The rite stuff in Fort Worth?

GregandAugFor years, Anglican-warfare watchers have been paying close attention to contacts between the old-fashioned Anglo-Catholic wing of the Anglican Communion and the leadership of the Catholic Church. And, of course, one of the most interesting and candid addresses at the recent Lambeth Conference of the world's Anglican bishops (or about 70 percent of them) was delivered by Catholic Cardinal Walter Kasper, with the title "The Aim of Our Dialogue Has Receded Further," urging Anglicans to say true to basic Christian traditions about scripture. Click here for a Catholic News Service report on that. Anything involving Rome and people linked to Canterbury is going to be big news, but any pivotal talks about unity -- real unity -- are going to take a long time to filter out into the open. For one thing, strong voices in the liberal wings of the Catholic establishment in England and in America are not anxious to see a mini-wave of Anglican traditionalists swim the Tiber. That tension has existed for decades. It's all very complex and slow, slow, slow.

All of this is to note that the Dallas Morning News is now paying close attention to a Texas development on this front, a development that also shows the close connections between the World Wide Web and activists on both sides of the Anglican-Episcopal crisis.

To watch how this happens click here, then here, then here for the News report. In what order should you click them? Does it matter?

Here's the top of Sam Hodges' story:

A delegation of Episcopal priests from Fort Worth paid a visit to Catholic Bishop Kevin Vann earlier this summer, asking for guidance on how their highly conservative diocese might come into "full communion" with the Catholic Church.

Whether that portends a serious move to turn Fort Worth Episcopalians and their churches into Catholics and Catholic churches is a matter of dispute. The Rev. William Crary, senior rector of the Fort Worth diocese, confirmed that on June 16 he and three other priests met with Bishop Vann, leader of the Fort Worth Catholic diocese, and presented him a document that is highly critical of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.

The document states that the overwhelming majority of Episcopal clergy in the Fort Worth diocese favor pursuing an "active plan" to bring the diocese into full communion with the Catholic Church.

Now, if you want to read more of the fine details -- and they are amazing -- you have to head to the World Wide Web, where a crucial name emerges in the breaking of this story. That would be Katie Sherrod, a veteran voice in Texas media, an outspoken critic of the Fort Worth diocese and the wife of an outspoken Episcopal priest. Her "Desert's Child" weblog is a perfect example of the kind of activist site that is playing a major role in the Episcopal-Anglican conflict (and in many other similar battles, all across the spectrum of American faith).

You see, someone gave Sherrod (on the left) what certainly appears to be the actual document from the talks (on the right) between the local Anglo-Catholics and the Catholic bishop. That document can now, naturally, be reached through a Dallas Morning News weblog, as well. This is the way things are done these days.

It's all about the documents, people. There are all kinds of sites out there packed with all kinds of opinions. But the sites that matter the most to mainstream reporters -- sites on the left as well as the right -- are the ones that let the documents, the facts, the dates and the names speak for themselves.

And here is a crucial passage about that meeting with Bishop Vann, taken from the leaked document:

The icon presented to his Excellency Bishop Vann, an icon of both St. Gregory and St. Augustine, represents our desire to return home to Rome our first and true spiritual home.

What is it that we can offer to the greater Church? We believe we can offer a Catholic expression which for too long has been separated from the Universal Church. This is a tradition of inspiring liturgy, devout spirituality, loving pastoral care and a living spirituality. We believe it has a special and unique witness to the Faith, which we humbly offer as a beautiful jewel in the Catholic crown.

St. Gregory? Now would that be St. Gregory, as in the ancient "Liturgy of St. Gregory," which happens to be one of the rites used by Western Rite congregations that are in Communion with Eastern Orthodoxy?

Read the document. What do you think about the news reports on this? Why not mention some of the document details in the coverage on dead tree pulp? Did the Sherrod blog item lead directly to mainstream coverage? Does it matter?

To me, this does seem to be hinting at a move beyond a mere "Anglican Use" status, which currently exists, and into an actual Anglican Rite in Communion with Rome.

Icon: St. Gregory and St. Augustine of Canterbury.

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