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Title: Anglo-Catholicism  
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"Anglo-Catholic" and "Anglican Catholic" redirect here. For the Catholic Church in England, see Catholic Church in England and Wales. For Anglicans who have joined the Catholic Church, see Anglican Use and Personal ordinariates.

The terms Anglo-Catholic, Anglican Catholic and Catholic Anglican describe people, beliefs and practices within Anglicanism which emphasise the Catholic heritage and identity of the various Anglican churches rather than their Reformed heritage.

The term "Anglo-Catholic" was coined in the early 19th century,[1] although movements emphasising the Catholic nature of Anglicanism had already existed.[2][3] Particularly influential in the history of Anglo-Catholicism were the Caroline Divines of the seventeenth century and later the leaders of the Oxford Movement, which began at the University of Oxford in 1833 and ushered in a period of Anglican history known as the "Catholic Revival".[4]

A minority of Anglo-Catholics, sometimes called Anglo-Papalists, consider themselves under papal supremacy even though they are not in communion with the Roman Catholic Church. Such Anglo-Catholics, especially in England, often celebrate Mass according to the contemporary Catholic rite and are concerned with seeking reunion with the Roman Catholic Church.

In addition, members of the personal ordinariates for former Anglicans created by Pope Benedict XVI are sometimes unofficially referred to as "Anglican Catholics".[5][6]


  • History 1
    • Caroline Divines 1.1
    • Oxford Movement 1.2
    • Recent developments 1.3
    • Anglican ordinariates 1.4
  • Practices and beliefs 2
    • Theology 2.1
    • Liturgical practices 2.2
  • Examples 3
  • See also 4
  • Notes 5
  • References 6
  • Bibliography 7
  • External links 8
  • Further reading 9


Following the passing of the Act of Supremacy and Henry VIII's break with the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of England continued to adhere to traditional Catholic teachings and did not initially make any alterations to doctrine.[7] The Ten Articles were published in 1536 and constitute the first official Anglican articles of faith.[8] The articles for the most part concurred with the pre-Reformation teachings of the Church in England and defended, among other things, the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the sacrament of confession, the honouring and invocation of saints and prayer for the dead.[9] Belief in purgatory, however, was made non-essential.[10] This was followed by the Bishops' Book in 1537, a combined effort by numerous clergy and theologians which, though not strongly Protestant in its inclinations, showed a slight move towards Reformed positions and was unpopular with conservative sections of the Church and quickly grew to be disliked by Henry VIII as well.[11] The Six Articles, released two years later, moved away from all Reformed ideas and strongly affirmed Catholic positions regarding matters such as transubstantiation and Mass for the dead.[12][13] The King's Book, the official article of religion written by Henry in 1543, likewise expressed Catholic sacramental theology and encouraged prayer for the dead.[14]

A major shift in Anglican doctrine came in the reign of Henry's son, Edward VI, who repealed the Six Articles[15] and under whose rule the Church of England became more identifiably Protestant. Though the Church's practices and approach to the sacraments became strongly influenced by those of continental reformers,[16] it nevertheless retained episcopal church structure.[17] The Church of England was then briefly reunited with the Roman Catholic Church under Mary, before separating again under Elizabeth I. The Elizabethan Religious Settlement was an attempt to end the religious divisions among Christians in England, and is often seen as an important event in Anglican history, ultimately laying the foundations for the "via media" concept of Anglicanism.[18]

The nature of early Anglicanism was to be of great importance to the Anglo-Catholics of the 19th century, who would argue that their beliefs and practices were common during this period and were inoffensive to the earliest members of the Church of England.[19]

Caroline Divines

The Caroline Divines were a group of influential Anglican theologians active in the 17th century who opposed Calvinism and Puritanism[20] and stressed the importance of episcopal polity, apostolic succession and the sacraments.[21][22] The Caroline Divines also favoured elaborate liturgy (in some cases favouring the liturgy of the pre-Reformation church[23]) and aesthetics. Their influence saw a revival in the use of images and statues in churches.[24]

The leaders of the Anglo-Catholic revival in the 19th century would draw heavily from the works of the Caroline Divines.[25]

Oxford Movement

The modern Anglo-Catholic movement began with the Oxford Movement in the Victorian era, sometimes termed "Tractarianism".

