Thursday, January 29, 2009

Today's news

TAC to be offered "Personal Prelature" by the pope.
(This was what Archbishop John Hepworth had said might happen, telling this to Albion Land in 2007. Last Summer, he told me that he expected even more, but at least this much)

This report is from the Telegraph UK Co.

The Pope is preparing to offer the Traditonal Anglican Communion, a group of half a million dissident Anglicans, its own personal prelature by Rome, according to reports this morning.

"History may be in the making", reports The Record. "It appears Rome is on the brink of welcoming close to half a million members of the Traditional Anglican Communion into membership of the Roman Catholic Church. Such a move would be the most historic development in Anglican-Catholic relations in the last 500 years. But it may also be a prelude to a much greater influx of Anglicans waiting on the sidelines, pushed too far by the controversy surrounding the consecration of practising homosexual bishops, women clergy and a host of other issues."

Here is Anthony Barich's report in full. My guess is that, if this happens, Anglo-Catholics in the C of E will move to Rome in unprecedented numbers under a similar arrangement. More on this later. Also, see American Catholic, which broke the story on the web.

The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has decided to recommend the Traditional Anglican Communion be accorded a personal prelature akin to Opus Dei, if talks between the TAC and the Vatican aimed at unity succeed, it is understood.

The TAC is a growing global community of approximately 400,000 members that took the historic step in 2007 of seeking full corporate and sacramental communion with the Catholic Church - a move that, if fulfilled, will be the biggest development in Catholic-Anglican relations since the English Reformation under King Henry VIII.

TAC members split from the Canterbury-based Anglican Communion headed by Archbishop Rowan Williams over issues such as its ordination of women priests and episcopal consecrations of women and practising homosexuals.

The TAC's case appeared to take a significant step forwards in October 2008 when it is understood that the CDF decided not to recommend the creation of a distinct Anglican rite within the Roman Catholic Church - as is the case with the Eastern Catholic Churches - but a personal prelature, a semi-autonomous group with its own clergy and laity.Opus Dei was the first organisation in the Catholic Church to be recognised as a personal prelature, a new juridical form in the life of the Church. A personal prelature is something like a global diocese without boundaries, headed by its own bishop and with its own membership and clergy.

Because no such juridical form of life in the Church had existed before, the development and recognition of a personal prelature took Opus Dei and Church officials decades to achieve.

An announcement could be made soon after Easter this year. It is understood that Pope Benedict XVI, who has taken a personal interest in the matter, has linked the issue to the year of St Paul, the greatest missionary in the history of the Church.

The Basilica of St Paul outside the Walls could feature prominently in such an announcement for its traditional and historical links to Anglicanism. Prior to the English Reformation it was the official Church of the Knights of the Garter.

The TAC's Primate, Adelaide-based Archbishop John Hepworth, told The Record he has also informed the Holy See he wants to bring all the TAC's bishops to Rome for the beatification of Cardinal Henry Newman, also an Anglican convert to the Catholic Church, as a celebration of Anglican-Catholic unity.

Although Cardinal Newman's beatification is considered to be likely by many, the Church has made no announcement that Cardinal Newman will be beatified.

Archbishop Hepworth personally wrote to Pope Benedict in April 2007 indicating that the TAC planned a meeting of its world bishops, where it was anticipated they would unanimously agree to sign the Catechism of the Catholic Church and to seek full union with the Catholic Church. This took place at a meeting of the TAC in the United Kingdom. TAC bishops placed the signed Catechism on the altar of the most historical Anglican and Catholic Marian shrine in the UK, the National Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham in Norfolk, before posting it up in the main street in an effort to gather public support.

Archbishop Hepworth, together with TAC bishops Robert Mercer and Peter Wilkinson, presented the signed items personally to Fr Augustine Di Noia OP, the CDF's senior ecumenical theologian, on October 11, 2007, in a meeting organised by CDF secretary Archbishop Angelo Amato.

Bishop Mercer, a monk who is now retired and living in England, is the former Anglican Bishop of Matabeleland, Zimbabwe. Bishop Wilkinson is the TAC's diocesan bishop in Canada.

