The terms "Anglo-Catholic" and "Anglo-Catholicism" (or sometimes, possibly incorrectly, "High Church"—see below) describe people, groups, ideas, customs and practices within Anglicanism that emphasise continuity with Catholic tradition. Although the English Reformation was, in part, associated with the Protestant Reformation in continental Europe, there have always been Anglicans who identify themselves closely with traditional Catholic thought and practice. These days many such Anglicans, especially in England, prefer the terms Anglican Catholic or Catholic Anglican.


The concept of Anglo-Catholicism as a distinct subgroup or branch of Anglicanism came to prominence in the Church of England during the Victorian era under the influence of the Oxford Movement or "Tractarians".

Anglo-Catholics claim historical continuity of the Church of England (and those churches derived from it through apostolic succession — see Anglican Communion) with Orthodox and Catholic Christianity, and hence uphold a "high" concept of the episcopate and of the nature of the sacraments (or sacred mysteries). According to "The Concise Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church", the existence of such a school goes back to the Elizabethan Age; flourishing under the Stuarts and coming into prominence again with the Oxford Movement.

In the early 19th century, various factors caused misgivings among English Churchmen, including the decline of church life and the spread of unorthodox practices in the Church of England. The government's plan to suppress ten Irish bishoprics in 1833 inspired a sermon from John Keble, in the University Church in Oxford, regarded as the beginning of the Oxford Movement. The chief objective of the Oxford Movement was the defence of the Church of England as a divine institution, of the doctrine of the Apostolic Succession and of the Book of Common Prayer as a "rule of faith". The key idea was that the Anglican Church was not a Protestant denomination but a branch of the "Church Catholic" (along with the Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodoxy) since, it was argued, it had preserved the apostolic succession of priests and bishops and thus the Catholic sacraments. These arguments were spread by a series of "Tracts for the Times", hence the movement became known as "Tractarianism".

The Oxford Movement in the Church of England aimed at restoring High Church principles. The principal leaders of the movement were John Keble, John Henry Newman and Edward Bouverie Pusey. The movement gained influential support but was also attacked by the latitudinarians within the university and by bishops. Within the movement there gradually arose a much smaller party which tended towards submission to Rome. After the censure by the Convocation of Oxford, in 1845, of a book by W. G. Ward and the Gorham Case in 1850, there were a number of conversions to the Roman Catholic Church. The majority, however, remained in the Church of England and, despite hostility in the press and in the government, the movement spread. Its influence was exercised in the sphere of worship and ceremonial, in the social sphere (the slum settlements were among its notable achievements) and in the revival of male and female monasticism in the Church of England and many parts of the Anglican Communion.

However, despite the great effect of the movement, its theological basis, that the Anglican Church is a branch of the "Church Catholic" with valid apostolic succession and sacraments, has always been subject to attack by other churches. Neither the Roman Catholic Church nor the Eastern Orthodox Churches accept the branch theory of the Christian Church - each claims itself to be the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. Historical research in recent years has emphasised aspects of a Protestant self-consciousness of the Post-Henry VIII English Reformation, a consciousness which was dominant from Elizabeth I's reign until the Oxford Movement.Fact|date=September 2008 The original Anglican Ordinal, which deleted any reference to the priest offering the eucharistic sacrifice, was the grounds for Pope Leo XIII declaring in the 1896 papal bull Apostolicae Curae that the Roman Catholic did not recognise the validity of Anglican ordinations and also, therefore, did not recognise Anglican celebrations of the eucharist and some other sacraments..

Opposition to Anglo-Catholicism has existed within Anglicanism since the movement's inception. The Evangelical, Low Church tradition emphasises a more Protestant understanding of the nature of Anglicanism. These Evangelicals argue that Catholic doctrines are merely private opinions rather than official doctrines of the Anglican tradition, unlike in the Roman Catholic Church where these doctrines are official and binding. Considerations of this kind led the Oxford Movement's intellectual leader, John Henry Newman, to convert to the Roman Catholic Church, as many other Anglo-Catholics have done since.

