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Breaking news: Traditional Anglicans to be reunited with Rome

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So, as expected, this morning the Vatican has unveiled the mechanism by which traditionalist Anglicans can be received as a group into the Catholic Church.

The provision is much more far-reaching than previously expected. Rather than creating a personal prelature for the Traditional Anglican Communion, along the lines of Opus Dei, the Pope has decided to establish “personal ordinariates”, along the lines of military ordinariates, which could potentially serve all former Anglicans, both clergy and lay.

Disaffected Anglicans must now approach the Holy See, expressing their desire to take up the provision. The Holy See will then contact the local bishops’ conference to discuss whether it is possible to create the personal ordinariate.

Referring to an Apostolic Constitution to be released shortly in Rome, Cardinal Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, outlined the process that will allow former Anglicans to enter full communion corporately while retaining elements of the Anglican tradition.

The CDF said:

In this Apostolic Constitution the Holy Father has introduced a canonical structure that provides for such corporate reunion by establishing Personal Ordinariates, which will allow former Anglicans to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony. Under the terms of the Apostolic Constitution, pastoral oversight and guidance will be provided for groups of former Anglicans through a Personal Ordinariate, whose Ordinary will usually be appointed from among former Anglican clergy.

The forthcoming Apostolic Constitution provides a reasonable and even necessary response to a world-wide phenomenon, by offering a single canonical model for the universal Church which is adaptable to various local situations and equitable to former Anglicans in its universal application. It provides for the ordination as Catholic priests of married former Anglican clergy. Historical and ecumenical reasons preclude the ordination of married men as bishops in both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. The Constitution therefore stipulates that the Ordinary can be either a priest or an unmarried bishop. The seminarians in the Ordinariate are to be prepared alongside other Catholic seminarians, though the Ordinariate may establish a house of formation to address the particular needs of formation in the Anglican patrimony. In this way, the Apostolic Constitution seeks to balance on the one hand the concern to preserve the worthy Anglican liturgical and spiritual patrimony and, on the other hand, the concern that these groups and their clergy will be integrated into the Catholic Church…

The provision of this new structure is consistent with the commitment to ecumenical dialogue, which continues to be a priority for the Catholic Church, particularly through the efforts of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity.

In London, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, and Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster issued a joint statement on the move.

It said:

Today’s announcement of the Apostolic Constitution is a response by Pope Benedict XVI to a number of requests over the past few years to the Holy See from groups of Anglicans who wish to enter into full visible communion with the Roman Catholic Church, and are willing to declare that they share a common Catholic faith and accept the Petrine ministry as willed by Christ for his Church.

Pope Benedict XVI has approved, within the Apostolic Constitution, a canonical structure that provides for Personal Ordinariates, which will allow former Anglicans to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of distinctive Anglican spiritual patrimony.

The announcement of this Apostolic Constitution brings to an end a period of uncertainty for such groups who have nurtured hopes of new ways of embracing unity with the Catholic Church. It will now be up to those who have made requests to the Holy See to respond to the Apostolic Constitution.

The Apostolic Constitution is further recognition of the substantial overlap in faith, doctrine and spirituality between the Catholic Church and the Anglican tradition. Without the dialogues of the past forty years, this recognition would not have been possible, nor would hopes for full visible unity have been nurtured. In this sense, this Apostolic Constitution is one consequence of ecumenical dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion.

The on-going official dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion provides the basis for our continuing cooperation. The Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) and International Anglican Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM) agreements make clear the path we will follow together.

With God’s grace and prayer we are determined that our on-going mutual commitment and consultation on these and other matters should continue to be strengthened. Locally, in the spirit of IARCCUM, we look forward to building on the pattern of shared meetings between the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales and the Church of England’s House of Bishops with a focus on our common mission. Joint days of reflection and prayer were begun in Leeds in 2006 and continued in Lambeth in 2008, and further meetings are in preparation. This close cooperation will continue as we grow together in unity and mission, in witness to the Gospel in our country, and in the Church at large.

