The Traditional Anglican Communion is coming home!
In a press release from the Vatican the announcement came:
“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.”
More to come on exactly what this structure will look like, but for now this is amazing news!
Please note that the more recent updates are at the top of this post.
Update 4:39PM EDT
Statement of the Primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion via VirtueOnline:
Traditional Anglican Communion Responds to Pope’s Offer of Ecclesiastical refuge
by John Hepworth
20th October 2009
I have spent this evening speaking to bishops, priests and lay people of the Traditional Anglican Communion in England, Africa, Australia, India, Canada, the United States and South America.
We are profoundly moved by the generosity of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. He offers in this Apostolic Constitution the means for “former Anglicans to enter into the fullness of communion with the Catholic Church”. He hopes that we can “find in this canonical structure the opportunity to preserve those Anglican traditions precious to us and consistent with the Catholic faith”. He then warmly states “we are happy that these men and women bring with them their particular contributions to our common life of faith”.
May I firstly state that this is an act of great goodness on the part of the Holy Father. He has dedicated his pontificate to the cause of unity. It more than matches the dreams we dared to include in our petition of two years ago. It more than matches our prayers. In those two years, we have become very conscious of the prayers of our friends in the Catholic Church. Perhaps their prayers dared to ask even more than ours.
While we await the full text of the Apostolic Constitution, we are also moved by the pastoral nature of the Notes issued today by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. My fellow bishops have indeed signed the Catechism of the Catholic Church and made a statement about the ministry of the Bishop of Rome, reflecting the words of Pope John Paul II in his letter “Ut Unum Sint”.
Other Anglican groups have indicated to the Holy See a similar desire and a similar acceptance of Catholic faith. As Cardinal Levada has indicated, this response to Anglican petitions is to be of a global character. It will now be for these groups to forge a close cooperation, even where they transcend the existing boundaries of the Anglican Communion.
Fortunately, the Statement issued by the Archbishop of Canterbury reflects the understanding that we have gained from him that he does not stand in our way, and understands the decisions that we have reached. Both his reaction and our petition are fruits of a century of prayer for Christian unity, a cause that many times must have seemed forlorn. We now express our gratitude to Archbishop Williams, and have regularly assured him of our prayers. The See of Augustine remains a focus of our pilgrim way, as it was in ages of faith in the past.
I have made a commitment to the Traditional Anglican Communion that the response of the Holy See will be taken to each of our National Synods. They have already endorsed our pathway. Now the Holy See challenges us to seek in the specific structures that are now available the “full, visible unity, especially Eucharistic communion”, for which we have long prayed and about which we have long dreamed. That process will begin at once.
In the Anglican Office of Morning Prayer, the great Hymn of Thanksgiving, the Te Deum, is part of the daily Order. It is with heartfelt thanks to Almighty God, the Lord and Source of all peace and unity, that the hymn is on our lips today. This is a moment of grace, perhaps even a moment of history, not because the past is undone, but because the past is transformed.
—-Archbishop John Hepworth is Primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion
Update 12:19PM EDT
Fr. Longenecker asks a great question. “How will the Anglicans respond?”
So what will the Anglican response be? Worldwide we may see whole Anglican provinces come into full communion. They will be small ones like the Anglican Church in Papua New Guinea for instance. More likely we will see several of the Anglican splinter groups come into full communion en bloc. Many of these groups in the United States, for instance, already have their own buildings and clergy, and could come over very easily. Next you will see particular congregations vote to leave the Episcopal church or Anglican Church. Then there will be a fight for the buildings. It will be better for these groups of people to leave quietly and work with the Catholics in their area to find a suitable building and maintain their worship.
I am most interested to imagine what will happen in England. I doubt very much whether we will see whole congregations of Anglo Catholics coming over. Damien Thompson is very enthusiastic, but Anglicans love their buildings. I doubt if the Anglican Church will release any of their property, and without the beautiful church will Anglicans step out on their own? I doubt it. However, I may be wrong. What if the Anglican Church were to respond in kind and say, “You know, we have too many churches already. In each major town we are going to hand over one church to the ‘Anglican Use’ Catholics.
PA: BTW, I have tried several times to say the word “ordnariate” but it just doesn’t work. Sorry Holy Father, you have to come up with a new word.
Update 11:31 AM EDT
I ♥ Fr. Rutler (via Deacon’s Bench)
It is dramatic put down of liberal Anglicanism and a total repudiation of the ordination of women, homosexual marriage and the general neglect of doctrine in Anglicanism. It basically interprets Anglicanism as a spiritual parimony based on ethnic tradition rather than substantial doctrine and makes clear that it is not an 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, press conference of the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster and the deeply humiliated Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury to enable 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.
Update 10:05 AM EDT
Damian Thompson says that the old ecumenism is dead and that the path to Rome has been forged! Viva the older Ecuminism!
