Bridge Over Troubled Tiber: Holy See Welcomes Anglican Christians into Catholic Church
The prayers of millions have been answered and Christian history has been made on October 20, 2009. 'May They Be One'.
Cardinal William Joseph Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; and Archbishop Augustine DiNoia, Secretary of the Congregation for the Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, the Vatican Congregations who will oversee Anglican Christians entering into the full communion of the Catholic Church.
This morning the Vatican offered a lifeline into the Ark of Peter for Anglican Christians who wish to avail themselves of the invitation. Expectations had been that, in response to the formal petition of the “Traditional Anglican Communion” for a vehicle for corporate entry into full communion, the Holy See would offer a juridic structure under Canon Law similar to the “personal prelature” which is the global organizing vehicle for the ecclesial movement Opus Dei. In essence it provides a “floating” global Diocese wherein the prelature has its own Bishops and its own priests while welcomed alongside of the existing Dioceses of the Catholic Church.
However, the announcement from Rome is much farther reaching and, for Vatican watchers, nothing short of spectacular in its implications for Anglican Christians seeking a place in the Church captained by the successor of Peter. Pope Benedict XVI has offered to establish “Personal Ordinariates”, the structure offered for those in the military, within which to care for Anglicans, lay and clergy, while enabling them to maintain the liturgical and spiritual unique distinctives of their tradition. That is correct, the Roman Catholic Church by way of an “Apostolic Constitution” will provide the process which will allow for Anglican Christians to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the faith said this concerning the Apostolic Constitution in a statement just released: “In this Apostolic Constitution the Holy Father has introduced a canonical structure that provides for such corporate reunion by establishing Personal Ordinariates which will allow former Anglicans to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony”. That spiritual patrimony will include enabling married men called after marriage to serve as priests. Following the ancient Christian tradition they are allowed to do so now in the Eastern Christian Churches, both Orthodox and Catholic. However, again following the practice of the ancient Christian tradition, the Bishops of these Ordinariates will be chosen from among the ranks of the celibate clergy.
The prayers of millions have been answered and Christian history was made on October 20, 2009. Pope Benedict XVI has fashioned, after much serious theological and pastoral work, a way home for many of our Anglican brethren. This canonical vehicle will allow for a form of corporate entry into full communion which could conceivably enable not only the “Traditional Anglican Communion” a path over the troubled Tiber but also provide for other groups of Anglicans including parishes, religious communities and even entire Dioceses. So monumental is this announcement that a nearly simultaneous Press Conference was also held in London including the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, and Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster. They issued this joint statement:
“Today’s announcement of the Apostolic Constitution is a response by Pope Benedict XVI to a number of requests over the past few years to the Holy See from groups of Anglicans who wish to enter into full visible communion with the Roman Catholic Church, and are willing to declare that they share a common Catholic faith and accept the Petrine ministry as willed by Christ for his Church.
“Pope Benedict XVI has approved, within the Apostolic Constitution, a canonical structure that provides for Personal Ordinariates, which will allow former Anglicans to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of distinctive Anglican spiritual patrimony.
“The announcement of this Apostolic Constitution brings to an end a period of uncertainty for such groups who have nurtured hopes of new ways of embracing unity with the Catholic Church. It will now be up to those who have made requests to the Holy See to respond to the Apostolic Constitution.
“The Apostolic Constitution is further recognition of the substantial overlap in faith, doctrine and spirituality between the Catholic Church and the Anglican tradition. Without ...
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