Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bishop Vasa on upcoming liturgical changes

To understand liturgical changes, study meaning of liturgy
By Bishop Robert Vasa

BEND — I wrote very briefly last week about the presentation at our presbyteral assembly on the upcoming revised translation of the Roman Missal and I want to reflect a bit more on this topic. It will undoubtedly be a bit difficult for some to accept with peace and tranquility the changes and amendments which are forthcoming for the Sacred Liturgy. The possibility that there may be some difficulty understanding and accepting the changes is understandable. Unfortunately, it can often happen that the reason why we anticipate such a difficulty has less to do with the Sacred Liturgy than it does with our own attitudes. It will indeed be the case that the Church in approving changes to the texts for the Sacred Liturgy will also be asking that we change. In looking at myself, I must admit that I am much less affected by the fact that the sacred language may change than I am by the fact that this change affects me and perhaps, in some ways, also challenges me.

If there is one factor for the laity, in my estimation, which will impact on the ease with which changes are accepted or the strength with which they are resisted it is our fundamental understanding of the nature and purpose of the Sacred Liturgy. The frequency with which comments are heard such as, “I really like Father X’s Mass,” or “I find it very difficult to go to Father Y’s Mass,” or “That Mass did not do anything for me,” or the most common, “I don’t get anything out of the Mass” are all indicators of a certain understanding of the nature and purpose of the Sacred Liturgy. Underlying these comments, and many more variations thereof, is a certain concept of the liturgy. The proposed changes present us an opportunity to reflect, even in a significantly self critical way, on our understanding, or misunderstanding, of the meaning and purpose of the Sacred Liturgy.

In order to begin to reform or reshape our understanding of the Sacred Liturgy we need to go to the Church and to the catechism which she has given us. There we read and hear that: “Sunday is the pre-eminent day for the liturgical assembly, when the faithful gather ‘to listen to the word of God and take part in the Eucharist, thus calling to mind the Passion, Resurrection, and glory of the Lord Jesus, and giving thanks to God who ‘has begotten them again, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead’ unto a living hope.’” (CCC, 1167) Admittedly, the paragraph addresses the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass rather than Liturgy as a whole but the paragraph is instructive. On Sunday, when we gather for Mass, we do so to listen to the Word of God. While there are a number of other ceremonies which accompany the Liturgy of the Word, the reason we gather is to “listen to the Word of God.” There is thus an importance placed on what God gives to us, His Word. We gather to hear it. We also gather to “take part in the Eucharist.” This involves much more than simply being present and receiving Holy Communion. Centrally, it involves “calling to mind the Passion, Resurrection and glory of the Lord Jesus” and giving thanks to God for the salvation which Jesus has won for us.

These are participatory activities which include everyone without exception. Thus it is not only the reader or the servers or the extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion who participate in the Mass but rather everyone is able to fulfill the mandate of the council about “full, active and conscious participation.” This is so because an essential part of the “activity” is listening, offering, remembering, rejoicing, thanking. These are all interior actions. Without a doubt the participation also includes responding, singing, standing, kneeling, et cetera but these are to be external manifestations of the fact that we are participating interiorly because simply doing these things is not necessarily the same thing as actively participating.

“The Eucharist is ‘the source and summit of the Christian life.’ The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch. The Eucharist is the efficacious sign and sublime cause of that communion in the divine life and that unity of the People of God by which the Church is kept in being. It is the culmination both of God’s action sanctifying the world in Christ and of the worship men offer to Christ and through him to the Father in the Holy Spirit. Finally, by the eucharistic celebration we already unite ourselves with the heavenly liturgy and anticipate eternal life, when God will be all in all. In brief, the Eucharist is the sum and summary of our faith: Our way of thinking is attuned to the Eucharist, and the Eucharist in turn confirms our way of thinking.” (CCC 1324-27)

I am particularly struck by the reminder that the Eucharist is the culmination of “God’s action sanctifying the world.” This is what we are called to participate in and belong to when we come to Holy Mass. It is, at the same time, the culmination of the “worship men offer to Christ.” I like to think of our participation in worship as being drawn up into the saving actions of God, being a part of them, remembering and experiencing them and coming away from them knowing that we have been in contact with Him Who is all holy. Ideally, the Eucharist changes us because we celebrate who God is and what he has done and is doing in our midst. As the catechism notes, “Our way of thinking is attuned to the Eucharist,” not vice versa.

