One of our readers whose comments are always in disagreement with my position, a mystery reader who uses the handle, Cherub, insists that I am wrong for laying more blame for Anglicanorum Coetibus on Forward in Faith, United Kingdom (FiF/UK) than on the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC). First of all, let me be clear that I am assigning not credit, but blame. I am not impressed by people whose convictions appear to be lukewarm at best, even convictions with which I am in disagreement. As I have pointed out, people who believe in Rome's claims have no business hanging around either in the Anglican Continuing churches or the Anglican Communion in the FiF. Having explained my reasons already, I will not take more space for that here.
The 2007 petition of TAC seems to have supplied the final push that helped move Rome to a faster conclusion. Granted. Nonetheless, the efforts of FiF/UK should not be underestimated in terms of the final result, the new constitution. Furthermore, it seems that the TAC does not see in this constitution the full reply to their petition.
Looking again at the ACA website where Archbishop Louis Falk made his remarks, in light of recent statements made to me by a TAC apologist, we can piece together the loose ends and see some kind of logic after all. The meaning, having finally emerged from within a heretofore enigmatic set of promises, is that the Roman constitution, Anglicanorum Coetibus, does not meet the specific request of the TAC after all. Let us revisit Abp. Falk's exact words once more.
"An initial set of Complementary Norms has been issued by the Confraternity [sic] for the Doctrine of the Faith, which we be [sic] discussed in detail by representatives of that body and of the TAC College of Bishops within the near future. We are now asking members of the ACA (and other TAC provinces) to study the Norms and then pose such question [sic] as may occur. (Some already have, such as: Question: Will we be able to continue to have married priests indefinitely? Answer: Yes. Question: Will those of us who were formerly Roman Catholics be excluded from the Anglican Ordinariates? Answer No. Question: Will we loose control over our Church finances and property? Answer: No) There will be more. These can be sent to your own Bishop, and he will see that they get to the appropriate TAC representatives. Your concerns, as well as your thoughts and prayers, are an essential element and a vital part of this process."
The initial meaning that readers gave to this was that he referred to the existing Complementary Norms. Thus I understood it, assuming the statement was prepared in advance. Therefore, it was entirely justified to point out that he was promising the impossible, inasmuch as the Constitution and Norms not only fail to provide a basis for his promises to the Anglican Church in America (ACA) and other TAC members, but even stand in sharp contradiction to what he promises. But, now I am told (by two different sources) that he will be vindicated before Christmas when Rome institutes new Complementary Norms to Anglicanorum Coetibus specifically for the TAC/ACA, and that these new Norms are expected to give them what they want, and what he promises.
Here we have certain loose ends still untied.
1) So, why the TAC arch-episcopal jubilation over the initial constitution?
2) Why the lapse of time?
3) May we expect the Complementary Norms to serve as Contradictory Norms in those areas where Anglicanorum Coetibus shoots down the TAC hopes?
4) If so, why would this not be a double standard from Rome, one for one group, and one for everybody else?
However, this means that an explanation is needed as to why a response supposedly mainly addressed to TAC meets the needs of FiF/UK and not the request of the TAC-as evident in the need for something more.
Just be patient
The answer should be most interesting. However, all of the people who still place their trust in the TAC/ACA bishops will be asked to extend that trust a bit longer. How much longer is uncertain, because the new, additional TAC Norms will be known only to their bishops until the bishops have completed their very thorough review of the same. The people may or may not even know when the bishops receive these Norms, as they will be informed on a need to know basis, that is, when the bishops need for them to know what the plan is.
So be patient, hang in there, and keep waiting for the word. Meanwhile, of course, other would-be former Anglicans may enter the Pope's Communion at will.
The particular Anglican gifts to the larger Church
We have been assured that Anglicanorum Coetibus is very generous, because it gives Anglicans an opportunity to be in communion with the See of Rome (or as "Doc" Holiday calls it, "Holy Mother Church"). We are told that it preserves Anglican distinctives under the protection of the Roman Patriarchate. If asked how it does that, and what particularly "Anglican" things from our patrimony will be preserved, we are told that it is all found in the "generous" constitution.
This begs the question, "What, specifically, is being preserved and/or protected?" From the constitution, can anybody give us concrete answers? What exactly, what specifically, concerning things "Anglican" in substance, are the AC Tiber swimmers going to get to take with them and keep? I cannot find in the constitution any reference to the distinctively Anglican things I would value most, and I see the requirement to sacrifice theological principles. I do not see where the swimmers may have their cake and eat it too, be both Anglican and Roman at the same time.
Unspinning Article 6
Not our Article VI, but Rome's new Article 6, in Anglicanorum Coetibus. Other than "married clergy" it appears that some future swimmers (whenever they get the word from arch-episcopal and episcopal leadership) have no real idea of anything that they regard as "Anglican." And, even beyond things they consider "Anglican," they are ready to throw away something ancient and thoroughly Catholic, namely the Vincentian principles of Antiquity and Universal Consensus. This will be replaced by Cardinal Newman's theory of Doctrinal Development, or as schoolchildren call the same game, "Simon Says."
But, about married clergy (the only thing they regard as "Anglican" apparently) we have pointed out that Anglicanorum Coetibus merely broadens the Pastoral Provisions. That is, the only married clergy it provides for are former Anglican clergy, something good for the here and now, but not for more than about one generation. To this, I am told, the second point of Article 6 is the only relevant point:
"VI§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."
My emotionally-charged source informed me that this will be on what is strictly an "as needed" basis. Somehow, that means, that "married clergy are guaranteed in perpetuity." Sadly, this is what is being spread around out there. In fact, what this really means is the following:
1. Anglicanorum Coetibus places the former Anglicans in the discipline of the Latin Church.
2. Petitions to the Roman Pontiff for each married cleric will be on a case by case basis. In practice, the review takes months, sometimes years, for each man.
3. This is exactly the same as the Pastoral Provisions, and gives nothing new (except that local bishops cannot block it because of the Personal Ordinariate-but how much is that in step with real Catholic order?).
4. Even if this were on an "as needed basis"-which wording is not in the Article- how would that work in the real world? For example, in Nigeria it is estimated that for every 1.6 million Roman Catholic laity there is one priest. Nonetheless, the Nigerian Roman Catholic need for married clergy has never been treated, by Rome, as a "need."
5. The entire Article places this second clause in the following context:
"VI. §1 Those who ministered as Anglican deacons, priests, or bishops, and who fulfill the requisites established by canon law13 and are not impeded by irregularities or other impediments14 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. 4215 and in the Statement In June16 are to be observed. Unmarried ministers must submit to the norm of clerical celibacy of CIC can. 277, §1."
What part of "Those who ministered as Anglican deacons, priests, or bishops, and who fulfill the requisites established by canon law13 and are not impeded by irregularities or other impediments" do they not understand? What part of the word "May" eludes their grasp? About having married clergy in perpetuity, what part of "Unmarried ministers must submit to the norm of clerical celibacy of CIC can. 277, §1" is too subtle for them?
Besides, reducing the riches and glory of Anglicanism's particular gifts to the Universal Church simply to married clergy, is an insult. It is also a great pity. The depth, the beauty, the clarity of truth, the profound expression of worshiping the Lord in the beauty of holiness, the Biblical Rule of Life in the Book of Common Prayer, that Anglicanism is, are lost on these so-called Anglicans.
They ought to go to Rome right now. They have no clue about where they been all these years, and no appreciation.