Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What Benedict can do, Rowan can do better

Where there is a will there is a way. Benedict wants Anglicans under the banner of Rome. He has pulled out all the stops on his constitutional organ to play as seductive a melody as possible. Here, for instance, from the just published Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, is the deal for Anglican bishops (not irregularly married or themselves former Catholic priests):

"Former Anglican Bishops
Article 11
§1. A married former Anglican Bishop is eligible to be appointed Ordinary. In such a case he is to be ordained a priest in the Catholic Church and then exercises pastoral and sacramental ministry within the Ordinariate with full jurisdictional authority.
§2. A former Anglican Bishop who belongs to the Ordinariate may be called upon to assist the Ordinary in the administration of the Ordinariate.
§3. A former Anglican Bishop who belongs to the Ordinariate may be invited to participate in the meetings of the Bishops’ Conference of the respective territory, with the equivalent status of a retired bishop.
§4. A former Anglican Bishop who belongs to the Ordinariate and who has not been ordained as a bishop in the Catholic Church, may request permission from the Holy See to use the insignia of the episcopal office."

OK. Benedict's constitutional organ has a limited range of music it can play (i.e. no married bishops with episcopal power through ordination to ordain priests). But he is pressing the range available to him to its limits here.

Talking of music, who will pay the piper? How will priests with wife and family be paid for in a Catholic context used to paying low dollars to single priests with few material needs? Try this:

"§3. When necessary, priests, with the permission of the Ordinary, may engage in a secular profession compatible with the exercise of priestly ministry (cf. CIC, can. 286)." (from Section 7)

Where there is a will there is a way. Benedict is finding that way because he wills the unity of the worldwide church. If only various Anglicans around the Communion intent on seceding from each other, suing each other, bad mouthing each other, and refusing to compromise with each other could open their eyes to the possibilities which exist when one is determined to lead the church forward in unity.

Of particular pointedness, as brought out in a response by Father John Broadhurst, reported by Ruth Gledhill, is the fact that Benedict is creating a space for a group of Anglicans for whom the Church of England is struggling to create a space:

"Father John Broadhurst said: 'I had thought the original notice from Rome was extremely generous. Today all the accompanying papers have been published and they are extremely impressive. I have been horrified that the Church of England while trying to accommodate us has consistently said we cannot have the jurisdiction and independent life that most of us feel we need to continue on our Christian pilgrimage."

Perhaps it is not too late. Perhaps Rowan can come up with a better deal. Stay Anglican. Be a "Catholic Ordinariate" in the midst of the Church of England. On full stipend. Bishops as full bishops. It could happen. Is there a will to make it so?


liturgy said...

BREAKING NEWS: In response to Pope Benedict’s will for the unity of the worldwide church, Archbishop Rowan Williams has in a masterstroke indeed produced an even better deal. Fine details of Cantuar’s Apostolic Constitution will be released on the feast of Ridley, Latimer, and Cranmer but the broad outlines are being announced in a joint press release later today. They will include a pro-gay-anti-women-in-orders Personal Ordinariate, an anti-gay-couples-as-bishops-pro-gay-blessing-pro-women-in-orders Tikanga, a flying bishop for those anti-chasuble-pro-lay-presidency, an Impersonal Ordinariate for those pro-women-in-orders-as long as they aren’t over men, and so forth. Original estimates are that at least 300 million should take up the offer of each new structure. The end result will be the same as Pope Benedict’s vision, Christian will never have to meet at the Lord’s Table again with persons they essentially disagree with.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco
That is quite a few Personal Ordinariates to keep an eye on. One imagines ++R might have to bring a few bishops out of retirement ...

Your essential point (as I understand it) is that Personal Ordinariates, an actuality in the RCC, a possibility in the AC (if I were listened to), do not, of themselves, accomplish true unity in the body of Christ. I agree. My responsive point would be that all such moves would be provisional steps on the way to true unity and would be better than the hardened divisions resulting from schism.

liturgy said...

