Monday, May 30, 2016

Anglican would-be Catholics: Romanizers and Papalists

Just about everybody who's heard of Anglo-Catholics thinks they're would-be Catholics, and they're right. But most outsiders just assume they want to be in the Catholic Church, accepting everything we teach. That was only true of a small minority of them, Anglo-Papalists, something you'd see usually only in England and they were a small minority of the English. These went Novus Ordo when most Catholics were forced to. American Anglo-Catholicism is more like 19th-century Anglo-Catholicism in that it believed in something it thought was Anglicanism, though it was really little to do with the Reformed faith of the framers; it saw itself as, if not the true church (and some thought that, as classical Anglicans did), then the truest version of Western Catholicism. For some reason they couldn't sign onto Catholicism, even sounding admirably conservative, fearing the Pope was a monster who'd change doctrine on a whim (impossible according to our teachings, which the Pope must answer to just like everyone else). But they saw their church as part of Latin Catholicism and thus their Prayer Book as part of the Roman Rite. So, after A-Cism's beginning when, like the old high churchmen they didn't adopt our ceremonial, sticking to the Prayer Book, then meeting up with the Gothic Revival, a parallel Romantic reaction to the Industrial Revolution, the "Enlightenment," and the "Reformation," and thus going through a medievalist Sarum phase, A-Cism became Tridentine but often not, as understandably assumed by outsiders, would-be Roman Catholic. Many were in fact pushing a rival true-church claim... by imitating the Catholic Church. (In England that claim was impressive: "the church" vs. "Romans" and vs. Non-Conformists/Dissenters.) In other words, all second-wave and later A-Cs were Romanizers, but only some were Papalists. "Romanizer" can be a useful adjective to describe the non-Papalist ones: sort of alterna-Catholics. Many thanks to the Rev. Robert Bader of the Continuing Churches for pointing this out to me.

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