The proposed linguistic enrichments of the Sacred Liturgy, or if you prefer, changes, give us the opportunity to reflect upon the Eucharist anew. They certainly give us the opportunity to listen with new ears to new language, to refresh our interior and reflective participation, and to enter more consciously into that which God is doing. If necessary, it provides the occasion for each of us to align our understanding and expectation of the Holy Mysteries more closely with the vision of the Church expressed in the Catechism.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Paul goes to mass at the coolest places...

click the picture for more photos and to learn where.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Christopher West's Theology of the Body

I'm posting this article verbatim:

Christopher West's Theology of the Body
by David L. Schindler
Provost/Dean and Gagnon Professor of Fundamental Theology at the Pontifical Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family

Regarding his interview on Nightline, Christopher West says that his remarks were taken out of context. In some sense, this is surely true. However, the comments as aired are the latest in a long list of statements and actions not inconsistent with the context set by the Nightline editors.

Though occasioned by West’s Nightline appearance, the present statement addresses his theology as a whole.

Let me stress that I agree with those who vigorously defend West’s intention of fidelity to the Church. Certainly he has had positive results in drawing many Catholics into a deeper understanding of their faith. As for myself, I do not initiate anything about West in my classes, but only respond when asked a question. Then I begin by emphasizing West’s intention of orthodoxy. As I have often put it, "he would throw himself in front of a bus for the Church." It is important to understand, however, that good will is not synonymous with sound thought; and I must say, not without reluctance, that West’s work seems to me to misrepresent in significant ways the thought of John Paul II.

The following examples have been verified by persons directly involved or by things written by West himself (and I regret the necessary adoption of West’s own language).

West’s work has involved suggesting that a man and woman bless their genitals before making love; blessing the ovaries of women in his classes; advising young men in college and the seminary to look at their naked bodies in the mirror daily in order to overcome shame; using phallic symbolism to describe the Easter candle; criticizing “flat-chested” images of Mary in art while encouraging Catholics to “rediscover Mary’s ... abundant breasts” (Crisis, March 2002); referring to the “bloodied membrane” of the placenta as a "tabernacle" (Colorado Catholic Herald, 12/22/06); stating that, while “there are some important health and aesthetic considerations that can’t be overlooked,” “there's nothing inherently wrong with anal penetration as foreplay to normal intercourse," (Good News About Sex and Marriage, 1st ed., emphasis in original), though qualifying this in the revised edition and stressing the subjective dangers of lust in such activity; and, on Nightline, praising Hugh Hefner for helping rescue sex from prudish Victorian attitudes, saying that there are “very profound historical connections between Hefner and John Paul II,” while emphasizing that John Paul II took the sexual revolution further and in the right direction.

I offer these examples not merely because they are vulgar and in bad taste, not to mention sometimes bordering on the just plain silly, but because they indicate a disordered approach to human sexuality. An objective distortion in approaching sexuality does not cease to be such simply because it is theologized. West to be sure will point toward the “orthodox” intentions and context of the examples, but my criticism bears on the substance of his preoccupation as reflected in the examples. (As a Thomist friend of mine used to say: pay attention to a man's subjects, not his predicates.)

What, then, are the objections to West’s theology?

First, West misconstrues the meaning of concupiscence, stressing purity of intention one-sidedly when talking about problems of lust.

When I first pointed this problem out to him several years ago, his response was that he refused to limit the power of Christ to transform us. My response is that concupiscence dwells "objectively" in the body, and continues its "objective" presence in the body throughout the course of our infralapsarian existence; and that we should expect holiness to "trump" temptations or disordered tendencies in the area of sexuality exactly as often as we should expect holiness to "trump" the reality of having to undergo death.

Second, West has an inadequate notion of analogy. He conceives love in a reductive bodily-sexual sense, then reads the Christian mysteries as though they were somehow ever-greater and more perfect realizations of what he emphasizes as key in our own experience, namely, sex.

