The Vatican made it easier for disgruntled Anglicans to join the Roman Catholic Church, giving whole Anglican congregations—including bishops and married priests—a way to join the Catholic Church while retaining their structure and some traditions. The move is aimed at conservatives opposed to the Anglican Communion’s more liberal stance on gay marriage and female clergy (The Christian Science Monitor).
What the commentators said
“If you’re going to pick a fight with someone,” said David Gibson in Politics Daily, it’s not a bad idea to choose an “already weakened” opponent like Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. There wasn’t much Williams could to do stop this “sheep-stealing” from his 77 million-strong flock, but, in a way, “Rome actually did him a favor” by making it easier for him to unite the remainder of his “fractious church.”
Some favor—this is “the end of the Anglican Communion,” said Andrew Brown in Britain’s The Guardian. Just as Rowan Williams sided with the “conservative minority” of the U.S. Episcopal Church on gay clergy, Pope Benedict XVI is now siding with Anglicanism’s conservative minority over ordaining women. “The process of disintegration seems impossible to stop” now, even if fewer than half the 2,000 expected Anglican priests jump ship.
There’s no reason Williams can’t return the favor, said National Catholic Reporter’s John Allen Jr. in The New York Times. If the Anglican Communion moved to “welcome aggrieved Catholics who support all the measures these disaffected Anglicans oppose,” the Vatican could hardly call that an “ecumenical low blow” now.
And what about the Vatican’s ban on non-celibate priests? said Andrew Sullivan in The Atlantic. Saying that “married priests are fine ... as long as they help build market share” is hardly a compelling argument. The ban has harmed the Catholic Church in the U.S. and Europe, so if it’s all right to lift it for Anglican converts, why not lift it for Catholics, too?