Incidentally, I suspect that Rome waited until Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor’s retirement before unveiling this plan: the cardinal is an old-style ecumenist who represents the old way of doing things. His allies in Rome, and many former participants in Anglican-Catholic dialogue, are dismayed by today’s news, which clears away the wreckage of the ARCIC process.
The Archbishop of Canterbury is unlikely to be pleased, though he was vigorously concealing any displeasure at a press conference this morning. (There was a lot of spin about this decision “arising out of dialogue”.) The truth is that Rome has given up on the Anglican Communion. With one announcement, the Pope has given conservative Anglicans a protected route to union with Rome – and promised that, even once they are members of the Catholic Church, they will be offered a permanent structure that allows them to retain an Anglican ethos.
Damian goes on to say that Rowan Williams didn’t see this coming. A letter from the AoC to his peeps.
I am sorry that there has been no opportunity to alert you earlier to this; I was informed of the planned announcement at a very late stage, and we await the text of the Apostolic Constitution itself and its code of practice in the coming weeks. But I thought I should let you know the main points of the response I am making in our local English context– in full consultation with Roman Catholic bishops in England and Wales – in the hope of avoiding any confusion or misrepresentation.
In some really big news, Rorate Caeli has a statement from the Anglo-Catholic See of Ebbsfleet.
This is not a time for sudden decisions or general public discussion. We call for a time of quiet prayer and discernment. The coming season of Advent and the celebration of the mystery of the Incarnation at Christmas, seem to us to provide a good opportunity for this quiet prayer and discernment to take place, as well as some pastoral discussions. Some Anglicans in the Catholic tradition understandably will want to stay within the Anglican Communion. Others will wish to make individual arrangements as their conscience directs. A further group of Anglicans, we think, will begin to form a caravan, rather like the People of Israel crossing the desert in search of the Promised Land. As bishops we would want to reassure people that, whatever decisions people, priests and parishes make, they will find peace and blessing in following what they discern to be God’s will for them. We have chosen 22nd February, The Feast of the Chair of Peter, to be an appropriate day for priests and people to make an initial decision as to whether they wish to respond positively to and explore further the initiative of the Apostolic Constitution. Many, understandably, will need a much longer period of discernment and we would counsel against over-hasty reactions of whatever kind.
Update 7:04 AM EDT
Full Statement from the CDF
NOTE OF THE CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITHABOUT PERSONAL ORDINARIATES FOR ANGLICANSENTERING THE CATHOLIC CHURCHWith the preparation of an Apostolic Constitution, the Catholic Church is responding 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.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. Under the terms of the Apostolic Constitution, pastoral oversight and guidance will be provided for groups of former Anglicans through a Personal Ordinariate, whose Ordinary will usually be appointed from among former Anglican clergy.The forthcoming Apostolic Constitution provides a reasonable and even necessary response to a world-wide phenomenon, by offering a single canonical model for the universal Church which is adaptable to various local situations and equitable to former Anglicans in its universal application. It provides for the ordination as Catholic priests of married former Anglican clergy. Historical and ecumenical reasons preclude the ordination of married men as bishops in both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. The Constitution therefore stipulates that the Ordinary can be either a priest or an unmarried bishop. The seminarians in the Ordinariate are to be prepared alongside other Catholic seminarians, though the Ordinariate may establish a house of formation to address the particular needs of formation in the Anglican patrimony. In this way, the Apostolic Constitution seeks to balance on the one hand the concern to preserve the worthy Anglican liturgical and spiritual patrimony and, on the other hand, the concern that these groups and their clergy will be integrated into the Catholic Church.Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which has prepared this provision, said: “We have been trying to meet the requests for full communion that have come to us from Anglicans in different parts of the world in recent years in a uniform and equitable way. With this proposal the Church wants to respond to the legitimate aspirations of these Anglican groups for full and visible unity with the Bishop of Rome, successor of St. Peter.”These Personal Ordinariates will be formed, as needed, in consultation with local Conferences of Bishops, and their structure will be similar in some ways to that of the Military Ordinariates which have been established in most countries to provide pastoral care for the members of the armed forces and their dependents throughout the world. “Those Anglicans who have approached the Holy See have made clear their desire for full, visible unity in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. At the same time, they have told us of the importance of their Anglican traditions of spirituality and worship for their faith journey,” Cardinal Levada said.The provision of this new structure is consistent with the commitment to ecumenical dialogue, which continues to be a priority for the Catholic Church, particularly through the efforts of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity. “The initiative has come from a number of different groups of Anglicans,” Cardinal Levada went on to say: “They have declared that they share the common Catholic faith as it is expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and accept the Petrine ministry as something Christ willed for the Church. For them, the time has come to express this implicit unity in the visible form of full communion.”According to Levada: “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. The unity of the Church does not require a uniformity that ignores cultural diversity, as the history of Christianity shows. Moreover, the many diverse traditions present in the Catholic Church today are all rooted in the principle articulated by St. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians: ‘There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism’ (4:5). Our communion is therefore strengthened by such legitimate diversity, and so we are happy that these men and women bring with them their particular contributions to our common life of faith.”
