CDF to Offer Personal Prelature Status to the Traditional Anglican Communion

October 20, AD 2009, New Developments: Vatican Announces Personal Ordinariates for Anglicans!  To read more on this click here.

Updates at the bottom of the post ? (‘nothing’s been decided’ & ‘unlikely’)

papal-emblemThe Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is reportedly recommending that the Traditional Anglican Communion (T.A.C.) be offered the status of personal prelature.  The Traditional Anglican Communion is a group of approximately 400,000 Anglican’s that have broken away from the Anglican Communion seeking to preserve their Anglo-Catholic traditions.  They formerly requested entry into the Catholic Church in 2007.  These reports are emanating from an Australian Catholic weekly called The Record.

Due to the unprecedented volume of traffic it can be difficult to access The Record website.   I can only ladyonthrone1surmise this is because of the excitement that this bit of news must be generating among Traditional Anglicans as well as faithful Catholics and various observers from Canterbury.

Again, this has just been reported within the last two hours (1:50am Central Standard Time).  Here is the following posted information from The Record:

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has decided to recommend the Traditional Anglican Communion be accorded a personal prelature akin to Opus Dei, if talks between the TAC and the Vatican aimed at unity succeed, it is understood.

The TAC is a growing global community of approximately 400,000 members that took the historic step in 2007 of seeking full corporate and sacramental communion with the Catholic Church – a move that, if fulfilled, will be the biggest development in Catholic-Anglican relations since the English Reformation under King Henry VIII.  TAC members split from the Canterbury-based Anglican Communion headed by Archbishop Rowan Williams over issues such as its ordination of women priests and episcopal consecrations of women and practising homosexuals.

The TAC’s case appeared to take a significant step forwards in October 2008 when it is understood that the CDF decided not to recommend the creation of a distinct Anglican rite within the Roman Catholic Church – as is the case with the Eastern Catholic Churches – but a personal prelature, a semi-autonomous group with its own clergy and laity.

Opus Dei was the first organisation in the Catholic Church to be recognised as a personal prelature, a new juridical form in the life of the Church. A personal prelature is something like a global diocese without boundaries, headed by its own bishop and with its own membership and clergy.

An announcement could be made soon after Easter this year. It is understood that Pope Benedict XVI, who has taken a personal interest in the matter, has linked the issue to the year of St Paul, the greatest missionary in the history of the Church. The Basilica of St Paul outside the Walls could feature prominently in such an announcement for its traditional and historical links to Anglicanism. Prior to the English Reformation it was the official Church of the Knights of the Garter.

The TAC’s Primate, Adelaide-based Archbishop John Hepworth, told The Record he has also informed the Holy See he wants to bring all the TAC’s bishops to Rome for the beatification of Cardinal Henry Newman, also an Anglican convert to the Catholic Church, as a celebration of Anglican-Catholic unity.

If this information is accurate, this is an incredible turn of events coming from the Vatican.  First the motu proprio freeing the Tridentine Mass, the overtures to S.S.P.X., and now granting the Traditional Anglican Communion the status of a personal prelature, which only Opus Dei occupies thus far.  With the Catholic Church change occurs over centuries, but with the Venerable Pope Benedict XVI he has dramatically altered the landscape of the Catholic Church within three short years.

What does this mean for traditionalists (High Anglicans) in the Canterbury based Anglican Communion?  Possibly protection from heterodoxical bishops by entering the Catholic Church as a personal prelature or simply entering the Traditional Anglican Communion.  This is going to create shockwaves all the way to Canterbury and the rest of the Anglican Communion throughout the world.  It will definitely make the prelates of England and Wales cringe in fear to the thought of hundred’s of thousands of Anglicans entering their realm and bolstering the numbers of faithful and dedicated Catholics.  It will also certainly create havoc for Katherine Jefferts Schori and her bishops in keeping The Episcopal Communion together here in the United States.

Right now this is joyous news that I am just beginning to digest, if this is correct news.

(Biretta Tip: Creative Minority Report)

Updated (1-29-2009 AD, 3:05pm CST):  The National Catholic Register’s correspondent, Edward Pentin, was told by a CDF official that “nothings’ been decided.”

