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Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Ordinariates – Unprecedented and Unknown?

Fr Mark Woodruff, Vice-Chairman, writes in Chrysostom for Pascha 2010, about the Ordinariates to be set up in the Roman Catholic Church for Christians of Anglican background and patrimony


Western Uniatism?

When Anglicanorum Coetibus was announced, there was immediate and misleading comment that here was the revived policy of Uniatism; here, after everything that had been promised, was the counter-productive old strategy of the “ecumenism of return”. Or, as Professor Eamon Duffy says of Pius XI’s Encyclical on Religious Unity - Mortalium Animos  - that articulated it in 1928, “Come on in, with your hands up!” The Roman Catholic Church, it is claimed, is proselytising Anglicans like the Orthodox of yesteryear.

Thus writes Dr Timothy Bradshaw, Tutor in Doctrine at Regent’s Park College, Oxford, in The Times of 21 October 2009:


Rome’s move looks like a Western version of the Eastern Orthodox groups that accepted the primacy of Rome, the largest being the Ukrainian. The so-called Uniate churches keep their liturgical local custom and practice, as the Anglican body would be allowed to do under the new offer.


As an Anglican Evangelical member of the Anglican-Orthodox Theological Commission, he ought to know that this will not do, unless it is an expression of an old aspiration for affinity with Orthodoxy, because this serves an Anglican apologetic that it too is historic, legitimate and apostolic, but non-Papal.


First, however, Anglicanorum Coetibus is not the poaching exercise that controversialists, who scent Papal Aggression in a characteristically old-fashioned English way, imagine. The provision comes as a response by the Apostolic See to formal, repeated and insistent requests from Anglican bishops and bodies for admission to full Catholic communion, by means of the inclusion of a distinctively Anglican church and liturgical life. It bears repeating that these requests have come from Christians of the Anglican tradition from all round the world and this includes the Church of England.


Secondly, it is clear that the provision of the ordinariates lies within the Latin rite, of which the Anglican liturgical and ecclesiastical patrimony is a version, or “use”. Like the military ordinariates on which they are modelled, they will be non-territorial (i.e. personal) dioceses of the Latin rite. They will not constitute a self-governing (sui juris) Church to be distinguished by rite. The point of Anglicanorum coetibus is to provide for a structure that integrates the ordinariates with other Roman Catholic dioceses, both locally and at the universal level, by means of juridical dependency on the Apostolic See of Rome. So the liturgical comparison of Anglican ordinariates with Catholic Churches of Eastern Rite is inaccurate.
Third, the 21 Eastern Catholic Churches - specifically those of Byzantine Rite, such as the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, or the Melkite Greek-Catholic Church - are not properly seen as the result of proselytism away from Orthodoxy. They see themselves as Orthodox Churches which historically never lost communion with the Roman See, or recovered and retained it, even at great cost. Both the Ukrainian and Melkite Churches, furthermore, have a strong record of efforts towards reconciliation with their Orthodox neighbours. In Ukraine, for instance, Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky was highly regarded by members of the Russian Orthodox faithful for his practical solidarity and aid during its dark hours after the Russian Revolution. And the Patriarchates of Antioch - Melkite and Greek Orthodox - are renowned for their progressive efforts towards imaginative reconciliation. So, again, the misrepresentation of the complex history of Catholic-Orthodox relations and of the real circumstances concerning Eastern Catholic Churches is a very inexact comparison for the forthcoming provisions of Anglicanorum Coetibus and their implementation in practice.