Ruth Gledhill has a copy of a letter Dr Williams has sent to his fellow C of E bishops. He says:

I am sorry that there has been no opportunity to alert you earlier to this; I was informed of the planned announcement at a very late stage, and we await the text of the Apostolic Constitution itself and its code of practice in the coming weeks…

It remains to be seen what use will be made of this provision, since it is now up to those who have made requests to the Holy See to respond to the Apostolic Constitution; but, in the light of recent discussions with senior officials in the Vatican, I can say that this new possibility is in no sense at all intended to undermine existing relations between our two communions or to be an act of proselytism or aggression. It is described as simply a response to specific enquiries from certain Anglican groups and individuals wishing to find their future within the Roman Catholic Church.

Vatican-watcher John Allen says the announcement will have far-reaching implications:

In a move with potentially sweeping implications for relations between the Catholic church and some 80 million Anglicans worldwide, the Vatican has announced the creation of new ecclesiastical structures to absorb disaffected Anglicans wishing to become Catholics. The structures will allow those Anglicans to hold onto their distinctive spiritual practices, including the ordination of married former Anglican clergy as Catholic priests…

According to a Vatican “note” released this morning, married men may serve as priests in the new ordinariates, but they may not be ordained as bishops. The details will be presented in a new apostolic constitution from Pope Benedict XVI, expected to be issued shortly.
The Vatican note described the new “personal ordinariates” as similar to the structures created throughout the world to provide pastoral care for members of the military and their families. The structures are, in effect, non-territorial dioceses, provided over by a bishop and with their own priests and seminarians.

A personal ordinariate is also similar to the canonical status of “personal prelature,” currently held by only one Catholic group: Opus Dei.

The note said the ordinariates will be created in consultation with the national bishops’ conference of a given country.

Bishop John Broadhurst and Fr Geoffrey Kirk of Forward in Faith UK, an Anglican grouping opposed to women priests and bishops, say:

It has been the frequently expressed hope and fervent desire of Anglican Catholics to be enabled by some means to enter into full communion with the See of Peter whilst retaining in its integrity every aspect of their Anglican inheritance which is not at variance with the teaching of the Catholic Church.

We rejoice that the Holy Father intends now to set up structures within the Church which respond to this heartfelt longing. Forward in Faith has always been committed to seeking unity in truth and so warmly welcomes these initiatives as a decisive moment in the history of the Catholic Movement in the Church of England. Ut unum sint!

Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, says:

Today the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has received word of the new Provision in the form of an apostolic constitution issued by the Holy See for the reception into full communion with the Catholic Church of groups from the Anglican tradition. The USCCB stands ready to collaborate in the implementation of that Provision in our country.

This step by the Holy See is in response to a number of requests received in Rome from groups of Anglicans seeking corporate reunion. The application of the new Provision recognises the desire of some Anglicans (Episcopalians) to live the Catholic faith in full, visible communion with the See of Peter, while at the same time retaining some elements of their traditions of liturgy, spirituality and ecclesial life which are consistent with the Catholic faith.

This Provision, at the service of the unity of the Church, calls us as well to join our voices to the Priestly Prayer of Jesus that ‘all may be one’ (Jn 17:21) as we seek a greater communion with all our brothers and sisters with whom we share Baptism. For 45 years, our Episcopal Conference has engaged in ecumenical dialogue with The Episcopal Church, which is the historic Province of the Anglican communion in North America. The Catholic Bishops of the United States remain committed to seeking deeper unity with the members of The Episcopal Church by means of theological dialogue and collaboration in activities that advance the mission of Christ and the welfare of society.

Photo: The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of Westminster at this morning’s press conference (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

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Written by Luke Coppen

October 20, 2009 at 10:35 am

8 Responses

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  1. […] Dantes nyheter har den klart bästa svenska uppdateringen hittills. Luke Coppen […]

  2. Poor Cantuar looks dejected. By contrast, Westminster (always) looks like he just woke up… after a well deserved nap. A busy fellow, to be sure.

    Looking forward to the publication of the Apostolic Constitution.