But sex is not even the most important part of human love, let alone the key to the Christian mysteries–the Eucharist, for example. Missing in West’s work is an adequate idea of the radical discontinuity (maior dissimilitudo ) between the divine love revealed by God–and indeed the (supernatural) love to which we are called–and sexual love or intercourse. To be sure, the spousal love between man and woman is central in man’s imaging of God, and the gendered body and sexual relations are an integral sign and expression of spousal love, which also includes what John Paul II calls all the other manifestations of affection. However, as Joseph Ratzinger says, it is only because man has a capacity for God that he also has a capacity for another human being. The former indicates the “content,” the latter the “consequence,” of man’s likeness to God.

In the end, West, in his disproportionate emphasis on sex, promotes a pansexualist tendency that ties all important human and indeed supernatural activity back to sex without the necessary dissimilitudo.

Third, West's treatment of shame and reverence is marred by a too-male vision of things–not only too much maleness but distorted maleness. If we could just get over our prudishness and sin-induced guilt, he seems to think, we would be ready simply to dispense with clothes and look at others in their nakedness. He has no discernible sense of the difference between what might be a feminine as distinct from masculine sense of unveiling. He (thus) lacks a reverence for the body entailing a modesty not reducible simply to shame, or again a patient reverence presupposing the “veiledness” proper to what essentially contains mystery. His work is preoccupied with what is external to the detriment of the interiority proper to persons. In this context, we can say that West's theology ultimately lacks a Marian dimension: not in the sense that he fails to make references to Mary, but because his work is not adequately formed, in method or content, in Mary’s archetypal feminine-human sensibility.

Fourth, a style of preaching is not merely a matter of "style"–a difference in personality or taste. It is always-also a matter of theology itself. West often tends to treat resistance to the content of his lectures, for example during the question periods, as matters of resistance to the Holy Spirit (to the Spirit now speaking in and through West's “charism”), urging questioners to pray to overcome the fear induced in them by their bad theological-spiritual formation. Well-balanced persons have spoken of how West makes them feel a sense of guilt, of resistance to the Holy Spirit, if they experience uneasiness about what he is saying.

Pope Benedict XVI’s sacramental “style,” integrated within the objectivity of a larger truth that always first calls ourselves into question even as we preach to others, provides a helpful lesson here.

Regarding Hefner: West fails to see that Hefner at root does not correct but misconceives and then only continues the error of America’s Puritan Protestantism. For both Puritanism and Hefner, the body is merely a tool, though to be manipulated differently: by the former exclusively for reproducing children and by Hefner for pleasure. It is not only Puritanism but also Hefner that fails to understand properly the body and bodily desires in their natural meaning as good.

In sum, West's work provides a paradigm of what is most often criticized today in connection with John Paul II’s theology of the body–and rightly criticized, insofar as that theology is identified with West’s interpretation: namely, that it is too much about sex and too romantic.

West presents a problem for the Church, not because he lacks orthodox intentions, but because his unquestionably orthodox intentions render his theology, a priori, all the more credible. His work often deflects people from the beauty and depth of what is the authentic meaning of John Paul II's anthropology of love, and thus of what was wrought in and through the Second Vatican Council. It is scarcely the first time in the history of the Church that abundant good will did not suffice to make one's theology and vision of reality altogether true.

West has worked tirelessly on behalf of the Church. However, if his work is to bear the Catholic fruit he so ardently desires, he needs to subject basic aspects of his theology to renewed reflection.

David L. Schindler
Provost/Dean and Gagnon Professor of Fundamental Theology
Pontifical Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family
The Catholic University of America
Washington, D.C.

One problem I have with Christopher West is his portrayal of "Theology of the Body" as papal and thus magisterial teaching. The basis of it, the book "Love and Responsibility", by Karol Wojtyla is introduced as the private speculation of a private theologian, not the papal teaching of John Paul II. Likewise, the Wed audiences of JPII upon which West's work is based, are not magisterial, but carry the same authority as any other bishop's teaching within his own diocese. have I missed something? Truth matters, and intent nothwithstanding, I believe there to be falshood in the claim to authority of the presentation of TOB as it stands.

