Ordinariate: the sceptics ‘are eating humble pie’

27 January 2010

by Bill Bowder

A MEETING of bishops who have petitioned the Pope to be received into full communion while retaining an “Anglican” identity is to take place in Rome in Low Week.

It would be the culmination of the response to Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Constitution (Anglicanorum Coeti­bus) to establish personal Ordinariates for former Anglicans, Archbishop John Hepworth of the Traditional Angli­can Communion (TAC), a Con­tinuing Church, said on Wednesday.

He was due in Rome in three weeks’ time for a meeting with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) after a series of regional TAC synods, and would then, two weeks after Easter, meet most of the bishops who had peti­tioned the Pope to make their formal response on the Ordinariates.

“The ball is in our court. We asked for this and this is what we got. This is becoming Anglican Catholics, not Roman Catholics,” Archbishop Hep­worth said, speaking from Australia.

The letters from the Vatican replying to all those who had res­ponded to the Pope’s offer had now been received. He had followed that with a pastoral letter to TAC members last week.

“After an introduction about church unity, we talk about our original meeting with the CDF. They gave us advice and we followed it. A team of Roman Catholic bishops and scholars were helping us to reflect on unity. They provided a critique of the TAC, and we quote some of that back to them. The TAC wants to achieve communion while ‘main­taining those revered traditions of spirituality, liturgy, discipline and theo­logy that constitute the cherished and centuries-old heritage of Angli­can communities throughout the world’.

“So our way of doing theology is there, as is our way of discipline. Our group will have the right to elect our bishops. We asked the CDF for elec­tion by council. They laughed at us at first, but we got it. We are also working with a commission with Forward in Faith to produce our lit­urgy. We signed the Catechism as ‘the most complete and authentic expres­sion and application of the Catholic faith in this moment of time’.

“We did that to put our commit­ment beyond dispute, but we did not have to agree to Apostolicae Curae [which declares Anglican orders ab­solutely null and utterly void], be­cause that is not in the Cate­chism.”

A consultation was taking place on “reordination in the TAC con­text”. “We separated from the Angli­can Church. Some left because of sacramental and doctrinal issues, and have got lost. We chose to take up ARCIC [the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commis­sion], and we have got what we wanted. People who said we could not are having to eat humble pie, and I am sinfully enjoying that.”

The Archbishop said that he was issuing TAC’s original 2007 petition to the CDF at the same time as his pastoral letter.

In his letter, he writes: “Re-ordination is an issue because the Church requires absolute certainty in the matter of future sacramental life. I have been told that the TAC should understand this because we ourselves moved beyond the Angli-­can Communion in order to ensure the validity of sacramental life. Rome is now seeking the same assurance.”

The Apostolic Constitution “speaks of Anglicans entering into full communion with the Catholic Church. There at the outset are the three critical factors: Anglicans, full com­munion and Catholic Church.”

Read the TAC pastoral letter and original petition below by clicking on the links.

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