Professor Nicholas Lash, writing in The Tablet of the 14th November 2009, makes this very clear too:


It has been suggested that the new structures, established by the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, ... should be considered as analogous to those of the Eastern Catholic Churches. Aidan Nichols OP proposed something along these lines in 1993, in The Panther and the Hind and, in 2006, in an article in New Blackfriars entitled: “Anglican Uniatism: A Personal View”. I would make two comments on this. The first concerns the need not to speak of “Uniates”. The schism between Western and Eastern Christianity was not so much a single event as a lengthy process of mutual alienation, culminating in the formal breaking of relations between the patriarchate of Constantinople (drawing the four other, far less powerful, eastern patriarchates in its wake) and the papacy. Over time, many Eastern Churches (of more than 20 types or families) were recon­ciled into full communion with the Holy See. Their Orthodox brethren, seeing this as betrayal, coined the highly pejorative term “Uniate” to describe them. It is a term that Eastern Catholics therefore find offensive. (And, of course, the term is not only offensive but inaccurate when applied to those Churches, such as the Maronites, which never broke off communion with Rome.) Many British Catholics seem unaware of this, perhaps because there are so few Eastern Catholics in this country to complain ...

In the second place, the analogy simply does not stand up. Each of the Eastern Catholic Churches is, precisely, a Church: a distinct, episcopally and presbyterally structured body with its own identity, history and character. The proposed ordinariates, however, are not Churches, but groups of disaffected Anglican lay people.


We will come back to the last sentence. Next, here is the account of an interview in L’Osservatore Romano of the 15th November with Cardinal Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, by the commentator, Sandro Magister:


Cardinal Kasper was in Cyprus because the island was hosting, from October 16-23, the second round (after the first in Ravenna in 2007) of theological dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox on how to understand papal primacy … The news that the Catholic Church is ready to incorporate groups coming from Anglicanism also put the Orthodox on alert. Their fear is that a "Uniate" Church of the Anglican rite will be established and added to the "Uniate" Churches of the various Eastern rites … Kasper says in the interview:

"In Cyprus, in order to avoid misunderstandings, I immediately told our Orthodox counterparts that this is not a matter of proselytism or a new Uniatism. ... Uniatism is an historical phenomenon involving the Eastern Churches, while the Anglicans are from the Latin tradition. The Balamand Document of 1993 is still valid, according to which this is a phenomenon of the past that took place in unrepeatable circumstances. It is not a method for the present or the future. The Orthodox were mainly interested in understanding the nature of the personal ordinariates for the Anglicans, and I clarified that this is not a matter of a Church sui iuris, and therefore there will not be the head of a Church, but an ordinary with delegated powers."

In simpler terms: while a "Uniate" Church has its own structured hierarchy, with a patriarch and territorial dioceses, none of this will apply to the former Anglican "personal ordinariates", which will provide pastoral care for the faithful but without their own ecclesiastical territory, a little bit like the military ordinariates.


Ordinariates: “There are Unknown Knowns and there are known Unknowns”

Elsewhere Professor Lash observes that the structure of “personal ordinariates” is unknown in the Catholic Church. Of course, as one of the great standard-bearers for the achievements and reform of the Second Vatican Council, he rightly points to the teaching of Lumen Gentium, the 1964 Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, that the Catholic Church is both composed of and found in the local, particular churches of the People of God in every place, the diocese led by its bishop in communion with his brother bishops, all of whom together are in communion with and under the bishop of Rome as successor in the ministry of St Peter (and, as St Irenaeus pointed out, St Paul).


But that is not quite the whole story. The Catholic Church is manifest not only at the local, territorial level, but also at the metropolitan and universal levels. Canon law and long custom provide for variations on the basic theme of the diocese.


The most obvious is the existence of religious orders and monasteries. Except for diocesan institutes, the governance of a religious order and the arrangements for its sacramental, liturgical and apostolic life are in the hands of the superior or abbot, not the bishop of the diocese. Indeed, many religious institutes operate across diocesan, metropolitan and national boundaries; and the jurisdiction of the superiors is in this sense non-territorial. It relates instead to the competent dicastery of the Apostolic See, namely the Congregation for Religious. That said, in the care of parishes, setting up a house in a diocese and in regulating relations within the diocese, it is the bishop who is the competent authority. But not always. There are no examples in the United Kingdom, but there are also such rare persons as “abbots nullius”. They lead a territorial abbey “belonging to no one”, not sited in the territory of diocese, and they also possess jurisdiction over the surrounding land. Historically they were in remote or mission areas. Famous examples are Monte Cassino in Italy and Einsiedeln in Switzerland. These ordinaries are not (necessarily) bishops. While these situations are clearly exceptional, they show two things: first, it is legitimate within the organisation of the Catholic Church for it to exist other than in a territorial diocese led by a bishop; and secondly, where this is the case, they depend not on the metropolitan archbishop or the national conference of bishops, but the Church’s supreme authority vested at the universal level in the pope.


