Surfing around in Anglican pastures I have found an interesting article from Mr. Michael Gollop, an Anglican Vicar writing on a blog called The Anglo-Catholic.
The entry is very interesting because its author seems to guide the reluctant convert (and there must be many out there, torn between the fidelity to the church of their fathers and the growing, unpleasant awareness of ……. those fathers being actually wrong all the time) toward conversion in a way which is gentle and absolutely honest at the same time.
The main arguments of the author seem to me the following:
1) so-called Anglo-Catholicism has in the past been useful to maintain at least a part of Catholic thinking within Anglicanism, but this is now not the case anymore. He quotes the prophetic words of Cardinal Newman, that “the Nation drags down its Church to its own level…” . More than 100 years later, these words seem prophetic in a way that Newman would have considered not even possible, the so-called c of E of today not even Christian anymore.
2) It is an illusion to think that the process may be reversed. The so-called church of England is now firmly in the end of the liberals and this is not going to change. The liberals will soon finish to massacre its theology and whatever Christianity is going to remain in the form of rebel evangelical provinces is clearly not going to be after the taste of those with catholic tendencies.
3) The experience of the past brings the author to see what he sums up, again, with the words of Cardinal Newman. These words are charitable and hard at the same time (better said: they are charitable because they are hard):
“…and, unwilling as I am to give offence to religious Anglicans, I am bound to confess that I felt a great change in my view of the Church of England. I cannot tell how soon there came on me,—but very soon,—an extreme astonishment that I had ever imagined it to be a portion of the Catholic Church. For the first time, I looked at it from without, and (as I should myself say) saw it as it was. Forthwith I could not get myself to see in it any thing else, than what I had so long fearfully suspected, from as far back as 1836,—a mere national institution
This is so beautiful that I had to re-read it several times. Newman’s words leave in no doubt as to who is in error and he makes no mystery of his astonishment at having ever thought that he could be a Catholic whilst an Anglican. But his beautiful words also beautifully express the serenity now attained, the safe haven from which he sees his past errors but also knows that the he has now found Truth, and peace.
The truth is hard, but liberating. And the hard truth is that one can’t be Anglo-Catholic more than he could be Capitalo-Communist or Buddho-Christian. One thing excludes the other and the desire to remain in a place of comfortable illusion is now (providentially, I’d almost say) smashed under the ruins of the crumbling edifice of what is rapidly becoming the former so-called church of England.
Newman expresses this certainty with the usual lucidity, powerfully expressing the correct perception of Anglicanism born of the now acquired Truth. His words are hard, but they are serene. To every Anglican torn by doubts they must sound as a blow; but with a glimpse of the serenity to be found on the other side of the doubts and the promise of the serenity being attainable by him too, if he is but ready to take this merciful blow.
I wouldn’t want to have been one of the many conservative Anglicans probably looking at the Pope on TV, comparing him with their funny bearded muppet believing everything and its contrary and being suddenly struck by the acute and painful feeling that they belong to the wrong shop.
Still, the discomfort coming from such a realisation can lead to a future of safety and serenity in the Truth. The same serenity so beautifully expressed by Blessed John Henry Newman.