September 2010

Referring page



What kind of Ordinary will England get?

Will Ordinariates be given, as their Ordinaries, men who have suffered alongside their fellow Anglicans for the last fifteen years; who know them and know their anxieties and their hopes; who already have the experience of pastoring them; or will somebody be parachuted in who left our faith-community fifteen years ago and has been 'clubbed' by a native Roman Catholic hierarchy and its ethos? If the latter, this will give a fair indication of who has ‘won’ in the competition to bend the ear of Cardinal Levada.

You can read the rest of the article in its place. Also see the original article by Fr Hunwicke in case the Anglo-Catholic article gets moderated.

I don’t ask that a TAC bishop or priest should necessarily be appointed, but one who is fair to all concerned and is concerned for the success of the Pope's ordinariate plan according to the stated intentions in the Apostolic Constitution. Fr Hunwicke would seem to be a good choice to consider! He has the pastoral experience, has intellectual clout and the right sympathies (even if he doesn't approve of Sarum).

This is certainly the acid test.


More Conjectures of an English Ordinariate

The Holy Father is now in Scotland, and I will be reading the news later to find out what is going on, but I am sure nothing will be announced about Ordinariates whilst he is not back in Rome or Castelgandolfo. An English priest writes to me from time to time, asks me not to reveal his identity, and quietly draws me into reality.

This priest is convinced that the “model” Ordinariate would be for England, and that it wuold be announced either after the end of the Papal visit or after Forward in Faith’s October meeting and perhaps also the TTAC synod to be held in Portsmouth at the end of the same month. This is thought-provoking, and brings me both joy and anxiety.

This way of thinking and conjecture goes like this. The Holy Father is going to do the best he can to reverse secularism and relativism in the UK, and will do everything possible to make the Ordinariate work, and he knows about the opposition from diocesan bishops – but, that the project cannot work without them. The only method I could see would be to take the least risk possible and hand-pick the first Ordinary and the council of six priests for an Ordinariate covering the British Isles and Continental Europe (English-speaking diaspora – and a number of presently Gibraltar Diocese clergy are interested). Ordinariates in other countries would be determined by the success and development of the English Ordinariate, formed mainly of 1990’s converts, clergy and lay people leaving the Church of England and the little TTAC group (or most of it).

The likelihood in England would be that the Ordinary would be Bishop Alan Hopes, auxiliary of the Archdiocese of Westminster, who is a former Anglican. Hopefully, he would build his council from former Church of England clergy, and perhaps one or two from the TTAC, which is very small in England. It would seem unlikely that the Ordinary would be someone who is currently an Anglican bishop or priest, or anyone from the TAC. The other possibility could be Fr Aidan Nicholls OP. Bishop Mercer and Fr Hunwicke would be less likely because of their age.

I don’t know whether any organised groups of the TAC would be able to enter ordinariates as complete ‘units’, given the pressure imposed by anti-Roman Continuum-type elements, which would presumably hold the real estate owned by present TAC communities.

The emerging hermeneutic would seem to be that of Ordinariates being created ex-nihilo and a priori and accepting groups and individuals who are leaving the TAC, dissolving the TAC or leaving the Anglican Communion. It would not necessarily be the scenario I wish for, but it seems the most realistic.

Our Anglican world, whether in the Anglican Communion or in the Continuing Churches, is fragmented and extremely volatile. Only God can make something of these confused and fickle elements, as for each one of us who suffers from the uncertainty of it all. I place my faith in the Holy Father (and God first of all) and his resolve to give the Church a future, using – as he sees fit – us the Lord’s useless instruments.

I am probably not far wrong…


Two TAC Bishops at the Beatification of Cardinal Newman

This comment on a posting in The Anglo-Catholic was written by Fr Ian Westby, northern Dean of the TTAC in England:

I am not able to get to any of the events during the Holy Father’s visit to our lands. However! I have been able to watch the excellent coverage on the television by the BBC and also Sky TV, since his began in Scotland.

What is so evident, is the warm welcome the Holy Father is experiencing, which shows in his smiling face wherever he goes, it is certainly looking as though he is enjoying this visit very much.

As a TTAC priest, I am now convinced even more so, of my right judgement in hopefully joining the Ordinariate. Our Episcopal Visitor Bishop David Moyer and Bishop Robert Mercer will be at the service on Sunday when the Holy Father will beatify John Cardinal Henry Newman, as official guests of the Vatican whilst representing The Traditional Anglican Church in England.

I would ask you all to pray for a continued successful visit by the Holy Father as history continues to be made here in England.


A Ray of Sunshine

He made discreet reference to the Apostolic Constitution. I quote the passage here with my emphasis in bold type.

* * *

“The other matter I touched upon in February with the Bishops of England and Wales, when I asked you to be generous in implementing the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus. This should be seen as a prophetic gesture that can contribute positively to the developing relations between Anglicans and Catholics. It helps us to set our sights on the ultimate goal of all ecumenical activity: the restoration of full ecclesial communion in the context of which the mutual exchange of gifts from our respective spiritual patrimonies serves as an enrichment to us all. Let us continue to pray and work unceasingly in order to hasten the joyful day when the goal can be accomplished”.

* * *

It is too early to give much of an interpretation of these words, but I’m going to have a go all the same.

The prophetic gesture is an important aspect of the efforts made by Pope Benedict XVI to swim against the tide of secularism, the eclipse of faith and our inexorable slide down the slop towards totalitarianism and a refinement of the horrific ideologies of the twentieth century. The Church needs the prophetic office, something spoken of many times by Blessed John Henry Newman in his works, especially the Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine. In this short address, the Holy Father mentions the prophetic: “The prophetic voice of Christians has an important role in highlighting the needs of the poor and disadvantaged”. Prophecy is not just foretelling the future, but announcing the Gospel, telling what is right. This is more about announcing Christ than simply maintaining the institution of the Church. It is also a departure from conventional wisdom. “I pray that among the graces of this visit will be a renewed dedication on the part of Christian leaders to the prophetic vocations will then arise spontaneously, and we may be confident that the Lord will respond by sending labourers to bring in the plentiful harvest that he prepared throughout the United Kingdom (cf Mt 9:37-38)”. The priesthood contains a prophetic vocation, announcing the Gospel through word, deed and example of life. This notion of prophecy is something that is so quickly forgotten in institutional Churches and bureaucracies. This will obviously be our vocation in the Church.

The goal of all ecumenism is the restoration of full ecclesial communion. It is all well to develop friendship between Churches, and this is what the Holy Father is doing with the Church of England. The door remains open, and charity, friendship and mutual respect remain in place. But, that relationship is going no further whilst the Anglican Communion ordains women to the priesthood and episcopate. This goal of the restoration of full ecclesial communion is now only possible for groups of Anglicans who are ready to make their commitment to enter communion with the Successor of Saint Peter and profess the entire Catholic Faith. But, this full ecclesial communion, so desired by us all, is quickly qualified by a new and prophetic context – the mutual exchange of gifts from our respective spiritual patrimonies serves as an enrichment to us all. This is going to be an exchange of gifts. We have as much to receive as we have to give. We would be giving our tradition of sacred vernacular liturgy, our music, our spiritual tradition, everything we have discussed in our blogs over the past year. We would be receiving back the ancient patrimony of patristic and medieval Catholicism, something we have been seeking to do since the days of the Oxford Movement in our separation and estrangement from both Rome and Eastern Orthodoxy. We have also assimilated the patrimony of Counter-Reformation Catholicism with our use of the English Missal and decoration of some of our churches in Baroque style. We celebrate the feasts of Saint Theresa of Lisieux and the Curé d’Ars among so many other canonised men and women of modern times. We accept the Catechism and the best of twentieth century ressourcement theology. We will never cease to learn and marvel at the wisdom of the one Church of Christ.

This discreet snatch leaves me with hope that Anglicanorum Coetibus was not something published in haste and the subject of brushing under the carpet or back-peddling. The Holy Father really does want this, and I think we can confidently wait for the details to be given in new announcements and the establishment of the first Ordinariate.