Another variation is the non-territorial dioceses for the armed forces, which are also termed ordinariates. Interestingly, these were known from their foundation in 1953 as vicariates, like deaneries or administrations led by clerics whose power was delegated by other bishops or directly by the pope, although they were led by a bishop. In Pope John Paul II’s 1986 Apostolic Constitution Spirituali Militum Curae, they were established as dioceses in their own right, led by a bishop possessing ordinary, proper and immediate power. Operating as a vicariate, with the necessary powers delegated for reasons of practicality by the bishops of dioceses across a country, and sanctioned by the Apostolic See, they might be manageable in one national territory - but what was the status of personnel posted on active service abroad? What was the Vicar’s jurisdiction and how far did it run; did the faculties of the priests extend across the designated boundaries; and which bishop had responsibility for overseeing the faithful’s sacramental life – Christian initiation, reconciliation and marriage – the Vicar, the bishop of one’s home diocese, or the bishop of the diocese in which one was posted? The Code of Canon Law of 1983 did not specify and simply allowed for there to be separate rules to govern the provisions for the military. The solution was found three years later in 1986 - the structures providing for the military were made into “ordinariates”. They were described as corresponding to dioceses and constituting “particular churches”. In the United Kingdom the term “ordinariate” is not used and “bishopric” is preferred; but canonically it is an ordinariate. Unlike any other diocese, this “Bishopric of the Forces” is not aligned along geographical boundaries, but encompasses anywhere in the world that United Kingdom military personnel are serving or deployed. Note that it is not exclusively related to the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, or Scotland or Ireland. Its status as a diocese does not relate to diocesan, or metropolitan or “national conference” territories; hence the necessity for defining its relationship as a particular church to rest with the Apostolic See at the universal level.


Unprecedented? - Ukraine

There are further precedents from history. Although these concern Eastern Catholic Churches, the interest in terms of the present discussion is not in their internal workings, or their integrity as Churches distinct from the Roman Catholic Church, but the management of overlapping jurisdiction with territorial Western dioceses of the Latin Church.

First, Ukraine. I am indebted to the Revd Dr Athanasius McVay of the Eparchy of Edmonton, Canada, for much of this perspective (an eparchy in the Byzantine Churches is the same as  a diocese). The present day Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church is the direct descendant of the Kyivan metropolitanate, out of which also grew what is now known as the local autocephalous Russian Orthodox Church. Russian Orthodoxy acknowledges its source in the baptism of Vladimir and the Rus people of Kiev in 988. With the later rise of Muscovy and, later still, Russia itself, the government of the Church followed the shift of the political centre east to Moscow. But the historic Byzantine church of the Rus people (from whom comes our word Ruthenian) - in Galicia, in what is now western Ukraine, parts of Belarus, parts of old Poland and old Lithuania - retained their strong sense of ancient identity. It held to its “communion of origin” (a phrase of Pope Paul VI about Catholic and Anglican relations that can be apt in other contexts). At the time of Prince Vladimir’s baptism there had been no Great Schism. The Byzantine Churches of Constantinople and Kiev had been in full communion with the Church of Rome in the Latin West. After the estrangement of Rome and Constantinople became final in 1054, states and rulers in eastern Europe changed over the centuries and allegiances were fluid. But Muscovy was in the orbit of Constantinople, while its fellow Byzantines to the west related to neighbouring Latin Catholics. And even when they came under the rule of Polish or Lithuanian Catholic princes and were incorporated into their states, it is important to note that the local “Greek” Byzantine dioceses and hierarchies predate the establishment of Latin Catholic dioceses.


