Skip to comments.Anglican Uniates?
Posted on 02/14/2006 1:16:21 PM PST by sionnsar
For years a small group of Anglicans have striven for the creation of an Anglican rite within the Catholic Church. Various models have been proposed, from the creation of a uniate body to the establishment of a personal prelature. But there has been strong opposition to the creation of such an ecclesial entity, not least from the ecumenical bureauracy within the Catholic Church.
During the past months we have heard rumors of a breakthrough, with specific reference to the Traditional Anglican Communion. Albion has recently published an update by Bishop David Chislett. Drew over at the Holy Whapping is so excited that he predicts the establishment of communion within two years. From Drews lips to Gods ears! But I also point readers to the more cautious assessment of the man whose intelligence network encompasses the globeour own investigative reporter, Bill Tighe.
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Speak the truth in love. Eph 4:15
Many commentators approach high level ecumenical talks with the mindset of trying to get the other side to cave in on something that they deem important. For example, some commentators say that the TAC will have to "cave in" on this or Rome will have to "cave in" on that in order to move forward. That's like approaching a business deal with the mindset of "either I screw him or he screws me". Such an approach dooms the entire effort to failure.
Rather, the ultimate goal must be understood and agreed to by both sides before serious discussions begin. When the goal is known, then the sides can work together on making it a possibility. For example, if the goal is to create an Anglican Rite ecclesiastical structure in communion with Rome, then is a celibate episcopacy absolutely necessary? Can Rome be in communion with a church that has married bishops the same way she is in communion with a church that has married priests?
"Can Rome be in communion with a church that has married bishops the same way she is in communion with a church that has married priests?"
I don't believe that Pope Benedict would accept communion with a group that would permit married bishops.
If the goal is complete unification between traditionalist Anglicans and Rome, then of course married bishops would be out of the question (possibly married priests as well). I don't know of too many people who are actually pushing for that.
"If the goal is complete unification between traditionalist Anglicans and Rome,..."
The goal, of course, must be complete unification. However, that doesn't mean the same thing as absorption. Should there be re-union between the Catholic Church and Orthodoxy, one will not become the other, but rather, they will come back into communion with each other.
That being said, I don't think that Pope Benedict would accept communion with any group that permitted married bishops.
I've actually been following this and have an Anglican Use Chaplaincy close by.
I suspect any Communion would allow for any and all married Clergy (excepting Bishops) accepted, the real question would be moving forward. I would suspect that there would be a great deal of debate about it.
As for the married Bishops, that is a definite stumbling block...however to his credit Bishop Hepworth (a former Latin Rite Catholic Priest) has declared that he would resign his Episcopacy if it was necessary to Communion.
While Orthodoxy allows married men to become priests, it draws its bishops from the monasteries. It would be very difficult for Anglicanism to adopt that approach as there are very few monasteries from which to draw leaders. And therein lies the inherint problem: Catholicism and Orthodoxy are based on a monastic system while Anglicanism and the rest of Protestantism are based on a congregational system. Anglican bishops are married because they are drawn from congregational leadership. Catholic and Orthodox bishops are not married because they are drawn from a monastic order.
"Catholic and Orthodox bishops are not married because they are drawn from a monastic order."
Well, in the Latin rite, Catholic priests are drawn from the whole of the priesthood, as the priesthood is celibate (with a few exceptions).
Anyway, whatever the reasons, I don't think that Pope Benedict would accept married bishops. As otherwise noted, a celibate episcopacy is a very old tradition, and is uniformly accepted by the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, east and west.
I believe that Pope Benedict would prefer not to create unnecessary obstacles to reunion with the Orthodox (there are plenty of real, necessary obstacles, why create unnecessary ones?), and widening the communion of the Catholic Church to include married bishops would likely be a very big obstacle to reunion with Orthodoxy.
If there were reunion between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, a succeeding pope could take up the question with the other Patriarchs, or, depending on the terms of reunion, even possibly have the freedom of action to accept communion with groups who have married bishops. But I don't believe that this pope, Benedict XVI, will act unilaterally in that regard. It is possible that, failing reunion with the Orthodox, another pope might accept reunion with folks who have married bishops, but not this one.
It would be hard to claim that the issue of married bishops is fundamentally doctrinal, since St. Paul refers to bishops as folks who may only have been married once. However, it would be a change of 16 or 17 centuries of actual practice, east and west. I don't think that this pope would initiate that change outside the fuller context of reunion with the Orthodox.
IMO, a married episcopate is out of the question, at minimum because it would scandalize the Orthodox and open a further breach between them and us. (If it happened at all, it would be in exceptional cases or as a transitional measure, but I don't think that's even possible.)
