A fruitful conversation - by Fr. Phillips


Most of us have had this conversation:

“It’s so good to see you again!  We really should get together for lunch some time.”

“Yes, we should.”

And that’s the end of it.  It would be really nice to get together, but it never quite happens.

Imagine the same conversation, but instead of suggesting lunch, substitute the subject of Anglican/Roman Catholic unity.  “We really should get together.”  “Yes, we should.”  But then we don’t.  We’ve been having the same conversation for decades.  Documents have been produced with great fanfare, supposed agreement has been reached about something, but it goes no further – usually because we discover that even though we use the same words, too often we mean different things.

But now, the conversation is quite different.  The TAC primate and bishops have professed their belief in the Catholic faith as it is expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and they have approached the Holy See.  In essence they have said, “We should get together.”  And the response?  “Yes, we should!  And here’s how we can do it,” which resulted in the promulgation of Anglicanorum coetibus

That’s the conversation which opened the way for the joint ACA/Anglican Use petition for an Ordinariate in the United States.  Those of us who form the parishes and communities of the Anglican Use could be seen rather as “advance settlers” who went on ahead into new territory to form an outpost of Anglican patrimony on the other side of the Tiber.   When we first set out, no one knew if it would work.  But, in its own small way, it has, and our little experiment has been able to thrive where it was allowed to take root.  Now we see others with the same pioneering spirit, and we’re eager to join together with TAC and other like-minded Anglicans to form these new communities, these Personal Ordinariates.

We’re especially enthusiastic to be in a cooperative relationship with TAC, because of what sets it apart from other Anglican groups; namely, its dedication to the principle of unity with the See of Peter.  Many of the so-called “continuing” Anglicans are vague in their thoughts about unity with Rome, and some don’t see it as being particularly high on their list of priorities.  For those of us in the Anglican Use, the attraction of working closely with the clergy and laity of TAC is because of the specific commitment they have made to reunion with the Holy See – a commitment manifested in this country by the ACA petition which was signed unanimously by the members of the College of Bishops.  In that petition they expressed their gratitude to Cardinal Levada for the “positive response of 16 December 2009 to our request of October 2007 that a way may be found leading to full visible unity of traditional Anglicans with the Holy See.”  And that’s an important point: the bishops, in their petition, all acknowledge that Anglicanorum coetibus is the response.

So now we’re counting on the ACA bishops to be the leaders and teachers and reconcilers they were ordained to be.  Whether he be a Moses or a Joshua, each one has the task of leading a part of God’s family on towards the unity which is willed by Christ.  When he was consecrated, each one heard the prayer spoken over him, that he might “use the authority given him, not to destruction, but to salvation; not to hurt, but to help: so that, as a wise and faithful servant, giving to thy family their portion in due season, he may at last be received into everlasting joy…”  May the Good Shepherd guide each one of these shepherds so that the prayer might be fulfilled, “that they all may be one.”