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William Lind has gotten all giddy over Pope Benedict’s invitation, issued last October 20th to the Anglican church, to “come home to Rome” (in the latest edition of The American Conservative). Lind says, “[The Pope] invited [Anglicans] to move in—individuals, parishes, whole dioceses—while retaining their Anglican identity. They could keep their Book of Common Prayer, their liturgies, their priests—even married ones.”

Right . . . with one small proviso, “The Apostolic Constitution stipulates that Anglicans would have to accept ‘The Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church as the authoritative expression of the Catholic faith professed by members of the ordinariate.’” Ok, so that means that you can remain Anglican except you now have to believe in papal infallibility, transubstantiation, the doctrines of Mary’s immaculate conception, assumption, and perpetual virginity, praying to departed saints, etc., etc. — in other words, you are free to be Anglican so long as you give up the primary historic distinctives that have been at issue since the Reformation (and before). If you reject what Anglicans have always believed contrary to Rome, you can still be one. Got it?

Oh, and the Pope also reminded Anglican ministers that the Roman Church does not recognize the validity of Anglican Holy Orders. So, though this agreement will allow married Anglican clergy to come into the Roman Church, if they want to continue to minister to their congregations, they will have to be ordained again by the Roman Church after their “conversion” in order to do that. And in addition, they cannot be ordained as bishops.

Well, as Uncle Boudreaux says, “Dat’s a fine kettle of catfish.” When it’s all said and done, the Pope’s invitation amounts to nothing more than another call to become a member of the Roman Church. Nothing new here. There is no mention of a willingness to study the differences that have historically existed between the two communions. No willingness to submit the peculiar views of Rome to a fresh scriptural examination. No acknowledgment that Rome could possibly be “wrong” (shudder) in some of its dogma. Nothing that would open Rome up to any “reformation” at all. At bottom it’s merely an invitation to become a Romanist while pretending in your head (if you’re capable of that sort of trick) that you’re still an Anglican.

This is what Church unity looks like from the perspective of the Vatican. Church unity is easy, just become one of us! If the Baptists did this, it would be received with outrage and an uncontrollable case of the giggles. But Rome does it with a straight face and expects all the rest of us to take it seriously. And then, if we don’t, we’re portrayed as intractable, unyielding, and stubborn. Pretty neat trick, that.

The only appropriate response to the Pope’s “Apostolic Constitution” of last October (after making sure it is not a joke) is, “Please. Repent of your divisive sectarianism and come back to the Catholic Church. Really. You’ll be welcome — oh, and we promise not to make fun of your funny hat.”

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