8 July 2009

Rambling round Ecclesiae Unitatem

The Holy Father's latest motu proprio, happily, does not do exactly what had been expected and feared. It does not combine the Pontifical Ecclesia Dei Commission (which looks afterTridentinists who are in good standing with the Holy See and is charged with facilitating the reconciliation of the SSPX, which is not) with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Instead, in view of the large doctrinal element in the regularisation of the position of SSPX, it provides that the Prefect of the CDF should also be the President of PCED. It then leaves the PCED with an intact and separate structure. This is wise; PCED also has a strictly liturgical and regulatory duty.

The opening paragraph could almost have been drafted as the beginning of the awaited motu proprio on the reconciliation of Anglican Catholics. We recall how the Holy Father, at his inauguration, made clear that he regarded Unity as the principal duty laid upon him by the Lord. But, as someone completely ignorant of canonical niceties, I find one phrase a bit puzzling. In para 4 he talks about inviting the SSPX bishops "ut ad plenam cum ecclesia communionem iter denuo invenirent". But their excommunications have been lifted. Granted, they have no missio canonica and remain technically suspended a sacris. As individuals, however, they surely are in full communion.

1 comment:

William said...

I, too, would like a canonist to explain to me, preferably in words of one syllable, how those who are not excommunicate can nevertheless not be in communion. Didn't the RC and EO churches lift their mutual excommunications of 1054 some time in the pontificate of Paul VI? How then can it be that (as I am assured) the two "one true churches" are not actually in communion (as regards either sharing in the one Loaf or interchangeability of ministry?)