CDF will recommend a “personal prelature” for traditional Anglicans

I had some interesting news forwarded by many readers.  It is a report from The Record which is getting some focus.

It seems that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has recommended that the Traditional Anglican Communion be brought into unity with the Catholic Church and perhaps given the canonical structure of a personal prelature, much like Opus Dei enjoys.

I ask, if the minimum of theological difficulties with the SSPX can be ironed out, and there is a clear manifestation of obedience to the Holy Father (manifested in actions not just words)….

Okay… you get the point.

Let’s look at the piece in The Record about this Anglicans.

Healing the Reformation’s fault lines

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

History may be in the making. It appears Rome is on the brink of welcoming close to half a million members of the Traditional Anglican Communion into membership of the Roman Catholic Church, writes Anthony Barich. Such a move would be the most historic development in Anglican-Catholic relations in the last 500 years. But it may also be a prelude to a much greater influx of Anglicans waiting on the sidelines, pushed too far by the controversy surrounding the consecration of practising homosexual bishops, women clergy and a host of other issues. [This would be a huge blow to the "liberal" or "progressivist" sector of the Anglican Communion, which remains open to women priests, bishops and actively ministry by openly homosexual men.]

The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has decided to recommend the Traditional Anglican Communion be accorded a personal prelature akin to Opus Dei, if talks between the TAC and the Vatican aimed at unity succeed, it is understood.  [if… if…]

The TAC is a growing global community of approximately 400,000 members that took the historic step in 2007 of seeking full corporate and sacramental communion with the Catholic Church – a move that, if fulfilled, will be the biggest development in Catholic-Anglican relations since the English Reformation under King Henry VIII.

TAC members split from the Canterbury-based Anglican Communion headed by Archbishop Rowan Williams over issues such as its ordination of women priests and episcopal consecrations of women and practising homosexuals.

The TAC’s case appeared to take a significant step forwards in October 2008 when it is understood that the CDF decided not to recommend the creation of a distinct Anglican rite within the Roman Catholic Church – as is the case with the Eastern Catholic Churches – but a personal prelature, a semi-autonomous group with its own clergy and laity[So, it wouldn’t be a unique "Church".]

Opus Dei was the first organisation in the Catholic Church to be recognised as a personal prelature, a new juridical form in the life of the Church. A personal prelature is something like a global diocese without boundaries, headed by its own bishop and with its own membership and clergy.
Because no such juridical form of life in the Church had existed before, the development and recognition of a personal prelature took Opus Dei and Church officials decades to achieve.
An announcement could be made soon after Easter this year. It is understood that Pope Benedict XVI, who has taken a personal interest in the matter, has linked the issue to the year of St Paul, the greatest missionary in the history of the Church.  [Another fruit of the Pauline year.]

The Basilica of St Paul outside the Walls could feature prominently in such an announcement for its traditional and historical links to Anglicanism. Prior to the English Reformation it was the official Church of the Knights of the Garter.

The TAC’s Primate, Adelaide-based Archbishop John Hepworth, told The Record he has also informed the Holy See he wants to bring all the TAC’s bishops to Rome for the beatification of Cardinal Henry Newman, also an Anglican convert to the Catholic Church, as a celebration of Anglican-Catholic unity.

Although Cardinal Newman’s beatification is considered to be likely by many, the Church has made no announcement that Cardinal Newman will be beatified.

Archbishop Hepworth personally wrote to Pope Benedict in April 2007 indicating that the TAC planned a meeting of its world bishops, where it was anticipated they would unanimously agree to sign the Catechism of the Catholic Church and to seek full union with the Catholic Church. [God willing!]

This took place at a meeting of the TAC in the United Kingdom. TAC bishops placed the signed Catechism on the altar of the most historical Anglican and Catholic Marian shrine in the UK, the National Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham in Norfolk, before posting it up in the main street in an effort to gather public support.  [May Our Lady of Walsingham bring England back to the Faith.]

Archbishop Hepworth, together with TAC bishops Robert Mercer and Peter Wilkinson, presented the signed items personally to Fr Augustine Di Noia OP, the CDF’s senior ecumenical theologian, on October 11, 2007, in a meeting organised by CDF secretary Archbishop Angelo Amato.

Bishop Mercer, a monk who is now retired and living in England, is the former Anglican Bishop of Matabeleland, Zimbabwe. Bishop Wilkinson is the TAC’s diocesan bishop in Canada.

TAC’s Canadian Bishop Peter Wilkinson has close ties to the Catholic hierarchy in British Columbia, which has also met the CDF on the issue. He has already briefed Vancouver archdiocesan priests.

One potential problem for the Holy See would be the TAC’s bishops, most of whom are married. Neither the Roman Catholic nor Eastern Catholic churches permit married bishops.  [This is probably why it cannot be its own "Church" in union with the Holy See.  The personal prelature is more flexible.  And perhaps the married bishops would be willing to function as priests.  This is interesting.]

Before he became Pope, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger discussed the issue of married bishops in the 1990s during meetings of the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission exploring unity, before the Anglican Church’s ordination of women priests derailed it.

One former Anglican priest who became a Catholic priest told The Record that the ideal end for the TAC would be to become the 28th Rite within the Catholic Church, along with the Eastern Churches, which have the same sacraments and are recognised by Rome.

