Where do Episcopalians Go From Here? by Shane Schaetzel

(Shane Schaetzel of the Ordinariate Community in Springfield, Missouri, in the Ozarks, has written the following article about the future of Episcopalians, but as Fr. John Hodgins of St Thomas More, Toronto, points out, much of what he says could equally apply to other Anglicans and the other Ordinariates)

When I tell other Catholics that I am part of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter, I get some inquisitive looks. When I explain that it is a provision within the Roman Rite that allows Anglican converts to govern ourselves, using our own liturgy and customs, that inquisitive look turns confused. It’s to be expected really. Most Roman Catholics are still unfamiliar with the Anglican Patrimony within the Roman Catholic Church, and so when you present it to them, it often results in confusion.

Lately, I’ve tried a slightly different method of explaining this. Instead of using the word Anglican up front, I’ll throw out the word English, and for some reason, this seems to get through a little better. I’ll tell them I’m part of a special jurisdiction within the Roman Catholic Church that puts an emphasis on traditional English Catholic heritage.

POW! That nails it!

All of a sudden they get it, and that inquisitive look turns into curiosity. I then go on by telling them to imagine a combination between the old Latin mass, and the new vernacular mass. ‘Mash them together, to get the best of both worlds, and put the whole thing into sacral English’, I say. Sometimes they’ll ask what sacral English is. I’ll simply tell them it’s an older form of high English that is reserved specifically for God, and they use it all the time. Every time they say the ‘Our Father’ or the ‘Hail Mary’ they are likely using sacral English. That’s where the ‘thee’ and ‘thou’ comes from. Then I tell them to imagine a whole mass like that. Suddenly that curious look turns into an epiphany, and they get it! More than that, they usually like the idea, often requesting where they can visit such a liturgy. Once that is all done, I’ll explain to them that the word Anglican is just an older way of saying English Christian, and even though the word is commonly used to describe a Protestant church, it is also used in a Catholic context to describe Roman Catholics (usually converts but not always) who prefer the sacral English method of worship. I’ve had a lot of luck explaining things this way to regular Roman Catholics.

Now, explaining the matter to non-Catholics, especially Anglicans/Episcopalians in America, is a completely different matter, and that is the subject of this essay.

Since the late 1970s, The Episcopal Church (TEC) in the United States (American Anglicanism) has been going through tumultuous changes. The 1970s were a difficult time for Western Christianity in general. The Catholic Church was affected by this too. However, it could be said that if the 1970s gave the Catholic Church a nasty cold, than it could also be said that same decade gave The Episcopal Church a fatal case of pneumonia.

While Rome gave the Catholic Church a new liturgy, and American Catholics were busy fooling around with all sorts of wacky innovations (many of which are slowly being abandoned today), The Episcopal Church was sowing the seeds of its own complete collapse. Following the Vatican’s liturgical update, The Episcopal Church completely changed the American Book of Common Prayer, creating two completely separate rites, one traditional and the other modern, but unlike Rome, it didn’t stop there. Along with this radical liturgical change came a massive sacramental change too. The sacrament of holy orders was altered to include women, and that was the beginning of the end for The Episcopal Church.

Quickly, Episcopalians moved into two camps, which in many ways mirrored the division that was happening in Catholicism. The two camps centred around the publication dates of Prayer Books. There was the 1928 Book of Common Prayer camp, which rejected all of the modernisations of the revised 1979 Book of Common Prayer. The 1928 Prayer Book Episcopalians had many things in common with the traditionalists in the Roman Catholic Church who preferred the old Latin 1962 Missal. In fact, many of them identified not only as traditional Anglicans, but also as Anglo-Catholics, putting a great emphasis on the ecumenical move Anglicanism took during the 19th century, moving toward Roman Catholicism. Some of these traditionalists set out to start their own movements, independent of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. These included, but were not limited to, the Anglican Church in America (ACA) and the Anglican Catholic Church (ACC). However, these organisations remained relatively small throughout the years, and most traditional Anglicans chose to stay within The Episcopal Church, at least until something a little larger came along.

Meanwhile, the 1979 Prayer Book camp did retain a lot of Catholic forms, but also included modern liturgy, female priests and a general move toward embracing what the Catholic Church condemned as ‘modernism’. Now this move toward modernism was not universal nor monolithic. It ranged in degrees, and depended on various priests and bishops.

