Holy See Receives Anglicans Who so Desire

Source: FSSPX News

On October 20, Cardinal William Joseph Levada, (in the centre of the picture) Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Archbishop Joseph Augustine Di Noia, Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, presented to the journalists a “Note concerning Personal Ordinariates for the Anglicans” who contemplate “uniting with the Catholic Church.”
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which wrote the text, then announced the “preparation of an Apostolic Constitution” to respond to “the legitimate aspirations addressed to the Holy See by groups of Anglican clergy and faithful from all over the world, which desire to enter into full and visible communion.” Cardinal Levada emphasized that “the initiative originated from various Anglican groups which had declared that they shared the same Catholic Faith, as it is expressed in the Catechism of the Church, and the they accepted the Office of Peter as an element that Christ wanted for the Church.” He likewise indicated that the requests come from 20 to 30 bishops. There will not be, he continued, a global agreement with the Association Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC), but with its “faithful”, totaling 500,000 persons worldwide.
The cardinal explained that “Benedict XVI (hoped) that the Anglican priests and faithful desirous to unite with the Catholic Church (would find) in the canonical structure an opportunity to preserve such Anglican traditions as are dear to them and in conformity with the Catholic faith.” He specified that these faithful had broken away with the Anglican Churches which had decided to ordained women and homosexuals to the priesthood or the episcopate, and to bless homosexual unions.
On the same day, the head of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, and Archbishop Vincent Gerard Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster and president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, released a joint declaration. Therein they specified that the announced Apostolic Constitution is “the consequence of the ecumenical dialog between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion,” begun 40 years earlier, and that this development is a “new acknowledgment of the important similitude in matters of Faith, doctrine and spirituality between the Catholic Church and the Anglican tradition.”
On October 30, Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of the Press Office of the Holy See, indicated to the news agency Imedia that Rowan William would meet with Benedict XVI at the Vatican on November 21, 2009. The meeting will take place on the occasion of his visit for the ceremonies of the centennial of the birth of Dutch Cardinal Johannes Willebrands (1909-2006) a pioneer of ecumenism. It is positive that they may meet,” Fr. Lombardi explained, thinking that it as the “sign of a good dialog existing between the two Christian denominations.” Rowan Williams, who has been accused by his peers for having approved an act perceived as a division of the Anglican Communion, likewise explained that he did not considered the decision of the Catholic Church as “an aggressive act” but as a “cooperation”; and together with the Primate of the Catholic Church in Great-Britain, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, he was rejoicing over this “official dialog.” “It has been years that some groups, like the Tradition Anglican Communion for instance, have approached Catholics to join them. Others, who are still in the Anglican Church, are thinking about it. It is no secret that the issue of women bishops is a controversial subject,” Rowan Williams also added.
On October 31, Fr. Lombardi answered the “observations from supposedly well-informed sources” of Vatican observer Andrea Tornielli from the Italian daily Il Giornale, according to whom “a serious root issue, to wit the disagreement over celibacy will be the norm  for the future (Catholic, Ed.) clergy” from the Anglican Tradition, explained the delay in the release of the Apostolic Constitution. The director of the Press Office of the Holy See made known that Cardinal William Joseph Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, specified that the “delay” was “of a strictly technical order, to ensure the uniformity in language and canonical references.” Moreover, Cardinal Levada also added that if he had been asked for precisions, he would “gladly have clarified any doubt concerning (his) declarations during the press conference” given this past October 20. The high ranking prelate also said that there was “not matter for such speculation,” before affirming that “nobody at the Vatican” had “mentioned such a problem” to him.
On November 9, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith released the Apostolic Constitution  Anglicorum Cœtibus, concerning the institution of personal ordinariates for Anglican entering full communion with the Catholic Church, as well as the Complementary Norms which were signed by Cardinal William Joseph Levada and by Archbishop Luis F. Ladaria, Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The two documents were dated November 4 and published in Italian and in English.
