Pope Benedict comments on the Anglican implosion

The intrepid Andrea Tornielli, vaticanista of Il Giornale, and now travelling with His Holiness to World Youth Day, reports on his blog what Pope Benedict said about the Anglicans, whose communion is imploding.

My translation and emphases:

Benedict XVI is "near" to the Anglican bishops in prayer, and hopes that they can avoid "new fractures" and schisms, after the contested decision of the Church of England, bulwark of Anglican tradition, to admit women to the episcopate.  During the long flight taking him to Sydney, where he will arrive this morning for the 23rd World Youth Day, Papa Ratzinger met with 43 journalists who went with him.  For the first time the Pontiff, responding to a question, spoke about the debate underway in the Anglican Church: in the last days the synod of York opened the way to ordination of women bishops and the Anglican communion – which gathers on 16 July in the Lambeth Conference – is shot through with threats of schism on the part of the more traditional communities which do not accept the decision.  Three Anglican bishops had contacts with chief officials of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, asking to be admitted to the Catholic Church.  The Vatican response stradled the fence, given that the problems to be faced are many, and that the prelates who are asking to enter into communion with Rome will be asked in turn to accept Catholic doctrine in its entirety.   "My essential contribution," the Pope said speaking of the upcoming general meeting of the Anglican Church, "can only be through prayer, and my prayer will be very near to the Anglican bishops who are meeting.  We cannot and we ought not," he added, "intervene directly in their discussions, we respect their responsibility".  Benedict XVI then explained, "The desire is that they can avoid new fractures and that a solution can be found in their responsibility before our age and the Gospel.  The two things must go together.  Contemporary Christianity must make present the whole message of Christ and add their own contribution being faithful to this message.  We hope," the Pope said again, "they find together the way to make present the Gospel in our time, this is my good wish for the Anglican communion."

What is going on in this answer?

The Pope is not remaining indifferent.  Nor is he slipping into indifferentism.

When he speaks of our responsibility to the Gospel, he is surely referring to the Lord’s own words both when He gave His own authority to Peter, and His desire that His disciples by "one". 

He is surely talking about the need for unity among Christians today in the face of the erosion of Western identity.

Luigi Accattoli is saying that they have touched down at Darwin to refuel, etc.  The journalists can’t leave the plane before they continue another four hours to Sydney.  He used the moment to update his blog, and I assume that is what Tornielli did.  Accattoli says the communication blackout from the plane was nearly total, though some journalists had managed to get some words out. 

In the meantime, one has to wonder what His Holiness is reading.  I think its The Wanderer, perusing the most recent WDTPRS article … perhaps catching up on the Catholic Herald.  Yes… perhaps that’s it.

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23 Responses to Pope Benedict comments on the Anglican implosion

  1. Tobias says:

    Coded language is still coded language. Not that coded language is necessarily
    wrong.

  2. Aelric says:

    ” Contemporary Christianity must make present the whole message of Christ and add their own contribution being faithful to this message.”

    The whole message. What can be less “cafeteria” or indifferent than that?

  3. John Paul says:

    I don’t understand our unwillingness to express our welcome to those who wish
    to return to Rome, and to take the opportunity to make it clear our wish that
    ALL our separated brethren return to Rome. Why are we worried about the
    Anglican communion? Again, if it really is OK to be Anglican, then where does
    the slippery slope stop?

  4. Fr Dan B says:

    He’s sitting where he can keep a close eye on the left wing.

  5. Greg Hessel in Arlington Diocese says:

    There’s no point in make a major statement until AFTER the Lambeth conference is done.

  6. This is perhaps the most important phrase in the story: “…the prelates who are asking to enter into communion with Rome will be asked in turn to accept Catholic doctrine in its entirety.”

    Writing as a former Anglican, now Catholic, quite often when an Anglican speaks about “entering into communion with Rome,” he is not necessarily speaking of actually becoming a Roman Catholic; rather, he wants the Holy See to recognize him as being Catholic. Anglicans speak of “being in communion with the Old Catholics,” or “being in communion with the Polish National Catholic Church.” They’re not Old Catholics or Polish National Catholics, but are “in communion” with them.

    I am praying that the Anglicans who have approached the Holy See really do want to become Catholics in the fullest sense, and certainly Rome would accept nothing less.

