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

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Back to before Nicaea

One of the things I have noticed in some of the reactions to the announcement of the Apostolic Constitution and then to its publication on Monday, especially in some of the blogs and statements from Continuing Anglicans, is that they just don't get how these new Personal Ordinariates are very different from the Pastoral Provision and "Anglican Use" parishes (and Liturgy!) which have existed in the USA for the past 30 years. But there are very radical changes. I have refrained from posting on other blogs about this, first because I don't have the time it would take to correct all the misperceptions, and second, because I prefer to blog about what other, more knowledgable people have to say. And so here is one of those important posts, from Fr. Hunwicke in England. He highlights a right given to the Ordinariates that is not possessed by any regional church that I know of: selection of candidates for bishop (ordinary). I believe that this is one more example of what I said in my interview with the Boston Pilot a couple of weeks ago: the Holy Father, in developing this initiative for Anglicans, has one eye on the East, and is taking their concerns and traditions to heart. Enough from your editor; on to Fr. Hunwicke:

I skip the statements-of-the-obvious about our Holy Father's generosity in Anglicanorum coetibus (everybody else has been busy doing that) to make a couple of ecclesiological points.

In the nineteenth century, the appointment of bishops in the Latin church was, by a process of bureaucratic centralisation, removed from the local churches who, in primitive days, chose their own Bishop. Previously, various customary processes had survived in a lot of places: election, for example, by the Chapter. By the time that Canon Law came to be revised in the twentieth century, only a handful of examples of the old ways survived. The usage of the Western Church at this present time is that a diplomat - the nuncio - consults around and submits to Rome three names: a terna.

In AC, the terna, it is true, survives. But it is to be submitted to Rome by the Priests' Council, the Governing Body, of the Ordinariate. I find this remarkable ... and I wonder what some episcopal conferences will make of it. This is the first time for centuries that the centralising impetus of the Counter-Reformation has been rolled back. I am not surprised that it is this Pontiff who has done it...

Read the rest at Fr. Hunwicke's blog Liturgical Notes.

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