Here we go: A Clarification on “married clergy” in the Anglican Constitution

Being Cup day here in the Glorious See of Melbourne, I had missed this news item. Thanks to Dr Tighe for alerting me to it, although it was carried in Zenit and in Cathnews today.

CLARIFICATION BY THE DIRECTOR OF THE HOLY SEE PRESS OFFICE, FR. FEDERICO LOMBARDI, S.I., ON SPECULATIONS ABOUT THE CELIBACY ISSUE IN THE ANNOUNCED APOSTOLIC CONSTITUTION REGARDING PERSONAL ORDINARIATES FOR ANGLICAN ENTERING INTO FULL COMMUNION WITH THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
There has been widespread speculation, based on supposedly knowledgeable remarks by an Italian correspondent Andrea Tornielli, that the delay in publication of the Apostolic Constitution regarding Personal Ordinariates for Anglicans entering into full communion with the Catholic Church, announced on October 20, 2009, by Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is due to more than “technical” reasons. According to this speculation, there is a serious substantial issue at the basis of the delay, namely, disagreement about whether celibacy will be the norm for the future clergy of the Provision.
Cardinal Levada offered the following comments on this speculation: “Had I been asked I would happily have clarified any doubt about my remarks at the press conference. There is no substance to such speculation. No one at the Vatican has mentioned any such issue to me. The delay is purely technical in the sense of ensuring consistency in canonical language and references. The translation issues are secondary; the decision not to delay publication in order to wait for the ‘official’ Latin text to be published in Acta Apostolicae Sedis was made some time ago.
The drafts prepared by the working group, and submitted for study and approval through the usual process followed by the Congregation, have all included the following statement, currently Article VI of the Constitution:
§1 Those who ministered as Anglican deacons, priests, or bishops, and who fulfill the requisites established by canon law and are not impeded by irregularities or other impediments may be accepted by the Ordinary as candidates for Holy Orders in the Catholic Church. In the case of married ministers, the norms established in the Encyclical Letter of Pope Paul VI Sacerdotalis coelibatus, n. 42 and in the Statement “In June” are to be observed. Unmarried ministers must submit to the norm of clerical celibacy of CIC can. 277, §1.
§2. The Ordinary, in full observance of the discipline of celibate clergy in the Latin Church, as a rule (pro regula) will admit only celibate men to the order of presbyter. He may also petition the Roman Pontiff, as a derogation from can. 277, §1, for the admission of married men to the order of presbyter on a case by case basis, according to objective criteria approved by the Holy See.
This article is to be understood as consistent with the current practice of the Church, in which married former Anglican ministers may be admitted to priestly ministry in the Catholic Church on a case by case basis. With regard to future seminarians, it was considered purely speculative whether there might be some cases in which a dispensation from the celibacy rule might be petitioned. For this reason, objective criteria about any such possibilities (e.g. married seminarians already in preparation) are to be developed jointly by the Personal Ordinariate and the Episcopal Conference, and submitted for approval of the Holy See.”
Cardinal Levada said he anticipates the technical work on the Constitution and Norms will be completed by the end of the first week of November.

Now, I understand that to mean that there will not be ongoing provision in the Anglican Ordinariates for new vocations to the priesthood from married men. In many ways, that seems right to me. These are Western Clergy of the Latin (which includes the Anglican) Rite, and so it seems that the discipline of celibacy should apply to all, with dispensations granted for those who have already been ordained as priest or who are already in preparation for priestly ordination. This would solve all that speculation about current married Roman Rite Catholics transfering to the Anglican Ordinariates to seek ordination. But it isn’t going to make some of the prospective Anglican Catholics very happy, as, so far as I can gather, they tend to regard a “married clergy” as part of the “patrimony” of the Anglican tradition.

BTW, Josh recommended this page to me, where there is an interesting essay about exactly what the Anglican patrimony might consist of with regard to the Liturgy.

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One response to “Here we go: A Clarification on “married clergy” in the Anglican Constitution

  1. Peregrinus

    Now, I understand that to mean that there will not be ongoing provision in the Anglican Ordinariates for new vocations to the priesthood from married men.

    I think there will be ongoing provision, but only for any continuing flow of married Anglican priests/ordinands joining the Ordinariates. Unless history comes to a stop, we can assume that individual Anglicans will continue to journey to Rome, but that in the future they will likely be received into Anglican Ordinariates.

    This will result in an interesting, and possibly slightly tense, situation.

    1. Initially there’ll be (we assume) a bunch of Anglcans coming in, including a bunch of clerics and ordinands, some of whom will be married. Many of them will be ordained into the Catholic priesthood. So the ordinariates will start out with a certain proportion of married priests.

    2. As time goes on, new priests produced from within the ordinariate will be celibate. So the proportion of married priests will tend to fall.

    3. However, it is unlikely to get to zero, because there will be further swimmings of the Tiber from Anglicandom by married priests and seminarians. So Anglican Catholic communities will probably have indefinitely continuing experience demonstrating to them that optional celibacy can work just fine for priests and for the communites that they minister to.

    4. As you point out, the Anglican Catholics may accept celibacy as part of the full communion “package”, but it’s unlikely to be something they’re wildly keen on for its own sake, seeing as how its not very Anglican. Accounts of what lead Anglicans to seek reunion with Rome do not generally include a passionate desire for a wholly celibate clergy.

    5. Thus the Anglican Catholic communities will be forming their young men towards a priesthood, the celibacy aspect of which those communities are probably likely to be a bit lukewarm about. Young Anglican Catholics will see the impetuous joy with which Mother church rushes to to greet the returning prodigals, and to slay the fatted calf of married priesthood for them, and will wonder why the prodigals should have access to an aspect of the Anglican patrimony which is not offered to those who slaved at home.

    6. The young Anglican Catholic men will also realise that they can have their cake and eat it as Anglican-Anglican priests. You can swim the Tiber in both directions.