Church Opens Doors To Anglicans Seeking Reunion With Rome

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This morning William Cardinal Levada announced at the Vatican that Pope Benedict XVI has introduced a canonical structure in an upcoming Apostolic Constitution that allows for corporate reunion with Anglicans by establishing Personal Ordinariates.

A Personal Ordinariate would be similar to Military Ordinariates which have been established in most countries to provide pastoral care for the members of the armed forces and their dependents throughout the world.

Here are the highlights from this mornings announcement:

  • 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.
  • These Personal Ordinariates will be formed, as needed, in consultation with local Conferences of Bishops, and their structure will be similar in some ways to that of the Military Ordinariates.

Cardinal Levada has stated:

“It is the hope of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, that the Anglican clergy and faithful who desire union with the Catholic Church will find in this canonical structure the opportunity to preserve those Anglican traditions precious to them and consistent with the Catholic faith. Insofar as these traditions express in a distinctive way the faith that is held in common, they are a gift to be shared in the wider Church. The unity of the Church does not require a uniformity that ignores cultural diversity, as the history of Christianity shows. Moreover, the many diverse traditions present in the Catholic Church today are all rooted in the principle articulated by St. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians: ‘There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism’ (4:5). Our communion is therefore strengthened by such legitimate diversity, and so we are happy that these men and women bring with them their particular contributions to our common life of faith.”

Deo gratias! This is incredible news for many disaffected Anglicans seeking reunion with Rome that want to keep their Anglican patrimony.

Many issues do arise from this though, but pleasant issues to say the least:

  1. How will the rites, ceremonies, prayers, and sacraments of the Anglican patrimony be written (considering the variety of missals and liturgies now being used by the Anglican Use Catholics and Anglicans not in communion with Rome)?
  2. How will the current Anglican Use parishes transition to this new structure?
  3. Eventually, it would be preferred and correct to establish a patrimonial Anglican seminary similar to that of what the Fraternitas Sacerdotalis Sancti Petri, or F.S.S.P., has done.
  4. If married Bishops enter into the Catholic Church, how will they prepare for themselves the fact that at most they can only be a priest and not an Ordinary?

I will post another article to address many of these questions, and maybe more, later.

In the meantime let us rejoice and pray for our separated brothers in Christ for a quick reunion!

_._

To read full text of this announcement from the Vatican click here.

To read Father Zuhlsdorf’s reaction click here.

To read Damian Thompson’s reaction of London’s Daily Telegraph click here.

To read Father Tim Finigan’s reaction click here.

To read more on what is an Apostolic Constitution from the Catholic Encyclopedia (AD 1917) click here.

To read more on what is an Apostolic Constitution from Wikipedia click here.

To read more on what a Military Ordinariate is from Wikipedia click here.

To read my lost posting on the Traditional Anglican Communion click here.

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