Though I have long since ceased reading the so-called Anglican Continuum blog of my own volition (about the time that the infamous Fr. Hart went off the deep end over the TAC's response to Anglicanorum Coetibus and denounced Archbishops Hepworth and Falk as liars), a reader has brought to my attention a recent post on that site so filled with distortions — and outright lies — about the Apostolic Constitution that I feel it necessary to set the record straight. But first, a word about the Continuum blog itself…
The Anglican Continuum was once home to thoughtful discussion about the Anglican Patrimony and the Continuing Church scene. It boasted contributors from both the Anglican Catholic Church (Original Province) and the Traditional Anglican Communion and differences between the various Continuing bodies were (usually) treated respectfully and with charity. Over the course of the past year or so, however, the character of the discussion on the site radically changed. A strident anti-Roman tone, coupled with frequent denunciations of the leadership of the TAC (which body has long been seeking full communion with the Catholic Church), poisoned the forum and drove away all of the non-ACC contributors and most of the readership. The entire staff of the blog (and the few remaining regular commenters) are all affiliated with the ACC (which has now become the spiteful, twisted corpse of a once legitimate Continuing Anglican jurisdiction) and, as Fr. Hart, the principal contributor, has himself admitted, its only object is to oppose (what they perceive to be) the agenda of Archbishop Hepworth as he leads the TAC into full communion with the Catholic Church. The Continuum is, for all intents and purposes, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the ACC and their "Metropolitan" — Archbishop Mark Haverland — posts on the site with some frequency.
Though the readership of the site is now evidently quite small (they have site statistics available on the home page), the fact that Fr. Hart & Co. portray themselves as the only legitimate voice of traditional Anglicanism is troubling — especially inasmuch as, in the not too distant past, I would have recommended the site to inquirers.
[I must point out, for the record, that one of their contributors, Fr. Matthew Kirby, while himself a priest of the ACC, has never conducted himself in the manner of the others. I have admired his attempts to gently correct his collaborators although his entreaties have fallen on deaf ears.]
The post in question is a blow-by-blow response to Archbishop Hepworth's recent interview in the Church Times. In like manner, I will reproduce the Continuum's disinformation and respond to each point individually. "RH" denotes Fr. Robert Hart, sometime priest in several episcopi vagantes and Continuing Anglican groups, now priest-in-charge at St. Benedict's Anglican Catholic Church in Chapel Hill, NC. "JH" is Fr. John Hollister, Assisting Priest, Christ Anglican Catholic Church, Metairie, LA and ACC Chancellor.
To begin with, the very name Anglicanorum Coetibus requires closer examination than anyone has yet applied to it. As, Fr. Laurence Wells recently put it: "To date no one has picked up on the meaning of the term coetibus. This is the ablative (maybe dative) plural of the 4th declension noun coetus, translated 'meeting, assemblage.' The Vatican authorities could not bring themselves to describe TAC/ACA as a 'church' or even as an 'ecclesial community' (the term popular after Vatican II). Just an assemblage, a mob." Therefore, translated, Anglicanorum Coetibus could be "The Anglican mob."
Despite the past claims of the Continuum blog, the Traditional Anglican Communion has never — and will never — renounce the validity of its episcopal orders. The TAC would likely consider its dioceses to be particular churches under the definition of the August 6, 2000 declaration Dominus Iesus of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. However, for the sake of unity, and with the understanding that other Catholics may have legitimate doubts about the apostolic integrity of the TAC, the bishops of the Communion have not decided to press ecclesial claims that would unnecessarily complicate that reunion of our churches with the Apostolic See which we believe Our Blessed Lord desires.
In any event, the use of the term coetus in the Apostolic Constitution is obviously to meant to accommodate the multiplicity of Anglican bodies — not all of them proper churches — that have appealed to Rome for an accommodation and desire to be reunited with the Holy See. For example, many FiF UK parishes in the Church of England may decamp to Rome, but this "group" will be composed of detached clergy, laity, and perhaps whole congregations — but not necessarily entire dioceses of the Established Church (which only might rightly have a claim to be particular churches).
