It is very good to welcome a Cistercian, Brother Stephen Treat, as a fellow blogger on this site. Very good, too, that his first post concerns Anglicanorum Coetibus. He refers to a recent interview with Bishop Farrell. I have read that entire interview, and find one part of it a little problematic. I have written about this in my own Ancient Richbrough blog, but thought it worth reproducing it here in the hope that Br Stephen or others might be able to put me right if I misunderstand Bishop Farrell or Anglicanorum Coetibus.
So, here goes, a slightly enlarged version of my other blog:
It is perhaps foolhardy of me to question a statement made by a Catholic Bishop on "Anglicanorum Coetibus," but I am not sure that Bishop Farrell has given an exactly correct impression of that document in an interview published by ZENIT (the Catholic News Agency).
He says, 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.
This is what is said in Anglicanorum Coetibus:
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 "In the end 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 episcopal conference. 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. Certainly he seems to think that most groups which would call themselves "Traditionalist" would be from the Evangelical rather than the Anglo-Catholic wing of our church. He says, "What we should remember is that what some call 'traditionalist Anglicans' usually are of the evangelical part of the Anglican Communion — hence, far from the Catholic Church in their ecclesiological convictions." He may be right about other parts of the Anglican Communion; but it is certainly not how I see the situation in England, where the name 'traditionalist' has been applied mostly to Anglo-Catholics — and I am not aware of any other 'traditionalist' groups who would be seeking to join an Ordinariate.
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 Ordinariates may have a role in that continuing conversation, and in leading many more Anglicans into the fulness of Catholic Faith and Worship.
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