Joint Statement of Archbps. Nichols (Catholic) and Williams (Anglican)

The doors to the Church are always open to those wishing to enter.  Now there is not only a door open to Anglicans, but also a house full of furniture.

The Holy Father will establish ordinariates for Anglicans who wish to enter fuller manifest unity with the Catholic Church.

To that end, the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster and the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury issued a joint statement.

Let’s have a look with my emphases and comments.

JOINT STATEMENT BY THE ARCHBISHOP OF WESTMINSTER AND THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

Today’s announcement of the Apostolic Constitution is a response by Pope Benedict XVI to a number of requests over the past few years to the Holy See from groups of Anglicans who wish to enter into full visible communion with the Roman Catholic Church, and are willing to declare that they share a common Catholic faith and accept the Petrine ministry as willed by Christ for his Church[Christ established His Church with certain necessary elements.  Among them are not only apostolic succession, or bishops (and Anglicans except some version of that) but also the ministry of Peter and his successor, the Bishop of Rome, the Pope.]

Pope Benedict XVI has approved, within the Apostolic Constitution, a canonical structure that provides for Personal Ordinariates, which will allow former Anglicans to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of distinctive Anglican spiritual patrimony.

The announcement of this Apostolic Constitution brings to an end a period of uncertainty for such groups who have nurtured hopes of new ways of embracing unity with the Catholic Church. It will now be up to those who have made requests to the Holy See to respond to the Apostolic Constitution.

The Apostolic Constitution is further recognition of the substantial overlap in faith, doctrine and spirituality between the Catholic Church and the Anglican tradition. Without the dialogues of the past forty years, this recognition would not have been possible, nor would hopes for full visible unity have been nurtured. In this sense, this Apostolic Constitution is one consequence of ecumenical dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion[This is a joint statement, remember?  This statement (i.e., by Williams) seems very positive about what is happening.]

The on-going official dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion provides the basis for our continuing cooperation. [The talks continue!] The Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) and International Anglican Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM) agreements make clear the path we will follow together.  [Don’t hold your breath about an ordinariate for Anglicans who want homosexual marriage or women priests.  Just don’t.]

With God’s grace and prayer we are determined that our on-going mutual commitment and consultation on these and other matters should continue to be strengthened. Locally, in the spirit of IARCCUM, we look forward to building on the pattern of shared meetings between the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales and the Church of England’s House of Bishops with a focus on our common mission. Joint days of reflection and prayer were begun in Leeds in 2006 and continued in Lambeth in 2008, and further meetings are in preparation. This close cooperation will continue as we grow together in unity and mission, in witness to the Gospel in our country, and in the Church at large.

London, 20 October 2009

 + Vincent Gerard Nichols
   
 + Rowan Williams

As I read this I had the sense that Archbp. Williams has leaned very much in favor of union with Rome.  It is a joint statement, after all. 

But really… what is the alternative for Anglicans who really believe in God as God and who accept that Scripture contains the truth not subject to man’s whims or fads?

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31 Responses to Joint Statement of Archbps. Nichols (Catholic) and Williams (Anglican)

  1. bookworm says:

    Excellent news! I have a distant relative who jumped the Tiber as a married Episcopal priest, and years later, was ordained a Catholic priest.

    I wonder what this could mean for some of the more traditional/conservative Episcopal dioceses in the United States? I know there are at least a couple of Episcopal bishops in our area (central Illinois) who never got on board with ordaining women and gays, and who were quite friendly with their Roman Catholic counterparts.. . can’t help but wonder if they will take advantage of this.

    Next stop… Constantinople, or maybe Moscow?

  2. romanrevert says:

    This is TRUE ecumenism in action. Not the pot lucks and “what we have in common” talks. True ecumenism bears fruit and this is a wonderful example. I pray that it gains momentum. Pray for the Holy Father as he continues in his ministry.

