The first principle of the Ordinariate is then about Christian unity. St. Basil the Great, the Church’s greatest ecumenist, literally expended his life on the work of building bridges between orthodox brethren who shared a common faith, but who had become separated from one another in a Church badly fragmented by heresy and controversy. He taught that the work of Christian unity requires deliberate and ceaseless effort...St. Basil often talked with yearning about the archaia agape, the ancient love of the apostolic community, so rarely seen in the Church of his day. This love, he taught, is a visible sign that the Holy Spirit is indeed present and active, and it is absolutely essential for the health of the Church.

- Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson, Homily on the Occasion of his Formal Institution as Ordinary

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Apostolicae curae today

Fr. Hunwicke, in a post that is redolent of his wonted incisive wit and learned analysis, has examined the position of Apostolicae curae today in the context of both ARCIC and Anglicanorum Coetibus.
The previous posts on this subject (this is the end of the series) have deliberately avoided going over the old questions in all the old polemical books and pamphlets. I have tried to edge into greater prominence both forgotten details ("idem caput disciplinae") and bigger questions of context, as well as historic developments since Leo XIII. I hope to have written enough to give some background to what Fr Aidan Nichols said in a paper which, most appropriately, he read at Littlemore (in 1993):

" ... the state of the question has shifted from an outright determination of the invalidity of Anglican Orders, in the bull Apostolicae curae, to the tacit admission, in the open letter from Cardinal Willebrands to the Co-Chairmen of ARCIC II in 1985, of a doubt about the invalidity where more recent ordinations are concerned. Unlike a doubt about validity, which has the (positive) presumption of validity as its background, a doubt about invalidity has the contrary negative presumption behind it, and so it does not license conditional, as distinct from absolute, ordination. However, those Anglican clergymen who feel morally certain of the sacramental reality of their Orders can draw consolation from the fact that, whereas the practice authorised by Apostolicae curae still continues (since the teaching of that bull remains the thesis in possession), the applicability of its teaching to their own Orders today is not unconditionally proposed by the contemporary Roman church." [Italics of the author.]

I would also contend that the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus points in the same direction. As you know, it provides that the Ordinary, even if only in priest's orders, may ask the Holy See for the right to wear pontificals ... well, actually, it doesn't say anything of the sort. If the Ordinary was merely a presbyter in his Anglican days, there is not the hint of a suggestion that he can ask for the jus pontificalium. It is Ordinariate clergy who were Anglican bishops who can make this application, whether they are Ordinaries or not. In other words, the right to seek a grant of jus pontificalium is totally unrelated to the status of a man within the Catholic Church; the right arises solely from the fact of his Consecration as a bishop in the Church of England...

If our Holy Father really does now continue to expect Ordinariate Anglicans to subscribe heart and soul to the complete applicability in current circumstances of the findings of Apostolicae curae, that Anglican Orders are completely null and utterly void, he has devised a most extraordinarily bizarre and counter-indicative way of manifesting this expectation. Come off it. Anglicanorum coetibus constitutes a deliberate and considered refusal to rub our noses in Apostolicae curae. If such an attitude is good enough for the most learned Sovereign Pontiff since Benedict XIV, why isn't it good enough for some Roman Catholics...

Read the post in full (along with soon to be posted and no doubt equally learned comments) at Fr. H's Liturgical Notes.

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