Now that the surprising news about the Vatican’s new welcome for male Anglican priests has had a day or so to sink in, people are starting to publish their reactions.
Kendall Harmon points out that this action, apparently taken against the desires and hopes of the professional ecumenists at the Vatican, seems to signal a decision by the Pope that Anglicanism in its present form has no future as a Communion. At least not in terms of being able to enter into conversations with Rome. I think Kendall’s reading an implicit message here correctly.
Taking Kendall one step farther, since part of the desire for an Anglican Covenant was to create a formal structure that would be able to enter into high-level ecumenical talks with Rome or the Orthodox, does this unexpectedly sudden action by Pope Benedict mean that he’s decided the Covenant is dead and not worth waiting for? Is Benedict telling us something we won’t hear?
But this announcement is doing something else, in an unexpected way, it seems to me.
Most surprising has been the pretty much across the board rejection of this possibility by the leading voices of the ACNA here in the US. Archbishop Duncan has come out to say that, while he’s grateful for the offer, thanks but no thanks. Bishop Iker of Fort Worth and the Southern Cone, a prominent Anglo-Catholic conservative voice for years, is saying that he can imagine some would rather stay with the Evangelical leaning Province of the Southern Cone (Argentina) than become a Roman Catholic priests. Though Bishop Iker points out that any definitive answer on his part is going to have to wait for the full details of the new process to be announced.
The leader of breakaway Anglo-Catholics in Canada has written to say “thanks but no thanks. I’m already Catholic. No need to submit to Rome.”
It seems to me that this action on the part of Rome is having the effect of calling the hands of a whole bunch of disaffected Anglicans around the world. “Okay, you’re upset and want a full formal rigorous belief set? Come on over.” Or in other words, “Gentlemen, I call. Let’s see what you’ve got.”
I wonder what people are going lay down?