Wednesday, December 23, 2009

What Would Jesus Do? What did Jesus Do?

The phrase "What Would Jesus Do" has once again become popular mainly through the use of "WWJD" bracelets. This is perhaps the question that St Martin of Tours would have asked when he gave his cloak to the beggar. The concept of imitatio dei (the imitation of God) has always formed the basis of the lives of the saints and ordinary faithful Catholics. The idea of the imitation of Christ is the central theme in Thomas a Kempis’ great spiritual classic, "The Imitation of Christ".
In recent times however this phrase has taken on a new meaning and you hear it being used to challenge the authority of the Church, usually in situations when someone thinks the Church is acting harshly. If a priest withholds communion from family members who are not Catholic then someone will say, " but, what would Jesus do?" If they really want to pressurise the priest they will say, "what would a loving Jesus do?"
The question is totally inappropriate because what they should be asking is what did Jesus do? What Jesus did was that he created a Church and he gave that Church authority to teach in His name. "You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it."(Matthew 16:18). In order that we do not have any doubt about what Jesus would do in matters of faith or morals, we have a sure guide in the Church. If we have a problem with those teachings then we can be sure that the problem is on our side and not on the side of the Church and Our Lord.
Why did Jesus create a Church? Simply that He did not want to leave us by ourselves. He wanted to give us the experience of walking with Him and learning from Him the way that the disciples did. As God, Jesus does not discriminate against us on the basis of time. Just because we didn’t live at the time when Jesus did walk on this earth does not mean that we cannot have a deep personal relationship with Him. When Our Lord left this earth He did not leave us as orphans. Through the sacraments He has continued to bring us to new life, to feed us, to forgive us, to confirm us in our faith, to be present at our weddings as he was at Cana, to give us priests to perpetuate His presence and to be with us at our passing into eternity. Equally important, He has continued to teach us and to guide us. We are not like poor deserted children who have to wander between the confusing ideas of our time. What we have is the voice of Our Lord Jesus Christ speaking through the Church.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Pope says "Let my people go" CofE says "you can have ém"

Breaking news from London is that the Church of England has effectively evicted the Anglo-Catholics.

In a statement that has the potential to go down as one of the most important in English church history, the Church of England's Revision committee on Women in the Episcopate declared:

"After much discussion, the members of the Committee were unable to identify a basis for specifying particular functions for vesting which commanded sufficient support both from those in favour of the ordination of women as bishops and those unable to support that development. As a result all of the proposals for vesting particular functions by statute were defeated." (italics mine)

The phrase in italics essentially tells the Anglo-Catholics that no provision will be made for them that allows them to fully separate themselves from the ministry of women bishops. This was the minimum that groups like Forward in Faith were asking for.

This particular committee was formed to draw up the legislation that would allow women to become bishops in the Church of England. Groups like Watch and Inclusive Church want simple legislation that makes it possible for women to be bishops.

Groups of traditionalists like Forward in Faith and evangelical groups want to be separated from the ministry of women bishops. First prize for them would have been a separate province, effectively what the Pope has established with the Anglican Ordinariates. Their second prize was a "statutory provision" that created an easily legally enforceable provision that would allow them to separate themselves from the ministry of women bishops while remaining within the Church of England (and not becoming a separate province).

Crafting this compromise has proved very difficult. The best that the committee could come up with was a Code of Practice. One of the key objections to this was that the female bishop herself would have to allow for provisions to be made for "traditionalists". Those who want to understand the minutiae can have a look at "Why the Code of Practice is no good for traditionalists in the C. of E."

In general the committee has been more sympathetic to the Anglo-catholics than the General Synod has been. On October 8th they stated that they had "voted to amend the draft Measure to provide for certain functions to be vested in bishops by statute rather than by delegation from the diocesan bishop under a statutory code of practice." This caused hopes to soar in the Anglo-Catholic camp. It appeared that they could be looking at a second prize.

Those hopes soared higher still when on the 22nd October the Vatican announced the creation of the Anglican Ordinariates.