‘Said the official, “It’s something that has appeared on the blogosphere and then been reiterated, but the truth is nothing’s been decided.” ‘

Tom McFeely, the National Catholic Register reporter, has titled his posting ‘Anglican Rumors Denied’.  Insinuating this isn’t true.  Though the CDF official hasn’t state as such, only that nothing’s been decided.

Updated (2-3-2009 AD, 12:00pm CST): The Catholic News Agency is now reporting a Vatican official stating that the scenario described above for the entry of the Traditional Anglican Communion (T.A.C.) into the Catholic Church as ‘unlikely‘.

Keep in mind that the T.A.C. may still get entry into the Church, but under a different formula, corporately or individually.

Also keep in mind that my posting is based on a rumor and not an official Vatican statement.  Though prayers and patience will go a long way for the T.A.C.

62 Responses to CDF to Offer Personal Prelature Status to the Traditional Anglican Communion

  • I wonder if this is the same group of Anglicans that Mark Shea spoke to a couple of years ago in South Australia?

    Anyway, its great news.

    Ut Unum Sint, indeed.

  • Don the Kiwi,

    Not sure about that one.

    But if this is true and the negotiations go well, all I can say is WOW!

    Ut Unum Sint indeed.

  • This is good news. I hope it’s true ut unum sint.

  • This is great news! I understood that there were many other issues that needed to be dealt with. While the priests and bishops of the TAC will probably need to be ordained (doubting as to the validity of their orders), it is my understanding that the TAC has a married episcopate, which I cannot see Rome accepting. Rome may offer the prelature with some other preconditions, but it is no guarantee that the TAC will accept.

  • Need not worry, Alan. The Holy Spirit- the anti-devil- is in the details. Wonderful development. Ut unum sint indeed.

  • This is indeed fantastic news! If the TAC is able to integrate successfully without having their unique heritage suppressed it could be the first of many groups to enter the Church without fear of “Latinization” and yet able to gain full communion.

    Alan Phipps,

    TAC has a married episcopate

    it is indeed very unlikely that the Holy Father would elevate a married man to the episcopate, however there is a history of permitting married clergy of converting Lutheran and Anglican congregations to be ordained priests while maintaining their state. I suspect that the TAC bishops understand this and will accept that condition, they would still retain leadership positions in the new prelature, and would only be limited in their faculties for the sacraments.

  • Matt,

    Yes, I expect that the pastoral provision may be fully leveraged here in the case of married priest converts, but I also understood that for the TAC bishops, maintaining their married episcopate was a must. While I expressed concern, I in no way feel that this is necessarily a huge stumbling block… primarily just a curious question on my part. Hopefully they will accept Rome’s magnanimity.

  • Alan,

    for the TAC bishops, maintaining their married episcopate was a must.

    I haven’t come across this before, all I could see is that they stipulated to the entire Catechism, so I don’t see how they could insist on this. We can certainly trust the Holy Father to work it out.

  • Matt,

    See if you can add a pic to your ID.

  • Tito,

    See if you can add a pic to your ID.

    Alright already.

  • Matt,

    “I haven’t come across this before,”

    I recall it from an interview I watched about a year and a half ago with the presiding prelate, Archbishop John Hepworth, who is married. I’ll have to see if I can track it down again, but I’ve heard conflicting reports that he may retire should Rome welcome them in.

  • “Niiiice.”

    For myself, I prefer that cool looking design as my ID.

  • Alan,

    It’s your turn. Put up a saint, like the one you have on Facebook.

    C’mon! Do it!

    Nothing like peer pressure eh?

  • Tito,

    After the election of the most pro-choice pres. in US history things seemed dark. Then in January, the month he is sworn in and the month of the 50th aniv. of the Vatican Council three things happen (always in threes)…

    1-Total healing between the Vatican and SSPX
    2-A personal prelature for Anglicans is in the works (this could be huge even beyond the 400,000 in the TAC, indeed I think this could catch on like wild-fire perhapes even in Africa.)
    3-New Russian Orthodox Patriach is the most favorable to Catholics possible in the present Russian context and is in the mold of the Patriarch of Constantinople in terms of viewing the Church East and West as “two-lungs,” and I think it is at last a possibility that the Pope can visit Russia.

