It has been an historic week for the Church in Australia and around the world. The move of many Anglican Christians into full communion with the Catholic Church has taken a decided move forward.
In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Bishop David Robarts OAM, the chairman of Forward in Faith Australia, explained that members of that Anglican association in Australia have decided they could no longer move forward in faith as a part of an Anglican Church in Australia which was not being faithful.
The Bishop explained that the Anglican Church was moving away from orthodox Christian belief and practice and leaving them behind: "In Australia we have tried for a quarter of a decade to get some form of episcopal oversight but we have failed… We're not really wanted any more, our conscience is not being respected."
The Bishop continued, "We're not shifting the furniture, we're simply saying that we have been faithful Anglicans upholding what Anglicans have always believed - and we're not wanting to change anything, but we have been marginalized by people who want to introduce innovations. We need to have bishops that believe what we believe."
So, on Sunday, February 13, 2010, Forward in Faith Australia voted unanimously to accept the invitation extended by Pope Benedict XVI in his historic Constitution, Anglicanorum Coetibus. They will now take the next step in entering into the full communion of the Catholic Church.
The entire process of following the directions set forth in the Apostolic Constitution is being presided over by Catholic Bishop Peter Elliott. This Anglican group will now make Church history. They will come into full communion with the Catholic Church while maintaining aspects of their liturgical distinctives and Anglican Ethos.
Bishop Elliott explained the process in a recent article he wrote for the publication of the Traditional Anglican Communion:
"The Pastor of the nations (Pope Benedict XVI) is reaching out to give you a special place within the Catholic Church. United in communion, but not absorbed – that sums up the unique and privileged status former Anglicans will enjoy in their Ordinariates.
"Catholics in full communion with the Successor of St Peter, you will be gathered in distinctive communities that preserve elements of Anglican worship, spirituality and culture that are compatible with Catholic faith and morals. Each Ordinariate will be an autonomous structure, like a diocese, but something between a Personal Prelature (as in Opus Dei, purely spiritual jurisdiction), or a Military Ordinariate (for the Armed Forces).
"In some ways, the Ordinariate will even be similar to a Rite (the Eastern Catholic Churches). You will enjoy your own liturgical "use" as Catholics of the Roman Rite. At the same time your Ordinaries, bishops or priests, will work alongside diocesan bishops of the Roman Rite and find their place within the Episcopal Conference in each nation or region."
These members of Forward in Faith, Australia, will be accompanied on the journey to full communion by members of the Traditional Anglican Communion and others from the Anglican Church in Australia.
They have established a "working group" which, under the supervision of Bishop Elliott and the direction of the Holy See, will establish the process of establishing an Anglican Ordinariate in Australia. It may become a prototype for similar Anglican Ordinariates in other parts of the world.
Bishop David Robarts told the Daily Telegraph, "I love my Anglican heritage, but I'm not going to lose it by taking this step."
After the release of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, the Anglican Bishops of Ebbsfleet and Richborough issued a call for a Day of Prayer and Discernment on Monday 22nd February. February 22d is the Feast of the Chair of Peter.These are historic times.