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A United States Episcopal church became the first American parish to officially accept Pope Benedict’s bid to become Catholics under the “Anglicorum Coetibus,” a Vatican ruling allowing Anglican and Episcopalian liturgy and even permitting married pastors to join the Catholic church.
In a statement posted on the Maryland congregation’s website, the parish rector thanked the pope “for allowing the Holy Spirit to guide him and show him a way to bridge and heal a wound that has existed between Rome and Anglicanism for nearly five hundred years.”
“Leaders of the church said…that they were not leaving the Episcopal Church because of the ordination of gays and women—issues that have bitterly divided the American wing of the Anglican Church and coincided with stepped-up efforts by the Vatican to reach out to Anglicans. Instead, church members said, they were satisfying their longing for a clear religious authority by welcoming the leadership of Pope Benedict XVI,” The Washington Post reported.
Several other Anglican priests have also already defected to Catholicism, and other congregations are considering such a move.
According to Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, however, the practice of allowing married priests to serve in the church may be temporary.
“Speaking in an interview in the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, and in recently published extracts from his forthcoming book, A Great Heart: Homage to John Paul II, Bertone said that although already married Anglican priests will be acceptable under the ordinariate, ‘the enduring value of celibacy will be reaffirmed, necessitating that for the future, unmarried priests will be the norm in such ordinariates,’” The Anglican Journal reported. “Until then, the procedures developed by Pope John Paul II for the reception of already married Anglican clergy will apply.”