I am yet to be convinced that Personal Ordinariates and their equivalents are “provisional steps on the way to true unity”. I would suggest the majority of ecumenists see both the process and, with reference to Eastern Rites, the product as being a step away from unity. I am not convinced that anything like the numbers being suggested (half a million) will take up the offer – I posit it will be an embarrassing fizzer. I am not convinced that the offer is quite as generous as you allow, as those Benedict is inviting fit his understanding of Christianity (over against many of his current flock), there is no ongoing precedence for non-celibate priests as John Hepworth has declared, and he himself will not even be accepted to function as a priest. Roman Catholic ecclesiology is SIGNIFICANTLY different to Anglican ecclesiology which sees the fullness of the catholic church in each diocese. Finally, my primary point is that I differ in understanding unity as being in Christ and God, rather than primarily in uniformity of thought. What Anglicanism used to offer was a diversity of understanding and interpretation held in unity in Christ, in God.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco
It perhaps depends on perspective! Benedict's offer is not very generous measured by, say, the normal standards of Anglican ecumenicism, but it is generous measured by normal standards of Roman ecumenicism.

I quite agree the actual take up may be miniscule. I still think it significant that the offer has been made!

As for unity/uniformity of thought: is Roman Catholic theology not a little bit, or even more diverse than you make out here? And is not Anglican unity-with-diversity in Christ not dependent on a common understanding of who Christ is, an understanding that sometimes seems very fragile when Spong, Cupitt and co get to work on christology?

liturgy said...

You are misunderstanding this if you are placing this announcement in the category of "Roman ecumenicism". There has clearly been absolutely no involvement by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. No one is suggesting this is a step forward for ecumenism, all are measuring how much of a setback it is.

If we are now agreeing that a miniscule group may actually take this up it will be added to another of Benedict's errors of judgement and its real significance may be that it may loosen the deadlock in the Church of England where a real alternative has now been provided for FIF et al. The Anglo-papalist bluff has now been called. It may also lessen the energy or alter the dynamics for an Anglican "Covenant". So yes, I agree, whatever the take-up the announcement may be significant - but possibly not as Benedict's overt intention.

As to the difference in doctrinal affirmation, the text requires members joining the PO to profess acceptance of the complete Catechism of the Catholic Church. That is quite a bit different to assenting to the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral - even if such does occasionally lead to some fringe elements.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco
The aim of ecumenism is church unity. Church unity is achievable where separated churches join together: it is arguable that Bendict's offer is indeed counter-productive to this in respect of the AC and RCC. Church unity is also achievable where one church absorbs others: it is arguable that Benedict's offer is a step on the way to this end. But, as you point out, it is quite arguable that no such step will be the result.

I agree that the Anglo-papalist bluff has been called; and energy towards or away from the Covenant may change as a result. But I wonder - you may not -whether Benedict has also shone a light on some deficiencies in Anglican leadership at this time? A counterpoint, however, could be that Benedict has cast a shadow over his own leadership.

If all Catholic priests, nuns, and theologians I know have signed up to the Catechism then diversity of thought may take place within the RCC!

liturgy said...

I am not convinced that moving a tiny number of people from one denomination to another has much to do with ecumenism and church unity at all.

Your other point merely reinforces what I said a couple of comments ago. The current and previous pope have arguably brought a centralisation to a degree never previously seen in Christian history. The vast majority of priests and nuns you write of predate the production of the Catechism and, as I wrote, present a diversity that Benedict is trying to deal with. Theologians employed in Roman Catholic institutions are regularly another matter, and you will be as aware as I that any distancing from the Catechism's teachings is met by their losing their employment in those institutions. It confirms the points I made well before the AC's publication, that any new members of POs have to take the full Catechism as their standard and furthermore are directly under the pope. They will certainly NOT have the diversity you appreciate, and that Benedict certainly doesn't.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco
(1) I bow to your better knowledge of pre and post Catechism Catholicism!
(2) I see now that when presented with an RC priest talking in a satisfyingly (to me) 'diverse' manner, I should ask if he agrees with the Catechism to the standard required to enter the POs!!

liturgy said...

It has been a good conversation, thanks. I think your question (2) is beautiful :-)