Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Anglicans Are Coming!

Thanks to Rocco Palma over at Whispers for this report, which is pretty much everywhere by now.

Basically, the Vatican has paved the road for the Anglicans to start converting. This has been a long time coming. What was needed was a viable structure to support such a large number of folks and for Cardinal Kaspar to get out of the way. Once this was turned over to Cardinal Levada and the CDF, it was safe to call it a done deal.

According to an unusually well-crafted CDF statement detailing the plans, the unnamed Constitution -- to be signed by Pope Benedict -- will see "pastoral oversight and guidance [being] provided for groups of former Anglicans through a Personal Ordinariate, whose Ordinary will usually be appointed from among former Anglican clergy."

While the ordination of married former Anglican clergy has become relatively commonplace since the Pastoral Provision was instituted in 1980, the Vatican note re-drew the line at the prospect of married bishops; "historical and ecumenical reasons preclude the ordination of married men as bishops in both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches," the release said. "The Constitution therefore stipulates that the Ordinary can be either a priest or an unmarried bishop."

If you ask me, this last is especially important, as it shows that the Vatican has its limits when it comes to accepting innovation for the purpose of ecumenism. I think the Pastoral Provision is a good idea for these sorts of cases, but married bishops just isn't going to work. In fact, since we're being all ecumenical here, it would probably set up another issue for the Orthodox to gripe about.

What's more, though the Holy See aimed to compare the new ordinariates to the national diocesan structures overseeing a country's military forces, the case at hand appears to hearken more closely to the Eastern churches in full communion in light of the arrangement's maintenance of a distinct liturgical custom and the provision for its oversight by a free-standing ecclesial authority drawn from said community. In other words, though the terminology was likely chosen to keep ecumenical headaches at a minimum, the de facto result of the move is an Anglican Rite within the Roman Communion. Like the military churches, however, the structures will ostensibly be nation-wide, established after consultation with the episcopal conferences.

Reading the CDF bulletin and the other stories on this, I think the description of a full-blown Anglican Rite, rather than just Anglican Use parishes, is accurate. I still haven't been to an Anglican Use liturgy. This should make it easier. On top of that, and while I'm sure it's happening, I sincerely hope that the converts are being vetted in all this. If they aren't going all-in, it's best to just drop the whole thing.

Finally, we should probably mention Rowan:

Underscoring the move's potential impact on both churches -- and showing an unusual degree of coordination, both in terms of rollout strategy and ecumenical cooperation -- a joint statement on the new protocol from Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster and the Anglican Communion's head, Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, was included in this morning's Bulletin of the Holy See Press Office.

In their message, the twin primates saw the development as a fruit "of ecumenical dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion."

How humiliating is this? The guy has to call a press conference and basically chime in about how he's helping all these Anglicans not be Anglican anymore. I'm sure he's known this was coming for a while, but geez. That's a big freaking grenade to fall on.

You can probably stick a fork in Rowan, now. He's done like dinner. I would imagine that Schori and Co. will come out of the woodwork to labaste him for [a] greasing the rails to get these folks out (even though they've been clamoring to get rid of them anyway) and [b] presiding over the ongoing collapse of the Anglican Communion (as if their hands were clean and it was remotely avoidable in the first place).

Yep. All in all, a pretty annus horribilis for the Anglicans. Good for us and for these sojourning souls, though.


Jack Bennett said...

It is a long time coming (though I don't expect a massive influx) but I do feel bad for Rowan Williams, he is a brilliant, nice man and an ardent Christian stuck in an impossible situation.

Throwback said...

And it's going to get worse for him. Write it down. His problems are only just beginning.

Karl said...

Mandatory celibacy seems to be dying the death of a thousand cuts.

There were married bishops in the history of the Church, by the way.

Throwback said...

It does seem that way, despite Pope Benedict's comments to the contrary.

While there were married bishops (Paul says as much to Timothy), I'm glad to see the resistance there holding up. We don't need any more stumbling blocks for the East.

Karl said...

I agree. It's the current canonical practice of the Orthodox Church, and has been for a long time.

It is an entertaining chapter in Orthodox Canon law, however, since there are earlier canons that say that a bishop _must_ be married, but the canons are supposed to be expressions of divine Truth. So, one has canons which say opposite things which are both divine truth. The arguments on how this can be so are fun to read.

Throwback said...

Didn't realize that. How early is "earlier" here?

Karl said...

The fourth century Apostolic Canons (attributed to the Apostles, but not really directly from them) say this:

Canon V. (VI.)

Let not a bishop, presbyter, or deacon, put away his wife under pretence of religion; but if he put her away, let him be excommunicated; and if he persists, let him be deposed.

There is some other one that requires a bishop to be the husband of one wife, but my books are downstairs. But it's clear that there were married bishops, and its also a historical fact that there were married bishops up until I think the 1200s.

Note: I'm not for it. I'm just telling you the history.

Throwback said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Throwback said...

Duly noted. Thanks for the sourcing there.