Given at a Solemn Mass celebrated according to Divine Worship: The Missal on the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord (Candlemas), in thanksgiving for the successful completion of the Doctorate in Canon Law.
We are gathered here this evening to celebrate the great event of the presentation of the Lord in the temple. Christ, the lumen ad revelationem gentium, has come to fulfil the promise of his Father. The narrative of his nativity comes to a close as we ourselves see the purpose of his condescension; his coming into our midst from the glories of heaven to bring salvation to man. That this takes place in the temple is itself a further sign: God continues to reveal himself to man in divine worship—the worship, ultimately, of the Most Holy and Undivided Trinity, in which we are invited to participate here in earth.
This article was first published at the website of the Catholic Herald on 12 April 2016:
The language of accompaniment is nothing new to the post-synodal apostolic exhortation Amoris Lætitia, released last Friday, nor even to the pontificate of Pope Francis.
In his own apostolic exhortation, Sacramentum Caritatis, Pope Benedict XVI used the same term in the same context of the pastoral care of the divorced and remarried.
As we continue to look at the liturgical provision of the personal ordinariates in Divine Worship: The Missal, here we will focus on the decree of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, by which the missal received approval from the Apostolic See. Whilst the decree has the formal tone appropriate to a legal text, it also bears our consideration as a source for understanding not just the liturgical provision for the personal ordinariates but, by extension, something about the overall intention of the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum cœtibus, and the structures, mission, and life of the personal ordinariates.
Some canonical considerations on the appointment of a bishop-ordinary for the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter.
In succession to The Reverend Monsignor Jeffrey Steenson, P.A., today the Holy Father appointed The Reverend Monsignor Steven Lopes as the second ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter, and its first bishop. Monsignor Steenson was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI in January 2012, and led the personal ordinariate for the United States and Canada from its genesis, to a point where it boasts around forty communities, seventy clergy, a territorial deanery in Canada, an administrative and canonical infrastructure, and the facilities required (in terms of church buildings and a chancery) to establish itself permanently within the life of the Catholic Church in the United States. As he relinquishes this responsibility, the clergy and faithful of all three personal ordinariates can be grateful for his relentless work and commitment to this project, and for the example that he leaves for the development, growth, and success of the personal ordinariates as distinctive communities of Catholic life and faith, rooted in the liturgical, pastoral, and spiritual traditions of Anglicanism.
The United States Embassy to the Holy See has recently moved to new facilities in central Rome and has posted some pictures of its new surroundings online. One photograph is of a painting by Giulio Bargellini, showing Justice holding a text from Cicero which served as an axiom of Roman law: Salus populi suprema lex— the health of the people is the supreme law. This text finds its way into the canon law as salus animarum suprema lex in the last canon of the 1983 Code of Canon Law. It may be translated as “the salvation of souls is the supreme law.”
Why is this important? Saint Monica, whom the Church celebrates today, understood this notion well. In the account of her death in the Confessions of Saint Augustine we receive two insights. First, having seen the conversion of her son from paganism to Christianity, she asks, “What am I still doing here?” As the Collect reminds us, Saint Monica wept tears for the conversion of her son and, having seen him safely within the Church and achieved her principal hope, even her life-breath becomes circumstantial to her desire for eternity. Secondly, recognizing her death, Saint Monica instructs her son, “Lay this body anywhere, and take no trouble over it. One thing only do I ask of you, that you remember me at the altar of the Lord wherever you may be.” Knowing the importance of her own salvation also, Saint Monica thus shows concern for her own soul, too, by asking her son to intercede for her after she has fallen asleep in the Lord.
By her fervent prayer for the conversion of her son and her own concern for salvation Saint Monica shows us that salus populi suprema lex. May her example inspire us to put nothing before our own salvation, that we may turn once more to the Way that is life in Christ, and come with Saint Monica and Saint Augustine to enjoy eternal in the peace and joy of the heavenly kingdom.
