Generous offer

The conservative Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans welcomes the pope's concession to Anglicans willing to convert, but is not taking up the offer. Despite the crisis in their church, FCA members said it was "not time to leave the Anglican world communion," according to a statement released at the communion's Australian headquarters.

The group of about 300 bishops, heavily influenced by African church leaders, strongly opposes Anglican episcopal ordinations for women and homosexuals. Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury had written to them informing them of the pope's Apostolic Constitution for Anglicans who want to be received by the Catholic Church, the FCA statement said. The Vatican's offer is generous and draws on the same "commitment to the historic apostolic faith, moral teaching and global mission" that FCA expressed at its founding in Jerusalem in 2008. One is "very grateful" to the pope for this. He said the organization regrets that the current crisis in its "beloved Anglican Communion" has made such an unprecedented offer necessary. The failure of the U.S. Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada to fulfill divine directives, he said, brings "shame" on the name of Christ and hinders the cause of the Gospel. But the true "Anglican identity of a Reformed Catholicism" remains a "beacon of hope for millions," the FCA said: "We remain proud heirs of the Anglican Reformation."The Anglican Church has a great future and offers room for all who faithfully adhere to the traditional faith. The FCA had formed after the dispute within the Anglican world communion over homosexual clergy and women in the episcopate. The starting point was the 2008 Conference on the Global Future of Anglicans (GAFCON) in Jerusalem. The world communion of independent national churches, which has about 70 million members, is threatened by division because of internal disputes. The Vatican with its Apostolic Constitution "Anglicorum coetibus" offered a separate church structure with far-reaching concessions for Anglicans who wanted to remain faithful to their tradition but in full communion with the Catholic Church. The Primate of the Anglican Church of England, Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, had welcomed the new arrangement as a necessary clarification. In the Anglican community, on the other hand, the possibility of collective conversion also met with harsh criticism. Media had speculated about up to half a million people wanting to cross over and apparently also had members of GAFCON/FCA in mind.

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