VirtueOnline, a traditional Anglican website, has an intersting article posted entitled “What Choices Do Traditionalists in the C of E [Church of England] Have?” The author, Roland J. Morant, discusses the various options for the traditionalist member of the Church of England now that their Church is slowly committing modernist suicide. Using the analogy of a ship, he gives the following options:
- STAY ON BOARD AND DO NOTHING (don’t leave the C of E and just endure the problems)
- TRANSFER DIRECTLY TO ANOTHER SHIP (join the Catholic or Orthodox Churches or even a Protestant denomination)
- CLIMB INTO A LIFEBOAT AND HOPEFULLY BE PICKED UP BY A FRIENDLY SHIP (join a more traditional Anglican communion)
- ABANDON SHIP BY JUMPING OVERBOARD (stop going to church)
What I found most interesting about this article was the importance Morant gives to practical concerns, such as one’s attachment to their parish (and parish building) and a person’s proximity to other churches (after all, what is the point of becoming Orthodox if the nearest Orthodox parish is 200 miles away). I think the importance of such concerns can be minimized when discussing the conversion of Christians from one tradition to another. But it should not be. The pull of one’s personal parish (“I was baptized in that church,” “Our parish has a wonderful, loving community”) can often trump doctrinal concerns. So too can personal connections: if all your friends go to a specific parish, it can be very difficult to transplant your whole family to another church over concerns that may not seem to directly impact your life – especially if the other parish appears cold and uninviting to you.
As Catholics, we should not simply dismiss such concerns out of hand. It is true that our Lord told us we would have to give up father and mother, sister and brother in order to follow him, but that doesn’t make it easy. We should make our own parishes as welcoming as possible so that if a Christian of another tradition decides to join, he or she will not need to feel like a complete alien.