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End of Anglican Communion?

Update: I am thrilled with the interest in this post, which is currently running about a reader every 8 seconds. It is also gratifying to see such helpful and positive comments. If there are any developments, rather than altering this post I think I would produce another – I already have some ideas in mind. So if you are interested, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or other ways of seeing what is new here.
part 2 of this reflection is here

A few hours ago there was an absolute internet frenzy as people predicted and then reported, tweet by tweet, the announcement from the Vatican and the joint press conference by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of Westminster.

Let me add my own initial thoughts to this confusing dust-cloud following the announcement that the pope will create “Personal Ordinariates” for Anglicans who wish to come home to Rome. Archbishop Rowan said that it would be a “serious mistake” to view the development as a response to the difficulties within the Anglican Communion. As we in New Zealand say: “Yeah right!”

To anyone who has been watching the direction that Pope Benedict has been moving, and those he has been welcoming into his fold, the commentary that this is “surprising” is itself surprising. Just to mention recent events that have been in the news: the reconciliation with Holocaust-denying Bishop Richard Williamson and his Society of St. Pius X, the Motu Proprio “Summorum Pontificum” giving wider possibility to celebrate the pre-Vatican II Latin Mass, reconciliation with the traditionalist “Transalpine Redemptorists,” and so forth. I want to highlight some things I have not yet seen mentioned:

  • married priests in Anglican Personal Ordinariates will have to marry prior to ordination to the diaconate

They will not be able to marry after ordination. Should his wife die, or he gets divorced (sorry – his marriage is annulled) he will not be able to marry. Roman Catholic deacons can be married, but in order to do so, must be married prior to ordination. In the tweeting frenzy Scott Richert wrote, “There is no warrant in tradition for marrying AFTER receiving Holy Orders. None.” He may very well be right. I am genuinely interested in this point, and hope that people in the comments box below might provide evidence for or against this. My reply to him for clarification has not yet been responded to.

  • bishops in Anglican Personal Ordinariates are celibate
  • there has been no rescinding of Apostolicae Curae.

Anglican orders are not accepted by the Vatican. Anglican “priests” joining Anglican Personal Ordinariates in order to function as priests will have to be ordained twice (or at least conditionally ordained twice). And they will have to be males. Anglican “bishops” joining Anglican Personal Ordinariates in order to function as bishops will have to be ordained thrice (or at least conditionally ordained thrice). And they will have to be males. And celibate.

From a church (New Zealand Anglican) that leads Christian history in having created a “Tikanga” structure (where there are parallel episcopal jurisdictions according to cultural streams) I am intrigued by the concept of “Personal Ordinariates.” These are described by John Allen as “non-territorial diocese” (which sounds like an oxymoron to me!) My comment to Scott Richert and anyone else is: There is no warrant in tradition for “Personal Ordinariates.” None. But, of course, as usual, I am very very comfortable to be demonstrated wrong on this also. Please… anyone?

The end of the Anglican Communion?

As Mark Twain would say, “The reports of the end of the Anglican Communion are greatly exaggerated.” Andrew Brown, a regular person lining up for the funeral of the Communion, highlights his own weak grasp on the issues by declaring that only homosexuals can be celibate! Clearly heterosexuals, it would appear according to him, are either too weak or too immoral to be able to control their urges (not to mention that Andrew Brown is unable to distinguish doctrine from discipline). Scott Richert may have a slightly better grasp on the consequences for Anglicanism. Whilst no one would want to impugn curate’s-egg motives to the Archbishop of Canterbury, one cannot help wondering if there is just the flicker of a smile under that beard. In one Roman gesture he may be rid of, at one estimate, up to 2,000 of his CofE priests who have been holding out against his strong conviction for women in all three orders. Rowan Williams is well-known for ordaining openly practising homosexuals. Traditionalist Anglicans around the globe have struggled with women and with gays in a committed relationship being ordained. Commentators are repeatedly highlighting that this is an invitation from Rome to misogynists and homophobes.

