About the new provisions, ordinariates, for Anglicans… we can always benefit from the thoughts of distinguished canonist Ed Peters:
Keep in mind as you think about this provision for Anglicans that the Holy See and the SSPX will soon begin the next stage in the hard journey of reconciliation.
First thoughts on an Anglican ordinariate
An interesting announcement today from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith alerts us to an upcoming apostolic constitution establishing a "personal ordinariate for Anglicans entering the Catholic Church". Till the document itself is published, only a few observations can be offered.
An "apostolic constitution" is the form of document used by the Holy See to make the most significant canonical and disciplinary provisions for the Church. It is not, then, a simple "decree" (1983 CIC 29 etc), say, or an "instruction" (1983 CIC 34).
The establishment of a "personal ordinariate" will be something of an innovation in modern canon law, although this ordinariate is apparently going to be similar to "personal arch/dioceses" such as those used for the military (1983 CIC 368 and ap. con. Spirituali militum), or to personal prelatures (1983 CIC 294-297), with Opus Dei being the only example thereof to date. [NB...] One wonders, though, why both of these structures were apparently found to be inadequate for the reception of Anglicans, and why a third way was invented? We’ll have to see.
In any case, the idea of a "personal ordinariate" is another sign of the (I think) inevitable trend away from purely territorial jurisdictional units in the Roman Church and toward greater use of personal jurisdiction. [Think about the way territory is nearly meaningless for parishes in this age of mobility in many places. People vote with their cars. Also, the Code calls parishes a "portion" of the people of God.] This trend has been evident in western canon law at least since the late 1960s (see, e.g., 1967 Synod of Bishops, "Principles Guiding the Revision of Canon Law", no. 8) and is reflected in the 1983 Code (e.g., 1983 CIC 372, 518). Provided this shift is pursued in an orderly manner, I think it a step in the right direction for people who are coming to see themselves as less identified with various locales, and more with social groupings. Certainly several other groups [I think he means lay movements] in the Church will be watching the Anglican project with an eye to applying innovative structures in their own spheres.
Lastly, it strikes me as a bit odd that CDF is, at present, the lead dicastery in this matter. Provisions for "particular churches" usually come from the Congregation for Bishops (ap. con. Pastor bonus 75-76), not CDF. While theological issues (and there are some here, of course) are better addressed by doctrinal experts in CDF, organizational issues (which are numerous here) seem better left to administrative experts in the Cong. for Bishops. But, I’m sure someone has already thought of that. [I think this may have a great deal to do with determining the validity of Holy Orders of some Anglicans who have been involved with Orthodox lines of bishops, etc. There are also doctrinal issues. Also, historically the CDF (its predecessor the Holy Office) was also the most important dicastery. Perhaps this is a sign that the iron-cast hegemony of the Secretariat of State is cracking.]
I’ll keep my eyes open for more on this one. It is, as I say, interesting.
Again, folks, I think that – down the line – this may have importance for the SSPX.