Anglo-Catholics felt a bit like a neglected lot on auction. No one was showing much interest and then a mysterious buyer called in a phone bid that was three times the best bid from the floor. Would the bidders on the floor match or even offer a better bid? The ball, as they put it, was now in the CofE's court. Would the CofE return it with interest and give them what Rome had offered but within the CofE?

The answer now appears to be a firm no and the Pope's offer is the only game in town.

As we all no doubt know from our personal lives it is not always easy to change for purely positive reasons. We need negative pressures to move us in the right direction. The decision of the revision committee appears to be the stick actually beating people out of the Church of England. The carrot that the Pope is holding must look a lot more attractive to-day.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Celibacy issue

There is a general assumption that if priestly celibacy becomes the norm in the Anglican Ordinariates then they will experience a problem with vocations.

This argument is based on two assumptions:

1. The Anglicans and Eastern Churches are right about celibacy.

2. That celibacy rule is what caused the vocation crisis.

The first is an issue I will leave to another time but the second is clearly false because the Latin Church is not finding it difficult to recruit priests where the seminaries are orthodox and the faithful are praying for vocations (usually in perpetual adoration chapels).
The traditionalist groups (dedicated to celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass) like FSSP (Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter) and the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest (ICKSP) for example have a two-year waiting list.
A few diocese in the US also have seminaries that are full or nearly full. In some cases the problem is where to find more space for the seminarians. Lincoln, Nebraska is an example.
In Australia, Cardinal Pell reformed the seminary in Sydney and now it is full. See Story One and Story Two
Celibacy is not the problem, orthodoxy in the seminaries is.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Rome gives 100%

Early Bird spotting Kudos go to Fr. Anthony Chadwick of the TAC parish in Normandy and Early Bird commentary Kudos go to Sub Tuum (Darn! Do those Cistercians never sleep?)

With Apostolic Constitution "Anglicanorum coetibus" and the accompaning Complementary Norms the Holy Father has done all he could reasonably do to open the Church to the largest group of Anglicans possible.

The documents are practical and show sensitivity, even with regard to what are strictly inessentials, such as allowing former Anglican Bishops to use the insignia of the episcopal office even if they are not consecrated Catholic Bishops.

While the Apostolic Constitution is much as expected, it is the Complementary Norms that are most interesting as they give more attention to the details, wherein the devil oft dwells.

The celibacy-obsessed media is going to want to focus on how the celibacy issue will play out. So I will get that out of the way first before getting down to more important matters.

The theme in some of the secular press the last week or so has been that the Holy Father is letting a trojan horse into the Catholic Church and thousands of Catholics would be flocking to the Ordinariates to allow them to become married priests.

Well that door is well and firmly shut:

1. Catholics baptised outside the Ordinariate are not ordinarily (the pun is not mine - it is in the document) allowed to join the Ordinariate. So that would, in general, exclude anyone baptised in a 'normal' Catholic parish. (Complementary Norms: Article 5 §1)

2. Priests ordained in the Catholic Church will not be allowed to be priests in the Ordinariate. (Complementary Norms: Article 5 §2)

The documents make clear that celibacy in the Latin Rite Church remains the norm and that a married clergy is an exception. The provisions for a married clergy will stay in place indefinitely as the ordinariates will be receiving married clergy from the Anglican Church for the foreseeable (and even unforeseeable) future.

It is evident that this is the "full provision" that Anglo-Catholics have been asking the Anglican Church for. The ordinariates are basically going to function as dioceses within the Catholic Church. So what they are asking from the Anglican Church they have now been clearly given by the Catholic Church.

The ordinariates are also going to be fully incorporated into the Latin Rite Church. They are in no way akin to an Eastern-rite Catholic Church. Latin Rite Canon Law is going to apply and structures, while parallel, feed in at appropriate places into the Latin Rite Church structures, such as at the level of Bishops' conferences.

Priests will be incardinated into the Ordinariate. Lay-faithful and religious will have to make a profession of Faith, receive the Sacraments of baptism and confirmation, albeit conditionally, if there is doubt as to the validity of the sacraments received. The lay-faithful and religious will also have to request in writing to join the Ordinariate.

