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Anglican Communion News Service

Joint Statement by The Archbishop of Westminster and The Archbishop of Canterbury

Posted On : October 20, 2009 11:37 AM | Posted By : Admin ACO
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Related Categories: Lambeth

Today’s announcement of the Apostolic Constitution is a response by Pope Benedict XVI to a number of requests over the past few years to the Holy See from groups of Anglicans who wish to enter into full visible communion with the Roman Catholic Church, and are willing to declare that they share a common Catholic faith and accept the Petrine ministry as willed by Christ for his Church.

Pope Benedict XVI has approved, within the Apostolic Constitution, a canonical structure that provides for Personal Ordinariates, which will allow former Anglicans to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of distinctive Anglican spiritual patrimony.

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. It will now be up to those who have made requests to the Holy See to respond to the Apostolic Constitution.

The Apostolic Constitution is further recognition of the substantial overlap in faith, doctrine and spirituality between the Catholic Church and the Anglican tradition. Without the dialogues of the past forty years, this recognition would not have been possible, nor would hopes for full visible unity have been nurtured. In this sense, this Apostolic Constitution is one consequence of ecumenical dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion.

The on-going official dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion provides the basis for our continuing cooperation. The Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) and International Anglican Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM) agreements make clear the path we will follow together.

With God’s grace and prayer we are determined that our on-going mutual commitment and consultation on these and other matters should continue to be strengthened. Locally, in the spirit of IARCCUM, we look forward to building on the pattern of shared meetings between the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales and the Church of England’s House of Bishops with a focus on our common mission. Joint days of reflection and prayer were begun in Leeds in 2006 and continued in Lambeth in 2008, and further meetings are in preparation. This close cooperation will continue as we grow together in unity and mission, in witness to the Gospel in our country, and in the Church at large.

+ Vincent + Rowan

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(Excerpt) From the New York Times: 

Nevertheless, Williams’ representative in Rome, the Very Rev. David Richardson, said the Vatican’s decision was ”surprising,” given that the Catholic Church in the past had welcomed individual Anglicans in without creating what he called ”parallel structures” for entire groups of Anglicans.

”The two questions I would want to ask are ‘why this and why now,”’ he told The Associated Press. ”Why the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has decided to embrace that particular method remains unclear to me.”

Also unclear, he said, was the Vatican’s target audience: those Anglicans who have already left the Anglican Communion, or current members. Levada said it covered both, and the documentation explaining the new structure speaks of both Anglicans and ”former Anglicans.”

”If it’s for former Anglicans, then it’s not about our present difficulties, then it’s people who have already left,” Richardson said. If it’s current Anglicans, ”There is in my mind an uncertainty for whom it is intended.”

The announcement was kept under wraps until the last moment: The Vatican only announced Levada’s briefing Monday night, and Levada only flew back to Rome after finalizing the details at midnight.

Here’s the Telegraph Version:

 By Damian Thompson: Last updated: October 20th, 2009

This is astonishing news.  Pope Benedict XVI has created an entirely new Church structure for disaffected Anglicans that will allow them to worship together – using elements of Anglican liturgy – under the pastoral supervision of their own specially appointed bishop or senior priest.

The Pope is now offering Anglicans worldwide “corporate reunion” on terms that will delight Anglo-Catholics. In theory, they can have their own married priests, parishes and bishops – and they will be free of liturgical interference by liberal Catholic bishops who are unsympathetic to their conservative stance.

There is even the possibility that married Anglican laymen could be accepted for ordination on a case-by-case basis – a remarkable concession.

Both Archbishop Vincent Nichols and Archbishop Rowan Williams are surprised by this dramatic move. Cardinal Levada, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was in Lambeth Palace only yesterday to spell out to Dr Williams what it means. This decision has, in effect, been taken over their heads – though there is no suggestion that Archbishop Nichols does not fully support this historic move.

Incidentally, I suspect that Rome waited until Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor’s retirement before unveiling this plan: the cardinal is an old-style ecumenist who represents the old way of doing things. His allies in Rome, and many former participants in Anglican-Catholic dialogue, are dismayed by today’s news, which clears away the wreckage of the ARCIC process.

The Archbishop of Canterbury is unlikely to be pleased, though he was vigorously concealing any displeasure at a press conference this morning. (There was a lot of spin about this decision “arising out of dialogue”.) The truth is that Rome has given up on the Anglican Communion. With one announcement, the Pope has given conservative Anglicans a protected route to union with Rome – and promised that, even once they are members of the Catholic Church, they will be offered a permanent structure that allows them to retain an Anglican ethos.

Thousands of Anglicans who reject women bishops and priests and liberal teaching on homosexuality are certain to avail themselves of this provision. Within a few years, there will probably be “Anglican ethos” Catholic parishes in England and Wales (and one wonders how many conservative cradle Catholics will gratefully start attending Mass there).

Under the supervision of a “Personal Ordinary”, who can be a priest or unmarried bishop, ex-Anglicans will be able to put forward their own candidates for ordination. In the short term, there will be no difficulty in ordaining married former Anglican clergy.

The Vatican would not use the phrase, but this is very close to the setting up of a “Church within a Church”. Yet that is not as unusual as it might seem: Eastern-rite Catholics have their own liturgy and church structures, and in America a small number of ex-Anglicans use service books that borrow from the Book of Common Prayer.

Anglicans will have to request their own “Personal Ordinariate”, to use the Vatican’s clunky term. How might that play out in England? This is just a guess, but the most pro-Roman C of E bishop, the Rt Rev Andrew Burnham, Bishop of Ebbsfleet, could submit a request to Rome. He would be ordained a (married) Catholic priest, and might himself be made “ordinary” (bishop in all but name) of ex-Anglican clergy and lay people who have been received into the Catholic Church together.

This unprecedented canonical structure will affect different countries and dioceses in different ways. But we are not talking about the creation of an “Anglican-Rite” Catholic Church. Although some parishes will want to use the Anglican-usage liturgy, in England many ex-Anglican congregations will be only too happy to avail themselves of the new English translation of the Roman Rite, to be introduced next year.

This is a decision of supreme boldness and generosity by Pope Benedict XVI, comparable to his liberation of the Traditional Latin Mass. The implications of this announcement will take a long time to sink in, but I suspect that this will be a day of rejoicing for conservative Anglo-Catholics and their Roman Catholic friends all over the world.

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