The church or England claims to be both catholic and reformed
and many of their congregation refer to themselves as anglo-catholics and take offence to being called protestant, is it possible to be both catholic and reformed ?
The church or England claims to be both catholic and reformed
Cardinal Newman tried to play that game for a while, “via media” (or “middle way”). We all know how that turned out
I was an Anglican for 30 years – trained as a priest.
Anglicans can be somehow “both” Catholic and Protestant – even though that is, of course, impossible.
Anglicans believe they have valid Apostolic Succession. Many “Anglo-Catholics” believe in seven Sacraments, the Marian dogmas, even the primacy of the Bishop of Rome, and concur on Catholic moral positions, including the teaching on divorce. So it is entirely possible for a High Church Anglican in his spirituality and in his doctrinal affirmations to be “more” catholic than two-thirds of the Catholics who go to church every Sunday. When I came into the Church, the RCIA director asked me: “Is the Catholic Church Catholic enough for you?”
That said, there is a broad spectrum of permission in Anglicanism, and there are many (if not most) Anglicans who would not even qualify to be called good Protestants (if by that you mean Christians). The difference between Anglicans and Catholics who hold questionable ideas on faith and morals is that the Catholic Church actually stands for its teachings, while “liberty” is tolerated in Anglicanism.
At bottom, the “test” of catholicity is Communion iwth the Bishop of Rome. That is why so many Anglo-Catholics (like me) wind up on this side of the Tiber. One day you wake up and realize you can’t pass the "duck test: you walk like a Catholic, you talk like a Catholic, you think like a Catholic, you pray like a Catholic. To be an honest man, you need to become Catholic in name as well as in fact.
The Anglican churches are in a unique position within Protestantism. They are generally closer in practice and belief to the Catholic Church than most other denominations. That being said, having many, or even MOST elements of Catholicity does not the Catholic Church make.
A major mark of the Catholic Church is that it is ONE. Since the Anglicans are not in communion with Rome, they are not the Catholic Church. Anglican theologians go through serious ecclesiological contortions to find ways to attach themselves to the Catholic Church. They often point to the Orthodox East as an example. Other methods include the oft derided “branch theory” and the “Celtic Church” theory, which posits that the Anglican Church was there long before any “Roman” missionaries arrived.
The thing is, due to the dizzyingly wide variety of theological beliefs allowed under the Anglican umbrella, an Anglican can hold nearly identical beliefs to a “Roman” Catholic and be ok with his church. Another Anglican could be practically a Presbyterian or Lutheran in his beliefs, and still be ok in Anglicanism. This adds to the confusion since the Anglican Communion has no method of making authoritative decisions about doctrine, and relies on local synods to make these choices for each national church.
Long story short: No. You can’t be truly Catholic and truly Refomed, theologically. You have to lose some elements of one to be the other, and vice versa. Kinda like being a Muslim and a Christian at the same time.
. . . and as we know, some Anglicans have absolutely NO problem with being Anglican and Muslim at the same time!
aaww…such wisdom and truth
Have you been watching me? I had a friend ask me about a year ago…“why don’t you just become Catholic?” Guess I looked like the duck enough.
Yeah. I came into the Church a few years ago. The Bishop in residence where I attend daily Mass asked me, “How long have you been Catholic?” And the lightbulb went on – I answered: "Actually, I’ve been Catholic for 25 years, but I came into the Church two years ago.
My son who lives in England near London told me that one has to check before assuming a Church (parish or whatever) labeled
Catholic is indeed Roman Catholic and not Anglican…
Back before Catholics had vernacular Masses, I had a friend who accidentally went to an Anglican Church on Sunday while he was on vacation, and didn’t realize until Mass was over that he wasn’t in a Catholic Church. He kept wondering how these people got permission to say Mass in English. OK. The guy wasn’t too bright.
There has been tension, especially in the Church of England, between the High, Broad, and Low Church variations amongst the Anglican clergy and congregations.
Angl-Catholics have always been intriguing to me. They seem to go well out of their way to avoid the obvious historical conclusion that Henry VIII is the primary reason that their church exists. Though you’ll often hear about the Sarum Rite and Celtic variations in Catholicism dating back to Saint Patrick. Yet, there are other regional rites without such splits from the Vatican.
I think much of the “liberty” and tension within Anglicanism derives from the basic identity crisis within it. It was born, not so much as a counter or Reformed version of Catholicism (as was Lutheranism), but simply as an attempt to transfer Church political power to the monarchy. It was only after that shift took place that an identity for Anglicanism was sought (by Cranmer and Cromwell).
Liturgically, Anglicans and Catholics have had a lot in common. As mercygate was saying, it’s possible to not even be able to tell the difference sometimes!!
For example: The Anglican Diocese of Fort Worth is considered very “Anglo-Catholic”. Many of the parishes there have a liturgy which is aesthetically similar to the Tridentine liturgy in the Catholic Church. Lots of “smells and bells”, Priest facing the altar during consecration, altar boys, etc. Not long after the Pastoral Provision was implemented, a small number of Episcopal parishes converted en masse to the Catholic Church and were given permission to conduct their liturgy using the Book of Divine Worship (aka, the Anglican Use Missal).
I think you’re right here. As an American Anglican (Episcopalian) once I became familiar with Henry VIII’s history it became very hard for me to identify with my religion.
At least our English cousins can justify it somewhat on the grounds that Henry was trying to preserve the Realm. Americans can’t quite identify with even that flimsy argument.
Heh, my experience was a lot like that. I held to all the Catholic beliefs for years before I actually officially joined the Church. The thing is try having Catholic beliefs for years when you belong to a Southern Baptist Church lol.
aawww…God Bless you! That was a chore, I bet…at least I made a few pit stops in between Southern Baptist and where I am now…LOL!
Mercygate, that exact same thing happened to a friend of mine–and she was an extremely intelligent woman. As she said, “the church said Catholic outside, there were statues, a high altar with a tabernacle and priest in Mass vestments”–she was stunned when she realized that it was actually a high-church Episcopalian service…
The bishop of FW was my classmate in seminary! Good man. GOOD Bishop: not an easy job in the Episcopal Church these days!
I have known Catholics who shed tears when they walked into such an Episcopal Church: The statues, votive candles, visible confessionals, Communion rail, tabernacle . . . Sometimes they walk in and don’t walk out.
We realize that these things are not essential to authentic Catholicism, but I believe the “powers” who decided that all of these tangibles of faith should be stripped out of Catholic churches really had no idea of what it would cost the faithful.
Wow, you, sir, are blessed! Bishop Iker is a class act. The Catholic Church could really use men with his strength and faith in the episcopacy. I keep praying for his conversion
I was really pleased when retired Bishop Herzog came back into the Church. We’ve been really blessed with such great converts from Anglicanism. Hopefully the trend increases and has an effect on the liturgy in the Catholic Church.
Jack was always a great guy, but I don’t think anybody would have pegged him for a pointy hat in those days. Just goes to show you that the Holy Spirit blows where he wants! Jack is one of the heroes of the A-C tradition. And along with you, I hope he comes over the Tiber. He still has work to do where he is, though. Clergy cannot just jump the Tiber when they feel like it (or IF they feel like it – and I don’t know where Jack is on that nor would I share it if I did). They have a LOT of pastoral considerations to deal with.