This is tremendous news. The Anglican Bishop of Chichester John Hind is openly considering a conversion to Catholicism:
In a further blow to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s hopes of preventing the Anglican Communion from disintegrating, other bishops have cast doubt over its survival.
The Rt Rev John Broadhurst, the Bishop of Fulham, even claimed that “the Anglican experiment is over”. He said it has been shown to be powerless to cope with the crises over gays and women bishops.
In one of the most significant developments since the Reformation, the Pope last week announced that a new structure would be set up to allow disaffected Anglicans to enter full communion with Rome, while maintaining parts of their Protestant heritage.
The move comes after secret talks between the Vatican and a group of senior Anglican bishops. Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was not informed of the meetings and his advisers even denied that they had taken place when the Sunday Telegraph broke the story last year.
Now Bishop Hind, the most senior traditionalist in the Church of England, has confirmed that he is willing to sacrifice his salary and palace residence to defect to the Catholic Church.
Obviously the UK Telegraph is extremely non-plussed about the recent moves to unite the Anglican and Catholic traditions. This comes on the heels of announcements from quarters of the Orthodox faith that the end of the near 1000-year schism could be seen within months. More locally to the United States, the long term project of the late Richard John Neuhaus with his “Evangelicals and Catholics Together” project hasn’t seen much progress in recent years, but the movement does continue to press forward:
I’ve written to the Catholic participants and told them on behalf of all of the evangelicals that we would like to continue the dialogue, but it was kind of up to them to decide who would lead their side of the effort.
There are some very able people around. Neuhaus was unusual because of his evangelical background; he really understood both sides of the Reformation divide. [He had] a terrific mind. That won’t be replaced. But there are others who can step up to the responsibilities, and I believe the dialogue will continue.
The divisions within Christianity have come a long way towards healing, especially given the current climate of secularism battering down the doors of virtually every institution held by religious over the last 50 years. Still, with a lessening of fanaticism comes the freedom to pursue faith, and I hope this is what we are seeing here.