In North America some Anglicans formed a new denomination The Anglican Church of North America (ACNA). This brings together two extremes of the Anglican spectrum – Rome-facing and Geneva-facing. This marriage of convenience, like the 1977 followers of the Affirmation of St. Louis, cannot last, as, at its heart it is united around being against one thing. Rome’s declaration cannot but affect it. If the Rome-facing ACNA (married) bishops can stomach losing their purple, pectoral crosses, honorary doctoral gowns, and complex titles, they may yet lead their groups home to Rome. This will impact the attempt of some Anglicans to produce a “covenant”. Nigerian “Anglicans” have already formally removed the Archbishop of Canterbury from their constitution. Sydney Anglicans, leaders in GAFON/FOCA/Mainstream, are now not only struggling with theology, church history, and liturgical practice, but have recently realised they haven’t been that good at investments either (their $265 million assets are now worth $105 million). This Geneva-facing, congregationalist end of the Anglican spectrum does not need a Communion in the way that others see it. Rome’s announcement may help towards trimming off the extremes leaving an Anglican Communion that is certainly leaner but hopefully spending far less energy on peripherals and with a stronger focus on the end of the Communion, in the sense of the purpose of the church.

It is not the numbers inside the church that is ultimately significant IMO. It is the focus on service – in the two senses: our liturgical worship of God, and our service to God by our care of people and God’s world. Anglicanism may yet, through this, become more clearly a 21st century church episcopally led, synodically governed, and adapted for the particular context in which it finds itself, working “together with other Provinces and with our ecumenical and interfaith partners to promote God’s reign on earth.

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part 2 of this reflection is here

part 3 of this reflection is here

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44 Responses to End of Anglican Communion?

  1. Hello,

    Just a few points of clarification, Pope Benedict has not “reconciled” the holocaust denying Bishop Williamson. He lifted the sentence of excommunication that he was under inviting Bishop Williamson to seek reconciliation, which it is unlikely he will do. He is still not in good standing with the Church and exercises his priestly and pastoral functions illegitimately. That you think he was reconciled with the Church shows that the Church did not handle the situation well from a PR standpoint The Same goes for the rest of the SSPX. Rome is inviting them to reconcile themselves with the Church, but has not done so, because the SSPX has not yet recognized the of the Second Vatican Council and so forth. SSPX priests are validly ordained but operate illicitly without the approbation of the Church.

    Some precedents for the non-territorial dioceses would be the military dioceses that operate within the Church, serving the armed forces of various countries while lacking specific territorial jurisdiction. The personal prelature, Opus Dei would be similar.

    I hope this is helpful.

    All the best,


  2. Bosco: I think the thing in the tradition that is closest to “Personal Ordinariates” are the Celtic bishops who seem not to have had geographic dioceses but wandered about doing mission work. (Episcopi vagrante, not exactly) But your point is well taken. There are two other structures in the Roman system that function in some way similar to what’s offered. The Archbishop for the Armed Forces in the US is, I believe, a “Personal Ordinary”, and Opus Dei is a “Personal Prelature”, something similar to this.

    The up-shot of this development is two-fold — it will rid the Anglican Communion of the Anglo-Catholic conservatives who can merge with Rome without much fuss, and it will split the marriage-of-convenience unions of Anglo-Catholics and Evangelicals such as ACNA (as you predict). The AC’s will run to Rome and leaver their presbyterian/congregationalist partners in the dust.

  3. As regards the lack of warrant in tradition for a married Episcopacy, I feel that a look to the Eastern Christian Churches provides a good look at what the Christian tradition contains. Although the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, through tradition, has re-confirmed the need for priests to be celibate, the Byzantine Rite, and several other Rites of the Roman Catholic Church have followed a different path of tradition development, and so have married clergy, but similar to the provisions of the personal ordinariate:
    1.) Priests may marry prior to ordination as deacons
    2.) Married priests are not to be consecrated to the Episcopacy
    This has been the tradition in most Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Rite for centuries. I have heard that, in large part, clergy in the East were permitted to marry so that the wife could support her husband. I am just sick of this discussion revolving around married Catholic priests, when it’s not that much of a phenomenon in the Roman Catholic Church, just in the Western Rites.

    As to a warrant in tradition for personal ordinariates, that is a bit interesting, but there is a tradition of the military ordinariates, meaning bishops and clergy that serve men and women in the Armed Forces, regardless of geographical location. With the complexities of military maneuvers, it would be hard to find and hold accountable local clergy for serving soldiers, sailors, airmen, etc. Similarly, local clergy might not be accustomed to the traditions and language of those they would be serving. A military ordinariate aims to resolve these problems, but appears to have come into modern use around the turn of last century.

    Older than that, you might look to some of the religious orders who fell under different jusrisdictions. Benedictines in the West, had the heads of their monasteries vested with the powers of bishop in order to serve the needs of often remote and almost entirely isolated groups of monks. The Jesuits have always sworn an oath of allegiance directly to the Pope above the authority of local bishops, which has become a laxer oath with the progress of time.

