Daily Mail: Pray your own way, Pope tells Church of England Converts

12 01 2011

From the Daily Mail online:

Anglican prayers are to be heard in Roman Catholic churches for the first time as part of an offer by the Pope to attract disenchanted Church of England followers.

Catholic leaders today said that breakaway Anglican priests and congregations will be allowed to use their own prayers, hymns and services when they switch loyalty to Rome.

And they will be invited to do so in Roman Catholic churches which will provide a place to worship for the Church of England congregations the Vatican hopes will go over.

Singing from the same hymn sheet? Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, left, with Pope Benedict XVI during last year’s papal visit to the UK

The decision means that the venerated English of the 16th century Book of Common Prayer, first written over 450 years ago as part of the protestant rebellion against Rome, will be read in Catholic churches. The Prayer Book – largely rejected by many CofE churches – is highly regarded by many of the conservative Anglicans likely to move to Rome.

It will also allow married CofE clergy to become Roman Catholic priests and bring a version of Anglican democracy to the Catholic church, which has always prided itself on its discipline and loyalty to the Pope.

The new rules were confirmed yesterday in a statement on the Ordinariate, the new organisation being set up by the Vatican to accommodate Anglicans dissaffected by the CofE’s move to appoint women bishops.

The Pope’s offer to Anglicans to come over to Rome in whole congregations, bringing their own traditions with them, has been regarded by critics as an aggressive raid on the CofE.

Attraction: Catholic officials hope that a relaxation of the regulations will make Rome a more viable alternative for breakaway Anglicans priests

Last month the Wikileaks scandal disclosed that Britain’s ambassador to the Vatican considered that the offer had put the Archbishop of Canterbury in an impossible position and that it risked discrimination and even violence against Catholics because of ‘latent’ anti-Catholic prejudice.

The formal establishment of the Ordinariate – so-called because it will be headed by an ‘ordinary’ to be appointed by the Pope – is expected from the Vatican by the weekend.

On Saturday three Anglican bishops – former CofE Bishop of Fulham the Right Reverend John Broadhurst and the two CofE ‘flying bishops – are to be ordained into the Catholic Church.

The flying bishops, the Right Reverend Andrew Burnham and the Right Reverend Keith Newton, have ministered to traditionalists who will not accept the CofE’s women priests, and will effectively be redundant when the consecration of women bishops, expected in 2015, goes ahead.

A statement by Archbishop Vincent Nichols, leader of Catholics in England and Wales, paid tribute to Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Wiliams for his patience over the breakaway.

‘We are grateful for the sensitive leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury,’ Archbishop Nichols said.

‘He graciously acknowledges the integrity of those seeking to join the Ordinariate and has assured them of his prayers. This is the noble spirit of true ecumenism.’

Roman Catholic officials said the new congregations would use Catholic churches because they will be unable to use Catholic rites in their existing Anglican churches.

The Book of Common Prayer and other Anglican prayers will be re-written to remove clashes with Catholic doctrine and approved by the Vatican for use by the new Catholic congregations.

So far only two retired Anglican bishops and around 500 worshippers have agreed to join the three bishops to be ordained at the weekend in the Ordinariate.

CofE clergy who go to Rome risk losing their salaries and pensions, while congregations will give up wealth and property accumulated by their Anglican parishes.