    Tito if I was still a blogger I’d post on this, these three things, taken by themselves are meaningless footnotes to the msm but I think in the context Church history these are all epic milestones.

    God bless and protect his Holiness. The Pope who so many liberals said would be so divisive is turning out to be the great unifier and the unity has come not due to pandering and pleastries but rather a robust embrace of Truth.

  • I forgot to add caveats of “potential for” in points 1 and 2.

  • I hope and pray this is true. I am a member of the Anglican Church in America a TAC church. This is an answer to our prayers. There will be whole sale movement over by American Episcopalians and Cof E members. The American Episcopal church has been ruined and the remaining Christians there pray for an alternative. Please pray that this effort towards uniting our church works if it is Gods will.

  • Claiborne,

    welcome home to Rome (a bit premature perhaps)! There a large number of Catholics praying for this union as well. We trust that the Holy Father will ensure that the process is just and merciful for all.

    What is your opinion on the prospective status of currently married bishops in TAC? The prevalent belief is that the Church will accept them as priests, but not in their current position. Do you believe that will be a stumbling block?

    Do you know if there are any TAC parishes in Houston?

    God Bless!

  • Matt -

    It is my understanding that all the TAC Bishops have offered to step aside from the Episcopacy to make this work.

  • watching,

    that would show great wisdom and humility indeed… something we need so much more of in the Church. Their sacrifice will be rewarded. Are you a member of TAC?

  • I hope and pray that we can officially say welcome home very soon!

  • A little research shows that the requirement for married TAC Bishops to retained is misinformation published on a “Catholic” website (probably an attempt to sabotage).

    Anglican Church in America

    Another self-proclaimed Catholic website states that the retention of “their married episcopate” was a requirement of the TAC. Once again, no reference to any such requirement was in the letter.

    Obviously, the only thing actually requested was “the guidance of the Holy See” – no list of conditions, no requests for a “Catholic bishop to preside over” us, for special treatment or consideration for current bishops, for Uniate status, or for any other specific structure, etc., etc. – just a simple statement that we want to be in communion with the Holy See without losing our Anglican heritage and identity, ending with the implied question, “How should we proceed?” The entire matter was undertaken with no agenda other than responding to our Lord’s prayer for unity among his followers (John 17), with the belief and understanding that such unity can only be achieved by restoring relationships severed by past schisms. It is hoped the above may bring some truth and clarity to the discussion.

    This is wonderful!

  • “A little research shows that the requirement for married TAC Bishops to retained is misinformation published on a “Catholic” website”

    Again, what I saw was from an interview, not from a website. I have no idea what the petition actually said… Apparently nothing pertinent to the question of married bishops.

  • I want to clarify that I do not mean in any way to suggest Alan as intentionally providing misinformation, attempting to sabotage.

  • Alan,

    Niiice pic!

    Tito

    Fidei Defensor,

    Good to see you!

  • Matt,

    The fear of “Latinization”???….they (TAC) were in the Western (latin) Church to begin with!!

    I’m fine with Rome’s offer, but really, if anyone is searching for truth, there should be no negotiating on their part. If they believe the fullness of the faith to exist in union with Rome, they should have just JOINED already. Any preconditions whatsoever illustrate a ‘stiff neck’ and we already have enough of those within the Church as it is.

    I hope that the TAC bishops can convince their laity to come over…I don’t know that all will do so…I’ve heard a lot of TAC laity declaring that they will not…they are, after all, protesters at heart and schism is what they do best.

  • Diane,

    by that I mean being put under the thumb of the local bishop and forced to discard their customs. This happened during the consolidation of rites after the Council of Trent. Of course they are technically Latin Rite, so it’s a bit of a misuse of the expression.

    According to the TAC website they set know pre-conditions, only requesting that they can maintain their cultural customs.

    I don’t agree with your stiff-neck criticism, they have, as a group, asked the Holy Father what they should do next, if he said come over individually, then that would have been the right thing to do. Also, bear in mind that, many of the laity, while they subscribe to the doctrine of the Church are not necessarily anxious to be back home in Rome. It is their bishops, leading them.

    Most will come, but those who do not? To whom shall they go? If they were “episcopal” they would have apostatized long ago… Perhaps to the SSPX if they haven’t already been reconciled.

