By the Rev. Jeffrey W. Monroe
June 27, 2011
A formal offer to the world's 90 million Anglicans by the Roman Catholic Church to join with Rome has been received with lukewarm interest by a large group of conservative Anglicans in the United States , the Anglican Church in America.
The formal offer was in response to several requests by various Anglican Church bodies for inter-communion which was sent to the Vatican several years ago. The Vatican 's reply, known as Anglicanorum Coetibus, prescribed a means by which Anglicans worldwide could become Roman Catholic but offered no recognition of Holy Orders nor guaranteed that Anglican Rites would be fully preserved.
"Our desire has always been to approach Rome on an equal footing," said the Rev. Jeffrey Monroe, Special Assistant to the President of the House of Bishops of the Anglican Church in America . "It seems that the concept of unity is more focused by our Brothers in Rome on absorption rather than equal unity." Nationwide, fewer than 15 parishes have indicated an interest in accepting Rome 's offer. "Our desire was to rejoin our Christian Brothers and Sisters in the Roman Catholic Church as equal partners in following the path our Lord set out for us that we all be one," continued Monroe. "We have a deep and rich tradition that dates back to the 1st century and we have found the provisions of the Roman Catholic response to be very challenging."
The Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Church, along with the Eastern Orthodox Church, make up the three branches of historic catholic (universal) Christianity. The Anglican Church in America is part of the worldwide Traditional Anglican Communion, with members in 44 countries, which seeks to uphold the Catholic Faith, Apostolic Order, Orthodox Worship and Evangelical Witness of the Anglican tradition within the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ. The Communion holds Holy Scripture and the ancient Creeds of the Undivided Church as authentic and authoritative, and worships according to the traditional formularies of the Church. The Eastern and Western Churches split in 1054 and the Anglican Church, which existed in the British Isles since the first century, joined with Rome in 664 and later separated from the Roman Catholic Church in the 16th Century.
In a statement issued by the President of the House of Bishops, the Rt. Rev. Brian Marsh "urged all Christians to continue to pray for unity as our Lord has asked of us. It is our hope that the three great branches of Catholic Christianity can someday find the avenue to set aside their own traditional differences and seek God's will in coming together as equals."
The Rt. Rev. Brian Marsh is President of the ACA House of Bishops