TAC's Canadian Bishop Peter Wilkinson has close ties to the Catholic hierarchy in British Columbia, which has also met the CDF on the issue. He has already briefed Vancouver archdiocesan priests.

One potential problem for the Holy See would be the TAC's bishops, most of whom are married. Neither the Roman Catholic nor Eastern Catholic churches permit married bishops.

Before he became Pope, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger discussed the issue of married bishops in the 1990s during meetings of the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission exploring unity, before the Anglican Church's ordination of women priests derailed it.

One former Anglican priest who became a Catholic priest told The Record that the ideal end for the TAC would be to become the 28th Rite within the Catholic Church, along with the Eastern Churches, which have the same sacraments and are recognised by Rome.

The TAC's request is the closest any section of the Anglican Church has ever come to full communion with Rome because the TAC has set no preconditions. Instead it has explicitly submitted itself entirely to the Holy See's decisions.

Six days prior to the October 11 meeting between TAC bishops and the Holy See - on October 5 - the TAC's bishops, vicars-general of dioceses without bishops, and theological advisers who assisted in a plenary meeting signed a declaration of belief in the truth of the whole Catechism of the Catholic Church.

The declaration said, in part: "We accept that the most complete and authentic expression and application of the Catholic faith in this moment of time is found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and its Compendium, which we have signed, together with this letter as attesting to the faith we aspire to teach and hold."

Statements about the seriousness of the division between the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church caused by issues such as the ordination of women priests were emphasised at the wordwide Lambeth Conference held in the UK in 2008.

At the conference, three Catholic cardinals - Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, the Archbishop of Westminster Cormac Murphy-O'Connor and the Prefect for the Vatican's Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, Ivan Dias, the Pope's personal envoy, all addressed the issue.

Cardinal Dias, who favours welcoming traditionalist Anglicans into the Catholic Church, bluntly told the Anglican Communion's 650 bishops that they are heading towards "spiritual Alzheimer's" and "ecclesial Parkinson's".

"By analogy, (Alzheimer's and Parkinson's) symptoms can, at times, be found even in our own Christian communities. For example, when we live myopically in the fleeting present, oblivious of our past heritage and apostolic traditions, we could well be suffering from spiritual Alzheimer's. And when we behave in a disorderly manner, going whimsically our own way without any co-ordination with the head or the other members of our community, it could be ecclesial Parkinson's."

Cardinal Kasper warned Anglican bishops that Rome would turn to smaller ecumenical communities if the Anglican Communion at large proved unapproachable ecumenically.

This is bad news for the Anglican Communion, but good news for the TAC.


Fr. Robert Hart said...

The question, then, is what relationship will the TAC have with Continuing Anglicans if this goes through? The rest of us do not want to join with them under present conditions, having serious reservations as things stand currently with Rome.

Anonymous said...

An equally important question is how many will leave the TAC--or whatever it becomes--because they don't want to venture across the Tiber (however familiar the boat may look)?

I am sure there are quite a few parishes (and certainly individual members within them) who wish to remain wholly Anglican.

Anonymous said...

I'm in the TAC/ACA.

"Instead it has explicitly submitted itself entirely to the Holy See's decisions."

That line bothered me.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

For those wondering what is going to be offered to the TAC, here is some information:

Code of Canon Law - IntraText

Canon Law seems to make it clear that the members of a personal prelature are its clergy, and that its relations with local dioceses are regulated by its statutes.
Fr Wilson



Can. 294 After the conferences of bishops involved have been heard, the Apostolic See can erect personal prelatures, which consist of presbyters and deacons of the secular clergy, to promote a suitable distribution of presbyters or to accomplish particular pastoral or missionary works for various regions or for different social groups.

Can. 295 §1. The statutes established by the Apostolic See govern a personal prelature, and a prelate presides offer it as the proper ordinary; he has the right to erect a national or international seminary and even to incardinate students and promote them to orders under title of service to the prelature.

