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.


Hugo Mendez said...

excellent summary!

dyanna said...

Your blog is really interesting.I'm waiting for your new post.