Frequently Asked Questions

In this section you will find brief answers to many common questions people ask about the Anglican Catholic Church.  More detailed answers can be accessed by following the links to other sections of this website.  And as always, you may use the Church Locator to contact a priest in a parish nearby.

Are you really Catholic?

Yes.  While the Church of England (from which the ACC springs) did participate in the 16th century Reformation, in all matters essential, it never abandoned its catholic roots.  In like fashion, the ACC accepts as "catholic" what is known as the Consensus Patrum et Ecclesiae (the consensus of the Fathers and the Church).  Or to borrow a famous phrase from St. Vincent of Lérins (c.434), we hold the Catholic Faith to be that which has been believed everywhere, always, and by all.  The essentials of this faith are outlined in the Affirmation of St Louis (1977), the founding document of the Anglican Catholic Church.

For a more in-depth treatment of this subject, see The Catholicity of Anglican Reform in the Apologetics section of this website.

Are you under the Pope?

No.  While the ACC is a Catholic Church, it is not under the jurisdiction of Rome.  While Anglican Catholics acknowledge the Pope as the Bishop of Rome, and can even afford him such titles as the Patriarch of the West, we do not believe that he has universal jurisdiction (authority over and above that of a bishop in his diocese) or extraordinary magisterium (the power to teach infallibly without the support of an Ecumenical Council).  That said, Anglican Catholics are be open to the idea of a reinterpreted papacy, which corrects excessive claims and ties the magisterium more firmly to the limiting authority of the Tradition and the whole Church.  Under these terms, we share with John Paul II, an interest that "all might be one" (Jn. 17:21).

For a more in-depth treatment of this subject, see Anglicanism and the Papacy in the Apologetics section of this website.

If you are not under the Pope, aren't you really Protestants?

No.  Just because one is not Roman Catholic does mean that one is a Protestant.  There are, for example, millions of Christians in Greece, Russia, and other parts of the world who consider themselves neither "Catholic" nor "Protestant," but "Orthodox."  Like Eastern Orthodox Churches, the ACC has bishops in the Apostolic Succession, believes in Christ's Real Presence in the Sacrament of the Altar, and celebrates a liturgy that dates back to the earliest days of the Church.  This is not Protestantism.  However, since we are western in our liturgy and our heritage, a good way to describe the ACC might be as a reformed Catholic Church.

For a more in-depth treatment of this subject, see Protestantism and Anglican Origins in the Apologetics section of this website.

What is the Book of Common Prayer?

The Book of Common Prayer is the oldest English liturgy in the world.  The first Prayer Book was promulgated in 1549 in the reign of Edward VI and was largely the work of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer. The literary genius of his compo­sition and translations is universally recognized.  The Prayer Book has been subject to a number of revisions since 1549, but the essence has remained the same.  Along with the Authorized (King James) Version of the Bible, the Book of Common Prayer is the standard of worship in the Anglican Catholic Church.  The Original Province authorizes the 1928 American, 1954 South African, and 1962 Canadian Prayer Books for use in its churches.

For a more in-depth treatment of this subject, see The Prayer Book Liturgy in the Anglican Worship section of this website.

Why do you use old fashioned language in worship?

The whole idea of liturgical worship is traditional rather than contemporary.  The idea of people sitting, listening, singing, and praying mostly in quiet for an hour is radically not contemporary and unlike anything else people do these days.  Likewise, church is an opportunity for talking to people about things that are also not at all contemporary:  death, judgement, heaven, hell, God, immortal souls, sins, righteousness, faith, hope, charity, virtue, vice, grace, and eternity.  These things are important and abidingly relevant, because human nature and human needs never change at their roots.  We need a mode of speech that reflects this, and to the Anglophone world of the twenty-first century, one of the best options available to us is the English of the Elizabethan age. 

For a more in-depth treatment of this subject, see Traditional Worship is Relevant in the What We Believe section of this website.

Why do people do things like bow in worship and make the sign of the cross?

As Catholic Christians we believe in the importance of involving the whole person--spirit, mind and body--in the act of worship.  Incorporating the physical side of our being reminds us that in the beginning God created matter and pronounced it "good."  It also reminds us that God became man so that he might bring us eternal life.  And it directs our attention toward our own partipation in Christ's Resurrection, which will not be merely a spiritual event, but involve a glorified body as well.  Specifically, when we bow, we are fulfilling the injunction of Philippians 2:10, that "at the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow."  We make the sign of the cross for a similar reason--to remind ourselves that we "are crucified to the world" (Galatians 6:14).

For a more in-depth treatment of this subject, see Ceremonial in Worship in the Anglican Worship section of this website.