As I said, much of the struggle that has happened in the Episcopal Church over the last 30 years mirrors what had been going on in the Catholic Church over the last 40 years. However, there is one major difference. In the Catholic Church, the errors of modernism ramped up into the 1980s and then began to taper off in the 1990s and turn of the century. Since the year 2000, and especially after the pontificate of Benedict XVI (2005 – 2013), the shift in the Catholic Church has been unmistakeably traditional. Nearly all of the new priests, coming out of seminary, are hard-core traditional in their liturgy and theology. Virtually everything that remains of modernised Catholicism now is a remnant. It’s dying, and it’s gradually being replaced by younger priests, who are unmistakeably more traditional in character. In time, the biological solution will run its course. Older modernised priests will slip away into retirement, while younger traditional priests will take the reigns of parishes, and in time entire dioceses as a new crop of bishops take over. While the older (more modernist) generation still remains, we will still see modernist innovations and preaching in the Catholic Church. Their days are numbered however. What’s following them in years to come is more ‘old school’ and traditional.

This is where the mirror image, between American Catholicism and The Episcopal Church, comes to an end. Because you see, the difference in the future direction of Rome and New York could not be more mirror opposite. Rome is gradually moving in a more traditional direction. While New York (the headquarters of The Episcopal Church) is moving rather rapidly in a more modernist direction.

Membership numbers could not be more mirror opposite as well. In the United States, the number of Catholics has gone up from 47 million in 1968 to 66 million in 2013. In contrast, the number of Episcopalians has gone down from 3.5 million in 1968 to 1.5 million in 2013. While the Catholic Church has been growing consistently with the population, the Episcopal Church has literally imploded, losing nearly 2/3 of its membership over the last 47 years.

In comparison, The Episcopal Church hasn’t been larger than the Catholic Church in America since the early 19th century, and of course, the Catholic Church now dwarfs The Episcopal Church in size, but then, a lot has changed since the early 19th century. Baptist and Methodists dwarf Episcopalians too. Nevertheless, a membership of 3.5 million in 1968 wasn’t bad, and it did make for a sizeable church. How could a denomination lose almost 2/3 of its members in just one generation? From what I read in the statistics, the situation is getting no better. The Episcopal Church has continued to see a loss in numbers over the last ten years, and most experts are predicting another sizeable exodus in the very near future.

Why is this happening? The answer is simple, and I can explain it in just two words. Modernism kills. Most people want modernity in their automobiles and shopping malls, not in their religion.

In the late 1960s, and throughout the 1970s, into the early 1980s; American Christianity experimented with modernism. It wasn’t limited to America of course. Canada fooled around with it too, and so did Australia. Europe went headlong into it. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. In America, the effects of this experiment have never seen more dramatic results. The Episcopal Church in the United States turned out to be the most progressive in modernism of all the Anglican provinces throughout the world. This progressive dive into modernism caused many Episcopalians (nearly two-thirds) to bail out of the denomination over 47 years. The Episcopal Church’s experimentation into modernism has cost about 58% of its members! Can you imagine if the same statistic were applied to the Catholic Church?

If we started at 1968, with 47 million members in the Catholic Church, and the Church lost 58% of its members over 47 years, the current membership in the U.S. Catholic Church would be at 20 million today. Think about that for a moment. This would not only eliminate 58% of Catholics from 1968, but it would also evaporate all the growth the Catholic Church has seen since. Today, the Catholic Church’s actual membership is at 66 million souls, but if the Catholic Church followed The Episcopal Church’s example, she would be short 46 million people today! The number is staggering when plugged into a Church the size of the Catholic Church, but it’s even more damaging when plugged into a small denomination like The Episcopal Church, simply because The Episcopal Church never had a whole lot of members to begin with.

While the Catholic Church gradually moves back in a more traditional direction, The Episcopal Church rapidly moves in a more modernist direction. Last week, The Episcopal Church voted to allow same-sex ‘marriage’ within that denomination. It will become effective November 1, 2015. Experts are expecting a backlash in the form of yet another exodus. My experience tells me the exodus will not be rapid. Episcopalians never run from their church. It’s more of a casual stroll. They seem to trickle out gradually, one family at a time, and sometimes one parish at a time. They will leave though. Within a few years from now, the only Episcopalians that will be left in The Episcopal Church will be those who approve of female clergy and same-sex ‘marriage’. The rest will be gone. As a personal prediction, I don’t expect the overall membership of The Episcopal Church to ever rise above 1.5 million again. In the years ahead, as members age, and fewer young people are around to replace them, The Episcopal Church will be forced to sell off properties just to stay afloat. Some Episcopal dioceses are already doing that.

So where will they go?

