"Today the concept of truth is viewed with suspicion, because truth is identified with violence. Over history there have, unfortunately, been episodes when people sought to defend the truth with violence. But they are two contrasting realities. Truth cannot be imposed with means other than itself! Truth can only come with its own light. Yet, we need truth. ... Without truth we are blind in the world, we have no path to follow. The great gift of Christ was that He enabled us to see the face of God".Pope Benedict xvi, February 24th, 2012

The Church is ecumenical, catholic, God-human, ageless, and it is therefore a blasphemy—an unpardonable blasphemy against Christ and against the Holy Ghost—to turn the Church into a national institution, to narrow her down to petty, transient, time-bound aspirations and ways of doing things. Her purpose is beyond nationality, ecumenical, all-embracing: to unite all men in Christ, all without exception to nation or race or social strata. - St Justin Popovitch

Monday, 2 February 2015

THE CATHOLIC CHURCH AND ANGLICANS by Sandro Magistro with short commentary by me.

Anglicans and Orthodox. Cardinal Kasper Between a Rock and a Hard Place
The phone call in the middle of the night from the archbishop of Canterbury. The distrust of the Eastern Churches. The head of Catholic ecumenism takes us behind the scenes of "Anglicanorum cœtibus" 
by Sandro Magister

ROME, November 18, 2009 – Cardinal Walter Kasper has admitted it: "There has been a bit of confusion." He himself contributed to some of the confusion, involuntarily.

When on October 20 Cardinal William J. Levada, prefect of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, announced the imminent publication of an apostolic constitution that would regulate the admission of groups from the Anglican Communion into the Catholic Church, he, Kasper, president of the pontifical council for Christian unity and therefore absolutely entitled to be involved, was not in Rome, but in Cyprus, busy with completely unrelated matters.

From this, some deduced that Kasper had wanted to distance himself from a decision that was not his own and with which, perhaps, he did not entirely agree.

Cardinal Kasper was in Cyprus because the island was hosting, from October 16-23, the second round (after the first in Ravenna in 2007) of theological dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox on how to understand papal primacy. An ecumenical dialogue of capital importance, in which Kasper led the delegation from Rome.

There was, therefore, a perfect justification for his absence from Rome at the moment of the announcement of "Anglicanorum Cœtibus," finally signed by the pope on November 4 and made public on the 9th. But the silence that Kasper maintained on the question even after his return from Cyprus continued to prompt speculation about his reservations.

Cardinal Kasper broke this silence with an interview published in "L'Osservatore Romano" on November 15.

The interview is full of clarifying new information. And it gives a little glimpse behind the scenes.


"Let's stick to the facts," Cardinal Kasper says in the interview. "A group of Anglicans has asked freely and legitimately to enter the Catholic Church. This is not our initiative. They first approached our council [for Christian unity], and, as president, I replied that the competency belonged to the congregation for the doctrine of the faith. [...] The council has always been kept informed by the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, and it is not true that it was pushed aside. We did not participate directly in the conversations, but we were kept updated, as is proper. The text of the [apostolic] constitution was prepared by the congregation for the doctrine of the faith. We saw the draft and presented our proposals."

In any case, the gestation of "Anglicanorum Cœtibus" was kept secret until the last moment, even from the highest authorities of the Anglican Church. When the archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams (in the photo with Benedict XVI), was told that it was about to be published, Kasper was already in Cyprus. And he says that Williams called him in the middle of the night, to ask him for an explanation. Kasper says in the interview:

"We we talked about the significance of the new apostolic constitution, and I reassured him about the continuation of our direct talks, as indicated to us by Vatican Council II and as the pope desires. He replied to me that for him, this confirmation is a very important message."

A couple of days later, on October 20, Williams made the announcement from London about the upcoming release of the apostolic Constitution, together with the Catholic archbishop of Westminster, Vincent G. Nichols, at precisely the same time as Cardinal Levada was making the same announcement in Rome. For this reason as well, Kasper says that he appreciates "the balanced attitude" of the archbishop of Canterbury. "Our personal relationship is cordial and transparent. He is a man of spirituality, a theologian. In reality, the obstacles to ecumenical dialogue today can come only from tensions within the Anglican world."

