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Luke Coppen's Catholic Herald Blog

Early reactions to the new Apostolic Constitution

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The American Cistercian Brother Stephen has some interesting first thoughts on the Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum Coetibus, released today. On his blog, Sub Tuum, he writes:

The Pope of Unity’s offer is even more magnanimous than I would have guessed. This is truly a great day for those who had hoped to enter full communion with the Holy See. But remember that last phrase is very important: short of something extraordinary, this is not a huge group and now that it is clear that former Anglicans will indeed be treated as something like an ethnic use returning to full communion, albeit a generously treated one, rather than as a church entering full communion, many will back away. The limitations on who may exercise ministry will be a stumbling block for others.

Robert Moynihan of Inside the Vatican says:

This will be seen as one of the historic documents of Pope Benedict XVI’s pontificate. We are watching history unfold here. But this is just one part of a larger papal strategy and vision, which opens outward toward the Orthodox Churches, and which has to do also with the mysterious message of Fatima.

My colleague, Damian Thompson, notes that the document allows former Anglican bishops to petition the Holy See to keep their episcopal insignia. He adds:

I’m also very struck by the Constitution’s insistence on the ‘treasures’ of Anglicanism, which it values very highly and wishes to see brought into the fulness of the Church. The Constitution is a very big deal indeed.

Ruth Gledhill of the Times says the text is “all that Catholic Anglicans hoped for and more”:

It is clear from Article 11 that former Anglican bishops can become Catholic bishops in all but name, even where they are married. They will officially retain the status of presbyter, but will be allowed to be the Ordinary or head of the Ordinariate, will be allowed to be a member of the local Bishops’ Conference with the status of retired bishop and, significantly, will be allowed to ask permission from Rome to use the seal of episcopal office. This leaves the path clear for Bishop of Fulham Fr John Broadhurst, married father of four, to head the new Ordinariate in Britain.

On the Guardian website, Graham Kings wonders what the document will mean for Anglican-Catholic relations:

The long term consequences of this announcement are difficult to see at the moment, but the achievements of the dialogical approach of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) and of the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM) need to be safeguarded. The profoundly reconciling legacy in Liverpool and England of the friendship between Bishop David Sheppard and Archbishop Derek Worlock needs remembering and developing.

Philip Pullella of Reuters focuses on the section about priestly celibacy:

The Vatican announced last month an initiative to make it easier for conservative Anglicans who feel their church has become too liberal to convert to Catholicism. This stirred widespread speculation on what it could eventually mean for the celibacy rule in the Roman Catholic church.

There was also speculation about whether men who had left the Catholic priesthood to marry and later became Anglicans could return to the Catholic priesthood and remain married. The constitution ruled out this possibility and also said unmarried Anglican priests who convert must remain celibate after their conversion and ordination as Catholic priests.

The constitution says that ‘as a rule’ only celibate men will be admitted to the Roman Catholic priesthood but that the admission of married Anglican priests will be decided on a case by case basis after a petition made to the pope.

John Allen translates the title of the document as “On Groups of Anglicans” and says it gives significant latitude to former Anglicans, “though not latitude without limits”.

In a concession to the collaborative style of governance within Anglicanism, the ordinariates are required to have a Governing Council (with at least six priests) that will have a deliberative vote on matters such as proposing new ordinaries to Rome, approving candidates for the priesthood, and creating or suppressing parishes, centers of formation and religious congregations. The ordinariates are also required to have Pastoral Councils, while for normal dioceses they are encouraged but optional.

Photo: Cardinal William Levada speaks at the news conference announcing the Apostolic Constitution last month (AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis)

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Written by Luke Coppen

November 9, 2009 at 2:42 pm

One Response

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  1. What is that great quote by Groucho Marx about belonging to a club ~

    See http://vaticanvalues.wordpress.com


    November 10, 2009 at 6:50 am

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