You may remember that the Traditional Anglican Communion–a 400,000 strong global alliance of conservative Anglicans wrote to the Vatican last Spring asking how they might come into full communion with the Holy See. The Vatican sent a courteous ‘wait and see’ response in July.
Then in July the Anglican bishops gathered from around the world for the once-a-decade Lambeth Conference. The debates over women bishops and homosexuality dominated the headlines. Evangelical Anglicans met in Jerusalem the week before and formed their own global alliance called GAFFE CON (or some such). What has happened since is that the global Anglican Communion has continued to disintegrate. More breakaway churches have formed, new alliances between existing breakway church are being pioneered, parishes and whole dioceses have pulled out of the Episcopal Church.
Now Damien Thompson helps to break the news here about a rumor emerging from Rome that the Holy Father wishes to create a personal prelature for those traditional Anglicans who wish to be reconciled to the church. The only existing personal prelature so far is Opus Dei. A personal prelature is described as a semi autonomous body within the Catholic Church like a diocese with its own bishop, but without geographical boundaries–what traditionalist Anglicans have themselves talked about for years calling it a ‘non geographical province.’
The existence of such a body could be the entrance point not only for the existing members of the Traditional Anglican Communion, but for many more disenchanted Anglicans who can suddenly see their way into the Catholic Church while retaining the best parts of their Anglo-Catholic tradition. It might even (hope against hope!) be a way for the Anglicans themselves to do some judicial pruning–getting rid of the Anglo Catholics they don’t really want and ridding themselves of some of their overstock of church buildings etc.
Like the full reconciliation of the SSPX, there is still a lot of work to do, but it is amazing and exciting to see what creative and courageous steps the Pope is willing to take in order to facilitate real church unity.
I think this is exciting news. Pray like crazy!