    Also, I think the Church is aiming to rectify a potential increase in confusion with overlapping territories in countries with significant Catholic and soon-to-be-former-Anglican populations. As the laws of the Catholic Church stand, each Rite has the right (sorry) to form a diocese or eparchy (as some Eastern Rites term it) to serve their faithful. Occasionally these territories overlapped, but with advances in communication and travel, and increases in immigration and emigration, the Rites within countries overlap considerably. For example, in the United States, Detroit, MI, is part of the Archdiocese of Detroit (Latin Rite); the Eparchy of St. Nicholas (based in Chicago, Illinois; Byzantine Rite-Ukrainian Usage); the Eparchy of Parma (based in Parma, Ohio; Byzantine Rite-Ruthenian Usage); etc. Although this is necessary and proper to serve the people of these different faith traditions, these all involve local hierarchies (bishops, etc.) that, ultimately, end in the Pope. A personal ordinariate would avoid potential confusion from these overlaps (not sure how much there would be, but who knows).

    Ultimately, everything we are saying now is merely informed speculation. Nothing is really certain until the Apostlic Constitution is issued, whenever that happens.

  4. Hi Bosco
    You seem worried that there is no tradition for Personal Ordinariates: does there have to be? In extraordinary situations can popes not do ‘a new thing’!
    Someone asked me today (in jest) how many parishes in the Diocese of Nelson would take this option. I thought a reasonably safe prediction would be ‘between -1 and 27’ (we have 26 parishes) …
    One of my questions re this papal announcement is whether they would look favourably on a parish here and a parish there taking up the offer, or is it aimed at securing a large rump of parishes within one jurisdiction (i.e. England)?

  5. The Roman Church has given permission for married men to become deacons. That is de facto and de jure. If the deacon’s wife dies or they are divorced, he remains a deacon but cannot marry. The same is true in the Eastern Orthodox Churches [although there have been a few exceptions].

    In Eastern Orthodoxy bishops are celibate, generally coming from monasteries or from unmarried parish clergy. That has been long standing tradition.

    All that being said, there was a South American Bishop of the Independent Brazilian Catholic Church–Bishop Salomão Barbosa Ferraz–who was married andaccepted as a full Bishop by John XXIII, who participated in Vatican II

  6. RE:>>> Rome’s announcement may help towards trimming off the extremes leaving an Anglican Communion that is certainly leaner but hopefully spending far less energy on peripherals and with a stronger focus on the end of the Communion, in the sense of the purpose of the church. It is not the numbers inside the church that is ultimately significant IMO. It is the focus on service – in the two senses: our liturgical worship of God, and our service to God by our care of people and God’s world. <<<

    This says it all, Bosco, and is in full accord with my view on all of this: Canterbury Tails We Win, Heads You Lose (Anglican-Roman dialogue)

    Whatever comes of the recent Apostolic Constitution, thankfully, denominations are means and not ends. And as far as distinctly ecclesial means are concerned, realities like church polity, juridical order, corporate discipline and moral doctrine are accidentals – not entirely unimportant, but – not essentials. The Apostolic Constitution seems to affirm the full communion between Anglican and Roman Catholics on these paramount essentials and ends (liturgical worship & love), leaving us, perhaps, with Rome’s implicit recognition and tacit admission that what remains at stake in future ecumenical dialogue are accidentals and means (and hopefully not temporal power-grabs).

  7. This side of the pond, I have to admit I don’t know what an “ordinariate” is, but some of my Anglo-Catyholic friends who claim they do are delighted, so I’m happy to share their joy. Not being of a Chauvinistic/ Imperialistic bent about religion, I can’t for the life of me think why people shouldn’t join up with the denomination in which they can best be discipled. I suppose this has some rather odd resonances about it — if a clergy colleague came to see me to say they wanted to be a Baptist, if that’s following God’s leading, I’d be delighted. If the Baptists then announced they had a special scheme for Anglicans where you could be a real Baptist but you also, as a former Anglican, carry on with infant baptisms, I’d be a bit weirded out.