As we continue through the Octave of the Nativity of the Lord, today the Church commemorates Saint Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury and martyr for the faith in 1170. Chief amongst the reasons for the holy bishop’s brutal murder, in his own Cathedral Church, was his resistance to King Henry II’s encroachment of civil power over the life of the Church, and particularly her clergy. For this reason Becket is today the patron of the diocesan clergy of England, and for this reason his cult – which was remarkably strong and widespread in England, as in Norway, and even parts of France and Spain – was particularly targeted during the dark days of the Protestant Reformation, which itself placed the English sovereign as the head of an established or state church.
In today’s gospel we find a paradigm for Saint Thomas Becket’s faith and resolve. Christ, who during the season of Advent the Church names ‘lawgiver’ (cf. O Emmanuel), is himself the fulfilment of the law and, thus, above the law. By his precepts we Christians are called to live, just as by his judgement we are saved. In the confessional it is Christ who judges us through the person of the priest, always handing down a sentence of mercy. And yet, in this scene of his presentation in the temple, Christ submits himself to the law of Moses in order to honour the law, to honour his heavenly Father, and to fulfil the law in letter and spirit. His obedience, an obedience which we will see lead him to the cross, is made manifest in this act of submission, so that by following the law which he comes to fulfil, we too might be made partakers in his heavenly glory.
The law is not, then, an encumbrance to our life in Christ, but an essential element to its success. Christ comes into our earthly realm to restore the order which results from the chaos of our sin; of the fault of Adam and Eve in Eden’s garden paradise. So also he comes to order our lives by applying regulation – regula, religion, rule – in order to keep us on the narrow path which is the way of the Lord. We see this in divine and natural law, as also in those things which allow us to navigate the Christian life and which, by their observance, help us to submit ourselves to the law as did Christ, and so grow in stature and wisdom. May Saint Thomas Becket aid us in this endeavour by his prayers, that we may have the docility and humility of Christ which he embodied. And may we be given the courage and resolve to imitate such virtue in our own lives, whatever the cost, that in following Christ in this life – living in obedience to his law – we may be judged worthy to remain with him in the next.
Over the past two weeks the news has been understandably filled with the events of the third Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, a gathering in Rome to discuss the ‘The pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization’. With intensive media coverage of what this bishop or that cardinal has said, I think it is fair to say that a great deal of confusion has been the result, often through an attempt to speak of complex theological issues in overly simplistic language. However at the heart of the debate there has been (and continues, to some extent, to be) an unparalleled scrutiny of the Church’s teaching and her pastoral practice.
These two areas of the Church’s life are not entirely new to those of us who have entered the full communion of the Catholic Church by means of the personal ordinariates. Nevertheless, the weight given to both doctrine and law in the Catholic Church, and the absolute definition of Church teaching and pastoral practice, is new. As Catholics we rejoice that we can turn to two particular documents to help us understand these important concepts. First, the Catechism of the Catholic Church which is ‘the authoritative expression of the Catholic faith professed by members of the Ordinariate’ (AC I §5), and secondly the Code of Canon Law which is ‘an indispensable instrument to ensure order both in individual and social life, and also in the Church’s activity itself’ (SDL).
This 25th January we mark the 30th anniversary of the Apostolic Constitution Sacrae Disciplinae Leges by which Blessed John Paul II promulgated the 1983 Code of Canon Law (Codex Iuris Canonici, CIC). In this Year of Faith, when we mark also the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we might helpfully reflect on how these two documents can be seen as fruits of the second Vatican Council.
Although it was Blessed John XXIII who called for the revision of the CIC in 1959, it was in fact a direct result of the 1967 Synod of Bishops that certain principles for the revision of the 1917 Code were approved. Likewise, the Catechism is a direct result of the 1985 Extraordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, convened by Pope John Paul II to mark the 20th anniversary of the close of the Council.
