Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Apostolicae Curae is not our problem- it’s theirs Part One

“With regard to those truths connected to revelation by historical necessity and which are to be held definitively, but are not able to be declared as divinely revealed, the following examples can be given: the legitimacy of the election of the Supreme Pontiff or of the celebration of an ecumenical council, the canonizations of saints (dogmatic facts), the declaration of Pope Leo XIII in the Apostolic Letter Apostolicae Curae on the invalidity of Anglican ordinations ...” (from DOCTRINAL COMMENTARY ON THE CONCLUDING FORMULA OF THE PROFESSIO FIDEI, to be read with Ad tuendam fidem, issued by Pope John Paul II).

These words were written in 1998 by then Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI. Throughout the Anglican Continuum it was assumed that he was going out of his way to reaffirm the conclusion of the Bull Apostolicae Curae. This seems impossible, however, when the erudition of the man is taken into account; if anyone knows that the Bull of Leo XIII in 1896 was full of mistakes and misstatements, it is Ratzinger, now the Roman Holy Father. And, indeed he does know that. So, we need to understand these words both within their context, and with the encoded message in the very text. Every teaching of the Pope, not just officially infallible ex-cathedra declarations, are to be treated by Roman Catholics as infallible- until another Pope says otherwise. The commentary breaks down teaching on three levels, and places this paragraph at the head of the third section, the lowest. These teachings bind the Roman Catholic faithful to obedience, but they are not on the level of revealed truth, such as the truth we find in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed. This low category mentions “the canonization of saints” - a coded message to the astute. Canonizations have been rescinded; some former saints are among the special category of the decanonized.

The real reason why Anglican orders were mentioned may have to do with another issue mentioned earlier in the commentary:

“A similar process can be observed in the more recent teaching regarding the doctrine that priestly ordination is reserved only to men. The Supreme Pontiff, while not wishing to proceed to a dogmatic definition, intended to reaffirm that this doctrine is to be held definitively, since, founded on the written Word of God, constantly preserved and applied in the Tradition of the Church, it has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal Magisterium.”

To put everything together, three points come across:
1) The conclusion of Apostolicae Curae is every bit as authoritative as the canonization of ex-saints. That is, it is not certain.
2) The Roman Catholics are stuck with it, until it can be rescinded by no less than the Magesterium of the Church.
3) They are not about to do that while some Anglican churches “ordain” women.

And, who can blame them for that? However, we non-Canterbury Anglicans are not really the subject of this commentary.

More to come

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