the nearest Episcopal Church and asking at what time Rite Two is celebrated. Upon joining The Episcopal Church, they can even still call themselves "catholic" if they want too, and I suspect many probably will, just no longer affiliated with Rome. That is after all what they want. Why would they want to be connected to such a "stuffy outdated and bigoted institution" when they can simply be "Anglo-Catholics" instead! It's sort of like "Catholic Lite" similar to "Miller Lite" and "Bud Lite." All the taste of a great beer without all the calories. Likewise, in The Episcopal Church, they can get all the "smells and bells" of catholicism without all the "guilt." I do hope that every Catholic reading this will forward a copy of this article to a liberal Catholic friend and encourage him/her to stop complaining and take the leap. I know you wouldn't object, Father Markham, and would be happy to welcome them into The Episcopal Church.
This is more than fair Father Markham, in fact I would say it is quite generous, for there are many more Catholics who will likely join The Episcopal Church than Episcopalians (Anglicans) who will take up the pope's ordinariate offer to join the Catholic Church. I do hope this will be satisfactory to you, and you won't view this process as so much of a "threat" any more.