|Our Lady of the Atonement, Anglican Use Catholic Parish, San Antonio Texas|
(American Catholic Magazine) - The 1230 Mass today at London's Westminster Cathedral looked like any other. But for the hint in the booklet for the feast of Mary, Mother of God, that after the homily would be a "Rite of reception and confirmation", there was nothing at all to indicate the significance of what was to happen. The celebrant, an auxiliary bishop of Westminster, Alan Hopes, said nothing at the start of Mass, and it wasn't until the end of a lengthy homily on Mary as Theotokos, or God-bearer, and the controversies of the fourth-century Council of Nicea which led to this Feast, that Bishop Hopes mentioned that they would be receiving some former members of the Church of England into full communion.THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: This new way of being Catholic is going to be a hit in North America, and it's something that many Roman Catholics will identify with. It's extremely traditional, yet extremely practical at the same time. Yes, married men can become priests within the Anglican ordinariates, and it has been made clear that this provision is perpetual. When asked "how long" the Anglican Catholics will be permitted to retain married priests, one Vatican CDF official responded "we'll let you know in a couple hundred years."
They included, he said, three former bishops and their relatives, as well as three Anglican nuns.
It would have been hard, if you had just dropped into the Cathedral for Mass, to understand the significance of what was happening.There was nobody around to explain that these are the founding members of the world's first Ordinariate, the scheme created by Pope Benedict to allow for the corporate reception of Anglicans...
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Naturally, the Anglican ordinariates are initially designed to accommodate Traditional Anglicans and Anglican Use Catholics, however, the Apostolic Constitution (Anglicanorum Coetibus) is an "open invitation" to all Christians of various denominations, as well as regular Roman Catholics too, if they feel drawn to the Anglican (as opposed to strictly Roman) tradition.
Let me clarify some things here. Practically speaking, Anglican Catholic tradition is so "Catholic" in practice, that it often puts general Roman Catholicism to shame. The Anglican Catholic tradition is part of the Roman Rite. It is, shall we say, a subset or variation of Roman Catholicism. Historically, Rome has always allowed these sorts of things, but this is perhaps the largest exception ever permitted. Anglican Catholics are Roman Catholics, but they have an extra character which comes from the English tradition. Those within the Anglican ordinariates are in full apostolic union with the pope of Rome. The are 100% Catholic, just as regular Roman Catholics are 100% Catholic. Anglican Catholics can lawfully receive communion in any Roman Catholic parish. Likewise, Roman Catholics can lawfully receive communion in any Anglican Catholic parish, and that leads us to an interesting proposition.
Many Roman Catholics are dissatisfied with the current Novus Ordo culture that surrounds the typical celebration of the Novus Ordo ("new order" or "modern vernacular") mass. This is because in the Western world, particularly in English-speaking countries, there has been a tendency to banalize (scale down) the mass to the everyday common culture. Language became remedial (though soon to be improved), celebrations boring, and historic Catholic traditions have been dispensed. The high-church Catholicism of yesteryear is gone. The high altars have been torn down. The canopies were eliminated, and the altar rails have completely disappeared. The statues and icons have been reduced to a minimum. The Catholic parishes of today are barely recognizable from those of ages past. Altar servers once played an essential role in the mass. Today they sit aside and perform only occasional functions. The priest no longer celebrates facing the Lord, but instead the altar has been turned into a common table with the priest facing the people, in what has become something like a performance. Communion is no longer received on the tongue while kneeling. Instead communicants stand and receive the Holy Eucharist on their hands (a dispensation that Rome can revoke at any time). Even worse, many liturgical "experts" have taken it upon themselves to innovate the mass, to "spice it up" a little. They've brought in pop music, with drums and guitars, turning the Catholic mass into something that highly resembles a Protestant service. A whole lot of Catholics are frustrated with this, and have been for some years. Many more young Catholics are for the first time discovering that there is more to their faith than what typically passes for Catholicism in their local parish. They admire the beauty and solemnity found in the Traditional Latin Mass (Tridentine or Extraordinary Form) but find the language barrier difficult to overcome. If only such traditional Catholic worship could be found in the English language.
So enters the Anglican Catholic parishes. They are very traditional, and foster a form of Roman Catholic worship that is beautiful and solemn. The Anglican Catholic mass is perhaps the closest thing to the Traditional Latin Mass one will ever see in English. Not only is it celebrated in English, but High English at that, which is both dignified and beautiful. All of the elements of Traditional Catholicism are present; the high altars, altar rails, iconography, traditional English hymns, chants, priests facing the Lord, communion on the tongue while kneeling, women who veil in the presence of the Lord, and altar servers that actually have an essential role in the liturgy.
