Australian Anglican group 'first' to sign up to Pope's call

Kim Cain
Ecumenical News International
Feb 23, 2010

A group of "traditional Anglicans" in Australia has voted to accept the recent invitation of Pope Benedict XVI to convert to full communion with the Roman Catholic Church, whilst retaining their membership of the Anglican Church.

Meeting in Melbourne on Feb. 13, the Australian branch of Forward in Faith, which comprises many members of the international anglo-catholic grouping called the Traditional Anglican Communion, "received with gratitude" the Pope's invitation to join Rome. They decided unanimously to establish a working group to enable the process to move forward.

The British newspaper The Daily Telegraph reported on Feb. 16 that the vote represents a world first for any Anglican group to accept the Pope's offer.

The Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference has appointed Bishop Peter J. Elliott, auxiliary bishop of Melbourne, as a special delegate for the project to establish an order in Australia by which the Catholic Church can provide pastoral oversight for Anglicans who join it.

Under the terms of an announcement in October 2009, Pope Benedict invited disaffected Anglicans to convert to Catholicism. He offered them an "Ordianariate", which allows them to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church while maintaining distinctive elements of Anglican spiritualty and ethos.

The Pope's October Anglicanorum Ceotibus was widely interpreted as a way for disaffected Anglicans to re-join Rome, whist remaining within the Anglican tradition.

At its special Melbourne meeting, Forward in Faith pledged to work with Elliot by establishing an "Australian Ordianariate," and to establish a process for the union to take place".

Writing to the anglo-catholic community through the Australian Traditional Anglican Communion newsletter, Elliott said the Pope, "is reaching out to give you a special place within the Catholic Church - united in communion but not absorbed".

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