(Pictured: Archbishop John Hepworth of the "Traditional Anglican Communion")
Sometimes the news can be very misleading by quoting someone without comment., The news as reported becomes for many people "the truth," even when the report was merely covering what someone said. As long as Anglicanorum Coetibus is part of the news, and as long as its contents are the subject of misinformation that affects people's lives and may affect the future of whole parishes, it would be irresponsible to ignore it (much as we might like to) rather than to correct the record. The following specimen is fairly recent coverage of what someone said, and it cries out for balance.
Not riding the Coeti Bus
To begin with, the very name Anglicanorum Coetibus requires closer examination than anyone has yet applied to it. As, Fr. Laurence Wells recently put it: "To date no one has picked up on the meaning of the term coetibus. This is the ablative (maybe dative) plural of the 4th declension noun coetus, translated 'meeting, assemblage.' The Vatican authorities could not bring themselves to describe TAC/ACA as a 'church' or even as an 'ecclesial community' (the term popular after Vatican II). Just an assemblage, a mob." Therefore, translated, Anglicanorum Coetibus could be "The Anglican mob."
But, the image of the Latin phrase is not one of fellows in pin-striped suits with violin cases under their arms, headed for a Chicago garage. It is more the image of a crowd in the street. Furthermore, being in the ablative case, it means the mob is being carried away or moving away from something. So, it suggests a mob distancing itself from Anglicanism. Remember, it is the Vatican that named their unilateral constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, so the implications we derive have come from their choice of a title. The final implication is simply to make use of the phrase that is suggested throughout the body of the constitution, "former Anglicans." For, that too is a valid interpretation of the name Anglicanorum Coetibus, and appears to be the intended meaning: "Former Anglicans."
In what follows you will see in full a story from The Church Times, but with our helpful comments interspersed throughout, a method we have used before on The Continuum.
Ordinariate: the sceptics ‘are eating humble pie’
by Bill Browder
(Fr. Robert Hart) RH: Right here, at the headline, I am forced to refute what has been said. I am a sceptic myself, and I will not be eating humble pie at all; neither crow, nor the dish they are serving.
A MEETING of bishops who have petitioned the Pope to be received into full communion while retaining an “Anglican” identity is to take place in Rome in Low Week.
It would be the culmination of the response to Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Constitution (Anglicanorum Coetibus) to establish personal Ordinariates for former Anglicans, Archbishop John Hepworth of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC), a Continuing Church, said on Wednesday.
RH: Please keep in mind that phrase "former Anglicans." It will prove very important as we proceed.
He was due in Rome in three weeks’ time for a meeting with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) after a series of regional TAC synods, and would then, two weeks after Easter, meet most of the bishops who had petitioned the Pope to make their formal response on the Ordinariates.
“The ball is in our court. We asked for this and this is what we got. This is becoming Anglican Catholics, not Roman Catholics,” Archbishop Hepworth said, speaking from Australia.
(Rev. Canon John Hollister) JH: In current Roman jargon, “becoming Anglican Catholics, not Roman Catholics” is code for “becoming a church sui juris, i.e., a “uniate” body. Anglicanorum Coetibus makes it crystal clear that this is one thing that is not happening. Instead, it is expressly set out that the new “ordinariates” will be placed within the so-called “Latin Church” and thus, in Roman terminology, any transferee “former Anglicans” will most definitely be “Roman Catholics”, not “Anglican Catholics”.
RH: Only from a Roman Catholic perspective can Abp. Hepworth speak of Anglicans who adhere to the Affirmation of St. Louis as "becoming" Catholic in any sense of the word. I expect this from someone who knows only Roman Catholicism, but not from a man who claims in some way to be Anglican himself. It is, frankly, offensive. It indicates yet again that Abp. Hepworth cannot identify with the Anglican ethos, indeed, begging the question of whether he can even so much as understand it. I am an Anglican Catholic already, and I plan not to take part in the exodus.
The letters from the Vatican replying to all those who had responded to the Pope’s offer had now been received. He had followed that with a pastoral letter to TAC members last week.
