And, today I remain equally unimpressed by the announcement of a new "apostolic constitution" from Rome. Obviously, this must mean that I hate the idea of unity, that I refuse to grant the prayer of the Son of God (that He made to His Father, not to you or me), and that I stand in the way. The NOTE OF THE CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH ABOUT PERSONAL ORDINARIATES FOR ANGLICANS ENTERING THE CATHOLIC CHURCH , (dated today, Oct. 20, 2009) closes with the words "In the light of these developments, the Personal Ordinariates established by the Apostolic Constitution can be seen as another step toward the realization the aspiration [sic] for full, visible union in the Church of Christ, one of the principal goals of the ecumenical movement." So, if I am not leaping for joy, overwhelmed with excitement, eager to sign on, and ready to throw myself into the Tiber with full confidence in its currents, tides and waves, I must be against unity.
Or, maybe I do not see a group of people shifting from one denomination into another as particularly relevant to real unity. Perhaps that is because real visible unity has been described by St. Paul in these words: "Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment."(I Cor. 1:10) On many essential issues Christians do, in fact, live up to this model more than is commonly appreciated. And, indeed, we have many areas of real agreement with the See of Rome; and to a very large degree it is to Rome's credit that they want to help those who have knocked on their door because of the general state of crisis in the Anglican Communion. But, even if all of the English Anglo-Papalists of Forward in Faith, United Kingdom (FiF/UK)* take advantage of this new constitution, it will not be the Church's answer to God's prayer (doesn't anybody notice a theological problem with the general misuse of John 17:21?). The various camps will vary yet, and within those camps "endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Eph. 4:3) will remain, as it has always been, mostly a local and pastoral duty.
That closing line of today's "Note," which I quoted, does reveal what Rome means by unity. They mean submission, pure and simple, to the pope and whoever will succeed him. "'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.'"
To understand the full implications of this, we must put away all sentimental gobble-dee-gook for the moment, and, with our feet securely fastened to the ground, use our heads. Let us examine what their words really mean. To do that, we will have to look at the key phrases in the Note from the Vatican.
First, however, we ought to understand that the Church in Rome, or at least Pope Benedict XVI and maybe a few others, really believe what their church teaches about the Papacy: That without it there is no Church, and that it contains the special charism to combat all error, and that without it we all go to Hell in a hand basket. So, it was morally responsible for the Pope to bypass the unfriendly Roman Catholic bishops in England (with implications for other countries) and open the door to Traditionalists who have been made to feel unwelcome and unwanted by the majority of "liberal" modernist trendy Roman Catholic bishops, and by other clergy. Their goal had been to imitate the Church of England, following the lead of the Episcopal Church in the United States; but once again that old stick in the mud, Joseph Ratzinger, has foiled them. This entire thing is an example of pure papal power overcoming all dissent, not an example of unity, that is not as St. Paul described, among Roman Catholic bishops. So, we may applaud the Pope's charitable sense of pastoral responsibility, even though the situation itself demonstrates an area of real concern to those of us who do not believe in universal rule by one man instead of the collegiality of bishops and conciliar model of the ancient Church.
"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."
We must understand that only those "elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony" approved by Rome will be allowed to survive. Furthermore, because the Roman way is to rely on the authority of one Bishop in one See, none of these elements is guaranteed to survive beyond the Pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI himself.
"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."
This is no surprise, and I have been trying to make clear for many years that no body of Anglicans is going to simply have their Orders recognized by Rome. Some call it Infallibility, and others call it stubbornness. I call it wrong; Rome is wrong about Anglican Orders, as has been proved over and over. No answer from Rome has ever refuted the apologetic work Saepius Officio (1897), and it is unlikely that Rome ever has actually wanted to. Instead they have acknowledged, one after another, the historical errors of Apostolicae Curae (1896), except for their inexplicable insistence about a defect of Intention that ought, really, to embarrass them (for reasons stated in my opening paragraph). On The Continuum we have posted, as well, a brief and excellent summary by E. J. Bicknell (published first in 1919) that makes short work, and a mangled corpse, of the Roman position, in a few words.
But, what does this mean in practice? It means, first of all, that Anglicans swimming the Tiber en masse will lose their bishops. Forget anything to the contrary, despite the empty assurance from these words: "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." Please note the word "appointed." There will be no vote, and no court of appeals. In the pray, pay and obey Church your bishop will be appointed-maybe even someone with an Anglican past if you can find a celibate clergyman, and one hopes, a clergyman who is cream of the crop. This appointment will come from the same See that appointed such stellar examples as Bishop Weakland, Cardinal Law, and that other protector of child molesting priests, Cardinal Levada (yes, that Cardinal Levada whose quotes you have been reading). At least Cardinal Levada (yes, that Cardinal Levada) has been good enough to speak of "married" and "unmarried" clergy. Fair or unfair (as each case may be) the term "celibate clergy" has become hard to pronounce, with a straight face, throughout most of this decade.
