Wonderful news out earlier today from the Holy See for Anglicans who long to be reconciled to the Catholic Church! The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, headed by Cardinal William Leveda, has announced the creation of an Apostolic Constitution for Anglicans, in response “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” [with the Catholic Church]. In short, Pope Benedict XVI is offering to establish “personal ordinariates,” for former Anglicans who wish to retain a measure of their Anglican identity while being fully reconciled to
--an extraordinarily generous offer. Rome
Fr. Longanecker explains the structure very succinctly, as follows:
The structure will be similar to that of the military bishops who serve a dispersed flock or the structure of the Eastern Rite churches where a bishop in communion with the Holy See ministers to a dispersed flock with their own ethnic and historic spirituality and liturgical patrimony.
Although the Archbishop of Canterbury professed to have been stunned by the news, it has been widely known for some time now that this was in the works. I learned this past summer that a decision was likely sometime this fall. Perhaps Archbishop Williams had not seriously considered the very real possibility that this might happen. Considering Pope Benedict’s many efforts to fulfill Christ’s prayer “that we all might be one,” it is puzzling that this could have come as such a complete surprise to anyone who has been paying attention.
It remains to be seen how various Anglican entities around the world will respond to this generous offer. I will certainly be sending up many prayers of my own and requesting others from the likes of Sts. Thomas More and St. John Fisher to the end that this provision might lead to greater visible unity in the Body of Christ.
Recommended further reading:
Catholic Online (Bridge Over Troubled
Tiber: Holy See Welcomes Anglican Christians into Catholic Church): http://www.catholic.org/international/international_story.php?id=34677
Damian Thompson (Telegraph online): http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/author/damianthompson/
Fr. Z at What Does the Prayer Really Say? blog:
- A canonist on the Anglican provisions: http://wdtprs.com/blog/2009/10/a-canonist-on-the-anglican-provisions/
- Anglicans desiring unity will have “ordinariates”: http://wdtprs.com/blog/2009/10/anglicans-desiring-unity-will-have-ordinariates/