The TAC’s request is the closest any section of the Anglican Church has ever come to full communion with Rome because the TAC has set no preconditions. Instead it has explicitly submitted itself entirely to the Holy See’s decisions.  [Okay… this should be the model for the SSPX.   This is why this is taking place so quickly.  No matter what, the Holy See should also offer to hear the concerns of the SSPX.  In the end, it is the attitude behind the approach that must make the difference.]

Six days prior to the October 11 meeting between TAC bishops and the Holy See – on October 5 – the TAC’s bishops, vicars-general of dioceses without bishops, and theological advisers who assisted in a plenary meeting signed a declaration of belief in the truth of the whole Catechism of the Catholic Church.

The declaration said, in part: “We accept that the most complete and authentic expression and application of the Catholic faith in this moment of time is found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and its Compendium, which we have signed, together with this letter as attesting to the faith we aspire to teach and hold.”

Statements about the seriousness of the division between the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church caused by issues such as the ordination of women priests were emphasised at the wordwide Lambeth Conference held in the UK in 2008.

At the conference, three Catholic cardinals – Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, the Archbishop of Westminster Cormac Murphy-O’Connor and the Prefect for the Vatican’s Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, Ivan Dias, the Pope’s personal envoy, all addressed the issue.

Cardinal Dias, who favours welcoming traditionalist Anglicans into the Catholic Church, bluntly told the Anglican Communion’s 650 bishops that they are heading towards “spiritual Alzheimer’s” and “ecclesial Parkinson’s”. [Brilliant phrases!]

“By analogy, (Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s) symptoms can, at times, be found even in our own Christian communities. For example, when we live myopically in the fleeting present, oblivious of our past heritage and apostolic traditions, we could well be suffering from spiritual Alzheimer’s. And when we behave in a disorderly manner, going whimsically our own way without any co-ordination with the head or the other members of our community, it could be ecclesial Parkinson’s.”  [Well done.]

Cardinal Kasper warned Anglican bishops that Rome would turn to smaller ecumenical communities if the Anglican Communion at large proved unapproachable ecumenically.

This is bad news for the Anglican Communion, but good news for the TAC.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Brick by Brick. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Paul says:

    “Faith of our fathers, Mary’s prayers
    Shall win our country back to Thee;
    And through the truth that comes from God,
    England shall then indeed be free.”

  2. James says:

    Why a personal prelature, and not a sui juris church?

  3. irishgirl says:

    Wow-what news!

    May this come about soon!

    I echo the ‘spiritual Alzheimer’s/ecclesial Parkinson’s’ of Cardinal Dias!

  4. Woody Jones says:

    I have commented extensively on this over at Rorate and will not repeat it here except to say that I pray, and I know all other Anglican Usage Catholics are praying, for this to happen in the right manner and soon. We need our Anglican brethren in the Church, in the right juridical structure, so that the legitimate aspirations of all of us to preserve all that is good in our Anglican heritage and identity while also fully adhering to Catholic faith and morals, in full communion with the Vicar of Christ, currently our beloved Holy Father Benedict XVI, now happily reigning, can be achieved, for the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls.

  5. Chris says:

    Granted, I haven’t mulled over this for very long, but my initial reaction is that this is a brilliant idea. The Church is not delaying their entrance into full communion, and allowing them to enter as a body. If I am correct, the move to be a personal prelature means that they will only need have one unmarried bishop as their head, not the hierarchy necessary for a sui juris church. The question, for me, is whether this move is done because of the problem of married bishops in the TAC, or is it because setting up a sui juris church might be a stumbling block to the whole anglican communion entering the Church. (the latter was certainly not the case with the Eastern sui juris churches, however).
    So, is this bishop Hepworth unmarried, or will someone else be at the stern?

  6. William Tighe says:

    All the TAC bishops will have to demit their offices: most are married, some are divorced-and-remarried and some (including Archbishop Hepworth), as well as falling into one or more of the foregoing categories, are former Catholic priests. Perhaps some will be ordained (conditionally or not, as the case may be) to the diaconate and presbyterate, but I doubt to the episcopate.

  7. QC says:

    Wow, this would be awesome! St. Paul pray for us! St. Augustine of Canterbury pray for us! St. Bede pray for us! All the English martyrs, pray for us!

  8. Austin says:

    Bp. Robert Mercer was the rector of our Anglican parish in then Salisbury, Rhodesia. He is a Community of the Resurrection monk, and, I think, something
    of a saint. He was Bishop of Matableland until he courageously defected to the TAC, then served as a bishop for them in Canada. Men such as he would
    be a great gift to the Church. He is more faithful to the magisterium, though outside the Church, than are many of its actual bishops in the UK.

    There are quite a few odd-balls and nutters in the TEC, however, and I doubt both their cited membership numbers and the theological understandings of many parishoners. But this strategy of the Holy Father’s is probably directed more at the Anglicans still in their national churches than the TAC–he is offering a generous opportunity to come home bringing non-essential (but emotionally important) bits of baggage to ease the passage.

  9. Mitch says:

    I have been hoping for a sui juris church. But this would be great too. If they do join the church it will be incredible day for the Church. I understand the fact that they will have no bishops if they come into the Church prevents a sui juris Church. But still that would be nice if they had that status.

    Whatever is done I hope they would rehabilitate the Sarum Rite (maybe translated into english) I think that would be the best. It would make them identifiably unique within the Church.

