"Anglicanorum Coetibus"

Three documents have been released by the Holy See today in fulfillment of expectations regarding the application of estranged traditional Anglican Churches for full communion with the Holy See.

They are:

1) The Apostolic Constitution of Benedict XVI “Anglicanorum Coetibus”
2) Complementary Norms for the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus
3) Official Vatican commentary on the significance of the apostolic constitution “Anglicanorum Coetibus.”

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to "Anglicanorum Coetibus"

  1. Kiran says:

    It is extremely interesting in the light of people’s comments about Hepworth that (according to 6 §2) “those who have been previously ordained in the Catholic Church and subsequently have become Anglicans, may not exercise sacred ministry in the Ordinariate. Anglican clergy who are in irregular marriage situations may not be accepted for Holy Orders in the Ordinariate.”

    • Schütz says:

      I have all along suspected that Archb. Hepworth knew this, but nevertheless was looking for an honourable way in which to lead his people home – a bit like Moses, I guess. Although, unlike Moses, he will enter the “promised land”. But he will enter as a laicised priest. This will mean retirement for him, I guess, at least in terms of ordained ministry. I rather suspect he will continue to have a large influence.

  2. Peregrinus says:

    This is surprisingly quick, by Vatican standards.

    Any predictions on when, and where, the first Anglican Ordinariate will be established?

    • Schütz says:

      Well, yes, Perry. It will be the UK, and it will be formed of the current branch of the TAC there (see previous post). That has already been decided – by the UK TAC, anyway. And one presumes that the ball is in their court.

      • Kiran says:

        The suggested Ordinary is Robert Mercer who is, I think, very good indeed. And celibate, so he can be ordained a Bishop.

      • Peregrinus says:

        Mmmm. Degree of caution here.

        The TAC community in England is reportedly tiny, consisting mainly of some retired CofE clergy and their families. It has tiny congregations and minimal resources.

        There are many, many Anglo-Catholics in England who may be seriously attracted to “Anglican Catholicism”, but few of them are in the TAC; they are mostly in the Church of England.

        Rome could establish two Anglican Ordinariates in England, but I doubt very much that they will want that. (And the English bishops conference will want it even less.) So my guess is that Rome will be looking at one ordinariate.

        Enter the politics. If TAC England gets to be the First Fleet, so to speak, they achieve a degree of influence out of all proportion to their numbers. CofE Anglo-Catholics will then have the option of joining an Anglican Ordinariate which may be perceived as TAC England under a new name – and, of course, they have already explicitly or implicitly decided not to join TAC England.

        I think Rome will be keen to get CofE Anglo-Catholics in from day one, and to set up an ordinariate which, from the beginning, embraces both. Dr Mercer may be an excellent and saintly man, but he has never actually ministered in England, and has no relationship of any kind with the great bulk of English Anglo-Catholics. There are Anglo-Catholic CofE bishops already ministering to Anglo-Catholics within the CofE, and who have already been in discussions with Rome; if nominated, their claims to be considered will be strong, but if the Ordinariate starts out simply as TAC England their names won’t even be on the terna. The initial governing council, pastoral council, etc, need to be representative of more than just TAC members.

        I think Rome will want to establish an Anglican Ordinariate soon, but at a pace which allows English Anglo-Catholics outside the TAC – the substantial majority – to be involved from the outset. Forward in Faith have asked for time for reflection; my guess is that they will get it.

        • Kiran says:

          I thought, Perry, that the proposal was to establish more than one Ordinary….

          • Peregrinus says:

            One per country, as I understand it. In a big country with a lot of Anglican Catholics I suppose you could have more than one, divided territorially, but I can’t imagine overlapping Anglican Ordinariates, divided purely on the basis that they don’t like each other.

            There’s also the issue of long-term viablity. TAC England is not supported by its congregations; it’s clergy are supported in part by their pensions of the CofE or other “established” Anglican churches in which they used to serve. I realise that the Constitution envisaged clergy undertaking secular work, but the congregations at least have to pay for the acquisition and upkeep of churches, the formation of clergy, etc, etc, none of which they are currently doing.

  3. Joshua says:

    From what I can make out, the TAC will consider this, vote on it synod by synod, and come to apply formally to Rome as one body at Easter 2010.

    Note that garbled thing about “signing the Catechism” I stated some posts back? Well, ex-Anglicans need to “sign up” for the Ordinariates, so I suppose the rumour just got that mixed up.