In the early 19th century, various factors caused misgivings among English church people, including the decline of church life and the spread of unconventional practices in the Church of England. The British government's action in 1833 of beginning a reduction in the number of Church of Ireland bishoprics and archbishoprics inspired a sermon from John Keble in the University Church in Oxford on the subject of "National Apostasy". This sermon marked the inception of what became known as the Oxford Movement.

The principal objective of the Oxford Movement was the defence of the Church of England as a divinely-founded institution, of the doctrine of Apostolic Succession and of the Book of Common Prayer as a "rule of faith". The key idea was that Anglicanism was not a Protestant denomination but a branch of the historic Catholic Church, along with the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox churches. It was argued that Anglicanism had preserved the historical apostolic succession of priests and bishops and thus the Catholic sacraments. These ideas were promoted in a series of ninety "Tracts for the Times".

The principal leaders of the Oxford Movement were George Cornelius Gorham in a celebrated legal action against church authorities. A number of conversions to the Roman Catholic Church followed. The majority of adherents of the movement, however, remained in the Church of England and, despite hostility in the press and in government, the movement spread. Its liturgical practices were influential, as were its social achievements (including its slum settlements) and its revival of male and female monasticism within Anglicanism.

Recent developments

Since at least the 1970s, Anglo-Catholicism has been dividing into two distinct camps, along a fault-line which can perhaps be traced back to Bishop Charles Gore's work in the 19th century.

The Oxford Movement had been inspired in the first place by a rejection of Forward in Faith, is largely composed of Anglo-Catholics.

Gore's work, however, bearing the mark of liberal Protestant higher criticism, paved the way for an alternative form of Anglo-Catholicism influenced by liberal theology. Thus in recent years many Anglo-Catholics have accepted the ordination of women, the use of inclusive language in Bible translations and the liturgy, and progressive attitudes towards homosexuality. Such Anglicans often refer to themselves as "Liberal Catholics". The more "progressive" or "liberal" style of Anglo-Catholicism is represented by Affirming Catholicism and the Society of Catholic Priests.

A third strand of Anglican Catholicism criticises elements of both liberalism and conservatism, drawing instead on the 20th century Roman Catholic Nouvelle Théologie, especially Henri de Lubac. John Milbank and others within this strand have been instrumental in the creation of the ecumenical (though predominantly Anglican and Roman Catholic) movement known as Radical Orthodoxy.

Some traditionalist Anglo-Catholics have left official Anglicanism to form "continuing Anglican churches" such as those in the Anglican Catholic Church and Traditional Anglican Communion. Others have left Anglicanism altogether for the Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox churches, in the belief that liberal doctrinal changes in the Anglican churches have resulted in Anglicanism no longer being a true branch of the "Church Catholic".

Anglican ordinariates

In late 2009 with the publication of the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, traditionalist Anglicans were invited into unity with the Holy See. This action was in response to requests from various groups of Anglicans around the world to be received into full communion with the Holy See while retaining liturgical, musical, theological and other aspects of the Anglican patrimony.

An apostolic constitution is the highest level of papal legislation and is not time-limited. In other words, groups of Anglicans may apply for reception by the Holy See at any time and enter into what are termed "Anglican ordinariates" i.e. regional groupings of Anglican Catholics which come under the jurisdiction of an "ordinary", i.e. a bishop or priest[1] appointed by Rome to oversee the community, which, while being in a country or region which is part of the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church, retains aspects of the Anglican patrimony, e.g. married priests, traditional English choral music and liturgy.

Some have drawn parallels with the Eastern Catholic churches, but though there are some commonalities, Anglican ordinariates are intended to be part of the Western or Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church, as they had been before the breach with Rome following the reign of Mary I of England.

The first Anglican ordinariate, known as the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, was established on 15 January 2011 in the United Kingdom.[26] The second Anglican ordinariate, known as the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter, was established on 1 January 2012 in the United States.[27] The already existing Anglican Use parishes in the United States, which have existed since the 1980s, will form a portion of the first American Anglican ordinariate.[28] These parishes are already in communion with Rome and use modified Anglican liturgies approved by the Holy See. They will be joined by other groups and parishes of Episcopalians and some other Anglicans.

