In case you missed it, Robert Mickens’s comment from Peggy’s thread below deserves your attention:
A very helpful piece by John Allen to begin the discussion.
However, in absence of the actual Apostolic Constitution it is difficult and dangerous to draw too many conclusions. We are left only with open questions.
The people at the CDF think they have cleverly “scooped” the media.
This is what happened: at 6 p.m. on Monday evening the Holy See press office announced that Cardinal Levada and Archbishop Di Noia were to hold a press briefing the next morning at 11 a.m. on a “topic concerning relations between Catholics and Angicans”. Many journalists never got the news until the next day and some of them never heard about the briefing until it was already over. The last-minute announcement of a briefing on a vague topic meant that most of journalists were not prepared to ask the proper questions. Usually, a press conference is announced a week in advanced and the topic is clear.
When we arrived at the press hall we expected to receive a document. Instead, we were given an “explanatory note” of the still unpublished Apostolic Constitution. But this was not distributed to us until the briefing got underway.
During the question period neither Cardinal Levada nor Archbishop Di Noia would provide journalists with figures or much detail — how many people are we talking about? which groups are we talking about? who was involved in the committee to draft these still unpublished provisions? were the Catholic episcopal conferences where these groups are found (e.g. England and Wales, especially) involved in the process or consulted? The responses to all these questions were vague, I pointed out at the briefing, asking for more clarity. “If we have been vague, then so be it,” was Cardinal Levada’s answer. Archbishop Di Noia refused to provide the names of people who were involved in the consultation process. He only said it included a limited number of persons and that it was important to protect confidentiality.
A public relations master stroke?
Confusion reigned at the end of the briefing. No one was quite sure what had been announced. And the news reports that have followed reflect this confusion.
Without the actual legislative text — the Apostolic Constitution — it is hard to know just what exactly is at stake.
Among the many question, add these:
1. What specifically Anglican patrimony will be allowed to remain after the “corporate reunion” of these Anglican groups with Rome? Will it include merely the “spiritual and liturgical” patrimony? Are these the only differences between Anglicans and Catholics? And are they even the most essential? There is also a distinctively Anglican ecclesiology and church order (or new elements of such) that have development over the centuries. One thinks immediately of synodality, the selection of bishops and other pastors, the role of vestries, the role of the non-ordained faithful in governance and oversight, etc… Will any of the ecclesiological part of the “heritage” be preserved? If the heritage is limited to “spiritual and liturgical”, then are we not talking about Anglicans being “absorbed” into Rome. And would this not be the establishment of a Western model of “uniatism” (to use the pejorative term).
2. The issue of married priests has left many commentators confused. Some seem to think that the new provisions would create a section within Catholicism where a married priesthood would be perpetuated. But it seems that this will depend on a steady and lasting flow of “coversions” (to use an incorrect term) of married Anglican priests to Catholicism. What type of norms will be needed to regulate this traffic? What of priests who are divorced and remarried? What of Catholics who become Anglicans, get ordained, and then come back to Rome? There will many more issues, as well…
Many, many questions — all impossible to answer without the so far nameless and faceless Apostolic Constitution (which we were told the Pope has already approved, despite the fact it is not completed).
And, of course, what does this auger for Rome’s (evolving) attitude towards and involvement in the field of ecumenism?