    Warren Anderson

    October 20, 2009 at 4:48 pm

  3. The Catholic church needs to be fishing for more young liberal members. They’ve already got too many conservative members. Reeling in more from the Anglicans who are opposed to, say , homosexual clergy is going in the wrong direction.
    As the population grows more liberal and more open to new ideas, the Catholic church will be seen as even more irrelevant.
    Right now the only place the churches are gaining is in the poorer third world countries.
    The wealthier more educated are turning their backs on the conservative church.

    norris hall

    October 20, 2009 at 9:04 pm

  4. Please read the following: ‘Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith releases note about Personal Ordinariates for Anglicans entering the Catholic Church’ (20/10/2009) http://www.catholic-ew.org.uk/ccb/content/pdf/5477

    Please also read Damian Thompson’s Blog about it: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/damianthompson/100014174/new-era-begins-as-benedict-throws-open-gates-of-rome-to-disaffected-anglicans/

    Contrary to what is claimed the call for unity between Anglicans and Rome began around 1920, as the aim of The Church Union, so has nothing to do with ARCIC.

    Brian Gregory

    October 20, 2009 at 9:56 pm

  5. The Reformation, because it was thrust on the English and Welsh by the monarchy and civil authorities has historically left a spiritual yearning for things Catholic.
    The Dowry of Mary is a lingering reality in the British Isles that the reformers never entirely eradicated.

    David Wall

    October 20, 2009 at 11:37 pm

    This creation of a personal prelature is being hugely overrated.

    It is a general arrangement for a specific branch of anglo catholicism only. What is more, they are only allowed to enter into full communion with the See of Rome, giving up core anglican beliefs and what it most important: their own Christian identity.

    Rome still requires full subjection, conversion and denial of their own orders before it accepts Anglican clergymen. Most importantly, this proposal requires priests to deny their orders and seek reordination.

    The allowance for married priests is old news. As far as married priests from Anglican background is concerned, this has been a practice for many years. What really should have been arranged is the acceptance of married ordinants for the priesthood in the new situation. Married bishops should have been allowed in this order as well, had anglo-catholicism been preserved. No import of leaders. They are welcome to be parish priest, but nothing influential in the organisation.

    Furthermore, it is simply not possible for Anglican priests to retain integrity in every aspect of their Anglican inheritance which is not at variance with the teaching of the Catholic Church. What about the 39Articles? Particularly 31: the one oblation of Christ finished upon the cross, instead of “blasphemous fables”. Also 31: bishops, priests and deaconbs marry at their spiritual discretion. Not to mention one of the core convictions of anglicanism (art 37): The Bishop of Rome hath no jurisdiction in this realm of England.

    Unfortunatly the proposed structure is not ecumenical at all. It doesn’t recognize anglo catholicism, its convictions or its orders. It just tries to make conversion on Rome’s terms a little bit more tempting by allowing some forms and rituals that Anglo-catholics feel traditionally comfortable with.

    Why should an Anglican priest have to deny his doctrine and his holy orders? What is more, why should outsiders and bystanders be enthusiastic when Rome again fails to show genuine respect for Christians of Anglican and other reformed persuasion? Christians who have real problems as they stand up for orthodox Christianity in their denominations. Wonderful, we’ll accept you when you deny your orders, your doctrine and subject to the Pope. What kind of world does the Vatican think we live in? I have genuine respect for BenedictXVI, but this is a missed chance for true ecumenism. Unfortunately Rome seems to show its real colours.

    John Knox

    October 21, 2009 at 5:49 am

    • I agree 100%. I also cannot imagine that all Anglo-Catholics are going to be willing to **truly** convert to the Roman Catholic faith. Maybe that doesn’t matter anymore, although it should. Someone pointed out on another blog that there is a difference between Anglo-CATHOLICS and ANGLO-Catholics. It depends on where the emphasis is.

      Re your last paragraph: at least the Pope was upfront about it from the start.

      And what about the Anglo-Catholics who stick with the Anglican Church? Will there be Anglo-Catholic churches left for them to attend?


      October 22, 2009 at 8:54 am

  7. […] Breaking news: Traditional Anglicans to be reunited with Rome So, as expected, this morning the Vatican has unveiled the mechanism by which traditionalist Anglicans can be received […] […]

    Top Posts « WordPress.com

    October 22, 2009 at 1:20 am

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