When present-day Western Ukraine was conquered by Poland in the fourteenth century, some “Greek” bishops were turned out and their sees were occupied by Latins (e.g. in Lviv, Przemysl, Chelm).  Yet, under the Polish crown, the Metropolitan of Kyiv was recognised as the head of his autonomous Church. When the communion of this historic Kyivan Church with the Apostolic See of Rome was recognised and restored at the Union of Brest in 1595, his authority and privileges were confirmed. This also protected him from the claims of the newly established patriarchate in Moscow.  But with the division of most of the Polish territory between the Habsburg monarchy to the south and Russia to the north and east, the “Greek” Catholics of what is now Eastern Ukraine and Belarus were compelled to submit to the Russian Orthodox Church. To serve the Greek-Catholic rump in Eastern Galicia (now Western Ukraine), the civil power asked the Kyivan Metropolitan to appoint an Orthodox bishop as a vicar for the “Greeks”, technically under the Latin Archbishop of Lviv-Halych (the city from which the name “Galicia” comes). This arrangement was made into the Greek-Catholic metropolitan see of Lviv under Latin Catholic Austria-Hungary. But, despite its seniority as the original Church of the territory, the metropolitan’s privileges were greatly reduced.  All that remained was "an ecclesiastical province", and he was treated no differently from any other Latin rite metropolitan archbishop. By the early twentieth century, the Roman Curia had more or less forgotten that the great Metropolitan Andrei Sheptytsky was really the primate of an historic, autonomous Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church.  It was not until 1963 that Lviv was raised to the status of a “major archbishopric”, in view of Metropolitan Cardinal Slipyj's calls for a patriarchate at the second session of the Second Vatican Council. Recently Archbishop Cardinal Lubomyr Husar transferred his see from Lviv back to Kyiv (where there are also several rival Orthodox metropolitans). To this day, the Roman Catholic bishops of Ukraine and the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic bishops have hierarchies in exactly the same territory, relating to the same see cities. They are in full ecclesial communion. This long and complex story is important when considering how the principle that Catholic ecclesiology is exclusively territorial – that there is one bishop in one church in one place – actually works out in the realities of history and the way in which people belong to the Catholic Church. It is an exceptional history; but it demonstrates that it can be legitimate for two ordinaries to bear responsibility for the Catholic faithful in churches covering the same territory. Indeed, in this case, it was the supreme power of the Apostolic See of Rome which, progressively throughout the twentieth century, confirmed the rights and integrity of the Eastern Churches, recognised their inherent right to exist sui juris and established the norms to protect their independence from encroachment in their own territories by the Latin Catholic hierarchy.


Unprecedented? - Canada

Secondly, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic diaspora in Canada (I am again indebted to Dr McVay). The first Ukrainian Catholic bishop for North America, Soter Ortynsky, like the “Greek” vicar for the Latin Archbishop of Lviv-Halych, was just an ordaining bishop. He was named apostolic visitor in 1907. “Apostolic” indicates that he was appointed by mandate of the Apostolic See, another indication of the proper role of the universal primate in addressing concerns which transcend the resources and capacity of the local diocese, or province, or autonomous “ritual” church (whether Latin or Byzantine), or patriarchal territory. But as a visitor he had no “ordinary” authority, and was reliant on the support of the Latin bishops in whose territorial dioceses he was active. Some cooperated and others would not. As he had no real authority over the clergy he was supposed to be responsible for, the “apostolic visitor” arrangement did not work. Furthermore, there was sustained pressure from the Roman Catholic bishops and clergy on the Greek-Catholic faithful to conform to the Latin rite and its sacramental discipline. The result was that many, despite the weight of history, “apostatised”; in other words they abandoned the long cherished communion with Rome, for which so much had been sacrificed, as they felt rejected and constrained to become Orthodox.