Update from September 20th:

An associate of Fr Robert Hart, moderator of the Continuum blog, has again been writing comments in his inimitable English prose. After claiming that pressure was put on Anglican faithful in some places to accept Catholic doctrines, he tries to use this to prove that the TAC is in some way falling apart. He ends his piece with this paragraph:

This and other brouhahas will not play well when reviewed in Rome and many chancery offices. The Pope’s guarded remarks on the whole project during his recent trip to UK seems to suggest that he and his curia are backing away from the whole mess.

I don’t find the Holy Father’s remarks at all guarded, otherwise he would not have mentioned the Ordinariates at all. There is no sign that he or the Roman Curia are backing away from anything. It shows how little understanding these ‘Anglican’ clerics have for Romanità and the art of understatement. To the contrary, this Papal speech was full of meaning, as were the others he gave in England over the week end.

With such a hermeneutic of the Holy Father’s words, one can now understand how the meaning of Anglicanorum Coetibus is lost on Fathers Hart and Wells. The value of their criticisms of Archbishop Hepworth is thus amply demonstrated — to be worthless!


The “Ex-Nihilo” Hermeneutic Prevails

I don’t know how reliable Damian Thompson is as a journalist, but this seems to be it. Is this just England or the world over? The article is called Benedict will bounce Anglicans into the Roman Catholic Church.

I would appreciate comments, especially as to whether this article is accurate. If it is, everything being said in the TAC and continuing Anglican Churches is purely academic and absolutely irrelevant. If this interpretion is right, it would seem to be individual conversion to the Ordinariates or alphabet soup for the TAC – for all clergy and laity. I suppose the same will apply to the Church of England folk, Forward in Faith and also the Catholics who are former Anglicans.

Checkmate. Or is it?

* * *

Perhaps we need to change the way we think about the Ordinariate. It’s a structure that will be built from the ground up on the Catholic bank of the Tiber. I don’t see many C of E parishes converting en masse: even the most Anglo-Papal congregations contain diehard Anglicans who simply cannot face the prospect of becoming “Romans”. There isn’t much of a future for them in any Church unless they change their beliefs. One thing the Church of England is good at is taking spiky Anglo-Catholic congregations, merging them with a more mainstream parish, shipping in a less “extreme” vicar – and, 10 years down the line, a woman is celebrating the Eucharist (amid clouds of incense, naturally). There will be a lot of that. (Incidentally, if certain ultra-Caaaartholic north London parishes decide to stay Anglican, I think the least they can do is take down their pictures of the Pope.)

The success of the Ordinariate doesn’t depend on mass transit. The crucial thing is that this new ecclesial structure lays solid foundations. I can envisage two or three parishes in London, and maybe one in each of our major cities, made of up former Anglicans from different congregations who are bound together by their Anglo-Catholic past and far stricter standards of worship than you would find in a typical Catholic parish. An exciting prospect has opened up for these Christians: that of doing liturgy properly as real Catholics but without interference from a local RC bishop whose idea of solemn Mass is one of those Star Trek-style concelebrations.

All this talk of “Anglican patrimony” is rather misleading in England, where Anglicans attracted to the Ordinariate scheme tend to be happy with the Roman Missal (and will be even happier with its new translation). The patrimony of the new communities may have more to do with liturgical style than with liturgical texts. But it’s important to remember that the first Ordinariate parish will be a jumping-off point rather than a final destination: we’re essentially talking about a new movement with the opportunity to develop its own charism. My main worry is that Anglicans planning to take advantage of Anglicanorum coetibus will be disheartened by the sneers and hand-wringing of reactionaries in both Churches. Please, don’t be. The Pope believes that the Ordinariate is prophetic: the next stage in the route to Christian unity.

Such was the impact of Pope Benedict’s visit, however, that I reckon there will also be a wave of individual defections by Anglicans who want to become ordinary Catholics. We’re living in a post-ecumenical age in which Rome has once again placed conversion at the heart of its encounter with Anglicans: not for nothing did the Pope choose the date of Blessed John Henry Newman’s reception into the Church as his feast day. Even Anglicans who have no intention of “poping” recognise that Benedict exercises a teaching authority over his Church that highlights Rowan William’s increasingly fragile position within his own community. (And, as someone observed during the visit, he is able to express himself more clearly in his third language than +Rowan can in his first.) Newman himself was an enthusiast for the notion of corporate reception of Anglicans into communion with the Holy See – but, in the end, he decided to take the plunge alone. After the extraordinary scenes of the past week I expect many members of the Church of England to do likewise.

Just a little note: Damian Thompson has often written about the Ordinariates and the TAC, and has shown a reasonably sympathetic attitude. His scenario is by no means unique. The Ordinariates need proven men for their leadership, and there are TAC priests and bishops with those qualities — Bishop Wilkinson in Canada for example.

It seems quite reasonable for Rome to begin by naming bishops or priests as Ordinaries, at least on a provisional basis until the structures are in place and the fundamental structure established and stabilised, however small in numbers. An Ordinariate created by Rome doesn’t seem unreasonable if the basis intention of the Anglicanorum Coetibus is respected.

I am sure the Ordinariates thus established would accept both individual and group applications from the Anglican Communion, Continuing Churches and ad hoc groups. Catholics who are of Anglican origin would certainly be allowed to transfer to an Ordinariate from their diocese if they wished and if their bishop was disposed to allowing such a transfer. In America, I imagine the Ordinariate being essentially in the hands of the Anglican Use community with group applications from people and clergy from the ACA.

I don’t allow myself to become too negative about this until things begin to play out, and whether Rome is prepared to be generous about clergy irregularities of ecclesiastical law (ie: other than divorce and attempted remarriage without an annulment). There is still hope.


The American Debacle

Catastrophic as this situation seems, there are Anglicans outside America who are ready for the Ordinariates, and some of the ACA clergy and people seem to be forming a group to be Ordinariate-ready by joining forces with the Anglican Use and other groups.

As a European, I don’t think the American situation will change the course of the Ordinariate plan. I am very uneasy about the rhetoric about traitors or betrayal, even though I am not impressed by the decision of the three American bishops. This impulsiveness has unfortunately become characteristic on the Anglo-Catholic blog, and certainly a cause of much of the Hepworth-bashing that drove me away.

If Archbishop Hepworth has erred in this whole thing, it was underestimating the potential opposition and the fact that most of the laity were unprepared and motivated more by their emotions and prejudices than real theological issues. Perhaps in retrospect, it would have been better to found a new organisation or ‘holding solution’, so that the fracture lines could have become apparent earlier. Who knows?

What can I say? Let those who want to continue in the continuing Anglican world go their way. We should respect them rather than declare a new War of Religion and more violence (verbal or physical), and go our way Romewards. I am not attracted to the kind of Anglicanism the Fr Hart tendency is offering, and frankly would prefer to accept Rome’s way with humility and confidence. Priest at all costs or carving out my little patch of power with a cardboard mitre and a bit of purple under the collar… How childish!

I’m going all the way with Archbishop Hepworth and the clergy and faithful loyal to him and this whole movement he has put into motion. We’re either going to a train wreck or God’s Kingdom. I for one am not going any other way.

* * *

I will just give a little fisk to some of the comments over there.

It is not for me to criticise nominations of bishops in the TAC, even less the ACA, and I don’t know the persons concerned. I do wonder if they have any legitimate wiggle room. Some say yea, others nay. For some, let them be fed to the crocodiles, for others, let them go their way in peace. I can see the point – you want to become a Bishop, you assume the responsibility and the charge of the office.

Fr Lewis Berry, a priest I’m inclined to trust, says that those three American bishops had a plan to scupper the Ordinariate scheme and continue to fight for power. What an indictment! They are bishops and accepted the responsibility, and may it fall on their heads like the anointing oil. Others find the change of heart an honest and up-front decision, perhaps a little borderline just before the expected announcement of the Ordinariates being implemented. Are those bishops rogues or weak-kneed like the condemned man who sees before him the gallows, the trap door, the rope and the waiting hangman?

