If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck….
The Vatican has offered to create a loophole in Catholicism through which Anglicans and conservative Anglo-Episcopalians can slip into their pews with little or no adjustment of principle. That simply cannot be true. The Conservative Anglicans may wish to distinguish themselves from Catholics, and those who care enough to ask may see the distinction, but out in the real world of generalizations and rounded off numbers, they will be counted as Catholics.
While that isn’t a bad thing, per se, be careful, I say to my Anglican brethren, that you are joining a Church not only that will accept you, but that will represent your values to the world.
If disenchanted Anglicans add their numbers to the Catholic Church’s count, they throw their weight behind the Catholic Church’s agenda. With their inclusion, statistically more people will, for example, believe in the supremacy of the Pope. No, they may say, we are Anglicans, but on a grand scheme, in the real world, who is going to know or even care about that distinction. The next time there is a poll of religious affiliation and political activism will there be an asterisk by Catholic? Or a box between Episcopalian and Catholic marked “Walks like a Duck but not a Duck.”
As an Episcopalian, I am not a duck. I believe in ordaining women and homosexuals. When the Pope pardons clergy who deny the Shoah, I don’t have to own it. When he states that the distribution of condoms in Africa contributes to the spread of AIDS there, I get to be outraged.
Now, in my experience, most Catholics read the Papal declarations, but then they do what they want. From the perspective of personal piety, I am hard pressed to discern between my conservative Anglican friends and my Catholic friends. As far as I can see, Catholicism is not addressing the current realties of the lives of Catholics. Nor is the Anglican Community satisfying the needs of its conservative congregants. If my Anglican brethren join the Catholic Communion, I pray that their critical mass will be felt and not subsumed by the church, that both communities will converge to form a new species that is clearly being called for.
In a previous blog, I argued that worshipers should feel free to change churches to fit their needs. I want to rephrase that now to say that worshipers, when they feel their churches do not meet their needs, should change the church. As was saliently said by Diana Butler Bass last week, people of faith have been voting with their feet since the dawn of time. You might call it Religious Darwinism: churches adapt or they disappear. I love and admire the Catholic Church. I just think it could use a wee smidgeon of evolution.