After sustained lobbying from Sheptytsky and local missionaries, the Latin hierarchy finally relented. Arrangements were made for the necessary jurisdiction in Canada from July 1912, with an Ordinariate led by Bishop Nykyta Budka (followed in 1913 by the conversion of Ortynsky’s visitorship to the Ukrainian Greek-Catholics in the United States likewise into an ordinariate). The Canadian ordinariate was later renamed an Apostolic Exarchate – note once more the term “apostolic”, indicating the competence of the supreme authority and the proper role of the pope in overseeing the arrangement for a personal (i.e. non-territorial) ordinariate operating across Latin Catholic dioceses. In 1948, it was divided into three apostolic exarchates (there are now five).  In 1956 the exarchates, based on the model of a personal ordinariate, were raised to the status of eparchies – territorial dioceses in their own right, parallel, as in Ukraine, with Latin Catholic dioceses. A similar process occurred in the United States.


Unprecedented? - Italy

Third, the Albanian Church of southern Italy. An important fresh look at evidence by Anthony O’Mahoney, director of the new Centre for Eastern Christianity at Heythrop College, recounts the fascinating history of Greek and Albanian Christians in the former territories of the Byzantine empire in southern Italy. From antiquity the region was known as Magna Graecia, Great Greece. Thus it lay within the orbit of the patriarchate of Constantinople. Some of the basilicas and cathedrals of Sicily, Calabria, Puglia and Basilicata betray as much. Indeed Southern Italian Byzantine influences can be traced almost as far as Rome. But with the contraction of the Eastern Roman empire, the loss of Sicily to Arab Muslims and then the passing of much of southern Italy to Norman rule, Constantinople ceded its primatial role in the region to Rome. The pope confided pastoral care and jurisdiction for the Greek Christians of the south to the Metropolitan at Ohrid, now a town in the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia, but then the capital of the huge empire of Bulgaria. Until 1767 the see of Ohrid was at the head of an autocephalous Byzantine-rite Church whose relations with both Rome and Constantinople waxed and waned through the centuries. This did not extend to a complete breach of communion with either of them, despite Rome’s long breach with Constantinople. The arrangement whereby Ohrid exercised vicarious care for the Greek Christians and, later, Albanian Byzantine refugees from the Ottomans within its primatial territory persisted some time even beyond the Council of Trent.


In 1742, Pope Benedict XIV revised the Instruction, issued by Clement VIII for the guidance of Latin-rite bishops with Greek-Catholics in their dioceses, that had been drawn up following the 1595 Union of Brest. He provided a canonical framework to regulate the church life of the Italo-Greeks and the Italo-Albanians on something of a proper footing, albeit within the territories of the Latin dioceses in which they lived. Schools and seminaries were also founded.  But for ordinations they relied on visiting “ordaining bishops”, acting as vicars of the Latin bishops, or on sending candidates to a Byzantine Catholic bishop in Rome or elsewhere.


In 1919 the Italo-Albanians of Calabria on mainland Italy were given their own bishop, with the foundation of the eparchy of Lungro, composed of several enclaves within Latin dioceses. It is a territorial diocese with 29 parishes, two of which are of the Latin rite. In this case, the Roman Catholics are subject to the jurisdiction of an Eastern Catholic bishop, a reversal of the historical case of the Ukrainian Catholics in Lviv-Halych and North America. When needed, a nearby Latin-rite bishop, acting as vicar of the Eparch of Lungro, can be asked to “fly” in; Latin rite priests can be loaned or transferred from elsewhere. But in practice, the Byzantine clergy can function bi-ritually. By the same token, the Eparch of Lungro can provide for the needs of the Italo-Albanian faithful living outside the enclaves of the eparchy in the surrounding Latin rite dioceses vicariously.


