There has been quite a stir these past days due to speculation that a substantial amount of traditional Anglican clergy may seek some form of corporate union with Rome. The Traditional Anglican Communion asked for the same thing last October and has been on hold since then, presumably because of the widely foreseen Anglican implosion scheduled for summer 2008. Corporate reunion, were that to happen, would involve union with the Church while retaining their Anglican identity.

The idea of “Anglicans” united with Rome is not unprecedented. Pope John Paul issued a Pastoral Provision in the 80’s that allowed for the Anglican Use. However, something on the scale imagined here would obviously look very different.

One pressing question is how welcome will they be in the Catholic Church. It is a long and widely held suspicion the the Catholic Hierarchy in England would not be particularly thrilled with any such arrangement which explains why they have yet to be invited to the discussions.

Other than the Bishops, what will the greeting be like among the faithful. Hopefully not like the reaction of Gerald Warner who writes for the Telegraph.

Now, however, the Anglican contagion is invading the Catholic Church and that is quite another matter. The news that Anglican bishops have had private talks with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is a provocative development. Any collective negotiation suggests that these disgruntled prelates envisage the possibility of some kind of corporate adherence to the Catholic Church. The barque of Peter should immediately hoist the signal: not wanted on voyage.

The Catholic Church does not exist to provide a funk hole for pick ‘n’ mix Anglicans upset by the prospect of gays and girls on the episcopal bench. It is a comprehensive deposit of faith which the believer accepts in its entirety.

If these people have truly been moved to conversion, they should return publicly to the lay state which the document “Apostolicae Curae” of Leo XIII confirmed is the actual condition of those in Anglican orders, pray, take instruction and make formal submission to the Sovereign Roman Pontiff.

The title of Warner’s piece is “Is it Just Me?” I certainly hope so.

While union will certainly require the acceptance of all that is defined and held by the Church, it should not be more than that. We should imitate the ways the brother of the prodigal son, grumbling at the joy and generosity of his Father. We should not begrudge the generosity of the Church toward our lost brothers. My thoughts and hopes are expressed wonderfully by New Catholic at Rorate Caeli. First he quotes the Pope in his letter accompanying Summorum Pontificum.

Looking back over the past, to the divisions which in the course of the centuries have rent the Body of Christ, one continually has the impression that, at critical moments when divisions were coming about, not enough was done by the Church’s leaders to maintain or regain reconciliation and unity. One has the impression that omissions on the part of the Church have had their share of blame for the fact that these divisions were able to harden. This glance at the past imposes an obligation on us today: to make every effort to enable for all those who truly desire unity to remain in that unity or to attain it anew. I think of a sentence in the Second Letter to the Corinthians, where Paul writes: “Our mouth is open to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. In return … widen your hearts also!” (2 Cor 6:11-13). Paul was certainly speaking in another context, but his exhortation can and must touch us too, precisely on this subject. Let us generously open our hearts and make room for everything that the faith itself allows.

He then adds in the combox…

They should be allowed to bring as much from their liturgy and customs as the Catholic and Apostolic Faith allows – that is the meaning of the Holy Father’s intent, clearly presented in the accompanying letter to Summorum Pontificum: “Let us generously open our hearts and make room for everything that the faith itself allows.”

Long live Pope Benedict – and may he be the Pontiff who will provide a stable and effective structure for the reception of former Anglicans.

I share his hopes that agreement and unity based on generosity and truth can be reached. For their sake, for our sake, and for God’s sake.

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” John 17:20-23