Some Episcopalians have been so poorly catechised and sacramentalised over the last generation that a good number of them will be moving over to Evangelical churches. I personally know some Episcopalian families who are doing just that. Here in Springfield, Missouri, I happen to know some Episcopalians who have made (or are in the process of making) the journey from Saint James Episcopal Church, and Christ Episcopal Church over to James River Church — an Evangelical/Pentecostal church that is part of the Assemblies of God denomination. Just a brief overview of each church’s website will reveal a dramatic change! These people are going from a very ‘catholic’ style of worship and life, over to a totally Evangelical experience. They are going from small churches, where they were once integral members of a parish family, into a mega-church where they will just be drops in a bucket. Think about that. It’s a radical change. I personally don’t think it will stick, but you never know. I could be wrong. Disappearing into a crowd may be exactly what they want. Maybe they’re not interested in regular communion any more. Because they’ll be lucky to get anything close to resembling it just once a month now. As for liturgy, they can forget that! It’s gone in Evangelicalism. Maybe, however, that’s what they want. I spent the early years of my adulthood in that environment, and let me tell you, it gets old fast. Liturgy and sacraments added such a deep spiritual dimension to my life that I couldn’t possibly imagine ever giving them up.

Meanwhile, some Episcopalians will take the seemingly easy option, and just switch over to the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), which is where many traditional and conservative Episcopalians have gone. The ACNA is the most recent splinter group off The Episcopal Church created in 2009. It is also the largest. Here in Springfield, Missouri, that option exists with All Saints Anglican Church. Basically, the ACNA is a jurisdiction of Anglicanism that was created after a number of Episcopal groups broke away from The Episcopal Church in 2009 after decades of trying to work for traditional reform within The Episcopal Church. However, the Archbishop of Canterbury refused to recognise them. So they maintain their communion with Canterbury indirectly and unofficially by their connection with Anglican primates in Africa. It’s an unusual situation to be sure, but it seems to work for those who are involved in it. As for the situation of modernism in the ACNA, it hasn’t been fully resolved. The ACNA permits the use of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, which includes the modernist liturgy that drove away the first wave of Episcopalians. Currently, the constitution and canons of the ACNA do allow for ordination of women to the priesthood. This is left up to the local bishop. However, as for the episcopate, the current canons require that bishops be selected from male priests. Essentially, what the ACNA has done is reset the clock back to 1979. Beyond that, it hasn’t done much to address the core problems that plagued American Anglicanism back then. In my opinion, and the opinion of many others far more educated than I, the ACNA is in a vulnerable position which could see a gradual repeat of what happened to The Episcopal Church over the next 47 years. Episcopalians who flee to the ACNA will find a reprieve from the trials they experienced in The Episcopal Church, but there is no guarantee how long that reprieve will last. While older Episcopalians may believe this to be a viable option, younger Episcopalians with children may want to seriously reconsider. The ACNA appears to be a safe environment to pass on the Anglican Patrimony — for now — but that may change in just one generation. Today’s parents may be able to raise their children in the Anglican Patrimony, but there is no guarantee this same environment will exist for their grandchildren and future posterity.

Is there a better way?

Some Episcopalians will do what others have done. They will fulfil the vision of the Oxford Movement and live out the Anglican Patrimony within the Roman Catholic Church. The Anglican Patrimony was brought into the Catholic Church back in the early 1980s, when Saint John Paul II opened the door for American Episcopalians to come into the Catholic Church, ordaining their Episcopal priests as Catholic priests, and continue with their same liturgy and customs as Anglicans within the Roman Catholic Church and under the protection of the Vicar of Christ — the Pope of Rome. These Episcopalians traded in their communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury for full communion with the Pope of Rome. As a result, they were given the Anglican Use of the Roman Rite. This allowed them to celebrate the liturgy taken from the Book of Common Prayer and approved for use in the Catholic Church as the Book of Divine Worship. In essence, Rome simply adopted the Anglican Patrimony, allowing it to be united but not absorbed. Anglicans who enter the Catholic Church this way become Catholics in doctrine and canon law, but they remain Anglicans in custom and practice.

Under the protection of the Bishop of Rome, the issue of female ordination is forever settled. For Saint John Paul II infallibly declared that the Catholic Church (even the pope himself) does not have the authority to ordain women to the priesthood. Because of this doctrinal and sacramental protection, the Anglican Patrimony has grown and flourished within the Catholic Church for over 30 years! The prime example of this flourishing can be seen in Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church in San Antonio, Texas.