And, how does this relate to the average Anglican in the pews (assuming that these Anglo-Papalist clergy will have anyone in their pews)? Well, your baptism is valid, so you will not have to become a Roman sort of Anabaptist (i.e. baptized again). But beyond that you have never had, in Rome's not so humble opinion, any valid sacraments. In addition to every clergyman needing to become an Anaordinand, everyone will have to become an Anaconfirmand. That means you will have to be "Confirmed" all over "again" simply because your bishop was only a layman in disguise. And, it means you have never really had Communion, or Absolution either, if you choose to be among the new former Anglicans. Frankly, I do not mean to say that this alone is reason not to go through with it, provided one really believes what Rome is teaching; but, if one really believes that, what has one been doing all along, and what will one do in the meantime?
My criticism in the opening paragraph deals with two matters. One is Anglican Orders, and the other is the insufficiency of the Anglican Use Liturgy. One issue of the Anglican Use Liturgy is a matter that I explained in my essay Anglican Identity, and it deals with very significant doctrinal clarity. I wrote:
"It is worth noting that the Liturgy of St. Tikhon and the so-called Anglican Use approved by Rome, have a very noticeable difference, one which shows a different approach to Anglicans and a different attitude about our patrimony. The Anglican Use Rite approved by Rome has nothing that approximates the perfectly sound theology, drawn clearly and obviously from the Epistle to the Hebrews, expressed so powerfully in these words: 'O God heavenly father, which of thy tender mercie diddest geve thine only sonne Jesu Christ to suffre death upon the crosse for our redempcion, who made there (by his one oblacion once offered) a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifyce, oblacion, and satysfaccyon, for the sinnes of the whole worlde…' (1549 BCP) But, the Liturgy of St. Tikhon contains the American version of this part of the Canon.
"To whatever degree we may have common ground with Rome, and aside from other differences, any real union with them would make it necessary that they receive from us a good healthy dose of this Biblical Doctrine: Christ’s sacrifice full, perfect and sufficient. This does not take away from the sacrifice of the Church on its many altars; rather it gives it its context and meaning. This example demonstrates that our Faith is Biblical, Patristic and thoroughly Catholic in ways that can enrich Rome, and that has been affirmed within Orthodoxy. In a rite designed to attract Anglicans, the removal of this irrefutably true doctrine, as though it needed to be subjected to some correction, shows that we have further cause, at present, to maintain our distinct identity. The line that provides the context of the sacrifice, the meaning of it and the joining of our own worship to the actual sacrifice of the cross on Calvary, indicates that we are better able than Rome, at this time, to declare the Gospel in its fullness with the power of directness and simplicity."
About Anglican Orders, everything that needs to be said was written in the two works referenced above. Nonetheless, my one point about use of Scripture in the Ordinal needs to be drawn out a bit more. Even though the Rites in the Ordinal make very clear which office it is that a man is ordained to, Rome has clung to its position that the Imperative lines have failed to identify the Orders of bishop and priest (whereas the word "deacon" is in the Imperative of that Rite) until the 1662 revision. That is not true. The use of the Scriptures that were quoted most certainly (and clearly to those who know Scripture) identified the episcopate with the words from II Timothy 1:6, and the priesthood with words from John 20: 22, 23. This was not only commonly understood, but also it was already traditional, translated out of a Latin Ordinal that had been used for centuries. Simply put, there was no defect in Intention, and the whole argument by Rome in 1896 was completely bogus.
Furthermore, unity is a high priority, but visible unity requires theological and ecclesiastical discussion on some very important matters, ranging from practical issues of polity to issues of soteriology. We are in favor of such discussion with Rome and with Orthodoxy, and with all serious Christians who believe in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Today's approach from Rome, however, assumes full and complete agreement as an established fact. This is all the more serious inasmuch as they also require full and complete agreement as a matter of faith and obedience.
Considering what Rome teaches about Rome, today's announcement reveals a charitable and responsible position that is about the most they can offer without denying their burdensome extracurricular "dogmas" about the Petrine See. I am not writing to criticize the motivation, which I attribute only to one man, but to set the record straight, and once again to explain why the Anglo-Papalists will have to swim the Tiber without me.
* It is not clear where the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) fits into this, except that Cardinal Levada is certainly aware of them, and that at one time in the past (before his elevation) Archbishop DiNioa was expected to have a role in some discussions. It is clear, however, that Archbishop John Hepworth had expected to lead the way even for English Anglicans (or so he told me himself, in Timonium, Maryland last Summer). But, obviously, this Constitution has been prepared first and foremost for members of FiF/UK. They had requested this, by the way, in the days of Pope John Paul II.