At the Anglican Use Conference earlier this summer I talked with a younger former Episcopalian priest who is now Catholic. He was shocked to hear that the groundwork for this victory was being laid over 25 years ago. It probably goes back even farther. This victory is the result of decades of planning and work to gain power at every level.
Please do not assume that because I say the victory is brilliant, that I approve. I certainly do not. Its ruthlessness betrays its true nature. Witness the victors' lawsuits against departing dioceses and parishes. Their intention seems to be total victory at any cost, to take control of all the spoils by achieving the absolute surrender of the vanquished. They are willing to spend a century of the accumulated legacies of past generations intended for "domestic and foreign missions." It means the end of missions and ministries but at least the victors will get title to some nice old, but now empty and useless buildings. The victors have outmaneuvered all opponents and have destroyed all enemies who refused to get out of their way. The victors masqueraded as tolerant people interested only in the inclusion of all viewpoints only as long as they held a minority opinion or held an equal power, but have acted with ruthless power as soon as they outlasted and got rid of enough opponents. Final victory will come only when the orthodox no longer have the right to refuse ordination to the unchaste, just as they lost the right to retain the traditional all-male priesthood. The tragedy is that by then the Episcopal church and not just its buildings will simply be an empty shell. The Glory departed long ago. The victory will be a nuclear victory.
I have the greatest respect for those who have struggled to stay loyal, hopeful, or simply remain below the radar in spite of the Episcopal church's suicidal trajectory, and I have the same respect for those who have tried to find another Anglican option. But is there really any reason for Anglicanism to exist, apart from Anglicanism healed of its split from the rest of the Catholic Church? Isn't the action of Episcopal General Convention simply more evidence that one can't be Catholic outside the Catholic Church? Traditions do not make a person a Catholic, even if many of those traditions look very much like Catholic traditions. Catholicism is not an aesthetic. It is the Faith. I believe the opposite is true of Episcopalianism: it is an aesthetic, not a faith. Episcopalians have many aesthetic gifts to offer the Catholic Church. But the Catholic Church has the Faith to offer Episcopalians.
The Pastoral Provision is an extremely generous invitation to come home to the Catholic Church. Isn't the General Convention simply more evidence that it is time to look into it?