Cradle Roman Catholics are intensely disappointed, and many will think this is symptomatic of Janus-faced Anglicanism trying to corrupt the Catholic Church. Continuing Anglicanism has run its course and is out of fuel, the driver holding up a jerry can hoping that someone will fill it for him. The other cars pass him by. Do we remember the Parable of the Ten Virgins we read on feasts of holy women?

If the Ordinariates are applied generously and without anything that can be construed as a bait & switch policy, I’m sure those bishops will be left on the beach as the faithful with renewed confidence go and join the Ordinariates. The Ordinariates must come into existence, otherwise the present fracturing will continue. Why would Rome and the Holy Father want that?

Fr Andrew Crosbie has a point saying “My fear is that the time delay between announcing Anglicanorum Coetibus and the appearance of some real and actual progress towards the creation of an Ordinariate is not helping. If anyone from the CDF is reading this we need to see progress. Human weakness is such that the longer and more arduous the journey the more travellers will fall by the wayside”. It took two years to announce Anglicanorum Coetibus from when the TAC Portsmouth letter was taken to Rome, and now a year before the least sign of implementation, other than the few words of the Holy Father last Sunday at Oscott. If the waiting goes on for much longer, there will be no groups of Anglicans.

It has been said that one or more of those bishops is in a third (an invalid) marriage. If this is true, they should not be bishops, priests or anything in the TAC, let alone the Church in communion with Rome! Is this volte-face about men hanging onto their priesthood and episcopate rather than seeing the Church centred on anything other than themselves?

Peter Perkins of Canada, a traditional Catholic, is appalled but not surprised. He also sees a part of the problem residing in the time Rome is taking to implement the Ordinariates. Church of England and Magic Circle bishops are being given ammunition to scupper the whole project. The longer it takes, the more trust will be replaced by suspicion.

These are just a few ideas, and comments would be welcome.


Canonical Aspects of Anglicanorum Coetibus

Regarding Canonical difficulties such as those raised by Mr. Perkins. Bishop Arrieta of the Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts, at the just concluded AUS Conference, conceded that there were some canonical problems just comparing the AC and the Norms. He pointed out that the law does not exist for itself, but that canon law follows theology, and that it can and likely will be amended to foster the purpose of the constitution. He didn’t give specifics, partly because there are so many variations. Part of that will be handled, as he said, by the particular norms that are established for each ordinariate.

I ‘googled’ this Catholic bishop, and found the following text.

Whatever, it does somewhat relativise the Complementary Norms, the document having the lesser level of authority than the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus. We can conclude that not all the laws of the Complementary Norms are engraved in stone or not capable of being interpreted or even dispensed by the proper authority.

Now I have done my undergraduate canon law course — a long time ago, and mainly on general principles and the chapter on marriage impediments. Are there some canon law experts reading this blog who can help to isolate these problems? Perhaps an interesting thread could come out of this. If Mr Perkins reads this, he would be most welcome to add his comments and legal expertise.

* * *

Personal Ordinariates

Juan Ignacio Arrieta

The Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus (AC), promulgated by the Holy Father Benedict XVI on the fourth of November 2009, establishes in canon law a new personal ecclesiastical circumscription: personal Ordinariates. This circumscription is on the whole similar to other personal circumscriptions that already exist in the Catholic Church – military Ordinariates, personal Prelatures, Ordinariates for the faithful of the Eastern rites –, but it is new on account of the “type” of factors that were taken into consideration when planning it and also, therefore, in the fundamental lines of its structure, which show the originality of the ecumenical horizon in which it is situated.

As a whole, the legislative provision is made up of two documents, which are interconnected but which have a different juridical value. The first is an apostolic constitution that establishes ex novo [from scratch] the structure of the personal Ordinariate. This is a pontifical document of the highest level of canonical legislation, which is then developed in Complementary Norms (CN) of a lower level, approved by the Pope but promulgated by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which will be the Dicastery entrusted with erecting the Ordinariates, with dictating the specific Complementary Norms of each Ordinariate, and above all, with following over time the ordinary vicissitudes of the new Ordinariates, in a way similar to how the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples (Propaganda Fide) follows the ecclesiastical circumscriptions located in mission territories.

1.– Important Priority of the Ecumenical Context

The principal dimension in which it is necessary to evaluate the provision that concerns us is, therefore, the ecumenical one. This statement serves both to recall the reasons that prompted it and the more significant contents of the pontifical document.

The establishment of personal Ordinariates is not an initiative that originally arose within the purview of the Catholic Church. It is rather the response of the Church “to the many requests that have been submitted to the Holy See from groups of Anglican clergy and faithful in different parts of the world who wish to enter into full visible communion”. This fact, confirmed both by the Catholic and the Anglican side, is important for understanding the provision in the ecumenical context. This is what emerges from the contextual presentation of the news given in Rome by the Prefect of the Congregation of the Faith and at the same time in London, with a joint statement issued by the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury and the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster.

The Prefect of the dicastery that for years has advanced the study of the question pointed out that this concrete gesture is the result of “trying to meet the requests for full communion that have come to us from Anglicans in different parts of the world in recent years in a uniform and equitable way. With the new juridical structure the Church wants to respond to the legitimate aspirations of these Anglican groups for full and visible unity with the Bishop of Rome, successor of St. Peter”.

More generally, the recent Apostolic Constitution is a concrete result of the ecumenical dialogue that has progressed for years in an atmosphere of growing trust and hope. Therefore, in the present circumstances, it has opportunely been recalled how the conciliar decree on ecumenism sought to affirm that among the communities separated from the Catholic Church at the time of the Reformation “in which Catholic traditions and institutions in part continue to exist, the Anglican Communion occupies a special place”.

The appreciation of the common patrimony of faith represents, as we will see, one of the important characteristics of the new provision. In this sense, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith expressed the hope that the Anglican clergy and faithful who desire union with the Catholic Church will find through the structure now prepared “the opportunity to preserve those Anglican traditions precious to them and consistent with the Catholic faith”.

The uniqueness of the Vatican response to all these requests is rooted in the possibility that is now open in an institutional manner to be able to achieve a “corporateincorporation to the Church of Rome. Without prescinding, obviously, from the individual dimension that characterizes the act of faith, the possibility is now recognized of receiving into the Church organized groups of Anglican faithful, maintaining precisely certain elements of their own liturgical and spiritual identity, and above all something of their own social structure as a group.

The pastoral experience of group incorporations in the Church is not new because in recent years “there have been groups of Anglicans who have entered while preserving some “corporative” structure. Examples of this include, the Anglican diocese of Amritsar in India, and some individual parishes in the United States which maintained an Anglican identity when entering the Catholic Church under a “pastoral provision” adopted by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and approved by Pope John Paul II in 1982”.

These experiences have allowed the Holy See in recent years to be able to evaluate the concrete pastoral problems inherent in these so-called “corporate” unions, not least the problem regarding the personal position of Anglican pastors who, having attained full communion, continue their ministerial activity and are admitted to Holy Orders. The various questions involved have been studied in depth in view of being able to sketch a juridical structure tailored to pastoral needs of this kind.

Let us briefly consider some of the concrete needs of such corporate unions in order to be able to understand better the response given by the legislator in the recent documents.

2.– Postulates of the Special Pastoral Work

a) The Sacramental Structuring of the Communities

The reception of these groups into the Catholic Church poses, first of all, a requirement that the community have a structure in itself. Because the Church is a hierarchical structure, resulting from the interaction of the Sacrament of Baptism – common to all the faithful – with the Sacrament of Order, which confers on the ordained the ministerial functions, it is necessary that a community be articulated in a hierarchical form in order that it may become an “ecclesially structured” group: it has to be structured in conformity with Holy Orders.

The groups coming from Anglicanism, at the moment of their entry into communion with the Catholic Church, are groups of the baptized gathered around someone who exercised “ministerial functions” for them, but these functions were not supported by the Sacrament of Order. There is a “ministry”, but the community is not “hierarchically vertebrate”, which comes from Holy Orders. In Catholic ecclesiology, the basic ministerial functions are articulated beginning with the Sacrament of Order, which functions as the determinative factor of the hierarchy.