In 1937 the eparchy of Piana degli Albanesi (formerly dei Greci) was established for the Italo-Albanians of Sicily. This is likewise a territorial diocese composed of enclaves within Latin-rite dioceses. Some of its 15 parishes are of the Latin rite and are subject, as in the eparchy of Lungro, to the jurisdiction of the Italo-Albanian Catholic Church. As with Lungro, there is a wider “personal” (i.e. non-territorial) remit for Byzantine Catholic faithful further afield; indeed there is a Co-Cathedral for the eparchy outside its territory, situated in Palermo. Also in 1937 the Byzantine-rite Basilian monastery of Grottaferrata, just south of Rome, the last of hundreds of such Italo-Greek monasteries that flourished across southern Italy in the Middle Ages, was given the status of territorial abbey, separated from the jurisdiction of the local Latin rite diocese of Tusculum-Frascati. It was founded in 1004 by St Nilus from Calabria, who had journeyed north to St Benedict’s Monte Cassino in search of greater seclusion for himself and his monks and, after a period in Rome, retreated to Grottaferrata in the Alban Hills to the south. The abbot is an exarch, an “abbot nullius”, holding within his abbey’s territory the position of ordinary. The community is, however, no longer composed of Italo-Greeks, or even Italo-Albanians. Nowadays it draws members from the Ukrainian Church and other Byzantine Catholic Churches. Nevertheless, it forms part of the Italo-Albanian Catholic Church, which is not Roman Catholic but a distinct Church sui juris in full communion with the Apostolic See of Rome.


Having only two dioceses, however, the Italo-Albanian Church is not able to form a self-governing Church under a primate or metropolitan of its own, notwithstanding the affiliation of Grottaferrata whose abbot is an ordinary and also, by custom, a bishop. At the moment, the Italo-Albanian Church is directly subject to the Apostolic See and, for practical purposes, the eparchies are closely linked the local Latin metropolitan provinces across which their enclaves are distributed.  But it is believed that in due course a third bishopric for the Eastern Catholics in the rest of Italy will be founded. This will enable one of the eparchies to become a metropolitan see and the Italo-Albanian Church to become a “metropolia” and self-ruling with its own primate, without the need for direct dependence on the Apostolic See.  Already in 2004 there has been an intereparchial synod of the three “circumscriptions”. If this turns out to be the case, the third bishopric may be “personal” (that is, non-territorial), having responsibility for the Italo-Albanian Catholics further north on the mainland and possibly, in practice, for other Byzantine Catholics of various diaspora (although much of the historic Italo-Greek community to be found in the ports and large cities, such as Naples, long ago gravitated to Orthodoxy), thus overlapping like an ordinariate with the territorial Latin dioceses. Again note that, because provisions for the historic Italo-Albanian Catholics transcend the boundaries of individual Latin dioceses and even ecclesiastical provinces, the competence to make them lies with the pope, both as primate of the Church of Italy and as universal primate bearing the supreme authority when it comes to relations between the particular churches of the Catholic Church.


Authentic Ecclesiology in a Latin Context

So there exist abundant contemporary and historical examples of particular churches and ordinariates which do not exactly fit the normative template for Catholic ecclesiology of the local territorial diocese in the West. The ordinariates for Anglicans are thus neither unknown nor unprecedented. Moreover, the role of the pope in their establishment and governance is not the violation of the prerogatives of the local ordinary, as some allege, but the legitimate exercise of primatial and universal authority proper to the Apostolic See. Indeed, this is the only competent authority for ensuring that particular local, cultural, spiritual, social, liturgical and historical conditions are met and at the same time duly accommodated in a way that works in the interests of the Church as a whole. Thus were resolved the challenges facing the former structure for military vicariates, and the obstacles to the life of Eastern Catholics in diaspora, faced with Latin territorial bishops believing that their jurisdiction must prevail exclusively.


It is worth noting here that, at the meeting of the Eastern Catholic patriarchs with Pope Benedict in September 2009 at Castelgandalfo, the Melkite Patriarch Gregorios III of Antioch raised the problem of their jurisdiction in the diaspora and their responsibility for their faithful outside their patriarchal territories in the Latin West, for which the pope is directly responsible. Pope Benedict in response stressed the importance of maintaining the relationship of the people with the Church of their original territory to which they belong, even when they are in the Latin West. After all, Latin Christians are to be found in the territories of the Eastern Churches while remaining attached to the Roman Catholic Church. Pope Benedict’s constructive development for solving the problem of jurisdiction when primacies and hierarchies overlap was warmly welcomed by the other patriarchs and archbishops.