    As for Hepworth, you can read my comments about his noble self-sacrifice on my blog…

    • Schütz says:

      Interesting that the Catechism is stated in the Constitution as the statement of the Catholic faith to which all the converts will have to agree.

      • Peregrinus says:

        “Interesting that the Catechism is stated in the Constitution as the statement of the Catholic faith to which all the converts will have to agree.”

        It doesn’t quite say that.

        It says that the “lay faithful . . . originally part of the Anglican Communion” wanting to join an Ordinariate must “manifest this desire in writing”.

        Nothing there about having to agree to the Catechism. And note that this requirement for writing deals only with entering an ordinariate. Nothing in writing is required in order to become a Catholic.

        Separately, the Constitution states that the Catechism is “is the authoritative expression of the Catholic faith professed by members of the Ordinariate”.

        This puzzles me slightly, for a number of reasons. It refers to “the Catholic faith professed by members of the Ordinariate” as though it was something different from the Catholic faith professed by, say, David Schütz. That can’t be right. And yet what else are we to conclude, if this version of Catholicism is to have its own particular “authoritative expression”? Why would any group within the church have a special “authoritative expression” of its Catholic faith? Isn’t the whole point of the Catholic faith that it is, well, catholic?

        We might think that there is an unspoken premise that the Catechism is already the “authoritative expression” of the (catholic) Catholic faith, and this is just a roundabout way of saying that the Catholic faith of the ordinariate is the same as the universal Catholic faith. But (a) this would be a very clumsy way of saying that, and (b) I think the idea that the Catechism is the “authoritative expression” of the Catholic faith is a novel one. If that is the unspoken premise, it’s one that I suspect a lot of theologians would quarrel with.

        Don’t get me wrong. I am not attacking the Catechism; I think it is a wonderful document. But it’s a secondary source. I’ve always regarded it as immensely useful, but if we want authoritative exposition of the teaching of the church, surely we look to the prior sources to which the Catechism itself points – decrees of councils, teachings of the Fathers, etc?

        NJo disrespect to the Catechism, but it was issued only fifteen years ago and has already undergone one revision since then. It’s going too far to call it ephemeral, but it doesn’t seem to me that it can have the authority or standing of the sources which it so helpfully summarises. It seems to me to accord a summary, however well expressed, the status of “authoritative expression” is to leave oneself open to precisely the accusation of “Catholicism lite” that really needs to be avoided in the current circumstances.

        To take just one possibly relevant example, the Catechism does not set out the teaching expressed in Apostolicae Curae on the validity of Anglican orders, which I know at least some Catholics regard as having been infallibly taught. I don’t for an instant imagine that the Catechism is given this special significance for the Anglican Ordinariates in order to avoid their members from having to accept, acknowledge or confront the teaching in Apostolicae Curae, its authority and its implications, but I think the situation could certainly be painted that way by someone determined to question the true catholicity of Anglican Catholicism.

        (I’m not suggesting that Anglican Catholics need to have their noses rubbed in Apostolicae Curae, of course, or take oaths of abjuration of their former pretended sacraments, or the like. Apostolicae Curae is just a particularly pointed example of what I suspect is quite a large class of specific teachings not explicitly covered in the Catechism. It seems to me that only the the entirety of the teaching of the church can be called the “authoritative expression” of the Catholic faith.)

    • Tony Bartel says:

      I understand that the Bishops of the TAC did actually sign a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church some time ago as a sign of their unity in faith with the Roman Catholic Church.

  4. Joshua says:


    Another blogger (“Rev’d Up”) somewhere wrote that there is a possible “in” for Hepworth – if some Latin bishop will accept him back (Adelaide?) as a priest in good standing, he could still minister in an Ordinariate without being a member of it… of course, something would have to be done about Mrs Hepworth!

    • Marco says:

      Mrs Hepworth 2!!! Archbishop Hepworth is a divorcee who is remarried.

      • Peregrinus says:

        Hepworth can be a member of the ordinariate; he just can’t be a priest in the ordinariate. Those who were ordained as Catholic priests and then switched to Anglicanism and marry are not readmitted to active ministry if they revert to Catholicism. This is an explicit rule as far as the ordinariate is concerned, but in fact it is already the universal practice in the Latin church.

