Anglican Annex


The Vatican’s recent statement that it will create a special ordinariate for Anglicans who want to become Catholics, presumably because of their dissatisfaction with the ordination of women and the elevation of gay bishops, reminds me of a conversation I had with a very conservative Catholic. Following the sex scandals in the Catholic Church, he wanted to become Orthodox. He didn’t for a moment want to give up his belief in papal infallibility or any other central Catholic doctrine; he wanted to leave behind an institution that allowed bishops to protect priests who had been guilty of abuse.

I told the man that if he wanted to be part of a church where bad things never happened, he had come to the wrong place. I also realized that if he were to become Orthodox, he would bring with him a trail of negative attitudes and distorted expectations. I have known some former Catholics who joined the Orthodox Church because it is not the post-Vatican II church. I have met former Anglicans who became Orthodox because the Orthodox Church does not ordain women. There are not many such people, and I think not many will now move from Anglicanism to Catholicism, at least in the United States. But I know that those who enter the Orthodox Church for negative reasons are always disappointed when our bishops don’t act like Lefebvrists, or are less dogmatic than Rome...

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About the Author

John Garvey is an Orthodox priest and columnist for Commonweal. His most recent book is Seeds of the Word: Orthodox Thinking on Other Religions.