Practices and beliefs


Historically, Anglo-Catholics have valued "highly the tradition of the early, undivided Church, they saw its authority as co-extensive with Scripture. They re-emphasized the Church's institutional history and form. Anglo-Catholicism was emotionally intense, and yet drawn to aspects of the pre-Reformation Church, including the revival of religious orders, the reintroduction of the language and symbolism of the eucharistic sacrifice," and "the revival of private confession. Its spirituality was Evangelical in spirit, but High Church in content and form."[29] At the same time, Anglo-Catholics held that "the Roman Catholic has corrupted the original ritualism; and she [the Anglican Church] claims that the ritualism which she presents in a revival in purity of the original ritualism of the Catholic Church."[30] The spirituality of Anglo-Catholics is drawn largely from the teachings of the early Church, in addition to the Caroline Divines.[31] Archbishop of Canterbury Matthew Parker, in 1572, published De Antiquitate Britannicæ Ecclesiæ, in which traced the roots of the Anglican Church, arguing "that the early British Church differed from Roman Catholicism in key points and thus provided an alternative model for patristic Christianity,"[32] a view repeated by many Anglo-Catholics such as Charles Chapman Grafton, Bishop of the Diocese of Fond du Lac.[33] In addition, Anglo-Catholics hold that the Anglican churches have maintained "catholicity and apostolicity."[34] In the same vein, Anglo-Catholics emphasize the doctrines of apostolic succession and the threefold order, holding that these were retained by the Anglican Church after it went through the English Reformation.[35][36] As an Anglican cleric and leader in the Oxford Movement, John Henry Newman summarized the beliefs of Anglo-Catholicism, defining "the differences between the Anglican position and the Roman Catholic one as antiquity vs. catholicity":[37]

Anglican Position[37] Catholic Position[37]
Summary Stance[37] Antiquity and Apostolicity—We are connected to the Patristic Church by an apostolic succession of bishops.[37] Catholicity and Apostolicity—There is but one Church connected to the apostolic line, and we are it.[37]
Summary Critique[37] Roman church has left the purity of the Patristic Church.[37] Anglican church has left the unity of the Catholic Church.[37]
Further Defense[37] The doctrinal truth of the Church is her foundation.[37] Union with the larger body is a duty (and necessary for salvation).[37]
Further Critique[37] Rome is mistaken in doctrine and practice, esp. in treatment of Mary and the saints, as well as views of papal authority.[37] Canterbury is mistaken in cutting herself off from the Catholic Church where the heritage of Christ resides.[37]
Key Charge[37] Rome possesses the Note of Idolatry.[37] Canterbury possesses the Note of Schism.[37]

In agreement with the Eastern Orthodox Church and Oriental Orthodox Churches, Anglo-Catholics — along with Old-Catholics and Lutherans — generally appeal to the "canon" (or rule) of St Vincent of Lerins: "What everywhere, what always, and what by all has been believed, that is truly and properly Catholic."

The Anglican Thirty-Nine Articles make distinctions between Anglican and Catholic understandings of doctrine. As the Articles were intentionally written in such a way as to be open to a range of interpretations,[38] Anglo-Catholics have defended their practices and beliefs as being consistent with the Thirty-Nine Articles. A recent trend in Anglo-Catholic thought related to the Thirty-Nine Articles has included the New Perspective on Paul.

Anglo-Catholic priests often hear private confessions and anoint the sick, regarding these practices, as do Catholics, as sacraments. The classic Anglican aphorism regarding private confession is: "All may, some should, none must."

Anglo-Catholics also offer prayers for the departed and the intercession of the saints; C.S. Lewis, often considered an Anglo-Catholic in his theological sensibilities, was once quoted as stating that, "Of course I pray for the dead. The action is so spontaneous, so all but inevitable, that only the most compulsive theological case against it would deter me. And I hardly know how the rest of my prayers would survive if those for the dead were forbidden. At our age, the majority of those we love best are dead. What sort of intercourse with God could I have if what I love best were unmentionable to him?"[39]

Anglo-Catholics share with Catholics a belief in the sacramental nature of the priesthood, the sacrificial character of the Mass and, in some cases, the doctrine of Transubstantiation, the Roman Catholic version of the doctrine of the Real Presence. A minority of Anglo-Catholics also encourage priestly celibacy. Most Anglo-Catholics, due to the silence of The Thirty-Nine Articles on the issue, encourage devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, but not all Anglo-Catholics adhere to a high doctrine of Mariology; in England, her title of Our Lady of Walsingham is popular.[40]

Liturgical practices

Anglo-Catholics are often identified by their liturgical practices and ornaments. These have traditionally been characterised by the "six points" of the later Catholic Revival's eucharistic practice:

  • Eucharistic vestments.
  • Eastward-facing orientation of the priest at the altar instead of at the north side, the traditional evangelical Anglican practice. Many Anglo-Catholics now prefer "facing the people".
  • Unleavened bread for the Eucharist.
  • Mixing of water with the eucharistic wine.
  • Incense and candles.

