LONDON, FEB. 22, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The Anglican bishop of Ebbsfleet and the Forward in Faith group have called Anglicans to mark today’s feast of the Chair of St. Peter with prayer — preferably together with Roman Catholics — to discern the path to follow after Benedict XVI has opened the way for them to enter communion with Rome.
“[T]his is not a day of decision,” Bishop Andrew Burnham wrote in the prayer materials provided by Forward in Faith. “The apostolic constitution (‘Anglicanorum Coetibus’) is not a crisis point but the opening up, permanently, of a new way into unity with the See of Peter. Decisions about how and whether this should happen for each of us will take place in different ways, and at different times. The time now is a time of prayer and discernment.”
Anglicans around the world have been discerning their response to the Pope’s November document, which provides the possibility of Anglicans establishing personal ordinariates, expressing full communion with Rome, but maintaining Anglican tradition.
The apostolic constitution responds to desires expressed by many Anglicans, disgruntled with the Communion’s move toward acceptance of homosexual behavior and the ordained ministry for women.
The day of prayer, Bishop Burnham proposed, “is an opportunity to reflect, pray, and discern the way forward for each of us, our priests and our parishes.”
In the material provided for the prayer day, the bishop’s February pastoral letter on unity was included.
In the letter, Bishop Burnham reflects on the meaning of the term Anglo-Catholic.
He noted that the early 19th century initial use of the term in English focused on “continuity of the Church of England with the Church of apostolic times.”
The bishop went on to consider the growing momentum toward unity in Christ, particularly among Anglo-Catholics, Orthodox and Catholics.
“Anglicanorum Coetibus” is another step along this path, he suggested.
“Though it is addressed to Anglicans in general, the particular focus of ‘Anglicanorum Coetibus’ is, of course, Anglo-Catholics,” Bishop Burnham proposed. “We are the ones who have longed for the reunion of the Catholic Church. We are the ones who, with candles, and devotions, and incense, and music, and prayers, and vestments have got as close as we can to Roman Catholic practice. […]
“More important, we are the ones who in matters of faith and morals — what we believe about the Gospel, the creeds, the ministry, and the sacraments — and how we live — have always claimed to be ‘Catholic.’
“Do we mean it? And, if we do, what do we do about it? Individually and in groups. That’s what we are saying our prayers about.”