Is the Church of England still part of the catholic church?
I PRESUME THAT YOU are asking this question because of a number of changes that have happened in recent years and because of a perceived shift on the part of the Established Church away from the revealed Faith. And of course you are quite correct.
There has been a massive shaft in the past 20 years not least in the decision to ordain women into headship and in the gradual drift away from biblical moral standards. The basic formularies of our church have been changed and its new basis is more shaky than the old. In all this you are right.
But we need to remember the words of Article 19 which makes it clear that, at various times in history, individual churches have erred and have needed to be reformed. All this is quite clear but does this mean that the Church of England is now beyond hope and that we can abandon it as no longer a true part of the Church Catholic? I think that it would be premature to suggest this because, while the church has certainly changed for the worse, we cannot say that it might not change in the other direction and become a more scriptural church than it has been in the recent past.
There have been many terrible periods in the histories of different parts of Christendom and one example which springs to mind is the Roman Church during the time of the Borgias.
Again we might think of the Church of England before the Evangelical and Tractarian renewals but when these two movements occurred they totally transformed what had been a moribund and tragic church. We cannot limit what God can do.
Of course there are other tragic examples in history such as the death of the churches of what we now call Turkey and which had once been the most vigorous of the early churches. God has sometimes allowed the extinction of entire churches and it could happen here but we cannot yet see clearly enough to assume that this is actually going to happen here. In any case it must be our responsibility to do all in our power to preserve the Faith in our land in whatever way may be open to us.
To sum up: Yes, the Church of England is now an impaired part of the church but, in my view, it is not beyond reclamation.
John Pearce, Bury St Edmunds