Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Episcopacy, priesthood and marriage

It is quite well known that both Archbishop Hepworth and Bishop John Broadhurst were baptized as Catholics. Indeed, I think that the Archbishop was also ordained a Catholic priest. As some have pointed out (with varying degrees of glee), Anglicanorum Cœtibus specifically excludes those who were baptized Catholics from membership.
Those baptized previously as Catholics outside the Ordinariate are not ordinarily eligible for membership, unless they are members of a family belonging to the Ordinariate.

It seems to be generally felt that this scuppers the right reverend gentlemen's chances: out of the frying pan and into the fire, in fact.

I'm pretty sure that something will be worked out. Ordinariates in the Western Rite exist more or less as parallel dioceses; one does not become a 'member' of it in such a way that one is not a 'member' of another diocese or is not permitted to worship in it. Ordinariate Catholics will simply be entitled to worship in their own churches in their own way, and worship in other churches if they want to, or welcome other Catholics to worship and receive the sacraments (Holy Communion, at any rate) in theirs.

The bishops will simply be rejoining the Church of their baptism, and, no doubt, will habitually worship in the Ordinariate churches, even if theoretically 'belonging' to the wider Latin rite. With respect to the gentlemen, I do not imagine that issues of fathering and needing to baptize their children in an Ordinariate will arise.
They will, presumably, not even need to be 'received'. I expect that there will need to be some sort of official dispensation from the canonical irregularity of their position, they will need to make a (very) good general confession, and their marital situation will need to be regularized. That one will be interesting. Both (I presume) married outside the Catholic Church (Archbishop Hepworth twice, I understand), and therefore their marriages will be regarded as null. Not really a problem; marriages can (and no doubt will) be convalidated.
The next step is interesting. Will Bishop Broadhurst, as a baptized and married Catholic of the Latin Rite be eligible for ordination? It would require a different level of dispensation, I think, if he cannot automatically 'belong' to the Ordinariate, even if it will be his normal place of worship. But it should surely not be above sorting out with a bit of good will. After all, where Rome legislates, Rome can dispense from its own legislation, and surely will in this case.
People have pointed out (sometimes with unholy and uncharitable glee) that Archbishop Hepworth will not even be able to receive Holy Communion as a former priest in an invalid second marriage. I am not sure about that. Certainly, both his marriages will be regarded as invalid, but his second marriage could be convalidated (and probably will be). Former priests have often been dispensed for valid marriage. So much for any prevention of the reception of Communion. The more pertinent question is whether he will be permitted to exercise his priesthood. His courage in leading so many to Catholic Communion would suggest that it would be unjust not to make an exception. But this will have to be balanced against the probable explosion of outrage from those who have left the priesthood to marry and who have felt the cost keenly, having never left the Church's communion to become Anglican or anything else. 'Why may we not also excercise our priesthood', they will say, with justice, 'we, who have borne the heat and burden of the day'.
I don't know how this will work out. Perhaps it has already been decided. But it will be interesting.

//Later comment. Having been away for a couple of days, it strikes me (duh!) that what AC is referring to in the paragraph quoted above is not clergy returning to Catholic unity, but rather existing Catholics who might seek to transfer to an Ordinariate. I apologize for the fact that it took a trip to Ireland to clear my brain cells enough to see this; I claim in mitigation that I was misled by someone else's interpretation.

12 comments:

Sir Watkin said...

It may be worth noting that Bishop Broadhurst is in a somewhat different position from Archbishop Hepworth.

He was (I believe) baptised in infancy as a Roman Catholic but not brought up in the Faith. He only became a believer as a teenager/student, and that in an Anglican context (and was then confirmed as an Anglican)

Sixupman said...

A situation redolent of those expositionns, within Evelyn Waugh's novels, as to Catholicism in practice, is it not?

fr. A.R. said...

There is no chance that ab. Hepworth is reconciled with the catholic church as a married priest. He has been ordained as a real catholic priest, but he has since committed apostasy, and attempted marriage twice. He, may be, will face the request to leave his present wife, if he wants to be reconciled as a priest, but this is quite unlikely. Infact he has surely received the dimission from clerical state, and so the second marriage should be the only one valid or which can be validated (the first was null and caused the dimission).
In my opinion he can be taken back, not in a Ordinariate, not as a priest, not as a Ordinary, but as a married lay man. Because of the grave sins of apostasy and of attempted episcopal ordination he cannot in any way be appointed as a
chief and guide to other. But he will be a great model of humility, repentance and penitence and a witness to the truth he has, finally, found.

