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.

The Smoke of Satan

Damian Thompson has commented on the despicable report by The Guardian blogger Andrew Brown of a "leaked" email from the Bishop of Ebbsfleet, Andrew Burnham, to Melbourne auxiliary (and the Australian bishops' delegate for Anglicanorum Coetibus), Bishop Peter Elliott.  This whole episode is reprehensible, but I am moved to offer a few observations and a short reflection on the matter.  My emphases and comments.

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The cloak and dagger Catholics

An email from an Anglican 'flying bishop' to a Catholic bishop in Australia sheds light on the machinations of the Anglo-Catholics

An extraordinary correspondence has fallen into my hands showing some of the detail of the Anglo-Catholic intrigues about their departure from the Church of England. [I think that it's the other way around.] It shows the Anglican "flying bishop" of Ebbsfleet, Andrew Burnham, conspiring with a sympathetic Roman Catholic bishop in Australia to work behind the back of the Catholic bishops here. He talks about his "cloak and dagger" correspondence with a sympathiser in the Vatican, and suggests that he can write personally to Pope Benedict XVI to smooth things over if his correspondent is caught. This may come as news to the pope.

Firstly, we have to assume that the email is genuine (did Mr. Brown confirm its authenticity with either the sender or the recipient?).  And why is it that Mr. Brown has not seen fit to publish the message in its entirety?  Certainly quoted passages such as "clearly a charming man … but not everything he says … synchronises fully with what we know from other sources" are open to interpretation (and look as if their sense has been manipulated).

And does Mr. Brown really think it surprising that FiF UK might be working directly with the Roman authorities, bypassing a bishops' conference which, even now, is working to undermine Anglicanorum Coetibus?  I am happy to independently confirm from my TAC sources, for what it's worth, that no one in Rome trusts the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales to deal charitably with incoming Anglicans!

The Australian bishop, Peter Elliott, is himself an Anglican convert [Boo, hiss!], and is in charge of the pope's outreach to Anglican opponents of women priests in Australia [Yeah, we're "disaffected" too.]. Most of these are grouped in a body called the Traditional Anglican Communion, which claims to have half a million members world wide: Burnham warns Bishop Elliott against complete confidence in their leader, Archbishop Hepworth ("clearly a charming man … but not everything he says … synchronises fully with what we know from other sources").

I'd like to see the full quotation in context.  Still, it seems quite a stretch to characterize this as a warning that Bishop Elliott should not have confidence in the TAC Primate.  I have the opportunity to consult with (extremely well-placed) TAC and FiF UK sources almost daily and I can personally vouch for the fact that there is a lack of "synchronicity" all around.  There is a good deal about the future of the personal ordinariate scheme that is, for the moment, uncertain.  Mr. Brown obviously desires to interpret this uncertainty as division or suspicion.

I would also point out that, much to the chagrin of the pundits, history has shown (so far) Archbishop Hepworth to have been correct at every turn.  Today we take the revolution of Anglicanorum Coetibus for granted, but before October 20, 2009, it was merely the fantastic dream of the TAC Primate, a dream which certainly failed to synchronize fully with what the experts thought they knew from other sources.

But the passage which will cause discomfort in this country is this:

"I am taking the liberty of mentioning, in confidence and with his permission, that we are in touch with Mgr Patrick Burke at the CDF [the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith]. It has all felt a little bit like Elizabethan espionage but, truly, the informal contact with the CDF has been invaluable, and, if ever Mgr Burke got into trouble, I should write to the pope and say how splendidly helpful he has been.

This is not known about fully in England and Wales because we are trying to ensure that the whole Anglicanorum Coetibus project, which will begin in small ways, is not smothered by the management anxieties of a hierarchy, some of whom think that Anglicans are best off doing what they are presently doing and some of whom think the project would impact adversely on the Catholic Church in England. Needless to say Fr Pat's help, and the support of Archbishop DiNoia, need, to a lesser extent, to be protected from disapproval at higher levels of the dicastery [Vatican department]. Hence the cloak and dagger."

Anglicanorum Coetibus is the pope's plan to allow disaffected Anglicans to convert as a group, and to keep their own bishops. As Bishop Burnham says, the Catholic hierarchy in this country is not enthusiastic about the prospect. The plan was sprung on Archbishop Vincent Nichols, the head of the Catholic church in England and Wales, with very little notice and although attention at the time was concentrated on the obvious discomfort of Rowan Williams, the Catholic archbishop had known no more than him.

This is the whole point.  The Apostolic Constitution was "sprung" on the Archbishop of Westminster and the other English bishops precisely because the CDF did not trust them to respond obediently and charitably to the will of the Holy Father.  And they have not reformed since!  "Hence the cloak and dagger."

It's still not clear how much autonomy the Anglican "ordinariates" will have; but Bishop Elliott told an Australian audience they would be comparable to the Eastern churches in communion with Rome; the Maronite Christians of the Lebanon, and the formerly orthodox "Uniate" churches of the Ukraine. "The structure … is much closer to an Eastern Rite Church in its autonomy than some might imagine."

