Damian Thompson: Traditional Anglicans ‘to be offered personal prelature by Pope’

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Pope is preparing to offer the Traditonal Anglican Communion, a group of half a million dissident Anglicans, its own personal prelature by Rome, according to reports this morning.

"History may be in the making", reports The Record. "It appears Rome is on the brink of welcoming close to half a million members of the Traditional Anglican Communion into membership of the Roman Catholic Church. Such a move would be the most historic development in Anglican-Catholic relations in the last 500 years. But it may also be a prelude to a much greater influx of Anglicans waiting on the sidelines, pushed too far by the controversy surrounding the consecration of practising homosexual bishops, women clergy and a host of other issues."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: Latest News* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Benedict XVI

Posted January 29, 2009 at 9:24 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Clueless wrote:

As guess Rome meant it when Cardinal Kasper warned Anglican bishops that Rome would turn to smaller ecumenical communities if the Anglican Communion at large proved unapproachable ecumenically.

Bad news for the Anglican Communion, but good news for the TAC who submitted unconditionally.

One wonders how long places like Nigeria will remain in the Anglican Communion, if TAC enters full communion with Rome.

January 29, 4:32 pm | [comment link]
2. Katherine wrote:

Clueless, I doubt this will affect Nigeria at all.  Most of the Anglican bodies in Africa and Asia were planted by evangelicals.  So far as I know Nigeria would consider itself Evangelical Anglican.

January 29, 4:38 pm | [comment link]
3. Clueless wrote:

Nigeria is certainly Evangelical.  However it does not ordain women, which is the main problem with the AAC.  It has warm relations with Rome and recently removed all references to needing to be in communion with Canterbury from its charter.

Speculation regarding Akinola and Rome have gone on for some time.


“It is well known that Archbishop hepworth of the Traditional Anglican Communion, another continuing church body, had made a similar request and had even had some discussion at the Vatican.  I have heard that Archbishop Akinola has said to Archbishop Hepworth, “Well, if you are going to do it, don’t do it without us.”

January 29, 5:22 pm | [comment link]
4. Katherine wrote:

I’ve also heard (can’t find a reference right now) that Akinola has been heard to say that Nigeria will ordain women if it decides it should do so.  I’m not sure it’s a firm principle or just their practice so far.  They probably have other far more serious things to deal with, like Islamic extremism and poverty and government corruption.

January 29, 5:28 pm | [comment link]
5. Clueless wrote:

“They probably have other far more serious things to deal with, like Islamic extremism and poverty and government corruption. “

Akinola has nothing more important to deal with then the Gospel.  And he knows it.  But all this is speculation.

January 29, 5:52 pm | [comment link]
6. Ross wrote:


I’m not sure that this, if it should happen, ought to have any particular impact on the Anglican Communion’s ecumenical relationship with Rome.  The AC, so far as I know, has never been seeking the kind of union that TAC is hoping for.  Obviously such union is impossible without agreeing to the entire body of Roman doctrine—as TAC has done—and while the ecumenical efforts of ARCIC have highlighted a number of areas of agreement, nobody has pretended that the AC can subscribe, as a body, to Roman doctrine without reservation.

Also, while it’s no secret that Rome has cooled to the AC’s ecumenical overtures in recent years, I don’t think that TAC’s petition affects that one way or another.  It’s not as though Rome is restricted to dealing only with the AC or only with TAC.  The fact that TAC is an Anglican break-away may miff some Anglicans, but they don’t really have any reason for it.  TAC’s attempt is based on their acceptance of Roman doctrine; any Anglican that can do that is already capable of achieving individual union with Rome, via RCIA.  TAC is just trying to do it en masse.

January 29, 6:14 pm | [comment link]
7. elanor wrote:

I’m a former MSLC (trending Evangelical) married to a former Catholic.  We were very happy Episcopalians until GC2003 (still Epsicopalians, just much less happy about it).  We find this very intriguing!