In current Roman jargon, “becoming Anglican Catholics, not Roman Catholics” is code for “becoming a church sui juris, i.e., a “uniate” body. Anglicanorum Coetibus makes it crystal clear that this is one thing that is not happening. Instead, it is expressly set out that the new “ordinariates” will be placed within the so-called “Latin Church” and thus, in Roman terminology, any transferee “former Anglicans” will most definitely be “Roman Catholics”, not “Anglican Catholics”.
Who says? Neither Rome nor Archbishop Hepworth has suggested that the personal ordinariates constitute a ritual church. In fact, Archbishop Hepworth is on record making it absolutely clear that Anglicanorum Coetibus does not erect a church sui juris, but that there are definitely aspects of the provision that provide for a distinctive Anglican identity in some ways comparable to one.
There will be an Anglican leader who relates to the Holy See on behalf of the Anglican Catholics. Thus establishing a body that is Anglican Catholic as distinct from Roman Catholic, Ukrainian Catholic, Maronite Catholic, or whatever. It’s not a rite but it looks awfully like one… (Archbishop Hepworth at the 2009 FiF UK National Assembly)
The appellation "Anglican Catholic" is in no way tied to uniate status. To claim otherwise is simply false. The Apostolic Constitution makes its purpose very clear. We had a commenter on the site just the other day who identified himself as a 'French Catholic'. Does this imply the existence of some Gallican uniate church? Hardly.
…so as to maintain the liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions of the Anglican Communion within the Catholic Church, as a precious gift nourishing the faith of the members of the Ordinariate and as a treasure to be shared.
Anglican Catholics will have a distinct identity in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church. And no one has claimed that under the Code of Canon Law that Anglicans would legally be anything other than Catholics of the Latin Rite.
Though the personal ordinariates will not constitute a ritual church sui juris (the context in which one most frequently sees an “hyphen Catholic” appellative), their peculiar circumstances will, all the more, require such a qualifying term. The personal ordinariates will essentially form a “church within a church” and we intend to (and the Holy Father desires that we) be “united but not absorbed”. Members of the personal ordinariates will be legally Latin Rite Catholics, subject to the Bishop of Rome as their Patriarch, and bound by the (Roman Catholic) Code of Canon Law. (From the January 21, 2010 post "Certain Appellations")
Fr. Hart comes to the crux of the matter quite quickly though.
Only from a Roman Catholic perspective can Abp. Hepworth speak of Anglicans who adhere to the Affirmation of St. Louis as "becoming" Catholic in any sense of the word. I expect this from someone who knows only Roman Catholicism, but not from a man who claims in some way to be Anglican himself. It is, frankly, offensive. It indicates yet again that Abp. Hepworth cannot identify with the Anglican ethos, indeed, begging the question of whether he can even so much as understand it. I am an Anglican Catholic already, and I plan not to take part in the exodus.
Though the ACC boasts but a couple of thousand communicants (on a good day), their claims of catholicity are every bit as legitimate as those of Rome or Constantinople. Archbishop Haverland is nothing less than an equal peer of the Successor of St. Peter — and only when the other corrupt Apostolic Churches repent of their errors and additions can the "pure" Anglican Catholic Church (so-called) treat with their fallen away brethren. It does not seem to bother these folks one bit that though they claim to be Catholic — universal — they are, at the end of the day, in communion with fewer souls than one would find in a single suburban Roman Catholic parish!
Yes, a pastoral letter which seemed to have one purpose; to get around the clear meaning of the letters from the Vatican (which was one letter, really, copied and sent to each TAC bishop). That purpose was to present Rome's letter as an anticipated and welcome part of the the plan. In fact, that letter said to the TAC bishops, in effect, This constitution as written is all you get: No special deal. Take it or leave it.
No representative of the TAC has ever claimed that Rome was set to offer any "special deal" or accommodation that did not accord with Anglicanorum Coetibus — but the Apostolic Constitution and Complementary Norms themselves do refer to additional statutes and norms specific to each personal ordinariate. And it ought to be obvious to even the most ignorant casual observer that the published documents do not alone answer many practical questions about how clergy and laity will be received into the new structures and how the personal ordinariates will function in real life.