Update 6:34AM EDT
John Allen adds
Those structures will be open to members of the Episcopal Church in the United States, the main American branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion. American Episcopalians are said to number some 2.2 million.
Though the written announcement did not single out any specific group of Anglicans, it responds to a request made two years ago by a breakaway group known as the “Traditional Anglican Communion,” a network claiming to represent some 400,000 Anglicans worldwide, including more than 5,000 in the United States, unhappy with liberalizing moves in the Anglican Communion, including the ordination of women as priests and bishops, the ordination of openly gay clergy and bishops, and the blessing of same-sex unions.
PA: This is an important point. While this move is clearly in response to the TAC, it is not limited to it. This allows for any group of Anglicans who seek unity, whether Episcopalians or other Anglicans, to come into unity intact. This is potentially much much bigger than just the TAC.
Update 6:20 AM EDT
More from CNA on the Structure
The new canonical structure will allow former Anglicans to enter into full communion with the Church while “preserving elements of distinctive Anglican spiritual patrimony,” said Cardinal Levada. He added that it will allow married former Anglican clergy to be ordained however, in common with Catholic and Orthodox Churches, married clergy will not be allowed to be ordained bishops.
These ‘Personal Ordinariates’ will be formed, “as needed, in consultation with local Conferences of Bishops, and their structure will be similar in some ways to that of the Military Ordinariates which have been established in most countries to provide pastoral care for members of the armed forces and their dependents throughout the world”, the cardinal prefect said.
He added: “The provision of this new structure is consistent with the commitment to ecumenical dialogue which continues to be a priority for the Catholic Church, particularly through the efforts of the Pontifical Council for Promotion of Christian Unity.”
Technical details still need to be worked out, and these Personal Ordinariates may vary in their final form, Archbishop DiNoia said. Full details of the Apostolic Constitution will be released in a few weeks but today’s press conference went ahead today because it had been planned sometime ago.
Update (6:09 AM EDT)
*Note: This uses the google translator
From Cantuale Antoniarum
Among the specific features of the Anglican Communion that will be possible to keep the faithful and shepherds who join the Catholic church there is also ‘the possibility of the ordination of Anglican clergy already married, as Catholic priests. “ “Reasons for the historical and ecumenical – specifies a notice of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – do not allow the ordination of married men to be bishops in the Catholic church in the Orthodox Churches. Therefore, the constitution determines that the ordinary can be either a priest or a bishop is not married. “
Update (5:53 EDT)
Reaction From the Archbishop of Canterbury and Archbishop Nichols of Westminster:
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 the dialogues of the past forty years, this recognition would not have been possible, nor would hopes for full visible unity have been nurtured. In this sense, this Apostolic Constitution is one consequence of ecumenical dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion.
The on-going official dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion provides the basis for our continuing cooperation. The Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) and International Anglican Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM) agreements make clear the path we will follow together.
With God’s grace and prayer we are determined that our on-going mutual commitment and consultation on these and other matters should continue to be strengthened. Locally, in the spirit of IARCCUM, we look forward to building on the pattern of shared meetings between the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales and the Church of England’s House of Bishops with a focus on our common mission. Joint days of reflection and prayer were begun in Leeds in 2006 and continued in Lambeth in 2008, and further meetings are in preparation. This close cooperation will continue as we grow together in unity and mission, in witness to the Gospel in our country, and in the Church at large.
+ Rowan Williams
Archbishop of Canterbury
+ Vincent Nichols
Archbishop of Westminster
20 October 2009
Cardinal Joseph Levada, the Vatican’s chief doctrinal official, said Tuesday the new legal entity will allow Anglicans to join the Catholic Church while maintaining their Anglican identity and many of their liturgical traditions.
Levada said the new structure is a response to the many requests that have come to the Vatican over the years from Anglicans who want to join. Many Anglicans have become disillusioned by the ordination of women, the election of openly gay bishops and the blessing of same-sex unions in the 77-million strong Anglican Communion.
October 20, 2009 at 11:38 am
I am linking to you from my blog post, because I can't stay up any later to cover this in detail!
This is great news, I just wish ALL the news agencies, especially the Catholic ones were telling this story for what it IS, and not making it about married clergy and disgruntled Anglicans!
October 20, 2009 at 11:41 am
Wow! What an amazing story. My prayers are with all of them. Welcome home!
October 20, 2009 at 12:41 pm
Wow, this is great! Thanks for pulling all this together. Now get some sleep!
