Our loss of this vision is clouding our ecumenical efforts with the Catholic Church of both East and West and they are now quite confused as to who they are to speak with now as a result of our recent decisions and indecision. Is the Anglican Communion Catholic or Protestant. Cardinal Kasper writes about our confusing decisions to further cloud the answer to this question.
As I stated when addressing the Church of England’s House of Bishops in 2006, for us this decision to ordain women implies a turning away from the common position of all churches of the first millennium, that is, not only the Catholic Church but also the Oriental Orthodox and the Orthodox churches. We would see the Anglican Communion as moving a considerable distance closer to the side of the Protestant churches of the 16th century, and to a position they adopted only during the second half of the 20th century.
Since it is currently the situation that 28 Anglican provinces ordain women to the priesthood, and while only 4 provinces have ordained women to the episcopate, an additional 13 provinces have passed legislation authorising women bishops, the Catholic Church must now take account of the reality that the ordination of women to the priesthood and the episcopate is not only a matter of isolated provinces, but that this is increasingly the stance of the Communion. It will continue to have bishops, as set forth in the Lambeth Quadrilateral (1888); but as with bishops within some Protestant churches, the older churches of East and West will recognise therein much less of what they understand to be the character and ministry of the bishop in the sense understood by the early church and continuing through the ages.
I have already addressed the ecclesiological problem when bishops do not recognize other’s episcopal ordination within the one and same church, now I must be clear about the new situation which has been created in our ecumenical relations. While our dialogue has led to significant agreement on the understanding of ministry, the ordination of women to the episcopate effectively and definitively blocks a possible recognition of Anglican Orders by the Catholic Church.
Who does Rome talk to now? That is the question they are asking. The penultimate paragraph comes in Cardinal Kasper’s conclusion as the framework for taking a New Oxford Movement to the table where real conversations for ecumenical dialogue and visible unity can be discussed again with the utmost seriousness and trust that we all want the same thing–that we may all be one as He is one. It is not a secret that the goal and hopes of this movement will be full reunion with the Catholic Church where the people of this great land of England can look and see that the Church is one and come to believe. That is our mission and that is the goal of Christ’s call to spread his love, mercy, grace and glory throughout the world. His promise is that he will never leave us nor forsake us so we take up the plough and do not look back.