11 December 2009


At the recent meeting in the University Church about Anglicanorum coetibus, a jesuit canonist (I think his name may have been something like Orsy) said that he had searched and searched - but had been unable to discover another example of an ecclesiastical structure such as the "Ordinariates" being subject to a Roman dikastery.

Notoriously, we Anglicans know nothing about canon law. I don't, for example. And since I have a disinclination to be a laughing-stock, I tend to steer clear of subjects in which I do not feel confident ... such as canon law.

But I can't get it out of my mind that the bloke was wrong; because there is a very obvious ... and distinctly interesting ... example, of just such a phenomenon. Isn't there?

Before the "Restoration of the Hierarchy" in 1850, is it not true that the "Vicars Apostolic" who presided over the "Districts" of England were subject to the Sacred Congregation de Propaganda Fide?


Anonymous said...

The canonist may well have been Ladislas Orsy, a Jesuit canonist born in Hungary in 1921. He gave a talk in Ottawa when I was studying there for my canon law licentiate. I think in answer to his position, it may well depend on what precisely one means by ordinariate, particularly when the term is looked at through a historical lens. Now England was subject to Propaganda Fidei until 29th June 1908; the reorganisation of P.F. by Pope Pius X in Sapienti Consilio changed the idea, broadly, from those countries in Europe and the Americas with non-Catholic governments (Russia had always been different but that's another matter), to those countries where there was no established hierarchy. So, after 1908 England moved to regular arrangements. Before 1850 the vicars apostolic headed vicariates, not quite the same as ordinariates. But between 1850 and 1908; well now that may well be a different question. I think I would need to look into it in more detail to be sure of myself.

Fr Steven Fisher

The Flying Dutchman said...

Normally, particular Churches and equivalent ecclesiastical structures (e.g. Prelatures, Exarchates, Vicariates, Prefectures, and Missions) are subject to one of the following three Congregations: for Bishops, for the Eastern Churches, or for the Evangelization of the Peoples.

Therefore, it is idiosyncratic for the new Personal Ordinariates to be subject to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Is this what the good Jesuit Father commented on?

Or was he commenting on the constitution of the Personal Ordinariates, which will run parallel to the established hierarchy of the Latin Church? If so, this is unusual but not unheard-of. There is, for instance, the Personal Apostolic Administration of São João Maria Vianney in Campos, Brazil, as well as the many Military Ordinariates (such as the Bishopric of the Forces in the UK).

From the Eastern Catholic Churches, the Syro-Malabar Catholic Archdiocese of Kottayam provides an example of a purely personal Archdiocese (for a particular group of people) whose jurisdiction runs parallel to the rest of the Syro-Malabar Catholic hierarchy.

Anonymous said...

One could probably add to the Flying Dutchman's comments the concept of the cumulative jurisdiction enjoyed by members of the Personal Prelature of Opus Dei.

Fr Steven Fisher

Michael McDonough said...

I think it remains to be seen whether THE or ALL THE Anglican Ordinariates, when they have been constituted, depend on the CDF. When Opus Dei became a Personal Prelature, its dependency moved to where it properly belonged, the Congregation for Bishops.

In other words, the fact that in order to constitute one or more Personal Ordinariate(s) the Anglo-Catholics must go through the CDF may not (in my view, probably does not) dictate anything about where they will ultimately "report into". Since an Ordinary is another name in Canon Law for "the Bishop of the Diocese" (or his equivalent), and the latter report into the Congregation for Bishops, I would think it highly likely that once established, they also will depend upon the Congregation for Bishops. An Abbot, for example, is also an Ordinary, but only for those directly subject to him in the Order (unless additional jurisdiction is given to him, as happened in the Middle Ages).

Fr. H, you say that the speaker "had been unable to discover another example of an ecclesiastical structure such as the "Ordinariates" being subject to a Roman dikastery".

I'm not sure what that means, since dioceses depend on the Congregation for Bishops, surely a dicastery? What does he think "ordinariate" means?

There is an additional complexity in that Vatican II called for the allowance under Canon Law of new types of structures for "non-traditional" pastoral and apostolic purposes. Perhaps Benedict sees one or all of the Anglican Ordinariates to be of a (canonically) ground-breaking sort?