§2. The prelate must see to both the spiritual formation and decent support of those whom he has promoted under the above-mentioned title.

Can. 296 Lay persons can dedicate themselves to the apostolic works of a personal prelature by agreements entered into with the prelature. The statutes, however, are to determine suitably the manner of this organic cooperation and the principal duties and rights connected to it.

Can. 297 The statutes likewise are to define the relations of the personal prelature with the local ordinaries in whose particular churches the prelature itself exercises or desires to exercise its pastoral or missionary works, with the previous consent of the diocesan bishop

Albion Land said...

Fr Hart,

A slight bit of nuance here. In 2007, Archbishop Hepworth told me he thought there was a "possibility" that the pope would decide in favour of a personal prelature. To say he expected it is a bit strong, though I will say he spoke with great optimism.

Anonymous said...

As Catholic Anglicans we acknowledge that rule of faith laid down by St. Vincent of Lerins: "Let us hold that which has been believed everywhere, always and by all, for that is truly and properly Catholic." I am afraid that the Roman Communion falls rather short of this. As Anglicans we cannot accept such innovations as “Papal Infallibility”, “Universal Jurisdiction”, and certain Marian beliefs that have been elevated to the status of Dogma. If we are truly a part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, as I firmly believe us to be and as Anglicans have always maintained, then there is certainly no need for us to submit to Rome with “no preconditions” and “entirely to the Holy See's decisions.”
I would remind all Anglicans of C. B. Moss’ blunt statement: “In dealing with those who are attracted by the claims of Rome, we should keep certain facts in mind.
The first is, that the chief appeal of Romanism is not made to the reason, but to the imagination; that is why it is so dangerous, for it is the imagination, not the reason, which leads men to act. We need never be afraid of meeting Roman claims on the ground of reason…reason is on our side. But we must avoid anything that may increase the prestige of Rome in the imagination of our people. We should never use such terms as “the Holy See”, which the history of the Papacy does not justify; still less call the Romanists “Catholics”, or the Roman Communion, “the Catholic Church”, which implies that we are heretics.
….The true remedy [for Roman Fever], the only one effective in the long run, is positive, definite, and fearless teaching of the faith as we have received it, combined with devotion and efficiency….
…..We must never admit for a moment that Romanism is the same as Catholicism, or that there is anything Catholic about the doctrines and practices peculiar to Rome. The middle position which we occupy is nothing to be ashamed of. ….[Anglicans stand] between Rome and Geneva, as the ancient Church stood between Sabellius and Arius, between Nestorius and Eutyches. It is because we are Catholic and Orthodox that we repudiate Romanism. Let us hold fast the liberty with which Christ hath made us free, and not be entangled again in the yoke of bondage (Gal. v. I)”

Tito Edwards said...

These are only rumors at that.

Though I pray they are true.

Yes, the entire group of TAC bishops signed the Catechism of the Catholic Church and submitted their signatures in a sign of complete agreement with the teachings of the Church back in October of last year.

Fr. Robert Hart said...


I will correct the intro accordingly.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the most pertinent question about this rumor is how many more parishes and people will ACA lose as a result of it? Abp Hepworth may finally get something like what he has been seeking, but at what price?
The losses to the ACA already are considerable.

Anonymous said...

This will be a powerful vector for others to follow into the RC church. An earlier post, dubbed "Lament of Ecumenicalism" suggested Orthodoxy as the best alternative to Rome. How will the TAC alignment (if it goes through this Easter or sometime after) impact such provisions as Western Rite Orthodoxy? What do you believe is WRO's future?

I understand and agree with the sentiment of Anglican unity, but even needed more is unity between Anglicans and Orthodox. The combination might possess enough leverage to actually get some concessions or retractions from Rome? Seems like the only way-- albeit a long term project?

poetreader said...

I'm not sure what percentage of TAC is fully able to go along with that. If it requires signing on to doctrines I cannot regard as true, I'm afraid I'm not.

"Anonymous", I think I agree pretty thoroughly with your statment. I'm not sure how far I'd go in asserting that any RC doctrine or practice is necessarily uncatholic, but I would agree that requiring assent to what is not universal is distinctly so.

