ORLANDO, Florida, MARCH 4, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The leaders of the Anglican Church in America of the Traditional Anglican Communion responded to Benedict XVI’s invitation to enter full communion with the Catholic Church.
The apostolic constitution “Anglicanorum Coetibus,” published in November, offered a way for groups of Anglicans to enter the Catholic Church through the establishment of personal ordinariates, a new type of canonical structure.
In this way, they would be able to retain some elements of their liturgical and spiritual traditions while being unified under the Pope.
On Wednesday, the House of Bishops of the Anglican Church in America announced that they met in Orlando “together with our Primate and the Reverend Christopher Phillips of the ‘Anglican Use’ Parish of Our Lady of the Atonement (San Antonio, Texas) and others.”
“At this meeting,” the communiqué continued, “the decision was made formally to request the implementation of the provisions of the Apostolic Constitution ‘Anglicanorum Coetibus’ in the United States of America by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.”
The Anglican Church in America (ACA), which has some 5,200 members in 100 congregations, is distinct from the Episcopal Church. As such, it is not part of the Anglican Communion that has as its principal primate the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Rather, the ACA was created in 1991 when members of the Anglican Catholic Church and the American Episcopal Church came together in an attempt to unify through the formation of a new church.
The current president of the ACA House of Bishops is Archbishop Louis Falk.
The Traditional Anglican Communion, which has some 400,000 members worldwide, has as its primate Archbishop John Hepworth of the Anglican Catholic Church in Australia.
The leaders of this communion sent a letter to the Holy See in October 2007 to request full unity with the Catholic Church. They declared their adherence to Catholic doctrine, but expressed the desire to retain some distinct Anglican traditions.
The letter was received by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which responded in July 2008 with the promise to consider this possibility.
The next year, on Oct. 20, 2009, the congregation’s prefect, Cardinal William Levada, announced Benedict XVI’s intention to create a way for these Anglican groups to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church. A few days later, on Nov. 9, “Anglicanorum Coetibus” was published.