  3. chcrix says:

    It seems very interesting to me that Archbishop Williams is joined in this statement. I have always thought him to be a good man but somewhat conflicted on a number of theological issues. Recently he has been showing a little more resistance (at least I think so) to some of the most radical forces in the Anglican Communion. Is this another part of that resistance?

    In the future I could see that communion split first between radical and traditional. But then I still don’t see how the disparate groups that can be considered traditional can continue together. Some women’s ordination – some not. Some ‘bells and smells’ and some ‘lower than a snake’s belly’.

    I could see the grouping between the more or less ‘protestant’ traditionalists and the catholic trads breaking up and leaving a group of catholics that needed a link to a bigger body.

    Could this also be part of a beginning to ‘rechristianize’ Europe by making accomodation for those who are really ‘going the church’s way’?

  4. patrick_f says:

    Well, You wont see complete reunification until the Archbishop of canterbury himself takes the jump. What a day that will be!

    Incidently, I thought I read somewhere the the Queen (IE the head of the Anglican Church) was becoming increasingly sympathetic towards Rome? Maybe I misunderstood somewhere. If so, I wonder if that has any bearing in anything.

  5. patrick_f says:

    I misspoke above, Queen to my understanding is the head of the Church of England, not the anglican church. I had thought there was a slight difference?

  6. Bornacatholic says:

    To me, this action sparks my imagination in such a way that I see our great Pope taking the hammer of reality and tapping it against the Pope of Ecumenism to see if he is really dead.

    He is.

    For far too long, Ecumenism has been a shovel-ready project trying to bury unchangeable Doctrine.

    I feel an immense gratitude today. This great man will do what he knows is right despite existing structures.

    Holy Cannoli, we have an historically great Pope.

  7. Grabski says:

    In this sense, this Apostolic Constitution is one consequence of ecumenical dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. [This is a joint statement, remember? This statement (i.e., by Williams) seems very positive about what is happening.]

    …..

    Is it possible that the statement is positive b/c this step allows Bp Williams to solve a headache, which the Anglican Traditionalists are becoming for the corporate organization?

  8. medievalist says:

    It’s telling that the traditional Anglicans identify their liturgical patrimony as something worthy of conservation, and Rome agrees.

    Pope Benedict, long, long may he reign, is quickly becoming the ecumenical pope. After the SSPX, and now this, he has done more for ecumenism in his short pontificate than all the previous committees and councils together.

  9. pseudomodo says:

    Interesting…

    Questions: Does Rowan Williams have the identical episcopal character as Vincent Gerard Nichols? Does Rome recognize his episcopal dignity (if he has any) in the same way as an Orthodox Bishop will have his episcopal dignity recognized?

    Will a priest ordinary have the same powers and authority as a bishop or will his authority be similar to that of an Abbot?

    Anyone?

  10. patrick_f says:

    It should be recognized. Despite the division, there is (to my knowledge) unbroken apostolic sucession. I believe thats one of the reasons for the dispensation for Anglican priests. Their ordination had to be recognized

  11. pseudomodo says:

    Thanks Patrick…

    Do you have any concrete example of priests who were not ordained or even conditionally ordained or even Bishops? I have not heard of any.

    All of the anglican priests and bishops who entered the Catholic church and were able to be ordained were ordained. Not one that I know of had his authentic priesthood recognized.

    Am I wrong?

  12. robtbrown says:

    It should be recognized. Despite the division, there is (to my knowledge) unbroken apostolic succession.
    Comment by patrick_f

    Why do you think there is Apostolic Succession?

  13. Jordanes says:

    Pseudomodo asked: Does Rowan Williams have the identical episcopal character as Vincent Gerard Nichols?

    No. The Church presumes that Rowan Williams has not been validly consecrated a bishop. But out of courtesy and respect, we refer to him by the office and title he holds in the Anglican Church.

    Does Rome recognize his episcopal dignity (if he has any) in the same way as an Orthodox Bishop will have his episcopal dignity recognized?

