In response to Pope Benedict’s 2009 invitation, Anglican and Episcopal churches continue to align with Rome. Benedict made it possible for entire Anglican congregations to join the Catholic Church while retaining many aspects of their Anglican tradition, including married priests. In the U.S. and Canada, 36 churches and 30 priests have taken this step, and the same thing is happening in Great Britain and Australia. In the U.S., the latest was St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Catonsville, Maryland, which voted in favor of the move on February 10. St. Timothy follows two other Episcopal churches in the Baltimore area that have joined the Catholic Church.
Pope Benedict established an “ordinariate” system “to provide a structure through which Anglicans could enter into full communion with the Catholic Church” (“Ordinariate is a “permanent feature,” Catholic Herald, Feb. 20, 2013). An ordinariate is similar to a Catholic diocese (an ecclesiastical district under the supervision of a bishop, also called a bishopric or episcopal see) but is composed of former Anglicans. Benedict has been praised by Protestants and Baptists for his ecumenical vision, but he plainly stated that the ultimate goal of all ecumenical activity on the part of the Catholic Church is “the restoration of full ecclesial communion,” meaning the restoration of Protestants to the Catholic fold (Catholic Herald, Feb. 20, 2013).
The Catholic Church has been clear and open about this objective since the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s. It has never backed away from its claim to be the only true church and the pope to be the head of “the whole church.” (See Is the Roman Catholic Church Changing? at www.wayoflife.org.)
(Friday Church News Notes, March 29, 2013, www.wayoflife.org, firstname.lastname@example.org, 866-295-4143)