Sunday, April 9, 2017

Bp Lopes On Anglicanorum coetibus and the CDF

A visitor very kindly sent me a link to a lecture delivered By Bp Lopes to the students and professors of the Institut für Historische Theologie, Liturgiewissenschaft und Sakramententheologie at the University of Vienna on March 28, 2017. It's wide-ranging, and at least a third of it is a defense of the Inquisition, so some of the remarks need to be taken in context. In addition, Bp Lopes is speaking from the perspective of someone operating the Vatican machinery from the inside and looking out. The key passage, though, is this explanation for the promulgation of Anglicanorum coetibus:
From 1960 to 2005, there were no fewer than 7 serious attempts to effect a corporate reunion of an Anglican Ecclesial Community with the Catholic Church. All efforts ultimately failed, though it was extremely instructive to study the documentation and understand why these attempts failed. Ultimately, this understanding would shape the new approach represented by the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus. Here, please understand that I can only speak in generalities as the documentation in question remains in the CDF’s closed archives and therefore is under the pontifical secret. But let us say, for example, that if the Holy See worked with a group of Anglicans to elaborate a proposal, and if that proposal was then entrusted to an Episcopal Conference for implementation, and if that Episcopal Conference then simply killed the proposal in committee, then a new approach might involve consultation with local Episcopal Conferences but reserve the actual oversight and direction of the implementation to the Holy See itself. Or if a previous proposal for corporate reunion incardinated the converting clergy into local Dioceses, and if those priests were then reassigned or assimilated into the local Diocese so that they could not minister to their former communities and foster the particular identity of those communities, then a new approach might involve creating a juridical structure which would allow the incardination of priests and the canonical membership of laity so that their distinctiveness was not lost to assimilation into the much larger sea of Catholic life.
This appears to be a fairly conventional outline of the reasons why the Pastoral Provision was eventually superseded by Anglicanorum coetibus. An observation that was forwarded to me was
How very interesting - especially the references to previous attempts at corporate reunion all ruined by local Catholic opposition, particularly that sort of philistinism and dog-in-the-manger attitude that forbade anything but Novus Ordo minimalism.
As an actual former Anglican who lived through a failed "serious attempt to effect a corporate reunion of an Anglican Ecclesial Community with the Catholic Church" (viz, the Second St Mary of the Angels Fiasco of 2011-20??), indeed under the new dispensation that Bp Lopes implies somehow fixed things, I've got to say I disagree with Bp Lopes's "Whig interpretation" of events here. I also have some concern that Bp Lopes is presenting Anglicanorum coetibus as something of a reification, an abstraction not much related to the ordinariates as they exist.
  • He refers to seven failed attempts at corporate reunion from 1960 to 2005. I've got to assume one of the seven was the First St Mary of the Angels Fiasco of 1976-1986.
  • But if we count each such failed attempt as an instance, what of the failed attempts of communities in the US to join the OCSP after 2012? These would include St Aidan's Des Moines, St Columba Lancaster, St Columba Fernley, and likely others.
  • I've certainly heard the opinion that Msgr Steenson was poorly suited to his role and may have been behind these continuing failures, but Bp Lopes is implying that the implementation of Anglicanorum coetibus changed things, when as far as I can see, it didn't.
  • Of the successful attempts by roughly 40 entities to join the OCSP after 2012, we're beginning to see a pattern of weaker groups already dying out, with a likely outcome of perhaps a dozen or fewer financially self-sustaining groups remaining. How is any of this a success?
Observers may feel that philistinism in the Church hurt the process, but Anglicans and Catholic wannabes among them have been their own worst enemies. Later I'll have a chance to examine these issues with Abp Hepworth, who almost certainly will have his own perspective to offer.