FIRST SEE: Pope Benedict XVI has approved a structure for admitting large groups of Anglicans wishing to come into communion with the Catholic Church
Despite Four Decades of Ecumenism, Protestant Institutions are Not Churches, Says Rome
what is ecumenism???
Is the Pope treading on thin ice?
Sunday Life | November 29, 2009
The Pope’s call to Anglicans to join the Catholic faith has been met with mixed reactions and shaken the already questionable future of the Anglican Communion, writes Robert Kalumba.
As far as religious earthquakes go, this one has had the Christian Richter scales reaching for the heavens. Pope Benedict last month, through a pontifical decree, allowed Anglicans worldwide – both clergy and worshippers, to convert en bloc to Catholicism while still maintaining part of their spiritual tradition.
This is quite unprecedented since the Reformation and amounts to rewriting the rulebook. The fact that the Vatican sought no input from Lambeth Palace, the spiritual home of the Anglicans, before the decree was announced, and that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, confessed to having known about the decree two weeks before the announcement was made, not only seemed to undermine the Archbishop’s position but throws some disturbing light on the future of the Anglican Communion.
But what exactly is the Pope saying? It’s simple. All those Anglicans fed up with the liberal theological reforms of their church should jump ship and move over to Catholicism. What liberal progression could that be? Two things; women and gay people. The ordination of women bishops and the bickering over same-sex unions serving in church has riled many Anglican traditionalists, with African Churches threatening to break away from the Church of England. So, could this be the perfect blessing in disguise for the disenchanted Anglicans or will this ultimatum by the Pope draw battle lines jeopardising decades of dialogue between Catholics and Anglicans?
Disarray or division?
Also, is the Anglican Communion in such confusion that thousands are willing to change ranks or is the Pope trying to poach more souls to the dwindling number of Catholics worldwide via a sneak attack on the Anglicans? What next for Anglicans who support same sex unions and ordination of women bishops? Will this push them underground?
The Anglican Communion has been in a quagmire for some time now. Its leadership has given voice to notions that have seemed far ahead for its flock, causing a tinge of militancy in many of them. During last year’s Lambeth Conference, over 200 Anglican Bishops snubbed the conference over the issue of gay clergy opting to attend a rival conference in Jerusalem, The Global Anglican Future Conference. This undermined the authority of Archbishop Williams, who has been struggling to keep unity in his flock.
Already, the Church of England has divisions. The Episcopal Church of the USA, part of the wider composition that makes up the Anglican Communion, has got some serious issues. Some parishes have ordained women bishops; others acknowledge the legal right of abortion access for women. Some have performed union ceremonies for loving, committed same sex couples. Others have gay married priests serving in church.
This has created divisions in the Episcopal Church, with conservatives forming their own churches and organisations and the liberals following suit. Now, if you add on the threats of the likes of Archbishop Luke Orombi and Peter Akinele of Nigeria of ceding from the Church of England over the gay issue and over 1000 bishops threatening to quit too over the ordination of women bishops, then the confusion in the Anglican Church is put in perspective. There seems to be some serious confusion in the Protestant community.
One thing is certain; many Anglican flocks are not pleased with where their church seems to be heading. Could the Pope have tapped into this frustration? Already, there is support for the Pope’s move from some Anglicans. The Secretary General of the Provincial Office of the Anglican Church of Korea, Father Abraham Kim Gwang-Joon has said the Vatican’s move to make it easier for conservative Anglicans to join the Catholic Church is a step towards Christian unity.
Offering or snaring?
But what is the Pope offering disenchanted Anglican flock? Is it that “enticing”? The invitation to Catholicism for the Anglicans hasn’t yet been structured but there may be separate services held in Catholic churches. There may also be special prayer books and training centres but the chain of command will still lead to the Pope.
The migrant Anglicans may also have to accept all Roman Catholic doctrine and teachings and could use elements of Anglican tradition. However, this is the jewel in the Nile for most; married Anglican clergy can still be ordained as Roman Catholic Priests with a view to eventually providing pastoral care for other former Anglicans.
