Anglicans Weighing Response to Vatican Invite

Say Bishop of Rome Has Heard Their Concerns

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LONDON, OCT. 27, 2009 ( A group of Anglican bishops are affirming “Rome’s generosity” in opening a path for them to enter communion with the Holy See, though they admit there is still “perplexity” about how it will all come about.

This was a general observation made at a Forward in Faith conference held in London last Friday and Saturday.

Forward in Faith is an association of Anglican clergy and laypeople opposed to the ordination of women and active homosexuals within the Anglican Communion. The group sees this as contrary to Scripture and the consistent interpretation of 2,000 years of tradition, as well as a further obstacle to Christian unity. The association was founded in 1992 and has nearly 1,000 clergy members.

Though last week’s conference had already been set ahead of time, the topic of most discussion was the forthcoming apostolic constitution the Vatican announced last Tuesday that will offer Anglicans a way to enter the Catholic Church while still respecting elements of their liturgy and tradition.

The chairman of Forward in Faith, Bishop John Broadhurst, gave the closing remarks and blessing.

“This is a struggle for the truths of the Gospel,” the bishop summarized.

He noted the dismay of members of the Anglican Communion when the church decided that it was possible to ordain women. He said that while bishops of the Church of England were deaf to these concerns, the Bishop of Rome has heard them.

“Rome thinks differently about us than we’ve thought it thought for the last 40 years,” he said.

Bishop Broadhurst characterized the move to accept Anglicans in groups as an “ecclesial answer” to an “ecclesial problem” — in contrast to the individual conversions of Anglicans to Catholicism that has been frequent since the Communion’s move to ordain women.

“[The apostolic constitution] is generous,” the bishop said. “It respects our integrity.”

The Anglican prelate also noted that the establishment of personal ordinariates is a “world approach to which we will be part.” He said that bishops involved with Forward in Faith would be seeking to respond to the apostolic constitution in unity.

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On the Net:

Audio recordings of presentations from the Forward in Faith conference:

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