GOR said...

Yes Father, I’m sure the Ab. Hepworth case will be watched closely by priests who left the priesthood to marry – with or without a dispensation. I understand that Pope Benedict has been open to requests from some such priests to return to active ministry. I know of one case in a parish close to my old one in Ireland, but that was following the death of the priest’s wife. Whether that had a bearing on the granting of the permission to return to active ministry, I don’t know.

However, given how cases of higher clergy in similar situations were handled (Ab. Milingo comes to mind…), and other things being equal, there may be more openness to the return of priests in that state who desire it.

Anonymous said...

Why is it that Roman Catholics have such difficulty with the English language?

Anonymous said...

I have no particular axe to grind on the topic of priestly celibacy. When I looked at it (a little) I got the impression that it was probably more of a TRADITION than anything else. I am no expert!
It seems to me that with all the dispensations being so generously given (quite rightly) to former Anglican clergy, it will be increasingly hard for the church to ask our young catholic men to embrace celibacy, and never marry, when they feel God is calling them to priesthood? Presumably it follows on from the dispensations given to the FAC's that there is an understanding that there can be a vocation to priesthood AND a vocation to marriage at the SAME TIME?? As I say, I have no axe to grind what so ever. I know amazing priests who are so given to their parishes that there is no way that there would be room in their lives for a wife & children, likewise I know FAC married priests who's ministry and witness is enhanced and enriched by their wife and children. Shouldn't this be a matter of personal calling?
I am interested to hear the views of others...

Alan Harrison said...

As a potential ordinariate member, Father, I'm not too sure about the concept of "baptism as a Catholic".

What if the Revd Joe Bloggs applies to join the ordinariate as a "remould", and it turns out that he was a sickly baby, baptised as an emergency by Staff Nurse Philomena O'Reilly?

Little Black Sambo said...

"... baptised as an emergency by Staff Nurse Philomena O'Reilly?"

Sounds pretty Catholic to me?

On the matter of clergy married according to C of E rites, are you saying that these marriages are invalid and will need validation, or have I misunderstood? A great many married clergy have already been reordained; what happened about their marriages?

Sir Watkin said...

clergy married according to C of E rites, are you saying that these marriages are invalid

Only if (i) they (or their wives) were baptised as Roman Catholics, and (ii) the necessary dispensation for a non-R.C. marriage was not obtained.

(There used to be an exception for those who had "formally defected", which would cover people like Bishop Broadhurst, but this was recently revoked.)

Pastor in Valle said...

LBS: no, it isn't ordination that invalidates a marriage, but (Roman) Catholic baptism. All those who are baptized Catholic are required to marry according to Catholic form, and if they do not do so, their marriage is regarded as null.
There are various ways of sorting it out, however, including convalidation (a taking of the vows again according to the proper form) or, in certain cases, sanation (or 'sanatio in radice') which supplies the Church's consent to the original taking of vows. It happens from time to time.
Providing there is no other impediment, such as ligamen (a previous marriage where both parties are still alive), it usually can be sorted out without too much difficulty.

GOR said...

Little Black Sambo: If I may anticipate Pastor’s reply it would be that the issue is not with the validity of CofE marriages but the invalidity of a Catholic priest’s marriage without having a dispensation from the Holy See (i.e. laicization).

A priest may apply for a dispensation from celibacy or religious vows which, if granted, allows him to contract a valid marriage – but as a layman, not as a cleric. He remains a priest but may no longer licitly function as a priest except in one circumstance: hearing the confession and absolving someone in danger of death.

In the aftermath of the 60s many priests left the priesthood and married, some after applying for and receiving a dispensation. Many did not apply for a dispensation, so their marriages were then and still remain invalid. Some didn’t request dispensations because they intended to continue to function as priests – but outside the normal ambit of the Church. The Sacraments they administer – presuming proper Matter and Form – would be valid, but illicit. But their own marriages would not only be illicit, but also invalid.

One of the ‘side’ issues I see with how married Anglican clergy are dealt with in the Ordinariate is the case of such priests who may be of the view: “If them, then why not us?” Obviously, the circumstances are very different - but I expect the subject to surface.

Little Black Sambo said...

Thank you, most informative. (My word, I am beginning to see why we are going to have to learn canon law!)