This last statement must be stressed. In Kasper's view, both the desire of some Anglican groups to change to Catholicism and the obstacles to a more general reconciliation between Rome and Canterbury arise not from the desire of the Catholic Church to "expand its empire" ("a ridiculous comment," the cardinal snaps), but from causes entirely internal to the Anglican Communion.

The cardinal describes these causes in the interview:

"There followed the ordination of women to the priesthood and then to the episcopate, the consecration of a homosexual bishop, the blessing of same-sex couples: decisions that have provoked serious tensions within the composite Anglican world. The thrust of these events has also widened the rift with Catholics. In any case, the critical response to these developments has not come only from the pro-Catholic Anglicans. Essentially, not all of those who do not agree with these novelties want to become Catholic, in part because the majority of the Anglicans are of Evangelical inspiration."

Here the cardinal is alluding to the fact that most of the 77 million Anglicans in the world live in Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, and other African countries. And almost all of these oppose the "novelties" mentioned above, which are restricted to Great Britain and the United States. But this is not leading the Anglicans of Africa to want to become Catholic. The ones knocking at Rome's door are, instead, groups from England, America, Australia, who are in more direct contact with these tendencies they abhor, and have long been drawn to Catholicism.

For them, Kasper says, "the pope has opened the door with kindness, he has pointed out a way, he has offered a concrete possibility that is certainly not contrary to ecumenism. The decree 'Unitatis Redintegratio' of Vatican II had already clearly specified that ecumenism is one thing and conversion is another. But there is no contradiction."

But the cardinal also calls for prudence: "One must look at these people on a case-by-case basis. One does not become Catholic solely because of a disagreement with the decisions of one's own confession. Just as it is not sufficient to subscribe to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, although this is a significant decision."

Kasper mentions among the complicated practical questions "the preoccupation of some bishops with dividing their diocese: one part that enters the Catholic Church, and another that remains Anglican. How can a separation like that be managed?"

Then there is the case of the Traditional Anglican Communion, with about half a million followers:

"Almost two years ago, their representatives asked to be incorporated into the Catholic Church. But they didn't participate in the conversations. Now, however, they have hopped onto a train that is already moving. All right, if they are sincere, the doors are open. But we are not ignoring the fact that they have not been in communion with Canterbury since 1992. [...] Also, conversion is a personal matter: there is the freedom of grace, the freedom of the human decision. It is not possible to intrude in this matter, to manipulate or organize it."

In Cyprus, the news that the Catholic Church is ready to incorporate groups coming from Anglicanism also put the Orthodox on alert. Their fear is that a "Uniate" Church of the Anglican rite will be established and added to the "Uniate" Churches of the various Eastern rites: these are Churches obedient to the pope of Rome but in everything else the equals and rivals of the Orthodox. 

In this regard, Kasper says in the interview:

"In Cyprus, in order to avoid misunderstandings, I immediately told our Orthodox counterparts that this is not a matter of proselytism or a new Uniatism. [...] Uniatism is an historical phenomenon involving the Eastern Churches, while the Anglicans are from the Latin tradition. The Balamand document of 1993 is still valid, according to which this is a phenomenon of the past that took place in unrepeatable circumstances. It is not a method for the present or the future. The Orthodox were mainly interested in understanding the nature of the personal ordinariates for the Anglicans, and I clarified that this is not a matter of a Church 'sui iuris', and therefore there will not be the head of a Church, but an ordinary with delegated powers."

In simpler terms: while a "Uniate" Church has its own structured hierarchy, with a patriarch and territorial dioceses, none of this will apply to the former Anglican "personal ordinariates," which will provide pastoral care for the faithful but without their own ecclesiastical territory, a little bit like the military ordinariates.

The new ordinariates will be characterized by the preservation of the Anglican rite for the Mass and the other sacraments – with liturgical books that were  approved for the United States in the 1980's by the Vatican congregation for divine worship – and by the possibility of having married priests.

