Real Ecumenism! – Vatican makes a path for Anglicans returning to Rome!

“NOTE OF THE CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH ABOUT PERSONAL ORDINARIATES FOR ANGLICANS ENTERING THE CATHOLIC CHURCH” (Vatican Information Service October 20, 2009):

With the preparation of an Apostolic Constitution, the Catholic Church is responding to the many requests that have been submitted to the Holy See from groups of Anglican clergy and faithful in different parts of the world who wish to enter into full visible communion.

In this Apostolic Constitution the Holy Father has introduced a canonical structure that provides for such corporate reunion by establishing Personal Ordinariates, which will allow former Anglicans to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony. Under the terms of the Apostolic Constitution, pastoral oversight and guidance will be provided for groups of former Anglicans through a Personal Ordinariate, whose Ordinary will usually be appointed from among former Anglican clergy.

The forthcoming Apostolic Constitution provides a reasonable and even necessary response to a world-wide phenomenon, by offering a single canonical model for the universal Church which is adaptable to various local situations and equitable to former Anglicans in its universal application. It provides for the ordination as Catholic priests of married former Anglican clergy. Historical and ecumenical reasons preclude the ordination of married men as bishops in both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. The Constitution therefore stipulates that the Ordinary can be either a priest or an unmarried bishop. The seminarians in the Ordinariate are to be prepared alongside other Catholic seminarians, though the Ordinariate may establish a house of formation to address the particular needs of formation in the Anglican patrimony. In this way, the Apostolic Constitution seeks to balance on the one hand the concern to preserve the worthy Anglican liturgical and spiritual patrimony and, on the other hand, the concern that these groups and their clergy will be integrated into the Catholic Church. … [MORE]

  • Carl Olson provides a helpful roundup of initial reactions from various parties, notes “three dubious and curious conclusions” and recommends a re-reading of Vatican II’s decree on ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio:

    It’s worthwhile revisiting that document since there appears to be the notion, among some Catholics and non-Catholics, that the goal of ecumenism is unending dialogue and perpetual conversation at the service of further dialogue and conversation, resulting in the formation of committees, sub-committees, and sub-sub-committees, which seek to refine further discussion about dialog—well, you get the picture. Nothing against good conversation and authentic dialogue, of course, but they should have a point, a purpose, a goal. As Unitatis Redintegratio explains, dialogue is meant to correct misunderstandings, remove impediments, and facilitate common endeavors, which are all oriented ultimately to complete, real unity.

  • Update!Some good reflections from Amy Welborn (Charlotte Was Both October 23, 2009):

    This is obviously about Anglicans, because the initiative has come from the Anglican side – that is, those asking for this kind of structure. But I can’t help but see that it is also about the Church in general, particularly shifts in ecclesiological and canonical thinking and practice, and more specifically about the liturgical life of the Church. It is not clear what liturgy will prevail in this new arrangement, but I can’t help but wonder if part of the envisioned fruit of this is the wider presence of a liturgy that would offer another way for those fed up with the unpredictability and frequent ego-driven banality of a typical parish Mass but who find the TLM too big of a step (or for whom it is not available.) The insertion of a more formal, English-language liturgical tradition into Catholic practice adds a startling new chapter into the post-Vatican II era of liturgical change.

    It’s also interesting to me because the structure of this new entity does not depend on a local bishop’s good feelings or sympathies. This has been an enormous problem in the application of the Pastoral Provision and the Anglican Use, and aside from other reasons for approaching it this way, this seems to be a factor. Remember, though, that this is not unprecedented. [More]

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