BXVI's Anglican overture; commentary from Ross Douthat, NYT

Ross Douthat is an interesting read at the NYT. This week he comments on the Anglican overture of the Holy Father, in the column titled Benedict's Gambit

Not surprisingly, most of the reader comments are blind bigotry against faith, but here's the most interesting one I found (#42, Nadia, East Jerusalem); the highlights are mine:

I will never forget the day I was first introduced to Catholic doctrine. During years of Islamic education no one had ever mentioned to me that Christians worship Jesus Christ as the son of God, in fact Christianity itself was never discussed and never considered a threat to the Islamic faith, I think this is because of an inherent indifference, after all, how can a religion that is dying in its homeland threaten us? Instead apathy and secularism were deemed as a menace to a religious lifestyle and a direct threat to Muslim society. My introduction to Catholicism was in college, my Jewish Israeli professor spent much time discussing the Trinity and explained that it was grounded in mystery, that it is the core of the Catholic faith and in the same breath he revealed the pagan roots of the faith. Well that was certainly shocking, but very enlightening both in what it revealed about the nature of Christianity but also, on a more deeper level, what it says about the Jewish experience with Christianity, for if I could ask the Pope one question it would be this- Why would we as Muslims, abandon our beautiful monotheism for an incomprehensible doctrine, why should we embrace something that the Jewish people (whose commitment to monotheism equals that of Islam) spent centuries fighting against becoming a part of?

Nadia explains clearly why the secular liberal approach is intrinsically at war with Muslim Society in the very nature of militantly not caring, thinking itself safe and secure in it's indifference! I know this is hard to grasp, but think of the corporate executive who cares not a whit about the extinction of species, pollution of the air and water, degradation of the environment on a massive scale, etc, resulting from his particular business; he says to you "what's your problem?" in the same way as you say to Nadia "your religion is fine, keep it to yourself and don't bother me in public or at law with your moralisms and creeds." see above. You are a threat.

thank you Ross and Nadia. Nadia, I'd love to tell you about The Ineffable Mystery, and discuss your "Why?"

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Movement on all Fronts

Though 82, Benedict XVI is moving on all fronts: Lefebvrists, Anglicans, the Orthodox, Jews. The "pontificate of transition" is becoming the "pontificate of action." Will the Pope's vision succeed?

By Robert Moynihan, reporting from Rome


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Nam oportet et haereses esse, ut et qui probati sunt, manifesti fiant in vobis." ("For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.") —1 Corinthians 11:19


Movement on All Fronts...

The talks began today, Monday, October 26.

On this historic Monday, unprecedented high-level theological discussions between representatives of the Society of St. Pius X and of the Holy See got underway to discuss "all the unresolved doctrinal questions" ("grandi temi dottrinali non risolti") related to the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), its implementation and interpretation.

The talks took place in the building once known as the "Holy Office of the Inquisition" and still called the Sant'Uffizio in Italian -- the Holy Office.

On one side, representatives of the Society of St. Pius X, founded by the French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre (died 1991). From their founder, the members of the Society are often called "Lefebvrists."

On the other, top theologians from the Vatican itself, men very close to Pope Benedict XVI, led by Mosignor Guido Pozzo (yesterday I erroneously labeled him as an archbishop), the head of gthe Ecclesia Dei commission. (Photo: Pozzo at the main door of the Holy Office.)

The talks continued for three hours.

They went very well.

And they will continue.

Not only will they continue, they will continue at an almost frenetic pace for the Holy See, which generally "thinks in centuries": there will be meeting every two weeks for as long as it takes to settle these questions.

Father Federico Lombardi noted this relative haste when he delivered a brief communique on the meeting this afternoon in the Vatican Press Office. "This is a rather rapid paste for the Holy See," he said.

This is worth noting because it suggests that the Pope wants this dialogue on a "fast track," not something that drags on interminably.


What Is at Stake?

If one looks at these meetings in the context of recent events, the essential point is this: Benedict XVI, though now 82, is moving on many different fronts with great energy in a completely unexpected way, given his reputation as a man of thought, not of action. (We are going to have to revise our understanding of his pontificate.)

He is clearly reaching out to reunite with many Christian groups: the Lefebvrists, as these meetings show, but also Anglicans, the Orthodox, and others as well.

He seems to be trying to make Catholic Rome a center of communion for all Christians.

