By Anthony Barich
Members of the Traditional Anglican Communion hope to be able to pledge belief in “one, holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church” without being immersed into Catholic parishes if unification talks with the Holy See succeed, the TAC’s Perth bishop says.
Bishop Harry Entwistle, who oversees a small Western Australian TAC diocese based on parishes in Maylands, Lesmurdie, Albany and Brentwood, told The Record that his group professes belief in the Catholic Church as the Anglican Church orginally constituted itself in England, but not a separate church. When the Anglican Church in America first started ordaining women priests in the 1970s illegally and subsequent Lambeth conferences confirmed the practice, the Canterbury-based Anglican Communion distanced itself from its Catholic roots, he said.
After The Record’s exclusive report on January 28 saying that it was understood the Vatican’s CDF would recommend the status of Personal Prelature for the TAC if talks aimed at unification succeeded, Vatican sources said no decision had yet been made, but it was one of the options it was considering.
The TAC, a group of over 400,000 faithful worldwide in 41 countries, is seeking full corporate and sacramental union with Rome.
In “Ratzinger’s faith”, published by Oxford University Press last year, Australian theologian Professor Tracey Rowland suggested that the TAC could most likely be made a Rite, like the Eastern churches.
“The Catholic Church has no right to absorb the other churches… The various contemporary Protestant denominations may ultimately be received back into full Communion as Uniate rites, retaining some of their own cultural patrimony in the process,” she said, referring to the TAC.
Prof. Rowland, Dean of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family in Melbourne, said in “Ratzinger’s Faith” that the TAC members would not be expected to be absorbed into existing Catholic parish structures.
“They would have their own parishes, their own clergy and their own liturgy,” Prof. Rowland said.
Bishop Entwistle confirmed this, adding that the TAC and many parishes still inside the Anglican Communion still say the Nicene Creed which professes belief in one, holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.
However, Bishop Entwistle said, increasing numbers of Anglican parishes, he said, now do not use the Creed but rather an “affirmation of faith”. Such “liberalisation of Anglicanism”, in belief and creed as well as the appointment of women priests and bishops, is part of the reason why TAC members broke away from Canterbury.
“Our experience as Anglicans can add a great deal of wealth and experience to the wider Church by what we bring from our 500 years of separate existence,” Bishop Entwistle said.
“We are called ‘dissidents’ and I have been described as the leader of a ‘breakaway outfit’ in the secular media, but we remain loyal to the faith of the One Holy Catholic Church and that is why the Holy See is taking our petition seriously.
“It is those who have abandoned that faith who are the dissidents. We believed that the Anglican Communion has done this, so we want to continue the thrust of the unity initiatives that were in existence before the Canterbury Anglican Communion derailed them.”
He said that Anglicanism is not “a system”, but “a way of doing theology” – how its faithful understand Scripture, “just as the Spanish and Italians have their way of doing things”.
English spirituality, he said, has a basis in Celtic and western spirituality which helped shape Anglicanism.