Monday, November 02, 2009

What we know from the "Note"

Over and over we are hearing that we should not prejudge, but wait and see what Rome will offer to Anglicans in the upcoming constitution. Until then, we are told, we have no idea what it all might mean, and where it may somehow lead. The problem with that advice is that we do know the overall shape of their offer, and we do know the very obvious limits to where it can possibly lead. If nothing else, can we not allow the See of Rome to speak for itself? This they have done quite clearly in their NOTE OF THE CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH ABOUT PERSONAL ORDINARIATES FOR ANGLICANS ENTERING THE CATHOLIC CHURCH, which was announced Tuesday October 20, just about two weeks ago.

Whatever criticisms may be made about Rome, they are certainly not stupid. They have described a new constitution that will expand the Pastoral Provisions and so-called Anglican Use liturgies, strengthening these two things by taking local control away from Diocesan bishops after the model of military Ordinariates (which, by Anglican standards, is itself cause to be alarmed). The constitution will make it easier for Anglicans to become Roman Catholics by creating what is largely nothing more than an illusion that they have taken something of their own patrimony and heritage with them. I have explained why this is much less than what is being heralded by Anglicans caught up in euphoria and enthusiasm over the announcement.

With all due respect for Bishop Louis Campese of the Anglican church in America (a man with whom I have had only very friendly and enjoyable conversations), what Rome has already disclosed in Cardinal Levada's October 20, "Note" cannot amount to, nor even augment the potential for, "inter-communion." Writing on his own website, the bishop has written:

"This Papal Decree expresses sincere generosity toward Anglicans, while recognizing the ultimate goal of inter-communion, a goal the worldwide Traditional Anglican Communion, has worked so patiently toward...There are many more steps that we must take, many more decisions we must reach and many more prayers that must be prayed before we attain that final goal of inter communion, where we may all be unified once again in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church where God wishes us to be."

Rome has described its purpose in the new constitution, and that goal is not inter-communion, an arrangement in which two separate Communions or jurisdictions enter into an agreement for full recognition of each other and agree to full sacramental communion between them. In that arrangement the two jurisdictions respect each other's validity. Rome has clearly announced that their very poorly argued position of condemning Anglican Orders and seeing them as invalid, will continue. The new constitution will require full submission, and that without guarantee of even so much as a single provision that will make a succeeding generation possible. The weakness of the Pastoral Provisions and alleged Anglican Use remain.

Despite assurances from enthusiastic Anglican "kool-aid drinkers," the "Note" from Rome, worded by Cardinal Levada as their spokesman, reveals clearly that over time there will be no provision to ordain anybody who is married, belonging as a layman to one of these churches under Rome; Cardinal Levada made it clear that the terms of the existing Pastoral Provisions will be the most that will be offered. Only "former Anglican clergy" already married may be "ordained" after they enter the Roman Catholic Church. No one can, in reality, have a personal guarantee from the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) to the contrary.

Whatever the constitution may say, we know already quite a lot from Rome's official announcement. It is quite obvious that it will contain nothing to be excited about.


Anonymous said...

I have been reliably informed that any Episcopal or Anglican parishes accepting the "generous offer" of the Holy See will be obligated to sign away title to their real property to the Roman Ordinariate, in a manner reminiscent of TEC with its Dennis Canon. Rome can hardly conceive of a property situation like the one set forth in the Affirmation of St Louis.

And with the generous provision for married clergy seeking a new Ordination at Roman hands, is there also a like generous provision for those who have been divorced and married again?

There is a lot more to this thing than just "intercommunion."

some guy said...

It looks more like assimilation than intercommunion. Do I hear the voice of the Borg in Star Trek?

"You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile."

(Yeah, I know, I'm probably not the first to think of this.)

- some guy out there

RC Cola said...

Off topic.

That news story celebrates this:

Just wondering if the Joint Declaration in which the RCs and Lutherans resolved the Justification argument means that the hurdle to healing the Anglo-Roman Schism is really as insurmountable as some may think.

I know many RCs were enraged by this agreement, claiming that Rome has apostatized. Perhaps many Lutherans thought the same of their people. What's the Continuing Anglican take on it?

Anonymous said...

It strikes me as singularly disingenuous to present the Roman proposal to trusting Anglican laity as an "intercommunion" arrangement.

Intercommunion is the term which describes the relationship between the Church of England and other Anglican Churches with the Lutheran Church of Sweden, or which formerly existed between the Episcopal Church and the Polish National Catholic Church. Each Church retained its own independence and identity, but mutually acknowledged each others ministries and practiced what is nowadays called "eucharistic hospitality."

Even with the information available at this point, it is amply plain that there will be no mutual recognition of ministries, but instead, an ordination process of some sort will exist to make some Anglican "clergy" into Catholic "priests." After signing away their property, Anglicans will become "former Anglicans."

