As a friend of my blog, Father, you know the conclusion it's taken me much of my life to reach. Women's ordination and the 'abandonment within our Church of biblical standards of behaviour' are only symptoms of the real problem: the 'Reformation' was evil, undermining the English Church and turning it Protestant and Erastian (serving the government not independent of it).
That Erastian blight was partly why the 'Enlightenment' hit English Protestantism so hard. Congregationalists turned into Unitarians and widespread private unbelief became normal in Anglicanism. The only difference between now and the 1700s in that respect is the 1960s brought it out in the open.
Anyway conscientious Christians in the Anglican Church always felt bad about that fatal compromise and tried to correct it so there were the Evangelicals, the Methodists and us.
We didn't come from nowhere. Of course what made our late Anglo-Catholic movement possible is our church was haunted by Catholicism.
As Christopher Haigh wrote, in 1600 many English were 'parish anglicans', not committed Protestants but still village mediæval Catholics at heart although most of outward Catholicism was forcibly taken from them (besides recusancy and 'Church Papists' it survived surreptitiously in the parishes into the 1580s).
Of course you had the Carolines, the Non-Jurors, the old high churchmen... sometimes Catholic but not necessarily, and their religion was more an intellectual exercise not about sacramental practice let alone ceremonial.
Then after the 'Enlightenment' and Industrial Revolution you had the Tractarians almost in the old high-church mode... while at the same time the Gothic Revival in architecture had the English looking nostalgically to the Catholic past (something better than dark satanic mills)... when those two movements met up in the mid-1800s and then on top of that took then-current RC practice (better than now) on board, voilà, Anglo-Catholicism.
We thought we 'got' Anglicanism.
History seems to say otherwise.
I learnt the rudiments of Catholic doctrine at an old-school outwardly middle-of-the-road Anglican parish 30 years ago and have identified as Catholic since I was 13. When I found full-practice traditional ACism when I was 17 I thought I'd come home.
Expressive but not sappy, it taught me a lot.
Years ago in England I met somebody who was at the Anglo-Catholic Congresses decades before that.
But I'm sorry, Father, it's over.
I don't understand why it's ending in my lifetime (yes, why me, but I'll cut that short) but I understand why it's ending.
I never originally planned to head to another church but did so some time ago.
(As you know I see the AC future in Britain as RC national parishes, part of Pope Benedict's Catholic revival. Update: he's called for forming an ordinariate of such parishes starting in a few years.)
The vicar of Dibley and her sisters are like a big neon sign saying 'You were wrong; we're Protestants'. It's taken me years to come to terms with that. But I'm not angry at them any more.
15th May 2009