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October 30 2009 £1.20 (Republic of Ireland €1.70)
Anglicans ponder Pope’s ‘generous’ offer Traditionalists weigh up ‘mind-blowing’ new provision at annual Forward in Faith assembly
BY ANNA ARCO
TRADITIONALISTS in the Church of England have welcomed the news of a papal decree offering a new legal structure for Anglicans wishing to be in communion with Rome.
Members of Forward in Faith – a group of conservative AngloCatholics within the Church of England – met for their annual National Assembly last weekend, only days after the news broke that the Holy See was welcoming Anglicans into communion with the Catholic Church with a new canonical structure.
During the assembly members of the group, including some of its bishops, welcomed Pope Benedict XVI’s gesture with “gratitude”, calling it “mind-blowingly different”, “generous” and the “answer to our prayers”.
But it was far from clear that a majority of its 1,000 clergy will accept the offer in the short term. They will wait to find out more about the “Personal Ordinariates” set out by the Apostolic Constitution, which is yet to be published. It is expected to provide details of a new structure similar to that of military dioceses. This would accommodate Anglicans who wished to be in full communion with Rome but to retain aspects of their liturgical and spiritual heritage.
Most members of Forward in Faith are Anglo-Catholic and cannot in good conscience accept ordained women either as priests or bishops. The group was founded in 1992 after the General Synod of the Church of England voted to ordain women priests.
The Rt Rev John Hind, Bishop of Chichester, said that it looked as though traditionalist Anglicans were on the brink of being offered two solutions to their problems, one coming from Rome in the shape of the Apostolic Constitution and the other possibly coming from the Church of England.
During his address to the assembled members of Forward in Faith, Bishop Hind warned them against seeing Pope Benedict’s offer as a “refuge for those opposed to the ordination to the episcopate”.
He said: “This is not a single issue. What is being offered is an
Anglican Benediction at the end of the Solemn Mass of Corpus Christi at St Stephen’s House, Oxford, in June 2009
identifiable entity for Anglicans wishing to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church while maintaining what Pope Paul VI described as the legitimate patrimony of the Anglican inheritance.”
Bishop Hind added that the “recognition by the Holy See that Anglicans have something to give to as well as to receive from the Catholic Church must be regarded as remarkable”.
The Sunday Telegraph reported that Bishop Hind had said he would accept the Vatican’s offer. He later issued a carefully worded denial, reassuring his flock that he
was not “about to become a Roman Catholic”.
He explained: “I stated that, in the event of union with the Roman Catholic Church, I would be willing to receive re-ordination into the Roman Catholic priesthood but that I would not be willing to deny the priesthood I have exercised hitherto.”
The so-called “flying bishops”, Provincial Episcopal Visitors who minister to members of the Church of England who cannot accept women priests, also addressed the assembly. They are already in close touch with Rome.
The Rt Rev Andrew Burnham,
the Bishop of Ebbsfleet, who last year announced his willingness to become a Catholic, said that the Pope’s provision answered prayers.
He said that most of the clergy members of Forward in Faith had indicated after last year’s General Synod vote on women bishops that they wanted a corporate solution for their objections and that many of them would become “Roman Catholics”.
Bishop Burnham added: “The message was clear. We are Western Christians, Catholics of the Latin rite separated from the Holy See. We are invited together in a
kenotic, self-emptying way, without denying who we are, and what we have been, to re-enter the fullness of unity severed by act of state 500 years ago.
“The irony is that the response from the Holy See provides far more than we asked for and hoped for. We were looking for a lifeboat to take us to the mother ship. We are being offered a galleon to sail proudly as part of the admiral’s fleet, with some of our fixtures and furnishings, our customs and our traditions.”
Other speakers included Bishop John Broadhurst of Fulham, who said that the Vatican offer was
Photo: James Bradley
“mind-blowingly different, though not without its questions”.
But he added: “I am staying to see whether we can sort this mess out once and for all together because the one thing I’ve always been committed to is that we are in this together.”
The former Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali – who is more in line with conservative evangelicals in the Anglican Communion – also addressed the assembly. He did not rule out the possibility of taking advantage of Benedict XVI’s offer.
In other Church of England circles, the reactions were mixed. The
former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey of Clifton, said he was “appalled” by the Church’s failure to give proper notice of the move to Dr Rowan Williams, the current Archbishop of Canterbury. Lord Carey said Dr Williams should complain to the Pope.