The ordinariates are erected by and subject to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith(CDF). The power of the CDF seems to be on the increase. The Ecclesia Dei Commission was recently moved to the CDF and now the Anglican-Catholic ordinariates are also going to be subject to them. It was thought that this move was to be a short-term measure while the SSPX and the Holy See were in doctrinal talks and once that was sorted out they would revert to another congregation. This move may indicate that Catholic Traditionalists may also be attached to the CDF for the long haul. (Anglicanorum coetibus: Section 1§1, Complementary Norms: Article 1)

Priest in the ordinariates will also be allowed to use the Roman Rite. That will allow them to assist the local Catholic diocese. Co-operation with the local diocese and the Bishops' conference are recurring themes in both documents. This provision will get the minds of a few Catholic traditionalists working. If Anglican-Catholic priests can use the Roman Rite and the Traditional Latin Mass is one of the forms of the Roman Rite then .....

Another interesting aspect of the structure is that the ordinariates are going to be erected within the confines of a Bishops' conference but that within the confines of each Bishops' conference there may be more than one ordinariate. As the Anglicans likely to take up the offer come from a diverse set of groups this is a particulary wise and generous provision as it will avoid turf-wars between the groups and allow the maximun number to enter. On the other hand it is possible that an existing Anglican diocese (of groups like the TAC) may stretch over more than one Catholic Bishops' conference. That could take some working out.

The Complementary Norms (article 11) make a number of concessions to Anglican Bishops who may not be eligible to be consecrated Bishop because they are married:

1. As Ordinary, they will have full juridictional power.
2. If they are not the Ordinary they can be called upon to assist the Ordinary.
3. The Ordinaries will be full members of the Catholic Bishops' conferences and former Anglican Bishops will be treated as retired Bishops and will be invited to the meetings of the Bishops' conferences.
4. They can request the Holy See to use the insignia of the Catholic Episcopal office.

Some thought has also been given to financial matters. The priests of the Ordinariate are going to be the ongoing financial responsibility of the Ordinary. The Ordinary will have to make provision for those who are ill, disabled or aged.

The Complementary norms state that the the Ordinary "will" enter into discussion with the Bishops' conference to see what resources are available. The "will" is interesting: Perhaps more a note to the Bishops' conferences that Rome will be watching them to see how generous they are - rather than an instruction to Ordinaries to do something they would be daft not to do.

Specific mention is made of the fact that priests in the ordinariates may have suitable secular employment - possibly essential to those with large families.

In the past some (rather uncharitable) gripes have been heard about convert clergy (accustomed to the perquisites of the Anglican communion) draining finances from their Diocese. These provisions will make this scenario unlikely.

The spirit of generosity and the level of detail in the documents makes it clear that this is not an "offer" that can be negotiated. Anglicans who think that this is an opening gambit from Rome and that they can hold out for better terms will be sorely diasppointed.

The Pope is not negotiating; he has given everything that he can. Time will tell if this generosity of spirit is matched by Anglo-Catholics.

It's Out: The Apostolic Constitution - "Anglicanorum Coetibus".

Readers will recall that the Apostolic Constitution that would allow Anglicans to join the Catholic Church on a corporate basis was not issued at the time of the press conferences in Rome and London(October 20th). The Vatican has today issued the Apostolic Constitution "Anglicanorum Coetibus".

I was going to edit in a "(The Pope of Christian Unity)" after the BENEDICTUS PP XVI. But thought that some may then think that it was part of the official document and that Fr Z's influence had grown beyond all reasonable bounds.

From the Vatican website


In recent times the Holy Spirit has moved groups of Anglicans to petition repeatedly and insistently to be received into full Catholic communion individually as well as corporately. The Apostolic See has responded favorably to such petitions. Indeed, the successor of Peter, mandated by the Lord Jesus to guarantee the unity of the episcopate and to preside over and safeguard the universal communion of all the Churches(1),could not fail to make available the means necessary to bring this holy desire to realization.