Practices and beliefs

Anglo-Catholic people and churches are usually identified by their liturgical practices and ornaments. The "six points" of the Oxford Movement's Eucharistic practice were the use of Eucharistic vestments, eastward celebration (the priest facing in the same direction as do the congregation), the use of unleavened bread, the mixing of water into the wine, and the use of incense and candles. Many other traditional Catholic practices are used in Anglo-Catholic liturgical ceremonies such as Eucharistic adoration and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, particularly under her title of Our Lady of Walsingham- although not all Anglo-Catholics adhere to such a high doctrine of Mariology. Anglo-Catholic liturgical practices (sometimes called 'Ritualism', though many Anglo-Catholics resent the term) were a particular source of controversy in the nineteenth century, especially in England where Parliament was asked to legislate against certain practices. Many Anglo-Catholic "innovations" (or, rather, revivals of dormant practices) have, however, since become accepted by most mainstream Anglicans.

What Anglo-Catholics believe is highly debated, sometimes even among people who identify themselves as such. In agreement with the Oriental Orthodox Churches and Eastern Orthodox Churches, Anglo-Catholics — along with Old-Catholics and Lutherans — generally rest their case on the authority of Vincentian orthodoxy. This canon of St Vincent of Lerins is accepted as the rudder for divining the Catholic and Apostolic Faith of the undivided Church: "What everywhere, what always, and what by all of us has been credited, that is truly and properly Catholic."

The Anglican Thirty-Nine Articles make distinctions between Anglican and Roman Catholic understandings of doctrine. As the Articles were intentionally written in such a way as to be open to a wide range of interpretation, Anglo-Catholics have defended Catholic practices and beliefs as being consistent with them. Due to the Articles' harsh tone, however, they have generally not been held in high regard by most Anglo-Catholics. Anglo-Catholic priests often hear private confessions and anoint the sick, regarding these practices, as do Roman Catholics, as sacraments; whereas more Reformed or Protestant-minded Anglicans generally think of them merely as optional sacramental rites. (The classic Anglican aphorism regarding private confession is "All may, some should, none must.")

Anglo-Catholics share with Roman Catholics a belief in the sacramental nature of the priesthood, the sacrificial character of the Mass, and the Real Presence of Christ in the consecrated bread and wine of the Eucharist, and lay great stress on these points to counter the tendency of some Evangelical Anglicans promoting ideas such as lay presidency at the Eucharist. A minority of Anglo-Catholics also encourage priestly celibacy.

Since the 1970s at least Anglo-Catholicism has been fracturing in two directions, though these tensions can possibly be traced back to Bishop Charles Gore's work in the 19th century. The Oxford Movement had been inspired in the first place by a rejection of liberalism and latitudinarianism in favour of holding to the traditional faith of the "Church Catholic", defined by the teachings of the Church Fathers and the doctrines in common of Western Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. Thus until the 1970s most Anglo-Catholics, emphasising the need to stay in line with tradition and the doctrines of Rome and the East, would have rejected such innovations as the possibility of women receiving Holy Orders. However, Gore's work, bearing the mark of liberal Protestant higher criticism, paved the way for an alternative form of Anglo-Catholicism influenced by liberal theology. Thus, in recent years, many Anglo-Catholics have accepted the ordination of women. Many Anglo-Catholics have also embraced other aspects of liberalism such as the use of inclusive language in Bible translations and the liturgy and, more recently, progressive Anglican views of homosexuality. Such Anglicans often refer to themselves as Liberal Catholics.