  7. mariadevotee says:

    As a former High church Episcopalian, I know first hand that it is crucial that a convert wants to become Roman Catholic and is not just in a snit over something that the Anglican communion has adopted. These bishops who want to convert (and of course, glad to have them) need Catholic catechizing just like anyone else –if they accepted all of Roman Catholic teaching, they would already be Catholic, not just looking to swim the Tiber secondary to an unacceptable vote by their own denomination.
    An old Episcopal priest told me that the rot started when they let girls be acolytes. A lesson to us all.

  8. Matt Q says:

    Aelric wrote:

    “The **whole** message. What can be less “cafeteria” or indifferent than that?”

    )(

    Exactly. The **full** deposit of Faith… the **fullness** of Truth… :-)

    ======

    John Paul wrote:

    “I don’t understand our unwillingness to express our welcome to those who wish to return to Rome, and to take the opportunity to make it clear our wish that ALL our separated brethren return to Rome. Why are we worried about the
    Anglican communion? Again, if it really is OK to be Anglican, then where does
    the slippery slope stop?”

    )(

    It’s not a matter of unwillingness to express our welcome, but a careful statement on let’s wait and see. Everyone wants upfront right-nows. There is already communication with the Vatican on this issue. The Holy Father doesn’t talk business with sound bites like our stupid politicians do here. Also, I, too, think Rome is waiting to see the outcome of the Lambeth Conference.

    ======

    Mariadevotee wrote:

    “An old Episcopal priest told me that the rot started when they let girls be acolytes. A lesson to us all.”

    )(

    Oooooh. Ouch. Truth hurts. LOL

  9. Vague coded language. I should have been happy had His Holiness expressed a desire for their conversion and acceptance of the Catholic faith. I am also concerned that he refers to their bishops, which is more or less an acknowledgement of Anglican Holy Orders despite their invalidity.

    Rome should be striving to bring the Anglicans who wish to convert into the Catholic faith for the good of their souls. Instead it seems that our hierarchy is either indifferant or sees the preservation of a schismatic sect as a higher as taking priority over the salvation of souls. In any case, may God have mercy on the souls of any clergyman who stands in the way of those seeking the Catholic faith.

  10. Richard says:

    Well – I can’t help but wish he had been more explicit in laying out the welcome mat.

    What good the unity of the Anglican communion if it is in the service of priestesses, bishopesses, and same sex marriage?

  11. Richard says:

    …but on the other hand, no one in the Church has been more deeply involved in relations with the Anglican communion, in all its factions, or has made more of a point of expressing his sympathies for the plight of Anglo-Catholic traditionalists than His Holiness. Which is to say while I would have liked to have heard some more explicit, public, sign of welcome to reunion (ut unum sint) – which is and aways should be our ultimate objective – I certainly don’t wish to be read as second-guessing his judgment at this juncture.

  12. Micki says:

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    “I will be back”…in the words of a military man :-)

    I have a Catholic Holy Card blog with a quote of inspiration.
    If you want to use any of the cards on your blog, help yourself. I’d be honored to be added to a sidebar links. May I add yours to mine?

  13. Micki: Be my guest!

  14. Levavi says:

    I, too, am a bit surprised by the use of the word “bishops”, but for I have noted to myself that the Pope used the phrase “Anglican bishop” (which is no bishop) and that the word “bishop” can mean in its 3rd sense (according to the Oxford English Dictionary:

    As a literalism of translation: a. Overlooker, inspector, watchman; or
    b. for L. episcopus in its most common civil sense of: Superintendent or overseer of the public victualling. [Cf. Charisius in Roman Digest, ‘Episcopi qui præsunt pani et ceteris venalibus rebus quæ civitatum populis ad quotidianum victum usui sunt.’]

    In its 4th sense (surely the one the Pope meant):

    Applied ludicrously to the chief of the company in the ‘Festival of Fools.’ Cf. the Boy Bishop of St. Nicholas Day: Brande Pop. Antiq. I. 232.

    I am a little annoyed by the missed opportunity to be more explicit. But what’s the point? If they haven’t already converted (” …they find a way”) they won’t en masse now (hence “… we should not interfere”).

  15. Andrew says:

    The Pope is most likely wanting to avoid controversy by not saying that he wants a religion to break apart. People may not convert if he says an ungracious thing like that. It would not have been very pastoral. I suspect that really he is happy with these Anglican bishops converting. He also may want to keep his ties with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

  16. RBrown says:

    Vague coded language.

    IMHO, it is mostly general, not vague language. He mentions the possibility of Anglican “fractures”. What is the cause of these fractures other than the matter of women’s ordination?

    I should have been happy had His Holiness expressed a desire for their conversion and acceptance of the Catholic faith. I am also concerned that he refers to their bishops, which is more or less an acknowledgement of Anglican Holy Orders despite their invalidity.