    How very postmodern of them, I’d think, but wait a minute. Assimilating a lot of people who perhaps haven’t made a raging success of living within their own tradition you’ll get two sorts of convert: people who really should try out and perhaps be part of your tradition and, secondly, people who aren’t terribly good at living in any tradition on anything but their own terms. The second sort of convert will carry on being as they are, and that may not be good news for your own people. Where, for example, does it leave genuine Roman Catholic clergy who have faithfully struggled and somehow managed to live by the Church’s discipline,p to know that Auntie in Rome is now doing a PostModern family promotion for married Anglicans? I’d possibly more likely feel Auntie was being cruel to me, than celebrate how jolly and Post-Modern she was being to the Anglicans…

  8. Wow, funny that I should read first about this on an almost antipodean blog. Maybe I shouldn’t have been shunning Thinking Anglicans so much of late.

    So… there is a new “path to Rome”? A parting in the Tiber for those that wish it?

    That idea seems not entirely bad to me, as a low/liberal anglo-catholic. (Catholic *theology*, no Pope needed, a celebrator of diversity etc.) I’ve long wondered about the polarization in the Anglican Communion – the invasion of Nigerians into North America being one particular offensive stench to me – so if there’s an easy road whereby those who are not prepared to see the AC the way it has been (a voluntary communion of those churches “in communion with Canterbury”, no further criteria required) can now take themselves over to Rome, that’s less stress on those who remain…

  9. As regards the requirement to marry before diaconate and not remarry after the death of a spouse, it’s real simple: The Eastern Orthodox churches instituted this novel interpretation (around the 7th century). Why? Because Celibacy is apostolic. There was no reason for an ordained man to marry because he had made a vow a celibacy. The was no reason for an ordained man to remarry because he was already not having relations with his wife, living in perfect continence.

    Chritian Cochini, “The Apostolic Origins of Priestly Celibacy”, documents it in a way that cannot be disputed. Available on Amazon, published by Ignatius.

    Cardinal Strickler also had a pithy volume on the issue.

    The East slipped and allowed marital relations, but they kept the more ancient rules, to this day, that clergy cannot remarry, cannot be married after ordination, cannot obtain the Episcopacy, and even added a rule: no relations with your wife within 24 hours of celebrating the Eucharist. The only explanation for these seemingly arcane rules is that perfect continence was expected of the ordained from Apostolic times.

    Best, Fr. Paul

  10. Huh? Where did I say that only homosexuals can be celibate? As for the end of the communion, this seems to me an absolutely clear statement on Rome’s part that it no longer sees a communion to deal with, just fragments of a tradition. And since no one inside the AC takes it seriously, either, what’s left?

    A covenanted federation of churches might emerge. That would be something else. And it’s not certain it will ever happen.

  11. Eric said, “it will split the marriage-of-convenience unions of Anglo-Catholics and Evangelicals such as ACNA (as you predict). The AC’s will run to Rome and leaver their presbyterian/congregationalist partners in the dust.”

    I’m not sure about this, at least not immediately. The fight with TEC has gotten too personal, and too many of them smell blood. I think the desire to beat TEC may be stronger than the desire to go home, especially as most of the AC bishops are married. But we’ll see!

  12. The ACNA is a “Johnny come Lately” and interprets the Affirmation of St. Louis” incorrectly. They eschew homosexuals but haven’t figured out that female “priests” are bogus. The founding group of traditionalist Anglicans in the United States is the Fellow of Concerned Churchmen, which began in 1976/1977 with a jurisdiction called, The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). That name was not carried; however, the movement exists now in several smaller jurisdictions of the Anglican Continuum (note spelling). We have been ignored by Canterbury and by the Episcopal Church for 30 years, and now we are ignored by YOU. The Traditional Anglican Communion is but ONE of our jurisdictions. We publish a directory which lists over 1,000 parishes and is viewable at anglicanchurches.net
    We view the Holy Father’s effort with interest and some of us will most likely take advantage of it.

  13. Any hint that Canterbury will welcome with open arms, press conferences, and great fanfare, “former” Romans who have no problem with married priests, women deacons priests and bishops, etc. Or, has that always be the de facto stance of Canterbury? Er … better make that, ‘always been the evolving de facto stance …’

  14. As an Anglican-Use Roman Catholic from Texas now living in England, I have had 18 years of observing joyful dynamism of the mature Anglican Use Parishes in the USA. I have observed how the beautiful and reverent liturgy of the Book of Divine Worship (Catholic version of the BCP) has been an unexpected avenue for the conversion of Lutherans and Baptists (some of these ministers) seeking greater union with God; the unchurched; as well as fallen-away Catholics.

    I myself am a Cradle Catholic and liked the Novus Ordo when done reverently–but when I chanced upon the Anglican Use Liturgy many years ago, my faith and my interior prayer life took off like a rocket (“Lex Orandi, Lex credendi”) and I stayed with that wonderful parish until I moved to England a year ago for family reasons.

