The term Anglo-Papalism (or Anglican Papalism) is probably an American neologism. The term arose from the writings of the Reverend Spencer Jones, Vicar of Moreton-in-Marsh, author of England and the Holy See and the Revd Lewis T. Wattson, an American who became an Anglican Franciscan and collaborated on The Prince of the Apostles in 1904. Their successors regard the pope as the head of the Church. They generally accept in full the Councils of Trent and the Vatican Council of 1870, and also nearly all subsequent definitions of doctrine, including the bodily Assumption of Mary. Apostolicae Curae, the papal decree on the validity of the Anglican orders was rejected. They were sustained by a definite theory of the English Reformation.

Anglo-Catholics generally regarded the English Reformation as an act of the Church of England repudiating papal authority and, in the process, making an appeal to the early church which made possible a non-papal Catholicism. They usually regarded Archbishop Thomas Cranmer as more of a translator than as a theologian and saw the service in the first Book of Common Prayer as being the Mass in English. Anglican Papalists, on the other hand, regard the Church of England as two provinces of the Western Catholic Church forcibly severed by act of the crown from the rest. Gregory Dix, an eminent Anglican Papalist, monk of Nashdom Abbey, and scholar, in his defence of Anglican orders speaks of Cranmer and his friends using the power of the state to impose his views on the church by act of parliament. Anglican Papalists thus regard the Book of Common Prayer as having only the authority of use and believe it is legitimate to use the Roman Missal and Breviary for their services. Like many other Anglo-Catholics they make use of the rosary, benediction and other Roman Catholic devotions. Some have regarded Thomas Cranmer as a heretic and his first Prayer Book as an expression of Zwinglian doctrine. They actively work for the reunion of the Church of England with the Holy See, which they saw as the logical objective of the Oxford Movement and, in 1908, began the "Church Unity Octave of Prayer", the precursor of the much more general "Week of Prayer for Christian Unity".

Anglican Papalists set up a variety of organisations, such as the Catholic League and the Society for Promoting Catholic Unity (SPCU) which published [The Pilot], a journal which propagated their views and provided the leadership in many more general Anglo-Catholic organisations such as the Annunciation Group. In the 1950s the Fellowship of Christ the Eternal Priest, which was established for Anglican ordinands in the armed forces and published a journal called "The Rock", was strongly pro-Roman.

Some Anglican religious communities were Anglican Papalist, prominent among them the Benedictines of Nashdom Abbey, who used the Roman Missal and Monastic Breviary all in Latin.


The English Missal, a form of the Tridentine Mass interspersed with sections of the Book of Common Prayer, was commonly used by Anglican Papalists, and contained the Canon of the Mass in English and Latin. Its use however was not confined to them, as Anglo-Catholics who did not care for The Parson's Handbook, or the Pope, still found it a convenient volume for their services. Adrian Fortescue's Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described served as a useful guide as to how to use the missal. Often Anglo-Catholic parish priests would use the English version for the main Masses, while at early celebrations some Anglican Papalist curates would use only the Roman Missal in English or Latin. In like manner, many modern Anglican Papalists and Anglo-Catholics wishing to have a Mass in modern English use the Missa Normativa.

Historically, Anglo-Catholics who adopted Roman Rite practices (such as the Tridentine Mass and lace cottas) were popularly seen as Anglo-Papalist. Today, use of the Mass of Paul VI is similarly regarded as an Anglo-Papalist trend. Use of the Mass of Paul VI is more common among parishes associated with the group Forward in Faith. Other Anglo-Papalist groups include the Catholic League and the Sodality of the Precious Blood. Priests of the Sodality commit themselves to recitation of the modern Roman Liturgy of the Hours and to the Latin Rite discipline of celibate chastity. The now-defunct Society of Ss Peter and Paul published the Anglican Missal.


  • Michael Yelton. Anglican Papalism. Canterbury Press Norwich, 2005. ISBN 1-85311-655-6.

Peter F Anson. Fashions in Church Furnishings 1840- 1940 Studion Vista , 1965, Chapters XXIX, XXX. = The Call to the Cloister. London SPCK 1955, pp. 183-192, 462-466, 547 - 548. Hugh Ross Williamson, The Walled Garden Macmillan 1957, Chapters X, XIV - XVI.

Gregory Dix, The Question of Anglican Orders, Dacre Press, 1944. pp 31 - 32. External links


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