Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Pope opens door for Anglican fraternity
Pope Benedict XVI has given a nod to the realization of a full communion with the Anglican Church by accepting an Apostolic Constitution that allows for Anglicans to easily become Catholics.
In a statement released on Tuesday Oct. 20, 2009 by Cardinal William Joseph Levanda, President of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith in the Vatican, (formerly headed by the then Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI) many groups of the Anglican clergy and faithful have written to the Holy See, requesting to enter into full visible communion with the Catholic Church.
Cardinal Levanda said that the Catholic Church in the forthcoming document provides for the ordination of married former Anglican clergy as Catholic priests. However, the Cardinal clarified that historical and ecumenical reasons precluded the ordination of married men as bishops.
The document that is yet to be released to the public is said to seek to balance ‘on one hand the concern to preserve the worthy Anglican liturgical and spiritual patrimony and, on the other hand, the concern that these groups and their clergy will be integrated into the Catholic Church’.
The Cardinal however, clarified that ‘the unity of the church does not require a uniformity that ignores cultural diversity…’
He said that in the Constitution that is now in the final phase, contains proposals to form Personal Ordinaries (dioceses) with structures similar to that of the Military Ordinariates to take care of the brethren who formerly were of the Anglican faith and have since joined the Catholic Church.
In a statement jointly released in London to coincide with the announcement in Rome by Archbishop Vincent Gerald Nichols of Westminister and Dr. Rowan William, archbishop of Cantebury, the two Anglican leaders, confirmed the announcement and said the announcement brought to an end a period of uncertainty for groups that had requested to enter into full communion with the catholic church. The two leaders went on to appreciate dialogue that has gone on for over 40 years between the Catholic church on one hand and the Anglican on the other.
The schism (split) that led to formation of Anglican church (church of England) away from mother Catholic Church came in the sixteenth century when King Henry VIII declared the Church of England independent of Papal authority. However, it was only in the mid-nineteenth century that the interest to enter into dialogue developed.
In 1982, the Anglican Diocese of Amritsar of India and some parishes in the United States maintained the Anglican identity but entered into the Catholic Church under some guidelines approved by Pope John Paul II.
This latest development does not however change the Catholic opposition to ordination of women or the ordination of gay priests.
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