The traditional group aims to unify the Anglican and Catholic churches, according to Archbishop John Hepworth of Australia, who is the leader, or primate, of the Traditional Anglican Communion. They have accepted the ministry of the pope, but also want to maintain their Anglican traditions — one of several potential impediments to unification.
"We seek a communal and ecclesial way of being Anglican Catholics in communion with the Holy See," the group wrote, in a letter Hepworth presented two years ago to the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Separately, progress between the Vatican and the Anglican Communion has stalled because of the same issues that have fractured the fellowship itself: women priests and bishops, the ordination of bishops in same-sex relationships and the recognition of same-sex unions. The Traditional Anglican Communion opposes those trends as well.
Yet, the Vatican has made no secret of its willingness to welcome into its fold Anglicans who want to convert, even married Anglican priests. After the Church of England voted to ordain women in 1992, several hundred Anglican priests defected to Catholicism.
"Rome will continue talking, it's not going to turn anybody away," noted Simon Barrow, co-director of the British-based religion think tank Ekklesia. "But on the other hand it's going to be extremely cautious about a group of people who want to enter but with reservations."