By Anna Arco
22 January 2010
The bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) are to give the Vatican their answer to the new Anglican provision.
Archbishop John Hepworth, the primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion, a group of Anglican churches which have broken away from the mainstream Anglican Communion, said the bishops would come together at Easter to formulate a response to the Pope's decree Anglicanorum coetibus.
The Anglican provision allows groups of Anglicans who consider themselves Catholic to enter into full communion with Rome while maintaining aspects of their heritage and identity. The document provides a new canonical provision called a Personal Ordinariate which most resembles the structure of military dioceses.
In 2007 the leaders of the TAC signed a petition to the Holy See asking for "corporate reunion with the Holy See" as well as "a communal and ecclesial way of being Anglican Catholics in communion with the Holy See, at once treasuring the full expression of Catholic faith and treasuring our tradition within which we have come to this moment".
According to Archbishop Hepworth, the bishops and vicar generals have each received a letter from Cardinal William Levada, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, saying that the recent decree constituted "the definitive response of the Holy See" not only to the TAC's original request but also to "but also to the many others of a similar nature which have been submitted over the last years".
Archbishop Hepworth said the letter from Cardinal Levada would allow the bishops belonging to TAC to move towards making a decision about taking up the Pope's offer of Personal Ordinariates. He said that he would produce a commentary on the decree for the TAC in the coming week and would release the full text of the original petition made by the members of the group in 2007.
Emphasising that the process of discernment "concerns the primary command of Jesus to His Church", he said the process could not be hurried.
But he also made it clear that a delay in making a "implementing the fullness of communion" that the traditionalist Anglicans had sought "would be in serious defiance of the will of Jesus for his Church". He outlined the steps the college of bishops and the traditionalist communion as a whole would have to take towards making a decision. TAC, he said, was already in talks with liaison bishops of bishops' conferences around the world.
Archbishop Hepworth plans to meet with TAC members in Japan, Central America, the United States, Canada, Australia New Zealand and the Torres Strait in the coming weeks. Regional meetings of bishop, clergy and people are being organised to discuss Anglicanorum Coetibus.
After the meeting of the full college of bishops at Easter, they will make a formal response to the Holy See, which will be followed by canonical steps in the churches belonging to TAC.
The news came days after Pope Benedict XVI said the desire of the groups of Anglicans wishing to be in full communion with Rome revealed the ultimate aim of the ecumenical movement which was "the full and visible communion of the disciples the Lord".
Pope Benedict was speaking to the members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and thanked them for their work in "the full integration of groups and individuals of former Anglican faithful into the life of the Catholic Church, in accordance with the provisions of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus".
He said: "The faithful adherence of these groups to the truth received from Christ and presented in the Magisterium of the Church is in no way contrary to the ecumenical movement… rather, it reveals the ultimate aim thereof, which is the realisation of the full and visible communion of the disciples of the Lord."
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