This activity, occurring at an accelerating speed over recent months, looks almost like a "rallying of the troops" before some final, decisive battle.

The activity is critically important, in this sense, for our current global "culture war," especially our anthropology (can man be anything our technology can make him, or are their moral limits we should observe?), our sexuality and sexual behavior (how important is our sexual identity, how important are our gender roles?), and our traditional family structures (are these now outmoded, perhaps even to be completely discarded?).

Now, 44 years after the close of the Second Vatican Council, Benedict XVI evidently has committed some of his best men to seek unity with the most conservative wing of the Catholic Church, the Society of St. Pius X, and by extension, all so-called "Traditionalist" Catholics.

The plan is very ambitious: to go step by step through all of the great, controversial doctrinal issues of the post-conciliar period. This includes religious freedom, it includes ecumenism, it includes the Chruch's teaching on Judaism and the Jews, it includes the new Mass vs. the old Mass and the role of the priest of the laity in the liturgy -- all the great issues of the Council.

Benedict will be watched very closely here by progressives, who seem to be a bit off-balance, wondering what Benedict is really after.

And he will be watched by the Anglicans, some of whom are considering entering into communion with Rome, overcoming a schism which dates from the Protestant Reformation in the 1500s, 500 years ago.

And he will be watched by the Orthodox, some of whom are also thinking of overcoming the "Great Schism" which dates to 1054, as they have stated in recent days.

And he will be watched very closely here by representatives of the world Jewish community, some of whom are wondering which direction Benedict and the Church he leads will take with regard to Catholic teaching regarding Judiasm and the Jewish people.

In short, many eyes are now on Benedict, wondering what he really intends here.

The answer seems simple enough: Benedict is trying energetically to "get his house in order."

But which house?

On one level, it is the Christian Church -- a Christian Church under considerable pressure in the highly secualrized modern world.

In this "house," this "ecclesia Dei" ("church of God" or "community of God"), dogmas and doctrines, formulated into very precise verbal statements, are held as true. These verbal formulas are professed in creeds. Benedict is seeking to overcome divisions over the content of these creeds, these doctrinal formulas, in order to bring about formal, public unity among separated Christians.

He is trying to find unity not only with the Lefebvrists (and all Traditionalists within the Church) but also, as we have seen in recent days, with the Anglicans and the Orthodox Churches.

So this dialogue with the Lefebvrists must be seen in the context of multiple dialogues, all occurring at once: Catholic Traditionalists, Protestant Anglicans, the Orthodox Churches.

One might almost say this pontificate is become one of "all dialogue, all the time."

But on a second level, considering world events and the evolution of the world's economy and culture, something else is also at stake.

Benedict is rallying his troops. He is trying to reunite all those factions and denominations and groups in the West that share common beliefs in the eternal destiny of human beings, in the sacredness of human life (since human beings are "in the image and likeness of God"), in the existence of a moral standard which is true at all times and in all places (against the relativism of the modern secular culture), in the need for justice in human affairs, for the rule of right, not might.

And so he is doing his best, in what seems perhaps to be the "twilight of the West," to build an ark, centered in Rome, to which all those who share these beliefs about human dignity may repair.

And this means that what Benedict is doing in this dialogue which got underway today is also of importance to Jews, to Muslims, and to all men and women of goodwill. Mankind seems to be entering a new period, a period in which companies and governments may produce, even for profit, "designer humans," a period of resource wars, a period of the complete rejection of the traditional family unit.

Benedict, from his high room in the Apostolic Palace, seems to be trying to rally the West in the twilight of an age, so that what was best in the West may be preserved, and shine forth again after the struggles of our time are past.


Rupture, or Continuity?

What is the real, fundamental issue of these talks?

It is this: Did the Second Vatican Council teach new doctrines not in keeping with prior Church teaching, and so lead the Church into error (as the Society of St. Pius X, and other traditional Catholics, have often argued)?

Or did the Council develop doctrines based on what the Church has always taught, and so open up new, legitimate aspects of old doctrines?

To put it another way: Did a "new Church" come into being after Vatican II, a Church which broke with the "old Church" of the pre-conciliar period?

Or is it still the same Catholic Church of all time, which has simply been passing through a confusing period as it attempts to find a way to live in and bear witness to the modern world?