A communiqué from Cardinal Levada was accompanying the two texts and specified that “the Apostolic Constitution published today was introducing a canonical structure which made easier this corporative reunion through the institution of personal Ordinariates, which would enable these groups to enter in full communion with the Catholic Church, which keeping specific elements from the Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony.” The Complementary Norms would be used for a correct application of the process. This Constitution opens “a new path for the promotion of Christian unity, by acknowledging, at the same time a legitimate diversity in the expression of our common Faith.” The cardinal added that it was not “an initiative from the Holy See” but “a generous response from the Holy Father to the legitimate aspirations of these Anglican groups.” And he continued: “The new structure is in complete harmony with the commitment for ecumenical dialog which continues to be a priority in the Catholic Church.” The possible presence, evoked in the Apostolic Constitution, of some married priests in the personal Ordinariates in no way means that there is any change in the discipline of the Church concerning priestly celibacy, which, as the Second Vatican stated, is a sign, both of the pastoral charity, and a pre-indication of the Kingdom of God, the cardinal said.
In this new apostolic constitution, the pope set up a canonical structure in the form of “personal ordinariates for the Anglicans entering full communion with the Catholic Church.” Thirteen dispositions deal with the formation of the ordinariates which, according to § 3 of the first part “possesses public juridic personality by the law itself; it is juridically comparable to a diocese.” Its “power is to be exercised jointly with that of the local Diocesan Bishop, in those cases provided for in the Complementary Norms” of candidates to the sacramental order, the erection with the approval of the Holy See of new institutes of consecrated life and of societies of apostolic life as well of parishes, and the ad limina visit of Ordinaries…. The Complementary notes deal with the dependence upon the Holy See, the relationships with the Bishops’ Conferences and of the diocesan bishops, of the Ordinary, of the ex-Anglican faithful of the ordinariate, their clergy and their bishops, of the Council of government, of the Pastoral Council and of the personal parishes.
It will be allowed to keep the liturgical books proper to the Anglican Tradition, which will have been approved by the Holy See “to preserve the liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions of the Anglican Communion within the Catholic Church as a precious gift nourishing the faith of the members of the ordinariate and as a treasure to be shared.” According to the Apostolic Constitution, a personal ordinariate whose official will be a former Anglican priest or bishop appointed by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, and not by the Congregation in charge of bishops, will be entrusted with the charge of overseeing and pastoral leadership of these groups of faithful. The future ordinariates will have a structure similar to that of the military dioceses.
This canonical model “unique in the universal Church” foresees the “ordination as Catholic priests of former married Anglican priests.” For the first time in history, a Christian community, born from the Reform, may thus be admitted again by the Catholic Church. But for “historical and ecumenical” reasons, the note from the Congregation recalls that Episcopal consecration of marred men is not authorized in the Catholic Church, nor in the Orthodox Churches. Hence, the Constitution establishes that the “bishop can be an unmarried priest or bishop.” The seminarians of the ordinariate will be trained “together with Catholic seminarians.” – It must be noted that the Roman document does not speak of re-ordinations, as some journalists said, but of “ordination” as Catholic priests”, for the Apostololic Bull Apostolicæ Curæ (September 18, 1896) by Pope Leo XIII clearly affirmed that Anglican ordinations were null and void: “Ordinations carried out according to the Anglican rite have been, and are, absolutely null and utterly void.
Article 6 of the Apostolic Constitution deals with the status of priests and seminarians. “Those who ministered as Anglican deacons, priests, or bishops, and who fulfill the requisites established by canon law and are not impeded by irregularities or other impediments may be accepted by the Ordinary as candidates for Holy Orders in the Catholic Church. In the case of married ministers, the norms established in the Encyclical Letter of Pope Paul VI Sacerdotalis coelibatus, n. 42 and in the Statement In June are to be observed. Unmarried ministers must submit to the norm of clerical celibacy of CIC can. 277, §1.”
Lastly, “The Ordinary, in full observance of the discipline of celibate clergy in the Latin Church, as a rule (pro regula) will admit only celibate men to the order of presbyter. He may also petition the Roman Pontiff, as a derogation from can. 277, §1, for the admission of married men to the order of presbyter on a case by case basis, according to objective criteria approved by the Holy See.” In the press release published by the Press Office of the Holy See, Cardinal Levada moreover explained that “this article (was to) be understood in the logic of the usual custom of the Church.” He also specified that the case of already married Anglican seminarians would be “jointly examined by the personal Ordinariate and the Bishops’ Conference and submitted to the approval of the Holy See.” – It is to be hoped that the derogation granted to ease up the return of Anglicans into the Catholic Church be not the opportunity expected by the progressives who are militating in favor of the ordination of married man and the ordination of already married priests. To prevent this, the precautions taken in the study of each particular will have to be not only a matter of words but of very concrete reality.

