Here is an excerpt from the National Catholic Review interview with Father Douglas Grandon, former Anglican priest who was ordained a Catholic priest in 2008. His spiritual journey has taken him from Pentecostalism to evangelicalism to the Episcopal Church and finally to Catholicism.
The media has said that the Church is “rustling, poaching and sheep-stealing.” Do you see the constitution that way?
The London Times had a headline to the effect that the Vatican’s tanks were parked on the lawn of the Archbishop of Canterbury. From my years in the Church of England and the Catholic Church, the Catholic Church has been doing the opposite of conducting ‘raids’ on the Episcopal faithful and clergy. It’s been anything but an invasion or raid.
There have been negotiations going on for decades now. When the Episcopal Church decided to ordain women and women bishops, and then a practicing homosexual man as bishop, and to provide liturgies for homosexual “marriage,” this threw a bomb into the middle of those negotiations.
Since the time of Newman, a Catholic party has existed within the Church of England and the Anglican Communion. They have a historic memory that was revived by Cardinal Newman. They recognize that they are separate, yet they’ve maintained a strong commitment to the liturgy, the sacraments, and the historic understanding of the papacy. They’ve been making overture after overture either individually or corporately to try to find some way to re-enter the Catholic Church.
When it became clear that the Church of England was going to ordain women bishops, my friend Bishop Andrew Burnham realized that you could no longer say you were a “third branch” of the Catholic Church if you were so corrupting the potential line of apostolic authority being passed down. If women were ordaining priests, there was no way you could say that you were Catholic any longer, and so he began serious conversations with the Vatican.
In addition, all of the bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) signed the Catechism of the Catholic Church saying they would recognize the authority of the Pope. The TAC represents some 400,000 Anglicans worldwide.
Finally, Pope Benedict realized that it wasn’t enough to write a letter to express solidarity, but that he needed to send them a lifeline that would allow them to come in together, and what a lifeline it was. Bishop Burnham said, “We asked for a lifeboat, and they sent us a galleon. We should be free to get on it and not be quibbling about all of the conditions.”
The constitution will allow for the creation of personal ordinariates in which the new Catholics would be able to retain some of their cultural and liturgical elements. What would that include?
Through the pastoral provision, the Vatican has allowed some communities to use an Anglican-use liturgy, which is a slightly revised version of the beautiful liturgy that is used around the English-speaking world by Anglicans.
In addition, they could use their particular garb, which came out of the pre-Reformation English Church. There are also prayers that could be said that are part of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, which would not be anathema to the Catholic faith.
There are different liturgical flairs that can be retained. It’s been said by those who have gone to these Anglican-use communities or Anglo-Catholic parishes, that there’s a certain beauty that’s been preserved in the Anglican approach to worship which you don’t always find in the post-Vatican II liturgy in the Catholic Church. They can retain anything that would not be inconsistent with the Catholic faith.
Under the constitution, Anglican priests who are already married may be ordained as Catholic priests, but a married Anglican bishop could not be ordained as a Catholic bishop, is that correct?
That’s right. This is part of the ancient Catholic tradition and Anglican tradition — to have married priests. The Eastern rite Catholic Churches have also allowed marriage [before ordination].
But there is no tradition for us to have married bishops. Early on in the Church’s history it was decided that our bishops had to be celibate.
Read it all here.