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In Wake of Women Bishops Vote, Church Body in England Invites Anglicans to Explore Catholicism

Anglican ordinariate choir

Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham

John Burger - published on 07/23/14

Is it "sheep stealing" or offering the disaffected another way?

When Pope Benedict XVI establshed a way for Anglicans to come into the Catholic Church while holding onto their rich heritage of liturgy, music and other traditions, many accused him of “sheep stealing.”

Not so, defenders of Benedict’s outreach protested, while pointing out that many Anglicans were looking for a way to be more faithful to the Gospel. Their former Church, they said, had in effect pushed them out by ordaining women as priests and accepting the homosexual lifestyle.

Now that the Church of England is “catching up” with other Churches in the worldwide Anglican Communion in agreeing to ordain women as bishops, one of the local Churches established by the Vatican under Benedict’s Anglicanorum coetibus is reminding disaffected Anglicans that they have another option.

“Pope Francis has said he is praying for the success of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham’s forthcoming ‘Called To Be One’ exploration day, which aims to increase understanding of the Ordinariate’s purpose and reach out to those who may feel called to join it,” announced a press release by the body set up in England for disaffected Anglicans who feel called to “cross the Tiber.”

The papal endorsement was delivered in a letter from the Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain, Archbishop Antonio Mennini, to Msgr. Keith Newton, head of the Ordinariate. The full text of Archbishop Mennini’s letter reads:

At the request of the Secretariat of State, I have been asked to inform you that  the Holy Father Francis, on learning of the national day of exploration entitled "Called to be One" organised by the various Groups of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham and due to take place on Saturday 6 September 2014, wishes to convey his good wishes and prayers for a successful and inspiring event. The Holy Father cordially imparts his Apostolic Blessing upon all those persons who are participating in this significant event and working in any way for the promotion and presentation of the Catholic Faith and the Gospel in Great Britain.

The press release did not deny that the new invitation to former Anglicans came in response to the Church of England General Synod’s July 14 decision to allow women to be ordained as bishops.

“Though that decision was a very happy one for many within the Church of England, it made the position undeniably harder for those within the Anglican Church who still longed for unity with Rome,” the press release said.

It will be interesting to see what kind of response they get. 

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