Calgary Anglican church makes history with leap to Catholics
Charles Lewis November 30, 2010 – 10:23 pm
A Calgary parish has made history by becoming the first Anglican church in Canada to accept Pope Benedict’s invitation to convert wholesale to the Roman Catholic faith.
The decision ends what Father Lee Kenyon, pastor of St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church, called “35 years of isolation” from an increasingly more liberal Anglican Church of Canada.
“The important thing to mention is that the tensions that have existed in Anglicanism are the cause for many people departing the Anglican Church of Canada,” said Fr. Kenyon. “But they are not the reason for joining the Catholic Church…. That has to be underlined by a deep sense of personal conviction and an acceptance of Catholic teaching.”
The parish, which voted 90% in favour of joining Rome on Nov. 21, will likely face the same fate as other parishes that have removed themselves from the Anglican Church of Canada: ugly court battles over property in which two groups of Christians fight over who owns what.
In November, for example, four dissident Anglican parishes in Vancouver were told by a court that their church properties and buildings belong to the diocese of the Anglican Church. Other court battles are ongoing across Canada.
“We are prepared to lose everything to make this move,” said Fr. Kenyon. “But we are hoping the Anglican Diocese of Calgary will deal with us fairly.”
The decision by Fr. Kenyon and his 70 parishioners comes in the midst of a fracturing of the Anglican Church, both in Canada and worldwide. The main issues have been over same-sex blessings, a drift toward a more liberal interpretation of the Bible and attempts to make Christianity more palatable to an increasingly secular world.
Until now, the 40 or so conservative Anglican parishes in Canada that have split from the Church since 2007 have joined like-minded parishes in the United States to form a more “evangelical” Anglican “province,” which has 600 parishes and 100,000 members.
They see themselves in communion with the 40 million Anglicans in the Global South, especially Africa, who remain Anglican but follow a very orthodox stream.
Most of these Anglicans believe the main teaching authority is the Bible and reject the authority of a pope and most do not share Catholic teachings about Mary. These are the same issues that led to the Protestant Reformation 500 years ago.
In England recently five Anglican bishops announced they wanted to move to the Roman Catholic Church and there have been some defections by U.S. parishes to Rome.
Fr. Kenyon said his parish has always practised a form of the faith called Anglo-Catholicism, which retained much of the original Catholic tradition that came before the Reformation. They use a similar Catholic liturgy and accept core Catholic teachings, especially the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist and that Catholic tradition is on par with the Bible.
They had hoped for years that Anglicans and Catholics would reunite, but he said that was apparently becoming more impossible as the Anglican Church drifted further away from the roots of the faith.
“Our parish has been isolated for many years as a church since the ordination of women 35 years ago. But we managed to practise a traditional faith. But once the Pope’s offer came it showed us we can continue in an Anglican tradition but under the Catholic Church. Doing this as a group was important to us.”
In October 2009, Pope Benedict surprised the Christian world by telling Anglicans disillusioned with their faith’s swing to liberalism that the Roman Catholic Church would welcome them.
The Vatican created an official process that made it relatively easy for Anglican priests and whole parishes to come into communion with Rome.
The new structure is similar to that of the Eastern Rite churches, such as the Ukrainian Catholic Church, which retain a distinct liturgy, but recognize the Pope as the ultimate authority.
Once the transfer of St. John the Evangelist to the Catholic Church is official, Fr. Kenyon will become one of those Catholic priests who not only was a pastor in another faith but is also married with children.
Read more: http://life.nationalpost.com/2010/11/30 ... z16zXGMjyT