Today, the Roman Catholic Church released an “Apostolic Constitution” offering a way for some orthodox Anglicans to enter into a full communion relationship with the Roman Catholic Church while preserving some aspects of their Anglican heritage. This action recognizes how deeply broken the Anglican Communion has become as a result of the abandonment by some Anglican leaders of historic Christian teaching and discipline. Like the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Church in North America ”“ of which ANiC is a part ”“ has also provided a means for those within North America to remain faithful Anglicans.
“We are encouraged to see the Archbishop of Canterbury working with the Vatican to make accommodate these Anglicans,” said the Right Reverend Donald Harvey, moderator of the Anglican Network in Canada. “We urge him to do the same for us by joining with the Anglican Primates who have already officially recognized and endorsed the Anglican Church in North America.”
The Most Reverend Robert Duncan, Archbishop and Primate of the Anglican Church in North America also responded, saying in part, “We”¦ thank God for the partnership that orthodox Anglicans have long enjoyed with the Roman Catholic Church”¦ While our historic differences over church governance, dogmas regarding the Blessed Virgin Mary and the nature of Holy Orders continue to be points of prayerful dialogue, we look forward to an ever deepening partnership with the Catholic Church throughout the world.” [See Archbishop Duncan’s full statement here.]
“While we can’t know the full significance of the Vatican’s move until we have fully reviewed and considered the content of their ”˜Apostolic Constitution’,” adds Bishop Harvey, “the three questions I am most interested in seeing answered are:
1. “Will the Roman Catholic Church require Anglican priests who choose this option to be re-ordained?
2. “Will people who accept this invitation have to subscribe to Roman Catholic dogmas to which the Anglican Formularies are diametrically opposed ”“ such as “Papal Infallibility”, the “Immaculate Conception” and Transubstantiation?
3. “Will Anglican priests ”“ especially married ones ”“ choosing to accept the Roman Catholic Church’s invitation have equal status with existing Roman Catholic clergy and will their ministry be interchangeable and welcomed in Roman Catholic parishes?”
After hearing the news today, an ANiC priest wrote Bishop Harvey: “As for me and my house, we will remain ever faithful to the authority and primacy of the Holy Scriptures and the Faith and Order of the undivided Catholic Church. I need not become a Roman Catholic to be a Catholic Christian. As an Anglican, I am a Catholic Christian.”
“A quote from the English reformer John Jewel (1522-1571) sums up where I believe we in ANiC stand,” says Bishop Harvey. “Jewel said: “We have returned to the Apostles and the old Catholic Fathers. We have planted no new religion but only preserved the old that was undoubtedly founded and used by the Apostles of Christ and other holy Fathers of the Primitive Church.””
Today, ANiC numbers 32 parishes with 3500 Canadians in church on an average Sunday. Members of the Anglican Network in Canada are committed to remaining faithful to Holy Scripture and established Anglican doctrine and to ensuring that orthodox Canadian Anglicans are able to remain in full communion with their Anglican brothers and sisters around the world.