    The Anglican Use Parishes of the USA have been one of the best-kept secrets in the Church because we wanted to avoid any hint of triumphalism in letting out the numbers of Episcopalian laity and clergy which have come thereby to full communion with Rome.

    Rome values and respects the legitimate cultural patrimony of all English-speaking Catholics, whether they have British ancestry or not. I have seen the miracles of grace, conversion –and even finance!–in the Anglican Use Parishes, and recognize the work of the Holy Spirit when I see it.

    England is in for a wonderful and joyful adventure–Cardinal Newman’s prophecy of a “Second Spring” fulfilled– under the Holy Father’s new provision for Traditional Anglicans to keep their gorgeous liturgy and cultural identity while entering full communion with Rome. I am filled with joy to see this day.

  15. In my post titled Deep Breath I suggested that we all calm down. Yes there are implications, yes there are issues but the world did not end. It simply is not the earth shattering event some want to act like it is.


  16. You ask about Scott Richert’s comment “There is no warrant in tradition for marrying after receiving Holy Orders. None.” In relation to this, I offer 3 situations.

    When I was ministering in Lafayette, Louisiana, in the early 1990s, a permanent deacon of the Diocese of Lake Charles La. was given permission to remarry after the death of his spouse. I am unable to remember his name, but do recall that he was African-American and there were ‘several’ children. This is not the normal procedure (as you mention in your article) but then-ordinary, Bishop Jude Speyrer, received word from Rome that it was to be permitted for “pastoral reasons”.

    Sometime between 1986-1988 I had occasion to meet a married Catholic priest in New England area. He and his wife had converted from the Polish National Catholic Church a few years earlier. As the Holy See recognises the validity of the Orders held by the PNCC there was no (even conditional) ordination upon his reception into the Catholic Church.

    The third situation has already been mentioned by Fr. Ed Scully in an earlier comment: the married Bishop Salomão Barbosa Ferraz was accepted into full communion over 40b years ago – and continued to hold the office of a bishop.

    Mr Richert is correct, but not really.

  17. On more than one occasion I have made speeches in the CofE General Synod referencing the Anglican church in Aotearoa/New Zealand. In July 2008, on Women Bishops http://tr.im/a_nz I was exploring ways in which the tikanga system may have something to teach us in the context of women bishops – so I concur with the earlier part of your post.

    I wondered if the Third Province movement http://www.thirdprovince.org.uk/ here might have become something like that, until I tried to imagine Wallace Benn +Lewes and Andrew Burnham +Ebbsfleet within the same Province.

    (Slightly off topic, but back to A-NZ, in July 2009, I was musing as to whether the Rural-Deans-as-Archdeacons, as happens in NZ – dignitaries with slightly less pomp, circumstance, pay and pension – might help. The thinking behind what became that speech is also posted on the General Synod blog…http://tr.im/s9aU.)

  18. Surely this also helps pave the way for women to be full bishops, and not almost-but-not-quite bishops, by removing the need for “flying bishops”? I think this would be an entirely good thing.

  19. As a life long Roman Catholic, I do not see this as a new event. For sometime, the Catholic church has been allowing Priest converting to the Episcapol Faith to Catholcism to remain married. They have applied the same standards, as far as widowed or divorced and annuled priests.

    I have however, taken issue with the idea that lifelong catholic men such as myself are not allowed the same privilage. Catholic priest not marrying was more of a tradition until sometime between the 4th and 9th centuries. At which time it became cannon law.

    As a matter of fact, The Bible actually refers to a visit to Peter’s (Our first Pope) mother in law.

    Considering the shortage of priests, and these exceptions being made for former non-Catholic priest, I feel that the Vatican needs to reconsider it’s policy on married priest. After all, what is to stop a dishonest person to become anglican, so they can then get married, become an anglican priest, and eventually convert back to Catholcism, so he may become a married catholic priest. The church needs to lesson such events by closing such loop holes.

    However, in doing so, the Vatican should state tha if a married catholic priest does get a divorce, that he be declothed. I would not have a problem with a already married priest getting written permission from his wife, and his wife completing a program similar to RCIA.

    However, I do see the other side of the issue. Priest’s jobs are mutli-faceted, and unlike many protestant religions (e.g. southern baptist) our clergy are not permitted to take on outside jobs, in private industries. The church also properly see the priesthood as a marriage between the church andthe priest, as equivilent to marriage between a man and woman.