As we have observed, however, the Anglican ordinariates will not form a church sui juris like the Eastern Catholics. But the same potential problems of jurisdiction and the due freedom of the ordinaries to exercise power are addressed in Anglicanorum Coetibus. Hence the need for an Apostolic Constitution – so that they are not thrown back on merely local and provisional arrangements, but can rely on regulations that apply throughout the Church. Thus the norms provide for the need for good relations, consultation and co-ordination with the existing Catholic hierarchy from the outset.


In England there is a relevant case in point – the Polish chaplaincies. Unlike other national and ethnic chaplaincies, because of history and specially agreed custom, the Polish Catholic Mission does not come under the direct jurisdiction of the bishops of England and Wales, despite being staffed with Latin Catholic priests. The parishes it runs are formally situated within the English dioceses, but their clergy are governed by a vicar-delegate nominated by the Primate of Poland and technically appointed by the president of the Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales. In 2007, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, sensing that the Polish Catholics were not integrating and risked dividing the Catholic Church in this country along ethnic lines, attempted to address this anomaly afresh. Such was the indignation among Poles in England and in the Church in Poland that the status quo ante was left undisturbed. This is perhaps a small factor in English Catholic anxiety over a multiplication of jurisdictions, as suspicion of Anglicans bringing division and resistance to integration has been expressed vocally.


Analysis from the Church of England

In an eirenic response to Anglicanorum Coetibus, the distinguished ecumenist Bishop Christopher Hill of Guildford, as chairman of the Church of England’s Council for Christian Unity, has contrasted the military ordinariates with the ordinariates for former Anglicans.  A military ordinariate is juridically comparable to a diocese. This means that in law its ordinary, the bishop, possesses “ordinary, proper and immediate power … for the exercise of his pastoral function” (Canon 381.1). Under the terms of Anglicanorum Coetibus, however, Bishop Hill observes that the ordinary’s power is “qualified”: it is vicarious and it is personal (§ V). But this fails to note that the military ordinary also has delegated power. Not being suffragan to a provincial primate, and relating to several bishops’ conferences, and being directly dependent upon the Apostolic See, he requires the power of the Church at the level of the universal primate to be entrusted to him in a vicarious capacity, so that he can exercise his ministry among the clergy and faithful who belong to him across both national and ecclesiastical borders in the territory of other bishops with ordinary power. Far from qualifying his power as an ordinary (as if, contrary to the teaching of Lumen Gentium §27, bishops are merely “vicars of the Roman Pontiff”), it adds confirmation and protection to it. He thus both has ordinary jurisdiction as of right and benefits from delegated jurisdiction proper to the needs of the situation.


Bishop Hill also identifies in the “personal” (i.e. non-territorial) character of the ordinariates for Anglicans a further difference from the military ordinariates on which they are supposed to be based. The military ordinariates are part of the normal structure of the Church in the lands in which they are established. They serve a very defined purpose and, by and large,  do not impinge upon the regular life and experience of parishes and dioceses. They relate to each of the dicasteries in Rome according to their competencies in the normal way, not least the Congregation for Bishops, as in other dioceses. An ordinariate for former Anglicans, however, relates primarily to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and it is in this  that Bishop Hill perceives that the “personal” status renders it different from an ordinariate which is “juridically comparable to a diocese”. Yet the historic role of the Congregation is to maintain the integrity of the faith. As the senior Congregation, it is not surprising that it is charged with ensuring that Christians coming into full communion with the Catholic from another confession are genuinely and perfectly integrated. Thus it oversees their “growing into communion” and it is in a position to co-ordinate the related work of other dicasteries in support of the newly established ordinariates. Just as the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity is responsible for relations with Christians who are not Catholics, so the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is responsible for relations with those groups of Christians who have become Catholics in their deepening union with the See of Peter:

the duty proper to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is to promote and safeguard the doctrine on the faith and morals throughout the Catholic world: for this reason everything which in any way touches such matter falls within its competence (John Paul II’s 1988 Apostolic Constitution, Pastor Bonus §48)


With the passage of time, normal responsibility for dealings with the ordinariates may no longer need the co-ordinating oversight of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith. Thus it will pass to the other dicasteries in their respective spheres, just like the military ordinariates.


