Catholic Church smooths way for disaffected Episcopalians
Washington Archbishop Cardinal Donald Wuerl announced the new program for former Episcopalians Tuesday.
November 16th, 2011
02:26 PM ET

Catholic Church smooths way for disaffected Episcopalians

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - The Roman Catholic Church is establishing a program to help disaffected American Episcopalians to join the Catholic fold – including married Episcopal priests who want to become Catholic priests – it announced Tuesday.

The move comes after dozens of Episcopal parishes have left the Episcopal Church in recent years over what they allege is the mother church’s liberal drift, which they say is most dramatically reflected in its ordination of openly gay clergy.

The new Catholic program will allow groups of Episcopalians to become Catholic and to recognize the pope as their leader, yet have parishes that retain Anglican rites.

The church announced an effort to welcome disaffected Anglicans into the Roman Catholic Church in 2009. The Episcopal Church is the American arm of the Anglican Communion.

The developments come more than 450 years after King Henry VIII broke from Rome and created the Church of England, forerunner of the Anglican Communion.

Washington Archbishop Cardinal Donald Wuerl announced the new program at a meeting of American bishops on Tuesday, saying Pope Benedict XVI had signed off on the new program in October.

The Episcopal Church consecrated its first openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson, in 2003, angering some conservative Episcopalians. The Episcopal Church notes that the vast majority of its parishes have remained with the mother church.

In January, the Catholic church will establish an Ordinariate, or official body, for former Episcopalians who decided to join the Catholic church.

Wuerl said that 67 American Episcopal priests had already applied to be ordained as Catholic priests in anticipation of the new program. He said that 35 of them are moving onto the second stage of the ordination.

Two American Episcopal communities – one in the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth, Texas and another in the Archdiocese of Washington – have joined the Catholic Church this year, he said.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Episcopal

soundoff (122 Responses)
  1. RC Catholic

    The Catholic Church is establishing the Anglican Ordinate at the request of Anglicans and Episcopalians that want to re-unite with the Church but maintain elements of the Anglican liturgy such as the Book of Common Prayer. Anglicans and Episcopalians already shared the historic faith of the Church, the sacraments, a similar liturgy, the martyrs and saints, the role of Mary as the mother of Christ. Celibacy in the Latin rite is a discipline of the church not a dogma. Eastern Rite Catholics have a married clergy and celibate bishops (often drawn from the monasteries) and an Eastern liturgy similar to the Orthodox so there is precedent and an historic tradition for the ordinate. It will be interesting to see how this works out in practice as there are cultural diffences in the two traditions. Catholics already have married deacons in parishes that preach, conduct communion services, baptize, marry and instruct in the faith so a married ordinate priest should be accepted by both Catholics and by Anglican ordinate parishes. I look forward to the new ordinate it will enrich both the life and the liturgy of the Church.

    December 1, 2011 at 12:23 am |
  2. Paul

    5,000 catholic priests are s3xual predators with charges brought against them.. Only 150 have been successfully prosecuted in the US. Keep your children safe! The catholic church has chosen to be uncooperative with the investigative authorities. This puts children in danger of further r@pe by catholic priests.

    November 27, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
  3. Charles Kerschen

    Naturally if Episcopalians are disaffected because of the ordination of an openly gay priest, then flock to the RCC. Why when I was running around in a black shirt and collar for the RCC before the year 2000 50% of priests I knew were gay. Half of those priests had relationships. So by all means change it up with priests in the closet as opposed to those out in the open.

    November 21, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
  4. glenn

    This article specifically mentions married Episcopalian priests. Does anyone have more information on how the Catholic Church is going to handle them? I only ask because a person who has undergone an annulment would no longer be married and I'm assuming the Catholic Church would not allow them to stay married.

    November 20, 2011 at 11:52 am |
  5. gracebeliever

    I was brought up in the Episcopal church, and I never felt any affinity to the Roman church. I felt completely Protestant. My friends were all Catholic and told me I was "almost Catholic" but that was never the case. Episcopalians should look in other proestant directions for a new church home, instead of drifting to the idolotry and papism of the Church of Rome. Ugh!

    November 19, 2011 at 9:04 pm |
    • Rian

      That is nonsense. Look at history and you will find the Catholic Church from the earliest days.

      December 28, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
  6. gracebeliever

    So Gerald, you think that Jesus himself didn't handle sinners right? WOW. You are against forgiveness, even tho that is what Jesus recommended. again, WOW. Go start your own church, 'cos you obviously don't follow Jesus. Sounds like you are an Old Testament Christian. All judgement, no mercy.

    November 19, 2011 at 8:59 pm |
  7. The One True Steve

    I hope no one is really surprised ... Didn't the Catholics help the disaffected Pagans by adapting Christmas and Easter ... The Bunny of Christ ... 😉

    November 19, 2011 at 12:18 am |
  8. Snow

    Ah God is eternal.. his word is eternal.. his rules are eternal.. There are no changes.. Bible says so..