Now, “structuring” the group signifies “constituting” the necessary sacramental basis of the ministerial functions through the ordination of the ministers; this “sacramental basis” can be different depending on the type of “structure” that is intended to be established. In the case, for example, of the “Pastoral Provision” till now existing in the United States, it was sufficient to configure personal parishes, which were then integrated in the respective dioceses: the structural problem was thus limited to the priestly ordination of the pastors (cann. 150, 521 § 1 CIC).

Now, instead, by instituting the personal Ordinariates as a jurisdiction with a certain autonomy, it is not enough to create pastors; it is also necessary to establish ministers who will assume “ piscopal functions”, something which does not necessarily mean instituting them in the rank of the episcopate, because it is sufficient to confer on them the quasi-episcopal juridical power that is sufficient for the roles of leadership and governance of the coetus fidelium [group of the faithful] that forms the Ordinariate.

In the Catholic Church, however, sacramental ordination is not a subjective right of the baptized: it is an autonomous choice of the competent Authority that comes at the end of a process of formation and discernment; it is a journey that requires “time” even if the Authority can always dispense for a just cause (can. 90 § 1 CIC).

b) The Spiritual Identity of the Group

A second requirement posed by the entrance of these groups regards the recognition and the juridical tutelage of the liturgy and other elements of spirituality and worship which have marked over time the identity of these communities, welcoming fully in the Catholic Church a spiritual heritage which has matured historically in the Anglican tradition.

At the center of the dialogue that led to the promulgation of the norms that we are considering was, on the part of the Catholic Church, the appreciation that these liturgical traditions, developed in the heart of the Anglican Communion, effectively represent an element of diversity that enriches the Catholic Church.

As a consequence, it will be necessary to obtain the approbation of the Holy See for the pertinent liturgical books (n. III AC), an area in which a fair amount of experience was gained with the approbation on the part of the competent Dicasteries of “The Book of Divine Worship” prepared in the United States for the “Pastoral Provision”.

Moreover, the ecclesial identity of these communities in terms of their liturgical profile will have to find the necessary juridical tutelage in order to avoid wrongful “forced” assimilations. Precisely such a requirement justifies some precautions adopted by the published norms in relation to the exercise of the power of the diocesan Bishop with respect to the institutional development of the personal Ordinariates (n. VIII AC, art. 14 CN).

c) The Structural Limit of not being a “Church sui iuris

The starting up of these personal structures involves, therefore, the recognition of new rites and liturgical forms, but not of a new “rite” of membership; rather, we are dealing with a liturgy that will coexist within the Latin-rite Church along with the variety of other rituals that are present in it, such as, for example, the Ambrosian rite in the area of Milan. Something similar, from this point of view, was signified by the promulgation of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum (2007) in regard to the liturgy prior to 1970.

With the establishment of personal Ordinariates, the Holy See has not by any means intended to create new “Churches sui iuris” similar to those created for the communities of the East that, beginning in the sixteenth century, entered into communion with the Church of Rome. The groups of the faithful coming from Anglicanism that now come to Catholic communion belong in full to the Latin-rite Church and the structure designed for them – that of the personal Ordinariates – does not constitute a Church “in se”, but is rather an entity of the Latin-rite Church, which comes under the discipline of the Code of Canon Law (CIC) in whatever is not established to the contrary.

One can understand the reason for a structural limit of this kind from an ecumenical perspective as well. The technical solution of the “Church sui iuris”, adopted at moments in history in which there were poor relationships with other Christian denominations, would actually be a clear deterrent to the ecumenical progress which for years has been inspired by a rather different orientation.

The personal Ordinariates that are erected will not make up, therefore, a “Church sui iuris”. Each of them will have its own autonomy and will depend directly and immediately on the Apostolic See. Neither will there be any kind of “personal bond” analogous to that which ties the Oriental Catholic faithful to their own rite in a stable manner. The mere fact that an explicit request is necessary to belong to an Ordinariate and consequently, the freedom to make a choice not to join it, or to abandon it at a later time without the need for a dispensation of any kind, clearly indicate the differences with the Oriental ritual Churches.

d) A Solution with a Process Perspective

Finally, another pastoral requirement of the present undertaking seems to come from the fact that the insertion of these communities into the Church has the character of a process protracted in time.

Unlike other kinds of pastoral necessities for which personal ecclesiastical circumscriptions have been used, in the present case the pastoral problem before us is not resolved only by the juridical act of erection of the personal Ordinariates. Yes, this erection begins the process of integration, but afterwards it will be necessary to monitor it attentively and channel it in the right direction. From a structural point of view, rather than that of the personal act of faith, the erection of the Ordinariate is not the end, but the point of departure for a journey of consolidation in the Catholic faith for the communities.

This fact is noticeable in the norms through the particular role assumed by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith as regards the institutional aspects of the Ordinariates as well as the following of these structures, which the Congregation will have to carry out on an ongoing basis.

These then are some of the pastoral requirements that have tried to be addressed by sketching a new institutional structure to receive these groups coming from Anglicanism. Let us now look at the characteristics which this structure has adopted, indicating first of all its doctrinal context.

3.– The Ecclesiological Context of the Personal Ordinariates

In order to adequately understand the personal Ordinariates as an institution, it is necessary to consider the ecclesiological framework in which all the personal circumscriptions of the Latin-rite Church are currently situated. As is well known, this framework was not sufficiently clear at the time of the promulgation of the Code in 1983. At that time, there was an inability to understand the way in which the idea of “particular Church”, around which the ecclesiology of Vatican II had been formulated, was applicable or not to these personal circumscriptions; what they had in common with these categories and what distinguished them was not understood.

Since then, however, the doctrinal framework has much changed, and in various ways the relevant conciliar Magisterium was deepened. It now appears clear that not all the hierarchical structures that the Church uses to group the faithful around their own Pastors are theologically the same; moreover, the aggregation of the faithful does not come about in these structures in the same way or for the same reasons, principally because not all the structures correspond to the theological idea of particular Church.

In fact, while some of these hierarchically structured communities are particular Churches, others instead are not because access to them does not come about by reason of the Sacrament of Baptism as “efficient cause”. Indeed, it is not the same to belong to a structure “because” of Baptism (ontological reason) than to belong to it “from the moment” of Baptism (temporal reason). In this perspective, the structures that are not particular Churches appear as complementary structures.

These differences were taken up in comprehensive terms in 1992 by the letter Communionis Notio of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a text of singular importance that synthesizes the central principles of Catholic ecclesiology. For what concerns us here, the document contains two fundamental statements, which it is not possible now to discuss in detail, but which are as follows: first, that the incorporation into the Church of the baptized takes place in a particular Church, that is, that immediate incorporation, so to speak, into the universal Church alone does not exist, because the universal and the particular of the Church are two corresponding dimensions.

The other fundamental statement is the indication that, in addition to the particular Churches into which the faithful are incorporated by the Sacrament of Baptism, there are hierarchical structures for specific pastoral tasks that belong ecclesiologically – says Communionis Notio – to the “logic” of the universal Church, even if their members, inasmuch as they are baptized, are members of particular Churches for the preceding reason.

To this kind of structure would belong, precisely, the personal ecclesiastical circumscriptions, and concretely the personal Ordinariates, as also the personal Prelatures and the military Ordinariates. None of these institutions are particular Churches and, therefore, with the profession of faith, the faithful baptized originally in Anglicanism, including also the ministers who later will be ordained, are received “in” a particular Church, which will necessarily be that of the respective domicile (can. 107 § 1 CIC), and they will remain in that particular Church even after having indicated their wish to belong to the personal Ordinariate created for them.

Later on we will return to other elements related to this. For now let us move on to a more technical consideration of the structural elements of the personal Ordinariates, as they appear in the founding documents.

