Why Don't "Traditional Anglicans" Become Catholic

I mean no disrespect towards folks like GKC and Traditional Ang and others who are part of the “Anglican Continuum” and are trying to negotiate an en masse joining of the “Anglican Continuum” to the Catholic Church, but why don’t these individuals and other Continuing Anglicans just join the Catholic Church on their own? After all, if one believes the “Roman” Catholic Church is the True Church founded by Christ, then why wait for some bureaucratic negotiations, and if you do not believe the “Roman” Catholic Church is the True Church, then why want your group to become part of it?

I understand the desire for the Anglican Use liturgy to be more accepted by the Catholic Church, but it seems that is a minor reason to refuse to join the Catholic Church. After all, why not join individually and then, much like groups like the FSSP and the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest have done so they can do the TLM regularly, try to create an order or whatnot that would be approved to regularly use the Anglican Use Mass. I assume some Continuing Anglicans hope the Church would offer them something akin to what they offered the Eastern Catholic groups (i.e. a Patriarchate/Major Archdiocesan rank), but that seems unlikely since, even in the Pre-Anglican Communion days, highest rank in the Catholic Church in England was the Archbishop of Canterbury who was also the Primate.

Again, I hope it does not come across as rude that I mentioned GKC and Traditional Ang by name, but they were just two people I can think who are very orthodox Anglican (probably more orthodox than many Catholics), but who seem unwilling to join the Catholic Church as individuals.

I hope to maybe answer this question speaking as one of the “traditional Anglicans” spoken of.

  1. Many of our bishops already have ties with the Roman Catholic church and unlike the mainline Episcopal church our Apostolic lineage includes Roman Catholic Bishops and cardinals, we also have ties with many Eastern Orthodox lines as well. These lines come through DIRECT laying on of hands by Roman Catholic bishops and Orthodox patriarchs who are sympathetic to our cause. Some feel being we have those lines why go further.
  2. Many Anglicans will not “swim the Tiber” because of the current Pope closing the door to our return. John Paul II was receptive to our return and was far more eccumenical. The reason for this is many of our priests are still married and this apparently is a barrier to the current Pope but was not to the latter; we were accepted but if our wife died we could not remarry. This practice was acceptable.
  3. Under the Anglican system, it would be the congregation that would also wish to move into the “camp” so to speak of the Roman Catholic church be it Anglican use or fully Vatican 2. If you have ever served on the council of a church you would know that it can be at times like herding cats.
    I hope this answers your question.

Good question!

May I add that these Traditional Anglicans want to be able to use their church buildings and liturgy. They seek to become Catholic Anglicans through reconciliation with the Bishop of Rome and the withdrawal of the Anglican excommunication. They are using the same method that the Eastern churches used that are now Catholic, such as the Byzantine Catholic Church.

I’m almost always glad to be mentioned.

Many traditionally minded Anglicans do make the leap. And I assume that would pretty much be those who wish to go that route. OTOH, as with other things, Anglicans, of the traditional mode, would vary on the reasons for not making individual dashes across the River.

First, you’re right in that there is an organized group that speaks of reuniting with Rome, as a group. That is primarily the Traditional Anglican Communion, of which the Anglican Church in America is both the US branch, the main subgroup and the primary reason there is a Traditional Anglican Communion, as a formal group. These folks, at the highest level, have been talking up a form of corporate reunion for around 12 years. Word is always that, any day now, earthshaking news of great import will be forthcoming, from Rome and the TAC. So far, that day is not yet, and the word, such as has come, all comes from the TAC. I am dubious of the prospects, and for some of the reasons who mention. It is likely that those who seek this route are cognizant of their status (in their eyes) as a true Church themselves, and want to be united, as such. Rome’s preferred attitude is always for Anglicans to perform individual submissions. And, as I said, many do.

But even assuming that reunion effort goes forward, not all the TAC is happy with it. That is, even in the most reunion-oriented group, not all Anglicans wish to be united to the Holy See, under any conceivable circumstance. And that is true for Anglicans, of the (t)raditional mindset, generally. Not all are longing to cross over.

Some don’t want to be RC, or see a need to be, and that’s an end to it. Among these, you would find those who know they are already part of the Catholic church, as are the Orthodox; just not in communion with each and all parts. Some, like C. S. Lewis said, are not so much bothered by the idea of affirming what the RCC teaches at this point, but by committing to what it might teach, in the future, sight unseen. And some have particular doctrinal issues, usually centered on the Pope, or maybe some Marian doctrine, something like that. And I’m sure that the Anglican liturgy plays a part. TLM is a good draw, NO is not, if you’re used to a well-done Anglican Mass.

You’re not rude, but your concern is certainly appreciated. Thank you.


I am uncertain about most of the points made here.


I literally herd cats twice a day, and have done for several years. It isn’t generally a big deal. At the beginning it could get exciting, but cats can learn and now it is rather hum-drum. Surely the councils of most churches are smarter than cats.