    But.. Change the stand on earth is flat.. Change the stand on earth being center of universe.. change the stand on LGBT.. change the stand on Episcopalians..

    If God is so great and his word is the bible, why are there so many changes? was god not right the first time? or was god and his book just fabrications of men?

    November 18, 2011 at 9:59 pm |
    • chief

      its not God that changes .... its men that make changes to manipulate, increase power and stature in Gods name...... not real sure how God views it all

      November 19, 2011 at 9:14 am |
  9. tolerance goes both ways

    The hatred for the Catholic church knows no bounds.

    Just ironic that it usually masquerades under the name of "opposing" hatred.

    November 18, 2011 at 9:23 pm |
  10. Reality

    The Crises in the contemporary Catholic Church: (so why would an Episcopalian want to join said church???????)

    .The inappropriate conduct of many priests, the emotional stress on the victims and the resultant billion dollars in lawsuits.

    The lack of talent in the priesthood.

    The lack of Vatican response to the historic Jesus movement.

    The Church's continuing cling to original sin and the resulting subsets of crazy ideas like limbo.

    The denial of priesthood to women.

    The restriction of priesthood to single men (unless you are former Episcopalian priests),

    The continued chain of Vatican "leadership" by old European white men.

    Inane “birth control".

    Suffering of the aged that need not be.

    November 18, 2011 at 12:43 am |
    • tolerance goes both ways

      The priest scandal is a real problem.

      However there is no reason why Catholics should embrace your other points. Those are not Catholic beliefs. They are secular humanist beliefs. The Catholic church is not a good place for secular humanists.

      November 18, 2011 at 9:22 pm |
    • Reality

      Bringing the theology and history of Christianity to include Catholicism into the 21st century via a prayer:

      The Apostles' Creed 2011: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

      Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
      and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
      human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

      I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
      preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
      named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
      girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

      Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
      the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

      He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
      a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of

      Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
      many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
      and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
      Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
      grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
      and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
      called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.


      November 19, 2011 at 12:05 am |
  11. Michael Lauderdale

    Its a pretty tempting offer however, I'm never going to recognize the Pope as my leader. That spot is reserved for Christ.

    November 17, 2011 at 6:57 pm |
    • MLutheran

      I'm with you on that. Big time, Lauderdale!

      November 17, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
  12. E

    The Catholic Church has been welcoming Episocopal Priests wanting to defect for years....this is not new news.

    November 17, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
  13. Rev. Rick

    This seems to be an act of desperation for both the Episcopals and the Catholics. Some Episcopals are desparate to leave their church due to the ordination of g-ay clergy, and the Catholic Church is desperate for more priests because of dwindling numbers of men who are "called" to the priesthood. It sounds like a win-win, BUT, this points out another double-standard for the Catholic Church. If you already a married Catholic male and would like to be priest, sorry, we can't take you, but if you were an Episcopal priest first, and you're already married, come on down!!! Is this an experiment by the Catholic Church to see how married priests perform in a parish? I don't know, but it just seems unfair to me.

    November 17, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • gerald

      This only shows how little you know about celibacy. In Eastern rite Catholic Churches in full communion with Rome, married men are allowed to be priests, though they cannot get married after ordination. This has always been the case. So your theory that we need some sort of experiment regarding these anglican priests is false. Also that pastors from other communities who are married are allowed to be priests in the CC is nothing new. The Church has always allowed these exceptions. 500,000 anglicans came in in the 90's. Over 500 bishops and priests were ordained as Catholic priests. This has nothing to do with the shortage of priests, which is already reversing itself anyway. Many seminaries are full and expanding.

      November 17, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • Rev. Rick

      @ gerald said, "This only shows how little you know about celibacy." As a former Catholic myself, I found nothing in your post that I didn't already know, and in fact all of your examples are the exceptions that prove the rule, at least for the RCC. And I never stated I had a "theory" about anything. I merely posed a question. Before I left the RCC I was a member of at least 4 different parishes, and not once did I ever meet a married priest. If fact, I talked to a priest at one church about the possibility of becoming a priest myself. While he was sympathetic, he said because I was already married I would be wasting my time to try. I finally left the RCC and I am now an ordained non-denominational minister. Over the years I have met several "former" priests who left the church so they could marry. At least one man I know left the RCC church to become an Episcopal priest so he would have the option of marriage.

      I should clarify that my comments about dwindling numbers of RCC priests (and members) relates primarily to the US, and not world-wide. My information comes from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. (Google their website). Their research is respected internationally. According to Pew, while membership numbers in the RCC appear to be going up, research shows it's a false spike due to immigration – not due to conversions. To quote from the Pew research, " The many people who have left the Catholic Church over the years have been replaced, to a great extent, by the large number of Catholic immigrants coming to the U.S." This should be no surprise given the large number of Hispanic immigrants pouring into the US.