4.– The Canonical Structure of the Personal Ordinariates

The Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus establishes a personal ecclesiastical circumscription that is supra-diocesan and national in scope, even if the possibility is foreseen of establishing more than one Ordinariate in the same country (nn. I §§ 1-2 AC). The individual personal Ordinariates will then be erected by decree of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (nn. I § 1, XIII AC), will depend hierarchically on it, and will follow the canonical norms common to the Latin-rite Church in whatever is not contrary to the Apostolic Constitution, the common Complementary Norms, and the specific Norms given for each Ordinariate (n. II AC; art. 1 CN), taking into account the normative hierarchy proper to canon law.

i) A Complementary Personal Circumscription

The personal Ordinariate appears to take its name from the circumscription occupied with specialized pastoral activity with the military, namely, the military Ordinariates.

Beyond the name, only with difficulty can one say that the two institutions are equal, also because under more fundamental theological aspects, such as the voluntary character of the ascription of the faithful coming from the Anglican Communion, the personal Ordinariate is instead similar to other personal structures.

The personal Ordinariate consists of a coetus fidelium [group of the faithful] entrusted to the spiritual care of a proper Pastor assisted by his presbyterate. Pastor, presbyterate and faithful are the three “subjective” elements of every hierarchical community. The personal Ordinariates, however, are not particular Churches, as are, for example, the dioceses. For this reason, the faithful belonging to the Ordinariate necessarily belong to the Church of their respective domicile.

b) The Pastor of the Ordinariate

As a rule, the personal Ordinary nominated by the Roman Pontiff as the head of an Ordinariate will not be a Bishop (n. IV AC), even though he will have to exercise the same “ piscopal functions” from the point of view of juridical effectiveness. This preclusion, as is obvious, is not a limit willed by the legislator, but is rather a consequence of the married condition of the clergy which, at least at the beginning, will have to take charge of these communities.

Another characteristic of the Ordinary is the configuration of his jurisdiction as “vicarious” of the Roman Pontiff (n. V, b AC). This factor indicates a difference with the type of power of the Pastors in charge of other personal circumscriptions, which is always a “proper” power. This choice evokes the so-called “missionary” structures (can. 371 § 1 CIC) that depend on the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, which, however, are “particular Churches” said to be “in formation”.

A problem is posed by art. 4 § 1 CN when, in mentioning only some of the canons that outline the powers of Bishops, it seems to establish only a partial equivalence of the personal Ordinary to the diocesan Bishop. The norm cannot be interpreted in the strict sense because that would not be consistent with the Apostolic Constitution, which declares to be applicable to the Ordinary other canons that are not mentioned.

It is clear that he will not be able to perform the kind of acts that regard a sacramental condition which he does not possess: obviously, he will not be able to celebrate pontifical functions nor ordain his own priests; however, he will instead have to sign the “dimissorial letters” so that a Bishop can ordain and incardinate candidates into the Ordinariate.

The personal Ordinary, therefore, is substantially equivalent to the diocesan Bishop. Moreover, he is indicated as a member by right of the respective Episcopal Conference, with the duty of coordinating pastoral activity with the Conference (art. 2 CN) and with each of the diocesan Bishops (art. 3 CN). As is well known, while they are called “Episcopal”, the Conferences in fact gather the “Pastors” that are in charge of the piscopal circumscriptions of a nation, even though some of them are not bishops, which occurs frequently in mission countries. For the same reason, no difficulties are created by making former Anglican bishops, who may be members of the Ordinariate, equivalent to retired bishops (art. 11 § 4 CN). The law does not say it, but it seems necessary to hold that this solely regards the Anglican bishops who are ordained priests once they have attained communion.

c) The Presbyterate of the Ordinariate

In the exercise of his own mission, the Ordinary is assisted by a presbyterate proper to the Ordinariate (n. VI § 4 AC). It is formed both by former Anglican ministers received into the Catholic Church and then ordained and, at a later time, by priests coming from the coetus fidelium itself, formed in the Centers of formation proper to the Ordinariate and then incardinated into it (n. VI § 3 AC, art. 4 § 2 CN). In fact, the Ordinary can erect, in keeping with law, a house of formation with its own “Ratio institutionis sacerdotalis” [Program of Priestly Formation] (art. 10 § 3 CN). For the clergy of the Ordinariate, exceptions in the disciplinary regime are also foreseen (art. 7 CN), and forms of the clergy’s collaboration with the diocesan clergy are also indicated (art. 9 CN).

Regarding the clergy incardinated in the circumscription, a particularly delicate point regards the discipline of celibacy. Here also there has been an attempt to reconcile the needs that can initially appear at the time of the creation of the Ordinariate and what is desirable to happen in the future. Initially, the groups proceeding from Anglicanism bring their own “ministers”, generally married, who will have to be dispensed from celibacy in order to be ordained as priests (n. VI § 1 AC). At a later time, however, it is expected that these ministers will be succeeded by clerics formed in the houses of formation of the Ordinariates, who have received the gift of celibacy. Possible exceptions are foreseen, as well as the eventuality of asking for a dispensation from the Holy Father, but the direction taken by the norm is clear in ratifying in this regard the discipline of the Latin-rite Church (n. VI § 2 AC); it otherwise would not augur well for the formation of the seminarians of the Ordinariate together with those of the local diocese (n. VI § 5 AC; art. 10 § 2 CN).

d) The Faithful of the Ordinariate

Membership in the personal Ordinariate is reserved to the faithful baptized in Anglicanism, or its related bodies, and to those who receive the Christian faith and are baptized in the Ordinariate itself (n. I § 4 AC). Other faithful cannot be a part, obviously, except by dispensation (art. 5 § 1 CN). In every case, such persons “must manifest this desire in writing” (n. IX AC); therefore, a “voluntary” and “explicit” adherence to the personal Ordinariate is required, which, as such, is something essentially “different” from the adherence to the Catholic Church through the profession of faith.

The documents lack clarity concerning the membership of the faithful in the particular Church of their respective domicile. The texts neither affirm nor deny such a double membership – in the Ordinariate and in the diocese – which represents a basic element for defining the responsibility of the various pastors. However, even though the texts are silent, there is no doubt that what is declared by the letter Communionis Notio is applicable to the personal Ordinariate, and therefore that, with the profession of faith, the ex-Anglican faithful are incorporated into the particular Church of their domicile and are entrusted to its Pastor, while with the voluntary request and the enrollment in the apposite register (n. IX AC, art. 5 § 1 CN), they are inserted in the personal Ordinariate and entrusted to the special pastoral care of the Ordinary. This last choice is one that some people will probably not want to carry out and which, in any case, could be withdrawn if necessary at a later time, abandoning the personal Ordinariate.

e) The Religious Communities Assisted by the Ordinariate

The religious communities proceeding from Anglicanism can also adhere to the Ordinariate in conformity with the norms of religious life.

Unlike the lay faithful, however, in the case of consecrated persons, who are already bound by bonds of obedience, an individual act of adherence to the Ordinariate is not required; the legitimate Superiors are the ones who, on behalf of the religious community, will have to achieve the appropriate written “consent” with the personal Ordinary (nn. VII, IX AC) in order that the whole community may form a part of the Ordinariate. In any case, it will always be possible to respect the potential desire of those who, after entrance into communion with the Catholic Church, want to follow not the discipline of the Ordinariate but the common discipline of the Latin-rite Church; in these cases, it would suffice to follow the norms established by law for the transfer to other institutes (cann. 684-685 CIC).

The personal Ordinary, moreover, is given the faculty of erecting new Institutes of Consecrated Life and, as the case may be, of promoting their members to Holy Orders, always according to the norms of canon law (n. VII AC). Experience will confirm the foresight of these provisions.

f) The Pastoral Governance of the Ordinariate

For what regards the structure of the organization, the Apostolic Constitution foresees the adaptation of the general canonical norms to the concrete characteristics of the institute. As was already said, the erection of personal Ordinariates is envisioned at the national level (n. I § 2 AC), also because different needs – such as the economic need or the need to provide care for the clergy (art. 7 § 2 CN) – are difficult to satisfy without the common effort of the dioceses of the country.