Benedict has been calling for a reinterpretation of Vatican II for almost 40 years. In book-length interviews when he was Cardinal Ratzinger, in major studies of the liturgy and in addresses as Pope, he has denounced interpretations of Vatican II which claim it as a rupture with the Catholic faith of all time.

The Lefebvrists have maintained that is is difficult, if not impossible, to interpret Vatican II as being in continuity with all prior Church tradition.

But Benedict has said he believes this interpretation can be made.

And he has sent his chosen men into this dialogue to show the Lefebvrists how it can be done.

The true drama of this dialogue is whether his men will succeed.

Because if his men succeed, the Traditionalists will come back into full union with the Church -- and many conservative Anglicans and Orthodox will also feel more willing to enter into Rome's embrace.

But this very success will mean a defeat for... many progressive theologians, who have argued that Vatican II is a clean break with many "negative" teachings of the "old Church."

Therefore, if Benedict and his men succeed in this effort, the result will be to bring the Traditionalists over into a Church that rejects what they too have hitherto rejected, by defining certain teachings of Vatican II in a traditional way which will suddenly close off to progressives avenues of interpretation that they have freely exploited for four decades now.

So what is at stake in these discussions is far more than what happens to the Lefebvrists.

What is at stake is how the Church of the future will judge and interpret Vatican II.


The Communique

"On Monday, 26 October, 2009, in the Palazzo del Sant'Uffizio [Palace of the Holy Office], headquarters of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, the study commission made up of experts of Ecclesia Dei and from the Society of St. Pius X hed its first meeting, with the aim of examining the doctrinal differences still outstanding between the Society and the Apostolic See," said a Vatican Press Office Communique released just an hour ago.

"In a cordial, respectful and constructive climate, the main doctrinal questions were identified. These will be studied in the course of discussions to be held over coming months, probably twice a month. In particular, the questions due to be examined concern the concept of Tradition, the Missal of Paul VI, the interpretation of Vatican Council II in continuity with the 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. The meeting also served to specify the method and organisation of work."


Brief Background to the New Dialogue between the Society of St. Pius X and the Holy See

This dialoge has been nine years in the preparation.

For a number of years after the 1988 consecrations, there was little if any dialogue between the Society of St. Pius X and the Holy See. This state of affairs ended when the Society led a large pilgrimage to Rome for the Jubilee in the year 2000.

A sympathetic Cardinal
Darío Castrillón Hoyos, President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, approached the SSPX bishops during the pilgrimage and, according to Bishop Fellay, told them that the Pope was prepared to grant them either a personal prelature (the status enjoyed by Opus Dei) or an apostolic administration (the status given to the traditionalist priests of Campos, Brazil). The SSPX leadership responded with distrust. They requested two preliminary "signs" before continuing negotiations: that the Holy See grant permission for all priests to celebrate the Tridentine Mass; and that its statement that the 1988 consecrations had resulted in excommunication for the clerics involved be declared void.

In 2005, Benedict XVI became Pope. In August 2005, Benedict met with Bishop Fellay for 35 minutes, at the latter's request.

In July 2007, the Pope issued
Summorum Pontificum, which liberalised the restrictions on the celebration of the Tridentine Mass.

In April 2008, Bishop Fellay issued
Letter to Friends and Benefactors No. 72, informing the SSPX faithful that, in spite of both Summorum Pontificum and the recent Vatican documents on the true meaning of Lumen Gentium and evangelisation, the Society still could not sign an agreement with the Holy See.

By a decree of 21 January 2009 (
Protocol Number 126/2009), which was issued in response to a renewed request dated 15 December 2008 that Bishop Fellay made on behalf of all four bishops whom Lefebvre had consecrated on 30 June 1988, the Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, by the power granted to him by Pope Benedict XVI, remitted the automatic excommunication that they had thereby incurred, and expressed the wish that this would be followed speedily by full communion of the whole of the Society of Saint Pius X with the Church.

A Note of the Secretariat of State issued on 4 February 2009 specified that, while the lifting of the excommunication freed the four bishops from a very grave canonical penalty, it made no change in the juridical situation of the Society of St. Pius X.

