400,000 new Catholics?

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With Anglicanism nearing schism at its once-every-ten-year Lambeth conference, Zenit is reporting that the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) is seeking full communion with Rome. The communion is a parallel Anglican institution made up of Anglican bishops that opposed the consecration of Gene Robinson, the Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire and a partnered gay man, and generally does not favor the ordination of women. A good number of these bishops--about a quarter of all Anglican bishops--have boycotted the Lambeth Conference in protest. Many have refused even to share communion with the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori. (The BBC Lambeth diary summarizes the issues nicely.)

Rome's response to the Traditional Anglican Communion's letter is slightly positive, though granting these churches what they asked would likely spark significant uproar, especially if whole parishes "cross the Tiber" (along with their property). But it is not at all impossible for the TAC to come into communion with Rome while retaining the Anglican liturgy and discipline. The big question will be whether the clergy from the TAC will continue to marry; the Eastern Catholic churches have married parish priests, but bishops and other "higher" clergy are celibate monks. There are, without a doubt, married TAC bishops. If the traditional Anglicans, which may number 400,000, come into communion with Rome, there would (and should be) increasing pressure on Rome to allow Latin-rite clergy to marry.

 Only time will tell.