October 20, 2009 at 1:20 pm
If only 5,000 of the 400,000 of the adherents to the Traditional Anglican Communion are in the U.S., where might the concentrations of others be?
October 20, 2009 at 2:01 pm
For Ray from MN: In Australia, Canada, and the Third World. The headquarters of the TAC is in Australia.
Check the TAC's website, here: http://acahomeorg0.web701.discountasp.net/tac/tac_index.aspx
October 20, 2009 at 2:14 pm
This. Is. AMAZING!!!
We are seriously watching significant history unfold, here…
October 20, 2009 at 3:39 pm
I think this is an excellent move. By opening itself up to married priests the Catholic church will have taken a small step towards acceptance of married clergy and come to realize that it is not a threat to the Chruch.
Sometimes it just takes time to adjust to new ideas.
October 20, 2009 at 3:49 pm
Y E S !!!!!!
October 20, 2009 at 3:55 pm
I rather doubt that anyone in either the Vatican or TAC would view this development as "opening itself up to married priests."
The Vatican is only extending to Anglicans the same arrangements currently in place for Eastern Catholic Churches, arrangements which were variously made in the 12th, 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.
So it isn't a new thing at all; it's a quite old concession, only made in certain extraordinary circumstances, for charity and the sake of unity.
It's not likely an indication of any intention to change Roman practice (which in any case would be a very bad idea).
October 20, 2009 at 3:56 pm
I think this is an excellent move. By opening itself up to married priests the Catholic church will have taken a small step towards acceptance of married clergy and come to realize that it is not a threat to the Chruch.
I'm afraid you are off if I am reading you correctly. This is no way a move to a wholesale removing of the celibacy rule. The Catholic Church has dispensed with the vow before in certain circumstances like the above. This would just be a continuation of that, not a reworking.
October 20, 2009 at 3:57 pm
I see Paul beat me to it. And more eloquently I might add. 🙂
October 20, 2009 at 4:09 pm
You're too kind. 🙂 The point can, and should, be made in various ways, as it's a rather important point, and one likely to be misunderstood in some quarters.
October 20, 2009 at 4:15 pm
I agree with Paladin. History in the making. First and foremost, this good news is a sign of the grace and mercy of God. God the Holy Spirit be praised!
An extraordinary act of submission by members of the TAC has been met with an extraordinary act of humility on the part of the Holy Father, which is not surprising because good Pope Benedict is an extraordinarily humble and holy man of God.
– And, with regards to unity, let us remember the Eastern Orthodox, Copts and other separated brethren in our prayers.
October 20, 2009 at 4:49 pm
I am humbled, grateful and amazed. As a candidate in RCIA, traveling from an Episcopal/Anglican background, there are no words to describe the joy I feel for those who will be traveling with me, on a slightly different path. The graciousness, humility and love with which the Church has handled this event only make me want to come home even more.
October 20, 2009 at 4:58 pm
Okay, so the door is open but how many will come?
October 20, 2009 at 6:30 pm
This seems as if a band of refugees had asked for shelter in the House of the Church, hoping to get a cot or perhaps even a corner to sleep in, and found themselves welcomed in to a furnished and furbished room especially for them, with entreaties for them to stay permanently.
Imagine how such a wonderous sight will beacon and encourage other struggling refugees seeking shelter from the Culture of Death? These are momentous times.
October 20, 2009 at 7:05 pm
I'm indifferent about this. The bain of the Orthodox church is that they are drawn along ethnic lines; the "Greek", "Albanian", "Romanian" etc Orthodox churches. Catholicism is Universal. While I do recognize there are specific rites in Catholicim (i.e. Byzantine, Italo-Greek etc) which have evolved from ethnic churches, I'm really hesitant to see how a people coming in who identify themselves as Anglican (English) first before Catholic can help the church.
October 20, 2009 at 7:23 pm
Speaking for myself: I do not identify myself as "English before Catholic." I very much doubt if any of the Anglo-Catholics involved would so characterize themselves, either.
I just don't want to have to deny my English (Scots-Irish, actually) heritage, or the many truly good things in the last 500 years of Anglican Christianity, in order to be in communion with Rome. If I had to, ultimately I suppose I would, in order to comply with the commands of John 17.
But I'm very grateful to Benedict for making a provision that will allow thousands (at least) of people like me to keep what is good about our ethnic and religious heritage, and yet also be folded back into the universal Church.
So I'm not at all indifferent.
October 20, 2009 at 7:40 pm
Paul, OK. I'll bite. What are the truly good things to have come out of the last 500 years of Anglican Christianity?
October 20, 2009 at 7:43 pm
Looking farther ahead, I wonder if this is also sending a message to the SSPX. I realize the doctrinal issues are a bit more complicated with them, but I would imagine the reception the Anglicans have received would help to lessen SSPX fears about returning to full communion.