  • This Roman Catholic Convert is thrilled! I will be praying that His will be done.

  • I am so excited. I came home to Rome 5 years ago this Easter. This will be a tremendous victory for the Unity of Christendom. A former cradle Episcopalian, and now an elated member of the Holy Catholic Church of Rome.
    Pray for the visible unity of Christendom.
    That we all may be one.

  • Matt,

    Wanting to maintain their cultural customs is a precondition.

    Having all of these out-of-the ordinary juridical structures supports my sense that they are not willing to come in in total obedience. Not that I don’t support what B16 is doing…I’m just saying that I don’t believe that huge swathes of their laity will be joining their bishops in union with Rome.

    For examples of priests and laity that are defiant towards Rome, check out The Continuum. These ‘real’ Anglicans discarded the Canturbury Anglicans sometime ago and they pattern themselves after the Orthodox….having always existed as part of the ancient Church that included an important Bishop of Rome, but who never exercised universal jurisdiction.

  • “The Continuum” is hardly representative of the TAC. They spend a great deal of time trying to prove they are catholic, but yet reject many essential truths.

    Diane, you are in error in stating preconditions. There were no preconditions given to the Holy See.

  • Watching:

    Just for fun, I wonder what would happen if Rome responded “Sure! Glad to have ya’ll. Just get yourselves to the closest Catholic Church, sign up for and complete RCIA, and voila, you’re in!”.

  • Diane -

    That option has always been there.

    The TAC approached the Holy See and asked guidance on how to bring the entire TAC in. There were no preconditions and there was full acceptance of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, evidenced by a signed copy together with the Statement:

    “We accept that the most complete and authentic expression and application of the Catholic faith in this moment of time is found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and its Compendium, which we have signed, together with this letter as attesting to the faith we aspire to teach and hold.”

  • Why not let them maintain their culture customs hasn’t the Church done that often throughout history?

    It seems to me what the TAC really wanted was their own Anglican Rite ala the Melekite Rite or something but I think they’ll be plenty happy with a personal prelature. I think it was fair though, there is a historical basis, the old Sarum Rite Mass, etc. I think telling all these 400,000 to go through RCIA is really going to whittle down the numbers of converts, frankly there are some parishes I know of where I wouldn’t recomend RCIA as sometimes the would-be converts come in with more love and loyalty to say the Holy Father than the local RCIA bureocracy.

  • Diane,

    it seems you are suggesting the prodigal son should not be treated to a banquet. That is not the Catholic way. When the sinner returns the Church and begs to be let in the fold, the Church doesn’t place obstacles in the penitents path like yous suggest. Furthermore, these individuals are being led into the Church by their pastors and bishops, valid or not, to take away this good leadership from them would not serve the interest of bringing souls to Christ… and that’s what is important, isn’t it?

    Frankly, the power of bringing in such a large block of Anglican’s intact, versus even this number on an individual basis is incredible, both for the possibility of more lost sheep returning and for the strength of the Church herself. How WE treat these new brothers and sisters will deeply affect the potential for Christian unity.

    Finally, once fully ensconced, this group will likely represent a strong, orthodox, and traditional group within the Church, something that we are in desperate need to have more of.

  • Matt,
    I’m clear about what the ‘Catholic way’ is, thank you. I’ve suggested no obstacles. I’ve simply said, the Church is here…there are ways to come home NOW.

    And, it won’t be a ‘large block’. It will be a fraction of a large block. The TAC is hopelessly fractured and it will not move as a unit. I want orthodox Catholics in the Church just as much as any other person. I’m with B16 in even accepting a smaller, purer Church….but we all need to be realistic about this.

    I am firm in my belief that any TAC parish, priest or person that is seeking truth and comes to the conclusion that it subsists in the Catholic Church, then they will come to Rome, no matter what, with or without their pastors, customs, etc. Yes, those things may make it more comfortable for them, but it shouldn’t be the basis upon which a decision to come home to Rome is made.

    They will simply just convert. If this doesn’t happen, then that tells us that truth was not their priority.

  • Diane,

    I would also suggest that you are talking about groups who didn’t want to be part of ‘liberal’ Anglican parishes back when “liberal” meant the ’79-prayerbook. They certainly aren’t going to want to go do RCIA at ‘liberal’ Catholic parishes.