In this current Novus Ordo culture, Anglican Catholic worship is sure to attract a lot of Roman Catholics frustrated with the banal and innovative celebrations common in today's world. Rome is okay with that. The invitation of Anglicanorum Coetibus is open, and if some Roman Catholics feel more comfortable worshiping in Anglican Catholic parishes, that's okay, and Rome has certainly foreseen this. In fact, I would dare say Rome is counting on it!
You see Pope Benedict XVI has initiated what many have called the "reform of the reform" of the Roman Rite and the Second Vatican Council. To accomplish this, he has initiated a threefold plan. First, he has restored the Traditional Latin Mass with his motu proprio entitled Summorum Pontificum. This gives all priests, everywhere, the right to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass of their own accord, if they are competent to do so. They may celebrate such masses privately as well as publicly. Second, he is reforming the Novus Ordo mass, slowly and carefully, both through example and edict. The first major change Catholics in North America will notice over the next year will be the reform of the English translation of the mass. Because the current translation (1971 to 2011) is so remedial that it doesn't even capture the meaning of the original Latin text, Catholics in North America are in for some startling changes just in the language alone, and the pope hasn't even begun to reform the order of liturgy yet. Third and finally, he has created the Apostolic Constitution for Groups of Anglicans (Anglicanorum Coetibus) which is an open door for Protestant converts directly into Traditional Catholicism with an English flare. It is also a refuge for Roman Catholics who are sick and tired of the current Novus Ordo culture.
Traditional Catholics of the Latin persuasion should keep in mind that Traditional Anglican Catholics are their natural allies in the reform of the reform. Historically speaking, Anglican Use parishes have been very friendly to the Traditional Latin Mass and Traditional Anglican churches have been known to celebrate the Tridentine liturgy. There is definitely going to be some crossover between the Traditional Latin and Anglican Catholic parishes. This two is inevitable and should be embraced by both parties.
Of course there is also the issue of married clergy. Let me elaborate. The Catholic Church has always allowed married priests. Let me repeat that. The Catholic Church has ALWAYS allowed married priests. However, it has at times restricted the priesthood to unmarried celibate men, and this is the case for the general Roman Rite. The Roman Rite priesthood was restricted to celibate men in 1123 AD, but this only pertained to the Roman Rite. The Eastern Rites were excluded from this, and in fact, married men are continually ordained in Eastern Catholic churches to this very day. In recent times, Rome has also made an exception for married Protestant clergy who wish to convert and be ordained priests, as well as those of the Anglican tradition. Clerical celibacy is not a Church doctrine. It is merely a discipline of the Church, which Rome can amend or rescind at any time. For now, Rome has seen fit to keep celibacy in the general Roman Rite, however Rome reserves the right to make exceptions, and the Anglican ordinariate is one such exception. The one thing Rome wants to make sure doesn't happen is that married men from the general Roman Rite don't take advantage of one of these exceptions and change rites exclusively for the reason of finding a "backdoor" into the Catholic priesthood. This is why Rome screens every married candidate for the priesthood on a case by case basis.
However, for those Roman Catholics who are simply eager to escape the banal innovations of the Novus Ordo culture, a safe refuge of traditional Catholicism awaits them in the Anglican Catholic parishes. They may become members of such parishes simply by attending mass regularly, and if so inclined, they may go through the customary process of transferring parish membership. All children baptized in these parishes will become part of the ordinariate, and male children will be eligible for the priesthood, even after marriage, with the customary training and review.
In the current Novus Ordo culture, it is only natural to expect a growing number of Catholics to cross over to either Latin Traditionalism (via the Traditional Latin Mass) or English Traditionalism (via the Anglican ordinariates). IT'S GOING TO HAPPEN. The only question is how much and how many? This will continue until the general Roman Rite parishes return to their historic tradition. Until then, it is likely these Anglican Catholic parishes will grow far beyond what anybody expects in North America, the British Isles and the rest of the English-speaking world.
I should also point out that the ordinariates will not be limited to the English-speaking world, as Traditional Anglicanism can be found in such places as Latin America, Africa and India. Anglican mass is celebrated in the vernacular languages of those areas as well. Likewise, a large percentage of these will be entering the ordinariates too. What we have here is the makings of a whole new rite within the Catholic Church, though it is not officially a rite yet, and Anglican Catholic priests are competent to celebrate both the Roman and Anglican form of the mass. Popularity of the Anglican ordinariates in non-English countries remains to be seen, but it will be something to watch as it develops.