Q&A: If the Anglican Communion dissolves which appears likely, will the Pope/Vatican set up a…

All questions come from parishioners of Sacred Heart Parish or St. Joseph Mission and they are presented to you anonymously. Questions and answers were presented in the Series “Because You Asked” from 2016.
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If the Anglican Communion dissolves which appears likely, will the Pope/Vatican set up a way for conservative Anglican parishes to enter the Church en masse?


Although I am certainly no expert in this particular area of liturgical development I can tell you that the practice of formally receiving Anglican pastors and even bishops along with their congregations into the Catholic Church has been around for a long time. In our modern era this began in 1980 when St. John Paul II began dispensing Episcopalian and Anglican clergy from the discipline of celibacy in order that these married clergy might enter the Catholic Church along with their families and still maintain the option of serving as ordained ministers. Generally they were required to complete an abbreviated form of seminary formation focusing on those areas of theology that differed from that of the Anglican confession (e.g. sacramental theology, Mary and the saints, fundamental theology, etc.). At the end of their formation they were ordained as Catholic priests. Great care was taken early on to make clear to these converts and to Catholics alike that although the discipline of celibacy could be dispensed in individual cases by the Vatican this would not be the norm going forward and that celibacy was a gift to the Church that would always have its place. St. John Paul II said the process, done only after careful discernment, had much more to do with healing the rifts of Christian division and slowly restoring the unity of the Body of Christ. Pope Benedict XVI added an Anglican Use form of liturgy for the Mass as well to accommodate those clergy who were coming from the Anglican Union. This process of Anglicans and Episcopalians being welcomed into the Catholic faith was by no means a unilateral one though. In fact, the whole dialog began to take shape when a group of Anglican clergy/bishops jointly signed a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and sent it to the Vatican proclaiming that they believed all that it proclaimed. These clergy were traditional Anglicans who were becoming more and more concerned with the liberalization of moral teachings within their confession. Still others said it was not so much a running away from Anglicanism as it was running toward Catholicism as they listened to an internal call. Of course we must always keep in mind that traffic flows both ways and Catholics each year sadly fall away and pursue other Christian confessions as well. However, we must see these en masse moves into the Church as a hopeful sign of the joyful work of the Holy Spirit and we must be ever ready to be the welcoming face of those who seek God through the Catholic Church.

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