A Governing Council, composed of at least six priests and with its own Statutes, should assume the duties which canon law assigns to the Presbyteral Council and the College of Consultors, as well as those specific functions which the current particular norms entrust to this Council (n. X AC, art. 12 CN). Moreover, there are requirements to have a Pastoral Council (n. X § 3 AC, art. 13 CN) and a Finance Council (n. X § 3 AC), with the duties indicated by the Code of Canon Law, as well as the possibility, already mentioned, of erecting a house of formation for seminarians (art. 12 § 2 CN).

The norms now given do not contain precise indications about personal offices. Only art. 11 § 2 CN speaks of an “assistant” to the Ordinary, and n. 4 § 3 CN mentions “territorial deans”, who have the functions of coordinating the various parishes that are subject to the Ordinariate. Therefore, for what regards the remaining offices, it seems that one must hold that the norms of the Code apply, namely, canons 469ff [469 and following] on the curia, the offices of the vicars, etc.

g) The Pastoral Care of the Faithful

For what concerns pastoral care, the erection of personal parishes in various places – or even of personal quasi-parishes – is envisioned for the faithful of the Ordinariate (n. VIII § 1 AC, art. 14 CN); these parishes may possibly be grouped into territorial deaneries (art. 4 § 3 CN). This specific pastoral organization will by necessity have to rely rather frequently on the organization of the diocese of domicile of the faithful, as it has been accordingly established how the respective territorial pastors may assume – the texts speak of “mutual pastoral assistance” but not of “replacement” – the pastoral responsibilities of the pastors of the Ordinariate (n. VIII § 2 AC, art. 14 § 2 CN).

The erection of personal parishes is done directly by the Ordinary, after having heard the Diocesan Bishop and once the consent of the Holy See has been obtained (n. VIII § 1 AC). The erection of territorial deaneries also requires the consultation of the Episcopal Conference and the assent of the Holy See (art. 4 § 3 CN). What has prevailed, in these cases, is the desire to reinforce the position of the Ordinary with the prevailing intervention of the superior Authority, avoiding that the evolution of the institute could be conditioned on the part of the circumscription of the territory. The erection of quasi-parishes, even, could take place without the assent of the Holy See (art. 14 § 3 CN), but it seems only right to understand all this in a context of harmony sought with the Diocesan Bishop, and thus, in these cases and also for the building of churches of any kind, the same practice should at least be followed as with the parishes.

i) Relationship with the Diocesan Bishop

In this regard, another question can be posed: what juridical relationship exists between the jurisdiction of the diocesan Bishop and that of the personal Ordinary? In canon law, for some time the notion has been coined of “cumulative power”, above all to designate the ensemble of situations in which the powers of two Pastors, territorial and personal, meet, and in which both have a right to take action.

The present texts do not speak of “cumulative power” but rather of “joint exercise” of power. This is a descriptive expression which says nothing on the technical level about the juridical relationship between the two powers; it determines rather the spirit of communion in which these powers should be exercised. The expression has already been regarded as equivalent to “concurrent jurisdiction”, and substantially it is to be considered also as “cumulative”, according to law.

The Complementary Norms deals with this subject in the cases in which the faithful of the Ordinariate “collaborate in pastoral or charitable activities, whether diocesan or parochial”, that is, when such faithful “are subject to the Diocesan Bishop or to the pastor of the place”, and thus regarding only these two ministers (art. 5 § 2 CN). It is clear that in these and other cases they are subject in everything to the Diocesan Bishop.

However, one should take note that ecclesiastical jurisdiction over the lay faithful is extremely restricted, and that, unlike incardinated clerics and religious subject to the rules of their respective institutes, lay people move in the Church in spheres of full freedom.

I think that the structure that has been delineated, in order to receive into communion with Rome entire groups of Anglican faithful guided by their own ministers, represents a good instrument that has succeeded in making fitting use of the elasticity that characterizes canon law. The result is a personal ecclesiastical circumscription that provides for the specific spiritual needs of the faithful that come from the Anglican experience of faith, but who at the same time remain faithful of the dioceses of their domicile. They have a double Pastor of reference.

The limit of the norms we have considered regards, however, the uncertain determination of the task of these two Pastors and of the responsibility which the diocesan Bishop has over these faithful. It is to be hoped, therefore, that these uncertainties will be clarified, either through new and more precise general Norms given by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, or by clearly establishing in the Norms given for the individual Ordinariates what the responsibilities of the respective Pastors are and in what way they ought to collaborate with one another.

We should not marvel that a norm that had to be prepared in conditions that are truly special may contain technical limits, for which the Holy See will opportunely have to make provision. It has to be admitted, however, that this profile appears immediately eclipsed and marginalized when one realizes the extraordinary ecclesial importance of the provision in itself, considered from the profile of the unity of the Church.


The Emerging Ordinariates

It all seems to be emerging with the return of the Holy Father from England to the Eternal City. I took note of Damian Thompson’s article, which I mentioned yesterday. Today, I refer you to the article in Whispers in the Loggia, which often brings us interesting news.

The CDF has appointed Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington as its delegate to oversee the initial work towards establishing the American Ordinariate. We now have the methodology to be applied for other countries. We don’t yet have a definite name for the UK. Delegates are being appointed in countries where an Ordinariate may emerge. Canada goes to Archbishop Thomas Collins of Toronto, Australia to Bishop Peter Elliott of Melbourne. Archbishop John Myers of Newark continues to oversee the Pastoral Provision.

The American delegate, Archbishop Wuerl, will be assisted by a committee of two diocesan bishops and a former Episcopalian, now a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington. This committee has two tasks: to facilitate the implementation of Anglicanorum coetibus in the United States and to assess the level of interest in such an ordinariate.

This is likely to be the methodology for everywhere. Now, this is not necessarily discouraging news. Those delegates of the CDF are not necessarily our future Ordinaries and probably won’t be, but the interface between Rome and us on the ground. It seems sensible enough.

I am given to understand that group applications have to be made either directly to Cardinal Levada in Rome or one of these delegates. It looks that a new hermeneutic is now emerging. The Anglican group or groups are recognised to exist by the local CDF delegate and his team. Meetings are organised. Negotiations are conducted to have the different groups merge together and express their preference (by election or whatever) for the priest or bishop to be made their Ordinary. It would be logical for the Ordinary’s council (at least 6 priests) to be also in place. The creation of the Ordinariate would involve the Ordinary, his council and all clergy and faithful.

If I haven’t got it all wrong, this seems to look brighter than I thought it would. Bishop Alan Hopes and / or Fr Aidan Nicholls OP would seem to be the right candidates for being CDF delegates in England to make sure the united TAC and Forward in Faith group is stable and led by the right man.

I suppose clergy who are in difficult situations would be dealt with directly by the CDF one they have an Ordinary wanting to take them in (or keep them).

After that, who knows? I’m trying to keep optimistic.


Anglican, Anglican and Anglican

I can see three essential ways of being Anglican, and this will determine what we would keep or let go on finding ourselves under Roman Catholic authority.

1. Institutional / canonical definition: We are Anglicans because we are under the jurisdiction of a bishop who is a member of the Lambeth Conference and visits the Queen of England every ten years. This is the institutional definition, like saying that one is a Catholic because one is in communion with a diocesan bishop who himself in is communion with the Pope.

2. Doctrinal definition: We are Anglicans because of the doctrinal peculiarities that developed in England and elsewhere after the Reformation. In particular, we have the notion of the via media, a blunting of the shrillness and hysteria of Protestantism from about the late sixteenth century up to the mid to late seventeenth century, this ‘moderate position’ of Hooker and the Caroline Divines being perceived as an ecumenical bridge between Protestants, Catholicism and Orthodoxy. Some people call this Classical Anglicanism. Fidelity to this position involves adhesion to the Prayer Book of 1662 and the 39 Articles. The existence of Continuing Anglican Churches, not in communion with the Queen, Lambeth or Canterbury, is evidence that Anglicanisn has an ‘ideological’ definition, and not only an institutional definition. Some would argue that these communities are not Anglican because they are not Anglican institutionally. The word Anglican is used in a conventional way, because no other word is an adequate description without resorting to more contrived and confusing terms. So, the word Anglican would be admitted on those grounds. The reality is not that of individuals seeking to create new churches to justify their episcopal consecration by episcopi vagantes, but of real communities with a clear identity. This is paralleled in Catholicism by traditionalist groups like the Society of St Pius X who are only in ‘impaired communion’ with the Pope.