    No. Orthodox Bishops are presumed to be validly consecrated, as the Orthodox Churches have no break in their apostolic succession the way the Anglicans have.

    patrick_f said: It should be recognized. Despite the division, there is (to my knowledge) unbroken apostolic sucession.

    Not according to Leo XIII’s Apostolicae Curae:

    http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Leo13/l13curae.htm

    I believe thats one of the reasons for the dispensation for Anglican priests. Their ordination had to be recognized.

    As pseudomodo has observed, there has been no case of any converting Anglican priest having his ordination recognised. They have all had to undergo Catholic ordination if they wanted to be priets in the Catholic Church.

    The “dispensation” has to do with allowing them to be ordained even though they are married. It is not a recognition of the validity of their Anglican ordinations. If it were, why would they be required to receive Catholic ordination?

  14. nhaggin says:

    Actually, as per Pope Leo XIII’s bull Apostolicae curae, Anglican orders are invalid, and hence there is no apostolic succession.

  15. pseudomodo says:

    I think that Rome and the Catholic Hierarchy must share the blame for some of the confusion in the rank and file faithful. In refering to anglicans as Bishops and Priests, the Holy See is engaging in some rather poor ‘politickin’.

    In essence they say out of the left side of thier mouths, “His Grace the Archbishop N”, and out of the right side of thier mouths, “He is not ACTUALLY a Bishop nor a priest at all, he is a layman who dresses up as a clergyman!”.

    In addition, I would not be surprised if there are a signifigant number of anglican clergy who would be astonished that thier clergy would have to be ordained conditionally or unconditionally if they desired to be priests.

    Years ago the Bishop of London Graham Leonard was recieved into the catholic church and ORDAINED by Basil Cardinal Hume. He is now a monsignor. I acknowledge that his ordination was in fact conditional.

    It should be interesting to see how the TAC clergy are recieved!

  16. stbasil777 says:

    So, is it just odd to me that the Archbishop of Canterbury is involved with this statement? Why would he want to allow people to leave their community? It just seems … weird.

    Has anyone read the CNS article? It has some weird wording too. http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0904673.htm

    “It has always been the principal aim — the principal aim — to achieve the full, visible unity” of the Catholic Church and Anglican Communion, the cardinal said.

    In a letter to top Anglican leaders, Archbishop Williams said, “In the light of recent discussions with senior officials in the Vatican, I can say that this new possibility is in no sense at all intended to undermine existing relations between our two communions or to be an act of proselytism or aggression. It is described as simply a response to specific inquiries from certain Anglican groups and individuals wishing to find their future within the Roman Catholic Church.”

    Why are we afraid to say it: we want people to return to the Catholic Faith? “This is not an act of proselytism.” Is ecumenism just a new word, a less aggressive way, to say trying to convert people to the Faith?

    I’m glad and praise God for the conversions of these people into the Faith! It’s exciting! I just don’t get all of the wishy-washy words about it at times.

  17. pelerin says:

    I am very confused. When I was an Anglican I had never heard of the TAC. (I only learnt about it from this blog) There were High Church Anglicans known also as Anglo-Catholics and Low Church Anglicans many of whom used to say ‘I’m Anglican but don’t believe in God.’

    A commenter on Damian Thompson’s blog mentions the fact that the TAC broke away from the Church of England and is very small in Britain – only seven churches. Perhaps it is bigger in the States?

    If it is a breakaway church I cannot understand why the Archbishop of Canterbury is involved.

    One commenter on this blog mentioned the British cathedrals which belong to the Church of England, therefore have nothing to do with the TAC. I don’t think there is any chance of their reverting to being Catholic cathedrals in the near future! I get the impression that American readers think that all Anglicans are now poised to swim the Tiber.