    I have often speculated on the idea of \”if\” the western church was more like the eastern church in that lets say the anglo church that is US, England, S. Africa, Nigeria, Australia, etc. was its own sui juris church lead by a Patriarch using the sarum rite. Then there could be a Gaulic Church of France, and Germany and their descendents/ fmr colonies using the Gaulic rites. A African Church that was in eastern africa (areas where swahili is the language)with a unique rite allowed to develop there. Latin Church in Italy, Spain, Protugal N. Africa, and fmr colonies thereof with the Roman Rite as its basis. Etc. Its by no means a perfect idea, and obviously not the way the holy Spirit has moved the church, but it would be an interesting set up. And to boot, it would balance out the influence of sui juris churchs (east vs west) with the Pope. And we could have Patriarch Burke… hehe. I realize that is the opposite of what happened at Trent. And I know thats what the church needed then was more unity, but now I personally feel more diverse rites in the western church could benefit us, and provide for better authentic inculturation, instead of having a rigid Latin Frame that can easily be inculturated in some places and hard to in others without loosing what makes it the Latin Rite.
    just my 2 cents on a vaugly related issue. I\’m sure you all will stomp on it, but none the less I think it is interesting to speculate the \”what if\” of that possibility as unrealistic as it may be.

  10. variously curious says:

    So this will be the second Personal Prelature in the Church, after Opus Dei, correct?

  11. Brian2 says:

    This is great, wonderful news.

    I think the reason CDF inclines towards a personal prelature rather than sui iuris church is historical: prior to the Reformation, the Church in England was part of the Roman patriarchate, so as such it should be again. Most sui iuris churches, as I understand it, were largely self-governing in one form or another from time immemorial or born from the synodal structure of the Orthodox, where individual regional/ethnic churches were more autonomous. When some of these churches re-established relations with Rome, this autonomy was recognized by the sui iuris status.

    But I am not a church historian/ecclesiologist, so I could be wrong and welcome correction.

    I believe the married bishops indicated that they would step down and serve as priests if need be.
    The humility of these guys is humbling!

  12. chironomo says:

    It is incredible to me the various things that have been going on “beneath the surface” since the promulgation of Summorum Pontificum. Is this related? I think it is, in that it is yet another example of bringing back to the church something which should never have been lost. And these groups (TAC, SSPX) all have in common their roots in tradition and position in opposition to modernism. Without seeming too simplistic, it is essentially increasing the prominence of “Tradition” within the church without having to “convert” progressives. I see more to come very soon…

  13. craig says:

    James, I think the idea is that since the Church in England all the way from the time of Augustine of Canterbury to the time of Henry VIII (roughly AD 600-1500) was part of the Latin Rite, it properly should be restored to it.

    But the Latin Rite never was monolithic (despite the claims of some EF hardliners) and still is not; the real question is, what of the Anglican liturgical tradition will remain and be allowed to flourish and develop assuming reunion is happily achieved? It would be a shame if these Anglican bishops, having taken risks of their own and submitted with exemplary humility, should be shorn of their past reverential practices and ordered to report to liturgical re-education camps. I don’t think for a second that Benedict wants that, but who knows how anything will actually turn out.

  14. Matthew says:

    As a former minister in the Episcopal Church and now aspirant to reordination under the Pastoral Provision (effective here in the U.S.A. only), I have followed this whole matter with great interest. I have been fervently hoping and praying for the TAC’s reconciliation. Several related questions immediately comes to my mind. Would such a prelature be exclusively for TAC Anglicans or would it be open to Canterbury Anglicans too? If a personal prelature were to be established, would that be the ‘place’ to which all Anglican clergy converts throughout the world would be expected to make application for reordination? Would that mean, in the case of the United States, for example, the end of the Pastoral Provision (by means of which applicants eventually become diocesan priests) or would it continue? Could those already reordained under the Provision now serving as diocesan priests and could even personal Anglican Use parishes move over into such a prelature? No doubt these and many other very important, very practical questions are being considered. Not only should we pray for dispositions conducive to reconciliation, but also for a great increase of wisdom and prudence–especially for the Holy Father and those advising him on these matters.

  15. ED says:

    I just hope that when they return they drop Anglican from their name (theres enough confusion today) and they must be 100% Catholic,please remind them this ain’t Protestanism. Also to show they have returned to where they left they should use the Liturgy that was used before Henry 8th broke away. This will show they have returned to TRADITION. Maybe revive the Sarum Use and others. I dont want anything associated with Cromwell or Cramner brought in with them . No new prayerbooks

  16. IvoDeNorthfield says:

    As a personal prelature, would they have the right ordain married men into the priesthood?

  17. YoungCatholicSTL says:

    Fr. Z:

    Can you explain how a personal prelature functions and how (other than the form of the mass) it differs from its own Rite?

  18. Gravitas says:

    Father, would this give them their own liturgy for all time?

    Would they have to comply with, say, Summorum Pontificum?

  19. Jay says:

    Ed – you’re about 25 years too late to complain about the use of Anglican liturgies in the Catholic Church. Anglican Use parishes in the Catholic Church have been using an edited form of the Book of Common Prayer approved by the Vatican since their creation in the early 80’s. You can read one of the masses here: – and yes, it has some Cranmer’s language in it, such as the Prayer of Humble Access.

