My mother's mother was the 11th child of twelve and spent her childhood in upstate New York and later in Brooklyn. She came from a long line of Protestant settlers who made their way down from Conneticut after emigrating to the "New World" in the sixteen and seventeen hundreds. (Though not on the Mayflower.)
I remember my grandmother telling stories about how she had to "convert" to marry my grandfather and how nobody but the two of them seemed happy about it. She was "disowned" for quite a while by her own family and looked upon with suspicion by her Catholic in-laws. Grandma said she and Grandpa's wedding ceremony was supposed to take place in the sacristy or the rectory, but somehow they managed to exchange their vows in the sanctuary.
When her sister and brother and law would finally visit, I remember lots of conversation about the deacons in the Episcopalian church (before the permanent diaconate was restored in the Catholic church) and that their clergy could be married. I always got the impression from my great uncle that the Catholic church was newer than his older, more traditional church - they were "high" Episcopal. Meantime, my grandmother would confide, don't worry, Episcopalians were "practically Catholic."
Well, with Benedict XVI's decision last week to welcome Anglicans into the Catholic church, that turned out to be truer than she knew. Many commentators from the right are heralding the pope's move as the most important ecumenical step in decades, while some on the left are deriding it as homophobic and misogynistic. I suppose it displeases those who always imagined that ecumenism meant the Catholic church would abandon some or all of its teachings or disciplines, or those who deride any clear cut theological doctrines or liturgical practices. It will certainly be interesting to see how things work out.
Meantime, I admire my grandmother's courage and applaud her common sense. I hope she's smiling in heaven that Pope Benedict shares her point of view.