Anglicanism also has a cultural and ethnical dimension, and was Catholic and in communion with Rome until the sixteenth century. Before then, our Catholicism was similar to that of northern France and much of northern Europe. We still have traces of medieval Catholicism that are unaffected by the rupture of both the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation.

3. Cultural / ethnic definition: We are Anglicans like French Catholics are Gallicans. See some of my old articles: GallicanismErastianismThe Counter Reformation and Anglican PatrimonyJansenismAnglo-Jansenism and Immobilism. We refer to our ethnical roots as English people or English-speaking people living in countries like South Africa, Australia, the United States, Canada or other places where the sun never set on the British Empire in the old days. For the most part, we originated in a family belonging to the Anglican Communion. We only ever learned about the existence of the 39 Articles if we read for Orders and went into the Ministry. None of us took all that very seriously, and moved with the various Catholic and ritualist movements that evolved in our Church. We are cradle Anglicans like cradle Catholics! This upbringing gave us a feeling of attachment that is no different from the sense of belonging experienced by Ruthenians, Ukrainians, Russians, Greeks, Serbs and people from all cultures and sensitivities. On discovering the Catholic view of everything, we become aware of our roots in the pre-Reformation Church, and why an Englishman can feel that he belongs when living in Normandy.

On being incorporated into an Ordinariate, it is obvious that we will no longer be members of the Anglican Communion or jurisdictions in formal and canonical association with the Lambeth Conference or the Queen of England. It is also obvious that we will believe in the Catholic doctrines rather than give credence to the 39 Articles and the Black Rubrick. We may continue to love the cultural value of our Prayer Book, Cranmer’s English prose, and our morning and evening choir offices in particular, but we will continue to follow our Catholic pilgrimage we began as Anglicans. Becoming Catholics (in the institutional sense) would be fulfilling what we already are as Anglicans in this third way of understanding the word. This is to be a hermeneutic of continuity and not one of rupture.

I think we should be very clear in our use of words and concepts. Many of us, in the Continuing Churches in particular, have not been Anglicans for years in the institutional meaning. We left the Church of England, ECUSA or others a long time ago. Many of us ceased to have the least interest in doctrinal formularies that developed in the thick of the sixteenth-century dialogue of the deaf between two sets of men who believed that Tradition was static and everything had to be proved to be explicit in the New Testament and early Church history.

Catholic clerics are famous for narrow-mindedness and wanting to assimilate all cultures into doloristic Spanish and Italian counter-reformation Catholicism, against which the reaction after Vatican II was massive, and Indian Catholicism has become a pastiche of Hinduism! There is a moderate position between forcibly latinising Lebanese Christians in the seventeenth century and Latin American syncretism mixing Voodoo, Santa Muerte, rosaries and holy images in one shop window! Crusty old British army officers in the nineteenth century, swaggering around with handlebar moustaches and bull whips, used to say about the “wogs” that they would understand English if you shout at them loud enough! Portuguese Jesuits in sixteenth century Kerala behaved no differently with the Thomas Christians. For information about these historical events, I recommend reading Dr Geoffrey Hull’s The Banished Heart.

I have difficulty in believing that we live in a more enlightened period. We have had Latin imperialism for centuries, which even physically persecuted East Syrian and Byzantine Catholics. Then we had the excesses of inculturation in Africa and Latin America – still the Jesuits, and I would hope we are coming to a moderate position between Scylla and Charybdis.

It is possible to be both Catholic and Anglican, by being in the third meaning of the word Anglican, and being institutionally Catholics, accepting the fullness of the Faith, submitting to the authority of Saint Peter’s See, but yet with the freedom of the children of God and not the serfs of some spiritual dictatorship. I think Pope Benedict XVI made it clear in England that lessons have been learned and that Church unity is based as much on trust and friendship as on faith.


Britain could have an Ordinariate by new year

To parse it all down:

Ordinaries: Rt Rev Keith Newton, the flying bishop of Richborough and the Rt Rev Andrew Burnham, the flying Bishop of Ebbsfleet.

Bishop Alan Hopes, an auxiliary of Westminster Archdiocese and Bishop Malcolm McMahon of Nottingham are in charge of the Bishops’ conference commission dealing with Anglicans wanting to take up the ordinariate. Wait a minute – are these men representing the CDF or the English Episcopal Conference? There still seems to be a bit of English Channel fog to dissipate. However, this could simply mean the consultation between Eccleston Square and Rome.

Rt Rev Edwin Barnes seems to have a role in coordinating the groups of Anglicans.

Ordinariate groups would likely be small congregations of thirty or so people. In most cases, the Ordinariate groups will be church-planting new congregations, congregations of perhaps only thirty or so people to start with, but thirty enthusiasts nonetheless.

Bishop Burnham said that:

Anglicanorum coetibus offered “Anglo-Catholics the way to full communion with the Catholic Church for which they worked and prayed for at least a century and it is a way in which they will be ‘united and not absorbed’.

The expression united and not absorbed reflects the TAC Portsmouth Letter, which is a good sign for the TAC’s involvement in an English Ordinariate. Nothing else is mentioned about the TTAC which has congregations of the size envisaged by Bishop Burnham.

Can someone in the know give any reassurance?


Letter from Archbishop Hepworth to the ACA Bishops

* * *

Traditional Anglican Communion

Office of the Primate – Archbishop John Hepworth

28th September 2010

By Facsimile:

Bishop Williams

Bishop Stawn

Bishop Marsh

Cc: Archbishop Falk, Lay Canon Woodman, TAC COB.

Dear Fathers,

I write in reference to the letters that you have published recently concerning the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus and its implications. I am also conscious of the various statements that you have published on Diocesan Websites and elsewhere on the same matter.

Since you have published your comments prior to any discussion in College, I am making my response also public.

I have discussed with Archbishop Falk the possibility of action being taken concerning your published statements on unity and your actions in seeking what one of you has described as a “merger” with another Continuing Church in the United States, the Anglican Province of America. I am aware that Bishop Grundorf has publically rejected the Apostolic Constitution, as has Archbishop Haverland.

The power to intervene in disciplinary matters concerning members of the College of Bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion is enunciated in section 6.3 of the Concordat, which each of us is sworn to uphold in the Consecration Oath made by bishops-elect. It specifically enables the College to deal with any credible allegation of dereliction of consecration vows in the life or teaching of one of its members”.

When William Cardinal Levada wrote to each of us last December stating that the Apostolic Constitution was “the definitive response of the Holy See…to your original request”. The Cardinal went on to note “I am only too aware of the delicate process of discernment that will no doubt be embarked upon by many of our Anglican brothers and sisters, and no less of the many practical issues that will need to be faced”.

The College of Bishops has been committed to seeking unity with the Holy See since the inception of the Traditional Anglican Communion. I accompanied my predecessor, Archbishop Falk, in conversations in the Vatican a short time after the TAC was promulgated. I have been at every meeting of the College, and at every meeting the policy of seeking full, corporate reunion with the Catholic Church has been reinforced. Details of these decisions have been regularly highlighted in the publications of the TAC. I say this because you are the three most recently consecrated bishops of the TAC.

At the Portsmouth meeting of the College in 2007, this policy took a more concrete form in two ways. A formal petition seeking unity in clear terms was unanimously approved, and after several days in which concerns could be raised (but none were) was signed by each bishop on the altar in the midst of the Holy Sacrifice and committed to me and two of our fellow bishops for conveyance to Rome. Secondly, exercising the powers noted in the Concordat that ”the final authority to determine questions of Catholic Faith and Apostolic Order (which authority resides by virtue of the nature of the episcopal office in the College of Bishops)…” the College with equal unanimity stated that “We accept that the most complete and authentic expression and application of the catholic faith in this moment of time is found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and its Compendium, which we have signed together with this Letter as attesting to the faith we aspire to teach and hold.” These two matters are binding on members of the College.

