Category Archives: Ecumenism

Anglicanorum Coetibus: the Apostolic Constitution as a new avenue for Full Communion of the Anglicans with Rome

This morning the Holy See published the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus which provides a structure for Anglicans coming into full, visible communion with the Bishop of Rome.

Vatican Press Office clarifies some issues on Anglican entrance into full communion

The Pope’s press officer, Jesuit Father Federico
Lombardi, addressed issues regarding the forthcoming Apostolic Constitution on
Personal Ordinariates for the Anglicans entering full communion with the
Catholic Church this today:

There has been widespread speculation, based on
supposedly knowledgeable remarks by an Italian correspondent Andrea Tornielli,
that the delay in publication of the Apostolic Constitution regarding Personal
Ordinariates for Anglicans entering into full communion with the Catholic
Church, announced on October 20, 2009, by Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of
the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is due to more than
“technical” reasons. According to this speculation, there is a
serious substantial issue at the basis of the delay, namely, disagreement about
whether celibacy will be the norm for the future clergy of the Provision.

Levada offered the following comments on this speculation: “Had I been
asked I would happily have clarified any doubt about my remarks at the press
conference. There is no substance to such speculation. No one at the Vatican
has mentioned any such issue to me. The delay is purely technical in the sense
of ensuring consistency in canonical language and references. The translation
issues are secondary; the decision not to delay publication in order to wait
for the ‘official’ Latin text to be published in Acta Apostolicae Sedis was
made some time ago.

The drafts prepared by the working group, and submitted for
study and approval through the usual process followed by the Congregation, have
all included the following statement, currently Article VI of the

§1 Those who ministered as Anglican deacons, priests, or bishops,
and who fulfill the requisites established by canon law and are not impeded by
irregularities or other impediments 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 and in the Statement “In June” 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.

This article is to be understood as consistent with
the current practice of the Church, in which married former Anglican ministers
may be admitted to priestly ministry in the Catholic Church on a case by case
basis. With regard to future seminarians, it was considered purely speculative
whether there might be some cases in which a dispensation from the celibacy
rule might be petitioned. For this reason, objective criteria about any such
possibilities (e.g. married seminarians already in preparation) are to be developed
jointly by the Personal Ordinariate and the Episcopal Conference, and submitted
for approval of the Holy See.”

Cardinal Levada said he anticipates the
technical work on the Constitution and Norms will be completed by the end of
the first week of November.

Msgr. Stetson speaks about the Personal Ordinariate

Wm Stetson.jpg

Zenit ran an interview the other about the recent
development of possibilities of full communion of the Anglicans with Rome. The
details of how this gesture of the Church has yet to be revealed by the
Magisterium. Here is part of Karna Sawanson’s interview with Monsignor
William Stetson
, secretary to the Ecclesiastical Delegate of the Congregation
for the Doctrine of the Faith for the Pastoral Provision for former Episcopal
priests. This part of the interview has to do with “personal ordinariates,” the
ecclesial structure proposed for living in the context of Anglican ways.

What is the aim of establishing the personal ordinariates? Why was the pastoral
provision not sufficient?

Msgr. Stetson: The pastoral provision is merely an
administrative process for preparing married, former Episcopal priests to be
ordained as Catholic priests at the request of diocesan bishops. The new
ordinariate will provide a canonical structure similar to a diocese for the
pastoral care of lay faithful who convert from the Episcopal church

This canonical structure seems to respond directly to a petition made two years
ago by the Traditional Anglican Communion, which has about 400,000 members
worldwide. Do you see many or most of these members entering into communion
with the Catholic Church through the personal ordinariate?


Msgr. Stetson: The
Traditional Anglican Communion is in reality a confederation of so-called
dioceses located in many different countries; it is made up of priests and lay
people and bishops. The Traditional Anglican Communion as such has never been
of the Anglican Communion under the Archbishop of Canterbur
y. What will
happen to the dioceses in particular countries will depend on the decisions
reached by the Catholic hierarchy in the respective countries together with the
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Their numbers are greater in Africa
and Asia.

ZENIT: What will the process look like for Anglicans, especially
priests and bishops, entering the Church through the ordinariate?

: The Apostolic Constitution allowing for the creation of ordinariates
in each country has not yet been issued. For this reason we do not know the
nature of the process. I would anticipate that it will be similar to that used
for the last 27 years by the Pastoral Provision here in the United States
, and
its counterpart in England (that did not, however, provide for parishes and liturgy,
as in the United States.)