In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI created Anglicanorum Coetibus, which is an apostolic constitution that guarantees the position of the Anglican Patrimony within the Roman Catholic Church forever, and also provides jurisdictions for Anglicans to govern themselves within the Catholic Church. These jurisdictions are called Ordinariates, and they function similar to national provinces within the Anglican Communion. The man who governs each Ordinariate is called an Ordinary, and he can either be a bishop or a priest. If he’s a bishop, then the Ordinariate operates just like a Roman Catholic diocese. If he is a priest, then he has all the powers of a mitred territorial abbot, functioning as a bishop in every way (even dressing as one), and coordinating with bishops of various dioceses to handle sacramental functions reserved specifically for bishops (such as ordinations). The Ordinary has a seat at the national conference of Catholic bishops as well, and participates just as any other bishop would. The Ordinariate is a real jurisdiction, that makes its own rules, and functions according to most Anglican customs. That means other Catholic bishops cannot tell the Ordinary how to run his Ordinariate. Within the parishes of that Ordinariate, he is the boss. In other words; Anglicans are allowed to be Anglicans, function as Anglicans, sing as Anglicans, pray as Anglicans, etc. Nobody can tell them otherwise. Doctrinally and sacramentally they are Catholics. Traditionally and customarily, they remain Anglicans. This jurisdiction for North America is called the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter, and our own community in Springfield, Missouri, is called Saint George Catholic Church. (You’ll notice me in a couple of the pictures on that website.)

It’s a pretty sweet deal, if you ask me, and it’s one that comes with some guarantees. I know that not only will I be able to pray, sing and live out my life within the Anglican Patrimony, but I also know that my children will have access to that same Patrimony as well, and their children, and their children, and so on. The Episcopal Church may collapse into a cesspool of modernism. The ACNA may eventually follow the same route as The Episcopal Church. The entire Anglican Communion may fracture, scatter and eventually dissolve. Yet the Anglican Patrimony will now go on and live in the Catholic Church forever.

That’s what Rome does. She seeks to create unity not uniformity. She seeks to unite but not absorb. The Roman Catholic Church is not a monolith. It is one Church, united in doctrine, but it is also a communion of many churches, of which the Roman Church is simply the largest. Within this Roman Catholic Communion there exists many smaller churches, sometimes referred to as ‘rites’, but in every sense they are unique churches. These include the many Eastern churches, such as the Byzantines and Maronites for example. What Rome has done for Anglicans is similar, but not identical. Instead of creating a whole new rite or ‘church’ for Anglicans, the Catholic Church has instead created a subset of the Roman Rite, called the Anglican Use of the Roman Rite, and Ordinariates for self governance. A space has been made for Anglicans to grow and flourish once again, without having to worry about the modernist relativism that plagues The Episcopal Church. Once more, we can focus on the gospel and evangelism again, without having to worry about the next battle to maintain orthodoxy. Within the Ordinariates, Anglicans are free again! We are free to be Anglican and Catholic, fully in both ways, and at the same time get back to what’s important about being Christian.

In the weeks and months ahead, those few Episcopalians, who remain true to Biblical orthodoxy, are going to have some real soul searching to do. While some dioceses within The Episcopal Church may currently opt out of same-sex ‘marriage’ for now, do Episcopalians really believe it’s going to stay that way indefinitely? I think most know better than that. For those who live in dioceses where same-sex ‘marriage’ is still not permitted by the local bishop, they should understand that it’s just a matter of time now. Eventually, they will get a new bishop, and when that happens, anything goes. So for those Episcopalians who seek Biblical orthodoxy, remaining within The Episcopal Church is no longer a sustainable option. They will have to soon choose one of three paths…

  1. Will they go Evangelical, and just completely give up the liturgical and sacramental life they’ve always known?
  2. Will they go with the ACNA, resetting the clock back to 1979, and hope it works out better in this generation than it did in the last?
  3. Will they fulfil the ecumenical vision of Anglicanism, and the Oxford Movement, by going into full-communion with Rome through the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter, thus guaranteeing their family’s future within the Anglican Patrimony for generations to come?

Only Episcopalians can answer these questions. I know what my answer was. I picked option #3, and I’m glad I did it! To those who are hesitating, I say come on in, the water is fine! Not only do we have the Bishop of Rome to protect us, but they love us here! A lot of English-speaking Roman Catholics really like the Anglican liturgy, and Pope Francis has even expanded our evangelical mission to reach out to fallen away Catholics. It’s easy enough too. If there isn’t an Ordinariate parish or community nearby, then Episcopalians/Anglicans can still join the Ordinariate through any regular Roman Catholic parish. All one need do is visit the website of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter, read the instructions and download an application.