RH: Yes, a pastoral letter which seemed to have one purpose; to get around the clear meaning of the letters from the Vatican (which was one letter, really, copied and sent to each TAC bishop). That purpose was to present Rome's letter as an anticipated and welcome part of the the plan. In fact, that letter said to the TAC bishops, in effect, This constitution as written is all you get: No special deal. Take it or leave it.
“After an introduction about church unity, we talk about our original meeting with the CDF. They gave us advice and we followed it. A team of Roman Catholic bishops and scholars were helping us to reflect on unity. They provided a critique of the TAC, and we quote some of that back to them. The TAC wants to achieve communion while ‘maintaining those revered traditions of spirituality, liturgy, discipline and theology that constitute the cherished and centuries-old heritage of Anglican communities throughout the world’.
JH: Bear in mind that, so far as is demonstrated by the experience with “Book of Divine Worship” of the present “Anglican Use”, Rome’s idea of a permissible “Anglican liturgy,” is the 1979 BCP with the Novus Ordo Canons of Consecrations.
“So our way of doing theology is there, as is our way of discipline.
JH: Does he really think Richard Hooker will survive this transition?
RH: Or Andrewes, etc.?
Our group will have the right to elect our bishops.
JH: That’s not what the Apostolic Constitution said.
RH: In the context of the Roman Catholic Church, even if it were true, election of your own bishop may be granted theoretically; but, a RC bishop is not a bishop at all until the Pope appoints him. Even after consecration, he is not a bishop "until his name is read in the consistory in Rome." But, the text of Anglicanorum Coetibus makes it clear that the former Anglicans will be under the bishop of the local Roman Catholic Diocese, granting only that each local diocesan bishop has to allow for the structure of the ordinariate (which directly affects only the clergy who want to be postulants).
We asked the CDF (i.e. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome) for election by council. They laughed at us at first, but we got it. We are also working with a commission with Forward in Faith to produce our liturgy.
JH: Is this the same Forward in Faith, most UK members of which use the undiluted Novus Ordo Missae, which has about it nothing distinctively Anglican?
We signed the Catechism as ‘the most complete and authentic expression and application of the Catholic faith in this moment of time’.
“We did that to put our commitment beyond dispute, but we did not have to agree to Apostolicae Curae [which declares Anglican orders absolutely null and utterly void], because that is not in the Catechism.”
JH: But, as Benedict XVI previously stated (when he was Cardinal Ratzinger), it is something that all Roman Catholics are required to assent to and abide by.
RH: About Apostolicae Curae, the point is academic. True, that Papal Bull is not a statement of dogma, but only of discipline, but it is nonetheless required that the Roman Catholic faithful behave as if all Papal statements are infallible unless and until they are rescinded. In fact, they are required to believe it unless and until they are told not to (a kind of discipline that Anglicans have never regarded as consistent with Reason). It is a small matter if Rome will not require each clergyman in the TAC who rides the Coeti Bus (to the dock where he swims the Tiber), to make some public statement about his "absolutely null and utterly void" orders. If he is accepted as a postulant and eventually becomes "ordained" "again," on the basis of the RC position on Anglican orders as stated in 1896, his actions will have said all that needs saying.
The laity, by the way, will have to be "confirmed" "again." Has anyone told them this? Conditional ordination and conditional confirmation have, in some cases, very real justification, related to the compromise of Holy Orders in churches of the Anglican Communion, and also the willful removal in the 1979 American Confirmation Rite of the Form stating the Intention. But, the 1896 Bull provides no valid reason for ana-confirmation or ana-ordination, conditional or not (as the case may never again be).
A consultation was taking place on “reordination in the TAC context”. “We separated from the Anglican Church. Some left because of sacramental and doctrinal issues, and have got lost. We chose to take up ARCIC [the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission], and we have got what we wanted. People who said we could not are having to eat humble pie, and I am sinfully enjoying that.”
RH: Really? Did they get what they wanted? They requested various things which they placed under the heading "full corporate communion." They have stated a desire for different things at different times, ranging from a "Uniat" status to "inter-communion." All of these things imply a specific identity as at least Anglican-ish, in some way. They requested a way to have their own structure and a degree of self-determination.