One correspondent of mine wrote to ask, "Is it true, the Pope has acknowledged the validity of Anglican orders and has authorized the use of the 1928 Prayer Book?" This sort of misinformation and disinformation is being dispensed in certain circles.

Some of the promoters of this concept may wind up with egg on their faces, when they discover that their previous marriages may require Roman annulments and Rome possibly will not relax educational requirements not observed in the early days of the Continuing Church.

Yes, there is more to this than signing the CCC, holding hands and singing kumbaya.

Brian said...

Unlike the Episcopal Church, the RCC's claiming of property would at least be consistent with its ecclesiology: If a body is really the One True Church*, it's pretty much obligated to make it as difficult as possible for converts to revert, lest the temptation disorder their souls.

(*Hint: It's not.)

poetreader said...

Yes, the proposal as given in the Note will be the proposal of the Constitution unless truly improbably changes of thinking have occurred during the preparation of the latter.
The proposal as given, though more generous than any previous offer, has no resemblance whatever to an intercommunion. It is a procedure for conversion involving a permission to continue those distinctive habits that do not matter a great deal. We'd be allowed to keep much of the trim, but required to abandon the essence of what we are. I cannot see that anything worthwhile would be accomplished by accepting such terms, but I do believe that the thoughts and provisions are a good place from which to begin another, probably decades-long series of discussions. If both "sides" approach God prayerfully, unlikely though it may seem, God is able, and I believe willing, to change hearts and opinions and to bring about a real unity, rather than this appearance of such.

The issue here is not practical, not even slightly. Property, no matter how important the issue appears to us, is not and cannot be a deal breaker. I do agree with what the Affirmation says about local church property, and find any other practice to be abusive, but this is a practical and not a theological matter. If Rome were correct in identifying itself as the only real church, the obligation would be to be part of it as soon as possible. Under those conditions, to refuse because of property issues becomes a form of idolatry (even if one is right in what would be objectively best) placing things over the will of God. However, if Rome is wrong in its claims (which I believe to be the case) such submission becomes impossible for those who reject these claims, even if our desires regarding property were granted entirely.

Either Rome is the one true church, or it is one among many churches and thorny theological barriers to complete union are in existence. One can be in communion with those who are not in entire agreement on all things, but one cannot affirm what one believes to be false.

As a side note: I've been very reliably informed of many things that have turned out to be wrong, and, in fact, have disseminated such reliable information and done harm thereby. I hope I can be pardoned for failing to take seriously any comment that claims to be based on reliable information that I am unable to examine. I've annoyed people I trust highly (including Fr. Hart) with this stance, but I have to take it.


Andrew said...

This article hits the nail on the head:

A Sober View of the Anglican-Roman Kerfuffle

By William A. Wheatley
Special to Virtueonline

Fr. John said...

Just remember this, even if Rome met all of our requirements save the one concerning parish property, our becoming Roman Catholics would land us in the middle of their great civil war. That struggle, which I have personally witnessed,looks like a reenactment of the one conducted in the old Episcopal Church.

The ACC conducted a strategic withdrawal from that TEC war in 1977 by asserting the right of secession. If we give up our property, and the forces of darkness win the RC civil war here in America, and we are Roman Catholics, then we will fight the old fight one more time and be in court trying to hold on to the infrastructure we have so laboriously built over the last thirty+ years. But if one accepts all the papal claims then one must take that risk. For me it is not a hard choice, if Rome says that to be in communion with them I must believe that a pope has the authority to translate doctrine into dogma, I must decline the invitation.

I have written before, both here and elsewhere, that the Anglican Catholic Church is unique and may have a special role to play in the salvation story. I believe that we may come to be one of the few remaining pockets of orthodoxy on this planet.

Let me also remind all of the readers here that His Holiness did not renew his office's ancient title of "Patriarch of the West." That one act speaks volumes.

Anonymous said...

RC Cola asked:

"Just wondering if the Joint Declaration in which the RCs and Lutherans resolved the Justification argument means that the hurdle to healing the Anglo-Roman Schism is really as insurmountable as some may think."

The claim that the so-called "Joint Declaration" resolved the Justification argument is mostly illusory. The Vatican has never approved that document officially, and as RC notes, many RC's feel it was a sell out.

The same is true on the Protestant side.
The JD has been popular with liberal Lutherans and other liberal Protestants, who imagine that 500 years of debate can be settled by a brief document. Those who have looked at it more closely are not so sure. That includes theologians like RC Sproul, Michael Horton, and Bishop Fitz Allison.

One major sticking point is Rome's continued non-acceptance of the formula "simul iustus et peccator," the invaluable insight that even while we continue to be sinners, actually and actively, God does not renege on His sovereign decree in which He declares us righteous, whereby "there is now no condemnation to those who are in [by faith alone] Christ Jesus."

Stated briefly, this means we are already righteous in terms of God's Justification, but still sinful in terms of our incomplete Sanctification.

