As 2010 begins, many are wondering how last year’s Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus for disaffected Anglicans, will play out, particularly in the U.S. While observers do not expect many in the U.S. Episcopal Church to take advantage of the Vatican’s offer, it is expected that members of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) will accept the Holy Father’s invitation.
The Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) includes approximately 400,000 Anglicans worldwide. The American province of the TAC, known as the Anglican Church in America (ACA) includes approximately 5,200 communicants in four territorial dioceses. Over the next few months, all of the provinces will be holding synods to put forward the question of how they will be responding to the Apostolic Constitution.
Since the 1980 Pastoral Provision just over 100 U.S. Anglican clergy have gone through the process to become Catholic priests, including the most recent - Father John Lipscomb, former Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of Southwest Florida, who was ordained a Catholic priest in the Diocese of St. Petersburg on December 3, 2009. According to Monsignor D. Hamilton, pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Lindenhurst, NY, of the total who have taken advantage of the Pastoral Provision since 1980, approximately 15 have died, and another 15 have retired.
“The expectation is that our General Synod will accept the Holy Father’s offer,” said Christian Campbell, Senior Warden of the Cathedral of the Incarnation in Orlando and a member of the Standing Committee of the Anglican Church in America’s Diocese of the Eastern United States. “It is not so much a question of whether or not we desire to avail ourselves of the offer – inasmuch as it is a direct and generous response to our appeal to the Holy See. The question now is how the Apostolic Constitution is to be implemented. We have practical concerns and we are presently working with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to resolve any outstanding questions.”
Campbell said that the first TAC provinces will be entering the Catholic Church within the next six months.
Campbell, as blogger at The Anglo-Catholic, said that they’re starting to see another interesting phenomenon taking place. He’s being contacted by individual Anglicans, Catholics, Evangelicals and Protestants wondering how they might get in on the offer.
“We’re beginning to see a tremendous groundswell of interest in Anglicanorum Coetibus from individuals of diverse backgrounds. Many Anglicans who have reconciled with the Church as individuals are still attached to our rich Anglican heritage. Quite a few “ordinary” Roman Catholics disaffected with the poor liturgical praxis in their parishes are searching for a more traditional liturgical expression—full of reverence and a sense of the sacred. And perhaps most surprisingly, many Protestant and Evangelical Christians see in the Apostolic Constitution an opportunity to come into a relationship with the Catholic Church,” said Campbell. “Over the past month, I’ve been contacted by several people each day who are asking how they can join an Anglican group to get in on this. This may be an opportunity to reconcile not just a peculiar breed of Anglo-Catholics, but a means of healing the larger wounds of the Protestant Reformation.”
The expectation is that large numbers of Anglicans will be coming into the Church, particularly in Britain, Africa, and India.