Anglo-Catholics are a spent force so the Church should focus on Anglican Evangelicals
From Professor David Jowitt SIR – I am mystified by Damian Thompson’s “We should throw a lifeline to struggling Anglicans” (Comment, August 7). He writes as if there is simply no such thing as the Anglican Evangelical tradition; the assumption seems to be that if you are an Anglican, you are either an AngloCatholic or a liberal.
The truth is that Evangelicals are, and have for long been, a major force within the Church of England and many other provinces of the Anglican Communion. In the Communion’s current developing schism the principal dividing issue is not women priests and bishops but homosexuality; and the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA), which since the last Lambeth Conference has focused Anglican opposition to liberal teaching on this issue, is largely made up of Evangelicals.
One wonders, therefore, why among English Catholics there should be such concern at the possibilities, the modalities, the difficulties, of attracting traditional Anglo-Catholics to Rome; Dr Thompson’s own account suggests that they are a spent force. Though the challenge is greater, surely our energies should instead be directed towards winning over Evangelicals: towards convincing them that the Catholic Church is where they belong, since she firmly upholds what they also hold dear, such as the centrality of the person of Jesus to faith, and the immutability of biblical teaching. Perhaps more thought should be given in the Vatican, as well as in Westminster, to this highly desirable goal.
Converts to Catholicism have included many one-time Evangelicals. I am one. So is Scott Hahn, the American writer. So was Newman.
Yours faithfully, DAVID JOWITT Jos, Nigeria From the Revd Dr D Anderson SIR – Fr Ashley Beck (Feature, September 18) doubts that many Anglo-Catholics are ready to submit to the Holy See. He thus sees no reason why any special effort should be made to help them. He misses the point. It is not about the numbers, though he is wrong about those and understandably out of touch since having left the C of E 15 years ago.
The point is whether submissions are made individually or in some “corporate” way. If the Catholic Church could detach, and be seen to detach, a body of the Church of England it would not only gain a lot or a few new members. It would be seen to be The Church in England. The C of E has three main parts: Anglo-Catholics, Evangelicals and liberals. The Evangelicals are already considering departure for some more orthodox Anglican Communion. Were the Anglo-Catholic party to depart, it would leave the C of E as a tiny bankrupt liberal sect, untrue to its historical roots and probably happy to consent to disestablishment. Already Catholic Communions exceed those in the C of E. There is a very real probability that in a decade the Catholic Church could restore itself to the position it enjoyed before the Elizabethan Settlement.
Many Anglo-Catholics belong to bodies such as Forward in Faith and Societas Sanctae Crucis. These bodies may not be the ideal vehicle, but then other un-ideal formulations have already been used in the conversion process such as the tautologous “full communion”, with its implicit selfcontradictory implication of partial communion. Forget numbers of converts. This is about one church displacing another. Or it could be if the English hierarchy is up to the challenge.
Yours faithfully, D ANDERSON Woburn Sands, Bucks