The Petition of the TAC also makes a very clear statement about the nature of the Church, which each of you have contradicted in your public statements this year: “We accept that the Church founded by Jesus Christ subsists most perfectly in the churches in communion with the See of Peter, to whom (after the repeated protestation of his love for Jesus) and to whose successors, our Divine Master gave the duty of feeding the lambs and the sheep of his flock.”

With even more significance to your published statements, the Petition also makes very clear the faith of the bishops of the TAC concerning the source of authority in the Church: “We accept the ministry of the Bishop of Rome, the successor of Peter, which is a ministry of teaching and discerning the faith and a “perpetual and visible principle and foundation of unity” and understand this ministry is essential to the Church founded by Jesus Christ. We accept that this ministry, in the words of the late John Paul II in Ut Unum Sint, is to “ensure the unity of all the Churches”. “

Whatever the doubts and difficulties of a bishop, he is bound to teach the faith received from the Apostles and proclaimed by the Church in every age. It is to the Church that a bishop looks for the source of his teaching, not to his own doubts and fears.

In the three years since the submission of our petition, most of us have made sure that our clergy and people have become familiar with the Catechism. It has been a careful process of teaching and leadership. In the TAC, as in the Catholic Church and the Churches of Holy Orthodoxy, truth is not reached by democratic means. It is not reached by the recreation of some golden moment of history. Our Petition also states that: “We understand that, as bishops separated from communion with the Bishop of Rome, we are among those for whom Jesus prayed before his death “that they may be completely one”, and that we teach and define matters of faith and morals in a way that is, while still under the influence of Divine Grace, of necessity more tenuously connected to the teaching voice of catholic bishops throughout the world.”

Very clearly, you have renounced this understanding of your fellow bishops, and no longer teach with the same voice as them. Equally clearly, you have not taught and led the people committed to your care with that one voice of a united College. Each of us has started from the same position as that which you have confronted. Tragically, I am forced to the conclusion that some have led their people, others have followed them.

May I make some observations about the way forward?

Communion with any other ecclesial body requires the consent of the College of Bishops. Any act of Communion without the consent of the College betrays the College and puts its own unity at peril.

There is no urgent pressure on individuals to join an Ordinariate. Individual discernment and a response in conscience undergird the corporate reunion that is at the heart of Anglicanorum Coetibus. There is no such luxury permitted to bishops, who have the sacred obligation by virtue of their office itself to teach in such a way that clergy and people form a true conscience. A bishop who cannot teach what the College has defined (and what is the universal teaching of the East and the West) has only one option, and that is to stand aside until he can teach in accord with the Church.

The Traditional Anglican Communion is not a Protestant ecclesial body. In a television interview in Canada several years ago, I said that the most difficult thing that each of us would face in the pathway to unity would be shedding ourselves of the question “What do I think?” and instead asking, “What does the Church teach?” We are not a body that allows each member to approach the Scripture alone and discern a private truth. We understand that the Church is a Divine Gift in which God is present to His People – Teaching, Sanctifying and Creating. We partake of Divine Truth – we do not create it.

As you meet with the other American bishops this week, you must know that you have the prayers and the hopes of your Communion around the world bestowed upon you. You carry the dreams and the destiny of Anglican and Catholic people.

Anglicanorum Coetibus is the first mutual attempt to heal the unity fractured between Rome and Canterbury over four centuries ago. You also bear the burden of history.

With my blessing,

John Hepworth, Primate


Right to a Response

* * *

A Unanimous Statement by the ACA House of Bishops after a full morning together of questions and answers with regard to everyone’s true intention.

Some of us are prepared to seek entry into an American Ordinariate the moment it exists. Some are not yet ready at this time. None has decided never to seek entry. Those not ready to do so at this time are determined to remain within the TAC/ACA and continue their ministry until the time a final decision can be made.

The House of Bishops of the ACA has not taken any steps in the direction of any other form or plan of union, but will follow scrupulously the process required by the Canons of the ACA and the Concordat of the TAC in that regard.


The Waters Begin to Clear

I am particularly impressed by the way Dr William Tighe sums it up in a nutshell:

My own view is that without the TAC initiative “Anglicanorum Coetibus and All That” would not have happened, but without the “Vienna meeting” and its results, it would not have happened as relatively quickly as it did, nor (probably) be quite so generous as it was.

If this is the emerging tendency in The Anglo-Catholic, I will only be able to show my joy and thanks to God for his inspiration and grace.

(…) these two suffragans of the Archbishop of Canterbury asked whether anything might be done to help English Anglo-Catholics. They received a warm response and thereafter became aware of some of the details of the TAC approach and that other groups of Anglicans had been knocking at the door as well.

Indeed, we are entering a new era in which we will all be able simply to be Catholics with our ethnical and cultural characteristics. We will have entered ordinariates as groups, and we will continue to know our fellow Catholics as those we have known for years. The human element is vital. If Rome goofs up on this, we would only be able to say that the leopard never changes its spots. However, there has been a profound change in the Roman Catholic institution since the election of Benedict XVI, and this change was already prepared by his long years as Prefect of the CDF!

I do find it regrettable that the TAC was not brought into the discussions between the Forward in Faith bishops and Rome in the spring of 2008, since Bishop John Broadhurst was with the TAC in Portsmouth in October 2007, and I greatly enjoyed his company. He was fully involved in our own in-house talks, and we listened to his advice and the fruit of his long pastoral experience. I do think that the two ships are at last slowly responding to their helms.

Rome essentially responded to two main requests from significant Anglican groups, each subdivided into smaller diocesan and parish units. It also transpired that the Apostolic Constitution just as well answered the requests of smaller groups of laity and clergy, as well as a large number of individual converts to the Catholic Church, some of whom would be interested in recovering their former cultural and ethnical identity. Without the TAC, Rome would never have given a response, and without Forward in Faith, the response would have taken much longer.

Things haven’t always been so. I have a long memory, and if that fails me, my hard disk and backup files have an even longer memory. Last March, I was very concerned about how we in the TAC were accused of wanting some kind of monopoly and told to “modify our expectations”, whilst a certain retired prelate of the Church of England wrote sneering comments about the TAC in England to the extent of suggesting we were behaving like vagante groups! They, including the blog moderator who booted me out of his list of contributors a month ago, seemed to want to airbrush the TAC out of everything (which is the signal being sent out by their diocese going it alone towards an ordinariate — independently of the rest of the TAC). This is our show, because we are Establishment, and we are in the club! Why do we need a church in a certain English city when there is a perfectly good Forward in Faith parish just five minutes down the road? It probably did not occur to the good Bishop that we have different liturgical customs, and there are also serious ecclesiological concerns. I pray that there has been a change of heart over the last few months, because this is a matter of trust. If we are betrayed – by anyone – the entire ordinariate project will fail and souls will be lost.

It is high time we got talking to each other and recognising each other mutually. Our Bishops have been talking to each other throughout, Archbishop Hepworth with Bishop Broadhurst, and many others. Lies are told to say the contrary, but I trust my Archbishop.

Another lesson that will be learned is that the ordinariates are not only for Americans like the older Anglican Use community. Surely, there will be an Ordinariate in the USA, and it will consist of the Anglican Use community, remnants from the ACA and whatever other groups there are. It looks to me as though the English Ordinariate will be very small, and will not have the appearance of an Establishment Church. There will be ex-Forward in Faith communities and ex-TTAC communities worshipping together in the makeshift chapels we are used to, or perhaps at different times if we are using different rites within what Rome is going to allow (revised Anglican Use, modern Roman and old Roman). In spite of some losses, the Canadians and Australians will prove to be tight-knit and strong, stable communities.

Let us forgive each others sins, faults of good judgement, and if we have committed serious sins of calumny and detraction, reparation must be made. We must make this effort for the sake of unity in accordance with Christ’s will.

Let’s be optimistic and go at this together.