More News on the Anglican Situation

by Jimmy Akin

in Benedict XVI, Canon Law, Other Christians

Well, we now have some more information about how the celibacy issue will be handled in regard to the Anglican ordinariates that will be the subject of Pope Benedict's new apostolic constitution–including word on when that will be out. 

This Saturday (!) the Holy See had a press conference which dealt with these matters. Here is the text of the English bulletin on it, plus commentary:


There has been widespread speculation, based on supposedly knowledgeable [interesting phrase; attempting to be polite but can't help but being read as sarcastic] remarks by an Italian correspondent Andrea Tornielli [he's also highly respected; interesting that they're naming him and making him eat this one; he also rankled some in Vatican circles by reporting a little too freely on some possible liturgical reforms discussed by the Congregation on Divine Worship that they didn't want aired in public; depending on who you believe, he also may have overstated those], 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.[Not that that's an unreasonable speculation, as the present text will soon make clear.]

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[Fr. Z's remark about such press conferences is apropos]. There is no substance to such speculation. No one at the Vatican has mentioned any such issue to me. [Under normal circumstances, this could be read as a non-denial denial.] The delay is purely technical in the sense of ensuring consistency in canonical language and references.[That I can believe; for all his virtues–which are many–Pope Benedict is not a canonist, nor are the folks at the CDF (at least as a body) and it makes sense to have the canonical folks go over it prior to publication.] 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,[nice; a glimpse into the drafting process of this constitution; an acknowledgement that it wasn't simply written by Benedict himself, though it undoubtedly was written at his direction and along the lines he indicated, then reviewed carefully in consultation with Cardinal Levada] 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 [kewl! advance text!]:

§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 [the head of the ordinariate in this case] 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" [not easy to find online; I'll put the text of it at the bottom of this post] are to be observed. Unmarried ministers must submit to the norm of clerical celibacy of CIC can. 277, §1.[So, as expected, they won't be able to be ordained and then get married.]

§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.[If I'm taking this right, section 2 seems to be referring only to those who have served previously as Anglican ministers; that is, it's stating more explicitly what could be inferred from section 1; ordinarily, only unmarried men can be ordained in the new ordinariates but, on a case by case basis, exceptions can be made for those who previously served as Anglican ministers; however see below.]

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."[So this is the big news: They haven't decided yet how to deal with the married seminarian question; they're planning to work it out in the future. Also note that the example given is for married seminarians already in preparation; they might decide not to allow future Anglican ordinariate seminaries to accept married seminarians–at least if they didn't convert from Anglicanism while in seminary; in this case the married status of Anglican ordinariate clergy would largely be a first-generation-only thing]

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.[Kewl! So coming up soon!–though they might not release it for a while.]


Text of the "In June" statement referred to above (or what I have):

“In June 1980, the Holy See, through the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, agreed to the request presented by the bishops of the United States of America on behalf of some clergy and laity formerly or actually belonging to the Episcopal (Anglican) Church for full communion with the Catholic Church. The Holy See’s response to the initiative of these Episcopalians includes the possibility of a “pastoral provision” which will provide, for those who desire it, a common identity reflecting certain elements of their own heritage.

“The entrance of these persons into the Catholic Church should be understood as the ‘reconciliation of those individuals who wish for full Catholic communion,’ of which the Decree on Ecumenism (no. 4) of the Second Vatican Council speaks.

“In accepting former Episcopalian clergy who are married into the Catholic priesthood, the Holy See has specified that this exception to the rule of celibacy is granted in favor of these individual persons, and should not be understood as implying any change in the Church’s conviction of the value of priestly celibacy, which will remain the rule for future candidates for the priesthood from this group.

“In consultation with the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has appointed the Most Reverend Bernard F. Law, bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, as ecclesiastical delegate in this matter. It will be his question to be submitted for the approval of the Holy See, to oversee its implementation and to deal with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in questions pertaining to the admission of former Episcopalian clergy into the Catholic priesthood.”

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Yeoman November 4, 2009 at 11:21 am

Would this mean that after this process is formalized, future Anglican seminarians must be single and commit to celibacy?

Christiane November 4, 2009 at 11:55 am

I know that the ‘ordinariates’ are different from the Catholic Eastern Rites that are in communion with the Holy See. But why can the Anglican Catholics not continue their tradition of married clergy? They are being accepted together with their faith traditions and customs. Eastern Rite Catholic priests may marry.
Is an ‘ordinariate’ that different from a ‘rite’?

Yeoman November 4, 2009 at 12:26 pm

When did Anglican clerics first generally start to be married? At the time of Henry VIII’s actions against Rome, the clerics would have been unmarried.

Leo November 4, 2009 at 12:29 pm

Eastern Rite Catholic priests may marry
Not quite. As I understand it, in the Eastern-Rite churches, married men may be ordained priest or deacon. But a deacon or priest may not marry. So, if a priest or deacon’s wife dies, he may not remarry. Married first, ordained second, not vice-versa. I don’t understand the reasoning behind this custom.
AFAIK married permanent deacons in the Latin Catholic church may not remarry if their wife dies.
This, I suppose, is the impediment to those Latin priests who have been laicized because they wanted to marry, from resuming their priestly ministry. This will seem too pedantically legalistic for many.
AFIK, of the churches which consider themselves ‘Catholic’ (ie have the threefold ordained ministry of bishops, priests, deacons; have a high view of the Eucharist; accept scripture + tradition + ecumenical councils) – only Anglicans/Episcopalians and Lutherans allow their priests and bishops to marry after ordination or have married bishops.
I’m not totally certain of this and stand open to correction.

bill912 November 4, 2009 at 1:50 pm

Leo is correct about ordained Catholic and Orthodox priests and deacons not being allowed to marry.

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