  20. Tominellay says:

    …more great news; what a great pope…

  21. Matthew says:

    To answer “chironomo,” I think the answer to your question is “yes, this is related to Summorum Pontificum.” The Anglican Missal, in widespread use in TAC churches, is a kind of mash-up of the historic Book of Common Prayer and the Gregorian Mass. I’d venture a good guess that a very-much dog eared copy of Fortesque sits in an easy-to-reach place in most TAC sacristies. Prayer Book revision (which was very much along the same lines as the revisions that resulted Novus Ordo Missae–and equally as important in the manner in which Masses using that missal came to be used whether the missal required it or not) was vigorously opposed by those who eventually came together to form the TAC. Prof. Tighe is certainly in a better position to comment about this, but I am firmly of the opinion that the tectonic changes in Catholic life (in the Latin Church, at least) during the 10-15 years the followed the Second Vatican Council greatly confused many–even most–catholic minded Anglicans and actually PREVENTED so very many from converting. Jumping onto the barque of Peter while it was rocking about and talking on a lot of water just seemed neither prudent nor attractive.

  22. William Tighe says:

    It will be interesting to see what will be the “clerical marital discipline” for this group. One might reasonably expect that, as a Personal Prelature within the Latin Church, they would follow the same discipline as the Latin Church. I have read persistent reports, though, that they will follow the traditional “Eastern Discipline” (celibate bishops; ordination of married as well as single men to the diaconate and presbyterate; no marriage or remarriage after ordination in any circumstances). If this proves to be the case, however, it would open the door to the question of why have a Personal Prelature in the Latin Church at all, when their discipline is so different; why not have a kind of Apostolic Administration sui juris in immediate dependence on the Holy See?

  23. Astorg says:

    It would hardly be a blow to the evangelical wing of the Anglican Communion. It would be another nail in the coffin of Anglo-Catholicism. People forget here that Anglo-Catholics have always had the option of returning to Rome—and many have done so. In the US, the Catholic Church has even allowed the use of an adapted liturgy called the Anglican Use.

    Of course the institution of a personal prelature would create a huge impetus and have wide symbolic significance. But the “protestant” wing of the Anglican Communion will be laughing, not crying.

  24. Woody Jones says:

    Two more articles from The Record on this:

    Trad Anglicans endure trials awaiting unity

    We Must Welcome Anglicans Home, Says Bishop

  25. Byzshawn says:

    This is amazing news. God bless the TAC in its continuing search for unity. I’ve no doubt that, if this can be achieved, these people would be a great gift to the Church.

    God preserve and protect Our Holy Father Benedict XVI!

  26. Sid says:

    The good news just keeps arriving! I pray fervently that this news is true. Let’s rejoin! LET’S PARTY! If this and the reconciliation with the SSPX happens, it will be Benedict XVI who will be known as “Magnus”.

    Now the question is liturgy: Should the Anglican Usage be used? Or, my preference, the 1549 Prayerbook, the most Catholic of the Prayerbooks, is used, removing Cranmer’s Memorialist language and replacing it with Transubstantiation and Sacrifice, providing the Roman Canon as an option, including some other tidying up, keeping Cranmer’s glorious collects, and then for the Mass the work is done. For the Office, I wonder if the Roman OF, better translated, would do.

    AS for the MEF, the authorizing of one traditionalist liturgy will help the propagation of another.

  27. Erasmus says:

    As a former Anglican, this brings tears to my eyes. Deo gratias!

  28. That’s another good news! Thanks be to God.

    Let’s continue to pray for these 2 groups: SSPX & the Traditional Anglicans in their discussions with the Holy See.

    Let’s also pray for other non-Catholic Christians that they will be converted to the Catholic Faith.

  29. Lcb says:

    Concerning a prelature… I am reminded of an old saying: what happens once can not happen again, what happens twice can surely happen a third time.

    SSPX, note this well.

  30. David says:

    Okay, before everyone starts partying…

    “the most complete”…”in this moment of time” is the Cathechism of the Catholic Church? Does that mean they don;t agree with everything in the Cathechism, or that they don’t accept what the Church has taught in the past? If so, this union should absolutely NOT happen. Does this mean they reserve the right not to accept the dogmatic decrees and anathemas of the Council of Trent.

    If the SSPX (may) be held out for their reservations about (PASTORAL) Vatican 2, then how cna the Anglicans not have to sign that they hold no reservations about the DOGMATIC anathemas proclaimed by Trent???

    “the most complete”…”in this moment of time” should be replaced by “complete” and “always” or else it proves that these people do not accept the Catholic Faith in its entirelty.

  31. William Tighe says:

    “Now the question is liturgy: Should the Anglican Usage be used? Or, my preference, the 1549 Prayerbook, the most Catholic of the Prayerbooks, is used, removing Cranmer’s Memorialist language and replacing it with Transubstantiation and Sacrifice, providing the Roman Canon as an option, including some other tidying up, keeping Cranmer’s glorious collects, and then for the Mass the work is done.”

    Since the “Prayer of Consecration” in the 1549 BCP is clearly and explicitly a “correction” of the “errors” of the Roman Canon, I think it should go entirely, and be replaced by the Roman Canon. If you want to look at a “distinctively Anglican” Eucharistic Prayer that might be adapted with minimal changes, then one should look at that contained inn the 1764 Scottish (Episcopalian) Communion Office. It is basically Cranmerian language reworked to fit into the mould and form of an Eastern anaphora, like that of St. John Chrysostom, St. James and the like. It contains an explicit petition (epiklesis) that the bread and wine “may become” the Body and Blood of Christ. That same Prayer of Consecration was adopted by the Episcopal Church in 1789 in a slightly “protestantized” or “ambiguated” form, and survives unchanged in their 1928 Prayer Book, and as an option in their 1979 revision.

  32. Bernie says:

    I understand the difference between TAC and pastoral provision communities but I’d like to ask about liturgies and devotional practices specifically.

    Could someone please say a word or two on the differences between TAC liturgies and the Anglican Use (as in those parishes under the pastoral provision in the US?).


  33. Sid says:

    1. Mr. Tighe I thank for his suggestion of the 1764 Communion Prayer. I’d love to read it! Could he provide a link? Thanks.

    2. The Basilica of St Paul outside the Walls could feature prominently in such an announcement for its traditional and historical links to Anglicanism. Prior to the English Reformation it was the official Church of the Knights of the Garter.

    St. Paul Outside the Walls is big enough for this purpose of announcing the union. For a more permanent church in Rome for the TAC in Union, what would y’all suggest? Could the monks at San Gregorio al Celio be persuaded to share their church? There are some good stone memorials there from Englishmen honoring the pope who sent Christianity to England. Or another church in Rome?

  34. Danby says:

    Many ask why a prelature and not a sui iuris church? The answer it seems to me is obvious. Married priests. A sui iuris church would make sense if the TAC were to be allowed their own seminaries and to ordain married seminarians. As a prelature, they can take and re-ordain in married priests, as is done here in America under the Pastoral Provision, but not to follow the Anglican practice of ordaining married men as a normal course of action. It would also be much easier to assimilate a personal prelature into the wider church at a later date, which is likely a concern.

  35. Basil says:

    The issues of bishops isn’t really relevant: as far as I know every TAC bishop has expressed their willingness to step down and act only as priests if that is what is necessary to achieve full communion.

    For the rest, I posted this at my blog ( ), but I’ll repost it here as well:

    “Rumors are flying once again that Rome has decided to accept the Traditional Anglican Communion as a personal prelature. While, as a TAC person, I pray daily for the unity of TAC and Rome, there doesn’t seem to be any solid basis for the current round of speculations. As many people have pointed out, the current rumors all go back to a story in an Austrailian Catholic newspaper called The Record. The basis of this is the story?

    “The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has decided to recommend the Traditional Anglican Communion be accorded a personal prelature akin to Opus Dei, if talks between the TAC and the Vatican aimed at unity succeed, it is understood. ”

    Understood by? This information is sourced to precisely no one. And since I figure only the the Pope, the CDF, and perhaps some other parts of the Curia, actually know anything solid, and I doubt The Record has better sources with them than many other news sources, I figure this is just more rumors and speculations this reporter is taking as facts. (The other plausible source for the information, it being an Australian publication, would be Archbishop Hepworth, but if he knew anything for sure he could publicly share, I think he’d let the rest of TAC know before a local Catholic newspaper.).

    But apart from the current rumors, it’s worth examining the idea of a personal prelature for traditional Anglicans in its own right. Here is the relevant section of the current Code of Canon Law:

    ” * Can. 294 After the conferences of bishops involved have been heard, the Apostolic See can erect personal prelatures, which consist of presbyters and deacons of the secular clergy, to promote a suitable distribution of presbyters or to accomplish particular pastoral or missionary works for various regions or for different social groups.
    * Can. 295 §1. The statutes established by the Apostolic See govern a personal prelature, and a prelate presides offer it as the proper ordinary; he has the right to erect a national or international seminary and even to incardinate students and promote them to orders under title of service to the prelature.
    * §2. The prelate must see to both the spiritual formation and decent support of those whom he has promoted under the above-mentioned title.
    * Can. 296 Lay persons can dedicate themselves to the apostolic works of a personal prelature by agreements entered into with the prelature. The statutes, however, are to determine suitably the manner of this organic cooperation and the principal duties and rights connected to it.
    * Can. 297 The statutes likewise are to define the relations of the personal prelature with the local ordinaries in whose particular churches the prelature itself exercises or desires to exercise its pastoral or missionary works, with the previous consent of the diocesan bishop.”

    First of all, two preliminaries to the discussion: first and most importantly, I think that in a spirit of obedience to the Holy See, TAC should accept whatever arrangement is given to us. Second, I don’t really know what I’m talking about and am just going by what I read in the Code of Canon Law and the commentary I found on Google Books, and I would be delighted to be corrected by anyone who knows better.

    However, I have to say a personal prelature doesn’t seem like the best arrangement for several reasons. First, for their erection, they need consultation from national episcopal conferences, and I doubt England would be particularly happy about the idea. Second, they are not particular churches, and since TAC thinks of itself now as a particular church or a communion of particular churches (though one not yet in full communion with Rome), for it to suddenly cease being a particular church at all upon coming into communion with Rome would be odd and somewhat at odds with the idea of “unity without absorption”. Third, it seems like the consent of the diocesan bishop is required for the operation of the prelature within its boundaries, which could potentially be a problem, as it already has been with the pastoral provision. Finally and perhaps most importantly from an emotional perspective, the status of laypeople is a little unclear. The prelatures seem to be primarily associations of clergy with whom laypeople cooperate while remaining primarily members of their local dioceses. But traditional Anglican laypeople have a strong sense of Anglican identity, and I think a lot of them would have a difficult time accepting some structure which included their clergy but not (really) themselves. And this is important because whatever arrangement the TAC makes with Rome, TAC’s clergy then have to “sell” to their people, and however much people “should” make such decisions on theological grounds, they don’t, and such emotional factors play a big role.

    But, of course, it lies well within the Holy Father’s power to make something which is like a personal prelature, but which addresses these concerns, if he thinks it best.” [perhaps an apostolic administration of some sort?]”

  36. Magdalene says:

    Welcome home, I say.

  37. Bryan says:

    Benedict the Great?

    I like it.

