Thursday, November 18, 2010

Churches lose their vicars as Anglicans "jump ship" for Rome, warns Rowan Williams

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has warned that parishes will be left without vicars as hundreds of Anglicans “jump ship” for Rome.

Dr Williams acknowledged that traditionalists who cannot accept Church of England plans to ordain women bishops were in “considerable confusion and distress”.
But the Pope’s offer to accommodate disaffected Anglicans would leave the Church with “practical challenges” as vicars resign and churches lose worshippers, he said.
Dr Williams’s comments came in his first media interview since The Daily Telegraph disclosed that five Anglican bishops were to join a new section of the Roman Catholic Church established by Pope Benedict XVI.

The new structure, known as the English Ordinariate, is expected to begin operation early next year. It will allow traditionalist Anglo-Catholics who oppose recent liberal reforms in the Church of England to enter into full communion with Rome while retaining some of their Anglican traditions.

In an interview with Vatican Radio, Dr Williams insisted that there was “no ill feeling” between him and the five bishops leading the exodus of Anglicans to Rome.

“Obviously my reaction to the resignations is one of regret but respect - I know the considerations they’ve been through,” he said.

“There are still a great many Anglicans in the Church of England who call themselves traditionalist who have no intention of jumping ship at this point, who are at the moment in considerable confusion and distress.

“But they don’t necessarily think if the Church of England isn’t working for them that the only option is Rome.”

For the first time, the Archbishop suggested that worshipers who join the Ordinariate could be allowed to stay in their Anglican churches under a plan to let Roman Catholics share Church of England facilities.

“I think the challenge will come in working out shared use of churches, of how we as Anglicans ‘recommend’ people and also of course there will be some parishes without priests,” he said.

Dr Williams suggested that the Pope’s offer to allow converts to retain some of their Anglican traditions within Roman Catholicism represented a significant shift in approach from the Vatican.

“Here is the Roman Catholic Church saying there are ways of being Christian in the Western church which are not restricted by historic Roman Catholic identity,” he said.

“It remains to be seen just how large a movement we’re talking about and I remain sceptical about some of the larger claims that are made.”

The Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, will set out the detailed timetable and size of the Ordinariate at a press conference in London on Friday.

About 30 groups from across the country are believed to have registered an interest in joining the Ordinariate.
This would mean an estimated 500-600 Anglicans, including about 50 priests, will be in the first wave of converts to join the Ordinariate when it is established in the first half of next year.

Earlier this month, three serving and two retired traditionalist Anglican bishops announced that they would be among the first to leave the Church of England in order to accept the offer from the Pope.

No comments: