Reading blogs like St Barnabas or The Anglo Catholic gives me much the same impression: here are people psyching themselves up for a big change. The air tingles with excitement; they are thinking and saying the things that they have wanted to for years, and there is a heady atmosphere, almost a sense of being demob-happy. They know that it isn’t going to be easy—little worth having is easy—but the long struggle through the wilderness will soon be over.
But what of the others? What of those left behind for whatever reason?
There has been a lot of quite triumphalistic stuff around, ‘Catholicism without Peter is not Catholicism’; well, quite; I believe that myself. But the trouble is that Anglicanism, despite the common assertion, is not so much Catholic and Reformed (meaning 100% of both), because that, frankly, would be contradictory. It means that there are compromises, and elements of both, in differing cocktail strengths, plus other stuff (liberalism, for instance). One might call oneself a Catholic (within the CofE, I mean) but not actually share all the teachings of Vatican II, Vatican I or even Trent. What it means is that one believes in a cocktail that is Catholic-heavy, if I can put it like that, and the elements that go to make up the Catholic bit can differ from person to person.
To some, union with Peter may indeed be desireable, one day, but there is a lot of other stuff to get out of the way first. Such a person may nevertheless feel much more comfortable in the company of Catholic-minded colleagues than among the usual mix in his deanery chapter. He may even belong to the SSC and Forward in Faith. He may hate the notion of women’s orders. But is he really expected, then, to believe also in Papal Infallibility and the wrongness of artificial contraception, and, most painful of all, to submit to ordination in forma absoluta………?
For those whose cocktail was almost 100% Catholic, the decision has more or less made itself. However, I worry about those whose Catholicism is, say, at 80%. They know (and I agree) that it would be unwise to join the Roman Catholic Church in any form without basically subscribing to the doctrinal package. They may hope that the Ordinariate would cushion the impact of this, but this is unlikely to be the case. The Ordinariate provides a variation on Latin Rite disciplinary matters, but not on doctrinal ones.
So what? They have been living for years side by side with those whose views differ! But now, the authorities are going to be very insistent that orthodox (100%) Catholic doctrine be preached. The fudge will have to be left behind.
So, they are caught between a Rock (Peter) and an increasingly hard place (The Anglican Communion). With the departure of many respected colleagues on the Easyjet flight to Rome, the religious world looks even bleaker than it did on the day that Synod voted for women bishops.
I have every sympathy for people in this position. All we can do, I think, is pray for the gift of faith for them, that they may come to believe the fullness of the Catholic faith that has meant so much to them all these years. And be kind.