The Church, a people gathered into the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit(2), was instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ, as "a sacrament – a sign and instrument, that is, of communion with God and of unity among all people."(3).Every division among the baptized in Jesus Christ wounds that which the Church is and that for which the Church exists; in fact, "such division openly contradicts the will of Christ, scandalizes the world, and damages that most holy cause, the preaching the Gospel to every creature."(4). Precisely for this reason, before shedding his blood for the salvation of the world, the Lord Jesus prayed to the Father for the unity of his disciples.(5)

It is the Holy Spirit, the principle of unity, which establishes the Church as a communion(6). He is the principle of the unity of the faithful in the teaching of the Apostles, in the breaking of the bread and in prayer(7). The Church, however, analogous to the mystery of the Incarnate Word, is not only an invisible spiritual communion, but is also visible(8); in fact, "the society structured with hierarchical organs and the Mystical Body of Christ, the visible society and the spiritual community, the earthly Church and the Church endowed with heavenly riches, are not to be thought of as two realities. On the contrary, they form one complex reality formed from a two-fold element, human and divine."(9). The communion of the baptized in the teaching of the Apostles and in the breaking of the eucharistic bread is visibly manifested in the bonds of the profession of the faith in its entirety, of the celebration of all of the sacraments instituted by Christ, and of the governance of the College of Bishops united with its head, the Roman Pontiff(10).
This single Church of Christ, which we profess in the Creed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic "subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him. Nevertheless, many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside her visible confines. Since these are gifts properly belonging to the Church of Christ, they are forces impelling towards Catholic unity."(11).

In the light of these ecclesiological principles, this Apostolic Constitution provides the general normative structure for regulating the institution and life of Personal Ordinariates for those Anglican faithful who desire to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church in a corporate manner. This Constitution is completed by Complementary Norms issued by the Apostolic See.

§1 Personal Ordinariates for Anglicans entering into full communion with the Catholic Church are erected by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith within the confines of the territorial boundaries of a particular Conference of Bishops in consultation with that same Conference.

§2 Within the territory of a particular Conference of Bishops, one or more Ordinariates may be erected as needed.

§3 Each Ordinariate possesses public juridic personality by the law itself (ipso iure); it is juridically comparable to a diocese.(12)

§4 The Ordinariate is composed of lay faithful, clerics and members of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, originally belonging to the Anglican Communion and now in full communion with the Catholic Church, or those who receive the Sacraments of Initiation within the jurisdiction of the Ordinariate.

§5 The Catechism of the Catholic Church is the authoritative expression of the Catholic faith professed by members of the Ordinariate.

The Personal Ordinariate is governed according to the norms of universal law and the present Apostolic Constitution and is subject to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and the other Dicasteries of the Roman Curia in accordance with their competencies. It is also governed by the Complementary Norms as well as any other specific Norms given for each Ordinariate.

Without excluding liturgical celebrations according to the Roman Rite, the Ordinariate has the faculty to celebrate the Holy Eucharist and the other Sacraments, the Liturgy of the Hours and other liturgical celebrations according to the liturgical books proper to the Anglican tradition, which have been approved by the Holy See, so as to maintain the liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions of the Anglican Communion within the Catholic Church, as a precious gift nourishing the faith of the members of the Ordinariate and as a treasure to be shared.

A Personal Ordinariate is entrusted to the pastoral care of an Ordinary appointed by the Roman Pontiff.

The power (potestas) of the Ordinary is:
a. ordinary: connected by the law itself to the office entrusted to him by the Roman Pontiff, for both the internal forum and external forum;
b. vicarious: exercised in the name of the Roman Pontiff;
c. personal: exercised over all who belong to the Ordinariate;
This power is to be exercised jointly with that of the local Diocesan Bishop, in those cases provided for in the Complementary Norms.

§1 Those who ministered as Anglican deacons, priests, or bishops, and who fulfill the requisites established by canon law(13)and are not impeded by irregularities or other impediments(14)may be accepted by the Ordinary as candidates for Holy Orders in the Catholic Church. In the case of married ministers, the norms established in the Encyclical Letter of Pope Paul VI Sacerdotalis coelibatus, n. 42(15)and in the Statement In June(16)are to be observed. Unmarried ministers must submit to the norm of clerical celibacy of CIC can. 277, §1.