Thus today there are two principal strands of Anglo-Catholicism. The 'traditional' style seeks to maintain tradition and to keep doctrine in line with that of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches, and often allies with low-church Evangelicals to defend traditional teachings on sexual morality. The main organisation in the Church of England and elsewhere that opposes the ordination of women as priests and bishops, Forward in Faith, is largely composed of Anglo-Catholics. Many other traditional Anglo-Catholics have left official Anglicanism to form "continuing Anglican churches" such as the Traditional Anglican Communion. Others have left Anglicanism altogether for the Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox Churches, in the belief that liberal doctrinal innovations in the Anglican Church have resulted in Anglicanism no longer being a true branch of the "Church Catholic". The more "progressive" or "liberal" style of Anglo-Catholicism is represented by Affirming Catholicism, an organisation in favour of the ordination of women as deacons, priests, and bishops.

A minority of Anglo-Catholics, sometimes called Anglo-Papalists, consider themselves under Papal supremacy even though they are not in full communion with Rome. Such Anglo-Catholics, especially in England, often celebrate Mass according to the contemporary Roman Rite and are concerned with seeking reunion with the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches.

Various liturgical strands of Anglo-Catholicism also exist, variously based on the Sarum Rite, or the Tridentine or Modern Roman rites. A preference for contemporary or traditional Elizabethan language varies within the movement.

Within Anglicanism three terms are frequently used - not always entirely correctly - to denote styles of worship: High Church, Low Church, Broad Church (or Latitudinarian).
* "High Church" is generally used to describe Anglicanism within a moderate to advanced Catholic tradition.
* "Low Church" is used for Anglicans of a more Evangelical tradition who, like Reformed or Protestant Christians, emphasise belief in the primacy of scripture and salvation by grace through faith alone. Evangelical Anglicans usually (with the notable exception of the Australian Diocese of Sydney) worship according to official prayer books but with much less ceremonial. The Sydney diocese does not mandate the use of any prayer book and worship services in its parishes are often considerably at variance with the shape of traditional Anglican liturgies.
* The term "Broad Church" (or 'Middle-of-the Road') is sometimes used for Anglicans somewhere between the "high" and "low" traditions and who stress the comprehensive nature of Anglicanism.


Anglo-Catholicism claims continuity with the early days of Christianity in Great Britain. Pope Gregory the Great sent St. Augustine in the late 6th century from Rome to evangelise the Anglo-Saxon English, a process completed in the 7th century. It is commonly thought that the conversion of the English marked the beginning of Christianity in Britain. However, it should be noted that the Romano-Celtic society which existed in Britain prior to the arrival of the pagan Germanic tribes from Denmark and northern Germany was already substantially Christian. There are, for example, around forty churches still in use today which were already, either entirely or in part, in existence prior to the arrival of the English.Fact|date=March 2008

When the Reformation broke out on the European Continent, the tide swept up England as well. King Henry VIII took England into schism from Rome when the Pope refused to declare null his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, but retained Catholic views in theology and liturgy, while some reformers (such as Bishops Ridley and Latimer) wanted to follow the radical reforms of Geneva. All reforms were reversed, briefly, during the reign of the staunchly Roman Catholic Mary I who resumed communion with Rome as part of a general campaign to end the Reformation in England and Wales. Consequently when Queen Elizabeth I took the English throne, she sought to steer a via media between what her bishops felt were the excesses of Rome, on the one hand, and those of Geneva, on the other. Thus was born the Elizabethan Settlement, and the promulgation of a single Book of Common Prayer, for whatever theological party was to use it within the Anglican Church. This marks the birth of a special ethos for the Anglican Church. This ethos, peculiar to Anglicanism, was championed by the Elizabethan divine, Richard Hooker.