I have also had the very great pleasure of having a Nigerian missionary bishop visit my local (Dio of CT) parish, and preach one heckuva sermon—I am happy for any vibrant, vital expression of Christianity.  The fire of the Nigerians.  The bulwark of tradition with Papa Ratzi.  The faithfulness of our brothers in Christ who brave reprisals in Iraq.  We are divided by so many little details, yet united in the Body of Christ!

January 29, 9:34 pm | [comment link]
8. Ad Orientem wrote:

I really see no chance of anything like this happening with the Church of Nigeria.  The TAC is likely going to be let in because they have accepted each and every article of faith of the Roman Catholic Church without reservation.  The Church of Nigeria is decidedly Protestant an in its prhonema.

On a separate note, has anyone noticed the deafening silence from the liberals?  I have been checking around with the usual suspects and not a single revisionist/liberal blog that I looked at has even taken note of this.  This has got to be really really bad news for the W/O crowd in Britain especially.

January 29, 10:02 pm | [comment link]
9. Irenaeus wrote:

Such a move . . . may also be a prelude to a much greater influx of Anglicans waiting on the sidelines

Does Abp. Williams care? Does he ever reflect on his own role in bringing matters to this pass?

January 30, 1:48 am | [comment link]
10. John Bowers wrote:

Can someone explain exactly what is meant by prelature? Does this mean they would become Roman Catholics or that they would simply be in communion with Rome? (Apologies for the ignorance).

As to the discussion about the African churches, here in Uganda I don’t think something like that would be very popular among many of the priests. While my bishop understands the importance and steadfastness and faith of the Catholic church and many parish priests seem to be almost Pentecostal in their preaching and tend to take a line about the Catholic church more in line with what I would expect from a fundamentalist protestant: namely that they aren’t Christians (because like fundamentalist protestants there is a lot of misinformation about what Catholics actually believe). Maybe it wouldn’t matter but it seems like a bishop wouldn’t want to anger a large portion of his priests. Again, excuse my ignorance here, I’m just starting to learn about all this—I’ve been reading the blog here for awhile but I think this is my first post.

January 30, 2:00 am | [comment link]
11. Katherine wrote:

#10, it means they would become fully Roman Catholic, but with their own separate organization.

January 30, 3:17 am | [comment link]
12. Pageantmaster ن wrote:

I have seen elsewhere that some within TAC are apparently casting doubt as to whether this is a new story.

Whether Damian Thompson or Prof Tighe have some secret knowledge of this matter, it would not appear to be revealed in the unsourced report in the Australian Catholic paper ‘The Record’ which Thompson has quoted.  I do remember a similar story coming out some time ago.

But who knows - perhaps Thompson and Prof Tighe have more to reveal.

January 30, 9:03 am | [comment link]
13. Katherine wrote:

The National Catholic Register has a report from an unnamed Vatican source denying that any such decision has been made.

January 30, 10:58 am | [comment link]
14. Steve Cavanaugh wrote:

A close reading of the original story in The Record, the Australian newspaper that reported this story, shows only that the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith was going to recommend Personal Prelature status as the mechanism IF the discussions about unity between the TAC and Rome conclude positively. The story does not say the discussions have concluded, nor does it say that the Personal Prelature would be granted.
For those who do not know, a Personal Prelature is a relatively new structure within the Latin Church, which sets up a diocesan structure without boundaries. The prelature is headed by a bishop, and clergy are incardinated into the prelature, not into the local (i.e., regional) diocese. The only Personal Prelature that currently exists is Opus Dei. This type of structure would allow those Anglicans who reunited with the Roman Catholic Church a degree of autonomy from the local diocesan structures. The only other organized mechanism for the reception of Anglicans into the Catholic Church, the Pastoral Provision (which is in the U.S.A. only) allows group reconciliation, but the resulting parishes are part of the diocese and are subject to the bishop just as are any other parish. This has worked well so far, but the history of Latin Church bishops governing parishes of other rites (e.g., Eastern rite Catholics) has not always been a happy one in the U.S.

January 30, 12:07 pm | [comment link]
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