To that request, with its variations, Anglicanorum Coetibus is really an answer of "no," with a different offer in return. The ordinariates will protect the former Anglicans from their new bishops (a problem with Catholic order in and of itself) in the event that any bishop is not eager to play by the new rules, that is, never saying no to Pastoral Provisions and some sort of so-called Anglican Use. But, the Canon Law and specific statements of the Constitution and Norms do not give any assurance of self-determination for the former Anglicans, not even to remain sort of Anglican-ish.
Anyone familiar with the Pastoral Provisions knows that most cases take on average at least a couple of years. When the Coeti Bus arrives in Roman territory, away from the mob world of Anglicanism, only the existing Roman Catholic clergy will be available to give care to the new arrivals. The clergy among the former Anglican arrivals will be laymen, unable to act as priests. Archbishop Hepworth himself, would not be allowed to receive Communion unless and until his own marriage and annulment issues are settled (by Anglican standards they were settled long ago, but that is not enough for Rome); and he would be in the category of a Roman Catholic priest returning to "Mother Church" after converting to a Protestant ecclesial group, having married, meaning lifelong laitization (as clearly spelled out in the constitution, and in accordance with Canon Law as cited in the constitution).
Who knows if they might speed up The Pastoral Provisions process that is part of Anglicanorum Coetibus? Had the TAC been granted what they really asked for, the situation would have allowed the former Anglican clergy a fast track to recognition as clergy, and the authority to minister as such, in a venue of either "inter-communion" or of a recognized "Anglican Rite" like the Eastern Rites. But, as it is in fact written, under strictly RC authority, what is it, of anything remotely Anglican, that they think might endure for any length of time?
We cannot, therefore, accept Abp. Hepworth's claim that they got what they wanted. What they got was a firm "no," with a counter offer.
The Archbishop said that he was issuing TAC’s original 2007 petition to the CDF at the same time as his pastoral letter.
In his letter, he writes: “Re-ordination is an issue because the Church requires absolute certainty in the matter of future sacramental life. I have been told that the TAC should understand this because we ourselves moved beyond the Anglican Communion in order to ensure the validity of sacramental life. Rome is now seeking the same assurance.”
JH: If Rome were (a) truly concerned about certainty in sacramental life, and (b) believed in what Leo XIII stated in Apostolicae curae, then Rome would be asking the TAC bishops to reordain the Roman ones, on the ground that 19th Century and later Roman ordinations fail the tests for validity set forth in that Bull.
RH: Actually, that Bull does, in effect, declare all orders everywhere to be invalid. The logic of it in light of true history would have canceled out valid orders from the very beginning, as Anglicans have pointed out since 1897 in Saepius Officio.
Now, the theory about absolute certainty in sacraments is quite right, a principle that all Anglicans should believe. But, judging the validity of sacraments by the standard of Rome's 1896 Bull is not acceptable to any Anglican. Sadly, self-contradictory as it is in certain ways, that 1896 Bull is still the law in the RCC. Anglicans should be content to allow the silliness, bad history and overall pathetic scholarship of Apostolicae Curae to remain strictly Rome's problem, as it is not our problem. If I were a Roman Catholic it would only embarrass me.
The Apostolic Constitution “speaks of Anglicans entering into full communion with the Catholic Church. There at the outset are the three critical factors: Anglicans, full communion and Catholic Church.”
JH: And the Apostolic Constitution deals with these as follows: (1) Former Anglicans must now become Roman Catholics. (2) Full communion means complete submission to all preexisting Roman doctrinal positions. (3) The Catholic Church is solely the Roman Church, as understood on Roman terms. One becomes a member of the Catholic Church only by complete submission to Roman ways.
RH: Abp. Hepworth's closing line is misleading. The same document that says "Anglicans" at the outset, afterward calls them "former Anglicans." He claims to have attained some victory, exhibiting an attitude of personal triumph over Roman Catholics and Continuing Anglicans who, by contradicting his commentary, properly interpret Anglicanorum Coetibus. And, once again he uses the term "Catholic Church" not as Anglicans have always used it, based on the Creeds; rather he means those under the authority of the See of Rome, using the term in a manner that has always been offensive to Anglicans. The terms of this Roman constitution are clear: Entering full communion with Rome means you are Anglican no longer. So what we see at the outset has the opposite meaning from what Abp. Hepworth sees in it.