§2. The Ordinary, in full observance of the discipline of celibate clergy in the Latin Church, as a rule (pro regula) will admit only celibate men to the order of presbyter. He may also petition the Roman Pontiff, as a derogation from can. 277, §1, for the admission of married men to the order of presbyter on a case by case basis, according to objective criteria approved by the Holy See.

§3. Incardination of clerics will be regulated according to the norms of canon law.

§4. Priests incardinated into an Ordinariate, who constitute the presbyterate of the Ordinariate, are also to cultivate bonds of unity with the presbyterate of the Diocese in which they exercise their ministry. They should promote common pastoral and charitable initiatives and activities, which can be the object of agreements between the Ordinary and the local Diocesan Bishop.

§5. Candidates for Holy Orders in an Ordinariate should be prepared alongside other seminarians, especially in the areas of doctrinal and pastoral formation. In order to address the particular needs of seminarians of the Ordinariate and formation in Anglican patrimony, the Ordinary may also establish seminary programs or houses of formation which would relate to existing Catholic faculties of theology.

The Ordinary, with the approval of the Holy See, can erect new Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, with the right to call their members to Holy Orders, according to the norms of canon law. Institutes of Consecrated Life originating in the Anglican Communion and entering into full communion with the Catholic Church may also be placed under his jurisdiction by mutual consent.

§1. The Ordinary, according to the norm of law, after having heard the opinion of the Diocesan Bishop of the place, may erect, with the consent of the Holy See, personal parishes for the faithful who belong to the Ordinariate.
§2. Pastors of the Ordinariate enjoy all the rights and are held to all the obligations established in the Code of Canon Law and, in cases established by the Complementary Norms, such rights and obligations are to be exercised in mutual pastoral assistance together with the pastors of the local Diocese where the personal parish of the Ordinariate has been established.

Both the lay faithful as well as members of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, originally part of the Anglican Communion, who wish to enter the Personal Ordinariate, must manifest this desire in writing.

§1. The Ordinary is aided in his governance by a Governing Council with its own statutes approved by the Ordinary and confirmed by the Holy See.(17)
§2. The Governing Council, presided over by the Ordinary, is composed of at least six priests. It exercises the functions specified in the Code of Canon Law for the Presbyteral Council and the College of Consultors, as well as those areas specified in the Complementary Norms.
§3. The Ordinary is to establish a Finance Council according to the norms established by the Code of Canon Law which will exercise the duties specified therein.(18)
§4. In order to provide for the consultation of the faithful, a Pastoral Council is to be constituted in the Ordinariate.(19)

Every five years the Ordinary is required to come to Rome for an ad limina Apostolorum visit and present to the Roman Pontiff, through the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and in consultation with the Congregation for Bishops and the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, a report on the status of the Ordinariate.

For judicial cases, the competent tribunal is that of the Diocese in which one of the parties is domiciled, unless the Ordinariate has constituted its own tribunal, in which case the tribunal of second instance is the one designated by the Ordinariate and approved by the Holy See.

The Decree establishing an Ordinariate will determine the location of the See and, if appropriate, the principal church.

We desire that our dispositions and norms be valid and effective now and in the future, notwithstanding, should it be necessary, the Apostolic Constitutions and ordinances issued by our predecessors, or any other prescriptions, even those requiring special mention or derogation.

Given in Rome, at St. Peter’s, on November 4, 2009, the Memorial of St. Charles Borromeo.