JH: Does he really think Richard Hooker will survive this transition?
RH: Or Andrewes, etc.?
To the extent that their writings are in accord with the Catholic Faith, yes.
Our group will have the right to elect our bishops.
JH: That’s not what the Apostolic Constitution said.
RH: In the context of the Roman Catholic Church, even if it were true, election of your own bishop may be granted theoretically; but, a RC bishop is not a bishop at all until the Pope appoints him. Even after consecration, he is not a bishop "until his name is read in the consistory in Rome." But, the text of Anglicanorum Coetibus makes it clear that the former Anglicans will be under the bishop of the local Roman Catholic Diocese, granting only that each local diocesan bishop has to allow for the structure of the ordinariate (which directly affects only the clergy who want to be postulants).
The Apostolic Constitution says the following.
§1. The Ordinary may be a bishop or a presbyter appointed by the Roman Pontiff ad nutum Sanctae Sedis, based on a terna presented by the Governing Council. Canons 383-388, 392-394, and 396-398 of the Code of Canon Law apply to him.
Fr. Hart is correct that the final appointment of the ordinary is reserved to the judgement of the Holy Father. But the right of the Anglican Governing Council to submit a terna from which the Holy See will choose is extraordinary. Largely bypassing the byzantine procedures of the local episcopal conference, the apostolic nuncio, and the Congregation for Bishops (by which virtually all of the bishops of the Roman Catholic Church are appointed), the Governing Council will deal with Rome directly.
Fr. Hart's second contention is utter nonsense. The personal ordinariate structure is proposed — above all — to ensure that Anglican Catholics will not ordinarily be subject to the local Roman bishop! While the Apostolic Constitution and the Complementary Norms speak frequently of consultation between the Anglican ordinary and the local bishop and episcopal conference in matters of mutual interest, nowhere is it suggested that either has a decisive role in the erection of an ordinariate or that the Anglican ordinary must do anything more than seek the opinion of the local bishop in matters appertaining to the internal life of the ordinariate.
Fr. Hart's contention that the Apostolic Constitution "directly affects only the clergy who want to be postulants" is absolutely ridiculous (and shouldn't that be the other way around?).
From Article I of Anglicanorum Coetibus:
§3 Each Ordinariate possesses public juridic personality by the law itself (ipso iure); it is juridically comparable to a diocese.
§4 The Ordinariate is composed of lay faithful, clerics and members of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, originally belonging to the Anglican Communion and now in full communion with the Catholic Church, or those who receive the Sacraments of Initiation within the jurisdiction of the Ordinariate.
The personal ordinariate — unlike a personal prelature with which Fr. Hart seems to have willfully confused it — is constituted essentially as a diocese. The ordinary has authority over his subjects — clerical, religious, and lay — and this is the principal novelty of the Apostolic Constitution. The members of the ordinariate will share a common life, in the Anglican tradition, protected from the whims of the local diocesan bishop (who may be ignorant, indifferent, or even ill-dosposed to the legitimate desires of the Anglican Catholic faithful).
From the Complementary Norms:
The Ordinary, in the exercise of this office, must maintain close ties of communion with the Bishop of the Diocese in which the Ordinariate is present in order to coordinate its pastoral activity with the pastoral program of the Diocese.
There is nothing sinister about this. What Fr. Hart is incapable of understanding is that the personal ordinariates will not be isolated sects in the Catholic Church. Genuine Catholic Anglicans yearn for full communion and a common life in the Universal Church — and all that this entails. The personal ordinariates will not exist in a vacuum. Their clergy will cooperate with the local dioceses and vice versa — and when interactions involve mutual interests, coordination with the other juridic personalities involved is not only necessary, it is reasonable and right. Some Anglicans have gotten far too comfortable with the notion that each bishop, each pastor, and indeed each layman is his own pope.
