The Salt + Light blog has an unofficial transcription of the talk (“Five Hundred Years After St. John Fisher: Benedict’s Ecumenical Initiatives to Anglicans”) which Cardinal Levada delivered on Saturday evening at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario. Here are some excerpts. My emphases.
The recent Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, establishing—I don’t need to translate this, I suppose, it won’t come out so well in translation: “groups of Anglicans”—establishing personal ordinariates for groups of Anglicans seeking full communion with the Catholic Church, was not created in a vacuum. For many Anglicans, the possibility opened by this initiative has seemed to be a logical development of the official dialogues between the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church during the 45 year period since the end of the Second Vatican Council. Any discussion of Pope Benedict’s initiatives regarding Anglicans might therefore begin with a glance at this important history.
Cardinal Levada presents the Apostolic Constitution as the natural outgrowth of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) dialogue, of which he proceeds to provide a general outline. He recounts the several stages of the ARCIC process, set against the backdrop of the collapse of Catholic Faith and Apostolic Order in the Anglican Communion, of which women's ordination and the homosexual movement are perhaps the most notable symptoms.
For Catholic Anglicans, he hits the nail squarely on the head.
The fundamental issue here, as many have noted, is the question of authority. This may be briefly summed up in the following two points. Does the revelation of God in Jesus Christ and in Scripture intend to let us know God’s will in a way that requires our obedience (for example, the imitation of Christ, the Ten Commandments)? And secondly, has God, in Christ, left His Church, founded on the Apostles, an authority by which it can assure that can know the correct meaning of the revelation, amidst sometimes varying human interpretations (for example, the sensus fidei, the ecumenical councils, the Magisterium of the Pope and bishops)?
The bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion have found the expression of the Church's Magisterium in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, "the most complete and authentic expression and application of the catholic faith in this moment of time" (as they put it in their original petition for corporate reunion).
Pope John Paul’s Apostolic Constitution Fidei depositum promulgating the Catechism, points out that, “It is meant to support ecumenical efforts that are moved by the holy desire for the unity of all Christians, showing carefully the content and wondrous harmony of the catholic faith.”
As we met with Anglican consultants in the preparation of Anglicanorum coetibus, these bishops and theologians themselves proposed the Catechism of the Catholic Church as the norm of faith for the corporate groups of Anglicans who might avail themselves this new instrument for full corporate union with the Catholic Church. Thus, I would also characterize the Catechism as an ecumenical initiative of Pope Benedict XVI and of his predecessor.
As Cardinal Levada notes, far from the Catholic Church imposing the Catechism on incoming Anglicans, it was the Anglican inquirers themselves, chief among them the bishops of the TAC, that suggested the text as a doctrinal standard for any future reunion. In Anglicanorum Coetibus, the Holy See is simply echoing the words of the Portsmouth Letter of the TAC College of Bishops.
Turning to the Anglican Communion, we can see the many elements that impel toward full unity: regard for the unifying role of the episcopate, an esteem for the sacramental life, a similar sense of catholicity as a mark of the Church, and a vibrant missionary impulse, to name but a few. These are by no means absent from the Catholic Church, but the particular manner in which they are found in Anglicanism adds to the Catholic understanding of a common gift. These considerations help us appreciate the Catholic Church’s insistence that there is no opposition between ecumenical action and the preparation of people for full reception into Catholic communion.
I like this! As Anglicanorum Coetibus itself states, the "liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions of the Anglican Communion [soon to reside] within the Catholic Church" are "a precious gift nourishing the faith of the members of the Ordinariate and as a treasure to be shared." The particular gift of the Anglican tradition will serve to enhance the common gift of revealed truth already subsisting in the Catholic Church– but imperfectly or incompletely expressed so long as brethren are separated from the One Fold.
Indeed, the first ecumenical action logically leads to the second: reception into full communion. Unitatis Redintegratio, that is, the decree on ecumenism, asserts that almost all people long for the one visible church of God, that truly Universal Church whose mission is to convert the whole world to the Gospel so that the world may be saved to the glory of God.
The Apostolic Constitution is the consummation of the Anglican-Roman Catholic conversation. The end of genuine ecumenical dialogue is reincorporation into the fullness of communion with the Successor of St. Peter and the bishops in communion with him.
This is the first time that the Catholic Church has reached out in response to men and women of Western Christianity who desire full communion and accorded them not just a place among many, but a distinctive place. This is not surprising. Twenty-eight years ago, the great historian of ecumenism, Fr. Yves Congar, wrote that if we take seriously that the Holy Spirit has been working among our fellow Christians, we have to take seriously the ways they express their beliefs. When their particular expression of faith adds harmony to ours, and ours add harmony to theirs, the logical step is to pass from talking longingly about unity to living in unity, a unity whose essence is revealed in harmonious diversity. The unity Christ desires is visible; it is not elusive or even unreachable. Likewise, the totality that Christ desires is visible. These assertions lie behind the famous teachings of Lumen gentium that the Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church, but it is equally true to say that the unity Christ desires for His Church can always be added to, just as there is room for another instrument in the orchestra. The totality that Christ desires does exist in terms of the elements of sanctification and truth that the Church possesses, but the sharing of those elements, then the manner of celebrating them, is still far from complete. We sometimes do not know the value of what we possess and we need the spirit-filled insights of others to recognize the treasures we have.
While taking care to disabuse his audience of too strict a comparison between the Eastern Catholic Churches and the Anglican personal ordinariates (which are situated firmly in the tradition and law of the Latin Rite), Cardinal Levada makes it clear that the new structures are revolutionary in the life of the Catholic Church. The personal ordinariates facilitate the reunion of Anglican groups which will retain their distinctive gifts and corporate identity, sharing the elements of sanctification and truth in ways that will strengthen the witness of the Church in the world.
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