    Amazing the influence this simple ‘laborer in the garden of the Lord’ has through the depth of his witness and faith.

    It’s said that some men are born to greatness, others have it thrust upon them, and yet others confound their skeptics. I think we’re seeing all three, wrapped up in one great Pope, a humble man totally in service to the Lord and the Church he founded.

    We have much to be thankful for. I’m sure all the ‘i’s and ‘t’s have to be worked out…but, news like this, less than a week after the SSPX remitting of the excommunications, can’t help but increase the need for prayers in the days and weeks ahead.

    God grant him many years to reign gloriously over a revitalized Church!.

  38. B. says:

    People get all excited over reports like this, and I admit, I do, too. But looking at the facts reveals that there are heaps of problems.

    Many of their clergy are unacceptable for the Catholic priesthood. Their Archbishop John Hepworth is an ex-catholic priest who ran away to marry, and that is true of quite a number of their priests. Many of their clergy are divorced and remarried.

    As a quite peculiar example, one of their priests converted from anglicanism directly to the SSPX, then went through the seminaries of several Novus Ordo institutes, joined the Seminary of the ICRSP, then became anglican again. After becoming Catholic again and realizing that he was no longer electable to become a priest after leaving the Church (after five years in Catholic seminaries) he decided that the pope wasn’t the pope after all and became a sede priest. Then a sede bishop. Then he was ordained priest and bishop again by another sede bishop who thought his line invalid. Then he joined the TAC and married, while blaming his “immense suffering” on “the anonymous and cynical legalism of the Church authorities”.

    That’s the stuff TAC priests are made from.
    You cannot have people who left Catholicism to marry become Catholic priests. How could you explain that to those who had themselves laicised to marry and stayed Catholic, or to those priests who currently struggle with celibacy?

  39. William Tighe says:

    Here are links, as requested above by Sid, to the various Anglican rites. Please note that what is at issue is not the “Communion Service” or “Lord’s Supper” as a whole, but only the “Prayer of Consecration” in each one of them.

    First, the 1764 Scottish Rite:

    then, the adaptation ca. 1786 of that rite by PECUSA Bishop of Connecticut Samuel Seabury for his diocese:

    and, finally, the PECUSA rite of 1789, which, as regards the Prayer of Consecration, is identical with that of 1928:

    The first, minor but not negligible, difference between 1764 and 1789 is at the beginning of the Prayer, where 1789 restores Cranmer’s word “one” (from his 1552 rite and preserved in the 1662 English rite) in place of the 1764 “own:”


    ALL glory be to thee, Almighty God, our heavenly Father, for that thou of thy tender mercy didst give thy only Son Jesus Christ to suffer death upon the cross for our redemption; who (by his own oblation of himself once offered) made a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world, and did institute, and in his holy gospel command us to continue a perpetual memorial of that his precious death and sacrifice until his coining again.”


    “ALL glory be to Thee Almighty God, our heavenly Father, for that Thou, of Thy tender mercy, didst give Thine only Son Jesus Christ to suffer death upon the Cross for our redemption; Who made there (by his one oblation of Himself once offered) a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world; and did institute, and in His holy Gospel command us to continue, a perpetual memory of that His precious death and sacrifice, until His coming again:”

    More considerable, though, is the alteration in the wording of “The Invocation” in each prayer. That of 1764 was composed by the Scottish Episcopalian bishops at the time; that of 1789 reverted to the words of Cranmer’s 1552 rite (which likewise remain in the 1662 English and 1928 PECUSA rites).


    “And we most humbly beseech thee, O merciful Father, to hear us, and of thy almighty goodness vouchsafe to bless and sanctify, with thy word and holy Spirit, these thy gifts and creatures of bread and wine, that they may become the body and blood of thy most dearly beloved Son. And we earnestly desire thy fatherly goodness, mercifully to accept this our sacrifice of praise and thanks giving, most humbly beseeching thee to grant, that by the merits and death of thy Son Jesus Christ, and through faith in his blood, we (and all thy whole church) may obtain remission of our sins, and all other benefits of his passion.”


    “And we most humbly beseech thee, O merciful Father, to hear us; and, of thy almighty goodness, vouchsafe to bless and sanctify, with thy Word and Holy Spirit, these thy gifts and creatures of bread and wine; that we, receiving them according to thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ’s holy institution, in remembrance of his death and passion, may be partakers of his most blessed Body and Blood. And we earnestly desire thy fatherly goodness, mercifully to accept this our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving; most humbly beseeching thee to grant, that by the merits and death of thy Son Jesus Christ, and through faith in his blood, we, and all thy whole Church, may obtain remission of our sins, and all other benefits of his passion.”

    All this may amount to little more than antiquarian lore, as hardly anyone can use today the 1764 Scottish Rite (which was superseded in Scotland by a more “mainstream” rite in 1929, and in recent years by “contemporary” revisions), and in (P)ECUSA the 1928 book was superseded by a new book in 1979. Anglo-Catholics generally use the modern Anglican rites, or hybrid rites like the English Missal (a conflation of the Tridentine Mass in English with some Anglican prayers included as alternatives or supplements) or the Anglican Missal (like the English Missal, but including more distinctively Anglican stuff) — or, in England, the 1970 Novus Ordo Mass, usually in the bad old official ICEL translation, but sometimes as improved by them.

  40. Fr. Anthony says:

    I exercise my right of reply to the Comment by B. — 29 January 2009 @ 1:38 pm

    I would like to point out one or two things.

