Anglican Papalism

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Anglican Papalism, also referred to as Anglo-Papalism, is a subset of Anglo-Catholicism with adherents manifesting a particularly high degree of influence from, and even identification with, the Roman Catholic Church. This position has historically been referred to as Anglican Papalism; the term Anglo-Papalism is an American neologism and it seems not to have appeared in print prior to the 1990s. Anglican Papalists have suggested "that the only way to convert England is by means of an 'English Uniate' rite."[1] Anglican Papalists have historically practiced praying the Dominican rosary, among other Marian devotions, Corpus Christi procession, as well as the reservation of and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.[2]


The origins of "Anglican-Papalism", as it was then termed, lie in the writings of Spencer Jones, Vicar of Moreton-in-Marsh, and Lewis T. Wattson, an American who became an Anglican Franciscan friar. Both men were active around the turn of the twentieth century.

Later adherents of the tradition include Henry Fynes-Clinton, Dom Gregory Dix and Hugh Ross Williamson; some Anglican religious communities were Anglican Papalist, prominent among them the Benedictines of Dix's Nashdom Abbey, who used the Roman Missal and monastic breviary in Latin.

Beliefs and practices[edit]

Anglican Papalists regard the Pope as the earthly leader of the Christian Church, they generally accept in full all the Ecumenical Councils recognised by the Catholic Church, including the Councils of Trent and the First Vatican Council, along with nearly all subsequent definitions of doctrine, including the bodily Assumption of Mary and her Immaculate Conception. There are Anglican Papalists who are in communion with the Church of England, who reject the Vatican II Council for the same reasons many traditional Catholic; sedevacantist groups, in particular; reject the Vatican II council.

Most Anglo-Catholics regard the English Reformation as an act of the Church of England repudiating papal authority, they usually regarded Archbishop Thomas Cranmer as more of a translator than as a theologian, and saw the service in the first Book of Common Prayer as being the Mass in English.[3] Anglo-Papalists, on the other hand, regard the Church of England as two provinces of the Catholic Church's Latin Rite (the Province of Canterbury and the Province of York) forcibly severed from the rest by an act of the English Crown. In his defence of Anglican orders, Gregory Dix speaks of Cranmer and his associates using the power of the English state to impose their views on the church by Act of Parliament. Anglo-Papalists therefore regard the Book of Common Prayer as having only the authority of custom, and believe it is legitimate to use the Roman Missal and Breviary for their worship.

Like many other Anglo-Catholics, Anglican Papalists make use of the rosary, benediction and other Catholic devotions; some have regarded Thomas Cranmer as a heretic and his second Prayer Book as an expression of Zwinglian doctrine (as did Gregory Dix in his pamphlet "Dixit Cranmer et non Timuit"). They have actively worked for the reunion of the Church of England with the Holy See, as the logical objective of the Oxford Movement. In 1908, they began the "Church Unity Octave of Prayer", the precursor of the much more general "Week of Prayer for Christian Unity".


The English Missal has been widely used by Anglican Papalists; this volume, which is still in print, contains a form of the Tridentine Mass in English interspersed with sections of the Book of Common Prayer. The Roman Catholic writer Fr. Adrian Fortescue's Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described served as a useful guide as to how to use the missal. At early celebrations, some Anglican Papalist priests would use only the Roman Missal, in Latin or in English translation. Many modern Anglo-Papalists use the modern Catholic rite of Mass in English.

Some Anglican Papalist parishes advocate "corporate worship in the Latin tongue".[4]

Groups and publications[edit]

Anglo-Papalists have established a variety of organisations, including the Catholic League and the Society for Promoting Catholic Unity (SPCU), which published The Pilot, they have also provided the leadership in many more general Anglo-Catholic organisations such as the Annunciation Group. Other Anglo-Papalist groups include the Sodality of the Precious Blood. Priests of the Sodality commit themselves to recitation of the modern Roman Liturgy of the Hours and to the Latin Rite discipline of celibate chastity; the now-defunct Society of SS. Peter and Paul published the Anglican Missal.

In the 1950s the Fellowship of Christ the Eternal Priest, which was established for Anglican ordinands in the armed forces, published a journal called The Rock, which was strongly pro-Roman. Few copies remain as it consisted of cyclostyled sheets.


  1. ^ Unitas. Society of the Atonement. 1956.
  2. ^ Janes, Dominic; Waller, Gary Fredric (2010). Walsingham in Literature and Culture from the Middle Ages to Modernity. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 137. ISBN 9780754669241. St Saviour's, Hoxton, revealed the extremes of the Anglican Papalist agenda, to which most Anglican Papalist clergy subscribed. Few would go quite as far as Kilburn had gone in his use for all the services, but the other characteristics of the Kilburn regime at St Saviour's, such as reservation, benediction, use of the rosary and other Marian devotions, Corpus Christi processions and the use of the Roman rite in an English translation, were commonplace.
  3. ^ This view has become discredited among some historians and has taken considerable damage from the work of Diarmaid MacCulloch, especially in his Life of Thomas Cranmer published in 1996.
  4. ^ The American Benedictine Review. 8–9. American Benedictine Review, Incorporated. 1957.


  • Gregory Dix, The Question of Anglican Orders, Dacre Press, 1944. pp. 31–32.
  • Peter F Anson, The Call to the Cloister, London SPCK, 1955, pp. 183–192, 462–466, 547–548.
  • Peter F Anson. Fashions in Church Furnishings 1840-1940, Faith Press, 1960, Chapters XXIX, XXX.
  • Hugh Ross Williamson, The Walled Garden, Macmillan, 1957, Chapters X, XIV–XVI.
  • Michael Yelton. Anglican Papalism. Canterbury Press Norwich, 2005. ISBN 1-85311-655-6.

External links[edit]