But only former Anglican priests and bishops who are already married will be able to be ordained to the priesthood in the Catholic Church. For the young men aspiring to be priests, the rule of celibacy will apply as it does in the rest of the Latin Church, except for the ability, under extraordinary circumstances, to "present to the Holy Father a request for the admission of married men to the presbyterate in the Ordinariate," according to "objective criteria" that in any case "must be approved by the Holy See." This exception is admitted "in consideration of Anglican ecclesial tradition and practice," as it says in article 6 of the complementary norms for "Anglicanorum Coetibus." And although it is "merely hypothetical" (according to Cardinal Levada, in a statement on October 31), it creates a loophole in the discipline of priestly celibacy in the Latin Church, which the former Anglicans are entering.

One last important passage from the interview with Cardinal Kasper concerns the visit that the primate of the Anglican Communion, Williams, will make to Rome from November 19-22, on the occasion of the centenary of the birth of Cardinal Johannes Willebrands, Kasper's predecessor as head of ecumenical dialogue:

"His upcoming visit to the Vatican demonstrates that there has not been any rupture, and reiterates the shared desire to talk together at an historically important moment. It is in this spirit that the archbishop of Canterbury will meet with members of the Roman curia, and on November 21 will talk with the pope. We have the opportunity to open a new phase of ecumenical dialogue, which continues to be a priority for the Catholic Church and for the pontificate of Benedict XVI."


The original text of the interview with Cardinal Kasper published in "L'Osservatore Romano" on November 15, 2009:

Knock, and It Shall Be Opened to You. 
As Long As It's According to Tradition

The entry of anti-modernist Anglican dioceses and parishes into the Catholic Church has been announced. The ecumenism of Pope Ratzinger appears increasingly influenced by fidelity to tradition. That's the way it is with the Lefebvrists. And even more so with the Eastern Orthodox Churches 
by Sandro Magister

ROME, October 20, 2009 – Until yesterday, they were entering the Catholic Church one at a time, the priests and bishops of the Anglican Communion who felt more in agreement with the pope of Rome than with the "modernist" tendencies of Anglicanism.

In the United States, to regulate these transitions, a "Pastoral Provision" had been in effect since 1980, written by the congregation for the doctrine of the faith and approved by John Paul II. Thanks to it, about eighty Anglican priests, almost all of them with wives and children, have entered the Catholic Church. And two years ago a bishop, Jeffrey Steenson, was received in a ceremony celebrated in the Roman basilica of Saint Mary Major. Steenson, 57, married with three children, was ordained a priest and incardinated into the diocese of Santa Fe, where he teaches patristics at the seminary.

These priests and bishops have also been followed by groups of faithful, through their spontaneous decision. The only case of an entire Anglican diocese entering the Church was, until now, that of Amritsar, in the Indian region of Punjab. It took place in 1975.

From now on, however, collective migration from Anglicanism to Catholicism will no longer be an exceptional event, but a normal one, thanks to the apostolic constitution that Benedict XVI is preparing to publish.

The papal constitution is still being finalized. It may be published in about two weeks. But its proclamation has already been made in solemn form, on the morning of October 20, in two simultaneous press conferences: one in Rome, with Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, and one in London, with the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent G. Nichols, and with the primate of the Anglican Communion, Rowan Williams (in the Associated Press photo).

In London, the two archbishops, Catholic and Anglican, also released a joint statement. This is, without question, another novel element.

Usually, in fact, when someone leaves one Christian confession and embraces another, the door is slammed shut upon departure.

This time, however, it is as if the transition has been blessed by common agreement on both sides.

This kind of harmony makes one think how close reconciliation would be today between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion, if only the latter had not allowed the ordination of women and practicing homosexuals to the priesthood and the episcopate, with the ensuing dramatic divisions between those who agree and those who do not.

