Great news today out of Rome and England– the Holy Father has provided for Personal Ordinariates to facilitate the reunion of the Traditional Anglican Communion with the Catholic Church. First and foremost, such a development, in and of itself and for no other reason, is a cause of great joy. The angels in heaven rejoice at the return of so many souls.
But there are a number of other very interesting aspects of this development. First, the structure of a Personal Ordinariate, which gives the former Anglicans their own Ordinary (interestingly, either a priest or a bishop) and their own liturgical usage, while acknowledging the primacy of Peter, could be a sign of things to come with regard to the SSPX. The CDF Prefect, Cardinal Levada, commented about this arrangement:
“It is the hope of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, that the Anglican clergy and faithful who desire union with the Catholic Church will find in this canonical structure the opportunity to preserve those Anglican traditions precious to them and consistent with the Catholic faith. Insofar as these traditions express in a distinctive way the faith that is held in common, they are a gift to be shared in the wider Church…”
Contained in this diplomatic language is a notion that if applied to the SSPX, would cause a stir– “they are a gift to be shared with the Church.” Mull that one over. The Note of the CDF can be found here.
The second interesting thing I noticed comes from the joint statement of the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster and the head of the Anglicans, Rowan Williams. In this joint statement one finds the following line:
“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.”
The head of the Anglicans issues a statement that acknowledges, however obliquely, that the Petrine ministry is willed by Christ for his Church. Am I dreaming? That is just astonishing. The Joint Statement can be found here.
Finally, Rorate Caeli has a somewhat brusque but certainly valid editorial that states the facts for those who will see. Take a minute and ponder this for what it actually says:
“It was quite fitting that the successor of the usurpers of the extinguished see of Canterbury was present today as the news of the Apostolic Constitution which will establish a full-fledged canonical structure for Anglicans within the Catholic Church was made public in simultaneous conferences in Rome and London. He was there to witness the burial of his own Communion.
The stream of Anglicans back to the Catholic Church has been continuous since the events of the 16th century, and particularly intense after the triumph of liberalism in the Church of England and related entities in the 19th century. Confusion set in, as it happened with everything else in Catholicism, in the aftermath of the Second Vatican Council: the Holy See pursued a path away from the only ecumenical path which had worked in the past (that of conversion), as it tried to engage in “dialogue” (ARCIC) with a community who cannot even agree on the basic tenets of the Christian faith.
For several decades following the Council, conservative Anglicans were left in a very dire situation: their only choices were a crumbling Communion, a Continuum splitting, in regular Protestant fashion, in thousands of pieces, or trying to face the tough reality of joining a Catholic Church in liturgical upheaval, with chaotic dissent and bishops tolerant of heresy yet intolerant of true Catholic diversity.
The time is up. Despite what the Archbishop of Westminster and the Anglican leader of Canterbury said in their diplomatic joint statement, it is obvious dialogue is dead – and has been dead since the unilateral and anti-Apostolic move of the Anglican Communion in favor of priestesses.
The details of the new Anglican structure will soon be made public, and serious Anglicans will be able to come to the Church without losing anything that is good and true and beautiful in their heritage. The Protestants will remain in the dying communities; those, still in the Communion or in the myriad of little communities in the Continuum, who wish to take their Catholic views seriously will have only one choice, as the time for role-playing is over:
Christ, present to us in His Body, which is the Church, is the one Mediator and the unique way of salvation. In explicit terms He Himself affirmed the necessity of faith and baptism and thereby affirmed also the necessity of the Church, for through baptism as through a door men enter the Church. Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved. (Lumen Gentium, 14).
Finally, the take from the UK Guardian here.
Our Lady of Walsingham, pray for us!
St. Edmund Campion, pray for us!
St. Thomas More, pray for us!
St. John Fisher, pray for us!