Rome’s new home for Anglicans

By Austen IvereighAmerica magazine contributor Rome today has announced a legal means for disaffected Anglicans to become Roman Catholic while … Continued

By Austen Ivereigh
America magazine contributor

Rome today has announced a legal means for disaffected Anglicans to become Roman Catholic while hanging on to their liturgies and rites. It is a major move by Pope Benedict XVI, the potential negative impact of which on relations between the two Churches was vigorously played down by the Archbishops of Westminster and Canterbury at a joint press conference this morning in London, where Dr Rowan Williams described relations between the Catholic and Anglican Churches as “business as usual”.

The announcement was made simultaneously in Rome.

The new canonical structure has the technical name of a “Personal Ordinariate”, which according to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) “will allow former Anglicans to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony”. The Ordinary — canonically, that means the one with power of governance — would normally be “appointed from among former Anglican clergy”, the CDF says.

The Apostolic Constitution establishing these Personal Ordinariates offers “a single canonical model for the universal Church which is adaptable to various local situations and equitable to former Anglicans in its universal application”, the statement continues. Among its features:

1. The Ordinary can be either a priest or an unmarried bishop;

2. The Ordinariate provides for the ordination as Catholic priests of married former Anglican clergy;

3. The Ordinariate allows seminarians to be trained in separate houses of formation in order “to address the particular needs of formation in the Anglican patrimony”.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster told journalists this morning that the new Apostolic Constitution was a response to various approaches made in the past three or four years by groups in the United States, Australia and the UK. Some were in communion with Lambeth, while others — such as the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC), which claims 400,000 members worldwide — were not.

The Personal Ordinariates would allow for the pastoral care of lay people, clergy and religious in a corporate body under an Ordinary, but in collaboration with existing dioceses. Their geographical scope would correspond to the territory of a bishops’ conference. It would be a “cumulative jurisdiction”, meaning that the jurisdictions would overlap — insofar as the activity pertained to the wider Church, the authority would rest with the bishop of that diocese; insofar as it pertained to an internal activity, it would be a under the Ordinary of the Ordinariate. The process of reception of married Anglican priests would be unlikely to differ much from the current system, he said. Nor would he expect transfers of church property as part of the process of corporate reception.

The new structure allows for the safeguarding of Anglican traditions of liturgy and rites — but approval of the Holy See would be needed for separate liturgical texts and rites that differed from the Roman norm. Archbishop Nichols said the Constitution was an attempt to achieve a “balance between a corporate identity and the need to be embedded locally”, but stressed that the details of this could only be worked out once an Ordinariate were established. In the event of an application being made to establish such an Ordinariate in England and Wales, he said, “we will work very closely with colleagues in the Church of England. It is important that we do this together”.

Dr. Williams said the fact that he was appearing with Archbishop Nichols this morning “tells its own story”. There was nothing to be gained, he said, by working separately on the matter, and stressed that the fact that they were able to cooperate was the fruit of the many years of Anglican-Catholic dialogue.

He said the Apostolic Constitution was entirely a response by the Holy See to requests by specific groups. He had had no input into it, and first knew of it two weeks ago. It would have no negative impact on the Anglican Communion worldwide, he stressed, adding that for more than 150 years Anglicans had entered the Catholic Church in varying numbers, sometimes responding to crises and sometimes not, and meeting a variety of responses from Rome; in this sense, he said, there was “nothing new” in today’s announcement, which should not be seen as “a commentary on the Anglican Communion by Rome” — a remark that met with hearty agreement by Archbishop Nichols.

I asked Dr. Williams if the timing of the announcement was related to last year’s crisis-plagued Lambeth Conference, when Cardinal Levada, CDF prefect, wrote to Archbishop John Hepworth, TAC primate, to tell him that the timing was not right for a response to Hepworth’s request for corporate unity with Rome. Dr. Williams would only say that he didn’t think today’s announcement was “time-sensitive”.

Despite this morning’s efforts by both church leaders, today’s announcement is of potentially huge significance. It is the first time a universal canonical structure has been created that allows for the gradual absorption into the Catholic Church of huge numbers of Anglicans in any part of the world. The impact of this will be highly significant. Many are highly educated, conservative in their theology and liturgy. By creating a parallel jurisdiction which helps to safeguard their identity as Anglicans, Pope Benedict has dealt with many of their key fears — and allowed for a corridor to Rome which thousands will go through over the next few years, leading to a gradual diminution of the Anglo-Catholic element in worldwide Anglicanism.