A married parish priesthood is completely do-able, but of course if most parish priests are married and all bishops are celibate, you have the additional problem of where to find bishops.
If their first order of business in wanting concordance with Rome is to attempt to change the way Rome does business, I'm not sure they're ready to be seriously considered as a candidate for reunion. Let those who have ears hear!
But the Orthodox allow married Clergy don't they? Wouldn't that perhaps make a married Bishopric more palatable to them than to Rome?
Dear Flavius Josephus,
The Orthodox ordain married men to the priesthood, but bishops may not come from the ranks of married priests.
Keep in mind that in the Eastern Catholic Churches (in commuion with the pope), married men may also be ordained. Thus, married clergy are acceptable to the Catholic Church, as well. However, it is the very ancient tradition of the Latin Church to maintain celibacy within the Latin Church.
Anyway, in that consecrating married men to the episcopacy would violate traditions that go back a millenium and a half or more, I think that the Orthodox would look on such a move by the Catholic Church as negatively as the Catholic Church would see it, internally (maybe even more so).
Perhaps it might be possible that the Orthodox could come to accept married bishops, but I imagine it would have to occur through the process of something like an Ecumenical Council, or at least with some prior consultation by the Catholic Church with the Orthodox, and approval by the latter.
My own opinion is that if the Catholic Church unilaterally established communion with a group with married bishops without the express prior acceptance of the Orthodox, reunion with the Orthodox (if it is even possible) would be set back for a very long time.
St. Paul's reference is to celibate men. They can only have been married once, meaning they cannot have remarried. The reference says nothing about their use of marriage, about which tradition is unanimous that they may not. Married men have been consecrated in the past if they were (1) widowers or (2) their wives took vows and entered a convent.
That is most certainly NOT their first order of business. The TAC and the Curiate are in a period of exploration of issues and of getting to know one another. All of the discussion in this thread and in the linked blogs is speculatory at this time, and reactionism such as that displayed in the above comment does no one any good.
OK, understood. I most certainly agree that the Church should not change one iota to synch up with an Episcopalian schismatic group that says it wants to be orthodox but demands that the Roman Church take decisions that aren't fair to its own Ordinands.
Dear Flavius Josephus,
"I most certainly agree that the Church should not change one iota..."
I don't have any idea whether the TAC is asking anything like that.
I'm merely stating that on one particular issue - a married episcopacy - it is highly unlikely that the Catholic Church will permit the practice. However, dollars to donuts that the folks doing the talking between the Catholic Church and the TAC already have this concern identified.
I might add that it is equally highly unlikely that the TAC would find such a proscription to be a show stopper.
How many married Anglican bishops are there?
And how many would agree to come into communion with Rome anyway?
Of that number of married bishops, I would suppose that Rome could grant a dispensation for a generation, but not allow NEW bishops to be married.
On the other hand, perhaps Rome could.
It might "set back" reunification efforts with the Orthodox, but let's be objective here: who thinks that the Orthodox themselves WANT reunion? I have never met any who do, or who would accept it.
Orthodoxy was always Greek (or Russian), but Episcopalianism (and Lutheranism) once upon a time were Roman, Latin Catholic. The Great Schism happened a half millennium earlier than the Reformation, and the differences in ethos, what the Orthodox call "phromena", I believe, between the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches are very great. Now, it is true that the differences in ethos between the Orthodox and Eastern Rite Catholic Churches are not all that great at all, but there are two things about that which should not give anyone terribly great hope.
The first is that many (most?) of the Eastern Rite Catholic churches are Uniate - and the Uniates provoke greater ire and resentment, by far, among the Orthodox than faraway Latin Catholicism.
The second is that, while it's true that there are some 21 (or is it 22) Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church, plain vanilla Latin Rite Roman Catholicism still comprises over 90% of the Catholic Church. So, even if the Orthodox would be more ritualistically comfortable (but politically far more UNCOMFORTABLE) with the Eastern Rite Catholics, the big granddaddy of the Catholic Churches is Roman Catholicism, and everyone knows it.
So, the Orthodox would have to get over their resentment of the Uniate Eastern Catholics, and it is difficult to imagine that happening without Rome somehow curbing the Uniates in ways that would be perceived as very disloyal to long-suffering Eastern Catholics. And even if Rome did that, the Orthodox would still have to get over the big liturgical - and yes, theological - differences between the Russian and Greek (especially the Russian) East and the Latin West.
The Romans and the Greeks have each been practicing their brand of Christianity since apostolic times and shortly thereafter, and these ways have always been different. Neither is going to change anything fundamental to come into full communion with the other. The only way it could happen, then, would be for the Orthodox and the Latins to jawbone their way into deciding that the apparent theological differences between the two aren't REALLY theological after all.
