To: (Multiple email addresses may be specified by separating them with a comma)
As Pope Benedict XVI’s pontificate approaches its third anniversary, it’s emerging that a number of traditional-minded Episcopalians are very impressed with his teachings. Let’s talk to some of them and ask what effect Benedict is having on ecumenism with Episcopalians — and conversions.
BY JOANNA BOGLEREGISTER CORRESPONDENT
LONDON — Last year’s news that the Traditional Anglican
Communion is seeking “full, corporate, sacramental union” with Rome raised
hopes for Christian unity.
But divisions among Anglicanism are rampant, and positions
run the gamut from something akin to Catholic orthodoxy to condoning homosexual
Lately, there have even been Anglicans expressing their
enthusiasm for Pope Benedict XVI.
The Traditional Anglican Communion, a fairly small network
of churches in various parts of the world — including Britain, the USA and
Australia — broke away from the Church of England some years ago, when the
ordination of women was first proposed. It has operated for some time as an
independent organization with its own bishops, and has a string of parishes
In England and Wales, this amounts to some 17 parishes, a
tiny number compared to the thousands of Church of England parishes across a
nation of some 55 million people.
News that the TAC is seeking formal union with Rome came
from a meeting at one of its churches, St. Agatha’s at Portsmouth in Hampshire,
England. Talks and negotiations will now follow between the TAC and Rome.
“The letter was cordially received at the Congregation for
the Doctrine of the Faith” said an October statement from the Traditional
Anglican Communion. “The primate of the TAC has agreed that no member of the
College will give interviews until the Holy See has considered the letter and
There are other traditional-minded Anglicans who have
remained within the “official” Church of England rather than form a breakaway
group. They, like the Traditional Anglican Communion, admire Pope Benedict XVI
but they are not seeking union with Rome as a group, and it is unclear what
their future will be.
There are also a number of other Anglican groups in America
and elsewhere that have broken away from the Church of England because of its
permissive theology and lack of clear moral teachings, especially on
“In general, what traditional Anglicans think about the Pope
is that we revere him as the Patriarch of the West,” said Stephen Parkinson of
Forward in Faith, the leading group in the Church of England bringing together
those who do not accept women’s ordination. “We like Benedict XVI very much,
indeed, and we rejoiced at his election.”
Ironically, in 2006, the Vatican formally renounced the
title, Patriarch of the West.
Forward in Faith has a large number of parishes across
Britain and regularly holds rallies, conferences and events bringing together
substantial groups of people. In addition to opposition to priestesses, the
movement is concerned about the increasing support for same-sex “marriage” in mainstream
Meanwhile, traditional Anglican commentators on blogs and
websites have given an enthusiastic response to Pope Benedict’s new encyclical
Spe Salvi (On Christian Hope). A sampling of recent comments on the encyclical
from the Anglican blogosphere include these:
• “As an Anglican looking in from the outside, as it were, I
have to confess to being very taken with some of the things that Pope Benedict
XVI has to say.”
• “The Pope needs all Christians to deliver this message to
all corners of the world.”
• “One could argue that the text represents a sort of
‘greatest hits’ collection of Ratzinger’s most important ideas, collected over
A spokesman at Church House, headquarters of the Anglican
Church in London, said it was not possible to give a general comment about the
Pope’s new encyclical, which is still being studied.
The Episcopal (Anglican) Church in America has seen repeated
splits and tensions, especially since the appointment of its first female
presiding bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, who supports homosexual “marriage”
and a generally permissive approach to sexual ethics. She told Time magazine in
July 2006 that Christianity does not mean “bickering about fine points of
The Worldwide Anglican Communion is in some disarray, and
there is tension about which groups and dioceses will be represented at the
decennial Lambeth Conference, the international gathering of bishops, set for
But the official attitude towards Pope Benedict remains
polite. A meeting between the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan
Williams, in October 2007 was cordial, although the Vatican stated clearly that
a lack of coherence on moral issues made future ecumenical progress
Joanna Bogle writes from London.