Thursday, June 21, 2007

Article in Crisis Magazine on the Anglican Use Provision

The entire article by Fr. Dwight Longenecker can be read here, but here is an excerpt:

"Father Bergman [an Anglican Use priest] explained why there has been so little take-up of the Anglican Use so far: For an Anglican Use parish to be established, an Episcopal priest has to convert with a good number of his congregation. They have to step out in faith together, without a building and without financial support for their married priest. After converting, they have to wait for permission from Rome for their priest to be ordained. Because of the difficulties involved, some congregations have wanted to become Anglican Use parishes but their priest was not willing, and vice versa.

"A possible new change in the rules promises a more positive response in the future. Father Bergman explained that in November 2006, the leaders of the Anglican Use communities, the Pastoral Provision Office staff, and Archbishop Myers, the ecclesiastical delegate, met to discuss how the Pastoral Provision might be more fully implemented in communities in the United States. Two task forces were created to draw up proposals for Archbishop Myers, who took them to Rome for approval in April 2007.

"The first proposal concerns raising money for men and groups in transition from Anglicanism to Catholicism. The Anglican Use Society will be used to collect money and will then distribute it in consultation with their bishop. The second suggestion is to create guidelines to match a priest to a group of Anglicans desiring to take advantage of the Pastoral Provision. Through these new guidelines, it is hoped that a priest can be ordained for the Anglican Use, even though he is not affiliated with a particular congregation. If approved, it is possible that willing priests and congregations could be matched by late 2007.

An Ecclesiastical Eccentricity

"Not everyone is enthusiastic about these new proposals, however. When given the Anglican Use option, the English Catholic bishops rejected the possibility outright. Most of the former Episcopal priests who have been ordained under the terms of the Pastoral Provision serve as ordinary diocesan priests within the Roman Rite. They simply resigned from the Episcopal Church to join the Catholic mainstream. Many of them perceive the Anglican Use with benign indifference. They see the Book of Divine Worship as a liturgical curiosity, while others regard the whole thing as an unfortunate ecclesiastical eccentricity.

"The $64,000 question is: Do enough Episcopalians really want their own little churches in communion with Rome that use the old 16th-century liturgy? Father Bergman thinks so. He believes the growth in popularity of the Tridentine Mass indicates a surge in demand for traditional, formal, and beautiful liturgy. In addition to this, the large number of Anglican breakaway churches use some form of the traditional liturgy, and the Anglican Use provides a bridge for them to come into full communion with the Catholic Church.

"Father Bergman also points out that Anglican Use parishes have become a refuge for cradle Catholics from the stranger liberal liturgical experiments. “The established Anglican Use communities have many cradle Catholics who come to the Anglican Use Mass because they appreciate the beauty of the music, the reverence of the liturgy, and the orthodoxy of the priest,” he explains. Rev. Christopher Phillips, the pastor of the Church of the Atonement in San Antonio, reports that about 60 percent of its members are reverts to the Catholic Faith or cradle Catholics who have returned for what they perceive to be a proper liturgy. People who actually converted to Catholicism represent only 40 percent of the large Anglican Use parishes in Texas."

Below are two images from another Anglican Use parish. That of Our Lady of Walsingham.

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