From that time, through Archbishop Laud and the Caroline Divines, up to the time of the Oxford Movement Tractarians, the Anglo-Catholic Congresses and the present day, there has always been a theological party within Anglicanism which has sought to stress apostolic continuity all the way back to the Twelve Apostles. In response to Pope Leo XIII's "Apostolicae Curae" (1896), which declared the Anglican apostolic succession invalid from the Vatican's perspective, the Anglican Archbishops of Canterbury and York have claimed, starting with their official response, "Saepius Officio", that there is an unbroken apostolic succession in the Anglican priesthood and that the historical episcopate has been in the British Isles from the earliest days of the Church. Anglo-Catholicism has been weakened at regular intervals by secessions by its prominent leaders to the Roman Catholic Church or occasionally to the Eastern Orthodox Churches, among whom was John Henry Newman, the later Cardinal. Moments of crisis provoking such defections include the (narrowly avoided) condemnation of Tract 90 in 1841, the ritualistic controversy and the Public Worship Regulation Act of 1874, the Prayer Book controversy of 1927-28, and more recently decisions by many Anglican provinces to proceed to the ordination of women priests.


*List of Anglo-Catholic Churches

See also

*Continuing Anglican Movement
**Anglican Catholic Church
**Anglican Church in America
**Anglican Province of America
**Anglican Catholic Church of Canada
*Anglican Breviary
*Anglican Communion
*Anglican devotional society
*Anglican Missal
*Anglican sacraments
*Anglican Service Book

*Broad Church
*Church of England
*English Missal
*Evangelical Catholic
*High Church
*High Church Lutheranism
*Liturgical Movement
*Low Church
*Our Lady of Walsingham

External links

* [ YouTube video of Anglo-Catholic worship]
* [ Anglican Catholic Christianity] Various links and resources
* [ Anglo-Catholic Central] Lists of parishes, dioceses, orders and societies
* [ Society for Sacramental Mission (Anglo-Catholic Mission)]
* [ Anglican texts at Project Canterbury]
* [ Affirming Catholicism website]
* [ Anglican Breviary]
* [ Anglican Religious Communities]
* [ Anglo-Catholic Socialism website]
* [ A Guide to Solemn High Mass]
* [ What is Anglo-Catholicism?]
* [ What is an Anglo-Catholic Parish?]
* [ The Anglo-Catholic Vision]
* [ Knott Missal - Ordinary of the Mass from the English Missal]
* [ Forward in Faith website]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Anglo-Catholicism — An glo Ca*thol i*cism, n. The belief of those in the Church of England who accept many doctrines and practices which they maintain were those of the primitive, or true, Catholic Church, of which they consider the Church of England to be the… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Anglo-Catholicism — /ang gloh keuh thol euh siz euhm/, n. 1. the tradition or form of worship in the Anglican Church that emphasizes Catholicity, the apostolic succession, and the continuity of all churches within the communion with pre Reformation Christianity as… …   Universalium

  • Anglo-Catholicism — noun a tradition within the Anglican Church which is close to Catholicism in its doctrine and worship and is broadly identified with High Church Anglicanism. Derivatives Anglo Catholic adjective &noun …   English new terms dictionary

  • Anglo-Catholicism — noun see Anglo Catholic …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • ANGLO-CATHOLICISM —    or HIGH CHURCH ANGLICANISM sometimes known as the OXFORD MOVEMENT. ANGLICANS who emphasize their CATHOLIC roots and adopt Roman Catholic practices and BELIEFS …   Concise dictionary of Religion

  • Anglo-Catholicism —    The beliefs and practices of the High Church party of the Church of England …   Who’s Who in Christianity

  • Anglo-Catholicism —  Англокатолицизм …   Вестминстерский словарь теологических терминов

  • Anglo-Catholicism — /æŋgloʊ kəˈθɔləsɪzm/ (say anggloh kuh tholuhsizm) noun a movement within the Anglican Church favouring ritual and language similar to those of the Roman Catholic Church, including the use of incense, wearing of vestments by clergy, etc.;… …   Australian English dictionary

  • Anglo-Catholicism —    This term refers to a movement within the Anglican communion to promote Catholic doctrines and practices of the pre Reformation Church, such as Mass, confession, religious communities, and so on.    See Tractarians …   Glossary of theological terms

  • Anglo-Catholicism — noun a doctrine and practice within the Church of England emphasizing the Catholic tradition • Syn: ↑High Anglicanism • Hypernyms: ↑Anglicanism …   Useful english dictionary