Saturday 17 July 2010

The Pope and the Ordinariate

It is perhaps foolhardy of me to question a statment made by a Catholic Bishop on "Anglicanorum Coetibus", but I am not sure that Bishop Farrell has given an exactly correct version in an interview published by Zenit (the Catholic News Agency).

He say, inter alia, 'A particular problem of discernment arises when it is a question of groups. Not all groups have the same "ecclesial consistency." In the end, it is up to the episcopal conference of a country or region to study well what can and what must be done. ' Now that is not how I read 'Anglicanorum Coetibus'. I commented on the original ZENIT article, but have had no response, so I raise the matter again here in the hope that others can put me right.
Here is what is said in the original document: "Personal Ordinariates for Anglicans entering into full communion with the Catholic Church are erected by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith within the confines of the territorial boundaries of a particular Conference of Bishops in consultation with that same Conference."
Now that contrasts with Bishop Farrell's "it is up to the episcopal conference... to study well what can and what must be done". This reads rather as though the final decision rests with the local Conference of Bishops. But in fact it is the Congregation for the Doctine of the Faith, CDF, which is the deciding body. Of course local conferences of bishops will be consulted and will advise, but the whole point of the Ordinariate (unless I am badly mistaken) is that its future does not lie with the national bishops' conference.
Possibly I am misreading or misinterpreting what Bishop Farrell says, but since he holds such an important role as Secretary of the Vatican's Unity Council, I do hope this can be clarified.
His concern for Unity and his experience of the ARCIC process of course must weigh heavily on Bishop Farrell, and it must be a great sadness to him that the recent York Synod seems to have undone all that has been achieved over the past decades. He concludes his interview saying
"We will continue the ecumenical dialogue with a realism that accepts things as they are and is aware that the road ahead is long and arduous. Knowing, however, that dialogue is a task imposed by Christ himself and sustained by the grace of the Holy Spirit, soul of the Church of Christ."
I believe and pray that the Orinariates may have a role in that continuing conversation, and in leading many more Anglicans into the fulness of Catholic Faith and Worship.
[The photograph of the Holy Father above is one I took at the Fatima Pilgrimage in May]


  1. I am a Catholic/Anglican Christian, currently working with Anglo-Catholics looking forward to the Ordinariate, and formerly a member of an Anglican Use Roman Catholic parish. It is my belief that the Pope established the rules for ordinariates as he did to remove them from the control of local bishops and conferences of bishops. The experience of parishes trying to come into communion with Rome under the Pastoral Provision has in several cases been bad. As I understand the Constitution and the Norms, the Conference of Bishops will be consulted by the CDF when erecting an Ordinariate, but the bishops' role is consultive only. They make no decisions; all the decisions are made in Rome.

  2. Bishop Edwin, I am in no way offering an authoritative answer to this question, but surely someone in the Catholic Church must first start receiving Anglicans for the Ordinariate. Those clergy will have both a pastoral and an ecclesiological duty to prepare and examine those who seek reception. Presumably, those clergy, in the first instance, will be Catholic priests and bishops of dioceses of England and Wales. Perhaps that's all that Bishop Farrell meant.

  3. Other things being equal, Albert, that is what one would expect; but the Ordinariate is not like other things, and as the Holy Father did something very unusual in announcing it, so too he might act rather differently from the way we might suppose in setting it in motion.

  4. Thanks for your reply, Bishop Edwin. What then would you be expecting - I mean purely in terms of how you will al be received? I am just trying to imagine an alternative that did not involve clergy of the dioceses of England and Wales in the first instance. I'm a Catholic myself, and I think these are exciting times however it is done!

  5. I think it is more than probable that there will be for some years much cross over. The ordinariate in its intial stage will not be familier with Roman Catholic admin methods. Thus I suspect that the administation of seeking rescripts for the ordination of married men will be administered via RC Diocesan structures. They have 1: The staff, 2: They know how it is done, 3: It will be faster more efficient than setting up an Ordinariate admin machine, at least for some time. Other matterts will, I suspect be actioned through and with the approval of the existing RC structures, at least until there are Ordinariate Canonists. The Holy Father may have planned for the Ordinaraites to be self-governing, but we would, I think be foolish to expect anything other than developing Colonial status for some years.

  6. Just trying to think outside the box a bit, Albert; and yes, Fr Jones, you may well be right. Certainly we need to cooperate fully with the Catholic hierarchy in England & Wales and seek their advice; but in the end (to use Bp Farrell's phrase) it is not down to us or the English bishops, but the Holy Father and CDF ... which is why I think we find it both perplexing and exciting.

  7. Since the Ordinariate will be directly subject to the CDF, I would imagine that advice and help on canonical procedures will be sought there. Insofar as the analogy of "colonial status" holds good, the administration will be at Imperial level. The Ordinariate will straddle many dioceses, and while the Ordinary will work with the English bishops, his own line-management will be in Rome.