  18. robtbrown says:

    Years ago the Bishop of London Graham Leonard was recieved into the catholic church and ORDAINED by Basil Cardinal Hume. He is now a monsignor. I acknowledge that his ordination was in fact conditional.
    Comment by pseudomodo

    Graham Leonard is the prime example. He said he would become a Catholic on the condition(s) that: Rome recognize that he had valid orders AND that he be a bishop.

    Rome’s answer was conditional ordination and no episcopal orders.

  19. patrick_f says:

    Thanks for clarifying the Ordinations nhaggin. I was always under a wrong impression . I also wasnt aware they were required the ordination. I humbly, stand corrected :)

    Obviously in the Anglican Communion, the “matter” of the sacrament would be void, once a woman was introduced. Also , how does one trace, who was ordained by who. If 20 years ago, a woman was ordained, who was made “bishop” and ordained a male, who ordained someone else, who decided they were TAC opposed to other, then yes that would be invalid. Leo in his wisdom (who In my opinion is one of the more Great popes) probably saw this, if nothing else from the perspective of Bishops that were “appointed” by the crown, thus another example of broken succession.

    I think more the impression, of american readers, well this one in particular, is a greater possibility of Key people coming over. Certainly the possibility is greater today than it was yesterday

  20. robtbrown says:

    A few comments on this problem:

    The impetus for Apostolicae Curae came from the Anglicans themselves. For the most part they didn’t concern themselves with Rome’s opinion that their orders were invalid. When Leo XIII decided to reestablish the English hierarchy, however, Anglicans suddenly became interested in the Roman opinion (in order to stop the reestablishment of the hierarchy). They asked Leo XIII to reexamine the question, which had really already been decided 200+ years earlier.

    Apostolicae Curae concerns itself with the combo of invalid intention and invalid Sacramental form. It has nothing to say on the matter of the possibility of ordaining women, which is question of Sacramental matter.

    The present situation is this: Anglican orders are of themselves invalid. The POSSIBILITY exists, however, that some might actually have received valid orders, e.g., by the presence of an Orthodox bishop at their ordination, but not as the ordaining celebrant. The situation in such cases is not that Rome says the orders are invalid, but rather that Rome cannot say that they are valid. That is the circumstance which necessitates conditional ordination.

  21. Daniel Latinus says:

    [Don’t hold your breath about an ordinariate for Anglicans who want homosexual marriage or women priests. Just don’t.]

    Actually, this turn of events might solve a problem for the CofE.

    Since the decision was made to allow the consecration of bishopesses in the CofE, orthodox Anglo-Catholics have been agitating for a “Third Province” alongside Canterbury and York, which would have only male clergy. There has been a bitter fight on the part of the heterodox to resist this, and to drive out of the CofE those who will not accept female clergy.

    I wonder if going along with this is a way to show the door to more orthodox Anglo-Catholics…

    When Graham Leonard was received into the Church, I heard he offered to produce a “pedigree” of his orders that demonstrated that Old Catholic and/or Eastern Orthodox bishops had been co-consecrators of the bishops who consecrated him, potentially showing he had valid orders. The Church wisely conditionally ordained Leonard to the priesthood. Conditional or absolute ordination of candidates received from the Anglican churches will eliminate any and all confusion regarding Anglican Orders.

  22. pelerin says:

    I have just watched the 6 o’clock BBC news in the hope of learning more about the statements.

    It was not mentioned…

  23. CPKS says:

    The BBC is likely (I fear) to ignore this story unless and until it can find an angle that reflects some discredit on to His Holiness.

  24. thereseb says:

    The BBC still has nothing on the News page. What a disgraceful apology for a news organisation it is.

  25. patrick_f says:

    IN other words your Conditional ordination is likened to Conditional Baptism, for people who were not sure they were baptized or the form could not be verified (IE Suzie went to Bob’s Church and grill, was baptized by imersion, but bob’s church has long been closed, and suzie doesnt remember who she was baptized in the name of?? )

    Is this correct thinking, with a loose analogy?

