- NB: The Anglican Use does not exist in Australia and as such is not an option for Anglican clergy or laypeople outside of the US. The following is in no way a reflection on the Anglican Use in full visible Communion with the Holy See. Neither is it a reflection on the individuals or groups involved.
When we entered the Anglican Catholic Church in Australia (a member church of the Traditional Anglican Communion) we were first exposed to the idea (dare I say, dream) of an Anglican Uniate Church: an expression of the Anglican ethos and culture within the context of the Church. Please note that at no point has there been talk of the TAC or the ACCA becoming Roman Catholic. But rather, that there would exist in the near future a communion of faithful who embodied Anglicanism who were in visible communion with the Holy See.
At first this did not bother me too much. We were convinced that the Church was right here in our local parish. Here we met Jesus at Mass which was celebrated by a valid priest. We were in communion with a bishop who exercised the ministry of Saint Peter within his jurisdiction. Yet I repeatedly heard the dream paraded before me that one day soon, we would be in communion with Rome.
The situation drastically changed when I was ordained. I was no longer a layperson in the pew but a public voice of the ACCA. So I too embraced the dream but with a twist: Yes, one day but I will not see that day. The differing voices I heard argue pro and con a Romeward movement of the TAC are symptomatic of the Continuum. Yet underlying all these voices, on the grass roots level, is a general skepticism. The dream itself is an embodiment of the Anglo-Catholic ethos and culture quite apart from any actual movement towards it.
When I stepped back and tried to see the situation from the other side, I had another painful insight: why would the Roman Catholic Church (who, according to the Statistical Yearbook of the Church, one in six people in the world connect with) want the TAC? The reason could not be theological: the TAC could add nothing in the form of dogma to the Universal Church.
Yes, why would Rome want the TAC? Rome was in no rush to make the talks more public or to make any statements about the move towards closer ties. The media reports center around the leadership of the TAC. Yet even before that the TAC needs to get its own house in order. The liturgy of the TAC is distinctive Anglican: it ranges from the low Prayer Book Catholic to the spiky Anglo-Papist. The clergy are not of one voice on the issue and express many of the well-trodden anti-Roman sentiments. I also worry about the historical precedent for such a move. There is a theological and historical problem in that Anglicanism does not claim orders of its own but only those received from Rome. It is a movement within the western catholic church and as such has no claim on any culture which is not already part of the Roman Catholic Church.
I will continue to pray for a Anglican Uniate Church – an expression of all that is good and beautiful within Anglicanism in communion with the Holy See. But not in my life time.