Many other traditional Catholic practices are observed within Anglo-Catholicism, including eucharistic adoration. Most of these Anglo-Catholic "innovations" have since been accepted by mainstream Anglican churches, if not by Evangelical or Low Church Anglicans.

Various liturgical strands exist within Anglo-Catholicism:

Preferences for Elizabethan English and modern English texts vary within the movement.

In the United States a group of Anglo-Catholics in the Episcopal Church published, under the rubrics of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, the Anglican Service Book as "a traditional language adaptation of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer together with the Psalter or Psalms of David and additional devotions." This book is based on the 1979 Book of Common Prayer but includes offices and devotions in the traditional language of the 1928 Prayer Book that are not in the 1979 edition. The book also draws from sources such as the Anglican Missal.


See also


  1. ^ In the catholic church in general, ordinaries are supposed to be bishops, or at least episcopal vicars, but this condition was relaxed for Anglican ordinariates so as to allow married former Anglican bishops to become Ordinaries: while priests in Anglican ordinariates may be married, bishops may not, as this is the general rule in both Catholic and Orthodox churches. Therefore, married Anglican bishops or priests converting to catholicism receive the priestly ordination, and may not become Catholic bishops afterwards.


  1. ^ "Anglo-Catholic, adj. and n.", OED (online ed.), Oxford University Press, December 2011, retrieved 11 Feb 2012 .
  2. ^ Clutterbuck, Ivan (1993), Marginal Catholics, Gracewing, p. 9,  .
  3. ^ Cavanaugh, Stephen (2011), Anglicans and the Roman Catholic Church: Reflections on Recent Developments, Ignatius,  .
  4. ^ Cobb, John B; Wildman, Wesley J (1998), Fidelity with Plausibility: Modest Christologies in the Twentieth Century, State University of New York Press, p. 94,  .
  5. ^ "Australian Anglican Catholic Ordinariate to be Established in June 2012". Catholic Canada. May 2012. Retrieved 31 August 2012. 
  6. ^ "Anglican Catholic ordinariate for US formally established". Catholic Culture. Retrieved 31 August 2012. 
  7. ^ Scruton, Roger (1996). A Dictionary of Political Thought. Macmillan. p. 470. ISBN 978-0-333-64786-8
  8. ^ Schofield, John (2006). Philip Melanchthon and the English Reformation, Ashgate Publishing. p. 68. ISBN 978-0-7546-5567-1
  9. ^ Bray, Gerald L. (2004) Documents of the English Reformation. James Clarke & Co. p 164-174. ISBN 978-0-227-17239-1
  10. ^ Article 10 states: "but forasmuch as the place where they be, the name thereof, and kind of pains there, also be to us uncertain by Scripture; therefore this with all other things we remit to Almighty God, unto whose mercy it is meet and convenient for us to commend them, trusting that God accepteth our prayers for them"
  11. ^ Nicholls, Mark (1998). A History of the Modern British Isles, 1529-1603: The Two Kingdoms. Wiley-Blackwell. p. 56. ISBN 978-0-631-19334-0
  12. ^ Carrington, C. E., Jackson, Hambden K. (2011). A History of England. Cambridge University Press. p. 270. ISBN 978-1-107-64803-6
  13. ^ Hillerbrand, Hans J. (2002). The Division of Christendom. Westminster/John Knox Press. p. 232. ISBN 978-0-664-22402-8
  14. ^ Richter, Daniel K. (2011). Before the Revolution: America's Ancient Pasts. Harvard University Press. p. 89. ISBN 978-0-674-05580-3
  15. ^ Simon, Joan (1979). Education and Society in Tudor England. Cambridge University Press. p. 215. ISBN 978-0-521-29679-3
  16. ^ Pavlac, Brian Alexander (2011). A Concise Survey of Western Civilization: Supremacies and Diversities Throughout History. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 182. ISBN 978-1-4422-0555-0
