I have been an Anglo Catholic since the early 1970′s and before that I was mildly Catholic but still learning about Christianity in a village church which was more or less High Church with a slight leaning towards the Catholic approach to worship and ecclesiology.
Since then I have learn a lot about the way that the church of England came into being and it is not a pretty story. I had grave misgivings about the nature of the Anglican Communion and sought clarification from a wise Priest. He helped me to consider the Church of England as being part of the continuing Catholic Church which was not Roman but still Catholic.
Now I am quite confused, and in a way that is a good thing. If I were certain of my understanding then I think I would be in serious doubt of my thinking.
For me the Church of England cannot be a separate body, for if it is then heaven will be a very restricted experience. Many of it’s doctrines are clearly erroneous within the great scheme of things, not least the matter of divorce and the role of the Monarch. Divorce and the Monarch are where the Church of England begins, and the late medieval machinations of powerful clerics and temporal lords played about with these ‘doctrines’ whilst the common people were governed by another standard.
How I feel today about the label ‘Catholic’ is very different from the 70′s. I feel that it is certainly not applicable to non-conformist denominations and does imply some adherence to long held practice and belief, but what that really is, I do not know.