Many in the Charity of Christ, Connor here at The Latin Community, long for a day when the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches will be in full communion with each other. There does seem to be theological differences that are so ancient (The Filioque) that would make it appear that this division would never heal. Of course, the natural position for the Charity of Christ is to look at other Christian communities who are not in union with the one true Catholic and Apostolic Church. The first Protestant division was Lutheranism; however, Lutherans have split into so many different ‘Lutheran’ denominations that the Charity of Christ must address their faithful in pieces. If one continues through their historical timeline, it is most likely that the next most viable option is the Church of England—also known as the Anglican Church.
Although Martin Luther’s reformation altered the course of European history, Luther’s reformation was a theological dispute. The Church of England took a more aggressive route by deciding to rape the Catholic monasteries across the English countryside. Furthermore, it is difficult for even members of the Anglican faithful to understand how much their sense of Anglo culture is tied to their faith. Thomas Merton, having lived in England for a good amount of time, wrote about The Church of England saying, “It is a class religion, the cult of special society and group, not even of a whole nation, but of the ruling minority in a nation…There is certainly not much doctrinal unity, much less a mystical bond between people many of whom have even ceased to believe in grace or Sacraments. The things that hold them together is the powerful attraction of their own social traditions, and the stubborn tenacity with which they cling to certain social standards and customs…The Church of England depends, for its existence, almost entirely on the solidarity and conservatism of the English ruling class.”
After observing how Anglicans think, I can certainly begin to understand what Merton means in his own observations. The Church of England may have a world presence but they’re certainly not unified under the Archbishop of Canterbury like the Roman Catholic Church is under the Pope of Rome. Furthermore, Merton explains several key points about the temperament of the Anglican faithful. Although, as it appears unaware, the English are so connected with faith culturally that elements of English culture like enlightenment thinking, empiricism, and liberalism drive many wings of the Church of England.
In regards to Anglicanism’s theology, the Church of England has 3 prominent wings or as Fr. Dwight Longenecker asks, “Or is it 300?” Fr. Dwight on Catholic Answers has a fantastic explanation about the state of confusion that is exists in the foundations of the Church of England, he writes, “I attended an Anglican seminary of the Evangelical persuasion called Wycliffe Hall, and down the road was the Anglo-Catholic seminary called St. Stephen’s House. The two were totally opposed in theology, liturgical practice, culture, and ethos. In Oxford was an Anglican seminary which was “broad church,” or liberal. This third strand of Anglicanism has always been a kind of worldly, established, urbane type of religion that is at home with the powers that be and always adapts to the culture in which it finds itself.
These three forces co-exist in the Anglican church—united by nothing more than a shared baptism, a patriotic allegiance to the national church, and the need to tolerate each other.”
So what occurs when a Church that is only really connected due to a patriotic allegiance? Mass theological confusion. You have members of the Anglican faith calling themselves Catholic when they are separated from Rome, and at the same time paving the way for women to be ordained in their faith, soiling the sanctity of marriage, and disgracing the theology of the Eucharist and the Body of Christ. The Church of England is so connected to its English culture that naturally it must be beholden to England’s adoption of both Liberalism and Socialism. Of course, as Father Dwight reminds us that many Anglicans will claim there is much division in the Roman Catholic Church, but to respond by saying, “”That may be, but we do not claim it as a virtue. We have one authority on earth. We have one clear teaching. We may not all obey it. We may not all unite around it, but it is there. It is one. It is holy. It is Catholic. It is apostolic. It is a rock on which to build, and the rock is Peter and his successor.” Furthermore, our Church was indeed founded by Christ who gave the keys to St. Peter, it was not founded by a King who wanted to soil the honor of the bride of Christ by staining all his country’s churches with the sin of adultery.
 Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain ( New York: Harvest Books, 1999), 72.