Creative and Complementary Catholicity

Returning to the significance of the term “personal”, in the Code of Canon Law there is mention of personal prelatures (Canons 294-297), which are organisations of secular clergy for pastoral or missionary purposes (in fact there is only one so far – Opus Dei), and personal parishes (Canon 518) established by reason of rite, nationality, language for the faithful of a certain area, or on some other basis. There are no references to “personal dioceses” or “personal ordinariates”, for the simple reason that they had not yet been envisaged, at least in those terms. The operational conditions for military vicariates required the creation of military ordinariates, which are both personal and relate to the home territory of the faithful who are members of the forces. Similarly, the ordinariates designed to accommodate the “objective reality” of “Anglican patrimony”, are personal in that they are not a portion of the people of God distinguished according to the territory in which they live, and yet they are established within, and in relation to, the territory of an established Bishops’ Conference. So the word “personal” signifies no subtle difference in the way in which an ordinariate of whatever kind might operate. Each available example, whether it is specified or not, is in some way personal.


The Code, nevertheless, did indeed foresee something of the sort. Canon 372 notes:


§1.    As a rule, that portion of the people of God which constitutes a diocese or other particular Church is to have a defined territory, so that it comprises all the faithful who live in that territory.

§2.    If, however, in the judgment of the supreme authority in the Church, after consultation with the Episcopal Conferences concerned, it is thought to be helpful, there may be established in a given territory particular Churches distinguished by the rite of the faithful or by some other quality.


This seems to fit the bill of Anglican ordinariates perfectly. Note once more the role proper to the Apostolic See in establishing the legitimate arrangements for something that does not quite fit the normal ecclesiological template, yet which will actually serve the larger purposes of the Catholic Church as a whole. More particularly, far from being contrary to the spirit of the Second Vatican Council, this accords with the foresight of the same Council’s 1965 Decree on the Mission Activity of the Church, Ad Gentes §20, that there may need to be creative, special arrangements to enable people to belong to the Catholic Church who may not otherwise find a way to do so:


If it happens that in certain regions there is a group of people which is impeded from accepting the Catholic faith because they cannot adapt themselves to the particular guise in which the Church presents itself in that place, then it is desirable that this situation should be specially catered for, until all Christians can gather together in one community.


Perhaps indeed the provisions of Anglicanorum Coetibus may prove ultimately to be provisional. As the Catholic League’s historic work on its “proto-pro-Ordinariate”, the Congregation of the English Mission, showed in its early 1990s Inlook into Anglican Identity, the only purpose of maintaining separate co-existence following corporate reunion of Anglicans with the Catholic Church that adds up is to serve mutual enrichment, collaboration and complementary aptitude for evangelisation - and, ultimately, perfect integration in the charity and peace of Christ, in the name of the unity of all humanity.


So was Professor Lash right to say, “The proposed ordinariates … are not Churches, but groups of disaffected Anglican lay people”? It has to be admitted that they are not the norm. But they can complement the norm. They are a genuine “portion of the people of God” within the communion of the Universal Church, established like all particular churches by the authority of the Successor of Peter, juridically comparable to a diocese, served by their own clergy and led by a legitimate ordinary not unlike any other ordinary. They meet the relevant conciliar and canonical criteria. Furthermore, they are supported by weighty historical and contemporary precedent.


And in respect of the disaffection from Anglicanism that people may allegedly be tempted to import to the Catholic Church, this is exactly why the responsibility for the ordinariates, in which they will both corporately and individually discover the “wondrous harmony” of the Catholic faith (Pope John Paul II on the Catechism of the Catholic Church), is vested at the outset in the Congregation charged to “maintain and defend the integrity of the faith” and the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace.


23 April 2010

Fr Mark Woodruff is Secretary of the Society for Ecumenical Studies and Vice Chairman of the Society of St John Chrysostom. This article from The Messenger of the Catholic League for Spring 2010 is reproduced here with kind permission.
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