KEEPING THE SPIRIT OF THE THÉRÈSE VISIT ALIVE BISHOP JOHN ARNOLD ON THE LESSONS OF A MOMENTOUS EVENT PAGE 12
October 23 2009 £1.20 (Republic of Ireland €1.70)
Pope to allow Anglicans to convert en masse
BY ANNA ARCO
GROUPS of disaffected Anglicans can become Catholics while keeping elements of their cultural and liturgical heritage, the Vatican announced this week.
In a move that took the English-speaking Christian world by surprise, Pope Benedict XVI signed an Apostolic Constitution which offers a universal legal structure for Anglicans seeking “corporate reunion” with Rome.
The Pope is said to have reached his decision in July and it was announced at parallel press conferences in Rome and London on Tuesday – less than a month after senior Church leaders in England were notified by the Vatican.
Under the Apostolic Constitution, the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith (CDF) has introduced a legal structure that resembles the structure of military dioceses, called a “Personal Ordinariate”. These Ordinariates would cover the geographical area of a bishops’ conference and would be led by an Ordinary, usually chosen from unmarried former Anglican clergy.
Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the CDF, said the decree was a response by the Pope to a demand repeatedly expressed by a number of Anglicans. According to the Zenit news agency, between 20 and 30 Anglican bishops worldwide have already asked for this sort of provision.
A Vatican statement said: “In this Apostolic Constitution the Holy Father has introduced a canonical structure ... which will allow former Anglicans to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of the distinctive Anglican spirituality.”
Cardinal Levada said: “We have been trying to meet the requests for full communion that have come to us from Anglicans in different parts of the world in recent years in a uniform and equitable way. With this proposal the Church wants to respond to
the legitimate aspirations of these Anglican groups for full and visible unity with the bishop of Rome, successor of St Peter.”
He said he had informed Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the Anglican Communion, about the decree a month ago and met him personally to discuss it on Monday.
Sources in Rome have told The Catholic Herald that at one stage Lambeth Palace was “implacably opposed” to the Pope’s dramatic plan.
In London, Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster joined Dr Williams for a press conference at which both men insisted that the decree would not damage ecumenical relations.
Dr Williams rejected the idea that the decree could be seen “as an act of aggression or a vote of no confidence precisely because the routine relationships that we enjoy as churches continue”.
He added: “What has been presented by the Vatican, as I understand it, is not a response to our situation in the Church of England. There are members of the Church of England who are uneasy about where the Church of England is who would not want to become Roman Catholics whether they would call themselves evangelicals or AngloCatholics. This will not resolve their challenges, and we in the Church of England have to continue to engage with that. The last thing I’d want is for this to be seen as some kind of short cut.
“This is for people who feel that visible union with the Holy See now is what God is calling them to.”
Archbishop Nichols said he was surprised by the decree but welcomed the “generosity of its measures”.
He explained that groups of former Anglican clergy, religious and lay people could avail themselves of the Personal Ordinariate which would be established by the Holy See.
They would put themselves
under the jurisdiction of the Ordinary, who would in turn work together with the local bishops.
The process will allow married former Anglican clergy to be ordained priests, as is already the case. There is also the possibility that married laymen could be ordained.
Significantly, ex-Anglicans will be able to put forward their own candidates for seminaries. They will attend existing seminaries but will be able to establish “houses of formation to address the particular needs of formation in the Anglican seminary”.
A spokesman for the bishops’ conference of England and Wales said that, while an Ordinariate would follow the Church’s tradition of celibacy for its seminarians, married men might be considered for ordination to the priesthood on a case-by-case basis.
Archbishop Nichols said the decision opened up the possibility of “a liturgical form which had the resonances of Catholic elements of the tradition of the Anglican Communion” but that “such new material would have to be approved by the Holy See” before it was implemented.
He added: “I would describe this as a courageous and generous response by Pope Benedict, which is not at all out of character.
“He has said over and over again that his priority is the proclamation of the Gospel in what he describes as a world in which the roots of faith are gradually drying up. And he says that an essential part are acts of reconciliation – small and not so small. He sees this as a response to the possibility of little churches breaking out which does nobody any good.”
Cardinal Walter Kasper, head of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, said: “We are not fishing in the
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Vatican Notebook: Page 4 Editorial comment: Page 13
Cardinal Levada gestures during Tuesday’s press conference at the Vatican
‘This is a response and not an initiative’
BY ARCHBISHOP VINCENT NICHOLS
THE ANNOUNCEMENT of this Apostolic Constitution has come as a surprise. So, too, has the generosity of its measures. It is important to understand its context as well as its content.
