9 November 2009

Facing Facts

It is very important that we consider the exact wording of the Apostolic Constitution carefully. After all, God has made us rational beings. But it is even more important that we Anglican Catholics face up to the fact that we are at a historical turning point.

For most of my lifetime, the Ecumenical Movement seemed (I put it like that because it is arguable that it was already flawed and leaky below the waterline) to be going places. However messy things might be, there seemed to be gradual convergence. ARCIC did say some remarkable things; and, at the ground level, there was indisputable liturgical convergence.

The plain fact is that things are now wholely different. The Anglican elite has set out, knowingly, on a path of divergence. And it is not just a divergence in the field of ideas. The insertion of women's ordination into the ministerial structures of Anglican provinces means that we no longer have problems which can be solved by a better mutual understanding of the common Faith. Words are not going to solve this problem. Ordained women are a physical and structural reality which cannot be glossed into oblivion by theological wordsmiths, however erudite and imaginative. Every time just one more woman is 'ordained' to Major Orders, the gap between Anglicanism and the Ancient Churches widens.

Many people wondered why Benedict kept Walter Kasper in position. The two had never got on well; only months before the Conclave they had been publicly at war. I believe that the Holy Father left Kasper where he was for three reasons: The Pope desperately wanted - and wants - unity; Kasper had established contacts and a personal reputation among non-RCs; and Benedict knew that, if he replaced him with X, nobody would take X seriously - 'He's just a Ratzinger hardliner', they would have cried.

The crucial kairos was when Kasper came to talk to the English Anglican bishops. That was the instant when Kasper's ecumenical credit and reputation had a chance to bear fruit. What was it all for if not for just this moment?

He returned to Rome empty-handed.

In a secular business enterprise, what would be the standing of somebody who had been shown - despite his years of hard work and his boasted network of close personal relationships - to be a busted flush; an operative unable to deliver?

The reason why Kasper was not involved in the presentation for the Apostolic Constitution is that the Anglican Bishops had sent him away with nothing. It is they who turned Kasper and his entire ecumenical method into a historical irrelevance.

They made clear that they were determined to pursue a path of ever broader divergence.

To suggest that it is Benedict who has perpetrated an ecumenical disaster is quite preposterous.
Every bishop who, at that fateful July Synod, voted for women bishops, stuck his own personal stiletto between Kasper's ribs. And if they did not realise that this is what they were doing, they were fools. Well, they are. There has rarely been a time when the English bench of bishops has been of poorer quality; when Carey retired they had to go outside England to find a plausible successor.

The Apostolic Constitution is the Good which God, in his usual boring old way, has brought out of Evil.


AndrewWS said...

It's out!


Joshua said...

I think Hepworth said the T.A.C. will officially reply at Easter, once its synods and whatnot have all voted and its ministers and people have been briefed and instructed and given time to ponder it all.

Any idea of the timetable from here?

Steve said...

The Constitution made most interesting reading!

Just three things that struck me:

(1) Subject to the CDF (Article 1) - What price Humanae Vitae?

(2) Every individual will have to be come a Roman Catholic (Article 5 §1) - no simple transferring of congregations en masse.

(3) Those originally ordained as RC's can't minister in the Ordinariate (Article 6 §2) - so John Hepworth can't be in it!

Steve said...

And I also repeat a point that I have made elsewhere on this blog: if the then Cardinal Ratzinger had responded positively to ARCIC I instead of squelching it, the 1992 vote in the C of E General Synod would have gone the other way.

Steve said...

And finally (yes, I mean it this time!) two more points:

(1) Cardinal Kaspar asked us to abandon admitting women to the episcopate. He offered us, and could offer us (Ratzinger had seen to that), nothing in exchange. It was no wonder (and I'm quite sure it was no wonder to him either) if he went away with nothing.

(2) I do not believe for a moment that +Rowan became ABC because there were no possible candidates in England. +Rowan is a good and godly man, but I believe he was wangled in, in pursuit of a political agenda, by a certain well-known personage (who is now a member of another Church and has fond ideas of pursuing the same agenda in his new Church!).

Michael McDonough said...

"Without excluding liturgical celebrations according to the Roman Rite..."

That answers one of your earlier inquiries, Fr. H.