Moreover, Fr. Lombardi specified that the Holy See did not wish to constitute “a new ritual Church” or “a new rite within the Catholic Church of Latin Tradition.” But “it was only a variant inside the Latin rite, yet not a distinct Church with a distinct rite.” The publication of this document is in no way contrary to the ecumenical commitment in the relationships with the Anglican Communion which continues as previously,” said the director of the Press Office of the Holy See.

Press Review

In an opinion column published on Wednesday, October 28, simultaneously in Le Monde, The Guardian and La Repubblica, Hans Kung violently rose against Benedict XVI’s decision. For “After Pope Benedict XVI's against the Jews and the Muslims, Protestants and reform-oriented Catholics, it is now the turn of the Anglican communion,” Hans Kung explained. He considers the pope’s gesture as “a dramatic changing of course: steering away from the well-proven ecumenical strategy of eye-level dialog and honest understanding,” lamented the ultra-progressive Swiss theologian. He denounced a “luring away of Anglican priests” which he called “un-ecumenical.” This decision, in his eyes, shows that “Pope Benedict is set upon restoring the Roman imperium. He makes no concessions to the Anglican communion. On the contrary, he want to preserve the medieval, centralistic  Roman system for all ages – even if this makes impossible the reconciliation of the Christian churches in fundamental questions. Evidently the papal primacy – which Pope Paul VI admitted was the greatest stumbling block to the unity of the churches – does not function as the “rock of unity,” he thinks.
Hans Kung saw several dramatic consequences in what he considers “a conservative influx (of Anglicans, Ed.)”: “First, a further weakening of the Anglican church” and the “widespread disturbance of the Anglican faithful” as to whether Anglican priests are validly ordained. “Third, the irritation of the Catholic clergy and laity. Discontent over the ongoing resistance to reform” concerning the ordination of married men. “And now these Catholic priests are expected to tolerate married, convert priests alongside themselves. When they want themselves to marry, should they first turn Anglican, and then return to the church?” wrote Hans Kung. And the dissident theologian concluded: “Just as we have seen over many centuries – in the east-west schism of the 11th century, in the 16th century Reformation and in the First Vatican Council of the 19th century – the Roman thirst for power divides Christianity and damages its own church.”

In an editorial dated Thursday, October 29, Giovanni Maria Vian, director of the Osservatore Romano, declared that Hans Kung’s reaction was “far from reality” and that he had “caricatured Benedict XVI’s decision; depicted it with exaggerated colors; and simply rewrote it.” The director of the Holy See’s daily assures that the opening to the Anglicans was first “a gesture aiming at rebuilding the unity willed by Christ, which acknowledging the long and painful ecumenical path traveled in this direction.” “But “Kung deformed all this and presented it outrageously as if it were cunning Vatican diplomacy, to be read according to political criteria, obviously of the extreme right-wing.” And he went on: “it is not necessary to underlined the falseness and the inaccuracies in this latest text by Kung, whose tone does no honor to his personal history…”
In the Anglican church of Malaysia, Bishop Ng Moon Hing, of the Anglican diocese of West Malaysia since 2006, quoted by Church of Asia, is a fervent partisan of ecumenism. Relationships with the local Catholic Church are excellent, he rejoiced, and added that Anglican and Catholic officials meet every month out of concern of dialog, especially within the framework of the Christian Federation of Malaysia and of the inter-religious forums. Yet, he emphasized, we must distinguish rapprochement with the Catholic Church from “integration” into it, which is “quite another question.”
Rome’s decision came as the Anglican Communion is in full crisis and on the verge of schism because of divergences concerning, among others, women’s ordinations, the union or ordinations of homosexuals to the priesthood or the episcopacy. It is especially this last issue which cause Bishop Ng Moon Hing that he disapproves some of the recent orientations taken by his church and approved by the Archbishop of Canterbury, spiritual head of the Anglican Communion. Thus he agrees with other Anglican officials, numerous in Asia, who rise against what they call “theological deviations,” especially since 2003, when the first homosexual bishop living with his partner, Gene Robinson, was “consecrated” in the US Anglican church. The Anglican church of Malaysia is sensitive to this opening gesture of the pope, the Anglican prelate said, but “it cannot answer it immediately, without having more details.”
“The circulation of persons between the two Churches will cause ecumenism to move forward,” declared Abraham Kim Gwang-joon, general provincial secretary of the Anglican Church of Korea, and president of the Committee for ecumenism of the National Council of Churches (Protestant)of Korea, an early worker in favor of unity and interreligious dialog. The Anglican church of Korea had strongly reacted to the recent change in the spiritual orientation of the Anglican Communion, especially by opposing the ordination of homosexual priests. Today, the Korean community eyes favorably the decision to welcome within the Roman Catholic Church “the members of the clergy or the faithful who think themselves in disagreement with their institution and prefer to follow Rome’s doctrinal line” which keeping their specific traditions. ( DICI n° 205 - 11/19/2009- Sources: api-imedia/VIS/Le Monde/eda