      November 18, 2011 at 9:12 am |
    • chief

      re Rev Rick..... dont waste your time with gerald.... this troll is an apologist for the ped priests in the rcc... he or she just spews rc theological bablings to support their paganistic views.....

      November 19, 2011 at 9:17 am |
  14. Barby1

    It's good to see that some Christians in the Episcopal Church have not lost their faith in the Bible and support for Biblical morality. I thought they were just going to stay with the So. African Church and let America go its wayward way. The congregations which want to branch off should just embrace a new name –like the Free Episcopal Church –liberated in Christ. They can sing that So. African freedom song popular with choirs here, "Siyahamba ....We are marching in the light of God."

    November 17, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • MLutheran

      Let each Christian find a church that meets their spiritual needs. We're all in this together anyway...

      November 17, 2011 at 7:02 pm |
  15. Joxer the Mighty

    @ NHTK – 111 Every time you post something it reminds me of the Pharisees from the new testament. Always condemning people for breaking this or that law and having no love or compassion.

    November 17, 2011 at 10:02 am |
    • gerald

      Did not jesus say to the woman caught in adultery – go and sin no more? How judgemental of him. He should not have called adultery a sin. Why I am sure it made that poor woman feel bad. No the reality is that to call what is sin, sin is to be loving. Sin extracts a price from the sinner. The Church has great compassion for those who struggle against sin. Those who deny sin however are cut off from God and those episcopalians/anglicans who separate from their church are right to do so.

      November 17, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • claybigsby

      "Did not jesus say to the woman caught in adultery – go and sin no more? "

      who knows what jesus said....everyone who wrote about Jesus did so 40 years after his death. no writer of the bible actually knew, saw, or talked to Jesus.

      November 17, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
    • gerald

      Ah so you have the facts clay.

      November 17, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
    • Reality

      John 8:11

      King James Version (KJV)

      11" She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more."

      Said passage, as per many contemporary NT scholars, was not said by the historical Jesus. One reason for this conclusion is that it appears no where else in the scriptures.

      Actually all of John's Gospel is of questionable historic value.

      To wit:

      From Professor Bruce Chilton in his book, Rabbi Jesus,

      "Conventionally, scholarship has accorded priority to the first three gospels in historical work on Jesus, putting progressively less credence in works of late date. John's Gospel for example is routinely dismissed as a source......

      From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_John#Authorship

      "Since "the higher criticism" of the 19th century, some historians have largely rejected the gospel of John as a reliable source of information about the historical Jesus.[3][4] "[M]ost commentators regard the work as anonymous,"[5] and date it to 90-100."

      "The authorship has been disputed since at least the second century, with mainstream Christianity believing that the author is John the Apostle, son of Zebedee. Modern experts usually consider the author to be an unknown non-eyewitness, though many apologetic Christian scholars still hold to the conservative Johannine view that ascribes authorship to John the Apostle."

      And from Professor Gerd Ludemann, in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 416,

      "Anyone looking for the historical Jesus will not find him in the Gospel of John. "

      See also http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/1john.html

      November 17, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
    • NHTK - 111

      Ah, the poor Jox, confused and lost, misplacing his posts!
      Did you loose your mommy, dear? But you can calm down, I'm not offended at your whimpers. Brats do it all the time! ....Need a hankie?

      November 17, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
    • NHTK - 111

      No, the fact is that Clay has no facts! He is only lying tho himself, hoping that through others agreeing with him he will soothe his own conscience, making himself believe that he won't have to account to God for his life ..

      Even if the truth of those Scriptures were never written down, the knowledge of the truth Jesus Christ spoke is written on every human heart, e. i. conscience, so that no one ever will have any excuses before God.

      Face it, people , you'll have no place to go but FACE your Maker! That's just the way it is.
      Ohm how blessed are those who humble themselves now while they still have time, instead being humbled by Him, and hear the words, "depart from me, you, who are of your father the devil, for I never knew you"
      For every knee WILL bow, and every tongue WILL confess that HE IS THE LORD, to the Glory of God the Father!
      A M E N!

      November 17, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
    • Fookin' Prawn

      Funny... every time NHTK posts, I hear dueling banjos.

      November 17, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
    • HellBent

      I hear the adult's voice from the Peanut Cartoons – wah wah wah. Saying a whole lot without saying anything at all.

      November 17, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
    • NHTK - 111

      FP and HB
      Considering the names you've chosen for yourselves, it's no telling what you'll hear next! LOL!
      But I guarantee you, nothing you'll hear this side of Eternity will ever compare what you'll hear when you cross over on the other side!

      November 17, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
1 2
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.