    On the flip side, recent events suggest that BXVI seems to have settled on a policy of bringing groups like this into communion intact. Presumeably this will add to the richness and complexity of the Catholic body, which does not strike me as a bad thing. It also creates a stable community with a sense of identity and mission.

    And on a personal note, I would NEVER consider going to an SSPX parish (the other group with whom Rome is conducting prominent negotiations), but as someone who became Catholic by way of the Anglican communion and the BCP, I will be at a TAC parish the first Sunday they are Catholic. I painfully miss English hymnody and adore the BCP. So, would they lose some members that are in their pews now? Probably. Will they gain Catholics (esp. converts from/thru Anglicanism) and Anglo-Catholics who are nourished by the English tradition? Absolutely.

    LoA.

  • Diane -

    You seem to know more about how many in the TAC will respond to this than do I, a well connected member of the TAC.

    It will be a large block. We will lose a small group most likely, but I am astounded at your pontification on your uninformed opinion about the TAC.

    If we were not on the same page in terms of the faith, we would not be dealing with the part of the Holy See we are in discussion with.

    Those who are not Catholic, such as the Anglican Communion, work with the ecumenical section. You will notice that no other group works with the CDF.

  • Waiting:

    I hope I’m totally wrong on this one. I’d be thrilled with a large block of TAC members coming in.

    We can pray that it happens and, with that, we are all on the same page.

  • Matt,
    My understanding is that all our present bishops signed the proposal and said they would give up their office as Bishop. I assume they would continue as Priests. The Arch Bishop is married but I understand he is set to retire which will clear the way for a single celebate Bishop.

  • I have several friends who are Episcopalians who came into the Catholic Church, and all of them ended up taking refuge in Byzantine Catholic parishes in order to find something like the love of liturgy that they had held before becoming Catholic (and in some ways had lead them towards the Church as traditional liturgy was abandoned in their Episcopal parishes) and also the difficulties of liberal RCIA programs.

    So only looking at their example, I’m sure that it would be a great benefit for those coming into the Church (and for many of similar praxis who are already Catholic) to have an influx of Anglican Use parishes.

  • AWESOME THIS POPE BENEDICT 16TH HAS INDEED WITH THE HAND OF THE CREATOR TO GUIDE HIM IN THREE FELL SWOOPS HAS BROUGHT OVER 500+ TRADITIONAL (ORTHODOX) PRIESTS AND FOUR BISHOPS & BETWEEN 1 & 7 MILLION PEOPLE BACK INTO A REGULARIZED STATUS IN THE CHURCH. WITH A POSSIBLE PERSONAL PRELATURE OR GOD WILLING AN ANGLICAN RITE IN THE MIX OVER A 1000 TRADITIONAL ANGLICANS AND 400.000 ANGLICAN LAYPEOPLE MAY SOON ENTER FULL COMMUNION WITH ROME. WHICH I SUSPECT IS ONLY THE BEGINNING WITH MILLIONS OF ANGLICANS REUNITING UNDER THE SEE OF ROME, BE SWEET TO SEE THE SARUM RITE REVIVED AND RESTORED. THIRD BUT CERTAINLY NOT LEAST AFTER A THOUSAND YEAR SPLIT AND WITH THE ELECTION OF THE PATRIARCH KIRILL IN MOSCOW THE CHANCES OF RECIPRICAL RESTORATION OF UNITY BETWEEN MOSCOW AND ROME MAY NO LONGER BE A DREAM BUT A FACT, REMEMBER THAT THIS (THE ORTHODOX CHURCH) IS A COMMUNION OF OVER 500 MILLION PEOPLE. IF THE SPIRIT OF GOD IS NOT AT WORK HERE I WOULD BE MORE THAN SURPRISED. THIS IS NOT THE WORK OF MAN. AS FOR THE SOCIALIST-LIBERAL-60′S CUMBYA CHURCH OF MODERNITY, THOSE CLERICS AND LAITY THAT CRIED IN ANGER AT THE ELECTION OF JOSEPH RATZINGER AS POPE OF ROME, THOSE PSYDO-CHRISTIANS PREACHING “LIBERATION THEOLOGY” THAT HATE ORTHODOXY YOU STILL HAVE UR GODS, KARL MARX, FREDRICK ENGELS, STALIN AND POL POT.