I speak for myself only, worship in an Anglican church, and have a love of both the Roman and Anglican churches (even if some in both of them do not love me). Tradtional Anglicans already are Catholics; so are Lutherans, Presbyterians, Methodists, and all who adhere to the Apostles’ Creed. If Catholicism means submission to the Roman popes and not belief in the Apostles’ Creed, was the Church of Rome not Catholic in the interregnums when there was no reigning pope; was it more Catholic during the doleful period when there were three popes? At the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15), the apostle Peter, more concerned with the Faith than personal prestige, deferred to James, the Bishop of Jerusalem. When Peter proposed the election of a successor to Judas (Acts 1), he did not act unilaterally; election was by a general vote. Peter was an apostle; bishops were appointed by apostles. Did Peter appoint himself a bishop, Bishop of Rome? And why not Bishop of Antioch, where he first sojourned?

If catholic means “universal,” are the doctrines of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption found in the universal Apostle’s Creed ? Are they necessary to faith in the Risen Christ? Is papal infallibility really a criterion of Catholicism? It was unknown to the apostolic church and not accepted by Cardinal Newman and Lord Acton, two very prominent adherents of the Church of Rome at the time of its proclamation. It was not accepted by the Old Catholics either.

Perhaps Catholicism is too big a concept to be defined by one church or one system of church government. Perhaps the real question is: “Why do some Catholics, Roman and non-Roman, have such a sectarian view of Catholicism?” Why all the emphasis on who is in charge? Is that more important than the Gospel? We are all, Catholic and Protestant. called to proclaim the Good News of the Risen Christ: to love God and our neighbour as ourselves. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.

Thank you, Catholic Answers, very sincerely and respectfully, for this opportunity to speak something of my faith to other Catholics. The service you provide to the Church is a recognition that we are all Christians first, with a common mission, whether we “are of Paul or Apollos or Cephas.” And we are more likely to succeed in our mission by learning from each other, working together, and loving each other. Might I suggest that therein might be found the one true church?

Philip Bitsco

Here’s another thread I guess, but why,with all due respect, would the Anglican Church even exist in the first place if Henry VIII hadn’t wanted to get rid of his wife through divorce?
I’ve always wondered…

No, a decree of nullity, based on an impediment of affinity (Levitical prohibition), per Henry’s causa. Actually, a stronger case was for an undispensed impediment of the justice of public honesty, but Henry didn’t listen to Cardinal Wolsey.

It is likely that some form of break between the Church in England, and Rome, would have happened, eventually, for a couple of historical reasons, even if Catherine hadn’t been Charles’ aunt, and the battle of Pavia hadn’t occurred. But so it was.


Dear Carcker Mom:

Thank you for your prompt and courteous reply. I hope I understand your question. As I read history, the Church of England, or Anglican church; existed from very early on in the history of Christianity. It was no more born in the bedroom of Henry VIII than the Catholic Church was born in Rome. No one can pinpoint the exact date of its founding; but the same is true of the Church of Rome, although it may be older than the Church of England. But “church” in the ancient world and early Middle Ages did not connote the same bueaucratic structure it connotes in our world.

When, toward the end of the sixth century, Augustine of Canterbury came to England at the behest of Pope Gregory I, he found the British Isles already blessed with the Good News of Jesus courtesy of Irish monks who had long preceded him. Over the centuries, the church in England became an integrated part of the Western church, which was headed by the Bishop of Rome, who in time came to be known as the Pope. This was a natural development, as Rome was the capital of the western Roman empire and the papacy played a leading role in the survival and growth of Christianity in western Europe.

Henry’s motives in breaking with Rome were political and mercenary: 1) his need for an heir to the throne, which necessitated an annulment so that he could remarry; and 2) his greed for the immense wealth of the English church, which was being siphoned off by the Vatican. But Henry never renounced the Catholic faith of the ancient creeds; his break with Rome was not theologically motivated. In contesting the power of the papacy in his realm, he did what other monarchs before had been attempting for centuries before him with varying degrees of success. The world was different then: the popes wielded spiritual and temporal power.

And the world is different today. But it still cries to hear the Good News of Jesus, which will never grow old. I feel honoured to share the Gospel of Divine Love which has been entrusted to our churches by the Good Shepherd, our brother Jesus. The Lord bless you and keep you!

Philip Bitsco

I would phrase some of this differently but not totally.

And don’t forget la Boleyn. Hormones did play a part.


are there any Anglicans that want full communion with the Orthodox Church(es)? As in, there could be an Anglican Orthodox Church?

Also, I’ve always noticed this discussion of what “Catholic” means when discussing “The Church” with Anglicans, Lutherans, etc. When discussing what Catholic means with “Roman Catholics”, it is important to realize that for us, “The Catholic Church” is not just the “Roman Catholic Church”, but includes other churches, such as the Maronite Church, Coptic Catholic Church, Syriac Catholic Church, Melkite Greek Catholic Church, etc. Together, we all make up the Catholic Church. So for us, the “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic” Church only includes those churches, and also includes, in an imperfect way, churches such as the Orthodox Church, the Armenian Apostolic Church, etc.