Jacob Hicks said...

"4. the ordination of ministers coming from Anglicanism will be absolute, on the basis of the Bull Apostolicae curae of Leo XIII of September 13, 1896."

Anonymous said...

"4. the ordination of ministers coming from Anglicanism will be absolute, on the basis of the Bull Apostolicae curae of Leo XIII of September 13, 1896."

This statement is not explicit in the actual Constitution (it is from the accompanying explanation by Fr. Ghirlanda), leaving lots of room for mental reservation. That is to say, Anglicans who believe themselves to be validly ordained (and confirmed - confirmation is part of this as well) can easily submit to absolute ordination & confirmation because it is only *implied* that these Sacraments were invalidly received.

Explicitly there will be remedy, implicitly nothing will have changed.

Adulio said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Adulio said...

I wonder what Vicar Hunwicke will have to say about Article 6 clause 2.

Joe said...

Anglicans who believe themselves to be validly ordained ... can easily submit to absolute ordination & confirmation because it is only *implied* that these Sacraments were invalidly received.

Not so quickly. Benedict believes that apostolicae curae is infallibly taught by the ordinary magisterium (possibly-infallible makes infallibility absurd), so if you believe you were validly ordained, then you do not believe in infallibility (or you are selective) and so cannot subscribe to the Catechism.

If one honestly believes in the validity of his Anglican ordination, there is no way he can honestly allow himself to be reordained absolutely. Otherwise this 'reservation' implies that the second ordination is truly invalid and a sham -- an odd way of entering into communion with Rome!

I can see an argument for submitting with integrity to conditonal re-ordination, but never to absolute ordination. It would be a bit like having reservations when getting marriage: the marriage would be a lie. You just can't have such reservations....

Anonymous said...

"Benedict believes that apostolicae curae is infallibly taught by the ordinary magisterium"

Not so quick yerself!

Pope Benedict XVI said June 29, 1998:

"With regard to those truths connected to revelation by historical necessity and which are to be held definitively, but are not able to be declared as divinely revealed, the following examples can be given: the legitimacy of the election of the Supreme Pontiff or of the celebration of an ecumenical council, the canonizations of saints (dogmatic facts), the declaration of Pope Leo XIII in the Apostolic Letter Apostolicæ Curæ on the invalidity of Anglican ordinations."

This is the very essence of my argument; implicit vs. explicit. The key phrase is "but are not able to be declared as divinely revealed" this is a remedy for all erroneously held revelations "by historical necessity and which are to be held definitively." This Pope is a word-smith and I really really like it!

We must not jump to conclusions. Charity above all things. The only beliefs that must be held without any reservation whatsoever are Church dogma. All else is seen through a glass darkly.

Joe said...

You need to read the whole thing:

'with regard to the nature of the assent owed to the truths set forth by the Church as divinely revealed (those of the first paragraph) or to be held definitively (those of the second paragraph), it is important to emphasize that there is no difference with respect to the full and irrevocable character of the assent which is owed to these teachings ... in the case of the truths of the second paragpah [apostolicae curae falls into this category] the assent is based on faith in the Holy Spirit's assistance to the Magisterium and on the Catholic doctrine of the infallibility of the Magisterium.'

I'm afraid this is pretty clear, really. Hence the upset when Johhn Paul II changed canon law to bring it into line with the Profession of Faith, and Ratzinger's swift explanation of the significance of the changes....

CPKS said...

There have been conditional re-ordinations of former CofE clergy.

Joe said...

I know there have been some conditional ordinations (some were rather famous, as in the Boshop of London), but there have been many more absolute orindations, and the proposal for the ordinariates is for future ordinations to be absolute, prcisely because of apostoloica curae. Even one would be too many....

Joe said...

oops: better put my glasses on before I press the publish button: sorry for all the spelling mistakes!

Nebuly said...

Father thank you - again you have shown yourself
to be John Chrysostom Hunwicke

Anonymous said...

