Myth #5: Anglican Groups Must Apply to the Local Episcopal Conference for a Personal Ordinariate

In her survey of media responses to the ACCC's formal request to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for the implementation of a personal ordinariate in Canada, Deborah quoted a recent article by Austen Ivereigh in the liberal Jesuit publication America.  The disinformation contained in this piece has prompted me to return to our series of posts debunking the myths surrounding the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus.  I have reproduced the America article in full below.  My emphases and comments.

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Romeward Anglicans: are local bishops being bypassed?

Executive Summary: Yes.

POSTED AT: 2010-03-16 06:20:33.0

The so-called Anglican Catholic Church in Canada (ACCC), which has about 45 parishes, has written to Rome to apply for an ordinariate. Its three active bishops propose setting up a governing council to suggest a terna from which the Pope can select the Canadian ordinariate's first ordinary or canonical head.

The wording and the method of proceeding proposed in the letter suggest that Rome has told them what to write. So that appears to be how it works: Rome appoints a governing council which then advises the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) whom to appoint as ordinary.

Do you get the sense that the author is likely going to be opposed to any "method of proceeding" that is determined by "Rome"?  Yeah, me too.

But hang on. Where does the national bishops' conference fit into this?

I thought that he just answered this question!  It doesn't.

When the ordinariate scheme was announced in London and Rome last year, the understanding was clearly that Anglicans seeking an ordinariate would apply to the local bishops' conference, who would then (presumably) get the go-ahead from Rome. This is not just a procedural matter. Negotiations over what is permissible and what is not in the liturgies of the ordinariates are be carried out with the bishops' conference, not with Rome. Ecclesiologically, that makes sense: the ordinariates, after all, will be part of the local Church.

Who, exactly, had this clear understanding of the initial — and evidently decisive — role of the local episcopal conference?  Did Mr. Ivereigh himself have this understanding? …because the previous report to which he links, a story on the October 20, 2009 joint press conference of the Archbishops of Westminster and Canterbury, does not make such a claim!

Anglicanorum Coetibus itself is very clear:

I. §1 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.

It is the CDF itself that will erect a personal ordinariate.  This discastery will consult with the local bishops' conference as a matter of course, but the role of the Holy Office will be decisive.

And though the full text of Cardinal Levada's formal response to the TAC bishops who petitioned the Holy See in October 2007 has not been publicly released, I am able to confirm that the Cardinal's clear instructions were that all applications for personal ordinariates are to be directed to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith alone.  Indeed, throughout this entire process, the TAC bishops have been assured by Rome that they would be dealing with the CDF directly.

And despite the author's warped view of the constitution of the Catholic Church, yes, the involvement of the national episcopal conference will be largely a procedural matter.  The bishops' conference does not constitute the "local Church" in any way, shape, or form.  The diocese is the local — the particular — Church, and while the episcopal conference "is to provide for the common good of the particular Churches of a territory through the collaboration of the sacred pastors to whose care they are entrusted (Apostolos Suos, 17)," it cannot substitute for the authority which the diocesan bishops individually possess.  It does not participate in the teaching authority of the college of bishops.  And it is certainly not a counterbalance to the authority of the Holy See.  The author's ecclesiology is nothing more than a product of modernist wishful thinking!  Ditto for "what is permissible and what is not in the liturgies of the ordinariates."  Even were the episcopal conferences to be involved in framing Anglican liturgical texts (which they will not be), their determinations would still be subject to the recognitio of the Holy See.

Far from there being a clear understanding that the national episcopal conferences would direct the process, faced with an Apostolic Constitution clearly designed to bypass the unnecessary obstacles to unity that history led the Holy See to expect from them, progressive/modernist bishops and their surrogates have been waging a campaign to subvert the manifest will of the Holy Father.

In a previous post reporting how a traditionalist Church of England bishop had been trying to circumvent the local Catholic hierarchy, I quoted Mgr Andrew Faley, the priest responsible for the negotiations on behalf of the bishops' conference of England and Wales. "The authority of the Church in working this out rests with the bishops' conferences and not with the CDF", he clarified.

Firstly, Msgr. Faley is not "responsible for the negotiations on behalf of the bishops' conference of England and Wales"; he is merely a spokesman for the CBCEW (which has been so bold as to appoint several bishops "responsible for negotiations").  Secondly, whatever the context of the provided quotation, Msgr. Faley is hardly a reliable source, having been for some time quite obviously engaged in a campaign of disinformation meant to lower expectations and contain the effects of the Apostolic Constitution.

Hence Australia, where Peter Elliot, a Melbourne auxiliary, has been appointed by the Australian bishops' conference to negotiate with Anglican traditionalists there over the terms of the ordinariate which the Traditional Anglican Communion has applied for.

Hence what?  The Australian bishops — who had evidently been receiving inquiries from Anglican groups — simply designated Bishop Elliott as a point of contact "to assist those who have approached individual bishops."  Their statement of November 27, 2009 does not suggest that any application should be made to the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.  Bishop Elliot himself has not suggested that application should be made to any other entity besides the CDF.

But is this true of Canada? I've searched the Canadian bishops' conference website in vain for a statement on any application to the bishops by the ACCC. But there's nothing.

Perhaps the bishops there are more respectful of the Holy Father and his will as expressed in Anglicanorum Coetibus?

Perhaps I'm missing something.

Yes, Mr. Ivereigh, it's called the truth.