Rome is taking seriously the prospect of ‘corporate unity’ with traditional Anglicans but the message is: ‘Not yet.’ So says Cardinal Levada, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in this letter. The Traditional Anglican Communion’s Primate, Archbishop John Hepworth, is rumoured to be heading to Lambeth this week. Read Hepworth’s response to his flock here.
There are several aspects of this to be considered.
The first is that the Vatican’s own bureaucracies aren’t of one mind on this issues. Those which deal with ecumenical relationships obviously worry that such a move would alienate the rest of the Anglican Communion.
But that leads to the second problem: the AC is unravelling in a number of ways, it’s hard to know whom to alienate and what it means. I think the Vatican was hoping for some clarity with Lambeth but “clarity” and “Lambeth” is almost an oxymoron.
Most of the action in the “Tiber swimming” competition has been in the US up to now, but with the approval of women bishops in the UK the centre of attention will probably move across the pond. The UK’s more liberal RCC doesn’t look at the influx of Anglo-Catholics with unalloyed satisfaction; the Vatican will have to find a way to work around that. (The American RCC is so much larger than its TEC counterpart that American Catholics have a hard time noticing the change.)
So this drama continues. It’s hard to know where it’s going, but it’s gone further than I would have thought.