In a move with potentially sweeping implications, the Vatican has announced the creation of new ecclesiastical structures to absorb disaffected Anglicans wishing to become Catholics. The structures will allow those Anglicans to hold onto their distinctive spiritual practices, including the ordination of married former Anglican clergy as Catholic priests.
The Traditional Anglican Communion—a group of around 400,000 conservative Anglican churches that broke away from the Anglican Communion in 1990 to protest the liberalism creeping into that organization—has announced that the process toward full unity with Rome “will begin at once.” It is unhappy with liberals in the Anglican Communion who have allowed the ordination of women as priests and bishops, the ordination of openly gay clergy and bishops, and the blessing of same-sex unions.
According to the Vatican, former Anglican clergy who are married may serve as priests in the new ordinariates, but they may not be ordained as bishops. The details will be presented in a new apostolic constitution from Pope Benedict XVI, expected to be issued shortly and which will amend the church’s Code of Canon Law.
The new structure to absorb these Anglican “daughter” churches is very interesting, and required the apostolic constitution [creating a new structure] as a recognition of the substantial overlap in faith, doctrine and spirituality between the Catholic Church and the Anglican tradition. The fact that the Catholic Church—with the pope’s personal involvement—is making such major concessions to Anglicans shows just how much it wants the Anglicans back under its control.
Still, and probably shockingly to many, it happened. The Vatican note described the new “personal ordinariates” as separate dioceses, presided over by a bishop and with their own priests, seminarians, and faithful. This of course, is also similar to the canonical status of “personal prelature,” currently held by only one Catholic group: Opus Dei.
Though appearing to happen suddenly, such an invitation to disgruntled Anglican conservatives has long been in the works, with unity dialogues going back fourty years. The Vatican was careful not to have it seen as poaching, with Cardinal Walter Kasper, the Vatican’s top ecumenical official, stating during a Vatican news conference, “We are not fishing in the Anglican lake.” Yet out of respect for freedom of religion, the Catholic church has a responsibility to respond when someone knocks on its door.”
The bigger implication of course is that Protestantism will be absorbed into the ‘mother’ church—and despite the new legal framework, or apostolic constitution – will eventually be totally abolished. John Broadhurst, bishop of Fulham and chairman of the group Forward in Faith, formed to oppose the ordination of women bishops, said that up to 1,000 clergymen in England alone could move to Catholicism. Entire parishes or dioceses could make the switch.
A Deceptive Attack
This apostolic constitution represents a swift and brilliant (divide and conquer) attack on the Church of England—orchestrated by the pope himself—that will leave it mortally wounded. The Catholic Church deliberately kept its plan secret from the Church of England for as long as possible. Usually proposals like these are debated for months ahead of time, but Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the most senior bishop in the Church of England, only found out about them two weeks ago. The press conference regarding the constitution was announced less than 24 hours before it took place—the Vatican usually announces such conferences several days in advance.
Britain’s Times newspaper declared that “Rome has parked its tanks on the archbishop of Canterbury’s lawn.” And little wonder, as this is a mortal blow to a shrinking and increasingly irrelevant Anglican church. The Vatican has added a potent spice to the integration soup by changing the power balance in the Church of England. Catholics already outnumber Anglicans in their respective regular church services. With this switch, Catholicism would become by far the most dominant religion in Britain by marginalizing the Anglican Church’s role in British life. Anglicans will then have most of what they desired – a church full of liberals and modernizers, who aren’t really sure if God exists, but who attend church only a few times a year. It is a death knell of the Reformation, pure and simple.
Contrarily, the stage is being set for the greatest revolution in religion the world has witnessed. The final short-lived triumph of Catholicism, as recorded in literally dozens of Bible prophecies, is almost upon us as we see reconciliation of the Orthodox Schism of 1054 that divided the churches in the East, and the restoration to the Roman Communion of all Protestantism which developed from 1517 onward.
How can we know all this? It is prophesied in the Bible.