We signed the Catechism as ‘the most complete and authentic expression and application of the Catholic faith in this moment of time’.
“We did that to put our commitment beyond dispute, but we did not have to agree to Apostolicae Curae [which declares Anglican orders absolutely null and utterly void], because that is not in the Catechism.”
JH: But, as Benedict XVI previously stated (when he was Cardinal Ratzinger), it is something that all Roman Catholics are required to assent to and abide by.
It is a small matter to assent to the disciplinary decision in Apostolicae Curae when we have moved beyond it. For those interested, I would recommend the following posts (among many others on The Anglo-Catholic):
and this reflection from the "Ecclesiastical Sundries" post of November 26, 2009:
Joseph Ratzinger considers “apocryphal” Anglican orders. The Holy Father’s point about a “formally assured legitimacy” without revising the ecclesial context (i.e. outside of the visible unity of the Church) is key. In Ratzinger’s mind, this reduces ordinations to a “liturgical-juridical” formality. The English reformers reworked the ordinal and removed late medieval accretions perhaps, but they did so with bad intent and against the ‘mind of the Church’. In the Continuing Church, we have restored these ceremonies — and we (or our Anglican forebears) may also have remedied a breach in Apostolic Succession with the influx of Old Catholic orders — but even so, the “apocryphal” nature of our orders (from the perspective of the larger Church) is the issue. The Bishop of Ebbfleet also notes (in the comments to this post) that it is reasonable to ask whether “the traditional Western criteria of ordination have been adequate to the task.”
The bottom line on this is simple. The bishops of the TAC have not — and will not — deny the validity or the reality of our sacramental life outside of the full communion of the Catholic Church. The Holy Father is not asking them to do so. Once we have come into the fullness of communion with the Universal Church, I feel certain that our folks will not give the old shibboleth of Apostolicae Curae a second thought.
The laity, by the way, will have to be "confirmed" "again." Has anyone told them this? Conditional ordination and conditional confirmation have, in some cases, very real justification, related to the compromise of Holy Orders in churches of the Anglican Communion, and also the willful removal in the 1979 American Confirmation Rite of the Form stating the Intention. But, the 1896 Bull provides no valid reason for ana-confirmation or ana-ordination, conditional or not (as the case may never again be).
Whether it be priestly ordination or the Sacraments of Initiation, as referenced above, there are other reasons beyond the tired — and now irrelevant — arguments of Pope Leo XIII's Bull to be open to the re-administration of these rites. Fr. Hart — a self-proclaimed "theologian" — would do well too ponder Joseph Ratzinger's thoughts on Holy Orders outside the visible unity of the Church.
They requested a way to have their own structure and a degree of self-determination. To that request, with its variations, Anglicanorum Coetibus is really an answer of "no," with a different offer in return.
Really? A novel juridic structure, equivalent in law to a diocese, with an ordinary who exercises power vicariously in the name of the Roman Pontiff, with incardinated clergy, religious, and lay subjects, erected for the express purpose of "maintain[ing] the liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions of the Anglican Communion within the Catholic Church" is not our "own structure" or "a degree of self-determination"? Puh-leeze…
I could go on… but honestly, I've run out of patience. In my opinion, Fr. Hart's post is part of a truly satanic campaign to dissuade traditionalist Anglicans at all costs from entering into the full communion of the Holy See. And before anyone suggests that I am being uncharitable, I have just recently spoken with the notorious Fr. Robert Hart — and at great length. I am certain that he knows his claims are false and misleading. He makes no bones about his mission to "obstruct" the TAC Primate (as if he's all alone in this) and to steal parishes from the ACA and the TAC around the world. This is "church building" ACC-style. Contributors and commenters on the Anglican Continuum have branded at least two TAC bishops liars. They have intimated that high-ranking Roman prelates are willing facilitators of child abuse and have warned that any parish that "goes over to Rome" runs the risk of having its property sold off to pay sex abuse settlements! The Anglo-Catholic has tried very hard to avoid even a mention of this vile site for fear of sending folks astray, but this demonic campaign needs to be identified for what it is!
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