Once the apostolic constitution has been published, the Anglican parishes and dioceses that in recent years have knocked on Rome's door for admission to the Catholic Church – from Great Britain, from the United States, from Australia and from other countries – will be able to do so in the ways indicated in this same constitution. Married priests and bishops, having received sacred orders, will be able to resume the practice of the priesthood, as is already the case for the married priests of the Eastern rites, including the Catholics. Their communities will be structured into "personal ordinariates" led by bishops who are not married, but celibate, another point in line with the constant practice of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. Their liturgies will continue to follow the Anglican rubrics, which in any case are very similar to their Catholic counterparts. 

It is estimated that there are about thirty bishops and a hundred priests on the waiting list, together with their respective communities. The litmus test of conversion will be acceptance of papal primacy, and agreement with the doctrine expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

In any case, the communities that are ready to enter the Catholic Church are  part of the "traditionalist" wing of the Anglican Communion.

Also traditionalist are the schismatic Lefebvrist communities that Benedict XVI is making increasing efforts to bring into obedience to Rome.

And also attached to the grand tradition are the Orthodox Churches which seem to be having more productive encounters with the current pontiff. From October 16-23 in Cyprus, the second round of dialogue – the first was in Ravenna, in 2007 – is being held between Catholics and Orthodox on the question of papal primacy, in the light of how it was lived during the first millennium.

Today more than ever, with Joseph Ratzinger as pope, the ecumenical journey seems not a pursuit of modernity, but a return to the terrain of tradition.

The following is the joint statement released in London on October 20 by the leaders of the Anglican Communion and of the Catholic Church of England and Wales, plus background material issued the same day by the congregation for the doctrine of the faith.


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.

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.

The on-going official dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion provides the basis for our continuing cooperation. 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.

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
Archbishop of Westminster

Rowan Williams
Archbishop of Canterbury

Ecumenism Behind Closed Doors
While Benedict XVI made it easier for Anglicans in disagreement with the “liberal” direction of their Church to enter into the Catholic Church, Francis is not, he prefers that they remain where they are. The revelations of two Anglican friends of the pope 

ROME, February 2, 2015 – The ordination of the first female bishop of the Church of England, carried out in York last week (see photo), brought lively reactions from those who did not did not accept the breach and for this reason might even abandon the Anglican Communion and enter the Catholic Church, as others of them have already done.

The move from Anglicanism to Catholicism not only of individuals but of whole communities with priests and bishops was streamlined and regulated in 2009 by Benedict XVI with the apostolic constitution “Anglicanorum Cœtibus.”

By virtue of this constitution, the new arrivals have the faculty of preserving their former liturgical rite, while their priests and bishops, most of them married with children, are ordained priests in the Catholic Church and continue to lead their respective communities.

To this end, between 2011 and 2012 three “personal” ordinariates were created in the Catholic Church, for the care of faithful with no territory of their own, a bit like the military ordinariates: the first in England and Wales, the second in the United States, and the third in the Australia.

The innovation was received with relative tranquility by the leadership of the Anglican Church, so much so that in 2009 the announcement of it was made simultaneously by the two primatial sees of Rome and Canterbury, and in 2012 Benedict XVI and the Anglican primate at the time, Rowan Williams, celebrated vespers together at the Roman monastery of San Gregorio al Celio, which had and has as its prior a convert from Anglicanism, the Austrialian Peter John Hughes.

But with Pope Francis it is no longer a given that Anglicans who may want to enter the Catholic Church will receive encouragement from him to take the step.

As archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Mario Bergoglio certainly did not espouse in any way the norms and aims of “Anglicanorum Cœtibus.”

We know this from the testimonies of two of his closest friends.

The first is Argentine Anglican bishop Gregory Venables, primate of the Anglican Communion of the Southern Cone of the continent.

The second is Bishop Tony Palmer, a member of the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches - which is not under Canterbury but is nonetheless part of the Anglican galaxy - a South African who moved to Italy with his Catholic wife and children, whose friendship and meetings with Bergoglio began during a trip to Argentina in 2011 and intensified after his election as pope.