The experience of the new emigres will be closely watched by other Anglicans — and will strongly affect the prospects of long-term Anglican-Catholic unification. History is being made.

Austen Ivereigh is a writer and journalist, former adviser to Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, and a contributor to America magazine.

Read America magazine’s Michael Sean Winters on “The Anglicans and Us.”

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  • Peace-time

    ArchBISHOP Desmond TUTU, where art thou and congregation? How about his loving buddy, the H.H. Dali Lama and Congregation converting like going over to the other side? Note: In Logic, as well as in Beliefs, especialy Reality or in awareness of TIME, that There is such a state as “THESIS, ANTITHESIS and SYNTHESIS.”Imagine the Judeo-Abrahamic BIBLE/Chumash/Korans merging with the Judeo-Vedic Geeta/Kangyurs/Tangyurs etc.. as truly 1-ONE? Imagine, The “RELIGION OF EVERYTHING” (before the Science of Everything) becoming what they was supposed to have Been, long long ago?Yes, IT is TIME to “UNITE/FUSE” (un-Seperate) all the 5/6-Major Faiths/Beliefs/Religions Systems on S.pace-S.hip Earth, of Many, into 1-ONE BOOK!Note: The Fact is that To Us AMERICAN SECULAR Nationals that All Abrahamics and Vedics (Torah’s, Gospels, Hadith’s and Synergeticals..) are, in Fact/Reality, ALL “IMPORTED RELIGIONS” (not Made in AMERICA) from the Abroad. SoWE, the International and Local “SECULAR” Nationals Movants, See what many Theologians failed to See. AndToday, an “EDUCATED” (the KEYs to unlocking Ignorance) consumer, or non-educated (common Sensor), as Ex-Believers turned SECULARists, Agnostic or Atheist.. will also fight, to the Death if need be, in What I, WE believe or FEEL and Think the “TRUTH” is! Being in DENIAL is ones worse Enemy. So IT begins with You/Us and IT ends with Us/YOU.

  • Peace-time

    In fact; Besides being Rich Theologian’s The Pope and Archbishop , as institutions know that England will inevitably succumb to the United-Euro (the side where the Roman Vatican Empire is located) or let’s say, the otherside of the Thames/Euphrates river so to speak. AndSoon Archbiship Desmond TuTu, of South Africa and other near places will also ‘merge’ to their delight for the better; unless the Islamic Neighbors don’t get Jealous. AndThis is a ‘Shot’ not only across the Human-Bowe but but across Continents and Oceans , at the speed of Light (internet), for ALL the world to Stop a moment , such that the Islamic World, not only Catholic/Anglican/Anglican/Vatican CONSTITuates , must “merge” and combine into a sort of Judeo ‘Christian-Transparency’ such that, that the Judeo ISLAMIC Shiat/Sunni/Sunni/Shiat will also merge their wealth and Rituals too. How long? Not too long when they awaken to Reality. Their own EVOLUTION. Another thing: Soon, 6-SIX Gulf Arabic Nations will also merge and have their [Historic] own (50% Gold backed) Currency called the “KHALEEGi” (means GULF). From PISCES-AGE (FISH) we are moving (never backwards) Towards the AQUARIUS-AGE, into a NEW-MILLENIUM which seems like a Prophecy to me. In them days the Christians will be 3,000 years young and the islam will be where we were before the new-Millenium. Andthe Vedic Hindu’s will ‘Un-Caste’ and the Buddhists and Shinto’s and the Atheist post de facto Communists and non realigionists will live in Harmony (Tolerence) and they too will ‘merge’ their mixed currency’s into One; and even UNITE their Nations under One [Secular] “CONSTITUTION” in the not too distant future. So “Spreading the-Peace [giving the ‘Church’s the chance, is more important, right now, than spreading the-Money”.Everybody WINS. Straights and non-Straights. The Drunks and not the Drunks. Believers n non-believers..

  • tfspa

    Just thinking this through, but can I become a married priest by 1) getting married, 2) converting to Anglicanism, 3) become an ordained minister and then finally, 4) convert to Catholicism? It couldn’t possibly be that simple. And what happens if I am gay and marry another guy. Would I then be a gay, married priest? Someday bishop? Cardinal? Just imagine, we could be looking at the first gay, married Pope!