BTW, it would help if you'd give us s \a name to call you, whether a real name or an alias. It makes conversation easier.

Though the bishops signbed such a statement, I suspect that many signed it with a certain degree of reservation, and I am certain thatsuch is not the overwhelming opinion of the membership.

This is both hopeful and deeply problematic.


Glastonbury said...

Poet Reader, I apologize for the anonymous posting. It was not intentional. I am still learnig how to post and had thought that I had published my screen name.
Actually what the great Anglican Theologian Moss said was, "We must never admit for a moment that Romanism is the same as Catholicism, or that there is anything Catholic about the doctrines and practices PECULIAR to Rome, " meaning Papal Infallibility, Universal Jurisdiction, etc. Moss was referring to those things that do not meet the criteria of St. Vincent.

Dr Lawry said...

National Catholic Register now reports that this report is not true. Note again that the original source is Archbishop Hepworth. Much ado, which nonetheless keeps the pot stirred and the flock in a state of bemusement. Why do we keep taking this seriously?

Canon Tallis said...

I love the part about the Roman Church and Orthodoxy not allowing married bishops when the truth is that most of the bishops of the first five centuries were married including Saint Peter.

I quite agree with Glastonbury's first anonymous post with it's quote of C. B. Moss. So many of us bend over backwards attempting to be polite to Romanists that we have all but given up the store. I hate to see these folks go, but the truth is that most of them were never really Anglicans and they will not be any happier actually in the Roman Communion than they currently are pretending to be Romanists. But finding out what Rome really is may be the healthiest thing they have ever done for themselves.

Question: Does Glastonbury have a blog? If so, I would like to be reading it as I am very impressed with his truly Anglican answer to the Roman claims. Newman himself wrote that Antiquity was the basis of the Church of England, and even if the CofE fails or defects, that remains the basis of true Anglicanism. But what truly amazes me is that when Holy Scripture and the earliest bishops and Catholic fathers agree on the teaching of the Church and they are reinforced by the General Councils and a see even which a very huge following sets them aside for its own opinions that educated men would choose the latter over the former.

Tito Edwards said...

National Catholic Registers reporting is misleading. If you read the article the CDF official said they are 'undecided'.

Nice try fellas.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

"Undecided" is the point. Here is the actual quotation:

"The Register contends that an official at the Congregation spoke with their correspondent Edward Pentin today saying,'It’s something that has appeared on the blogosphere and then been reiterated, but the truth is nothing’s been decided.'”

How do you distinguish between "undecided" and "nothing's been decided"? How is one misleading and the other not?

Anyway, see the above post entitled CORRECTION.

John A. Hollister said...

Let us assume that the TAC is granted this status of "personal prelature". As Fr. Hart noted, in Roman Canon Law, this status applies to the clergy of that "prelature"; any laymen are merely associated in some way with it.

What, then, will be prospects for TAC parishes? Canon 297 states clearly that this prelature will not be able to function within the territory of any Latin Rite diocese without the prior permission of the Latin Rite Ordinary, which is precisely the situation with which the present "Anglican Use" is confronted.

And what is the result? In the U.S., out of hundreds of dioceses, there are perhaps four or five Latin Rite Ordinaries who have permitted the establishment of Anglican Use parishes in their dioceses; this very limited tolerance of Anglican forms and culture would seem to be a likely predictor of how the maximum number who would be willing to permit a TAC personal prelature to function there as well.

Actually, the number of such consents is likely to be far smaller for the TAC than for the Anglican Use. That is because the Anglican Use parishes are completely under the control of the local Ordinary while once that Ordinary has given permission for the TAC to get its nose under his tent, he would seem likely to lose control over its future activities there.

And then there are the negative factors noted by Fr. Joseph Fichter in his book "The Pastoral Provision". Even 15 or more years ago, when he wrote, it was observable that Anglicans dissatisfied with PECUSA were rather too conservative for the taste of most contemporary R.C. bishops and clergy. Thus the very equivocal welcomes that so many of them experienced.

