US Traditionalist Anglicans vote to become Catholic

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The Traditionalist Anglicans in the United States have voted to become Catholic.  The House of Bishops of  the Traditional Anglican Communion,  meeting in Orlando, Florida, issued the following statement on Thursday:

We, the House of Bishops of the Anglican Church in America of the Traditional Anglican Communion have met in Orlando, Florida, together with our Primate and the Reverend Christopher Phillips of the "Anglican Use" Parish of Our Lady of the Atonement (San Antonio, Texas) and others.

At this meeting, the decision was made formally to request the implementation of the provisions of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus in the United States of America by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The group represents about 100 parishes.

Earlier, the group had responded positively to the release of the Apostolic Constitution'.   On 22 November last year, Archbishop Falk sent the following letter to "all the Faithful of the Anglican Church in America".


The great Orthodox theologian John Meyendorff has been quoted as remarking that genuine Christian unity would require humility on the part of many, and charity on the part of all. I suggest that to those two paramount Christian virtues we must add the more workaday quality of patience. It took 450 years to raise all the questions posed by the possibility of real and corporate unity between Roman Catholics and Anglicans. We will not have all the answers in 450 minutes.

Yet with the publication of Pope Benedict XVI's Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum coetibus we do now have the possibility of addressing those issues directly and in cooperation with each other. As most everyone knows by now, the Bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion, meeting in October of 2007 in Portsmouth, England, addressed a petition to the Holy See seeking to explore what would need to be done to achieve full, visible unity while maintaining the best characteristics of our beloved Anglican heritage. The Apostolic Constitution is meant to provide an approach to just that question. It is an extremely generous and pastoral document. Indeed, it explicitly addresses the desirability of preserving our Anglican "...spiritual and liturgical patrimony ..." intact and undamaged after the ravages of such as Jenkins, Spong, Robinson and Schori.

An initial set of Complementary Norms has been issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which will be discussed in detail by representatives of that body and of the TAC College of Bishops within the near future. We are now asking members of the ACA (and other TAC provinces) to study the Norms and then pose such question as may occur. (Some already have, such as: Question: Will we be able to continue to have married priests indefinitely? Answer: Yes. Question: Will those of us who were formerly Roman Catholics be excluded from the Anglican Ordinariates? Answer: No. Question: Will we loose control over our Church finances and property? Answer: No.) There will be more. These can be sent to your own Bishop, and he will see that they get to the appropriate TAC representatives. Your concerns, as well as your thoughts and prayers, are an essential element and a vital part of this process.

Bishop Langberg has remarked that library shelves around the world are packed with books and papers on the topic of 'ecumenism.' Up to now it's all been theory; but with respect to the world's largest Communion of Christians, there has been no "test case" or anything like it, trying to work out "how it will work" on the ground. That opportunity has now been presented to us. In view of our Lord's prayer (John 17) that all his followers might be one, that fact places upon us, and upon our Roman Catholic counterparts, a very great responsibility along with the opportunity. The real-world answer to that practical question will be worked out in real life and in real time as we move forward.

This will require genuine good faith on all sides. That we come in good faith can be seen from the "Portsmouth Letter." That our Roman Catholic counterparts come likewise can be seen from Pope Benedict's unprecedented offer of a parallel structure for Anglican Catholics, a "House of our own" (as it were) within the "compound of Catholicity."

Ecclesiastical life within the colony will evolve over time as adjustments are made. We trusted each other enough to begin our ecclesiastical journey together in the ACA with an original canonical structure based on what we had known in the past. We have adjusted that structure more than once as circumstances have shown the wisdom of doing so. Christians of good will can and must continue that process together in unity as Jesus commanded us to do. He promised us the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and his promise remains true.

Yours in Christ Jesus,

+Louis W Falk

On 13 February this year, Forward in Faith Australia, part of the traditional Anglican group that also has members in Britain and America, became the first group to accept Pope Benedict's invitation to covert. They are currently setting up a working party guided by a Catholic bishop to work out how its followers can cross over to Rome.

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