        Hepworth’s marital situation, though complex, is probably open to a fairly simply canonical situation. As a Catholic priest he took a vow of celibacy from which, I imagine, he was not dispensed. If so, both of his marriages were invalid. He can now seek a dispensation (which, in the current circumstances, I imagine he will get) and then have his current marriage convalidated. (For all I know, he has already embarked on this course of action, and perhaps completed it.) This would allow him to re-enter the full communion of the Catholic church. But it would not, I think, clear the way for him to exercise priestly ministry, either within an Anglican Ordinariate or in a “regular” diocese.

  5. Joshua says:


    (Replying to you somewhere further up – I find this indented layout confusing)

    The TAC in Australia includes one parish in NZ, so the Ordinariate for Australia would have to stretch over to there; I believe the TAC in Japan and in other places is equally tiny, and would need to be joined to a larger Ordinariate elsewhere.

    Furthermore, in Australia there are two separate TAC jurisdictions: the Anglican Catholic Church in Australia (ACCA), and the Church of the Torres Strait, established after the Torres Strait Islanders, who’d been converted by Anglo-Catholic missionaries, rebelled against the paternalism of the Anglicans in Australia, who gave them an unacceptably liberal bishop. The Church of the Torres Strait, should it join the TAC in petitioning for corporate reunion, arguably deserves a separate Ordinariate, as it is culturally and ethnically different from the rest of Australia.

    The ACCA is divided into parts, BTW: the Western Apostolic District (for WA) under Bp Entwistle (marvellous names, these Anglicans!), the Central (SA, NT, and Sunraysia) under Abp Hepworth, the Northern (Qld and northern NSW) under Bp Chislett, and the Southern (southern NSW, most of Victoria, and Tasmania) under Bp Robarts. I look forward to all four, as former Anglican bishops, coming to raise the tone at the ACCB meetings…

    • Peregrinus says:

      Hi Joshua

      There doesn’t [i]have[/i] to be a one-to-one correspondence between existing TAC structures (or other continuing Anglican structures) and the new Anglican Ordinariates, and the Constitution does rather point towards the Ordinariates being demarcated along the boundaries of national bishops’ conferences. There might be “outposts” like New Zealand, Japan, etc, which are simply not viable as separate ordinariates. It could be, as you suggest, that (with the permission of the local bishops conference) they have some kind of “semi-detached” relationship with an Ordinariate based in another country, but it could also be that they be encouraged to join with Anglican Catholics who are not ex-TAC to form a local ordinariate.

      I’m surprised to learn that the ACCA has four bishops in Australia, but so it does. And I note on googling that that Church of Torres Straits, should it swim the Tiber (apart from being not “liberal:”, I’ve no idea where they stand theologically) will supply a further two.

      Six bishops seems rather a lot for what I suspect will in the end be a comparatively small number of Anglican Ordinariate members, and I note that ex-Anglican bishops “may be” (not “are to be”) be invited to participate in the bishops conference. As they partipate as retired bishops they have no vote, so I imagine as a courtesy whty will all be invited. But this will be transitional; the march of time is inexorable, and in due course it will be down to just the one or two ordinaries.

  6. Joshua says:

    The number of bishops is to do with the vast area of Australia, across whose boundless plains poor abandoned Anglicans are scattered…

    The Church of the Torres Strait, I learnt years ago from a bishop himself a former Anglican, no sooner cast off the liberal totalitarian yoke, than the locals pushed all the altars back against the wall and got out their old English Missals: for “the Coming of the Light” was the advent of Anglo-Catholic missionaries. Some searching will show that, while say the Anglicans in New Zealand are majority very Low, the Anglicans in PNG and Melanesia (incl. Torres Strait) are very High.

    • Peregrinus says:

      Be the area ever so large, the work of a bishop is not that onerous unless he has clerics and faithful to pastor within that large area.

      Far be it from me to cast aspersions on the ACCA, but there is a recognised phenomenon of what we might call “splinter” catholic (small ‘c’) churches exhibiting a great enthusiasm for episcopal ordination, and elevating a sometimes implausibly large proportion of their presbyterate. From the ACCA’s own website, the Western Apostolic District consists of just three parishes (one described as “provisional”), all within a few kilometres of one another. They are served by four priests, one of whom is the bishop. The Central Apostolic District contains just one parish, served presumably by the bishop. No other clerics are mentioned in the District.

      No doubt the bishops are devout, learned and saintly men, but I have to question whether they are going to bring to a national bishops conference the accumulation of pastoral experience that a retired bishop would normally offer. If they are invited to participate, I think it will be as a courtesy, more than anything else.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *