Tuesday 10 November 2009

Anglicanorum Cœtibus

Well, it's here, and I suppose (having held forth at length on this subject up until now) that I ought to write something on it, through really there is a lot of stuff already written around the web.
The thing that immediately struck me was that this time, the Vatican Information Service seemed to have got it right; the concerns voiced around the world, manifested in the speeches at Forward in Faith and on the blogosphere, seem to have been addressed. Maybe there is a model here for future similar initiatives: after careful initial research, announce a forthcoming document together with general outlines, and wait and see what ideas surface. Then one can address these in the final document. It might prevent a lot of pain.

The item likely to produce most dissatisfaction (in a document that has so much to please, however) concerns the celibacy requirement. Some wanted to maintain a priesthood that automatically had the right to marry—possibly even while in the clerical state. This last was probably never going to be a runner: the Church, East and West, has never permitted its clergy to marry (which is to say after having received Sacred Orders). But the Vatican might have permitted all future Ordinariate clergy to be married, as a matter of course.
I suspect that here it might be trying to avoid the rather unseemly situation that obtains in the East where a seminarian who has determined that celibacy is not for him is required, before ordination, to find a wife as quickly as possible. Were this transferred to the West, with its higher expectations of marriage, there might be a lot of unhappy relationships, not to say anullments due to lack of due discretion. Secondly, as many people have noted, the Vatican desires to safeguard the tradition of clerical celibacy in the Latin Church, of which the Ordinariate will be a part.
However, the Vatican has not closed the door on the ordination of married men. It says simply that it will be treated on a case-by-case basis. My guess is that the answer will be yes in almost every instance; the Holy See just wants to make it a little more difficult, in order to encourage what one might call a culture of celibacy among ordinands. I do not believe that the idea is to phase out a married priesthood altogether: as many have pointed out, this is one of the things considered to be 'patrimony' by many Anglo-Cathlolics.

A concession that many will have been pleased to see is the clear permission to celebrate using the Roman rites. This may be less important in the US, where there is a puzzling attachment to the Book of Common Prayer, but here in the UK, the Roman Rite is used by almost all Anglo-Catholics, and if not the Roman Rite, then the official liturgical book, Common Worship, with all the adaptions most resembling the Roman Rite selected. I do hope that they will think long and hard before adopting the existing US Anglican-Catholic liturgy—it's a strange beast, shuttling uncannily between archaic and modern vernacular.

I was interested to see that the Ordinariate has been conceded its own tribunal(s). How they will make this work we will see. I cannot imagine that this can be set up overnight; they are going to need Roman-trained canon lawyers, for a start, and that can't be done overnight, unless they can borrow some. They are also going to need their own supplement to the Code of Canon Law, which, also, cannot be done quickly.

Another interesting point is the identity of the Ordinariate's line manager: the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. One might have expected the Congregation for Clergy, or for Eastern Churches (with a change of name, perhaps; the Congregation for Non-Roman Churches or something like that), or Propaganda Fide (who oversee dioceses in missionary territories), or even the Secretariat of State or Christian Unity. Why the CDF? Are they going to be keeping an eagle eye on priests' sermons, watching for any hint of neo-Nestorianism or semi-Pelagianism? This after all, was the demon congregation that attracted such opprobrium in the 1980s for its rejection of ARCIC.
One must remember, of course, that in recent years the CDF has attracted several odd jobs to itself; Ecclesia Dei, for one—and the situation of this body is not unlike that of the possible ordinariate. Consider the S. John Vianney administration in Brazil; it has its own clergy, its own rite, and its own bishop existing in parallel to the 'normal' diocese. Now Ecclesia Dei has been subsumed entirely into the CDF (perhaps because it used to occupy rooms there and everyone simply got to know each other), it is maybe felt that the experience might be useful with the new Anglican Ordinariate.

The new Ordinaries are not going to be mere Confirmation dispensers, either. Selected from among the Anglican clergy themselves, (is this initially wise? I don't dispute the terna selection by the clergy themselves, though) their authority will be very like that of a territorial bishop, and though they will have a seat on Episcopal Conference, they will not be subject to individual bishops.

I noted that former Catholic priests will not be allowed to exercise ministry in the Ordinariate. That will be sad for Archbishop John Hepworth, who, no doubt expecting this, has acted with considerable self-abnegation in conducting these negotiations. He can be comforted by the provision that former bishops, even if not consecrated Catholic bishops, may continue to wear the gear. So, may we expect him to sit in the pews with his Mrs, in mitre, cope &c?

I don't think that the seminaries business has quite been worked out. It seems to be saying that the Ordinariate seminarians should be trained alongside 'Roman' seminarians, but also have their own house of studies for the rest of the stuff. Sounds complicated.

I think in the end that it will take a long time to settle down, and a certain amount of chaos is going to have to be tolerated in the meantime. Possibly it will be only in another generation that the situation will be easy for all concerned. But God is very patient.


Anonymous said...

Abp Hepworth will not be able to sit in choir as he is not only a former Catholic priest but a divorcee and so cannot work in the Ordinariate under the terms in the ApCon.

Peter Porter said...

Your write in terms of this arrangement taking a generation to settle down. But for how many generations do you think it will survive? Classic Anglo-Catholicism is virtually dead in the Church of England and what is left will either develop into sacramental pageantry or fade away in the growth of Evangelical triumphalism. Believe me, I am pleased with the Holy Father's proposals but I wonder how much he realizes that he is dealing more with a cultural than an ecclesiastical phenomenon. I doubt if the culture will export for long as the majority of its adherents are elderly and the young are likely to be attracted to full-blooded Romanism.

The Cardinal said...

One of the most interesting things about this whole farrago is the implicit recognition of Anglican episcopal ordination, while Anglican priestly ordination is still (presumably) invalid.

This whole sorry business has not been thought through properly, alas. Since Cardinal Levada's announcement, the blogs have been full of questions and scenarios which the documents now published simply do not answer. How incompetent can you get? Cardinal Kasper tore his hair out and said the constitution should not be published, and it appears that he was right. Our Anglican brethren are searching for certainty but instead have been given a lot of nebulous fudge. It's a rushed and botched job.

With Summorum Pontificum, the Pope consulted the Bishops of the world. A number of conferences, including France and England & Wales, begged him not to do it, saying that it would cause more problems than it would solve. And this has indeed proved to be the case. With Anglicanorum coetibus, the Pope consulted precisely nobody; so he has only himself to blame when the whole thing blows up in his face. This autocratic behaviour does not bode well for the future of the Church. When a pope treats our ecclesial communion as his own personal fiefdom, there's trouble ahead.

Anonymous said...

Ah, but, Cardinal, that's exectly what Paul VI did with his lovely Novus Ordo Missae.

One can't have it both ways.

GOR said...

Cardinal: Not so. The Holy Father has seen firsthand what 40 years of ‘Ecumenism’ has accomplished - or rather not accomplished. He was not about to throw this out to miscellaneous Episcopal conferences or Curial dicasteries and have it debated ad nauseum for another 40 years. He has heard for years the pleas from traditional Anglicans to be admitted to full communion with the Catholic Church, so he is not acting in a vacuum.

The Holy Father’s action is a response – and a very thoughtful and generous one – to those pleas. What is sometimes lost in the details is the intention of Pope Benedict: the unity of the Church and the salvation of souls. The opening sentences of the Apostolic Constitution set the stage for what follows. Pope Benedict sees this as a work of the Holy Spirit, moving Anglicans towards full communion and moving him to facilitate it.

Yes, details have to be worked out, issues resolved and much still needs to be done, but the Holy Father has laid the groundwork.

Simon Platt said...

Good heavens! Who is this "cardinal"?

"Summorum Pontificum ... cause[d] more problems than it would solve. [as predicted by the begging English bishops]"

Care to specify, your eminence?


"One of the most interesting things about this whole farrago [Anglicanorum Cœtibus] is the implicit recognition of Anglican episcopal ordination"

Er... What? Where? How?

The Cardinal said...


Have a look at the Complementary Norms. There you'll see that Anglican bishops are to be treated with the respect that pertains to their office. How can this be, if their ordination is not recognised?


This is not the case at all. Paul VI didn't invent the Novus Ordo on his own. He merely put his "Good Housekeeping seal of approval" on the work done over a period of five years by a myriad of bishops and experts from around the world. Trying to rewrite history is simply not helpful.


Summorum Pontificum, the accompanying covering letter, and the Pope's subsequent comments (e.g. in the plane on his way to Paris, reported on the Vatican website) make it very clear that this initiative was intended to do no more than make life easier for those who hankered after the older forms. It did not encourage those people to proselytise, to maintain that now their form was superior to others, to try and win converts to their cause. It simply wanted to give succour to a very small group of people, not encourage them to get up on their hind legs and dance.

In the diocese in which I have the privilege of ministering, there has been no increase at all in demand for celebrations in the Extraordinary Form (which is quite well services, as a matter of fact) since the Motu Proprio. There has, however, been a massive increase in vitriolic e-mails from a tiny coterie of people, claiming (erroneously) that the Pope has given primacy to the Extraordinary Form and that the Ordinary Form is heretical. That is the kind of problem I am referring to. The Pope's move was divisive, not unitive.

Nebuly said...

Have a look at the Complementary Norms. There you'll see that Anglican bishops are to be treated with the respect that pertains to their office. How can this be, if their ordination is not recognised?

May I suggest to the Cardinal that all this stands for are the characteristic good manners of the Pope? We Anglicans have rallied around these Bishops as out Fathers in God and granting to them certain honours and status is a gracious recognition of this and no more. At the same time we know that their particular state may preclude them from Office and that there is, to say the least, uncertainty concerning their status and our own in the Apostolic ministry.

Why are 'liberals' so illiberal when it comes to extending inclusion and showing generosity to their more Traditional Sisters and Brothers?

Anonymous said...


You seem to suffer from cognitive dissonance - a most unfortunate condition in a prince of the church.

Tell me, did Paul VI's little escapade conform to the most cherished wishes of the episcopate (not to mention presbyterate) of his days or not??

If yes, you've got a point.

If not, I'm not rewriting history - you are.

The Cardinal said...

Anonymous said:

>>Tell me, did Paul VI's little escapade conform to the most cherished wishes of the episcopate (not to mention presbyterate) of his days or not??<<

I must confess that I'm not sure what this "little escapade" refers to. If to the liturgical reforms, then yes, Paul VI did very much conform to what the Bishops of his day were asking for. This is well documented. If to Humanae Vitae, then no, Paul VI did not conform to what his advisory commission and indeed the Church at large were awaiting from him. Once again, the historical evidence is there.

Simon Platt said...

Dear Cardinal,

1. Er, because not all offices are sacramental.

2. I think your interpretation of Summorum Pontificum is tendentious and your comments on those of us who "hanker after the older forms" are patronising. For many years I have been sneered at by fellow catholics in positions of influence and, sadly, this intolerance has not completely disappeared.

Nonetheless, celebration of the older forms has been liberated. Bishops have been encouraged to erect personal parishes for that purpose - and some have done so in other countries. The president of the Ecclesia Dei commission declared that the older forms should be available in every parish. I pray that it will continue to be more widely available in response to the needs of the faithful and on the initiative of priests.

Summorum Pontificum has created the opportunity to heal a wound in Christ's church. I hope it will be taken.