"GREAT ACTS TAKE time," Cardinal Newman warned in his Apologia Pro Vita Sua. The Church of England bishops met last week to agree upon pastoral provisions for those Anglicans who saw the 11 November General Synod's vote to ordain women as are unacceptable. private judgement against the authority of the Church.
Anglican clergy and laity are now considering these provisions. Some may find them acceptable, others not. As they weigh their options, they eye the Catholic community and wonder what kind of welcome they will receive.
Already, some feel disappointed by their reception. The red carpet they expected is threadbare, and cannot muffle the suspicions being voiced by a few.
The convert's Iot is a difficult one. Newman knew this first-hand: "His former friends think him a good riddance .and his new friends are cold and strange."
The Anglican influx must be prepared for some Catholic trepidation: many are members of the Anglican orders and cherish expectations of acquiring a similar ministerial status within the Catholic Church. More importantly, some among these Anglican clergy are married and the notion of a married priest, though we have precedents in this country, is alarming to many Catholics.
That some among the would-be converts are paid-up members of the Establishment has increased, rather than allayed, the fears of some Catholics. Historically, they have been a "gens a people who shun the light of day: they are dazed now by the flash of media attention. Finally, a limited, but vociferous, group within the Catholic Church fears the influx is bent not so much on a journey of faith as on a flight from women who seek empowerment.
None of these prejudices need present insurmountable obstacles. But time is of the essence: the two communities, for centuries wary of one another, must grow re-acquainted. Anglicans who wish to join the Catholic communion must be patient, for our hierarchy must be sensitive to all concerns Anglican and Catholic. Above all, Catholics, as they watch their brethren take the road to Damascus, must be generous.