As an Anglican, it’s a refreshing way to go. Many of us have been caught up in the culture wars within The Episcopal Church for so long, that we’ve forgotten what Christian evangelism is all about. It’s time to drop the siege mentality, and get on with our lives. It’s refreshing to be in a winning position for a change. The culture wars haven’t disappeared in the Catholic Church, but tradition has the clear upper hand. We have all the youth on our side, as well as the Holy Spirit and the Vicar of Christ. When was the last time an Episcopalian could ever say that? Today I am a Roman Catholic, but I am also an Anglican. I am both, and nobody can take that away from me. Some people have tried to make up a new term, such as ‘Anglican Catholic’ or ‘Catholic Anglican’. Some have referred back to the old term of ‘Anglo-Catholic’. I say forget it all. I am a Christian, and if you want to be specific about it, I am a Catholic Christian who worships according to the Anglican Patrimony. My goal is to live and preach the gospel, making disciples of Christ wherever I go. All the while I get to worship in sacral English, promoting the zenith of English Christian civilisation. It’s the most counter-cultural thing anyone could ever do these days, and guess what? It’s fun! Maybe it’s time for some of my fellow Episcopalians to join me.

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20 Responses to Where do Episcopalians Go From Here? by Shane Schaetzel

  1. EPMS says:

    This essay presents an attractive vision, but I think Mr Schaetzel’s rhetoric should be taken with a grain of salt. After many years as a Baptist and then an Evangelical, he became an Episcopalian, but as he says on the “about this blog” page on his blog, “that didn’t last long”, and he joined the Catholic church in 2000. I believe that, as of last year, the Ordinariate Rite is celebrated four times a year in Springfield, MO. Before that it was less frequent. So the Anglican Patrimony part is a bit notional. I know this comment opens me up to the charge of nit-picking but the path of AC is littered with those who set it up for apparent failure by hyping it unrealistically. Unlike many who were prominent on “The Anglo-Catholic” Mr Schaetzel has remained with the Ordinariate vision, but he was also the one who produced the map showing that OCSP would soon have more parishes than TEC. Is pie-in-the-sky the only helpful stance? Did the little boy who pointed out the Emperor’s wardrobe deficiencies not perform a useful service?

    • But the person who then helped him to get dressed performed an even greater one!

      And by the way I have a weakness for active and enthusiastic diaspora Ordinarians, being one myself. We can perform a useful service, as Mr. Schaetzel demonstrates. Without him the Ordinariate Mass would not be celebrated at all in the Ozarks.

      David Murphy

      • EPMS says:

        Of course. Some have that gift, that assignment. But I believe that even the one who pours a bucket of cold water on a disciple’s idea, with the right intention, will in no wise lose his reward.

    • Rev22:17 says:


      You wrote: Unlike many who were prominent on “The Anglo-Catholic” Mr Schaetzel has remained with the Ordinariate vision, but he was also the one who produced the map showing that OCSP would soon have more parishes than TEC. Is pie-in-the-sky the only helpful stance?

      The truth is that Shane Schnaetzel produced a map of communities whose members informed him that they intended to join the appropriate ordinariate. The disappointment is that, here in North America, a significant percentage of those communities have not followed through, at least so far. But the fault does not rest with the reporter who simply presented the information that he was given.

      We really need to know what is going on in each of the communities that failed to make the transition.

      >> It’s very likely that some of these communities had a significant number of members in irregular marriage situations, and that they decided to remain together as worshipping communities rather than to split.

      >> We know that at least some of these communities had pastors who were in various irregular situations that precluded ordination for the ordinariate, or at least that were perceived as doing so, and that they decided to remain under the pastoral care of their Anglican pastors.

      >> It’s nearly certain that at least some of these communities had pastors who could not enter the ordinariate due to the inability of the ordinariate to provide adequate financial compensation to meet their legitimate obligations and, again, decided to remain under the pastoral care of their Anglican pastors.

      >> It’s certainly possible that somebody acting on behalf of the ordinariate put up obstacles, either real or imagined, that precluded the entry of some of these communities into the ordinariate.

      >> And it’s very likely that there are at least some communities that needed to resolve various issues in order to enter into the ordinariate, and that are still in the process of doing so.

      Such situations were completely unpredictable when the map came out. It simply is not appropriate to shoot a messenger who acted in good faith in this situation.

      You asked: Did the little boy who pointed out the Emperor’s wardrobe deficiencies not perform a useful service?

      Yes, as does the author in pointing out that The Episcopal Church (TEC) is the proverbial emperor in this discussion.


      • EPMS says:

        With a 97% success rate for annulment applications I can hardly imagine this was a significant obstacle for many.

