Location: Wisconsin, United States

I am a convert to the Catholic Church after serving in ordained ministry for more than nine years in another denomination. I hold a bachelor's degree in history, a master's degree in historical theology, and another in systematic theology, and am currently working (very slowly) on my doctorate. I work in Christian Education and Formation and teach at the University level. I am blessed with a wonderful wife and eight great kids! When I'm not studying, reading, or blogging, I enjoy eating and drinking! Like Bilbo Baggins, I have been specializing in food for many years, and my table has a high reputation!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Some thoughts on Anglican to Catholic Conversions

I am a frequent reader (and occasionally comment) on the excellent blog "What Does The Prayer Really Say?" by Father John Zuhlsdorf. Fr. Zuhlsdorf is a strong proponent of "Say the Red, Do the Black" with regard to proper, reverent liturgy. I thoroughly enjoy reading his thoughts and commentaries. Over the last year or so, with the continuing disintegration of the Church of England (and the Episcopal Church, here in the United States) Fr. Zuhlsdorf has authored quite a few posts on Anglicanism, and on Pope Benedict XVI, whom he rightly calls "The Pope of Christian Unity". The comment stream by readers of his blog has been quite active with lively participation by both cradle Catholics and Anglican converts to Catholicism.

I am bothered, however, by the tenor of some of the comments offered by some of the cradle Catholic participants who seem to feel the need to utterly degrade the entirety of the Anglican tradition, to question the motives of converts, and seem to be happy only when a convert abases himself in the mud on the banks of the Tiber, begging for admittance.

There are those who, regardless of the Pastoral Provision established by Pope John Paul II (the Great) and Anglicanorum Coetibus promulgated by Pope Benedict (the Pope of Christian Unity) wish to have nothing to do with former Anglican clergy who become Catholic priests -- to the point of refusing the Eucharist from such a priest (which more than smacks of the heresy of Donatism to me!)

There are those who wish to reject the notion that the history of Anglican tradition has anything at all to offer the Catholic Church, in spite of the Vatican's actions to the contrary (for example, the promulgation of "The Book of Divine Worship.") There are those who make broad pronouncements about the history and spirituality of Anglicanism, and those who make generalizations out of complete ignorance, forgetting the patrimony of Lancelot Andrewes; of King Charles the Martyr; of the Tractarians; of the beautiful translations of St. Thomas Aquinas' Eucharistic hymns (much better, I might add, than in your typical missalette!) And do we even want to compare the prose of the Book of Common Prayer to what ICEL has given us?

There are those who do not (or will not) understand that conversion is a journey, and that not everyone moves along that journey at the same speed. It took the (soon to be beatified) Venerable Servant of God John Henry, Cardinal Newman years to make his journey. Even GK Chesterton only made his conversion formal 14 years before he died.

There are those who do not (or will not) respect the fact that there have been well-reasoned arguments put forth by Anglo-Catholics which seem to justify separation from Rome, and that even when one realizes that an argument one once thought was valid truly is not, there is real pain and real grieving.

There are those who do not (or will not) respect the fact that many converts literally "leave everything behind" to follow Christ. Homes, salaries, churches, pensions, friends, etc. all become secondary considerations when one realizes that the fullness of Truth is to be found in Rome and not Canterbury.

To coin a phrase, all we ask for is a little respect. Don't try to debate us on nuances of English history or on causes of the English Reformation. We know all that. (Indeed, I can lecture on the subject for hours without notes!) Don't try to tell us that our entire ministries before our conversions were utterly without grace. They weren't. Don't try to lecture us on Apostolicae Curae. We accept it. We're extremely familiar with the document -- and realize (as Pope Leo XIII did at the time) that certain issues are not as "cut-and-dry" as they seem. Rejoice that we have come to embrace the fullness of Truth. And allow us a measure of dignity.

In the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 15, we read of the Council of Jerusalem. The burning question: did Gentile believers first have to become Jews in order to be saved. Some said yes -- the entirety of the Law of Moses was absolutely necessary for salvation. But the Apostles said no -- it was enough to avoid meat offered to idols, blood, the flesh of strangled animals, and sexual impurity. It seems to me that there is a correlation here. Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have spoken in their Apostolic capacity regarding conversions from the Anglican tradition. That should be enough for everyone. Further burdens are not necessary.


Papa Z.

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Blogger Dave said...

I'll say this much: were I to move to San Antonio, TX, I'd be joining OL of the Atonement. Best of both worlds.

9:54 AM  
Blogger David Zampino said...

Were I to move anywhere back down south, I would wonder what I had done to deserve such punishment! :-) That being said, I'd join that parish as well.

3:17 PM  

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