Catholic Societies of the Church of England

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The Catholic Societies of the Church of England are associations within the Church of England which follow in the tradition of Anglo-Catholicism. Although many, especially the older ones, make specific reference to the Church of England in their foundation documents, the vast majority today extend their membership and influence to all member churches of the wider Anglican Communion,[1] and often also to those non-Anglican churches that are in full communion with the See of Canterbury (for example, through the Porvoo Communion).

Origins[edit]

The various societies were founded for many different reasons. Some have specific focuses, such as an emphasis on Mariology, or on liturgical questions (including the Blessed Sacrament), supporting vocations amongst those who share anglo-catholic ideology, promoting study, encouraging devotion, or promoting pilgrimage to different sacred sites (especially those associated with Our Lady of Walsingham).

In the nineteenth century, many of the older societies had a role in supporting both clergy and laity who found their anglo-catholic practices or beliefs challenged through the civil courts by protestant organisations, as part of the then current disagreement concerning ritualism in the Church of England. Those prosecuted ranged from relatively unknown parochial clergy (such as Fr Arthur Tooth) to prominent leading churchmen of the day (such as Bishop Edward King). The Church Union is an example of a society founded to provide legal and moral support to those anglo-catholics persecuted for their beliefs. Today these organisations have assumed different objectives.

Ordination of women[edit]

The issue of the Ordination of women in the Anglican Communion has caused disagreement amongst Anglicans, including those of the Anglo-Catholic tradition, and these differences of opinion have had repercussions for the Catholic Societies. Some societies have declared that their membership is open only to male priests, or those opposed to the ordination of women. Other societies have been founded specifically to cater for those who are open to, or support, women's ordination. Some (such as the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament) have publicly declared that they are open to membership from those opposed to or in favour of women's ordination, but for the sake of internal unity will only permit male priests to hold office in the society, or to preside at the society's meetings and liturgies.

An umbrella organisation entitled Catholic Societies in the Church of England has been founded[2] to unite those societies which oppose the ordination of women. This article is not about that umbrella organisation, but reflects the full range of anglo-catholic societies, regardless of their views on women's ordination.

Societies[edit]

Society Founded Website Details
Additional Curates Society 1837 Website Founded by layman Joshua Watson with the purpose of promoting Anglo-Catholicism amongst the poor and in urban, heavily populated areas of the country.
Anglo Catholic History Society 2000 Website Promotes the study of Anglo Catholic history, and the publication of papers and books concerning the catholic movement within Anglicanism. Bishop Geoffrey Rowell was the founding President.
Association of Priests Associate of the Holy House (PAHH) 1931 Website Open only to priests (though deacons have associate membership) who undertake to offer mass for the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, and enjoy privileges at the shrine; the Priest Administrator of the shrine is, ex officio, Superior General of the Association.
Catholic League 1913 Website An organisation associated with Anglo-Papalism. Its purpose is to promote formal reunification and full communion of the Church of England with the Roman Catholic Church.
Church Union 1859 Website Founded to challenge the civil courts system in England on matters of doctrine. It defended Anglo-Catholic priests, notably after the passing of the Public Worship Regulation Act 1874.
Company of Servers 2009 Website Founded as an association of altar servers, its purpose is to provide for their development and to encourage more frequent attendance at the Holy Eucharist. It is open to servers regardless of gender, and appoints both male and female priests as chaplains.
Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament 1862 Website Upholds the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. It was founded during the Victorian era by Thomas Thellusson Carter, a priest who was prominent in the Catholic Revival.
Cost of Conscience 1969 Website Describes itself as an association concerned with doctrinal matters and upholding traditional Anglicanism. It is strongly critical of and opposed to liberal Anglican theology.
Ecumenical Friends of Fátima Association 2001 Website Encourages devotion to the Virgin Mary under the title of Our Lady of Fátima. Organises pilgrimages to Portugal. It was founded by Edwin Barnes, Bishop of Richborough.
Federation of Catholic Priests 1917 Website It was founded to campaign for the positions of Anglo-Catholicism in "faith, worship and discipline" at the Church Assembly and continues to do so at the General Synod.
Forward in Faith 1992 Website One of the more prominent contemporary societies. Promotes the Anglo-Catholic position in liturgy, ecclesiology and Christology contrary to liberalism. 800 priests are members.
Glastonbury Pilgrimage Association 1926 Website In its first decades was known as the West of England Pilgrimage Association. Organises annual pilgrimages to Glastonbury, which claims to be the oldest Marian shrine in England and is associated with stories of St. Joseph of Arimathea.
Guild of All Souls 1873 Website Purpose is to pray for the souls of the Christian faithful departed and for teaching the doctrine of the Communion of Saints. Provides Requiem vestments to those who cannot afford them.
Guild of Servants of the Sanctuary 1898 Website The GSS was founded as an association of altar servers. Its purpose is to provide for their development and to encourage more frequent attendance at the Holy Eucharist. Open to both men and women, but appoints only male priests as chaplains and priests-associate.
Society of Catholic Priests 1994 Europe
Australia
America
Membership in the SCP UK is open to all Anglican priests who accept the Anglican Communion as part of the "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church", who recognise the ordination of women priests, believe in the real presence and who uphold the traditional view of the seven sacraments.
Society of King Charles the Martyr 1894 Website A devotional society dedicated to and under the patronage of king Charles I of England. It seeks to promote knowledge of his life and observance of his feastday on 30 January.
Society of Mary 1931 Website Founded as two Marian societies merged. Its purpose is to honour the Blessed Virgin Mary, to spread devotion to her and take her as a model in purity, relationships and family life.
Society of the Holy Cross 1855 Website A congregation of Anglo-Catholic priests in the wider Anglican Communion. It is one of the oldest and most prominent societies coming out of the Anglo-Catholic Revival.
Society of Our Lady of Egmanton 1977 Website Promotes pilgrimage to a Marian shrine in Nottinghamshire known as Our Lady of Egmanton. The devotion is of medieval origin and the pilgrimage was restored in 1929.
Society of Our Lady of Walsingham 1925 Website Promotes pilgrimage to, and intercession for, the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. The devotion is of medieval origin and the pilgrimage was restored in 1922.
Sodality of the Precious Blood TBC No website A group of priests ordained in the Church of England who support Anglo-Papalism. They describe themselves as upholding orthodoxy and the life of celibacy.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ See, for example, the reference of CBS to international membership.
  2. ^ See the organisations website.