  26. MikeM says:

    Pelerin,

    While perhaps small in Britain, the TAC encompasses a growing number of communities around the world. I know a number of these people in the United States. There have also been Anglican leaders who have expressed interest in joining the Catholic Church but were opposed to making the transitory step to the TAC if they didn’t know that Rome would accept them.

    Since the Vatican is permitting an Anglican rite, any Anglicans looking to make the switch over will now be able to do so… this isn’t just for TAC churches.

    Does it mean that all Anglicans are about to convert? Of course not. But it does extend a rather warm invitation to the more Catholic-minded Anglicans… and it’s a significant number globally that the Anglican leadership can’t ignore it. I’m just surprised they’re not discouraging people from making the switch.

  27. robtbrown says:

    IN other words your Conditional ordination is likened to Conditional Baptism, for people who were not sure they were baptized or the form could not be verified (IE Suzie went to Bob’s Church and grill, was baptized by imersion, but bob’s church has long been closed, and suzie doesnt remember who she was baptized in the name of?? )
    Comment by patrick_f

    That’s pretty much it. I was an Anglican who decided to be conditionally Baptized in 1970 when I converted.

  28. Mitchell NY says:

    I still just do not get why so many disaffected Anglicans don’t simply join the Roman Catholic Church. Why make provisions to maintain Anglican “features”? If they are so close what is the need? I mean won’t this somewhere down the line lead to people questioning celebacy, or diminishing the use of Latin? How many seminarians may just chose to go through Catholic “Anglican” routes as oppossed to the more sacrificial nature of the Roman Catholic Priesthood? Isn’t this in effect watering down the Catholic identity a little? Or should I see it the other way around, as maybe “classifying” it as Anglican use, such as Dominican use, Tridentine use, German Mass, Spanish Mass etc. Just another classification… I do welcome them, and with all due love and respect I can say that often they have better reverant services and Mass than some NO parishes I just would like to understand better what the obstacles (by that I mean why not just jump into the existing structures) are that are being “waived” by doing it this way.

  29. Daniel Latinus says:

    I still just do not get why so many disaffected Anglicans don’t simply join the Roman Catholic Church. Why make provisions to maintain Anglican “features”? If they are so close what is the need?

    In my dealings with Anglo-Catholics, a lot of them are pretty put off by both the widespread dissent in the typical Catholic parish, and the sorry state of the liturgy as it is celebrated in those parishes. For them, joining the typical Catholic parish would amount to “jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire.” Let’s face it: the reform of the reform, and the hermeneutic of continuity haven’t yet permeated Roman Catholicism at the parish level. God hasten the day!

    I mean won’t this somewhere down the line lead to people questioning celebacy, or diminishing the use of Latin? How many seminarians may just chose to go through Catholic “Anglican” routes as oppossed to the more sacrificial nature of the Roman Catholic Priesthood?

    People are already questioning celibacy; this provision won’t effect that situation one way or the other.

    The Pastoral Provision presently governing the current Anglican Use parishes allows for qualified former Protestant ministers, who are married, to be ordained. (It applies to former ministers only, and is not automatic.) I believe there are also regulations that prevent using the Pastoral Provision as a way to circumvent the general law concerning celibacy. I would be surprised if this issue is not addressed in the Apostolic Constitution.

  30. JoeGarcia says:

    I must enthusiastically agree with Daniel Latinus’ 1st point. The abysmal liturgical state of the average Catholic parish is a very real, very troubling sticking points for many Anglicans.

  31. Jason Keener says:

    The dismal state of the Novus Ordo as found in most parishes is also a factor making dialogue difficult with the Eastern Orthodox. Orthodox Christians value true and beautiful Liturgy above all things, and they frankly cannot fathom how the Catholic Church basically destroyed Her Latin Church’s Liturgy over the last 40 years.

    I hope that Pope Benedict will soon celebrate a Mass in the Extraordinary Form for many reasons but especially to help the work of true ecumenism with the Anglicans and the Eastern Orthodox.