Anglicans take historic steps toward unity

  • July 28, 2010
Archbishop John HepworthSURREY, B.C. - At the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada’s triennial synod July 12-16, bishops, clergy and lay delegates from across Canada passed a resolution to endorse the March 12 letter its bishops sent to the Holy See seeking an Anglican ordinariate in Canada.

The synod also passed a resolution enabling the bishop and the provincial council to make all adjustments to the diocese’s canonical legislation for the formation of the ordinariate.

The ordinariates will allow Anglicans who accept the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Petrine Ministry to become Catholics while retaining their Anglican liturgy and other aspects of their patrimony.

When the resolutions came to a vote, only two lay delegates voted against, while three abstained. Among clergy, support was unanimous.

“The only thing that has puzzled me is the intensity of the opposition to us doing this from those who have no intention of doing it themselves and seem desperate that no one else does it,” said Archbishop John Hepworth, the primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC), a worldwide communion that includes the ACCC.

“We are not leaving a body and going into another one. Corporate reunion means a corporate body goes into communion and in the process becomes the ordinariate.”

The ACCC is the first of the seven national groups of Anglicans that has formally responded to Pope Benedict’s Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus to complete an internal legal process readying the church’s corporate entity for coming into unity with the Catholic Church through a personal ordinariate.

Some synod delegates expressed concern the Apostolic Constitution amounted to a “take over” that would lead to “absorption” by the Roman Catholic Church and a consequent loss of Anglican identity.

“We have wanted unity; so we claimed. But will our prayer turn out to have meant, ‘Lord give us unity, but not yet?’ Has the Pope called our Anglican bluff?” asked Bishop Robert Mercer. 

Mercer, a fixture in the pro-life movement when he lived in Ottawa from 1988-2005, joined Hepworth and ACCC Bishop Peter Wilkinson in delivering to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith the 2007 letter, signed by all the bishops and/or vicars general of the TAC, that asked for full corporate communion with the Holy See.    

In Canada, the ACCC is the main body seeking corporate reunion. Requests from individuals and clergy outside the TAC have been going to Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins, who has been named the liaison between the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and Anglicans wishing to be part of an ordinariate.

The ACCC has 64 licensed clergy in addition to Wilkinson, who is based in Victoria, and two suffragan (auxiliary) bishops serving Central Canada and the Atlantic provinces. It has 28 parishes and missions scattered across the country.

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