From Catholic Online:
An announcement could be made soon after Easter this year. Pope Benedict XVI has taken a personal interest in the matter and has linked the issue to the year of St Paul.
CHESAPEAKE, Va. (Catholic Online) – For many years I have been covering the stories of members of the Anglican Clergy who have been so deeply disappointed with the move away from orthodoxy within their own community. Among them are many who are being drawn by the beauty of the Catholic Church into full communion. I am particularly happy to cover their journey because I understand it so well. I want to take some time in the first part of this article to share of my own journey home to the Church. I do so because it explains my deep excitement over this wonderful news of our brethren coming into the full communion of the Catholic Church.
I am a “revert” myself, having wandered my way back into the fullness of Catholic faith as a young man in search of truth. Though I was baptized as a Catholic, I wandered, as do so many young people and had to find my way home. When I did, I found the One who is the Way, the Truth and the Life, Jesus Christ, waiting with outstretched arms. As I followed Him, I discovered the simple but profound truth of the words first spoken by Cyprian and repeated for over two millennia: “Whoever has God for his Father has the Church for his mother”. The Church is the Body of Christ and discovering that truth – and then finding one’s place within her loving, sacramental communion – is that treasure in the field.
In a world filled with instability, the solid rock of Peter is a true anchor. In an age given over to the emptiness of relativism the compass of the Magisterium, the teaching office of the Catholic Church, points true north. She invites all who seek to find their way into the clarity of communion with what St. Augustine called “the whole Christ”, the Church, to come. We can be sort of like “road signs” along their pathway, helping them on the journey. Long ago I discovered the deeper truth contained within the Lord’s admonition “You did not choose me but I chose you.” (John 15:16) If this is the Lord’s Church than He alone is the One who draws men and women into her safe harbor.
I love the legitimate diversity within the proper adherence to orthodoxy and orthopraxy in the one Catholic Church. I serve as both a Roman Catholic and a Byzantine Catholic Deacon. I am at home in the Divine Liturgy, the Latin Rite Liturgy (Ordinary or Extraordinary Rite) or even the Anglican use Liturgy which is now celebrated by many Anglicans who have walked the way of the Pastoral Provision set up by the late Servant of God John Paul II accompanied by their entire parish community. My own theological leanings are Eastern Christian and I also long for the day when the “two lungs”, both East and West, breathe together again in the One Church. As a son of the Catholic Church I am happy to now report some “good news” about her growth, her renewal and her important work in this new missionary age of the Third Millennium.
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.”
Here is Anthony Barich’s report in full. My guess is that, if this happens, Anglo-Catholics in the C of E will move to Rome in unprecedented numbers under a similar arrangement. More on this later. Also, see American Catholic, which broke the story on the web (http://the-american-catholic.com/2009/01/29/personal-prelature-for-traditional-anglican-communion/).
“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.
TAC members split from the Canterbury-based Anglican Communion headed by Archbishop Rowan Williams over issues such as its ordination of women priests and episcopal consecrations of women and practicing homosexuals. The TAC’s case appeared to take a significant step forwards in October 2008 when it is understood that the CDF decided not to recommend the creation of a distinct Anglican rite within the Roman Catholic Church – as is the case with the Eastern Catholic Churches – but a personal prelature, a semi-autonomous group with its own clergy and laity. Opus Dei was the first organization in the Catholic Church to be recognized as a personal prelature, a new juridical form in the life of the Church. A personal prelature is something like a global diocese without boundaries, headed by its own bishop and with its own membership and clergy. Because no such juridical form of life in the Church had existed before, the development and recognition of a personal prelature took Opus Dei and Church officials decades to achieve.
An announcement could be made soon after Easter this year. It is understood that Pope Benedict XVI, who has taken a personal interest in the matter, has linked the issue to the year of St Paul, the greatest missionary in the history of the Church. The Basilica of St Paul outside the Walls could feature prominently in such an announcement for its traditional and historical links to Anglicanism. Prior to the English Reformation it was the official Church of the Knights of the Garter.
The TAC’s Primate, Adelaide-based Archbishop John Hepworth, told The Record he has also informed the Holy See he wants to bring all the TAC’s bishops to Rome for the beatification of Cardinal Henry Newman, also an Anglican convert to the Catholic Church, as a celebration of Anglican-Catholic unity. Although Cardinal Newman’s beatification is considered to be likely by many, the Church has made no announcement that Cardinal Newman will be beatified.
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. Bishop Mercer, a monk who is now retired and living in England, is the former Anglican Bishop of Matabeleland, Zimbabwe. Bishop Wilkinson is the TAC’s diocesan bishop in Canada.
TAC’s Canadian Bishop Peter Wilkinson has close ties to the Catholic hierarchy in British Columbia, which has also met the CDF on the issue. He has already briefed Vancouver archdiocesan priests. One potential problem for the Holy See would be the TAC’s bishops, most of whom are married. Neither the Roman Catholic nor Eastern Catholic churches permit married bishops. Before he became Pope, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger discussed the issue of married bishops in the 1990s during meetings of the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission exploring unity, before the Anglican Church’s ordination of women priests derailed it.
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.”
Statements about the seriousness of the division between the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church caused by issues such as the ordination of women priests were emphasized at the worldwide Lambeth Conference held in the UK in 2008. At the conference, three Catholic cardinals – Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, the Archbishop of Westminster Cormac Murphy-O’Connor and the Prefect for the Vatican’s Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Ivan Dias, the Pope’s personal envoy, all addressed the issue.
Cardinal Dias, who favors welcoming traditionalist Anglicans into the Catholic Church, bluntly told the Anglican Communion’s 650 bishops that they are heading towards “spiritual Alzheimer’s” and “ecclesial Parkinson’s”.
“By analogy, (Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s) symptoms can, at times, be found even in our own Christian communities. For example, when we live myopically in the fleeting present, oblivious of our past heritage and apostolic traditions, we could well be suffering from spiritual Alzheimer’s. And when we behave in a disorderly manner, going whimsically our own way without any co-ordination with the head or the other members of our community, it could be ecclesial Parkinson’s.”
Cardinal Kasper warned Anglican bishops that Rome would turn to smaller ecumenical communities if the Anglican Communion at large proved unapproachable ecumenically.
This is bad news for the Anglican Communion, but good news for the TAC.”