Category Archives: Ecumenism

5 “distressed” bishops moving to full communion with Rome

The Boston Globe ran a story today, “UK Catholics say 5 Anglican bishops converting,” emphasing these 5 as disaffected, distressed, defectors for political reasons: homosexually inclined and female clergy. It could be, however, that these 5 desire to follow Christ in the true Church he founded, and the bishops acknowledge this fact. Of course, one never knows what the exact back story really is because the information is filtered through many layers before the print media goes to print. The statement of the five bishops can be read here and if you are interested in the Forward in Faith groups, see their website.

The bishops, and for any baptized Christian “moving” to become Catholic are said to be coming into full communion with the Catholic Church. They are not converting. This point is made briefly in the article but it seems to obscured by the author because of the particular situation. The Anglicans are Christian; they have converted to Christ; they pray the Lord’s Prayer; Anglicans have a spiritual life. What they are doing by becoming Catholic is following the promptings of the Holy Spirit to live in the truth of unity with the Bishop of Rome.
The 5 Anglican bishops are: Bishops Andrew Burnham, Keith Newton, John Broadhurst, Edwin Barnes and David Silk.
My hope is that the 5 bishops “pope” but that they do so for the right reason and not because of they truly are disgruntled with Anglicanism. Rome doesn’t need more disgruntled Catholics. Are they following Christ and the guided companionship of the Church or their own moral compass?

Eleuterio Fortino, RIP: the soul and motor of the Christianity Council at the Vatican

Eleuterio Fortino.jpgOn 22 September 2010, a giant in the world of
ecumenism and Eastern Christianity died after living with illness. No one can
doubt the sentiment expressed by the Pope saying that Monsignor Fortino had a “generous
commitment with intelligence and passion at the service of unity.” The Pope
last saw Monsignor Fortino on June 28 with the delegation of the Ecumenical
Patriarch Bartholomew I. A telegram was sent through his secretary of state,
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, honoring the life of the undersecretary (third in
charge) of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, who focused
particularly on relations with the Orthodox Churches.

Read more ...

Wuerl named delegate for Anglicans entering full communion with the Catholic Church by CDF

Donald Wuerl.jpgThe Archbishop of Washington, Donald W. Wuerl, STD, 70, has been delegated by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to be the principal guide for those Anglican/Episcopalian clergyman seeking full communion with the Catholic Church, and ordination as a priest.

The USCCB announcement is posted here.
The committee headed by Archbishop Wuerl will include their Excellencies, The Most Reverends Kevin Vann, JCD (Fort Worth, TX) and Robert McManus, STD (Worcester, MA). They will be assisted by Father Scott Hurd, himself a convert to Catholicism. The committee will facilitate the implementation of Anglicanorum coetibus in the USA and assess the need for an ordinariate in the USA.
The Pope’s Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus can be read here.

Responding to an Episcopal priest on giving communion to a dog

The other day I made a post on this blog about a Canadian
woman priest giving Communion to a dog
. A reader of the Communio blog, Lydia
wrote to me saying:

I am a priest in the Episcopal Church in the US.
The Anglican Communion does not have priestesses. I am sure that you know
that. Perhaps you are just being sarcastic.

Personally, I would rather have my
Church known for giving communion to a dog than for the fact that many of my
priests molested children, in countries all over the world, and that
my Bishops did all that they could to ignore complaints about the abuse,
to hide the problem, and to protect the offending clergy.

My response to Lydia

The dictionary defines a priestess as a female priest. It’s a perfectly good
English word; in fact, the Anglican C.S. Lewis wrote an essay called, “Priestesses
in the Church.” If the word “priestess” has a strangely non-Christian
sound, perhaps that is because in churches that claim apostolic succession,
there is no precedent for female priests. As Lewis pointed out, there have been
many religions with female priests (priestesses), but these religions are very
different from Christianity as it has been known for 20 centuries.

In any case,
the word “deaconess” is not considered offensive, so why should
“priestess” be so considered? If masculine imagery for divine transcendence
needs to be balanced by feminine imagery of divine immanence, why not say that
priest and priestess together represent the divine more fully, like Yin and
Yang? My impression is that many modern Anglicans (including women
clergypersons) think on those lines. So why fight about the sound of a word
when its substantive meaning is considered OK?

As for the Catholic Church being
“known for” molestation of children and minors: well, the Anglican
Church in Canada and Australia has been racked by similar problems, particularly
in residential schools, with some dioceses being nearly bankrupted. I am saddened
by the Anglicans’ troubles since the attacks on their schools is an indirect
form of anti-Christian persecution at the hands of a hostile state. As such,
this abuse hysteria threatens us all because it is premised on the assumption
that the sins of a few abusive clergy should be avenged on the entire Body of
Christ. In the case of any other group besides the clergy, this would be
considered unjust prejudice and overreaction.

Statistically speaking, Catholic
priests are no more likely to molest than ministers of other religions; it’s
just that we are a much larger church and that our dioceses are legally set up
as a corporation sole, thus inviting crippling lawsuits and lots of bad
publicity. That said, I do agree that we Catholics are not in a position to
cast any stones on the sexual abuse issue. And so this blog has not done so.

liturgical abuses and irreverence are a different sort of issue. These
liturgical-sacramental aberrations are public acts done in an official
capacity, not secret sins or obvious crimes. And, in fact, I do emphatically
criticize and abhor similar liturgical abuses among Catholics and wish that
more Catholic parishes had the reverence and decorum to be found in many
high-church Episcopal parishes. It’s not a matter of either side of the
Reformation divide being free of sin or failure: it’s just that without an
authoritative center of communion and teaching and practice, Anglicanism can’t
easily set any parameters for legitimate diversity within itself. And
Archbishop Williams himself would sadly admit that that is unfortunately the

Fr Robert Taft advocates ecumenical scholarship & theology as a new approach to restore communion among the churches of East and West

Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches should own up to their
past misdeeds and work to restore communion, according to Archimandrite Robert F.
Taft, SJ.

Fr. Taft, a Jesuit priest of the New England Province and professor emeritus of the history of Byzantine Liturgy at the Pontifical
Oriental Institute in Rome, said that the rift between the churches was
sustained primarily by offensive actions–not theological differences.
He delivered “Perceptions and Realities in Orthodox-Catholic Relations
Today,” on June 28 at Fordham University.

“The main problem that we Catholics and Orthodox face in our ecumenical
dialogue is not doctrine but behavior,” Fr. Taft said. “The issue is
not that Catholics and Orthodox do not know how to pray and believe and
live Christianity in the right and true apostolic way. The problem is
that we do not know how to act.”

pointed to Catholic “uniatism”–aggression against another church–as a
major problem blocking fruitful dialogue between the religions. He
added that although the Orthodox faith has been victimized, it also
refuses to admit its own misdeeds.

Fr. Taft advocated a system of “ecumenical scholarship and theology”–a
new way to study Christian tradition that seeks to reconcile and unite,
rather than to confute and dominate. To accomplish this, the Catholic
and Orthodox churches must recognize one another as historic apostolic
sister churches, he said.

point of this new ecumenical theology is not that Catholics and
Orthodox never disagree. “What it does mean, is that at the official
level, disagreements can be discussed truthfully and courteously,
without invective, rudeness, and slander,” Fr. Taft said. [Fordham

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]
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