Yes, Bishop Elliott said that the Anglican personal ordinariates would be similar to these Eastern structures in some respects.  This is exactly what Archbishop Hepworth has said all along.  To beat a long-dead horse:

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 National Assembly of FiF UK)

This kind of autonomy, a church within the church, has long been the dream of the former Anglicans who converted in the early 70s. But it is not what the Catholic hierarchy thinks it is getting in this country. Monsignor Andrew Faley, the assistant secretary to the Bishops' conference here, said "He's wrong – he's not entirely right, would be more ecclesially correct … Uniate status is concerned with rite; but the Anglican liturgy is so close to ours that it's not possible in this case. The Pope asked our bishops to 'be generous' and in asking this was recognising their generosity to be genuine. Their hospitality to former Anglicans is 100% assured and the authority of the Church in working this out rests with the bishops' conferences and not with the CDF."

Allow me be very blunt.  I would not trust a single thing Msgr. Faley has to say about the matter.  This spokesman for the obstructionists has already been sent out to spread disinformation about the Apostolic Constitution (and was smacked down by Rome for it, as I understand).

This nonsense about "uniate status" (and it is most assuredly nonsense) is simply a misdirection.  The Apostolic Constitution and the Complementary Norms speak for themselves — and these documents do provide for an ordinary authority that will exist independently of — and in no way subject to — the local territorial dioceses or the national episcopal conference.  The English Catholic hierarchy may not yet fully appreciate this — and they certainly won't like it when they do — but it's coming nonetheless.

And Msgr. Faley's contention that the Holy Father recognizes the English bishops' generosity is utterly laughable!  Is he speaking of the same Joseph Ratzinger, who, just a few short years ago, asked, "Why are the English bishops so unapostolic?"  Were the Holy Father to be assured of the genuine nature of the bishops' generosity, he would hardly need to ask.  In this request, Msgr. Faley would, no doubt, like to be assured that Rome intends the bishops' conference to have a decisive role in the erection of the English ordinariate.  I think he's going to be sorely disappointed.

But no groups have yet actually approached the Roman Catholic authorities in this country, according to Mgr Faley.

Why should they?  Applications for the erection of a personal ordinariate will go directly to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.  Do not pass the bishops' conference.  Do not collect $200.  As I wrote a few days ago:

On the subject of bishops’ welcoming committees, I will also note that it is the understanding of the TAC bishops involved in discussions with Rome that the two principal parties to be involved in the erection of any future personal ordinariates are 1) the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; and 2) the interested Anglican group itself – and that all applications must originate from the Anglican group seeking full communion.  Local episcopal conferences will be consulted in due course, but the notion that these bodies will be the originators (or even decisive factors in the erection) of the new structures (as the episcopal conferences in England and Wales and Australia seem to think and as Cardinal DiNardo has recently suggested) seems to run contrary to the intentions of the CDF.

There is plenty of work going on behind the scenes.  And, I am proud to say, at the present moment, the readers of The Anglo-Catholic are just as informed as most English Catholic bishops.

The other intriguing admission in Bishop Burnham's letter is that "the project … will start in small ways". This suggests that enthusiasm for the ordinariates is still much greater among the priests and bishops who hope to lead it than among the ordinary Anglicans who are supposed to follow them and fill its churches.

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If the Holy Father's offer in the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus is indeed a movement of the Holy Spirit, it should come as no surprise that the Enemy will stop at nothing to destroy it.  Whoever leaked this message, and the one who published it, knowingly or unknowingly, are his instruments.

In the coming several months, Anglican groups around the world will request of the Holy See the erection of personal ordinariates and will begin to cross the threshold into the full communion and unity of the Catholic Church.  The timing of this "leak" is not a coincidence.  Just this past Saturday, Forward in Faith Australia directed its National Council "to foster by every means the establishing of an Ordinariate in Australia." In just a few days, on February 22, the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, Anglicans in Forward in Faith UK, led by the provincial episcopal visitors, will be praying for discernment.  Beginning on March 1, the House of Bishops of the Anglican Church in America (TAC) will convene in Orlando, Florida; the ACA bishops, together with Primate John Hepworth, will be joined on March 2 by representatives of FiF UK (the Bishop of Fulham) and the Anglican Use/Pastoral Provision in the USA.  This conference will be an important step in formulating our response to Anglicanorum Coetibus.  In mid-March, bishops of the TAC and Forward in Faith will be in Rome to consult with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and to seek clarification on a number of important points.  In Low Week, the College of Bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion will meet in Rome.  And it is expected that the first personal ordinariates will be erected as soon as the end of June 2010.

The Adversary who has thwarted our desire for corporate reunion with the rest of the Western Church for over 400 years now sees that our vindication is at hand!  He despises our Holy Father and all who would cooperate with him.  And as we move ever closer, we should expect that more manipulative reports like this one from Andrew Brown will surface.

I have had the opportunity to hear from so many readers of The Anglo-Catholic who are patiently waiting for news from Archbishop Hepworth, the PEVs, sources in Rome, or even the Holy Father himself.  Many of you visit the site several times a day for the latest information (which I, of course, very much appreciate).  And, no doubt, many of you feel like there is nothing that you can do to help.  This ecclesiastical politics, after all, seems to be the exclusive province of insiders — priests, bishops, archbishops, and even popes!  But there is something you can do to help.  Pray!  Pray for the Holy Father.  Pray for the shepherds of the Anglican groups who will shortly be leading their people into full communion with the Holy See.  Pray that God beat down Satan — and our many enemies — under our feet.  And never for a moment underestimate the forces arrayed against us!