Anglicans in Peru are setting up an Ordinariate for Roman Catholic priests who are keen to join the Anglican Church. Anglicans accept the validity of those priest’s orders. Exploration is also under way to incorporate independent catholic bishops. Many of these clergy may bring their congregations with them.
In little over a decade the diocese of Peru has grown from having four priests to having 35 priests. 10 RC priests are exploring joining the diocese. Similar movements are happening in Uruguay, Ecuador, and Argentina.
William Godfrey, the Bishop of Peru, thinks that Pope Benedict XVI’s positive words about Anglicanism may have helped the move.
Around the world Anglicans are not keeping statistics about this, but estimates are that for every person moving from Anglicanism to Roman Catholicism there are four moving in the other direction.
I have never been taken in by the numbers-hype associated with the RC “Anglican” Ordinariate and the contention sometimes that up to three quarters of a million were heading Rome-wards. The “Traditional Anglican Communion”, which was supposed to be one of the main sources for the RC Ordinariate, is not as big as it claims, and is not moving across as anticipated. [The website for the first Ordinariate to be set up is a free wordpress.com site. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but read between the lines…]
The movement from RC to Anglicanism has not caught the attention of the media. The opposite is full of drama which sells. The RC Church does not accept that Anglicans are members of a church so they speak of Anglicans joining the RC Church as “joining the church”, and “converting”. RC priests becoming Anglican are described as “going rogue”. Photographs of Anglican bishops dressed as laymen being ordained deacons make for better sales.
Bishop Geoffrey Rowell, Anglican Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe recently wrote in the London Times
At the end of November I was privileged to have an audience with Pope Benedict, and was able to say to him that, as an Anglican bishop, standing in the catholic Anglican tradition, I — with others — wished to continue to witness to the catholic identity of Anglicanism, and received his encouragement to do so. The Anglican patrimony is not just a matter of hymn books and liturgy, of evensong and the English choral tradition, important as those things are. It is a sacramental way of living out a catholic identity, expressed in relation to the community and in a wise application of moral ideals to personal and pastoral realities. It is what the Churches of the East have sometimes recognised as a Western Orthodoxy. Above all it is about a faithfulness in a way of Christian living that expresses the beauty of holiness, which is about transfiguration into the likeness of Christ, living out… [Peter Meiderlin’s] maxim: “In essentials unity, in doubtful things liberty, and in all things charity.”
In the NZ Anglican Church, anxiety about dropping numbers and aging congregations has led to abandonment of liturgy and a loss of confidence in Anglican ways of taking services. While in NZ the RC Church is one of the few that is actually increasing, Anglicanism here looks more to more protestant approaches than RC models. There is no great energy around to try and see how we can do liturgy better. So if/when RCs in NZ are, for example, dissatisfied with the new English translation of the Missal, in this country they would find it more difficult to find a home within Anglicanism than is being described in Peru or in the quote of Bishop Geoffrey.
Peru’s Anglican Diocese’s includes amongst its characteristics:
The teaching of the catholic faith, based in the Holy Scriptures, shaped by the early Church Fathers, and held and proclaimed by the Church, under the guidance of its bishops in the apostolic succession, for 2,000 years.