The Synod of Bishops itself was, of course, first established by Pope Paul VI in September 1965 at the end of the Council, as the Holy Father sought to make greater use of the collaborative (and emphatically not collegial governance) aspect of the episcopal college, both for counsel and in order for a greater weight of authority to be given to certain decrees and decisions.
Both documents, then, are not only fruits of the conciliar reform, but also of the specific collegial and collaborative nature of the entire episcopal college.
Why is this of interest? Put simply, it is because a clear and authoritative body of doctrinal teaching (Catechism) and a renewed legislative text (Code) are not often thought to be the likely fruits of the second Vatican Council, at least as it has often been interpreted in the years following its’ closure. But they are, and that is something which is worth reflecting on as we consider the nature of the Council in this anniversary year, this Year of Faith.
What is particularly interesting is that a renewed acknowledgement of episcopal collaboration has not seen a decrease in legislation and doctrinal clarity, but the opposite: a renewal and increase of it. This is, perhaps, a moment to reflect also, then, on the true nature of that collaboration, and the intentions of both the Council and Pope Paul VI in the renewed approached they offer. Far from being a limiting of the authority of the papacy or a watering-down of dogmatic clarity, both documents in fact embody – and in a clear way – the hermeneutic of reform in continuity, by which we can properly understand what the second Vatican Council sought to achieve. Unlikely fruits? Perhaps not.
This article was published in the Catholic Herald on 20 November 1992. It was written by the then Anglican bishop, Graham Leonard, who later was received into the Catholic Church. I was privileged to attend his Funeral Mass in the Oxford Oratory a few years ago.
Ever since the Reformation, the Church of England has claimed to be the Catholic Church in this country. Whether or not that claim is justified, it is one which is reflected in its title-deeds, the Book of Common Prayer, the Ordinal and the 39 Articles.
That claim has been based upon four pillar which in the last century were summed up in the Lambeth Quadrilateral as expressing the doctrinal basis of Anglicanism. These four pillars are Scripture, as interpreted by tradition, the creeds, the sacraments and the ordained ministry.
In recent years each of these pillars has been undermined and has begun to crumble away. The theological implications of the recent decision of the General Synod has caused their collapse.
With regard to Scripture, the traditional position of the Anglican Church has been that nothing can be required of belief for eternal salvation but that which may be concluded and proved by Scripture. Those who support the ordination of women to the priesthood have not sought to claim such sanction for it but have had to invoke contemporary fashion and call upon secular support.
But women priests will now be built into the sacramental life of the Church of England. Whatever provision is made for those who cannot accept the official teaching, the Church will now require their acceptance as a prerequisite for belief. In other words, their acceptance has become a new canon of orthodoxy.
The provisions of ecclesiastical law may make it difficult to define and reject heresy in the Church of England, but that need not prevent the bishops from making clear what is and what is not contrary to the beliefs to which the Church of England is committed.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has, in fact, devised a new heresy: that of opposing the ordination of women to the priesthood. He apparently overlooks or ignores the fact that the Acts of Uniformity forbid any cause to be determined as heresy except that which has been so judged by the authority of the Canonical Scriptures or by the first four General Councils. He seems incapable of seeing that the fact God was incarnate as a man makes it inappropriate for a woman to be the sacramental representative of Christ.
With regard to the ordained priesthood, another problem arises. The Church of England has always claimed that is has maintained the Apostolic Ministry ordained by Our Lord. In its appeals for unity, for example in the famous Lambeth Appeal of 1920, it has put this forward as to be accepted for the sake of unity. It can make that appeal no longer.
It might be argued that, at many times in the history of the Church, it has been the faithful minority which has preserved orthodoxy as, for example, in the fourth century against the heresy of Arianism.
The irony is that, which the General Synod of the Church of England regards itself as having the authority to make such a change unilaterally, the minority within it is patronised and expected to be bought off with temporary ????. The mere passage of time does not make wrong right.
