The recent news articles and blog posts saying that the Pope would soon offer the Traditional Anglican Communion ("TAC") a prelature similar to that of Opus Dei apparently originated in an Australian publication called The Record, according to journalist Anthony Barich. But Barich does not name his source. The American Catholic picked it up from The Record, and Damian Thompson's excellent blog Holy Smoke in the Telegraph picked it up from the American Catholic. I think once it hit American Catholic and the Telegraph, it was big news.
Now, a Vatican official has described it as "unlikely", as reported by Catholic News Agency, because "conversion is a personal process and a group of so many people could hardly be accepted."
When this possibility last hit the press, in October 2007, I mentioned in a blog post then that the Traditional Anglican Communion has been associated with predictions of that kind since 1995. The statements always indicate that an announcement will be made shortly by the Vatican. But the predicted announcement never follows. It has even left some other Anglican groups wondering what is behind the TAC's reported discussions with the Vatican.
To my thinking, those expectations draw some Anglicans from other traditional Anglican bodies (including the Anglican Communion and other breakaway bodies like the TAC) into the TAC expecting something good to happen in the future when they are losing hope about their future where they are. Those expectations may also keep some Anglicans from becoming Catholic because they think that if they just wait a little bit longer they will have a form of Catholicism that is more like what they are accustomed to.
But conversion is, as Msgr. Langham said, a personal process. If someone accepts the faith of the Catholic Church and believes it to be their destination, it would be wrong to hold back from that personal conversion in hopes of a Catholic prelature that would be more like their present form of worship. They are too similar to begin with for such a difference to be worth the wait. Why would anyone, having come to the conclusion that the Catholic Church is the one true Church and that it is their desire to unite with Rome, wait years before making that move based on anything like the existing differences between the TAC and the Catholic Church? If you believe that the Catholic Church is the one true Church and is your best hope as an Anglican, please go and talk to a Catholic priest about it now. Don't wait to see whether the rumors that have been floating since 1995 will pan out. There is no reason to wait.
Imagine two little boys and two little girls on a row boat that somehow floats out of the children's cove into the open sea and on a collision course with an ocean cruise liner. One of the little boys stands up in the row boat and says, "I know what we'll do: we'll get on the cruise liner. . . . but first, we'll negotiate terms." The captain of the ship may or may not play out the negotiation to get the children to safety. But the smartest kids on the boat are not going to wait out the game. They are going to get on the ship now. And that is a personal process.