    1. I did not make any application to Rome, and I have nothing to do with the decision of my Hierarchy to make this step in regard to Rome.

    2. I will accept Rome’s judgement via my own Archbishop. If I am told I am not part of the deal, then I will accept this. I will totally withdraw from the Internet and no one will ever hear of me again.

    3. I will not be cowed, even if you find old stuff I wrote before I found Christ’s mercy and pastoral welcome in Archbishop Hepworth. I have to admit that I did many things under illusion, and have made many mistakes. If I had my life over again, and had any choice, I would have preferred not to have known anything about Catholicism, especially not the kind you seem to represent. I should have become a doctor like my brother – then I might have done some good.

    4. I hope Christ will have the same “mercy” on you as you would show in my regard! Ever read the Parable of the Two Debtors? Believe me, your secret sins will be flung in your face too when you leave this earth!

    We’ll see. In any case, I think this news story is all conjecture. If there was any truth to it, the CDF would not have allowed it to “leak”. So, it is all academic anyway.

    Also, please sign you name when you have such things to say.


  41. prof. basto says:

    My God! They placed a signed Catechism in the CDF’s hands in October 2007!!!! If they subscribe to the whole Catechism, are there any docrinal issues that still need to be ironed out? If not the TAC should be welcomed into the Church ASAP. Indeed, they should be regularized yesterday! Why is it that this is taking so long? Surely, if they set no preconditions, then the Vatican is in position to welcome them at any moment in time. The salvation of souls is at stake. The Vatican should be working 24-7 on this. I can’t understand why the signed Catechism was presented two years ago and the “deal” is not yet sealed.

  42. Martin says:

    I don’t think everyone should be so excited about the TAC story: the morality of the clergy and, most of all, their episcopate, is truly worrisome. I just don’t understand how fallen Catholic priests, could become Catholic priests again. In the case of the TAC bishops, the situation is even worse.

  43. B. says:

    Fr. Anthony, I do not judge you, but I think that your case is a good example of the problems inherent to a regularization of the TAC, something too many people here seem to forget.

    I do not understand why you hope Christ will have “mercy”. I hope he will have mercy.

  44. Fr. Anthony says:

    Comment by B. — 29 January 2009 @ 3:06 pm

    Dear B.,

    You did judge me. Also, I am not a \”case\” but a human person. If you want to raise objections about Rome and the TAC, I suggest you write to the Pope or stand on a soap box at Speakers\’ Corner in London. Don\’t take it up with me or this blog.

    If you want me to believe you are evil, then just continue….


  45. Martin says:

    Dear Fr. Anthony,

    What did you think of the Institute when you were there?


  46. Okay…. calm down, folks.

  47. Duane LCM Galles, JCD says:

    A personal prelature would be an interim, but not a “final solution.”
    The name suggests more than meets the eye of the canonical reality, which is merely a group of (secular) clergy and their ordinary. It is the scular analog to a religiouis order or congregation. Laity are not really part of it.
    What is needed is an Anglican ordinariate. There have been a number of these created for the faithful of the oriental churches living in the diaspora, e.g. in Argentina Pius XII, I think, created an ordinariate for the oriental faithful of that country. The ordinariate would include clergy and people and could be global in scope. Before Summorum Pontificum some suggested a Latin ordinariate with similar scope for those attached to what is now called the EF.


    Duane LCM Galles, JCD
    Minneapolis, MN

  48. Andrew, UK and sometimes Canada says:

    Pope Benedict may do more for Church unity than all the “spirit of the council” ever did. Not unkindly, he’s always resembled the emperor in Star Wars. Now he seems to be calling forth liturgical storm troopers to provide examples to us, especially in England, and to help us to storm the gates of Heaven.

    O Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and our most gentle Queen and Mother, look down in mercy upon England, thy dowry, and upon us all who greatly hope and trust in thee.
    By thee it was that Jesus, our Saviour and our hope, was given unto the world; and He has given thee to us that we may hope still more. Plead for us thy children, whom thou didst receive and accept at the foot of the Cross, O sorrowful Mother!
    Intercede for our separated brethren, that with us in the one true fold they may be united to the chief Shepherd, the Vicar of thy Son. Pray for us all, dear Mother, that by faith fruitful in good works we may all deserve to see and praise God, together with thee, in our heavenly home. Amen.

  49. Fr. Anthony says:

    I have written this on Word to give me the time to think. Permit me to write from the heart.

    I have just one more thing to say, as I have been “outed” as a thoroughly disreputable person, not because I have stolen money or taken away a child’s virtue – but because I badly converted to Roman Catholicism at a bad time of my life, and tried in good faith to find my way. I returned to Anglicanism, but a kind of Anglicanism that did not require me to abjure the Catholic Faith I professed in good faith.

    It is clear to me that the Pharisees of out time will move heaven and earth to impede any corporate reunion of Anglicans, giving us the choice of going to hell or individually converting under their terms – not those of the Church, but under their caricature of Pius IX Catholicism of the late 19th century. And those are the very people who would say “never mind” about the enormities of Bishop Williamson on Swedish TV! But I will not go on about that subject, to which our good Pope and Bishop Fellay have put an end.

    I have no idea about how Rome will decide about all this. They might go through all the clergy with a fine toothcomb and say “This one is divorced and remarried”. “That one used to be a Roman Catholic cleric”, and “the one over there got married after his ordination”. It doesn’t matter much in my “case”, but elsewhere, parishes will be left without priests. The extent of all this will bring everything to a broken deal. The price will be too high.

