Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Vatican in Bold Bid to Attract Anglicans

From the Wall Street Journal-

The Vatican said it will make it far easier for disgruntled Anglicans to convert to Catholicism, in one of Rome's most sweeping gestures to a Protestant church since the Reformation.

A newly created set of canon laws, known as an "Apostolic Constitution," will clear the way for entire congregations of Anglican faithful to join the Catholic Church. That represents a potentially serious threat to the already fragile world-wide communion of national Anglican churches, which has about 77 million members globally.

The Anglican Communion has been strained by fights over its relations with other Christian denominations and the church's growing acceptance of gay and women clergy and same-sex marriage. The 2003 election of an openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church, the U.S. branch of the movement, has sharpened those tensions.

The move comes nearly five centuries after King Henry VIII broke with Rome and proclaimed himself head of the new Church of England after being refused permission to divorce.

In a news conference Tuesday, Cardinal William Levada, head of the Vatican's office on doctrine, described the measures as a step in the Holy See's long efforts to heal the rift between Roman Catholicism and Anglicanism. He said they are a response to requests from Anglicans around the world seeking to join the Catholic Church.

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