Monday, November 9, 2009

Anglicanorum coetibus (the Apostolic Constitution) - The Pope's Cathedral Basilica at the Lateran

The Holy See throught the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith this morning issued a press release regarding the Apostolic Constitution on the establishment of Anglican Ordinariates (Anglicanorum coetibus):

On October 20, 2009, Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, announced a new provision responding to the many requests that have been submitted to the Holy See from groups of Anglican clergy and faithful in different parts of the world who wish to enter into full visible communion with the Catholic Church.

The Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus which is published today introduces a canonical structure that provides for such corporate reunion by establishing Personal Ordinariates, which will allow the above mentioned groups to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony. At the same time, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is publishing a set of Complementary Norms which will guide the implementation of this provision.

This Apostolic Constitution opens a new avenue for the promotion of Christian unity while, at the same time, granting legitimate diversity in the expression of our common faith. It represents not an initiative on the part of the Holy See, but a generous response from the Holy Father to the legitimate aspirations of these Anglican groups. The provision of this new structure is consistent with the commitment to ecumenical dialogue, which continues to be a priority for the Catholic Church.

The possibility envisioned by the Apostolic Constitution for some married clergy within the Personal Ordinariates does not signify any change in the Church’s discipline of clerical celibacy. According to the Second Vatican Council, priestly celibacy is a sign and a stimulus for pastoral charity and radiantly proclaims the reign of God (Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1579).

Here are some quotations from the Preamble to the Apostolic Constitution and several paragraphs of the Complementary Norms. The full text is available on the Vatican web site (

In recent times the Holy Spirit has moved groups of Anglicans to petition repeatedly and insistently to be received into full Catholic communion individually as well as corporately. The Apostolic See has responded favorably to such petitions. Indeed, the successor of Peter, mandated by the Lord Jesus to guarantee the unity of the episcopate and to preside over and safeguard the universal communion of all the Churches, could not fail to make available the means necessary to bring this holy desire to realization.

The Church, a people gathered into the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, was instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ, as “a sacrament – a sign and instrument, that is, of communion with God and of unity among all people.” Every division among the baptized in Jesus Christ wounds that which the Church is and that for which the Church exists; in fact, “such division openly contradicts the will of Christ, scandalizes the world, and damages that most holy cause, the preaching the Gospel to every creature.” Precisely for this reason, before shedding his blood for the salvation of the world, the Lord Jesus prayed to the Father for the unity of his disciples.

It is the Holy Spirit, the principle of unity, which establishes the Church as a communion. He is the principle of the unity of the faithful in the teaching of the Apostles, in the breaking of the bread and in prayer.

The Church, however, analogous to the mystery of the Incarnate Word, is not only an invisible spiritual communion, but is also visible; in fact, “the society structured with hierarchical organs and the Mystical Body of Christ, the visible society and the spiritual community, the earthly Church and the Church endowed with heavenly riches, are not to be thought of as two realities. On the contrary, they form one complex reality formed from a two-fold element, human and divine.”

The communion of the baptized in the teaching of the Apostles and in the breaking of the eucharistic bread isvisibly manifested in the bonds of the profession of the faith in its entirety, of the celebration of all of the sacraments instituted by Christ, and of the governance of the College of Bishops united with its head, the Roman Pontiff.

This single Church of Christ, which we profess in the Creed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic “subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him. Nevertheless, many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside her visible confines. Since these are
gifts properly belonging to the Church of Christ, they are forces impelling towards Catholic unity.”

In the light of these ecclesiological principles, this Apostolic Constitution provides the general normative structure for regulating the institution and life of Personal Ordinariates for those Anglican faithful who desire to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church in a corporate manner. This Constitution is completed by Complementary Norms issued by the Apostolic See.

Several excerpts from the Complementary Norms:

The Ordinary

Article 4. §1. The Ordinary may be a bishop or a presbyter appointed by the Roman Pontiff ad nutum Sanctae Sedis, based on a terna presented by the Governing Council. Canons 383-388, 392-394, and 396-398 of the Code of Canon Law apply to him.

§2. The Ordinary has the faculty to incardinate in the Ordinariate former Anglican ministers who have entered into full communion with the Catholic Church, as well as candidates belonging to the Ordinariate and promoted to Holy Orders by him.