1 Cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 23; Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter Communionis notio, 12; 13.
2 Cf. Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 4; Decree Unitatis redintegratio, 2.
3 Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 1.
4 Decree Unitatis redintegratio, 1.
5 Cf. Jn 17:20-21; Decree Unitatis redintegratio, 2.
6 Cf. Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 13.
7 Cf. ibid; Acts 2:42.
8 Cf. Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 8; Letter Communionis notio, 4.
9 Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 8.
10 Cf. CIC, can. 205; Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 13; 14; 21; 22; Decree Unitatis redintegratio, 2; 3; 4; 15; 20; Decree Christus Dominus, 4; Decree Ad gentes, 22.
11 Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 8.
12 Cf. John Paul II, Ap. Const. Spirituali militium curae, 21 April 1986, I § 1.
13 Cf. CIC, cann. 1026-1032.
14 Cf. CIC, cann. 1040-1049.
15 Cf. AAS 59 (1967) 674.
16 Cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Statement of 1 April 1981, in Enchiridion Vaticanum 7, 1213.
17 Cf. CIC, cann. 495-502.
18 Cf. CIC, cann. 492-494.
19 Cf. CIC, can. 511.
[01640-02.01] [Original text: English]

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Fools for Christ

A Traditional Anglican called Piperspop made the following comment on the TAC acceptance over on the Catholic Answers Forum.

"They voted to accept something they have not even seen!

What fools these mortals be!

Cardinal Levada issued 2 sections of the AC earlier this week, and there will be NO ongoing married priests after those that are currently married. This means they will not be any more likely to find priests than Roman Catholics.

I want to see if there will be anything left of Anglicanism, or if this will be like the Anglican Use, conversion of all, and gone after one generation."

Lets deal with that first comment now. I will get back to the rest in subsequent posts.

Archbishop Hepworth (TAC) has publically stated that they would have accepted a much more limited offer and that they were overwhelmed by the Pope’s generosity.

The TAC would like to present their acceptance of the Pope’s offer by Easter 2010. As they have a synodical form of government they need all of their assemblies/synods to accept before that date and therefore have a tight schedule.

While others (perhaps quite understandably, dither) they are positioning themselves to take a leadership role in early days of the ordinariates. Note the request for Bishop Mercer to be made ordinary in the UK.

The adherents of the TAC in the 1990s (and in fact well before that) were quite prescient in foreseeing that the “ordination” of women would lead to the “consecration” of women bishops and that would, as Cardinal Kasper has now made clear, make visible corporate re-union with the Catholic Church impossible. As they had read the course of events so clearly then it may be wise to pay careful attention to their actions now.

In the past they have sacrificed much to preserve Anglo-Catholicism and the hope of re-union, leaving their Anglican communities and churches behind.

Currently, they are willing to sacrifice much to be re-united. All of the married bishops will have to stand down. While some may become ordinaries they will still not be the ones ordaining their priests and deacons as Cathollic priests.

I trust that God will reward this fidelity and sacrifice and that we will see a steady growth of Anglican-Catholicism (i.e. Anglicans in full union with the Catholic Church, preserving all that does not conflict with Catholic teaching)

If they are fools then they are fools for Christ and Christian unity.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

TAC in UK accepts "Ordinariate"

The Traditional Anglican Communion in the UK voted last Thursday (October 29th)to request that they form part of the proposed Ordinariate in the UK.

During the Forward in Faith conference Archbishop Hepworth of the TAC had stated that the motion would be placed before the Synod of the Traditional Anglican Church in the UK (and other Synods of the TAC) that the Apostolic Constitution of Benedict XVI be accepted and that its immediate implementation be requested.

The website of the TAC in the UK is now reporting that the following resolution was passed:

"The Resolutions
That this Assembly, representing the Traditional Anglican Communion in Great Britain, offers its joyful thanks to Pope Benedict XVI for his forthcoming Apostolic Constitution allowing the corporate reunion of Anglicans with the Holy See, and requests the Primate and College of Bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion to take the steps necessary to implement this Constitution.

That this Assembly is of the respectful opinion that Bishop Robert Mercer CR might be considered for the position of Ordinary in Great Britain."

This is not unexpected as the TAC was the group that had approached Rome and Archbishop Hepworth had publically stated that the offer of the "ordinariates" exceeded their expectations.

The TAC in the UK numbers about twenty parishes (they also have one in France). Some of these parishes would be more accurately described as mass centres rather than parishes in the full sense of the word.

This is good news as it is the first indication that the Pope's offer is being accepted.