    Some tell me that Benedict XVI might prepare an “amnesty” for those who have not a criminal record or who are not on the register of sex offenders. This might be wishful thinking, or it might fit in with a logic of pastoral welcoming and canonical creative innovation that characterise this Pope. Who knows?

    We all have a long way to go. Did not Christ say that the first would be last and the last would come first. Some have approached Rome saying “See, we were right all along, and we have things to teach that Modernist Pope”. All we (or our Bishops) in the TAC have done is to profess the Catholic Faith, state our preferences and ask the Roman authorities for guidance. They go on about our “invalid Orders”, but we don’t go on about their invalid absolutions and weddings (because they are bound by Roman canon law and flout it). State of necessity? Perhaps, but every act of mercy and kindness is a “state of necessity”.

    If we have to return to the desert, too bad. We will have done what we thought was right, and we have only to spend what little remains of our earthly life in prayer and care of those less fortunate than ourselves.

    If the Pope wants to reject us, that is his prerogative, and we will pray for the Church, which obviously will go on without us – but wounded. He also has the power to regularise our irregularities, exercising not justice but mercy. He might really do this.

    Of course, my words will be dismissed by the hard of heart, whose Judgement will be according to divine justice, and it is for this reason I address myself to those who support Benedict XVI in his role as Good Pastor, and who will obtain mercy by being merciful.

    Fr. Anthony

  50. Sid says:

    Thanks, Mr. Tighe, for the links.

  51. Fr Anthony,

    From my vantage point, I hope you’re part of the deal! Don’t go away…we need faithful priests!!!

  52. MargaretC says:

    Please…Everybody take a deep breath.

    The sorry mess that the Anglican Communion now finds itself in has been a long time building and it generates all kinds of rumors. The Primates (i.e., the Archbishop of Canterbury and the other archbishops within the Communion) are scheduled to meet in Alexandria, Egypt in a few days to make yet another attempt to straighten things out. That this report comes out so close to the date of that meeting makes me a wee bit skeptical.

    Our Holy Father has demonstrated, however, that he’s willing to take bold action where necessary. IF the report is even partially true, the TAC would be the logical beneficiary. Of all the Anglican factions out there, they are the most Catholic in theology and doctrine, and they’re reasonably well organized.

    I was myself an Episcopalian for 35 years, until the accumulating absurdities got the better of me. I am still fond of many of them, but not enough to go down with their sinking ship.

  53. Tito Edwards says:

    Happy Happy! Joy Joy!

  54. contrarian says:

    \”One former Anglican priest who became a Catholic priest told The Record that the ideal end for the TAC would be to become the 28th Rite within the Catholic Church, along with the Eastern Churches, which have the same sacraments and are recognised by Rome.\”

    – right. Pope Leo XIII would be turning over in his grave. Anglicans think too much of themselves when the branch theory of christianity has been disavowed by Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox. Anglican Catholicism was always Rome\’s daughter, never her equal in Patriarchal Dignity (say like Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem). So why a new rite? Why not first resolve the liturgical issues of the Roman Rite?

  55. Woody Jones says:

    Dear Fr. Anthony,

    I, too, hope very much that you will be in the deal when it happens, and that right soon, too. We need all the help we can get here on the inside.

    This episode reminds me of something the perhaps soon to be glorified Fr. Seraphim Rose once talked about, remarking on the three monks on the Holy Mountain who thought everyone else there and elsewhere had apostatized (probably over the calendar) and thus there only the three of them to be in communion with each other. It’s good to want to be very orthodox, but one can carry it too far, after all.

    All the best.

  56. Fr. Anthony says:

    The story is dead. It seems that the CDF has denied the rumour.

    Fr. Anthony


    Source –

    A Vatican source has denied rumors that Rome has decided to create a personal prelature for members of the Traditional Anglican Communion.

    Leaders of the Traditional Anglican Communion, an international group of disaffected Anglicans that claims to have more than 400,000 members, have been in discussions with Rome since late 2007 about entering the Church as a corporate body.

    The group broke with the Anglican hierarchy in 1990 because of objections to the ordination of women and other heterodox actions undertaken by some of the churches that belong to the Anglican Communion.

    According to the reports circulating on the Internet, the Traditional Anglican Communion would be allowed to form a personal prelature modeled on the structure utilized by Opus Dei, to accommodate the clergy and lay members of the group.

    A personal prelature is a canonical structure that was proposed by the Second Vatican Council decree Presbyterorum Ordinis. The document states that “special personal dioceses or prelatures” should be established when necessary outside of the Church’s existing structures to deal with “particular pastoral works as are necessary in any region or nation anywhere on earth” (no. 10).

    Pope John Paul II created the first personal prelature for Opus Dei in 1982.

    But Rome has not reached a decision to create a similar personal prelature for the Traditional Anglican Communion, according to an official at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith who spoke today with Register correspondent Edward Pentin.

    Said the official, “It’s something that has appeared on the blogosphere and then been reiterated, but the truth is nothing’s been decided.”

  57. Anthony in Texas says:

    Fr. Anthony, our prayers are with you. I will offer my Holy Communion for you.


  58. Fr. Anthony says:

    Comment by Anthony in Texas — 30 January 2009 @ 10:44 am

    Thank you, and I will offer Mass for you and the kind persons who sympathise with the TAC in our aspiration to corporate reunion with the Successor of Saint Peter.

    Life continues, as does my daily round of duties. That’s what matters.

    Fr. Anthony

Comments are closed.