    I do NOT think it is any kind of acknowledgement of the validity of Anglican Orders–here we find the vague language to which you refer. This is just part of Roman slick, a bit of bait and switch: For years official Vatican news releases have referred to Anglican Bishop So and So. If he converts, however, he will be told that ordination will be required.

    If he were to protest, saying that they had referred to him as a bishop, then answer would be simple: That is how you wanted us to refer to you.

    Rome should be striving to bring the Anglicans who wish to convert into the Catholic faith for the good of their souls. Instead it seems that our hierarchy is either indifferant or sees the preservation of a schismatic sect as a higher as taking priority over the salvation of souls. In any case, may God have mercy on the souls of any clergyman who stands in the way of those seeking the Catholic faith.
    Comment by Jonathan Bennett

    Rome is being careful not to be blamed for the continuing Anglican fracture.

  17. Han says:

    Or, perhaps it means nothing more than that schism is a bad thing. Why should Rome rejoice the other Christian ecclesial communities go into schism with each other? Is the Catholic Church some predator waiting for small disaffected parts of other flocks to leave their present communions so as better to pick them off and absorb them? When Protestants go into schism with each other it is still a scandal, and when Protestants become less Christian it is still a cause for sadness.

  18. Tobias says:

    Han: Protestants are always in schism with one another. All “unity” there is
    ephemeral and earthly. For the Anglican “Communion” to fracture would merely
    be the manifestation of their inherent lack of real unity with one another.
    Their fracture would be sad, but fracture is what heresy necessarily entails.
    That fracture exists whether or not they all call each other by the same name or
    write checks to the same central office.

  19. Poor ignorant laymen like myself, unskilled in deciphering Vaticanese, can only take what the Holy Father says at face value, and on the surface his only concerned is for the future of the Anglican Communion.

    This is Cardinal Kaspar and the Traditional Anglican Communion all over again- relations between Rome and Canterbury taking precedence over the salvation of souls.

    An Anglican friend once explained to me why more Protestants do not convert- why should they desire to accept doctrines that the Catholic Church itself is so quick to compromise on and dispense with? Why should they convert when the Catholic Church makes no effort nor shows any desire for such a thing? The only differance conversion would make is who gets the collection money.

    But like I said, I am not of the small minority who can read this and interpret it to say that the Holy Father desires the conversion of the Anglican faithful to the true Church. For all I know he could very well be saying so, but like most of the world I have only face value to go on and by that it seems pretty obvious that Rome believes souls are worth sacrificing on the Altar of politics.

  20. RBrown says:

    Poor ignorant laymen like myself, unskilled in deciphering Vaticanese, can only take what the Holy Father says at face value, and on the surface his only concerned is for the future of the Anglican Communion.
    Comment by Jonathan Bennett

    I think you’re confusing your own interpretation with “what the Holy Father says at face value”.

  21. The my most fervent prayer is that I am wrong. At this moment I earnestly desire that I am wrong in my judgement on this matter, and if so may God have mercy on me for doubting the intentions of the Roman Pontiff.

    So says my heart. My head tells me not to hold my breath.

  22. Tobias says:

    Well, RBrown, it is a matter of interpretation here. The Holy Father did not explicitly explicitly
    say “priestesses bad, conversion to Catholicism good.” What he said means
    that implicitly, but not explicitly. In any case, seeing as the Anglicans,
    have invalid orders to start with, the question of whether they extend those
    invalid orders to people for whom even the valid form and intention would be
    inefficacious is not really something that the Vatican can make a ruling on.
    The Anglican “priesthood” is its own creation, so by rights they can do with
    it what they wish. Their bad choices only prove again that they are not
    Catholic, but most of us here already knew that. Hopefully more Anglicans
    will wake up now. To that extent, this is a boon.

  23. Oliver says:

    Ratzinger does not view the continuing fragmentation within the Anglican church with any joy because he is not interested in exploiting such an opportunity. The Anglican traditional wing does not interest him because it is at war with modernism, a condition which is Ratzinger’s raison d’etre. Anglicans would first of all have to accept the Novus Ordo climate which bedevils the modern Catholic world and then shed their particular Anglican traditions …. in pursuit of what? A terribly uncertain future in an institution obsessed with novelty to forestall her impending doom? No Anglican can convert because there is now no structure capable of accommodating him. All he can do is appeal to an eternal Rome which one day may be represented on earth by a church worthy of her.