This is where the olive branch offered by the Pope becomes somewhat tainted. Celibacy is a requirement to join the Catholic priesthood and if so, won’t the ordainment of married Anglican clergy as Roman priests smack of opportunism by the Pope? Why tear up the rulebook to accommodate married Anglicans? Does that mean celibacy will in the future be a non entity for those wishing to be Roman priests? Are all Catholics happy with this cross fertilisation?
The questioning of Christian dogma by some Anglican liberals has definitely hurt the Protestant Church and their spiritual leader Archbishop Rowan Williams has seemed hapless with what has been going on. He has appeared weak to rein in or maintain unity within his flock. Unlike the Pope, whose authority seems unquestionable by the majority, Williams has had his grip on his flock quizzed. The latest to test it is the Pope with this decree.
Will this unite or divide the Christian church further? Could the Pope honestly expect those that have been indoctrinated for years to all of a sudden change doctrines? It’s yet to be seen but more interesting times lie ahead.
Pope Benedict approves structure for admitting large groups of Anglicans into Catholic Church
Vatican City, Oct 20, 2009 / 05:11 am (CNA).- In a Vatican press conference today, Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, announced that an Apostolic Constitution has been prepared in response to “many requests” from groups of Anglican clergy and faithful wanting to enter into full communion with the Church.
The Apostolic Constitution, which Cardinal Levada said “provides a reasonable and even necessary response to a world-wide phenomenon,” will be a “single canonical model for the universal Church which is adaptable to various local situations and equitable to former Anglicans in its universal application.”
The new canonical structure will allow former Anglicans to enter into full communion with the Church while “preserving elements of distinctive Anglican spiritual patrimony,” said Cardinal Levada. Addressing the status of married clergy, the cardinal said that married Anglican clergy would be allowed to be ordained as Catholic priests just as takes place in the Eastern Catholic and Orthodox Churches. Similarly, following the same tradition, those priests will not be allowed to be ordained bishops.
These ‘Personal Ordinariates’ will be formed, “as needed, in consultation with local Conferences of Bishops, and their structure will be similar in some ways to that of the Military Ordinariates which have been established in most countries to provide pastoral care for members of the armed forces and their dependents throughout the world,” the cardinal prefect said.
He added: “The provision of this new structure is consistent with the commitment to ecumenical dialogue which continues to be a priority for the Catholic Church, particularly through the efforts of the Pontifical Council for Promotion of Christian Unity.”
One large group of breakaway Anglicans which has been requesting a formal structure to be corporately received into the Catholic Church has been the Traditional Anglican Communion, made up of an estimated 400,000 members worldwide.
Cardinal Levada explained that this initiative “has come from a number of different groups of Anglicans.” He 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.”
The prefect of the CDF also shared what Pope Benedict's hopes are for the process.
“It is the hope of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, that the Anglican clergy and faithful who desire union with the Catholic Church will find in this canonical structure the opportunity to preserve those Anglican traditions precious to them and consistent with the Catholic faith. Insofar as these traditions express in a distinctive way the faith that is held in common, they are a gift to be shared in the wider Church. The unity of the Church does not require a uniformity that ignores cultural diversity, as the history of Christianity shows. Moreover, the many diverse traditions present in the Catholic Church today are all rooted in the principle articulated by St. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians: ‘There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism.'”
Archbishop Augustine DiNoia, the former under-secretary at the CDF until recently, who helped draft the new structure, said: “We’ve been praying for unity for 40 years. Prayers are being answered in ways we did not anticipate and the Holy See cannot not respond to this movement of the Holy Spirit for those who wish communion and whose tradition is to be valued.”
He said there has been a “tremendous shift” in the ecumenical movement and “these possibilities weren’t seen as they are now.” He rejected accusations that the new Anglicans be described as dissenters. “Rather they are assenting to the movement of the Holy Spirit to be in union with the See of Peter, with the Catholic Church,” he said.
Technical details still need to be worked out, and these Personal Ordinariates may vary in their final form, Archbishop DiNoia said. Full details of the Apostolic Constitution will be released in a few weeks but today’s press conference went ahead because it had been planned sometime ago.
Cardinal Levada said 20-30 bishops have made requests, but more details will be given at a later date. Members of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity were consulted and although they were invited to attend today’s press conference, no representatives were able to attend.
