Thursday, January 29, 2009

Reuinion time

In what seems like an interesting development, Catholic Online is reporting that the Traditional Anglican Communion may be closer than ever to re-entering the Catholic Church, after nearly 450 years of separation.
Reliable sources confirm that the ongoing dialogue between the Holy See and the Traditional Anglican Communion may soon bear historic fruit in Church history. The reports I have read first circulated out of Australia, again from reliable sources. Then they were carried on the dependable, refreshingly orthodox and ever insightful Web Blog “Creative Minority Report'. They are now confirmed by Damien Thompson of the London Telegraph in his “Holy Smoke” column which is a must read. Damien Thompson’s reporting is always reliable and so I set forth his account of this breaking story below:

“The Pope is preparing to offer the Traditonal Anglican Communion, a group of half a million dissident Anglicans, its own personal prelature by Rome, according to reports this morning. History may be in the making", reports The Record. "It appears Rome is on the brink of welcoming close to half a million members of the Traditional Anglican Communion into membership of the Roman Catholic Church. Such a move would be the most historic development in Anglican-Catholic relations in the last 500 years. But it may also be a prelude to a much greater influx of Anglicans waiting on the sidelines, pushed too far by the controversy surrounding the consecration of practicing homosexual bishops, women clergy and a host of other issues."

The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has decided to recommend the Traditional Anglican Communion be accorded a personal prelature akin to Opus Dei, if talks between the TAC and the Vatican aimed at unity succeed, it is understood. The TAC is a growing global community of approximately 400,000 members that took the historic step in 2007 of seeking full corporate and sacramental communion with the Catholic Church - a move that, if fulfilled, will be the biggest development in Catholic-Anglican relations since the English Reformation under King Henry VIII.
This is great news!

Now, I am not entirely sure that personal prelature model is ideal for the Anglicans. In Opus Dei, one is a member voluntarily, with the "permission" of the prelature (or something like that). They are organized, essentially, as a diocese, but without any borders. Members are subject to the jurisdiction of their geographic diocese and the prelate of the prelature (be he a bishop, or otherwise). Perhaps some of this is specific to Opus Dei, but I think it gets the gist of the idea of a prelature.

The Anglican Use could very well become a Rite, like the Byzantine or Maronite Rites, for instance. You are born into a Rite, though it is not impossible (though not easy) to change Rites. Rites have various dioceses (or eparchies) throughout the world. In a sense, this seems the "most natural" organization, especially if the breakaway Anglicans become a large number. There could be a couple Anglican Use Dioceses around the world, maybe one for each continent at first.

The article is a very good read, I will just highlight the couple best paragraphs I think are important.

Archbishop Hepworth personally wrote to Pope Benedict in April 2007 indicating that the TAC planned a meeting of its world bishops, where it was anticipated they would unanimously agree to sign the Catechism of the Catholic Church and to seek full union with the Catholic Church. This took place at a meeting of the TAC in the United Kingdom. TAC bishops placed the signed Catechism on the altar of the most historical Anglican and Catholic Marian shrine in the UK, the National Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham in Norfolk, before posting it up in the main street in an effort to gather public support.

Archbishop Hepworth, together with TAC bishops Robert Mercer and Peter Wilkinson, presented the signed items personally to Fr Augustine Di Noia OP, the CDF's senior ecumenical theologian, on October 11, 2007, in a meeting organised by CDF secretary Archbishop Angelo Amato.

One former Anglican priest who became a Catholic priest told The Record that the ideal end for the TAC would be to become the 28th Rite within the Catholic Church, along with the Eastern Churches, which have the same sacraments and are recognized by Rome. The TAC's request is the closest any section of the Anglican Church has ever come to full communion with Rome because the TAC has set no preconditions. Instead it has explicitly submitted itself entirely to the Holy See's decisions. Six days prior to the October 11 meeting between TAC bishops and the Holy See - on October 5 - the TAC's bishops, vicars-general of dioceses without bishops, and theological advisers who assisted in a plenary meeting signed a declaration of belief in the truth of the whole Catechism of the Catholic Church.

The declaration said, in part: "We accept that the most complete and authentic expression and application of the Catholic faith in this moment of time is found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and its Compendium, which we have signed, together with this letter as attesting to the faith we aspire to teach and hold."

This is a declaration we should all be making. I think these Anglicans are probably farther along in there conversion than most Catholics these days. This coming just after Christian Unity week, we must pray for them.

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