The Deacon's Bench

Liz Lemon would be impressed.  

The New York Times is helping to put the Anglican conversion story in context, by warning our Separated Brothers and Sisters that they might want to thInk twice before jumping the Tiber — and suggesting that, when it comes to some issues, well, “that’s a deal-breaker”: 

When the Catholic Church announced this week that the Vatican would make it easier for Anglicans to convert to Catholicism, much was made of the many similarities between the two faiths. And there are a few Catholic beliefs that might strike Anglicans as foreign, and one or two that could be deal-breakers for potential defectors.

The Times of London published a handy list of some Catholic beliefs Anglican converts would have to embrace. Social conservatives who are upset by the Anglican Church’s acceptance of female priests and openly gay bishops are unlikely to have trouble adopting the Catholic beliefs that only men can become priests and that, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it, “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered” and “under no circumstances can they be approved.”

Ideas that might be harder for Anglicans to accept include the concept that the Pope is infallible, at least at certain moments, that Mary was the product of an “immaculate conception,” and so born without sin, and the belief known as transubstantiation, which means, essentially, that the communion bread and wine are not just symbols but actually become the body and blood of Christ.

This last point was the subject of much debate in the sixteenth century and particularly exercised Martin Luther, who called transubstantiation “a monstrous word for a monstrous idea.” 

In the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, adopted under the leadership of Queen Elizabeth in 1563 to spell out the fundamental principles of Anglican doctrine, the belief was ridiculed in the strongest terms:

Transubstantiation (or the change of the substance of Bread and Wine) in the Supper of the Lord, cannot be proved by Holy Writ; but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a Sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions.

In an opinion column for The Times of London on Thursday, Libby Purves pointed out that Anglicans will also have to accept “tough teachings on divorce and the contraceptive ban.”

Then again, Anglican converts could also just follow the lead of many Catholics and simply decide to not accept the Church’s guidance on a host of social issues. According to a survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life on the eve of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the United States in 2008, American Catholics, at least, seem to feel perfectly entitled to not embrace some of the Church’s core beliefs.

You can find more at the Times link

Personally, I tend to think that tradition-minded Anglicans  would be more inclined to accept some of the doctrines that infuriate or just annoy some cradle Catholics.   

But I could be wrong.  

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