The Traditional Anglican Communion broke from the Anglican Communion in 1991 over the decision of the Church of England to ordain women as priests. The TAC, as well as other breakaway groups of traditionalist Anglicans, have been hoping for such a structure ever since. The TAC formally made a request two years ago, after all its bishops signed their approval of the Catechism of the Catholic Church at a ceremony in England. Discussions were protracted owing to the unique nature of such a structure, in particular over whether Anglicans should have their own rite.
Anglican Leaders Welcome Vatican Move; Raise Questions
Wed, Oct. 21 2009 12:05 PM EDT
By Lillian Kwon|Christian Post Reporter
Anglican leaders across the global communion welcomed the Catholic Church's historic decision to allow disaffected Anglicans into their fold.
"We rejoice that the Holy See has opened this doorway, which represents another step in the growing cooperation and relationship between our Churches," commented the Most Rev. Robert Duncan, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh (Anglican).
The Vatican introduced on Tuesday a new church structure that will allow former Anglicans to enter "full communion" with the Catholic Church while preserving their Anglican traditions. Pope Benedict XVI has made the provision in response to the numerous requests he has received from Anglicans who are unhappy with the ordination of women and noncelibate gay bishops.
"Those Anglicans who have approached the Holy See have made clear their desire for full, visible unity in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. At the same time, they have told us of the importance of their Anglican traditions of spirituality and worship for their faith journey," noted Cardinal William Levada, the Vatican's chief doctrinal official, who announced the "Apostolic Constitution."
Several individual Anglicans as well as some groups of Anglicans have already entered into full communion with the Catholic Church. They were evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
According to Tuesday's announcement, the new church structure will be headed by former Anglican prelates who will provide spiritual care for Anglicans who want to convert to Catholicism. Former Anglican clergy who are married will be allowed for ordination as Catholic priests but they cannot become Catholic bishops.
Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams, the spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion, said he does not perceive the Vatican's move as "a commentary on Anglican problems."
"In that sense it has no negative impact on the relations of the Communion as a whole to the Roman Catholic Church as a whole," Williams stated.
Many in the Anglican Communion have declared the global body impaired, particularly since the 2003 ordination of openly gay bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire. Since then, a small but growing minority of parishes have severed ties with their national churches.
Anglican Bishop Martyn Minns, who leads parishes in the United States that have left The Episcopal Church – the U.S. arm of Anglicanism – believes the Vatican's move "recognizes the reality of the divide within the Anglican Communion and affirms the decision to create a new North American province that embraces biblical truth."
Minns joined hundreds of like-minded Anglicans in Texas earlier this year to establish the Anglican Church in North America, which is considered a rival body to The Episcopal Church. They claim The Episcopal Church has departed from Christian orthodoxy and Anglican tradition. The ACNA has not received formal recognition from the Archbishop of Canterbury.
"Rome is reminding Anglicans that our historic, orthodox faith is more important than culture and more important than geography," Minns said in a statement Tuesday. He urged the Archbishop of Canterbury to follow suit and endorse the efforts of the ACNA and other orthodox groups forming within the global body, including the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans in England.
Compared to traditionalists in England, those in the United States are not as likely to utilize the Vatican's provision because they have already established their own conservative spiritual homes. The Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, meanwhile, is not a separatist group but a spiritual fellowship consisting of concerned Anglicans who are still members in the Church of England.
While several key Anglican leaders have expressed their gratitude and appreciation for the new provision, the Rt. Rev. Donald Harvey, who is part of the orthodox ACNA, still has questions about the "full significance" of the move.
He posed, "Will people who accept this invitation have to subscribe to Roman Catholic dogmas to which the Anglican Formularies are diametrically opposed – such as 'Papal Infallibility,' the 'Immaculate Conception' and Transubstantiation?"
"Will Anglican priests – especially married ones – choosing to accept the Roman Catholic Church's invitation have equal status with existing Roman Catholic clergy and will their ministry be interchangeable and welcomed in Roman Catholic parishes?" he also asked.
Anglicans and Catholics have engaged in ecumenical dialogue for decades. The two traditions separated in the 16th century, but according to the Vatican, the question of reunification "has never been far from mind." Differences over church governance and theology remain points of dialogue.
Both the Vatican and the Archbishop of Canterbury affirmed that they remain fully committed to continuing ecumenical dialogue.