Tuesday, May 1, 2018

The CDF On Anglican Patrimony, Again

Every now and then I run into an anecdote about some Catholic family that's traveling and finds itself in an unfamiliar place on Sunday morning with the need to fulfill their mass obligation. They see a church called St Mary's or St Paul's, and they assume it's Catholic. When they go in, they see kneelers and a crucifix, which reinforce the impression. Somewhere along the way, though, they develop an uncertain feeling, and eventually they realize it's Episcopalian and sheepishly file out, trying to be inconspicuous. (In more recent years, the lady celebrant in the procession would probably have clued them in sooner.)

A visitor sent me a link to this talk by Archbishop J Augustine DiNoia, OP entitled "Anglican Patrimony: A Perspective from the Holy See", delivered at Oxford this past April 25. The odd thing is that he tells a similar story on himself, but he takes the view that this isn't something to be sheepish about, it's a feature of Anglicanism, or something like that.

Well, whatever -- this goes to Fr Longenecker's observation that Anglicanism has a mass that "looks like" the Catholic eucharist, and as a guy who had snakes as a hobby when I was young, I would simply point out that a coral snake, which is highly venomous, "looks like" a scarlet king snake, which is docile and not venomous. The lesson I would draw from both cases is that prudence is a virtue for a reason.

The other thing that struck me about Abp DiNoia's presentation is that it contains absolutely nothing beyond what Bp Lopes has repeatedly said. For instance,

It is massively important to recognize that the liturgical books comprised by Divine Worship arise from an exercise of Peter’s authority over the churches that recognizes the authentic faith of the Church expressed in Anglican forms of worship and confirms that expression as a treasure or patrimony for the whole Church. In other words, the universal Church recognizes the faith that is already hers expressed felicitously in another idiom. The elements of sanctification and truth that are present in the Anglican patrimony are recognized as properly belonging to the Church of Christ and thus as instruments of grace that move the communities where they are employed towards the visible unity of the Church of Christ subsisting in the Catholic Church (cf. Lumen Gentium, 8). By further enriching those expressions through access to the Magisterium that authentically interprets the Word of God and preserves Christian teaching from error, the Catholic Church proposes this form of worship anew as an efficacious means of sacramental grace for future generations.
The problem I see in both the explanations of Bp Lopes and Abp DiNoia is that they regard the "Anglican patrimony" as primarily liturgical -- but, at least as I can parse their remarks, not exclusivley. And DiNoia makes this additional point:
The publication of Divine Worship was of historic significance in that this is the first time the Catholic Church acknowledged the value of liturgical forms in use in communities that emerged in the sixteenth century reformations and, moreover, undertaken to incorporate them. To be sure, the Church over the years has drawn elements of the musical traditions of these communities—such as hymns, motets, and chorales—but never official liturgical texts or usage.
Our diocesan choir sang the Allelulia Chorus at Easter; our missal has many hymns by Isaac Watts, Charles Wesley, John Mason Neale, and Ralph Vaughan Williams. But here's a conundrum: this part of the Anglican patrimony is available in Catholic parishes to far more diocesan Catholics than to those in the OCSP, and in the OCSP, most groups have no music program worthy of the name. TEC Bp Martins acknowledged recently that the top few OCSP parishes can do almost as well as All Saints Margaret Street -- but so far, that hasn't drawn many Anglicans away from All Saints Margaret Street.

Abp DiNoia may see significance in the Holy See endorsing a very slightly different-appearing liturgical style -- but what of it? What conclusions might the CDF draw from the very limited acceptance Anglicanorum coetibus has had from Anglicans? In terms of appearance, why does the OCSP resemble a "continuing" body so much more closely than a denomination within the Anglican Communion? Why, if Cardinal Ratzinger was told in 1993 that as many as 250,000 Episcopalians were ready to come over, did so few actually take this step? (And remember, 1993 predates Bp Spong, Bp Robinson, and the formation of the ACNA.)

Does this say something about Anglicanism that the CDF may have missed? Is the CDF trying to accomplish one pastoral mission, as Abp DiNoia characterizes it, while actually bringing about unintended consequences?