Beyond the Anglican Communion

Flag of the Anglican Communion, with Greek "The truth will set you free" quote.
CANTERBURY, England — The Anglican Communion stands on the verge of formal schism this week, as its leaders began meeting Monday to discuss the issue of homosexuality and other matters in Canterbury, England. 
The five-day meeting, called by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, is seen as a last-ditch attempt to keep the ecclesial community together following a long-running dispute over homosexuality and deeper differences over how Anglicans should interact with today’s largely secular, post-Christian society... 
So the end is near. It's really been going on for a long time. It's sort of like watching a train wreck in slow-motion. I am indebted to Anglicanism. It was the catalyst that secured my conversion to Catholicism. I simply would not be Catholic today without it. I'll tell you what I would be. I would be Lutheran, like my forefathers before me. That is that. But Anglicanism gave me a bridge to Catholicism, and for that I am grateful.

I am also grateful for the love of liturgy that Anglicanism gave me, as well as an appreciation for my English heritage, language and culture. I am an Anglophile, who is Anglophone, living in the Anglosphere, and I have Anglicanism to thank for that. There is something worthwhile in being proud of our English heritage, and we would all do well to rediscover that.

Recently, I wrote a column for Forward in Christ Magazine. It's a traditional Anglican publication for Forward in Faith North America -- a network of conservative Anglicans seeking to preserve traditional Christian orthodoxy on moral issues. It's a very handsome print publication, actually. It has an aesthetically pleasing layout, with beautiful artwork, and very good articles. My kudos to the publisher. I consider it an honour to be a contributor to such a fine publication. I encourage all of my readers to check it out. Even if you're not Anglican, you'll appreciate the thoughtful commentary therein. The column is called The Gift of Unity, and it's about how the Catholic Church, through the Personal Ordinariates for former Anglicans, has given both the Catholic world and the Anglican world a gift of perpetual unity through a new liturgy called Divine Worship: The Missal. It is quite possibly the greatest Anglican-style liturgy ever published in modern times, and it was introduced to the world by Rome. You see, the Catholic Church has expressed great interest in preserving our English Christian heritage, and the great contributions made to liturgy by the Anglican Patrimony. This missal, once made more widely known, will inevitably find its way into Anglican churches here and there, particularly those of the more traditional style. There may come a day, in the not-too-distant future, when traditional Anglicans, and Catholics within the Ordinariates, will be using the exact same liturgy. This brings us closer together, and opens the door even further toward full ecclesiastical reconciliation.

I think the greatest legacy our English heritage gives us today is a new one. It is the legacy of the prodigal son. England was once the most Catholic country in the world, forced away from the mother Church (Rome) by the acts of a royal madman bent on sexual license. Five-hundred years of schism have brought English Protestantism (Anglicanism) to this point, on the cusp of ruin. Yet in spite of this, there is a small faction of Anglicans who have returned home to Rome, and in doing so, they have secured their Anglocatholic heritage for the ages in the Personal Ordinariates. I am blessed beyond measure to count myself among them.

Let us pray the inevitable breakup of the Anglican Communion serves as the final shock needed to jolt Anglicans into waking up from their slumber, and realising that the only way to preserve their Anglican heritage is to return home to Rome. We in the Ordinariates are waiting and praying for them.


Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books and a columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of '' Your support is what makes essays like this possible. This essay and all of Shane's Internet resources come to you (ad-free) thanks to the generosity of benefactors. Please consider becoming a benefactor.

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