Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Study Paper III - The Sacraments and the Ordinariate

Today we post the last of the three Study Papers by Prebendary Brooke Lunn to assist deeper consideration of the issues raised by the Apostolic Constitution and its Norms, addressed in his Appreciation of Anglicanorum Coetibus, in which he identifies the provisions for an Ordinariate as satisfying the objectives of the historic Anglican Papalist movement for a form of corporate reunion.

Study Paper I - Towards an English Ordinariate is an aid to those considering whether to form or join a "group of Anglicans" that could constitute part of an Ordinariate. It also examines the key and distinctive characteristics of the developing Ordinariate in terms of patrimony, Catholic Christian unity and the integrity of the proclamation of the gospel in the setting of English - or, for that matter, any other - society.

Study Paper II - Anglican Patrimony explores in great depth the social, ecclesiological, theological, cultural and religious identifying mark of a distinctively Anglican-ethos Catholic particular church, as well as its liturgical heritage.

Study Paper III - The Sacraments and the Ordinariate makes a noteworthy case for a greater identity and recognition between the classic Anglican theological position and the teaching of the Catholic Church than usually thought. It locates conscience as a means to mutual respect. This is fertile ground for ecumenical growth towards visible unity; and, taking the Church of England and the Catholic Church at their word, makes a bold proposal for how the Ordinariate, the wider Catholic Church and the Anglican Church can come closer together around what Pope Paul VI saw as Anglicans' and Catholics' communion of origins: in this case, a shared Anglican patrimony and sacramental understamding.

Fr Lunn notes that, after a century of theological rupture, the Restoration Prayer Book of 1662 supplants the Reformed theology, that denied the ex opere operato nature of sacraments, with a reasserted agreement in the Anglican formularies with the teaching of the Catholic Church - "right form, right matter, right intention, right minister, right candidate, indelible character". He goes on to note, however, the prevalence of an alternative Anglican divinity, which has been damaging to Anglican-Catholic reunion, namely the belief that sacraments (including Order, notable episcopacy) are of the bene esse of the Church, rather than of its esse - you might say of benefit to it, rather than integral to its very being. One could add that a similar redefinition has occured with regard to the use of the word "Catholic" in ecumenical dialogue, wherever its use by different people rests unnoticed on different meanings and assumptions. For instance, one meaning is "comprehending the range of diverse beliefs and forms"; the other means "integrating all in the one binding truth".   Fr Lunn therefore calls for the reassertion of the common understanding about sacraments held by Anglicans and Catholics in their respective magisterial teaching authority, in order to clarify the massive misunderstanding about terms and teaching that has blighted ecumenical progress towards unity between the Catholic Church and "the Church of England entire".

He argues that, if the two do indeed hold different sacramental theologies, then questions of  mutual recognition and validity surely do not matter. It is only because the sacramental theology in both is  fundamentally the same that it matters to Anglicans that their sacraments according to their formularies are valid by Catholic criteria; it also matters to Catholics that the Catholic Church has formed a judgment that they do not, after all, meet those same criteria. How to overcome this impasse? Fr Lunn believes that a step forward can be made, not through the unrealistic dream that one position or the other can be made to prevail, but through each recognising that the other's position is conscientious. Thus Anglican interlocutors are unlocked from the point of grievance and disputation over validity according to the Roman Catholic judgment, and Catholic interlocutors need not be constrained to regard Anglican sacramentality solely in adverse terms: without resiling from its settled judgment, it is at least possible to recognise freely that the Anglican judgment is different, and that the Anglican conviction is to be respected as conscientious.

Fr Lunn sees this recognition of each other's conscientious position as an important step towards the "regularization of Sacraments" on the road to corporate reunion within an Ordinariate. The ecumenical resonance would be strong and positive. Respect for conscience and integrity does no harm to the different convictions, teaching and practice of the other, at the same time as it recognises that basic principles and faith are actually held in common.

He then cites for study purposes a formula, suggested in 1994, that does justice to both conscientious positions. It sought to place the ordination of a former Anglican priest into the sacerdotal presyterate of the Catholic Church in context. In practice and in principle, no Anglican cleric in the last half century has been asked to go against their conscience and deny their original Christian faith and ordination. Cardinal Hume addressed this problem for Anglican consciences at the time by saying that the doubt was not nowadays about validity, but invalidity. But still, he said, the Church and its faithful require absolute certainty. And so the Church requested Anglican clergy, who it recognises as "ordained in some sense" (even fully valid for Anglican purposes - and was that not some recognition of the Anglican conscientious position?), to seek and accept ordination without conditionality and beyond doubt in the Catholic Church. Indeed Cardinal Hume was responsible for obtaining the agreement of the Congregation for Divine Worship for a form of prayer to be inserted into the rite of ordination of former Anglican clergy, to articulate the reality of what was going on (the ordination of the ordained) liturgically. The prayer (which has been used widely at the Ordinariate ordinations) recognises that "not a few of the sacred actions of the Christian religion as carried out in communities separated from her can truly engender a life of grace and can rightly be described as providing access to the community of salvation", recognises and thanks God for the number of years of the candidate's previous ministry in the Anglican Communion "whose fruitfulness for salvation has been derived from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Catholic Church", and prays that it be brought  to fruition in the full ommunion and presbyterate of the Catholic Church. These wordings, which reflect the terms and teaching of the Decree on Ecumenism from the Second Vatican Council, demonstrate a great deal of respect for conscientious conviction and also a recognition of Anglican sacramentality by the very act of the Catholic Church's receiving it.

Readers of this Study Paper may also refer to Study Paper I, section V, in which Fr Lunn proposes practical terms for the Church of England and the Catholic Church to take each other at their respective words and follow their ecumenical pledge not to do apart what can be done together. With regard to the Ordinariate and its Anglican patrimony shared with the Church of England, should it not in due course mean that (other than in the celebration of the sacraments) Ordinariate clergy could receive, like Free Church pastors and ministers, an authorisation to officiate. If Anglicans and Catholics are committed ecumenically to the mutual exchange of gifts, it is a principle of Catholic Church life that members of its Ordinariates do not turn their back on those with whom they share the Anglican tradition, but come to the fore in mutual friendship, pastoral collaboration, cultural links and bonds as close fellow Christians. It will have to be in the end that Anglicans receive a warm and honoured welcome when they come to a Catholic Church belonging to the Ordinariate, and there sense a deep sense of affinity and spiritual ecumenism. By the same token, just as Anglican regulations in England provide a place for fellow Christians from other Churches in its systems (PCC members, ecumenical canons, church-sharing agreements and local ecumenical partnerships), it ought to be that members of the Ordinariate also play their part in this generous ecumenical space. The Ordinariate's Anglican identity and heritage thus serve not as points of rivalry and rupture, but as the very means by which Catholic and Anglican closeness on the road to visible unity in the same apostolic faith can be strengthened.

Read or download Study Paper III: the Sacraments and the Ordinariate here.

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