    This does howeever, bring up another issue concerning anglican priest who are married converting and being allowed to join the catholic priesthood. This could not only be considered by outsider (Non-catholics) to be a double standard created to cut down on the shortage of priest. It could also be considered an inadvertant endorsement of symbolic adultry, by the church. the latter, because if the church see a priest marriage to his vocation as equivilent to that of a marraige between a man and woman, then in effect, these married anglican priest are married to two wives, not one.

    Again the Bible tells us that St. peter was in effect married,by referring to a visit to his mother-in-law’s house.

  20. Bishop Alan Wilson, Shalom! Unfortunately, I think you’re taking a very British view of the situation. This is not a case where the newbies get to do things the veterans don’t. This is a case where a new branch has joined (or re-joined, depending on your view) the family — distant cousins, as it were, but family that has been out of touch for quite some time. There is still the same shared history (most of it, anyway). And what’s more, this branch of the family serves Beef Wellington at Christmas instead of turkey. In other words, a difference of tradition.

    The problem with your analogy is that there is no shared history between the Anglican Communion and the Baptists. The Baptists have kept none of the trappings or ceremonies (and very, very few of the beliefs) of the original Anglican churches they grew out of — not the structure, and certainly not the Sacraments. Whats more, to my knowledge, there have been blessedly few Anglican church leaders who have inquired into becoming Baptist ministers. This is because the traditional Anglican theology bears almost no relation to current Baptist theology. Roman Catholic theology, on the other hand…

    So there is nothing “post-modern” (whatever that means) about it. Unless, of course, by “post-modern” you mean “drawing on very old tradition.”

  21. Thank you for the many helpful and positive contributions.

    Fr Paul, you mention the tradition of abstaining from sexual relations at least 24 hours prior to presiding at the Eucharist. I understand, with the development of daily Mass that this impacted the development of priestly celibacy. Do Eastern Rite Catholic priests observe this tradition? Is it mentioned in any Catholic documentation? Is it mentioned amongst married Roman Catholic priests currently (eg. who have moved from another denomination)? And, hence, might it apply to married priests in Anglican Personal Ordinariates?

    Andrew Brown, you are right – you didn’t say “only” you said “largely”. I apologise – but I had a click-through to your post so my readers could see what you actually said.

  22. I find the discussion very interesting. My suspicion is that Anglicans who can easily adapt in this new environment must not have valued their historical Anglicanism very much. Of course given the failures of Anglicans in the UK and US to transmit the faith, they may never have had a chance to appreciate it.

    I know a good number of US Anglicans who are very uncomfortable with the ACNA.

  23. Bosco, as I understand it, the 24-hour rule did not contribute to the development of celibacy in the West, but it instead constributed to the decline of daily Mass in the East. As I said, the rules I mentioned are echoes of the more ancient tradition of perfect continence of the ordained while married. Cochini even shows how the biblical quote “bishops should be married only once” as proof of apostolic celibacy, because a man who had been married multiple times likely could not live a celibate life. Interesting history.

    We have two Anglo-convert priests serving in our diocese, though we have no Anglo-use parishes. As I understand it, there is no 24-hour rule imposed on them. However, they cannot remarry and they cannot marry if ordained while unmaried. E.g. basically the same rules as for permanent deacons. In our diocese, they cannot become pastors (though they can serve as administrators, which is de facto a pastor).

    In one of my prior pastorates, I had two former deacons. One unmarried when ordained, and he was required to live a celibate life and would not have been permitted to marry. He left because of personal problems. The other deacon’s wife died and he chose to remarry and was automatically excommunicated by that act. He went on to hospice ministry and seemed very happy with that.

    One other thing to consider: Pope John Paul II used to refer to the East and West as both “lungs” of the Church, and that therefore the development of different traditions regarding celibacy should be regarded as legitimate movements of the Holy Spirit. At the same time, he called celibacy the “gem” of the Western Church and should therefore be maintained.

    Also, there are some who say celibacy is a discipline that can change, not a dogma that cannot be. There are those who disagree with that, looking to the theology hinted at in this thread, about Christ the Groom, the Church the Bride, the priest in persona cristi, etc. But too much to get into here.

    Very interesting discussion and very positive.

    R. Wenner: St. Mary’s in Arlington? I used to attend there before they converted. 🙂 Then I received Confirmation and Eucharist as a Catholic at St. Patrick’s in FW. (I was baptized Catholic, raised Episcopalian.)

