Anglo-Lutheran Catholics?

Q. What is the Anglo-Lutheran Catholic Church? Is the church in full communion with Rome now? I have read somewhere that the church uses the Catechism of the Catholic Church and is using the Novus Ordo for its service.

P.B., Lawton, Okla. 

A. Here’s a reply from TCA columnist Father Ray Ryland, Ph.D., J.D:

Of all recent denominations formed, the Anglo-Lutheran Catholic Church is surely the most eclectic. It was formed by a group who broke away from the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod in 1997. All Lutherans, this group claims, are Catholics formed into involuntary schism by the Catholic Church’s reaction to Martin Luther’s attempt at reform. (Give these Lutherans credit for a concept new in Christian history: “involuntary schism.”) This position holds that all Lutherans are Catholics — that is, except those who hold any Calvinist or Zwinglian views.

The Anglo-Lutherans also accept the Anglican Book of Common Prayer’s Articles of Religion as interpreted by John Henry Newman (when he was still Anglican) and insofar as they do not conflict with Catholic teaching. In their worship they use the liturgy the Church has provided for Anglican Use parishes. They claim they accept all official Catholic teaching, and they accept primal papacy and papal infallibility (though, of course, they are not subject to the primacy and infallibility). This group holds that its clergy have received the apostolic succession through various schismatic and Anglican offshoots.

They require all their clergy to sign a mandatum similar to that of the Catholic Church, vowing to write, preach, teach nothing contrary to Catholic teaching. (Yet they ordain bishops and priests totally apart from papal jurisdiction.)

Four years ago the Anglo-Lutheran Catholic Church formally petitioned to enter the Catholic Church as one body. The latest information I can find indicates the petition is now before the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. However confusing are the claims of this denomination, we must respect and thank God for their desire to be incorporated into Christ’s true Church. Yes, and also pray for them eventually to become faithful Catholics.