Posted by: Fr. C. | January 17, 2012

An Anglo-Catholic Revival?

With the Ordinariate in place in the Roman Catholic Church and a growing Western Rite in Orthodoxy especially in the Russian Church Outside of Russia, the question of the day is whether there remains a role for traditional Anglo-Catholicism?
The numbers, certainly among the continuing churches, are not encouraging. For example, the Anglican Catholic Church, arguably the “big dog” in the continuing Anglican constellation, announced that it had declined to a mere 3,800 souls in the United States (albeit growing in Africa and India).
As well, there appears to be a doctrinal incoherence in these groups that ranges from an odd form of neo-Calvinism, to reinvented Protestant Episcopalianism, to an ultra-montaine, ornate “show” catholicism with little behind ritual and the pagentry.
Are Anglo-Catholics headed the way of the Shakers, or is there a group out there with a core understanding of English Catholicism and the dedication to spark a revival?
With blessings for a happy and healthy 2012!


  1. An excellent question, Fr. C! I posted it also over at the Anglo-Catholic Central forum for discussion.

  2. That is an important question and well put too.

    The declining numbers are a problem for all Churches though, perhaps smaller bodies such as Continuing Anglicans feel this aversion to religion in favour of spirituality more than other, larger, bodies.

    Doctrinally I suppose one of the questions that needs an un-ambiguous answer is whether the Reformation/Elizabethan Settlement is the standard of doctrine enshrined in the “Prayer Book” tradition or the whether the ancient and medieval Catholic Church are to be preferred over Reformation/Elizabethan Settlement.

    I have, recently, been pouring over the different editions of “Directorium Anglicanum” / “Manuale Clericorum” (Purchas/Lee) and the Rev. Blunt’s commentary on the BCP as well as Archdeacon Freeman’s “Principles of Divine Service” and can’t help but notice that there is little realization that even though the BCP tradition allowed Anglicans of Catholic convictions to survive radical Protestantism, the BCP in and of itself doe snot embody the ancient Catholic Faith the old Breviaries/Missals did and do. 39 Articles, “classic” BCP’s may have been more or less capable of a Catholic interpretation (Bishop Forbes “Explanation of the Thirty Nine Articles”/ Tract 90) and of Catholic use (“Directorium Anglicanum” / “Ritual Notes”) but the catholicity is added from without not drawn from within. If “prayer” informs and shapes what we believe … Perhaps we need to be more honest about Cranmer’s legacy and not pretend his “doctrine” enshrined in the BCP (Dix, “Shape of the Liturgy”) can be disconnected from the BCP. A return to the Missal/Breviary structure is inevitable for an “Anglo-Catholic Revival.” Right belief must be informed by right prayer. One of the attractions of Roman Catholicism, before the shipwreck of the reformed liturgy, and of Eastern Orthodoxy is precisely that there is no ambiguity. The faith they pray is the faith they believe.

    Those are just thoughts that occurred to me as I a work my way through these sources. They are not settled convictions, more like thoughts open to debate and discussion.

    Gregory +

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