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One thing for sure: they're not Catholic

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles ) | Sep 02, 2003

Once again the Guardian deserves credit for publishing a truly eye-opening report on the Anglican crisis.

This time the insight comes from the Archbishop of Canterbury himself. After admitting that things are "messy" in the Church of England these days, Archbishop Williams says:

If you're not going to be a Roman Catholic, with clear universal visible tests for unity, you're going to be involved in some degree of structural complexity - and I'm assuming that as Anglicans we have enough theological reservations about the (Roman Catholic) model of visible unity to make it worth our while exploring how 'structural complexity' can witness to the supernatural character of the church.

In other words, these days Anglicans don't know what they believe or who they are, but they know what they are not: They're not Catholics.

A question: If the only thing that Anglicans know for sure is that they don't want to be Catholics, what is the basis for continued ecumenical discussions?

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: extremeCatholic - Sep. 04, 2003 4:53 PM ET USA

    Think of this as a warning to all Anglicans who seek a visible test for unity to avoid that line of thought -- for if you believe that visible unity witnesses to the supernatual character of the church -- you will become Catholic. Was "structural complexity" what Henry VIII had in mind when he declared himself head of the Church in England?

  • Posted by: Apologia - Sep. 02, 2003 11:07 PM ET USA

    It took a while, but the Anglican house of cards experiment is finally falling down. This is Protestant denominationalism at it's best. Archbishop Williams said it was ``worth working at structures in Anglicanism that don't either commit us to a meaningless structural uniformity or leave us in mutual isolation.''.... It's the proverbial chicken with it's head cut off. Catholics should be thankful for the unity which Christ wills for His Church, and has provided for so well in the See of Peter.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 02, 2003 5:02 PM ET USA

    Sadly, there are "Anglicans" in these churches who actually DO have some basis for "ecumenical dialogue" but they're not the ones either making headlines or leading the larger bodies of Anglicans in communion with Canterbury - they're the ones who are converting and becoming part of the pastoral provison for Anglican Use or converting to evangelical or orthodox parishes.