Anglicanorum Coetibus

Tsk - I go away to the seminary to teach a couple of classes on Sacramental Theology, get back, say Mass, and then have a quick check of the blogosphere - only to find that a megaton story has broken. Well I have just read through Anglicanorum Coetibus (AC) and, as with Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict has bent over backwards to be generous in the service of Christian Unity. Remember Fr Z's point -

Benedict XVI - The Pope of Christian Unity

The primary consideration in the preamble of AC is the mandate of Our Lord to St Peter to guarantee unity and to do everything possible to secure unity. Don't miss out the preamble - it is a good succinct lesson in ecclesiology.

Interestingly, the Personal Ordinariates are put under the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. (AC 1.1) Fr Ghirlanda (under whom I studied Canon Law many years ago) explains the reason for this in his note on the significance of AC.

The authoritative expression of faith is the Catechism of the Catholic Church. (AC 1.5) I think that this is significant: it elevates the status of the CCC which was surely one of the greatest fruits of the pontificate of Pope John Paul II.

The ordiariates will be able to use the Roman Rite but also "the liturgical books proper to the Anglican tradition, which have been approved by the Holy See" (I am afraid that I rather chuckled to think what Cranmer would make of that!)

There is quite a lot about the relations between the Ordinariates, the Bishops' Conference and the local Bishop which is all very sensible. Priests of the Ordinariate are to "cultivate bonds of unity" (AC 6.4) with the local diocesan clergy. Well they will be more than welcome at our Deanery meeting and lunch. There is also an encouragement in "mutual pastoral assistance". Again, they will be very welcome to supply: one of my regular supply priests is an excellent former Anglican (married) whose sermons are much appreciated by the faithful. And if the Ordinariate is stuck for someone on a feast day, I'll be happy to try and learn the Anglican Use.

The sections on priestly formation are quite nuanced. There are a couple of norms relating to theological, doctrinal and pastoral formation in existing seminaries of theological faculties (think "Maryvale") while overall priestly formation is entrusted to the Ordinariate to ensure formation in the Anglican patrimony.

One worry that many people had was related to those who have left the Catholic Church to become Anglicans. There is a sensible restriction clause here, banning those who have been previously ordained in the Catholic Church from exercising sacred ministry in the Ordinariate. For the laity, there is some leeway: those baptised as Catholics are not normally to be members of the Ordinariate but may be if their family belongs.

There is already quite a lot out there. Here are just a few points:

Signum: Rome gives 100% who point out that "The Pope is not negotiating; he has given everything that he can." I agree with that. The generosity of the Apostolic Constitution is really quite moving.

Fr Z: Apostolic Constitution: ANGLICANORUM COETIBUS has a summary of key points. His combox is always worth trawling - there are always some good commenters with intelligent points to make.

Damian Thompson has pointed out an intriguing detail: former Anglican bishops who are married, and who are ordained Catholic priests by virtue of the dispensation, "may request permission from the Holy See to use the insignia of the episcopal office." This is rather like the use of episcopal insignia by Protonotaries Apostolic. There is much more on this in the combox of the NLM post.

Damian also picks up on the provision allowing priests, with the permission of the ordinary, to work in a secular profession that is not incompatible with the priesthood. As he says, this a bit like the "non-stipendiary minister" idea and will help married clergy in particular.

And finally...

Thanks to Fr Ray Blake for reminding me that the prayer that we say at the traditional form of Benediction in England. To my shame, it was not until I read his post that it occurred to me that Our Blessed Lady has, at least in the case of some Anglicans, answered this prayer that I have said almost every week since my childhood:
O Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and our most gentle Queen and Mother, look down in mercy upon England, thy dowry, and upon us all who greatly hope and trust in thee. By thee it was that Jesus, our Saviour and our hope, was given unto the world; and He has given thee to us that we might hope still more. Plead for us thy children, whom thou didst receive and accept at the foot of the cross, O Sorrowful Mother. Intercede for our separated brethren, that with us in the one true fold, they may be united to the Chief Shepherd, the Vicar of thy Son. Pray for us all, dear Mother, that by faith, fruitful in good works, we may all deserve to see and praise God, together with thee in our heavenly home. Amen.
When we think of the Liturgy, we usually think solely of the Mass. In this regard, many people will say that lots of Anglo-Catholics already use the Roman Missal, that the Communion Service of the BCP would need lots of changes etc. But if you have participated in Evensong in an Anglican Cathedral, there is something quite thrilling in the thought that Catholic Anglicans in full communion with the Holy See, will be able to continue this tradition, with its elements from the Sarum use. I know there are many practical difficulties, but Rome has pushed the door wide open. I agree with Pope Benedict that such traditions are a "precious gift" and "a treasure to be shared".

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