Monday, 4 July 2011

Study Paper II - Anglican Patrimony, by Fr Brooke Lunn

Today we publish Fr Brooke Lunn's second Study Paper to assist exploration of his Appreciation of Anglicanorum Coetibus.

This is already an historic document, since it is a reworking for the present circumstances of An Inlook into Anglican Identity, a study guide Fr Lunn developed early in the period from 1987 to 1990 as the leaders of the Catholic League set up a Committee for Corporate Reunion, to explore the feasibility and basis of corporate reunion. "Anglican identity" was thus the term being used at the time of the first formal plan for a scheme in the late 1980s and just into the 1990s, before the phrase "Anglican patrimony" entered into the currency. To those who say that the Apostolic Constitution was rushed in its conception and had no precedents, once again we demonstrate evidence of important foundational work two decades ago, itself resting on more than a century of repeated efforts, contacts and approaches, which are now bearing fruit as they are realised in the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham and further afield.

The original Inlook was printed in its entirety in our August 2010 Special Edition of The Messenger, a substantial collection of 200 pages of documentation and analysis entitled, Anglicans and Catholics in Communion: Patrimony, Unity and Mission. This remains available for free distribution and if you would like a copy, please email us here and we will send you a copy while stocks last. All we ask is a small donation to the Newman Fund to support the Ordinariate.

After a searching discussion among members of the League, using the Inlook, a "Congregation of the English Mission" was established as an embryonic body that could in due course petition the Catholic authorities for a "group of Anglicans" requesting a corporate reunion, marked with a distinctive Anglican identity and outlook, and committed to the union of all Christians for the sake of, and vital to, the effective and convincing mission of the one Church to the nation. Sounds familiar?

In this pioneering work, Father Lunn was a leading figure. The proposed model for corporate reunion looked to Canon 372 and also to concrete examplars such as the relatively new exceptional structure of the Personal Prelature (designed and implemented for Opus Dei) and the Pastoral Provision in the USA. A series of meetings took place with Cardinal Basil Hume OSB, Archbishop of Westminster, and his advisers Fr Anthony Nys SJ and Fr Michael Seed SA. There were also informal explorations with the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (whose prefect at the time was Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI - evidently Anglicanorum Coetibus was long forming in his mind) and the Apostolic Pro-Nuncio to the United Kingdom at the time, Archbishop Pablo Puente Buces. These plans could not be advanced at the time - the Personal Prelature because it provided only for a clerical body, and a Pastoral Provision because the Bishops of England & Wales were "of one mind that, in our particular circumstances, such alternatives would serve to increase the multiplicity of Church identities in an unhelpful and confusing manner". Their full November 1993 statement eventually rejecting the Congregation for the English Mission's proposal, and addressing the forthcoming likely transfer of hundreds of clergy to the Catholic Church and untold numbers of laity on an individual basis alone, can be read here. Who knows what could have been?

There were several parish groups received on an individual-cum-corporate basis, mainly in the Diocese of Westminster - notably at Enfield Lock (St Peter & St Paul) and St Pancras (Holy Cross, Cromer Street). But these relied on church-sharing by a small Catholic congregation with a continuing but diminished Anglican parish congregation; and relations, despite considerable efforts at good will locally, proved difficult, not least as their former pastors were not available to lead the nascent Catholic communities, their having been moved on to other parish postings in anticipation of ordination and incardination in the diocese. While obviously there was disappointment on the part of many that a Pastoral Provision for Anglicans seeking full communion, with some kind of distinctive ecclesial reality of its own, could  not at that time be integrated into the Catholic Church in England and Wales, many clergy and faithful were undeterred. It is estimated by Fr John Broadhurst that in England over the 10 years from 1994 (the period of financial and housing support allocated by the Anglican authorities for those in conscience taking up what was essentiallly a voluntary redundancy or early retirement scheme) and in the period since, 500 Anglican clergy became Catholics, with large unrecorded numbers of lay faithful. The effect of this influx of Anglican background, patrimony and contribution to the life of the Catholic Church in England and Wales remains uncalculated but deserves thorough research. Certainly, it was something of an answer to prayer - even if an unexpected one - for vocations to the priesthood, during a period when across the Western world the numbers being ordained was seriously contracting.

As in Fr Lunn's first Study Paper, Towards an English Ordinariate, the focus is taken beyond the immediate identity markers of Liturgy and Tradition, to a thorough treatment of origins and the Anglican theological paradigm of Scripture, Tradition and Reason, to an appraisal of  the purpose and truthfulness of a Via Media (and the integrity of how that is practised), to considering the role of the laity in Anglican church life, and on to such factors as the relationship of Church and State, how size of congregation affects identity and mission, and the importance of folk religion and culture for what our now termed the "evangelisation of culture" and the "struggle for the soul of Europe".

Fr Lunn has thoroughly revised his original Study Paper to take account of the opportunities offered by Anglicanorum Coetibus and development of the new Ordinariate. It is also a masterly introduction to the thinking of Newman as it relates to the fields he covered.

Read or download Fr Brooke Lunn's Study Paper II - Anglican Patrimony here.

We will post the final Study Paper - Sacraments and the Ordinariate - on 5th July.

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