If you’ve been keeping up with the various divisions among the Catholic church — nuns and sisters in defiance of the Vatican, stark ideological differences between the clergy and the laity — it might surprise you learn that whole Anglican parishes are converting to the ostensibly embattled denomination. Baltimore’s Mount Calvary and Bladensburg’s St. Luke’s Parish had already made the switch by the time Towson’s Christ the King Church — the largest Anglican congregation in the United States yet to do so — became Catholic.
The lesson might be that even as the Catholic church finds itself divided, the Anglican church is worse off. The ordination of women and homosexuals, as well as gay marriage, has been embraced by some Anglican congregations and denounced by others. For those Anglicans made queasy by the thought of progressive changes to their religion, the Catholic church, renowned for its ability to stick to its guns (except for that whole Vatican II travesty — mass in the local vernacular? Excuse me but some things are sacred…), became an increasingly appealing option.
Christ the King’s move has been facilitated by the Church’s establishment of an ordinariate, a kind of nation-wide diocese set up to accommodate Anglicans — particularly Episcopalians — who want to rejoin the Catholic church. Parishes in the ordinariate retain several traditions of the Anglicanism, but the most striking concession made by the Pope is the allowance for married Anglican priests to become Catholic priests. (I was like, “Whaaaa?!”)
It would be miraculous if an entire parish — of whatever size — could make a consensus decision to switch denominations, and the Towson church lost some of their congregation — about 60 — in the move. Others have continued on with the parish, but have not yet decided to personally convert.
Rev. Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson, a former Episcopal bishop who heads the U.S. ordinariate, told the newly reconciled Towson congregation on Sunday, “What’s remarkable about the church which you are joining is you will never be left in doubt again.” You can tell he wasn’t raised Catholic.