  17. ^ Bagchi, David V. N., Steinmetz, David C. (2004). The Cambridge Companion to Reformation Theology. Cambridge University Press. p. 169. ISBN 978-0-521-77662-2
  18. ^ Dickens, AG (1991), The English Reformation, Pennsylvania State University Press, p. 403,  .
  19. ^ Hein, David; Shattuck, Gardiner H (2005), The Episcopalians, Church Publishing, p. 91,  .
  20. ^ Betz, Hans Dieter (2006), Religion Past and Present, et al, Brill,  .
  21. ^ Avis, Paul DL (2002), Anglicanism and the Christian Church, Continuum, p. 353,  .
  22. ^ McKim, Donald M (2000), The Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms, Westminster: John Knox Press, p. 39,  .
  23. ^ Harris, John Glyndwr (2001), Christian Theology: The Spiritual Tradition, Sussex Academic Press, p. 199,  .
  24. ^ Parry, Graham (1981), The Golden Age Restor'd: The Culture of the Stuart Court, 1603–42, Manchester University Press,  .
  25. ^ Katerberg, William (2001), Modernity and the Dilemma of North American Anglican Identities, 1880–1950, McGill-Queen's University Press, p. 12,  .
  26. ^ Arco, Anna (15 January 2011), "Priests ordained to the world's first ordinariate",  .
  27. ^ Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter,  .
  28. ^ CWN (9 May 2012). "US ordinariate receives first priest, parish". Catholic Culture. Retrieved 11 July 2012. 
  29. ^ Sheldrake, Philip (2005). The New Westminster Dictionary of Christian Spirituality. Westminster John Knox Press.  
  30. ^ Bassett, Allen Lee (1863). The Northern Monthly Magazine, Volume 2. Retrieved 27 March 2014. The Anglo-Catholic asserts that the Roman Catholic has corrupted the original ritualism; and she claims that the ritualism which she presents in a revival in purity of the original ritualism of the Church. 
  31. ^ Sheldrake, Philip (2005). The New Westminster Dictionary of Christian Spirituality. Westminster John Knox Press.  
  32. ^ Davies, Oliver; O'Loughlin, Thomas (1999). Celtic Spirituality. Paulist Press. p. 7.  
  33. ^  
  34. ^ Sheldrake, Philip (2005). The New Westminster Dictionary of Christian Spirituality. Westminster John Knox Press.  
  35. ^ Armentrout, Don S. (1 January 2000). An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church: A User-Friendly Reference for Episcopalians. Church Publishing, Inc. p. 33.  
  36. ^ Buchanan, Colin. Historical Dictionary of Anglicanism. Scarecrow Press, Inc. p. 2006.  
  37. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r "Newman's Revolution of Mind & Sickness (Almost) Unto Death". Apologia Chapters III & IV.1. Dallas Baptist University. Retrieved 28 March 2014. 
  38. ^ Martz, Louis L (1991), From Renaissance to Baroque: Essays on Literature and Art, University of Missouri Press, p. 65,  .
  39. ^ Lewis, pp. 107–9.
  40. ^ Campbell, Ted (1996-01-01). Christian Confessions: A Historical Introduction. Westminster John Knox Press. p. 150.  



External links

  • Anglo-Catholics: What they believe by Leonard Prestige (Project Canterbury)
  • Anglican Catholics in Lincoln Diocese
  • Anglican Catholic Christianity Various links and resources
  • Society for Sacramental Mission (Anglo-Catholic Mission)
  • Anglican texts at Project Canterbury
  • Affirming Catholicism website
  • Anglican Breviary
  • Anglican Religious Communities
  • Anglo-Catholic Socialism website
  • A Guide to Solemn High Mass
  • What is Anglo-Catholicism?
  • What is an Anglo-Catholic Parish?
  • The Anglo-Catholic Vision
  • Forward in Faith website
  • Archdiocese of the Southwest - Traditional Old Anglo-Catholic Church

Further reading

  • Hebert, A.G. (1944). The Form of the Church. London: Faber and Faber. 126 p.
  • Wilkinson, John, ed. (1968), Catholic Anglicans Today, London: Darton, Longman & Todd,  , xiii, 254 pp.
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