ZENIT: The Vatican announcement provided for the
possibility of an Anglican ordinariate having seminarians, who are to be
prepared alongside Catholic seminarians, “though the ordinariate may
establish a house of formation to address the particular needs of formation in
the Anglican patrimony.” Would this include the possibility of marriage
for these Anglican seminarians?

Msgr. Stetson: The specifics have not yet been
made known on this question. At the very least I would assume that the
seminarians would have to be both married and studying in an Anglican seminary
at the time they sought to enter into full communion, and then continue
studying for the priesthood in a Catholic seminary. They would have to be
dispensed from the norm of celibacy on a case-by-case basis by the Holy See.
Future seminarians would have to be celibate.

ZENIT: What other traditions will
the Anglicans retain when they enter the Catholic Church by way of the personal

St Peter's Bas.jpg

Msgr. Stetson: Small parishes that allow for greater cohesion
together. A rich tradition of liturgical expression (language, music,
vestments, space, etc.) in English, dating back to the 16th century. This would
also include a great tradition of the use of sacred Scripture in preaching,
love for the Fathers of the Church and theological expression beyond that of
Roman Catholic scholasticism

ZENIT: Why is the Vatican able to offer this
concession only to Anglicans, and not Lutherans, Presbyterians, etc., who would
like to enter the Church?

Msgr. Stetson: Anglicans have always enjoyed a
special place in Roman Catholic attitudes toward the rupture of Christian unity
in the West after the 16th century. The Church of England sought to retain many
elements of the Catholic Church while at the same time being Protestant
. The
Church of England maintained a greater unity within itself and thus could be
dealt with as a single entity in conversations with Rome.

Thoughts on the Holy See’s offer to the Anglicans to come to Rome

It is a dramatic slap-down of
liberal Anglicanism and a total repudiation of the ordination of women,
homosexual marriage and the general neglect of doctrine in Anglicanism. Indeed,
it is a final rejection of Anglicanism. It basically interprets Anglicanism as
a spiritual patrimony based on ethnic tradition rather than substantial
doctrine and makes clear that it is not a historic “church” but
rather an “ecclesial community” that strayed and now is invited to return
to communion with the Pope as Successor of Peter.

The Vatican was careful to
schedule simultaneously with the Vatican announcement, a press conference of
the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster and the deeply humiliated Anglican
Archbishop of Canterbury to enable the Anglicans to save some face by saying
that this recognizes the spiritual patrimony of Anglicanism and that ecumenical
dialogue goes ahead. That is like George Washington at Yorktown saying that he
recognizes the cultural contributions of Britain and hopes diplomatic relations
flourish. The Apostolic Constitution is not a retraction of ecumenical desires,
but rather is the fulfillment of ecumenical aspirations, albeit not the way
most Anglican leaders had envisioned it

The press, uninformed and always
tabloid in matters of religion, will zoom in on the permission for married
priests. They will miss the most important point: that this reiterates the
Catholic Church’s insistence that Anglican Holy Orders are invalid, and
perforce so is their Eucharist
. These married Anglican priests have to be fully
and validly ordained by a Catholic bishop. Following Orthodox custom, they
are allowed to marry only before ordination and not after. And no married man
may become a bishop. (Thus, any Anglican bishop joining one of these
“ordinariates” would no longer be recognized as a bishop. Under
special provision, Anglican bishops would have some right to pastoral authority,
but would not be bishops.)

It remains to be seen how many Anglicans
(Episcopalians in the USA) will be received into the Catholic Church under
these provisions, but it is a final nail in the coffin of the rapidly
disintegrating Anglicanism at least in the West and will radically challenge
Anglicans in other parts of the world. Perhaps most importantly, it sets a
precedent for reunion with Orthodox churches whose Holy Orders the Catholic
Church already recognizes as valid. I should not be surprised if the Anglican
Archbishop of Canterbury eventually is received into the Catholic Church, at
least when he retires and gets a patent of nobility and a pension.

Fr George Rutler.jpg

Fr. George
Rutler is pastor of The Church of Our Saviour in New York City and is a convert
to Catholicism from the Anglican Communion.

Ecumenical Patriarch visits USA

St Andrew.jpg

The Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew I, is making a pastoral visit to the US these next two weeks that is taking him on a multi-city tour, doing some wide ranging things like speaking about the environment, to meet with church leaders and faithful, lunching with the Fordham University President to breakfasting with schoolmates.

Patriarch Bartholomew has been a key figure in naming environmental concerns while making the faith an interpretative key for understanding and action. On the website noted below there are a number of items to sink your teeth into regarding this topic.
Bartholomew has been the Ecumenical Patriarch since 1991 looking after 250 million world-wide Orthodox Christians.

For more information the Patriarch’s 2009 US visit see the website.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]
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