As it was announced Tuesday, t he Vatican decided to make it easier for Anglicans to convert. Thus the Vatican means to reach out to those conservative Anglicans that are disaffected by the election of women and homosexual bishops.
The decision, reached in secret by a small cadre of Vatican officials, came amid problems in the 77 million-strong Anglican Communion as it seeks to deal with deep doctrinal divisions that threaten a permanent schism among its faithful.
The change means conservative Anglicans from around the world will be able to join the Catholic Church while retaining aspects of their Anglican liturgy and identity, including marriedpriests. Until now, disaffected Anglicans had joined the church primarily on a case-by-case basis, Arkansas Democrat Gazette reports.
In the meantime, in the United States, the Episcopal Church has had its own divisions over social policies and doctrine.
At least four U.S. dioceses and dozens of individual Episcopal parishes have voted to leave the national denomination since the 2003 consecration of an openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.
Among those is the diocese in Fort Worth, led by Bishop Jack Iker. He said Tuesday that he "read with great interest various reports concerning today's announcement." However, he said, his diocese won't be "making hasty decisions or quick resolutions," Dallas Morning News reports.
In a statement jointly released in London to coincide with the announcement in Rome by Archbishop Vincent Gerald Nichols of Westminister and Dr. Rowan William, Archbishop of Canterbury, the two Anglican leaders, confirmed the announcement.
They said the announcement brought to an end a period of uncertainty for groups that had requested to enter into full communion with the catholic church.
The two leaders further appreciated dialogue that has gone on for over 40 years between the Catholic church on one hand and the Anglican on the other.
The schism (split) that led to formation of Anglican church (church of England) away from mother Catholic Church came in the sixteenth century when King Henry VIII declared the Church of England independent of Papal authority.
However, it was only in the mid-nineteenth century that the interest to enter into dialogue developed, Kenya Broadcasting Corporation reports.