      • EPMS says:

        To be fair, the person who predicted, on the basis of Mr Schaetzel’s map, that OCSP membership would outnumber that of TEC http://www.theanglocatholic.com/2011/02/84-groups-of-anglicans-on-the-map-and-a-viable-u-s-ordinariate-by-anglican-standards/ was actually then Br Stephen Treat O.Cist, now John Treat, a bishop in another jurisdiction, in the Ozarks, coincidentally enough.

      • Rev22:17 says:


        You wrote: With a 97% success rate for annulment applications I can hardly imagine this was a significant obstacle for many.

        That statistic is not exactly the whole story.

        >> 1. The process is not exactly trivial. It requires the party who petitions for a decree of nullity to assemble all sorts of documentation and testimony of witnesses, with no guarantee of a favorable outcome. Also, since the decision affects the other party to the challenged celebration of marriage, the tribunal must contact the other party and offer an opportunity to participate in the process — a potential can of worms that many people prefer not to open, especially if the relationship is contentious. The result is that many people decide that it is simply not worth the effort before they even get started.

        >> 2. The other reality is that many diocesan tribunals have a backlog of cases, so the processing of each case takes well over a year. Just this morning, I assisted in a mass of monastic solemn profession in which the newly professed monk had spent twenty-two months living in the abbey as a postulant because he could not begin the official novitiate until a decree of nullity of his prior marriage became final — and he actually had petitioned for the decree of nullity well before he moved into the abbey! Again, the result is that many people decide that it simply is not worth the wait and thus choose another avenue instead.

        Either way, we get to the same bottom line: people give up and go elsewhere instead.


      • Yes, indeed, Norm. One Ordinariate priest, whose wife required an annulment before he could be ordained, told me that the whole process lasted two years and was most harrowing, requiring as it did “emotional striptease” about very intimate matters.

      • Rev22:17 says:


        You wrote: One Ordinariate priest, whose wife required an annulment before he could be ordained, told me that the whole process lasted two years and was most harrowing, requiring as it did “emotional striptease” about very intimate matters.

        Yes, and such an “emotional striptease” can be very anguishing when one is going through it. On the other hand, it often brings both (1) tremendous healing of the injuries of the earlier relationship and (2) lessons about why one was drawn to pursue a relationship that was fundamentally unhealthy. The combination often is crucial to the success of the next attempt at marriage: unhealed injury can be a major obstacle to healthy relations and, left unchecked, a person who instinctively pursues an unhealthy relationship is likely to seek another partner with a very similar personality.


  2. Viola Hayhurst says:

    “Will they go Evangelical, and just completely give up the liturgical and sacramental life they’ve always known? ” This is as well the option that many cradle Roman Catholics in the Maine Portland Diocese (and I am sure that Portland is not unique ) are choosing; the fact that many of these marriages within the evangelical community are “blessed” by the local Roman Catholic priest just adds to the confusion. And one of the interesting variables in this diocese is that children are confirmed and entered into the church as early at age 7 …..so do they really understand the Faith to begin with ?

    • Rev22:17 says:


      You wrote: “Will they go Evangelical, and just completely give up the liturgical and sacramental life they’ve always known? ” This is as well the option that many cradle Roman Catholics in the Maine Portland Diocese (and I am sure that Portland is not unique ) are choosing…

      You are correct: this dynamic is not exactly limited to the Diocese of Portland in Maine here in North America. Nevertheless, the Catholic Church has somehow managed to grow in membership by nearly 50% in spite of this dynamic.

      That said, the imperative is to get to the root of this dynamic and fix its cause. Fundamentally, most of these people are leaving because they are victims of ostensibly Catholic faith formation programs that failed to instill Christian faith — that is, that failed to lead them to surrender of their lives to the Lordship of Jesus and the joy that comes from living in faith, which is the foundation of Christian faith. Without this foundation, nothing else really matters. The silver lining in this cloud is that they often discover the presence of our Lord (the Word of God) in sacred scripture (the Word of God) and develop a relationship with the Lord in the evangelical community to which they go. In that context, what they learned in the Catholic catechetical program begins to make sense — often leading them to yearn for the presence of our Lord in the sacraments and, in a significant number of cases, to their return to the Catholic Church. Pope Benedict XVI instituted the so-called “New Evangelism” precisely to fix this defect, though parish clergy who fear the ire of their parishioners probably are neutering it in their ignorance.

      You continued: … the fact that many of these marriages within the evangelical community are “blessed” by the local Roman Catholic priest just adds to the confusion.

      This is not really a related issue. A member of the Catholic Church who marries a member of another Christian denomination may obtain a dispensation from the Catholic form of marriage, and the Catholic pastor may confer a blessing after the couple exchange their vows. Don’t forget that the ministers of the sacrament of marriage are the bride and the bridegroom, so such marriages do not lack sacramental character.