In the intervening years, as the Roman dioceses and parishes in this country have marched ever leftwards, that cultural gap can only have widened.

John A. Hollister+

Tito Edwards said...

Rev. Hart,

Something being "undecided" is not the same as "denied".

You need to practice humility and charity 'father'.

I even stated as much on my posting.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Tito Edwards:

The subject of the TAC's request being "denied" has never come up at all, certainly not by me. Premature reports about something having been decided, however, is quite another matter.

I will try to practice humility and charity; you may try to practice more care in reading.

Tito Edwards said...

Fr. Hart,

I have crossed the line with my impropriety.

Please pray for me as well I you.

In Jesus, Mary, & Joseph,


BillyHW said...

So many of us bend over backwards attempting to be polite to Romanists...

Your comments are truly unbelievable...

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Billy HW:

I believe that Canon Tallis was perfectly sincere. He worte:

So many of us bend over backwards attempting to be polite to Romanists that we have all but given up the store. I hate to see these folks go, but the truth is that most of them were never really Anglicans and they will not be any happier actually in the Roman Communion than they currently are pretending to be Romanists...

I think, by "Romanists," he meant Anglo-Papalists, a strange breed of self-loathing and outrageously ignorant Anglicans (Anglicans only by affiliation, not by true catechesis). I think as well that he is completely right in his observations.

Canon Tallis said...

Sorry, Father Hart, by 'Romanists' I meant members of the Roman Communion and not Anglo-papists. As Anglicans we have too much of a tendency to treat the Roman Church with kid gloves, with a politeness and courtesy which they do not return. We tip toe around their failures to measure up to the standards set by St Peter, St Paul and St John while allowing them run through our failures as if they had none of their own.

Actually, I am rather glad that they feel so free to flag our Christian misses because I do want all Anglicans to take seriously the task of being fully Biblical Christians who are familiar with the demands of the ancient fathers and bishops and the General Councils. And I do recognize that we have quite some way to go since so many of us make little or no effort to even measure up to the standards of the Book of Common Prayer. So let us not regret our humiliations but instead aim to correct our own failures.

Of course, even as we disagree on certain issue with the Roman Church, we do have an obligation to love them, not just as our neighbors, but as our Christian brothers. We owe them a renewed effort to teach not by angry words and thoughts, but by a humble and loving example.

I apologize to BillHW for upsetting him, but I want us to continue to speak our own faith strongly on terms of actively accepting the standard of St Vincent of Lerins and +Lancelot Andrewes.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Canon Tallis:

I couldn't tell from the earlier comment itself. When Hooker wrote, although it was a violent period, he was able to make a contribution that is just as relevant and true today, in some ways even more relevant today, than it the 16th century (see

I thought maybe you were writing about Anglo-Papalists because of the "news" item. Given a choice between being locked in a room with a sincere RC who wants to argue, and an ignorant (as they all are) AP, I'll take the RC any day. At least he is sticking to the teaching of his church instead of vomiting up Orwellian Doublethink with an inferiority complex that I am expected to share (according to the delusions of unused AP mind) .

Anonymous said...

"The TAC's Primate, Adelaide-based Archbishop John Hepworth, told The Record he has also informed the Holy See he wants to bring all the TAC's bishops to Rome for the beatification of Cardinal Henry Newman, also an Anglican convert to the Catholic Church, as a celebration of Anglican-Catholic unity."

I have a basic question. Do we (Anglicans) beatify persons and how do we decide who is recognized as a saint? Persons sainted in the first millenium? Those recognized by RCs and the EO?

If they're beatifying Newman, can we beatify Charles Kingsley?

poetreader said...

Rather like the early medieval church, both East and West. There isn't any formal procedure for either beatification or canonization. If someone comes to be recognized as such, then he can be considered as such. For one example among many, in America there are occasional pilgrimages to the tomb of Bishop Grafton of Fond du Lac. Many AngloCatholics consider him to be a saint. There's not any official machinery to go with that, and perhaps there shouldn't be.