If Queen Elizabeth II showed herself to be in rather good shape for her age during the Platinum Jubilee festivities celebrating her seventy years’ reign, the same is not true of the Anglican Church, whose head is the British monarch.
The pomp displayed in the Anglican cathedral of Saint Paul on the occasion of the ceremony of thanksgiving for the seventy years of the reign of Elizabeth II did nothing: in a few months, four Anglican bishops left their confession to join the Catholic Church.
A movement that has been accelerating for several years, as evidenced already in 2009 by the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, promulgated in order to facilitate the reception of Anglican clerics within the Church.
The latest, Jonathan Goodall, former secretary of Robin Williams – who was Archbishop of Canterbury from 2003 to 2012 – on March 12, 2022 received priestly ordination from the hands of Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Catholic Archbishop of Westminster.
The decision of these men to join the Church is far from being a formality for them, since due to a historic – and infallible – act signed by Pope Leo XIII in 1896, the Holy See declares null the validity Anglican ordinations.
Moreover, Fr. Goodall recognizes this: “It took me a long time to convince myself that I could do it. I finalized my decision during the pandemic, not because of it, but because it was a time of decision for me.”
One of the reasons put forward – if not the main one – to explain these more and more numerous returns to the bosom of the Church, is that of the growing secularization of the Anglican confession.
As Fr. Michael Nazir-Ali, himself a former Anglican bishop of Rochester – the historic seat of St. John Fischer, martyred for defending the indissolubility of marriage against King Henry VIII, the monarch at the origin of the schism - the Anglican Church has “crossed the line.”
For him, “the inability of the more conservative branch (of Anglicanism) to have any influence to prevent the drift towards liberal Protestantism,” was the main argument for taking the plunge.
An argument made repeatedly by many new converts: so, Fr. Gavin Ashenden, former chaplain to the Queen – who was ordained a priest in 2019 – denounced an Anglican confession which, according to him, “capitulated” by making its update “Marxism 2.0,” which manifested itself in the “ordaining” women “bishops” and the acceptance of homosexuals within the clergy.
Fr. Ashenden develops yet another argument which played a part in his conversion, the absence of the magisterium within Anglicanism: “only the Catholic Church possesses the magisterial force (necessary) not to give in to the ambient culture,” he explains.