      You wrote: And one of the interesting variables in this diocese is that children are confirmed and entered into the church as early at age 7 …..so do they really understand the Faith to begin with ?

      Or, rather, do we misconstrue the understanding of faith that’s necessary for the sacrament of confirmation when we ask such a question?

      I really do not have a good answer to this, but I do know that Catholic ecclesial law follows the Roman legal tradition in distinguishing only between “infants” and “adults” — and anybody who is not one is the other. Canonical status as an “adult” is presumed upon reaching the “age of reason” (nominally presumed to be the age of seven (7) years, but this can differ for those who are particularly gifted who suffer mild mental retardation), the only exceptions being (1) those over the age of seven who have not acquired use of reason due to serious mental retardation and (2) those who have lost their reasoning faculties due to dementia or senility, typically when in advanced years. Canonically, those who do not have use of reason are “equated to” infants in all aspects of pastoral ministry. Note, however, that the practice of the Byzantine tradition — still observed by the churches of the Orthodox Communion and the (Catholic) sui juris ritual churches of the Byzantine Rite, is to confirm and administer communion even to infants at the time of their baptism.

      Now, this norm creates some rather interesting juxtapositions with the normal practice in many dioceses of deferring confirmation until young people reach the age of sixteen or so, in contrast to the alternative of confirming young people at the same mass as their first communion (which is what the law actually envisions). Note the following provisions of liturgical law.

      >> 1. There are two rites of baptism — the Rite of Baptism of Infants and the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). If a child reaches the age of seven and is not yet baptized, the baptism takes place according to the latter — followed immediately by confirmation and first communion in the same service. Although the normative practice of the RCIA is for the sacraments of initiation to take place at the Easter Vigil, the RCIA does permit the celebration of the sacraments of initiation at another time in the case of a child who is past the age of reason. The general instructions in the RCIA also state that, in the case of young people, the formation that precedes baptism is to be adapted to their age.

      >> 2. The Rite of Reception of a Baptized Christian into the Full Communion of the Catholic Church includes confirmation of the candidate and admission of the candidate to sacramental communion upon reception if the candidate is not validly confirmed, regardless of the age of the candidate. This is the proper manner of first communion for any child who was baptized in any other denomination.

      So the question is where the anomaly actually lies: in these rites, or in our understanding of what is required for confirmation and the associated practice of deferring confirmation to the teen years. In the meantime, those whose parents neglected to have them baptized and those baptized in other denominations will continue to receive confirmation at the same time as first communion while those baptized as infants in the Catholic Church will continue to wait until their teen years for confirmation — clearly an anomaly of the worst kind in that it punishes those who do what’s ostensibly the right thing.


      • EPMS says:

        Back to the annulment issue. Norm’s scenario requires both a significant number of congregational members who are divorced, remarried, and decline to enter the annulment process and a congregation which does not want to enter the Ordinariate without these members. How likely is this to have occurred more than once or twice? Certainly all the former ACCC congregations which entered lost a large percentage of their membership: ninety percent in one case. I am sure this was a painful process, but solidarity has its limits, especially if the recalcitrant parishioner’s excuse is a wish to avoid a re-encounter with his or her ex-spouse.

      • Rev22:17 says:


        You wrote: Norm’s scenario requires both a significant number of congregational members who are divorced, remarried, and decline to enter the annulment process and a congregation which does not want to enter the Ordinariate without these members.

        To some congregations, “a significant number” could be just one couple.

        Don’t forget that many “continuing Anglican” congregations banded together with their pastors to find a way forward through some very difficult times. They are now very tightly knit families who stick together through thick and thin. If they can’t all come together right now, they will stay together in their current structure until they all can come.

        And on the Catholic side, we need to be sure that we are opening doors rather than putting unnecessary obstacles in their way. Clearing out the backlog of pending cases in diocesan tribunals would be a very good start.

        Don’t forget that this situation also includes clergy who are in irregular situations.

        You continued: How likely is this to have occurred more than once or twice?

        In view of the fact that over half of all marriages now end in divorce, the odds of even a congregation of ten families having even one or two couples in “irregular marriage situations” (that is, a spouse who was previously married and divorced, and whose previous spouse is still alive) is quite high.

        You wrote: Certainly all the former ACCC congregations which entered lost a large percentage of their membership: ninety percent in one case.

        The congregations of the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada (ACCC) are an interesting study.