So for Anglicans, the “Catholic Church” may include “Catholics” (Roman and otherwise), Anglicans, Lutherans, etc., but for “Catholics”(in union with the Bishop of Rome), we believe the Catholic Church does not include those Christians.

Yes, I know.

Some Anglicans do head eastward.


Hi Nsper7,

If I wanted to become a Roman Catholic, I would not be waiting for the rest of my Church to go with me. I would be running through street traffic if I felt the Holy Spirit leading me to join the Roman Catholic Church.

God Bless!

I know a few of those Traditional Anglicans, and most of them seem to blame the chaos in Anglicanism on Anglo-Catholicism and seem to be moving back toward the Anglican form of Puritanism much like that of John Milton.

The Anglo-Catholics seem to be dividing themselves into the “Puseyite” Anglo-Catholics who reject the Papacy, Catholic Eschatology, Mariology, whose Anglo-Catholicism is otherwise theoretical and only in some areas, and whose worship is “just the Prayer Book” with nothing else added with a minimum of ceremonial, who look to Constantinople rather than to Rome; and the “Newmanite” Anglo-Catholics many of whom want to become Roman Catholics but hesitate for what seem to me to be mostly cultural, family, and well, “political” reasons, but many others are, in fact converting either directly or through the Anglican Use Pastoral Provision.

Some Continuing Anglican Churches dearly want that - notably the Anglican Catholic Church - but their leadership has just about given up on that as a realistic possibility. The reasons that will not happen seem to be a combination of theologyical, cultural, historical, and political, with the emphasis on the first three of those. The Eastern Orthodox attitude seems to be that the Anglicans broke away from the Latin Rite so that is where they must return. Then they, (the Eastern Orthodox) will deal with Rome.

In an informal discussion at an Ecumenical Meeting, Greek Orthodox Bishop (and Oxford Don) + Timothy (Kallistus) Ware once told a Swedish Lutheran Bishop, “I know a heretic when when I see one, and you, sir, are a heretic.” In my humble opinion that would also apply to Anglicans equally, and that is a big part of the problem.

Hey, I have enjoyed reading this thread.

I am an Anglican, and have been thinking of the Roman Catholic Church for a little while now.

I heard what emeraldcoast said, about running through the street until you get there, but I do not think it is that simple.

There is a lot to think about when changing “religion”, or just “church/faith/denomination”.

I have been to Roman Catholic services, and there are things that I do not like.

One example (I am in South Africa, so I do not know how different it is around the world) is that Roman Catholics do not seem to kneel when they receive communion. But I have grown up kneeling, and it’s what I see as being right.

After church this last Sunday, a few of us where discussing a few things about the Mass. It seems some people (in the parish I go to anyway) at least do not have the same belief that I do, regarding the Eucharist. This scared me. I always thought Anglicans believed they were receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. I am still under the impression that most do.

Does anyone know what the “Official” belief is, in the Church of England, Anglican Communion, Episcopalian, etc?

Nobody else said anything, but the one person seemed quite shocked that I actually believed this, and yet I am shocked that people don’t.

(It may seem I have gone off-topic, but this is a huge part of my belief, and if the rest of the church I go to do not believe this, then can I really stay)

If “official” belief is different to what the people know, then what is wrong with the teaching? This is a very vital part of the service, the Mass, Eucharist, Communion, whatever you call it…

Sorry, I feel I’m rambling, so I’m going to end now.

This is an odd reading of the matter, IMO.

Anglo-Catholics “reject” the Papacy, in the sense of not according it universal ordinary authority, or a personal charism of infallibility. Indeed, all Anglicans do, save those who are labeled Anglo-Papalists. Your division between Puseyite and Newmanite, in so far as it is appropriate, seems more like the division I make between AC and high church, one being doctrine, the other churchmanship. And while I know Anglicans who appreciate the Orthodox orientation, I know of none (that is, Anglo-Catholic) who explicitly looks to Constantinople rather than Rome. I don’t doubt such a one exists. But when my parish prays for all faithful bishops, we mention both Benedict and Bartholomew. All of the Church.

Again, those Anglo-Catholics who wish to be RC are most likely those who have become, or plan to become RC. Nihil obstat.. Or, for that matter, Antiochian, Western Rite, if that is their inclination. Those who haven’t are those who are Anglo-Catholic.

And I certainly know of no traditional Anglican (in the sense I was using it, creedally orthodox), who blame the current chaos on the ACs.

I never underestimate the incoherency of Anglicanism. But I don’t recognize the beast in your description.


There is no official Anglican eucharistic doctrine. From my experience, I would conclude that some form of the Real Presence is what most Anglicans affirm


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