  • I can understand the excitement at the possible return of Anglicans to the fold of the RCC but I do not understand the enthusiasm about Kirill. I used to read Interfax when he was the Metropolitan of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Ukraine. He was the most vociferous critic when the JPII elevated Patriarch Husar to the level of Cardinal of Lviv(Ukrainian Catholic Church) as well as creating the Diocese of the Mother of God(unofficially the Archdiocese of Moscow). He is not anymore pro-RCC than Alexei was when he was the Patriarch of Moscow.

  • Don’t get me wrong, If Kirill, as head of the Russian Orthodox church, acts more pragmatically great. I do not expect the Russians to agree to unification with Rome but I would hope he becomes more understanding of the Ukrainians and small Russian populations of Catholics who are loyal to Rome. It is a very sensitive topic over there in Russia.

  • Glenn,

    I agree with you about Patriarch Kirill (do they get a new name like our Pope?).

    But I believe the enthusiasm is based on the possibility that Patriarch Kirill will meet with Pope Benedict, either in Russia or elsewhere. Which would be a significant step forward for two reasons:

    1) The Russian Orthodox Church represents the largest Orthodox congregation in Orthodoxy.

    2) The previous Patriarch (Alexy), refused to meet with either Pope John Paul II or Pope Benedict XVI. Thus the potential of finally having a summit between the worlds two largest religious groups gains a bit more momentum.

  • Well Tito, God does work in strange ways after all, we all know from the prophecy at Fatima, Russia WILL eventually come into the fold; its just a matter of when, not if. I was merely basing my scepticism on statements from Alexy that it not possible for either JPII or BenedictXVI to visit in Russia or for Alexy to travel to Rome for face to face meetings. I don’t know if it pride on the part of the individuals concerned or intra church politics with in each branch of the faith which precludes such an event. Should such a meeting take place, I am sure it would be a momentous occasion for people of both faiths. I do pray it happens as I do wish for the Anglicans to return and will be waiting for Easter and hoping for the Vatican to make the anticipated announcement of the Anglican prelature.

  • Glenn,

    I agree with your sentiments.

    Padre Pio even said that Russia will convert to Catholicism before America does. It’ll be a very interesting time when this does occur.

  • Fr. Peters,

    according to statements by members of TAC above, and the US website, there are no preconditions on the offer to join full communion with the Church. They accepted the Catechism in it’s entirety, and have, apparently agreed to abide by any instructions from the Holy See with regard to their entry into the Church.

    As you are surely aware, the Church has welcomed her separated brethren from the Anglican communion before. A process was established whereby their priests where accepted to seminaries and ordained, even if currently married. There’s no doubt that a similar process would occur in this case, although it seems virtually impossible that any would be ordained to the episcopate.

    As to the personal moral situation of the TAC priests and bishops, that is no reason to turn the lost sheep away? I trust the Holy Father will deal with them as a true shepherd.

  • Fr Peters,

    my comment in no way conflicts with the reality that conversion is individual. For those already in the Church, conversion is still required.

    We have not been informed that this is going to happen; maybe the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is more informed but we have not received any update,” he said. “All we know is what we have read on newspapers and on some blogs.”

    That is a denial of nothing, as it’s likely the Holy Father would be holding his cards close, and quite possibly using his former congregation to execute.

    Fr. Peter’s comments notwithstanding, there is significant precedence of the Church welcoming large organized groups back into the fold after working out conditions with their leaders. Likely the first was the Arians after the Council of Nicea.

    Please Fr., what is the reason for your pessimism in this matter? Are you for some reason opposed to this re-union?

  • Fr. Bosco keeps worrying about conversion. Why do you suppose this matter has consistently bypassed the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity?

    Why has it been allowed to deal exclusively with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith?

    It is because there is not a difference of belief. We would not be allowed to follow the path we have, if our beliefs were different.

  • Its interesting Msgr. Langham is reported as conceding that “the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith could be involved in talks with the Traditional Anglican Communion.”

    There is no secret here, it has been open from the first whom we are working with.

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