Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Anglicans

I was going to wait and post on this closer to the Archbishop of Canterbury's visit to Rome, but with the recent remarks of Professor Tighe making the rounds, I think I'll take a moment to contemplate the situation.

For background, Professor Tighe left a comment to the post on the Archbishop's trip to Rome at titusonenine. In the midst of talking about the plight of the Archbishop of Canterbury's own making as far as the Church of England's support of women's ordination and actively gay clergy, Tighe noted the following (bolding is mine):

However, one would really like to be privy to their conversations, especially as I have heard that a proposal is due to land on the pope’s desk on November 16, a proposal that has something to do with facilitating the entry into the Catholic Church of disgruntled Catholic-minded Anglicans. I know nothing of the details, but I would guess that it might involve some sort of expansion and “globalization” of the present “Pastoral Provision” set up some 20+ years ago here in the USA for Episcopalians distressed over WO. My guess is that it may involve a “Personal Prelature” for these people (as for Opus Dei) or else an “Apostolic Administration” like that that was erected a couple of years ago for a whole schismatic “Tridentine Mass” group and their bishop in Brazil. (And it may be that certain ECUSA bishops received a “sneak preview” of what’s in the works on September 6th, but verbum satis sapientibus est, ans we won’t know about it till after January 31st at the earliest.)

Following up yesterday on Professor Tighe's comment was The Times' (of London) religion correspondent Ruth Gledhill at her online column. In part (be sure to read Ruth's actual post, she had all kinds of relevant links throughout her post):

The comment on Titus was posted by the well-informed US church history professor William Tighe. So it cannot be discounted. But the truth actually might be a little more complex. One possible option, for example, is that the document Tighe refers to and the [Tridentine Mass] indult are one and the same. That the indult will contain a more general permission for the Anglican Use rather than it being confined to the US. This was not adopted as the solution to the Anglican women priest's crisis in the first place because it was opposed by the late Cardinal Hume, as William Oddie reported in his book The Roman Option.

This speculation is not, according to a well-informed Anglican source, a step too far. Fr Aidan Nicholls wrote a wonderful essay on the Anglican Use recently. And Paddy Power has him as 5-1 to be the next Archbishop of Westminster. He was also the theologian offered by the Archbishop of Westminster to Forward in Faith, when they asked him for a Catholic to contribute to the discussions for their recent paper, Consecrated Women.

Kudos to Amy for pulling all this together.


1. I think the major indicator in this not being likely in the near term is the fact we have not seen any kind of response from the hierarchy. On the one hand, this document could be really secret and people are being discreet in their comments. However, as we've seen from the French response to the alleged motu proprio on the Mass of Pius V, the hierarchy isn't afraid of publicly making its thoughts (both for and against) known.

2. Benedict XVI has if nothing else proven himself to be a step-by-step kind of man. The tsunami of curial reform never materialized. In place of it, the Pope has steadily appointed people over the months. It just doesn't seem likely that any progress on an Anglican Use document would be pursued while the Tridentine Mass document is still out there. The latter could realistically take months to be processed. When Professor Tighe suggested nothing would be seen of the Anglican Use document until after January 31st of next year, I would agree with that assessment.

3. The Milingo factor. As it was mentioned at some point out there, a canonical framework for the Anglican Use as suggested by Professor Tighe would grant the ability to form seminaries for Anglican Use clergy. Let's consider a hypothetical. The Pope creates an Anglican Use prelature. Masses of Anglo-Catholics make the transition around the world. We now have the Latin Rite with its celibate clergy and the Anglican Use with its married clergy coexisting in may locales. Without trying to generalize the dynamics, it stands to reason that Benedict XVI would be considering such possibilities and any messages that might be sent while Archbishop Milingo's actions remain in recent memory.

4. The time factor. It's November 15th. Ash Wednesday falls on February 21st, 2007. That is just over three months away. Assuming that Benedict follows the precedent he set this year during Lent, it's quite possible we'll see another consistory in early to mid-March. I would suggest that unless things breaks sooner rather than later, a lot of what everyone is waiting for could be held in limbo until March at the earliest.


Samuel said...

I'm uncomfortable with this idea of a Anglican sub-Church standing next to the Catholic Church in some areas. Should I be afraid of Catholics moving over to a less demanding system of worship?

I just don't agree with the idea that the Church needs to try and coax in the Anglicans with half-measures.

el Jefe said...

The Anglican Use in the Catholic Church isn't "less demanding." Theologically, it draws from the conservative High-church wing of the Anglicans.
In many ways, the liturgy of the Anglican use is more 'old-school' and traditional than many Roman rite liturgies in the US. All in all, it is quite nice.

But, at the same time, there may be other reasons why it is a bad idea...