Dr Williams was informed of the details of the Apostolic Constitution only days before he held a joint press conference announcing it with Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster.
He made his displeasure clear in a letter to fellow Anglican bishops, saying that he only found out what was happening “at a very late stage”.
But Lord Carey also said: “I give it [the Pope’s offer] a very cautious welcome. It is worth considering because there are a number of deeply worried, anxious Anglo-Catholics who do not believe they have a constructive future in the Church of England with the ordination of women as bishops. I was pastorally concerned for them when I was Archbishop of Canterbury. I know Rowan is as well. So this could go a long way to helping.”
The conservative Anglican bishops in the Global South group – which includes Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda – issued a statement welcoming the Pope’s Apostolic Constitution.
They made it clear, however, that most of them were unlikely to take advantage of it. Instead, they are backing an international “covenant” of mostly evangelical churches that reject theological liberalism, and especially the ordination of homosexuals.
They said: “We believe that the proposed Anglican Covenant sets the necessary parameters in safeguarding the Catholic and apostolic faith and order of the Communion.
“It gives Anglican churches worldwide a clear and principled way forward in pursuing God’s divine purposes together in the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic church of Jesus Christ.”
Mary Kenny: Page 12 William Oddie: Page 12 Letters: Page 13 Editorial comment: Page 13
Vatican holds first meeting with SSPX tackling doctrinal issues
BY ED WEST
THE VATICAN has held its first high-level discussions with the Society of St Pius X in a move seen as a major step towards reintegration.
The Rome meeting, held on Monday between the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei and the breakaway traditionalist group, was held to discuss “doctrinal differences still outstanding”.
The two sides will meet every two weeks and the ne-
gotiations could last months, if not years.
In January Pope Benedict XVI lifted the excommunication of four of its bishops, which had been in place since they were illicitly consecrated by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1988.
According to the Vatican website “the main doctrinal questions were identified”, and “these will be studied in the course of discussions to be held over coming months”.
The issues to be discussed
are “the concept of tradition, the Missal of Paul VI, the interpretation of Vatican II in continuity with Catholic doctrinal tradition, the themes of the unity of the Church and the Catholic principles of ecumenism, the relationship between Christianity and non-Christian religions, and religious freedom”.
A few days before the meeting the Vatican had handed the SSPX members a text with the arguments that would be discussed. At the first meeting the
SSPX and the Vatican discussed the compatibility of conciliar texts with tradition.
Liturgical scholar Dom Alcuin Reid described the meeting as “significant”. “It shows a real openness on the part of both parties to reach an agreement,” he said. Meanwhile, a court in Bavaria has fined SSPX Bishop Richard Williamson £16,000 for denying the Holocaust.
Vatican Notebook: Page 4 Fr Aidan Nichols: Page 8
Pope John Paul II’s Dan Brown ‘would bodyguard dies at 83 like to meet the Pope’
BEW M BROWN POPE J
OHN PAUL II’s principal bodygu ard, Camillo Cibin, who wa s standing nearby during the attempted assassi- nation
of the pope in 1981, has di ed in Rome aged 83. Mr Cib in retired as head of pap al bodyguards in 2006 after spending 58 years trav- elling
as part of the Vatican’s securi ty detail. He die
d last Sunday in the mornin
g at the Pius XI clinic in Rom e, according to Vati- can Ra dio. It was
, as often as not, Mr Cibin who could be spotted joggin g alongside popemo- biles on the Pope’s foreign pilgri mages, of which there were 1 04. He spe
nt 58 years working for th e Vatican’s security servic e and directed security during the Second Vatican Counci l. In the
early, physically ac- tive y ears of John Paul II’s papacy , Mr Cibin joined him on alp ine hikes. He was mar- ried w ith three children.
BY ANDREW M BROWN
THE NOVELIST Dan Brown has said he would like to meet the Pope.
In an interview with La Repubblica, the author of The Da Vinci Code said it would be “impolite” of him to actually ask to meet Pope Benedict XVI. But he said: “He might receive me while thinking he should not do so. Certainly
there are many things we would not agree on, but that does not matter.”
The Vatican condemned The Da Vinci Code for its blasphemous content,
although L’Osservatore Romano approved of its sequel, Angels and Demons.
Mr Brown once thought about bas-
ing a thriller on the death of Roberto Calvi,
the banker found hanging under Blackfriars Bridge in 1982.
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