omnibus omnia

What the Pope’s Anglican policy means

In Anglicans, Benedict XVI, Catholicism, Christianity, Church, Conservative, Culture War, England, Faith, God, Jesus, News, Opinion, Orthodoxy, Religion, Tradition on October 21, 2009 at 02:43

For Pope Benedict the Magnificent, we bless and thank you, oh Lord our God!

In the our last post, Traditional Anglicans say “I do”, we had summarized thus the historic events of October 20, 2009:

Earlier today, we had been astonished (…) by the announcement in the Vatican and in England that Pope Benedict XVI will issue an Apostolic Constitution setting the juridical structure for Anglicans returning to the Catholic Church, which the Note of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith said will involve the erection of personal ordinariates.  A Joint Statement was also prepared by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, head of the Church of England, and the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster acknowledging that the Constitution was a response to Anglicans who will “accept the Petrine ministry as willed by Christ for his Church”


[I]in a very moving message, “Traditional Anglican Communion Responds to Pope’s Offer of Ecclesiastical refuge,” posted (here) on Virtue Online, Archbishop John Hepworth, Primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion, called the announcement of the Apostolic Constitution “an act of great goodness” and generosity.

And so,

The leader of Traditional Anglicans has declared that the process of reunion with Rome “will begin at once”

Our comment: We are beyond words.  The announcement of the Constitution signifies a great many things that can scarcely be noted in one short post, and which we can only, for lack of material time, enumerate thus:

  • That policy-setting in the Church on inter-religious matters has, at least this once, shifted away from the old ecumenical establishment  (see Damian Thompson);
  • That this presages an approach to ecumenism that definitively repudiates practical indifferentism and refuses to let dialogue and common action obscure fidelity to the truth;
  • That the Church has made her position clear: evangelism (saving souls)  trumps ecumenism;
  • That the Pope is thence reminding the faithful that the Great Commission is the surest cure for  the world’s Great Apostasy (and perhaps too for the “post-conciliar” Great Confusion);
  • That this is yet another edifying result of the innovative idea of St. Josemaria Escriva to establish a non-territorial personal prelature for Opus Dei, the approval of which became the precedent that led to the coming Apostolic Constitution;
  • That this is (we think) the first time a general juridical framework for organizational reunion with the Church has been enacted for a Protestant group, whereas such norms had been in place for schismatic Eastern churches for centuries;
  • That, in effect, the Pope is creating a Catholic liturgical tradition out of a Protestant one and adding it to the great family of traditions of East and West, something never done before for Protestant liturgies save in ad hoc instances (and maybe? maybe? he’s also laying the foundation for the eventual creation in the Catholic Church of an actual Anglican patriarchate, or at least something with an archbishop-major);
  • That this augurs a new approach to evangelism that may prove fruitful, especially as the accelerating movement of “mainline” Protestant bodies towards relativism alienates observant members, of which  Conservative Lutherans are Exhibit A;
  • That how any reunion plays out will influence the possibility and means for collective reunion with Rome by the schismatic Eastern (Orthodox) and Western (Tridentine) churches and by the several Protestant communities;
  • That while Anglo-Catholicism will continue (because certainly not all will reconcile with Rome), the return of many from the High Church to the one true Church will probably lead to the irreversible weakening of conservative Anglicanism and, once their position becomes untenable, the fissioning of the Low Church wing away from the numerically powerful liberals;
  • That the policy of Pope Benedict XVI follows a definite trend that varies from, but also builds on, the policies of Pope John Paul II, with Pope John Paul making a first response with ad hoc arrangements vulnerable to local recalcitrance (e.g., Anglican use, Ecclesia Dei) that Pope Benedict XVI transforms into juridically more stable systems (the new Apostolic Constitution, Summorum Pontificum);
  • That Pope Benedict XVI’s unprecedented action demonstrates his willingness to look “out of the box” for brilliant pastoral solutions; and
  • That, indeed, Pope Benedict XVI–Pope Benedict the Magnificent– is a great gift to the Church from our merciful Lord. For Pope Benedict the Magnificent, we bless and thank you, oh Lord our God!

In sum, if things go as planned, our journey to God through Christ in His Church will be joined by many more sisters and brothers. Such is the at least inchoate fruit of this courageous act of the Vicar of Christ.  Praise the Lord for He is good;  His love is everlasting!

  1. A major advantage to allowing an “Anglican Usage Rite” in the Roman Catholic Church has to do with the use of the Vulgate… The Book of Common Prayer was translated from the Latin into English when it was the language of Shakespeare. The Latin was traslated into English by the Roman Catholic Church when English was the language of the BeeGees.

  2. Father Z, thanks for the comment; and I very much agree, that would be major windfall from having Anglican-Rite Catholicism: it might please those who value both the worshipful solemnity of the Tridentine-Johannine liturgy and the participative use of the vernacular in the Pauline form. In effect, Anglican rites would be a vernacular Tridentine rite, an appropriate role given how Anglican missals like the 1951 and 1947 American Missals were partly modeled on the Tridentine Mass.

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