Thursday, October 22, 2009

Episcopal clergy await details on Vatican plan

From The Toledo Blade-

Local Episcopal clergy are anxiously awaiting details of a new Vatican plan to ease the way for discontented Anglicans to join the Roman Catholic Church.
"What struck me about the statement was the lack of details, which I found very significant," said the Rev. Gregory Sammons, co-rector of St. Michael's in the Hills Episcopal Church in Ottawa Hills.

In its announcement Tuesday, the Vatican said its forthcoming Apostolic Constitution will contain provisions for ordaining married ex-Anglican priests, appointing unmarried former Anglican clergy as "ordinaries," or bishops, and allowing ex-Anglicans to retain their spiritual and liturgical identities after joining the Roman Catholic Church.

The Episcopal Church, which has 2.3 million members, is the U.S. branch of the 80 million-member Anglican Communion. The denomination was founded in the 16th century after a split between the Church of England and Rome over theological issues, papal primacy, and King Henry VIII's desire for the annulment of his marriage.

It has been deeply divided in recent years over the ordination of gay clergy and the blessing of homosexual partnerships, following earlier controversies over the ordination of women and revisions in the prayer book and hymnal.

The Catholic Church, which does not ordain female priests and bars the ordination of openly and actively gay men, has ordained married ex-Anglican priests for more than a decade. But the new Vatican plan goes further in accommodating individual and group converts, saying it will "preserve the worthy Anglican liturgical and spiritual patrimony" while ensuring "these groups and their clergy will be integrated into the Catholic Church."


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