Episcopal Church in Bladensburg (DC) to Convert to Roman Catholicism

From today’s WaPo:Episcopal Church in Bladensburg to Convert to Roman Catholicism


  1. The article states this is the first Episcopal parish in the United States to cross the Tiber after the invitation of Pope Benedict’s apostolic constitution. It may, in fact, not be the first. That claim goes to Mt. Calvary Church in Baltimore. Here is the wording from their web page.

    On October 24, 2010…

    Mount Calvary became the first congregation to announce its decision to leave The Episcopal Church in order to accept Pope Benedict XVI’s invitation, contained in the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, to become an Anglican Use parish of the Roman Catholic Church, and to become part of the Personal Ordinariate for former Anglicans when it is established in the United States.

  2. The article says:

    An Episcopal church in Bladensburg has decided to become the first in the country to convert to Roman Catholicism under new Vatican rules, the Episcopal Diocese of Washington announced Monday.

    That’s potentially somewhat misleading. St. Mary of the Angels in Los Angeles voted to do that on May 1, 2011 and Mount Calvary Church in Baltimore voted to do that in October of 2010. Mt. Calvary is still in negotiations with the local Episcopal Diocese, though. So perhaps St. Luke’s is the first parish to move with approval from both sides.

    St. Luke’s web site (with a page about liturgy) is here.

  3. I wonder whether ‘convert’ is the right word in this day and age. It’s not as if they weren’t Christians beforehand.

    I think we can find a better word.

    1. The National Statues for the Catechumenate state: “The term ‘convert’ should be reserved strictly for those coverted from unbelief to Christian belief and never used of those baptized Christians who are received into the full communion of the Catholic Church” (2).

      I think the US Bishops state it pretty clearly.

      1. Timothy is correct about the bishops’ decision regarding the appropriate use of the term “convert.”

        Thanks, Timothy.

    2. Add it to the long list of religious terms that secular media misuse or misunderstand.

      (My favorite was the bishop who processed into a church with a crow’s ear.)

      1. I’m afraid the fault line of understanding and misunderstanding doesn’t fall along the secular/religious divide.

      2. I’m not sure we can hold the WaPo to the standard of using ordinary words in technical senses defined by the USCCB. Their usage was correct standard English.

      3. Whether it was or not it’s not good enough.

        Perhaps your understanding of ‘correct standard English’ is similar to your understanding of ‘basic catholic morality.’

      4. Perhaps your understanding of ‘correct standard English’ is similar to your understanding of ‘basic catholic morality.’

        Perhaps they are similar because they are both accurate.

        Definition of CONVERT
        transitive verb
        1a : to bring over from one belief, view, or party to another b : to bring about a religious conversion in

      5. Perhaps they are similar because they are narrow, smug and doctrinaire.

      6. The issue for the USCCB is whether the faith of Catholics is the same as the faith of those in other denominations. It is not a conversion because we share the same faith. The Washington Post is assuming that Episcopalians and Catholics do not share one faith. Both are using correct standard English, even the same definition of convert; they have different assessments of faith.

        In defense of the journalist, “convert” is the term of choice for the Episcopalians, both the diocese and the pastor of the congregation that is seeking union with the Catholic Church. I am not sure we can fault them for not complying with the USCCB’s definitions.

      7. Jim, that’s a good point. Even if from a “Catholic party” view it would be incorrect to use the word “convert” it’s not neccesarily so from the other side of the fence and there are (at least) two parties involved in this.

        Also, the members of the parish may themselves have, even if incorrectly used the word “convert”, reflecting their own understanding of the process they are undergoing. It would be odd for the journalists to substitute a USCCB dictate about usage for a self-description if that is what this is.

  4. As a non-Roman-Catholic Christian, I have mixed gut-level reactions to this news. I want to hope for the best in this method of ecumenism. Though, anyway you slice it, the faith community still had to leave one Communion in order for Rome to acknowledge full communion. I do hope this is not perceived as the new norm for Christian unity.

    Perhaps from out of The Ordinariate, Anglo-Catholic parishes will find a way to full communion with Rome while honoring their own traditions; likewise through the experience of Anglicans within the Catholic Church perhaps Rome will continue to discover the value of greater diversity within unity.

  5. Imagine… 100 [potential] members of a Catholic parish agreeing on who they are, what they do, and how they pray! Is the Kingdom, in fact, coming?!

  6. Gerald – I didn’t say there was a clean secular/religious divide. There are just many religious terms that the secular media don’t understand well enough to use them without sounding a bit silly to the religious community they are writing about. It’s quite true that people in those religious communities can misunderstand and misuse their own terms, but that’s not the issue here.

    Joel – Aren’t there potential incompatibilities between various Christian faith traditions? Could a TULIP Calvinist be in full communion with the Apostolic See while retaining the his Calvinist theological tradition? A more extreme example is the Muslim-Episcopalian Rev. Ann Holmes Redding. I can’t fathom how that works.

    1. Could a TULIP Calvinist be in full communion with the Apostolic See while retaining the his Calvinist theological tradition?

      I tend to think that only the”L” would prove an insurmountable problem.

    2. What is tedious is your facile equating of misunderstanding with the views of the people you call secular. And the corollary in relation to those you call religious.

  7. “The issue for the USCCB is whether the faith of Catholics is the same as the faith of those in other denominations. ”

    This is a case where a differentiation between faith and belief would be helpful. Faith is one’s personal relationship with God. That is not for anyone else to judge. Whereas, belief is the intellectual expression of that. And that certainly needs constant critique and revision.

  8. I’m curious to know what the liturgy is at St. Luke’s. Anglican Mass, BCP 1979, 1928, something else? Today it isn’t unusual to find Anglicans with liturgies ranging from Byzantine/Sarum/Roman to a blend of the Ethiopian and Coptic with the 1928 BCP.

    I’m wondering just how much of an “Anglican patrimony” will St. Luke’s, Mt. Calvary, and other parishes switching communions will bring to the table? If the Holy See decides “The Book of Divine Worship” or something closely resembling it is to be the standard here in the U.S., how will a former parish more Roman than Rome take to it?

    How appealing will the Ordinariate be to those Anglicans who are accustomed to the 1928 BCP and want nothing else? Should the Vatican also assume every Anglo Catholic who doesn’t approve of women priests will automatically accept the papacy and make the switch? It is possible to despise women priests and the pope too.

    From my own experience, I’ve known plenty of Anglo Catholics who love the glitter and show from rich vestments with all the bells, smells and Roman trappings you can think of, but deep down are true blue Unitarians to the core.

    1. St. Luke’s web site has a page on their liturgy:

      “Currently, the mass is celebrated according to the Book of Divine Worship and our liturgy is greatly enhanced by the superlative music program at St. Luke’s, which includes many Music students from the University of Maryland.”

      The pictures show an ad orientem liturgy.

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