Palmer died in a motorcycle accident in July of 2014. And with him Bergoglio lost one of his three dearest friends, among the non-Catholics and non-Christians. The two others are the Jewish rabbi Abraham Skorka and the Muslim sheikh Omar Abboud, both of whom he wanted alongside him on his papal journey to the Holy Land last year.

“In 2009, when Pope Benedict XVI created a new legal church structure for Anglicans to join the Catholic Church known as the ordinariate, Bergoglio called the Buenos Aires-based Anglican primate of the Southern Cone (in communion with Canterbury), Bishop Gregory Venables. Over breakfast, ‘he told me very clearly that the ordinariate was quite unnecessary and that the Church needs us as Anglicans.’ This was also Bergoglio’s message to Palmer, who was looking at the ordinariate and wondering if it was for him. ‘He told me that we need to have bridge builders. He counseled me not to take the step because it looked like I was choosing a side and I would cease to be a bridge builder.’ Palmer says Bergoglio believed he should remain an Anglican."

But there is more in confirmation of the very personal ways in which Pope Francis conducts ecumenism.

Last October 9, in Atlanta, the newly created Anglican Church of North America, which separated from the Episcopalian Church and therefore from Canterbury after the ordination in the United States of the first openly homosexual Episcopalian bishop, installed its primate archbishop in the person of Reverend Foley Beach.

Among those present at the ceremony were Anglican bishops of Africa and Asia, also in rupture with Canterbury because of its “liberal” turn.

There was no Catholic representative, not even from the pontifical council for Christian unity. There was, however, to act as the pope’s messenger, the Argentine Anglican bishop Venables, his friend.

Venables told those present that he had received a telephone call from Pope Francis that he found hard to believe at first, and then a handwritten letter from him in which he begged him to communicate “in his name” his personal congratulations to the new Anglican archbishop, together with “his prayers and support for the present and future at this important moment of rebirth and mission.”

For the record, one month later, on November 8, the second-in-command and mastermind of the powerful Russian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, lost no time in going to visit Archbishop Beach, remarking that relations with the Episcopalian Church of the United States had been cut off after the ordination of the gay bishop and saying that he wanted instead to establish and strengthen ties with the newly created Anglican Church of North America, which for its part is “faithful to the traditions.”


The 2009 apostolic constitution on Anglicans who enter the Catholic Church:

Being by which all created reality exists is identical to the Trinity in which the three Persons exist in a perfect unity of love.   This means that, in God, Truth and Love are the same. God is Truth and God is Love.  It follows that the Church only reflects God's Truth when it also reflects God's Love.   As my professor of New Testament, Pere Spicq OP, used to say, the Church is visible to the world when it loves and invisible, just one more institution, when it fails to love.   Khomiakov defined it as Love as an organism.

Hence it is a distortion to proclaim the Truth with great self-satisfaction, glorying in the fact that all the rest are wrong, just waithing for them to grovel before it and admit their error: our real truths are turned to dust like bodies in a graveyard because the love that gives them life has been filtred out by our lack of charity.   

In contrast, love breaks down barriers, looks out for the loved one across deserts and runs out to meet him, seeks him in the wind and the rain and carries him home to safety on its shoulders.   The Incarnation was the biggest barrier crosser in the history of the cosmos: God became man so that man can become God.   

That is Pope Francis' vision of the Church.  He does not look at the world from behind a wall created by our own doctrinal or moral rightness: he jumps over it and goes out to meet them, whether they are churches separated from us by history or by error, or sinners separated by their past.  No barrier is too great, no sin too heinous. Church doctrine does not need to change, but it needs to fit in, because only when it is seen in the light of God's constant love for each and every one, a love that won't permit any barrier to stand in the way of union with him, is it properly understood.   As one of the Greek Fathers wrote: "Orthodoxy without Charity is the religion of the devil."

Sadly, there is a sin, sin against the Holy Spirit, that acts as an impassible barrier to God's love because it falsifies everything that God wishes us to know. It is the sin of the pharisee.

   Meanwhile, Francis strives to help the Catholic Church show its true face to the modern world as the human face of God's  universal Truth, manifested in his universal Love.

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