Letter: Anglican flocks leaving the fold

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The Independent Online
Sir: Peter Stanford's article ('For whom the Angelus bell tolls', 22 April) quite understandably sounds out notes of caution to the Catholic bishops of England and Wales about the possibility of their offering some accommodation for disaffected Anglicans.

If Rome were to accept some married men to be priests, I have no doubt this would be very hard to accept for most lifelong Roman Catholics who have had to choose between marriage and a priestly ministry. Mr Stanford is right to point this out, and I have no doubt that the bishops will have considered this very carefully, although I understand that there are already eight married Catholic priests (ex-Anglicans) in this country and others elsewhere.

Mr Stanford, however, does us Anglicans an injustice by his implications that we simply want to become Roman Catholics in name alone. The crisis in the Church of England is a crisis about authority, not women priests. We do not believe that the General Synod has the kind of authority it has taken to itself, and that, in doing so, it has cast serious doubt on the Church of England's claim to be a part of the Catholic Church.

Mr Stanford also makes the mistake of characterising all 'Anglo-Catholics' as 'acting out a ceremony which was abandoned by many Catholic churches in the late Sixties'. Most Anglican Catholics are not so backward-looking as he thinks, but it has to be said that many Roman Catholic lay people yearn for greater dignity in the celebration of the liturgy. We have some very liturgically able priests. Maybe we could actually contribute something.

Yours faithfully,




22 April