The Apostolic Constitution is the response of Pope Benedict to the approaches which have been made to the Holy See by groups of Anglicans, in different parts of the world, asking for full visible communion within the Catholic Church. It is, then, a response, not an initiative, by the Holy See. It is a response designed to establish a provision which will be equitable and uniform in whatever part of the world it may be taken up.
It has a particular purpose: to permit those who wish to live their faith in full visible union with the See of Peter to do so while also preserving elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony. So this is a response to those who have declared that they share the common Catholic faith and accept the Pope’s ministry as something Christ willed for the Church. In the words of Cardinal Levada: “For them, the time has come to express this implicit unity in the visible form of full communion.” As Archbishop Rowan Williams and I said in our joint statement: “The announcement of this Apostolic Constitution brings to an end a period of uncertainty for such groups who have nurtured hopes of new ways of embracing unity with the Catholic Church.”
Much work now opens up, not only for those who hold such faith and will have to consider carefully the formal response of the Holy See, but also for the Catholic community. In approaching this work, some important perspectives have to be kept in mind.
First, this response does not alter our determined and continuing dedication to the pathway of mutual commitment and cooperation between the Church of England and the Catholic Church in this country. The foundations of all the joint work in ARCIC and the International Anglican Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission make clear the path we follow together. An Anglo-Catholic tradition will continue to be a part of the Church of England, nurtured by those who cherish this tradition while
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Atheist duo convince crowd that the Church is not a force for good
BY ED WEST
STEPHEN FRY and Christopher Hitchens have won a public debate in London in which they argued against a motion that the “Catholic Church is a force for good in the world”.
The debate at Cadogan Hall in Chelsea was organised by Intelligence Squared and featured Tory MP Ann Widdecombe and Archbishop Onaiyekan of Abuja in Nigeria defending the mo-
tion. But they were routed by Mr Hitchens, the author of God is Not Great, and Mr Fry, who won 1,876 votes against 268.
The archbishop emphasised the social and charitable work the Church did, but Mr Hitchens denounced “institutionalisation of the rape and torture and maltreatment of children” in the Church.
The two atheists attacked the Church’s teaching on homosexuality. Mr Fry accused the Church of being ob-
sessed with sex, and said: “It’s hard for me to be told I’ m evil because I think of myself as filled with love.” He said that priests were “sexually dysfunctional”.
He asked how “the Galilean carpenter” would feel about the wealth of the Church and attacked the hierarchy of the Church and the “twisted, neurotic and hysterical way its leaders are chosen”. On more than one occasion Mr Fry raised his voice, and at one point
shouted at the archbishop “So what are you for?” after the Nigerian had said the Ten Commandments would still exist without the Church.
The predominantly hostile crowd soon turned against the prelate. At one point a member of the audience asked the archbishop: “Of which current Catholic policy are you most ashamed?” He received a round of applause.
Charterhouse: Page 20
Eucharistic ‘miracle’ US comic says Pope is studied in Poland should sell St Peter’s
Y ED W
BEST A CHUR
CH commission has ruled out the involvement of third persons while investi- gating
a possible miracle at a church in Sokółka, eastern Poland , ruling out the possi- bility
of a hoax or prank. The Ho
st, dropped by a priest at a Mass in October last y ear, was placed in the vascul um in the tabernacle, and af ter Mass its contents were t
ransferred to the safe in the sacristy. Seven
days later, after openin g the safe, a red stain was se en on the Host, and tests conducted by medical specia lists showed it was human heart tissue. On Jan
uary 7 a sample from t he Host was sent to the Univer sity in Białystok for analys is. According to Pro- fessor Maria Sobaniec-Lo- towska and Professor Stanis law Sulkowski, the sample , in their opinion, most r esembled the myocar- dial t issue of a living organ- ism.
BY ED WEST
NIGERIAN Archbishop John Olorunfemi \ of Abuja has said a quip by American comedian Sarah Silverman that the Pope should sell the Vatican to raise money for the poor was “stupid”.
Silverman, in a video monologue on US television programme Real Time with Bill Maher, jokingly called on Pope Benedict XVI to “move out of
your house that is a city” and use the proceeds to feed the poor. The Catholic League for Religious and Civil
Rights has called the video “another as-
sault on Catholicism”.
Archbishop Onaiyekan said:
“I think the joke is
not only offensive, but in bad taste and stupid.”
Silverman specialises in making fun of religion.
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