There is in the legislation a built-in mechanism to ensure that the majority view will prevail. Few people realise, for example, that it will be illegal for the Prime Minister to nominate as a bishop a priest who cannot accept women priests.
The Archbishop of Canterbury is reported as having made two astonishing statements. The first is that the “ordination of women to the priesthood alters not a word of the Scriptures, the Creeds, or the faith of our Church”. Such a statement can be made only on the basis of Humpty Dumpty’s use of the words. “When I use a words,” Humpty Dumpty said in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less”.
The second statements is that “there is no connection between the ordination of women to the priesthood and feminism”. Has Dr Carey not read any of the literature supporting the ordination of the women in which the connection is explicitly made?
What is just as extraordinary is his expressed hope that we will play a full part in the life of the Church when the legislation provides for us to be marginalised and finally extinguished.
What then are we to do? What are the options? Before considering them, two points must first be emphasised. First, the legislation will not become effective for at least 12 months. There is time to think, and we must not make decisions precipitately. But during this time we must make it clear beyond any shadow of doubt that we cannot accept the change.
The second point is that we must not become a sect. That, in fact, is what the Church of England has become by its unilateral action. We must seek to be admitted to the communion of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, and to do so not just as individuals but as a body of those who are committed to orthodox belief and practice.
It is this second point which, in my judgement, rules out the first option, namely that of allying ourselves with one or other of the so-called “continuing Church” which exist in the USA, Canada, Australia, England and elsewhere. While I admire them for having the courage of their convictions, it cannot be denied that, depending so much upon personalities, the seem to lead to further division.
A second option is to seek hospitality from the Eastern Orthodox Churches. While they are very sympathetic, they are so closely related in this country to the indigenous Churches of which they are part that it is difficult to see this as a realistic possibility.
The third option is to seek relationship with the Roman Catholic Church. This we would have to do as suppliants and without presumption, asking if a way could be found for us somehow to preserve our Anglican identity while being in communion with the See of Peter. I do not think that it is for us to suggest how this might be achieved. We can only hope and pray that the Vatican and the hierarchy here in England will give sympathetic consideration to any possibility of a way forward.
We know of the provision for the Anglican Rite in the USA though little of how it works in practice. It may be that with some modifications it could be adapted for this country. There is provision in the Code of Canon Law for Personal Prelature. We are aware that so far this has operated only in respect of Opus Dei, but the Code envisages a winder use. I appreciate that it is primarily a clerical institute in ecclesiastical law, but Canon 296 does provide for lay persons to be associate with it on terms to be determined in the statutes.
However, the Canon which us most encouragement is Canon 372. Having referred to the territorial nature of dioceses, paragraph 2 reads as follows: “If, however, in the judgement of the supreme authority in the Church, after consultation with the episcopal conferences concerned, it is thought helpful, there may be established in a given territory particular Churches distinguished by the rite of the faithful or by some other similar quality”.
The situation which has arisen in the Church of England will bear particularly hard upon the younger clergy who cannot accept women priests and for whom there can be no future. But it will also bear very hard upon the orthodox laity. It may be that for a time their local Anglican priest will be orthodox, in which case they will be able to worship in their parish church. But the time will come when they will not be able to find one where they can do so in good conscience. It would be god the greatest benefit to such people if, possibly as an interim measure, they could be permitted to make their communion in the local Catholic Church.
There is, of course, the question of Anglican Orders, which does present a problem for many orthodox Anglican clergy. Out of pastoral care for those to whom they have ministered, they would find it very difficult to accept that their ministries are deemed utterly null and void.
However, there are responsible people in the Roman Catholic Church who suggest that although the Bull Apostolicae Curae applied to the situation existing in 1896, subsequent developments – and particularly the participation of old Catholic bishops in Anglican consecrations – could warrant a different response (at least for those ordained since then).
I would want to stress that we are not asking for recognition to continue an Anglican ministry, but as those who have accepted the magisterium and are in communion with the Holy See.