And of course anything an RC says about justification must be evaluated in terms of their doctrines of indulgences and of purgatory, which (even under the most benign interpretation) neutralize the finished work of Christ.

As Richard Hooker said, this is still the "grand question which hangeth yet between us," and speaking personally, is the Maginot line I will defend with my dying breath.

Remember the iota.

poetreader said...

My old pastor, Richard Neuhaus was very much involved in the discussions that led to the Joint Declaration, and moved from Lutheranism to Roman Catholicism in the process. I believe he was pleased that the document led in the right direction and brought the sides closer together, but agreed that it was not really satisfactory for either "side".


Anonymous said...

There have been few men I respected more than Richard John Neuhaus. I envy Ed for having the privilege of knowing him. What Ed says of him is surely true.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Ed wrote:

I hope I can be pardoned for failing to take seriously any comment that claims to be based on reliable information that I am unable to examine. I've annoyed people I trust highly (including Fr. Hart) with this stance, but I have to take it.

Unfortunately, we are not always free to identify a source. A real life journalist like Albion would agree, or so i suppose (I only played the role of a journalist at The Christian Challenge).

Albion Land said...

I do agree, but ultimately the proof is in the pudding. If someone abuses this as a cover for making things up, he will in all probability eventually be unmasked and discredited forever.

poetreader said...

But when one is not free to identify a source, neither is one free to expect that his words be taken as evidence. Knowing how often statements are misinterpreted by those who hear them, if I do not have the actual statements I am wrong to base action on what someone says they were. As I've been saying, information of that sort should never be presented as fact, but as reasonable surmise. When it is presented as fact I have no option but to refuse to hear it. I treat secular news in the same way. Reputable reporting leaves room for people to doubt what is not backed up with evidence. Much so-called news does not.


poetreader said...

It is true that the perpetrator of false news will eventually be exposed, but not necessarily before causing grievous harm.


Anonymous said...

Is "Patriarch of the West" truly an "ancient" title? The other patriarchates (Constantiople, etc) were named for cities, not regions. My impression (and it is only an impression) was that this was a courtesy title invented by 20th century Anglo-Catholics. Can anyone doocument that title earlier? I do not object to it, but am not sure about its antiquity.

John A. Hollister said...

Fr. Wells asked, "Is 'Patriarch of the West' truly an "ancient" title? The other patriarchates (Constantiople, etc.) were named for cities, not regions."

The Catholic Encyclopedia available online (which is an early 20th Century edition, doubtless to avoid copyright issues), sub verbo "Partriarch", notes that the title was, indeed, originally "Patriarch of Rome".

The article then charts the growth of the Roman Patriarch's authority over the Latin-speaking church and then, at the end, in giving a list of then-extant claimants to the title "Patriarch", gives the Papal title as "Patriarch of the West" without specifying when that usage was adopted.

John A. Hollister+

Fr. John said...

According to several sources I have found the title goes back to a.D.662.

It is of Roman origin. Dropped in 2006, the Vatican has yet to explain why it was eliminated.

Fr. John said...

According to the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity Pope Theodore adopted the title in a.D. 642.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Was dropping the title meant to emphasize Universal claims? It seems like the logical interpretation, but out of character for Benedict XVI in this somewhat ecumenical era.

Fr. John said...

Some have argued it was done to spare the feelings of the other patriarchs, since "The West" has implications of so wide a jurisdiction. But I am thinking that "The West" is surely a limited jurisdiction when compared to the papal claims of supremacy over all local bishops.

Also, is he a patriarch or not? I would love to have a clear answer to that question. I believe that the least objectionable papal title, after bishop of Rome, to Anglican Catholics would be patriarch of the West.

I for one was disappointed when I heard the news that the title had not been renewed. It certainly was not done lightly.

In spite of all that I have written here, I love this Pope as I have no other.

John A. Hollister said...

Father John asked, "[I] is he [the Bishop of Rome] a Patriarch or not? I would love to have a clear answer to that question. I believe that the least objectionable papal title, after bishop of Rome, to Anglican Catholics would be Patriarch of the West."

As far as I am concerned, where the Church granted the Bishop of Rome the title "Patriarch of Rome", so that only the Church can take it away, and where I have no problem with the historical fact that his patriarchy was pretty much coextensive with the Western, that is, Latin-speaking Church, when I say the Prayer for the Whole State of Christ's Church, I usually say the third paragraph thusly:

"Give grace, O heavenly Father, to all Bishops, and especially to Benedict and Bartolomeos, Patriarchs of West and East, to Mark, our chief Bishop, to Stephen and James, Metropolitans, to N., our own Bishop, to all the faithful Bishops of the Church, and to other Ministers, that they may...."

John A. Hollister+

Bruce said...

Bishop Campese (he's my Bishop or was) is a kind man but I'm afraid he's being naive about this.

Anyway, he'd be out because he's married.