§3. Having first consulted with the Episcopal Conference and obtained the consent of the Governing Council and the approval of the Holy See, the Ordinary can erect as needed territorial deaneries supervised by a delegate of the Ordinary covering the faithful of multiple personal parishes.

The Faithful of the Ordinariate

Article 5. §1. The lay faithful originally of the Anglican tradition who wish to belong to the Ordinariate, after having made their Profession of Faith and received the Sacraments of Initiation, with due regard for Canon 845, are to be entered in the apposite register of the Ordinariate. Those baptized previously as Catholics outside the Ordinariate are not ordinarily eligible for membership, unless they are members of a family belonging to the Ordinariate.

§2. Lay faithful and members of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, when they collaborate in pastoral or charitable activities, whether diocesan or parochial, are subject to the Diocesan Bishop or to the pastor of the place; in which case the power of the Diocesan Bishop or pastor is exercised jointly with that of the Ordinary and the pastor of the Ordinariate.

The Clergy

Article 6. §1. In order to admit candidates to Holy Orders the Ordinary must obtain the consent of the Governing Council. In consideration of Anglican ecclesial tradition and practice, the Ordinary may present to the Holy Father a request for the admission of married men to the presbyterate in the Ordinariate, after a process of discernment based on objective criteria and the needs of the Ordinariate. These objective criteria are determined by the Ordinary in consultation with the local Episcopal Conference and must be approved by the Holy See.

§2. Those who have been previously ordained in the Catholic Church and subsequently have become Anglicans, may not exercise sacred ministry in the Ordinariate. Anglican clergy who are in irregular marriage situations may not be accepted for Holy Orders in the Ordinariate.

§3. Presbyters incardinated in the Ordinariate receive the necessary faculties from the Ordinary.

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The Dedication of the Church of Our Saviour at the Lateran

"What was done here, as these walls were rising, is reproduced when we bring together those who believe in Christ. For, by believing they are hewn out, as it were, from mountains and forests, like stones and timber; but by catechizing, baptism and instruction they are, as it were, shaped, squared and planed by the hands of the workers and artisans. Nevertheless, they do not make a house for the Lord until they are fitted together through love" (St. Augustine, Sermon 36)>.

Some Catholics think that a basilica is more important than a cathedral. This sometimes happens when cathedrals are designated as basilicas: it must be more important as what was already a cathedral has become a basilica. However, the importance of the cathedral to a diocese/archdiocese cannot be underestimated. It is the seat of the bishop's ministry of teaching, sanctifying and ruling the portion of the Lord's vineyard entrusted to his pastoral care.

Thus, Montreal has four basilicas, but Mary Queen of the World is the cathedral. Ottawa has two basilicas: Notre Dame (the cathedral) and St. Patrick's. Toronto's division is neater: St. Michael's has pride of place as the cathedral, but St. Paul's status as a basilica recognizes its historic role as the first church.

Rome has four major basilicas and umpteen minor ones. Many Catholics think of St. Peter’s as the pope’s main church, but they are wrong. St. John Lateran is the pope’s church, the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome where the Bishop of Rome presides.

The first basilica on the site was built in the fourth century when Constantine donated land he had received from the wealthy Lateran family. That structure and its successors suffered fire, earthquake and the ravages of war, but the Lateran remained the church where popes were consecrated until the popes returned from Avignon in the 14th century to find the church and the adjoining palace in ruins.

Pope Innocent X commissioned the present structure in 1646. One of Rome’s most imposing churches, the Lateran’s towering facade is crowned with 15 colossal statues of Christ, John the Baptist, John the Evangelist and 12 doctors of the Church. Beneath its high altar rest the remains of the small wooden table on which tradition holds St. Peter himself celebrated Mass.

Unlike the commemorations of other Roman churches (St. Mary Major, August 5; Sts. Peter and Paul, November 18), today's anniversary is a feast for the universal church.

The dedication of a church is a feast for all its parishioners. In a sense, St. John Lateran is the parish church of all Catholics, because it is the pope's cathedral. This church is the spiritual home of the people who are the Church.

What a great feast today! Our unity with the Holy Father in his governance of the universal church....

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