Well, well, well. So it has finally happened. Doing things backwards, as they often do, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has released an explanatory note on an Apostolic Constitution that has yet to see the light of day, but which we are assured will set up “personal ordinariates” for Anglicans wishing to enter full communion with the Holy See while maintaining the bulk of their traditional Anglican heritage and spirituality.
Two things to note about the Note:
1) It solves the problem of married bishops among the traditional Anglican groups by determining that (a) married Anglican clergy – priests and bishops – seeking full communion can be prepared for ordination as priests but not bishops, and (b) that “the Ordinary can be either a priest or an unmarried bishop”. What a neat solution!
2) It solves the old question about the Western liturgical diversity. Part of the problem has been that, essentially, the Anglican rite is simply a “Reformed” version of the Roman Rite. Can it be said to be a “rite” in its own “right”, so to speak? Answer: Yes. According to Levada:
“It is the hope of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, that the Anglican clergy and faithful who desire union with the Catholic Church will find in this canonical structure the opportunity to preserve those Anglican traditions precious to them and consistent with the Catholic faith. Insofar as these traditions express in a distinctive way the faith that is held in common, they are a gift to be shared in the wider Church. The unity of the Church does not require a uniformity that ignores cultural diversity, as the history of Christianity shows. Moreover, the many diverse traditions present in the Catholic Church today are all rooted in the principle articulated by St. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians: ‘There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism’ (4:5). Our communion is therefore strengthened by such legitimate diversity, and so we are happy that these men and women bring with them their particular contributions to our common life of faith.”
So, the only question remaining for this one-time Lutheran is: Could a similar situation be envisaged for Lutherans wishing to enter into communion with the See of Rome? Or, for that matter, any identifiable Christian tradition? In other words, is this a new model for Catholic ecumenism? OR, is it just ancient “Uniatism” resurrected?