Thousands of Anglicans are expected to defect to the Roman Catholic Church in time for Lent 2011. This started with the Campaign of Father Kieth Newton to leave the church in protest to its stance on the ordination of women and gay clergy.
Father Newton has encouraged the return of Anglicans to the Ordinariate – a special branch of Catholicism established by the Pope – to welcome protestant defectors. These protestant defectors are traditionalists who oppose the ordination of women and gays into the clergy.
The efforts of the Archbishop of Canterbury has not been successful in preventing the split and defection of married Anglican bishops and their ordination back into the Roman Catholic Church. In any divorce first, comes the separation and incompatibility. Then comes the division of assets.
The Church facilities such as St Barnabas in Tunbridge Wales – a nineteenth-century red-brick church where the poet Siegfried Sassoon was baptized, is an example of this split. The Diocese of Rochester has forbidden the protesting priest, Father Ed Tomlinson, to conduct services there when he and his parishioners leave the Church of England. Their meeting place may be undecided but their Spiritual home will be Rome.
They are not alone:
On 3 March 2010, in Orlando, Florida, the eight members of the House of Bishops of the Anglican Church in America voted unanimously to become part of the Catholic Church along with 3,000 fellow communicants in 120 parishes in four dioceses across the country.
On 12 March 2010, the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada formally requested the erection of an ordinariate in Canada.
The Anglican Catholic Church in Australia (a province of the Traditional Anglican Communion) and Forward in Faith Australia, mostly members of the Anglican Church of Australia, jointly applied for an ordinariate in Australia.
The Church of Torres Strait, another province of the Traditional Anglican Communion in Australia, covering parts of Northern Queensland and the Torres Strait, has also applied for a separate ordinariate.
The Traditional Anglican Church (the TAC Province for England, Scotland and Wales) has also applied for an ordinariate.
The Ordinariate talks of recruiting members in waves with the first beginning training at Lent and they hope many more will follow. A little acorn it may be at the moment, it could grow into a mighty Oak.
The Question one day may be “Did this begin the undoing of the Reformation?”
Is this kind of polarization not inevitable as the world races to its destiny? For four hundred years the Reformation has veered from orthodoxy today’s lawlessness.
If times of crisis inspire the desire for stability, in a religious context Rome has all the right credentials: Rome never changes. Throughout her councils (eg Trent to Lyons, Vienna, Constance, Constantinople, Nicaea) this motto has stood firm.
Will protesting erstwhile “reformers” now return?