Thanks for helping to clarify Fr. Joe, but the complete statement is still equivocal, especially, as pointed out by others, vis-a-vis the *practice* of Roma. Cardinal Ratzinger and Pope Benedict XVI do not necessarily say the same thing; the former lacked the gravitas of office. Anyway, my ignorance may possess an invincible character in these matters, under which case; we'll have to let it be. I (we) can at least can claim to have been ordained to priesthood in the “Church of God,” whereas current RC priests can only claim to have been ordained “to the dignity of the priesthood.” Then to talk about Old Catholics, Polish National Catholics, etc...Perhaps the invincible ignorance lies on the other side, but I don't think it really bears much mention. If the emperor has no clothes on, he may be naked but he's still the emperor; and I don’t have to behold his nakedness, I shall close my eyes.

CPKS said...

Regarding the recent remarks that absolute, rather than conditional, reordination may be required under Anglicanorum Coetibus: I see nothing in this legislation to support this surmise.

Indeed, there has been no derogation from Apostolicae Curae. But Apostolicae Curae was a judgment about Anglican Orders per se as conducted in normal circumstances using the (then) standard Anglican Ordinal. The fact that there have been at least some conditional re-ordinations shows that the Holy See has been open to the fact that some Anglican ordinations may have been conducted according to a ritual, or under circumstances, that suggest an attempt to avoid the vitiating factors identified in Apostolicae Curae.

The very fact that there have been at least a few conditional reordinations ought to show that the Holy See has sought a respectful approach to this issue, and this respect rests entirely on theological, not legal grounds.

I repeat, I struggle to find anything in this legislation that might somehow justify the claim that the Holy See now sees itself liberated from the need to take individual cases seriously, just as it has in the past.

Joe said...

Here is the commentary released by the Vatican , and authored by the Rector of the Gregorian:

4. the ordination of ministers coming from Anglicanism will be absolute, on the basis of the Bull Apostolicae curae of Leo XIII of September 13, 1896. Given the entire Catholic Latin tradition and the tradition of the Oriental Catholic Churches, including the Orthodox tradition, the admission of married men to the episcopate is absolutely excluded (NC Art. 11 § 1);

In the complementary norms, it reads:

Article 11

§1. A married former Anglican Bishop is eligible to be appointed Ordinary. In such a case he is to be ordained a priest in the Catholic Church and then exercises pastoral and sacramental ministry within the Ordinariate with full jurisdictional authority.

The key, or so I should think, is that in the last decade there have been very few (perhaps only one in the UK) conditional ordination(s), and this despite Cardinal Basil Hume's alleged preference for the conditional. Certainly, everyone that I know (and I know quite a few) were all reordained absolutely: no attempt was made to determine whether there was doubt.

The thing is that Rome could ordain almost everyone conditionally (it's no skin off their noses) in the light of people's pedigree through the Old Catholic Church and a clear intention to do what the Catholic Church does in orders and to intend a catholic understanding of of the sacraments. If there's any doubt then conditional is the way forward. If there's no doubt whatsoever but that Anglican orders are invalid, the absolute is indicated. Indeed, one could argue that in the presence of even a smidgeon of doubt,an absolute ordination would be illicit and invalid.

The frustration is that this isn't canonical rocket science. I am aware that the issue could be complex if the Vatican was prepared to make exceptions (and the exceptions would be the norm given who wants to cross) and that this would mean lots of work. I also am aware that I am not personally convinced that every ordained Anglican is validly ordained, especially if the bishop and the presbyter do not believe that presbyters are in a distinct order and so positively intend not to do what the Church does. But that takes nothing away from the others: it only indicates that a careful review would be needed. I'm also aware that a second ordination would be invalid if the first was valid, so the person is ordained one way or the other. The problem is going through with a public statement that the previous ordination was undoubtedly invalid.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Joe; in response I begin with one of your points:

"No attempt was made to determine whether there was doubt."

I believe this 'Roman mannerism' of making "no attempt" is essential to the understanding of our present situation. Now, I speculate (though I think not without reason) that Rome (videlicet the Pope) intends to quickly transition Anglo-Catholic ministers into the Roman presbytery and by dint, the laity. In which case, investigation of an individual’s orders proves a ponderous hindrance. The longer transition from schism to communion the less likely the Pope's Constitution will affect significant benefit for the weaker party. Slow transition will kill Anglo-Catholic parishes wishing to come.