There is always the wish for reunion on the part of Rome.
There is less desire for reunion on the part of Constantinople, and there is, in truth, little to none on the part of Moscow.
I would say that doing, or not doing, something vis a vis the Anglicans (or Lutherans) out of concern for the dimming of prospects for reunion with the Orthodox is unwise, because it is entirely too optimistic about there being any REAL chance of a Catholic/Orthodox reunion. The Orthodox laity do NOT want it at all.
By contrast, the Anglicans are estranged daughters of the Latin Rite. This is not some church that arose independently from Roman Catholicism, like the Orthodox did. The Anglican Church WAS once the Roman Catholic Church. There has been liturgical and theological drift, and a great deal of political rancor (and some bloodshed) but the nature of the estrangement is that of a mother and daughter. By contrast, the estrangement with Orthodoxy is that between two siblings who are fraternal twins.
Suppose there were an Anglican Rite, with married bishops?
Probably an EXPLOSION of Catholicism across America, as the "Frozen Chosen" became Catholic again, and suddenly the door was opened for a lot of people who aren't English, but who would like to be priests, to be full-blown Catholic priests, the real McCoy, without celibacy.
The Catholic Church would pick up all of the prettiest churches in America, and might very well become quite a vibrant place again among Protestants.
Is bringing Anglicanism back into Catholicism "squaring the circle"?
Married priests shouldn't be an issue.
Married bishops: hey, it's biblical. And since, as in Roman Catholicism, bishops rise from the priesthood, having married priests but no married bishops really doesn't make a lot of sense. Yes, it's an old tradition, but it's a tradition. And the Bible is an older tradition. Married bishops ARE within the tradition itself. That's part of the point of having a new Anglican Rite and not simply attempting to fold the Anglican Church into the Latin Rite. Anglicans aren't Latins.
Will married Bishops in the Anglican Rite embitter the Orthodox? Probably. Will it forestall reunion with the Orthodox? Probably not. The Orthodox don't WANT reunion.
The Anglican orthodox catholics DO.
That's the distinction, and it's important.
A celibate episcopacy is NOT a theological issue but a disciplinary one.
What are the THEOLOGICAL issues?
The Real Presence in the Eucharist?
Four additional sacraments?
The supremacy of the See of Peter?
The Assumption of the Virgin?
One thing that the Anglicans bring to the table is a much greater historical focus on the full authority of Scripture than the Latin Rite insists upon. When evangelizing among Protestants, it would be GOOD to have that element back in the Catholic fold, preaching, teaching and nagging.
The Anglicans know about those theological differences, but they do not seem to be insurmountable from THEIR perspective. THEY want reunion, if it can be gotten. Rather, they seem to be worried about the disciplinary issue of married bishops.
This is an easy circle to square, and to square in a way that heavily respects and indeed showcases the deep and abiding Anglican rite's respect for Holy Scripture. In Scripture, there are married bishops. Peter, the Rock on which the Church was built, was himself married. Given the bitter pill of papal supremacy that comes with reunion, Rome accepting the EXAMPLE of Peter himself, who demonstrates scripturally that the Pope himself can be married and given the keys by Christ Himself is the antidote.
Let them have their married bishops, so long as they are of deacon quality. Let them have deaconesses too - that too respects scripture and tradition.
A return, for the Anglican rite, to traditions of the organization of the Church circa the time of Paul and Eusebius is not a terrible disciplinary concession to make in order to reunite the Western Church.
And remember, it would MERELY be a disciplinary concession by Rome, NOT a theological one.
The Anglicans, in turn, would be making a handful of important THEOLOGICAL concessions. Think how much harder that would be, for Roman Catholics anyway.
It doesn't make sense to spurn the separated daughter who wants to return home in the hopes of reuniting with the still-suspicious fraternal twin who has expressed no particular desire to live under the same roof again.
Let's be sensible here.
Give the Anglicans their married bishops. It's not a theological issue.
Remember, they'll be asked to say confession once a year again...for the first time in England in 400 years. And to accept the real presence. And to accept the final word of the Pope on matters of faith and morals, as a THEOLOGICAL matter (and not merely disciplinary). And they'll be asked to celebrate the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin again.
These are not little things. But they seem to be willing to do it in order to have unity.
The Bible has deaconesses and married bishops.
The Anglicans are Protestants in their deep and abiding faith in the Bible. So follow the Bible and let them keep their bishops and have their deaconesses.
Reunite the Western Church.
The prospects of reunification with Orthodoxy are a chimera anyway.
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