    Fr. Paul, pastor, St. Joseph’s, Dalton, GA

  24. Several bloggers have also noted the remarkable timing of Pope Benedict’s offer to the Anglicans–that of the feast of St Paul of the Cross.

    The Catholic Encyclopedias entry on St Paul of the Cross explains how he prayed for over 50 years for the conversion and reconciliation Paul’s of England.

    Perhaps the timing of this offer by the Pope on St Paul of the Cross’ feast day was intentional, given Paul’s fervent desire for the reconciliation with the Church of England.

    I wrote a brief article concerning St Paul of the Cross and his desire for the reunion of the Anglicans. For those interested it can be found here:

    Glenn Dallaire

  25. Fr. Paul,

    yes, you’ve got the facts exactly.
    Ive wondered why in re-establishing the permanent dieconate Post VatII, the Church did not require this continence! As it is now the Orthodox from that late 7th cnt. synod REQUIRE SEXUAL FASTING of the married clergy both before and after the celebration of the Eucharistic Liturgy AND during Advent Lent, vigils of Great Feasts, and other times of the year! But post Vat II HAS NO restrictions at all. Traditionally it had to do with the saccredness of litugical service. But with laity (mostly women I’ve observed now giving out Communion all sprirtual discipline is gone EVEN FOR THE MARRIED DEACONS,\; NEVER REQUIRED. one of the imprudences of Paul VI!

  26. While I think this is wonderful news, I wish everyone would read a new book by Roman Catholic layman, and father of 7 grown children, Edgar Davie. His book is called “Illicit Celibacy and the Deposit of Faith”.

    It is the Deposit of Faith that the Roman Church correctly uses to not allow the ordination of women as priests. But in Davie’s book, he clearly outlines how mandatory celibacy came to be, and puts it in relation to early Church Tradition, and most importantly, the Deposit of Faith.

    Before reading Davie’s book, I never even heard of the Deposit of Faith before, and I have 12 years of Catholic education, and have never wandered from my Roman Catholic roots, but am still a practicing Catholic today. I encourage everyone to read about the Deposit of Faith.

    • Could you give us a summary here from Davie’s book, please. Particularly in relation to the Roman Catholic practice of allowing marriage prior to but not after ordination (exceptions quoted in comments here above). Is this a post-apostolic development according to Davie – or, as has been suggested in comments, something that was normative from the early church. And if normative, what possible difference can it make whether one marries before or after ordination? What is the theology, reason, or implication of the order in which one receives those two sacraments?

  27. St. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 9: 5, “Do we not have the right to take along a Christian wife, as do the rest of the apostles, and the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas?” He was speaking of Barnabas and himself, when you read this chapter in context.

    This is the chapter where St. Paul is proving he had a right to be called an “apostle”. St. Paul called it a RIGHT for him to have a Christian wife too, yet he was not married at the time.

    However, if he WANTED to be married, he wrote he had the RIGHT to be married, like the other apostles. By the time he wrote to the Corinthians, he was a LONG-TIME apostle. He was not new.

    He wrote he could take a wife along on missionary journies, like the other apostles & “Cephas” = who is St. Peter.

    I used the USCCB – United States Conference of Catholic Bishops New American Bible- link, to get the above quote, so there would be no issues with different translations. So this quote is 100% Roman Catholic approved.

    Does it mean the same to everyone else, as it does to me?

    Namely, that if St. Paul, the apostle, wanted to marry a believing woman (Christian) and take her along with him on his journies, he could? Does anyone else interpret that verse differently?

    I interpret this to read that Paul, 100% an apostle, and not married during the time of his ministry & at the time he wrote this letter, claimed he had the RIGHT to marry, according to his own letter to the Corinthians.

    Your thoughts about this specific verse? Thank you.

  28. Pete, I have never heard of requiring sexual abstinence after presiding at the Eucharist – for how long? Could you please give us the synodical regulations from the undivided church of the 7th century that you refer to – in relation to before and after presiding. Thanks.

  29. I wonder how many Romaphile Anglicans may end up deeply bristling, regretting and finally bucking at the thoroughly authoritarian nature of the Roman church, if they do in fact swim the Tiber. Familiarity may breed contempt, after the desire from afar is consummated.

    May it not be so, and may they find peace and blessings.

    For high-church progressives, I just hope I’ll be able to find a venue where I can whiff some incense, glimpse a subdeacon, say a corporate Angelus, AND take communion.