        >> The former congregations of the ACCC in Ontario seem to have entered the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter (“the ordinariate” hereafter), but at least one did lose a significant number of members when it decided to do so.

        >> The congregations of the ACCC in Alberta and British Columbia seem to have split, with part of the former congregation entering the ordinariate and the other retaining the church property and continuity as congregations of the ACCC and with the remnants of the two congregations in Calgary merging into one congregation. Realistically, it does not make sense to speak of any of these congregations as entering the ordinariate since the groups that entered the ordinariate really split off from these congregations.

        >> Most of the congregations of the ACCC in Quebec and in the maritime provinces were quite small and thus, practically, could not split. Of those congregations, apparently only one is on the way into the ordinariate. The rest remain congregations of the ACCC.

        I’m not sure to which congregation you were referring as having lost 90% of its membership. My guess is that this is actually a situation in which a small group split from a congregation of the ACCC to enter the ordinariate.


  3. Viola Hayhurst says:

    Just a comment….. as a former Episcopalian within the Maryland High Church tradition … I too came over in the Connecticut, Diocese of Norwich. Nothing like going into an Episcopal diocese that is so Calvinistic that it does not even display “Saints”…. to make one rethink matters ! However my awarding welcome into the Faith… a little bit of me always remained “high church” and coffee hour. Thus my solo entrance into the Ordinariate meant that I now could have elements of both with the far superior knowledge that when I now receive the “Host” I am receiving without any theological debate or questions, ” the real thing in the real blood and body of Jesus”. This is the ONE absolute gift that the Ordinariate offers to its divergent flock !

  4. Viola Hayhurst says:

    One community on the “map” located in Raymond, Maine is still patiently knocking at the door and some who have crossed over to the Ordinariate, such as myself , have actively been “pushing” and praying that the door shall be opened for this beautiful little community to enter (others may very well be in similar situations ), ie.
    Our Lady of Seven Sorrows Priory
    (207) 655-4441

  5. EPMS says:

    Are you saying that you are hoping that a critical mass of Priory parishioners make an official decision to leave the ACA and join the Ordinariate, or that they have done so but have received no official response from OCSP?

  6. Viola Hayhurst says:

    If you mean by this comment the Raymond Maine group ? This Priory only consists of Father Kevin, two other humans and an assortment of animals. So your guess is just as good as my own. Go to the web site and read Father Kevin’s meditations– the latest features St. Thomas More and is excellent. The mission of this little group is and has been as copied from the noted site—-

    “One of the missions of The Servants of the Holy Family Benedictine Community is promoting unity between traditional Anglo-Catholics and Roman Catholics. We are in a unique position to do this as we both share a strong and common bond through the observance of the Holy Rule of St. Benedict, in addition to many theological tenets as well”.

    • Rev22:17 says:


      You wrote: If you mean by this comment the Raymond Maine group ? This Priory only consists of Father Kevin, two other humans and an assortment of animals. So your guess is just as good as my own.

      I strongly suspect that this is not the only group that is “knocking at the door.”

      In a report to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) prior to official erection of the ordinariate, Cardinal Wuerl stated that the dossiers of clergy had been divided into three groups: (1) those who had completed a full programme of Anglican seminary formation, who thus could receive Catholic ordination with a minimum of additional formation, (2) those who had little formal training and thus would require essentially a full programme of Catholic seminary formation, and (3) those who did not fit neatly into either of the first two groups, and thus would require varying degrees of formation adapted to their individual situations. The ordinariate’s small administrative staff probably did not have enough resources to process all of the applications at once, and therefore gave priority to communities whose clergy could receive Catholic ordination most quickly — that is, to those with clergy in the first of these groups. My guess — and this is purely a guess, as I don’t know “Fr. Kevin” at all — is that “Fr. Kevin” did not fit into the first of these groups, and therefore that this community was not among the first to be processed.

      Of course, there are a couple additional issues that might be relevant in this discussion, such as the priory’s relationship with the (Roman Catholic) Diocese of Portland in Maine. The votum of the bishop of the local diocese carries a lot of weight in the decision to accept each candidate for Catholic ordination.

      That said, there are indications that the ordinariate’s administration is now processing candidates who did not fall into the first of Cardinal Wuerl’s categories. Hopefully, “Fr. Kevin” will soon be on a path to Catholic ordination.


  7. I have removed two posts which led the discussion in an increasingly personal direction. I hope you understand.

    David Murphy

  8. EPMS says:

    I agree. We don’t know. The fact that six communities I can think of off the top of my head were admitted although their leaders are still awainting ordination, or will never be ordained, means that your hypothesis that admission of groups was prioritized in the way you suggest cannot be accurate.

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