There is certainly precedent for "conditional" ordination which case you have pointed out; though, I believe a better case lies in that of Fr. John Jay Hughes, the very 1st to receive such sub conditione (he is still living in the Diocese of St. Louis, Missouri, USA; I wonder if he has talked with our Holy Father on these things? They most certainly have met). He has written a good deal about Anglican Orders and Apostolicae Curae - the controversialists, the axes to grind, the jetsam and sticky logic. He makes the best case yet for "conditional" ordinations.

Even so, it is an assumption I believe we can reasonably make that since the ugly head of Apostolicae Curae does not rear its ugly head in Anglicanorum coetibus nor in its Norms, Apostolicae Curae is not something we need explicitly acknowledge as binding. The accompanying explanation by the fine Italian Jesuit gentleman is his opinion: a significant opinion, yes, but absolute and binding on our conscience, no.

It appears that Rome would prefer Apostolicae Curae to drift off into the mists of time rather than, by explicitly resurrecting it, put itself on trial or re-state its position. I also believe that at the time it was written Apostolicae Curae had a lot more to do with suring-up Papal authority and Roman ecclesiology than the evisceration of Anglican Orders. Rome was, at that time, in a very defensive position politically (as they are even today) and had to explicitly assert, for better or worse, what they had previously merely implied doctrinally to at least make up for what it lacked politically, with grand-standing theology.

Imagine the triumphant howls of those who desire satisfaction against Rome, who long to see her face down in the dirt with her skirts flung over her head – divested of all honour. I for one do not desire this. But do I believe Rome should never admit mistakes? Not at all. But she should take every face-saving measure available - she must always remain strong.

I can therefore make my reasonable assumption: that Rome will transition Anglo-Catholics quickly and that “absolute” ordination is a timely convention intended to quickly sure-up that which is weak. If Rome does not transition those seeking entry quickly, then my reasoning is bad and Rome will be proven a villain. In charity, I give the Pope this benefit of doubt because; I believe him to be good and generous, tender-hearted as a father is to his dear hungry children.

We must work hard not to be suspicious.

Joe said...

I think that's a pretty sound reading of the situation. A number of historians make quite a bit out of Rome's desire to have Anglicaism back, as it were. And recognising Anglican orders would arguably make that less likely. Perhaps things haven't changed all that much over the last century.

Unknown said...

Fr. Joe, how would Rome's recognizing Anglican Orders make re-union less likely. It is said that similar reasoning played a part in Apostolicae Curae itself but the hypothesis was not borne out in fact.

Joe said...

I presume that it would be because, with valid orders, the various Anglican churches would have to be recognised as true churches by Rome, with valid sacrmanents, etc. (and not just ecclesial communities), even if schismatic churches. As you say, I think that this is how many have viewed part of the rationale behind apostolicae curae....

William Tighe said...

It bears mentioning that "Anglicans" held Anglican Orders to be invalid just as early as "Romans" did. I mean "Anglicans" like bishops Bonner, Gardiner, Tunstall and the like, who have as much claim to be "Anglicans" as those like Cranmer, Hooper, Ridley and the lot, who wished to turn England into a theological suburb of Zurich.

These bishops were colleagues of Cranmer, and so probably had some idea of what he was about in producing his 1550 Ordinal and revising it two years later. And when England's rose ascended her rightful throne in 1553 and set about to cleanse the Augean stables, these bishops hastened to ordain -- reordain if you will -- men who had previously been "ordained" under Cranmer's rites. They certainly neither needed nor awaited Rome to prod them into doing so, and none of them appear to have argued that Cranmer's rites were sufficient to the purpose of ordination. Their Anglican opinion of "Anglican Orders" is an important witness to the "Anglican mind" as well.

CPKS said...

With the greatest respect, I don't think Apostolicae Curae should be interpreted politically.

It is, however, quite right to recognize that it is cited neither in Anglicanorum Coetibus nor the Complementary Norms. The opinions of the learned Rector of the Gregorian University are not canon law; but it is to be expected that the principles of Apostolicae Curae will neither be overlooked nor misapplied.

I trust and pray that, despite our zeal to welcome our Anglican brethren into full communion, we will not allow the pressure of time or expediency to overwhelm our higher duty to re-ordain (by way of certiorari) with due respect for those graces already conferred.

Joe said...

Sounds like that's a good place to end this discussion (for me, at least): let's see what happens....