  30. When I was a communicant of the RC Church one Parish Priest, while welcoming converts from the Anglican Communion, was suspicious of people who converted on a “single-issue” basis and wanted people entering the church to embrace it in its fullness.

  31. Cradle Catholic: re: 1 Corinthians 9:5.

    I don’t have my scholarly works like Cochini at hand, because I’m still living out of boxes, wherein lies my whole library (I have a lot of books). Cardinal Strickler has a pithy volume. Fr. Stanley Jaki (my favorite priest, RIP this past April) wrote one on the “Theology of Priestly Celibacy.”

    But just a brief Google shows that most of the English translations (Protestant) substitute “sister” for “wife”. The Douay-Rheims says the same. This suggests to us that the common interpretation in Church history was “sister”, not “wife”. The NAB, forced on us in the current liturgy, is one of the worst translations ever (just a money maker for the USCCB – don’t get me started 😉 ). This goes along with the idea of “perfect continence”, which today we call “living as brother and sister”, which is still required today in some cases of irregular marriages.

    If married, it’s no surpise that their wives accompanied them. Many women acccompanied Our Lord. But none suggest (aside from Da Vinci Code Dan Brown) suggest anything untoward. Generally it’s believed St. John was the only non-married apostle. I can understand how the idea of their wives accompanying them and not having relations is problematic given a modern interpretation.

    You have to read the entirety of Scripture along with the early Tradition to properly understand what St. Paul means – and you’re right, he didn’t start preaching the days after the scales fell from his eyes, he spent YEARS under the guidance of the apostles. His works are considered inspired not just because of the amount of his writings, but because they were written in the context of an existing Church of which he was a STUDENT (this kind of covers the belief by non-Christians who just take the Bible and think St. Paul invented Christianity – no, he was just passing on its wisdom in an eloquent, controversial and prolific way).

    And Bosco, you’re right about the development of Daily Mass. A few hundred years earlier in the West than the East, and by the time it caugt on in the East, they had already started undermining it, except among the celibate monks.

    Well, I’ve got a weekend of work to do.

    Best, Fr. Paul, pastor, St. Joseph’s, Dalton, GA

  32. In the U.S., currently around one in seven Episcopalians are former Roman Catholics. Half of my confirmation class was made up of former RC’s. What the Vatican’s move does is open the door for the Episcopal Church and any other Anglican church around the world to do something along the same lines. I would be willing to bet that there would be a flood of both former RC’s and current RC’s willing to join a parish led by an ex RC priest and using a form of the RC mass. The Anglican Church has been looking high and low for a way to expand its membership. The Pope just handed it to them us a silver platter.

  33. @Doug, I think you may be onto something.

    For instance, I think that the ICEL’s The Liturgy of the Hours is an elegant, finely-tuned work that I find easier and more satisfying to pray than the TEC’s Divine Office. However, I do think the Solemn High Mass in the vernacular (TEC’s Rite I) with the rootedness in the Sarum use is quite lovely, better I think than the Tridentine mass in Latin.

    It would be easy enough to do, and fair play. Plus, people could find comfortable and satisfying spiritual and religious homes. I think a way should be opened for a great enantiodromic migration.

    The only caveat is that it may become like the partition of India and Pakistan. What then will be our Kashmir?

  34. Great discussion, interesting comments, fruitful possibilities. A point I make to my friends is that we are a complicated ‘Christian communion'(a phrase I use for all followers of Christ no matter what denomination) in that dissection over many centuries has weakened our collective faith in the Christ in whom we all believe. In my opinion it is timely for us all to look for ways to undo the damage done by this negative impetus, refuse to apportion blame, pray earnestly for a Spirit led unification back to a church that is one and holy and meaningful to contemporary society therefore encouraging and attractive for the people of the world to consider and hopefully seek membership in.

    A pipe dream? It will be if that is your conclusion.

    A goal? It could be if we have a vision and are prepared to take steps to contribute to the cause in some way.

    That’s my two pence worth!

  35. I wonder sometimes if perhaps, despite the de rigeur public, rhetorical floggings and abuse the ABC has been and continues to receive from many sides, and particularly from those who are apt to be “left behind” in this scheme and when the dust settles in the AC, Rowan+++ will be vindicated and honored one day for his course. He just may be more perspicacious, craftier and more wise in the ways of the world than many give him credit for.

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About This Site Welcome to this ecumenical website of resources and reflections on liturgy, spirituality, and worship for individuals and communities. It is run by Rev. Bosco Peters.

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