There has been much internet speculation that the Vatican will establish an Anglican personal prelature for unhappy Anglicans. Opus Dei is currently the only personal prelature. Unlike most church governance, which oversees a geographic territory, a personal prelature has a prelate, appointed by the pope, who oversees those linked by a particular agreement rather than living in a particular location.
Within the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church there is a pastoral provision since 1980 of the option of incorporating certain Anglican liturgical traditions within the Roman Rite. This is set out in the Book of Divine Worship. About seventy priests from The Episcopal Church have had their orders regularised and can now function as Roman Catholic priests. Seven parishes follow the Book of Divine Worship.
Internet speculation and newspaper Chinese whispers has the Traditional Anglican Communion, a body claiming about 400,000 faithful, on the threshold of being accepted as a Roman Catholic personal prelature. Ruth Gledhill, the influential Times Religion Correspondent, has repeatedly promoted this rumour (another example). The Traditional Anglican Communion parted company with the Anglican Communion over the ordination of women, liturgical revisions, and homosexuality.
Let’s put this rumour out of its misery once and for all. The Primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion, John Hepworth, was a Roman Catholic priest who left his celibacy vows and the Roman Catholic Church, joined the Anglican Church of Australia and got married, then divorced, then married again, also leaving his commitment to the Anglican Church of Australia. And the Vatican is on the threshold of accepting this Traditional Anglican Communion as a personal prelature! Yeah right! Furthermore, the Vatican officially still holds to Anglican orders being invalid. And not one of the – is it 27? – different rites of the Roman Catholic Church has married bishops. Nor do Eastern Orthodox.
As a footnote: Isn’t it fascinating that those who hold to biblical literalism on the few, disputed texts about homosexuality, and/or women in leadership (“them“) – appear to be so selective in their stance when it comes to divorce (which so quickly is about “us”), with Jesus having said nothing about the former, and being quite clear about the latter. I have seen little (no?) disquiet about Anglican/Episcopalian twice or thrice married bishops. Just one example: Bishop Walter C. Righter was put on a heresy trial not for being married thrice, but for ordaining a gay man in Newark. [Ps. The charges were dismissed 7-1]
Update February 13: Those readers who take seriously the prophetic powers of Herbert W. Armstrong of The Plain Truth and his ascertaining that these are the end-times will be interested to note the eagerness with which their website reports these Chinese whispers:
The Trumpet has followed this subject closely because of its prophetic significance. For half a century, Herbert W. Armstrong and his Plain Truth magazine expounded on biblical prophecies foretelling the unification of Protestants with their Roman Catholic mother church. The October 1961 Plain Truth, for example, said this: “The pope will step in as the supreme unifying authority—the only one that can finally unite the differing nations of Europe. … Europe will go Roman Catholic! Protestantism will be absorbed into the ‘mother’ church—and totally abolished.” This prophecy is in process of being fulfilled right now. The Vatican may announce its decision to absorb the Traditional Anglican Communion around April this year. (Source here)
Furthermore, one might be helped to ascertain the significance of a “communion” that claims “400,000” faithful by their international URL: http://acahomeorg0.web701.discountasp.net/tac/tac_index.aspx