The note added that future recognition of the Society required full recognition of the Second Vatican Council and of the teaching of Popes John XIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

Moreover, it repeated the assurance given in the decree of 21 January 2009 that the Holy See would study, along with those involved, the questions not yet settled, so as to reach a full satisfactory solution of the problems that had given rise to the split.

That is the study that has now begun.


Note to Readers

I would like to greet all new readers of this newsflash.

Over the past two days, I have added almost 1,000 new email addresses to my database, so hundreds of you will be reading this for the first time. The total database is now about 15,200.

Your names were sent to me by other readers who told me they thought you would like to receive this newsflash, and that is how you ended up on the list.

I realize that we live in times of "information overload," and that our email boxes can get quickly overfilled with writing from here and there which we do not have time or desire to read.

So I will try my best not to overload you.

Rather, I hope you enjoy these newsflashes, which deal with the life of the Church, but also with many other matters, including our contemporary political, economic and cultural crisis, as seen from the perspective of Rome, and in the light of the Christian faith.

I hope that you will find that these newsflashes useful.


Lecture in Rome: Tuesday, October 27, 6 pm., at #141 Borgo Pio

I have been invited by the The Vatican Forum of the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts to present a talk tomorrow night at 6 pm on the Borgo Pio, here in Rome, at the Centro Russia Ecumenica, #141 Borgo Pio. All are welcome to attend. I have been asked to speak on the topic "Unraveling the Mysteries of the Vatican: An Introduction to the Nature and Work of the Holy See."

Entrance is free.


A Small Request

I have asked for readers to help this "newsflash" grow by sending the email addresses to me of persons who might like to receive this newsflash.

I would be very grateful to receive more name of people to whom I might email this newsflash. Just copy a few into an email and send it off to me.


“He that takes truth for his guide, and duty for his end, may safely trust to God's providence to lead him aright.”Blaise Pascal (French mathematician, philosopher, physicist and writer, 1623-1662)


Saturday, October 24, 2009

French Dominican Accompanies Relics of St. Mary Magdalene to U.S.

This from the Dominican Friars of the Eastern Province:

French Dominican Accompanies Relics of St. Mary Magdalene to U.S.

A relic of St. Mary Magdalene, first witness to the Resurrection, has come to US soil for the first time ever. Fr. Thomas Michelet, O.P. brought them from the Diocese of Frejus-Toulon, France, where the relics are kept in a cave in the custody of the Dominican Friars of the Toulouse Province.

The saint's relics are kept in the Grotto of St. Mary Magdalene, known as La Sainte Baume, where tradition has it that Mary Magdalene spent the last 30 years of her life. The relic--a piece of the tibia, or shinbone--is accompanied by a letter of authentication signed by the local bishop.

The cult of Mary Magdalene began to rise to prominence in the 11th century, and began flourishing in particular in the Dominican Order. In the 13th century, the Church set great store by the conversion of prostitutes, the most devout of whom where incorporated into communities of penitents by the bishops. These communities, which were given a Dominican constitution, took St. Mary Magdalene as their patron, as the saint herself was believed to have belonged to their ranks.

Charles II of Anjou, King of Naples, had founded the Basilica of St. Mary Magdalene in the town of Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume and strongly promoted the cult of the saint. Pope Boniface VIII put the basilica under the jurisdiction of the Dominican Order. In 1297, relics believed to be those of Mary Magdalene were discovered in the town's Church of St. Maximin.

That year the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene was first celebrated throughout the Order. It was thus that Mary Magdalene became a patroness of the Order alongside the Virgin Mary. The Dominicans honor her as the "Apostle to the Apostles" by virtue of her mission to announce the news of the Resurrection to Christ's disciples-a mission the Friars compare to their own.

For more background on Mary Magdalene, please click here. Fr. Michelet will talk about the relics on a special edition of "ETWN Live" on the Eternal Word Television Network Oct. 27 at 10PM EST. For more details, please click here.

On October 19, the relic made a brief visit to the Church of St. Vincent Ferrer in New York City before traveling on to Georgia.

Update: here's a photo Mike Lee took at the Grotto in Provence, France:

see Mike's post here for more pictures and information. Thanks, Mike!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The miracle of the Obama administration...

"Swine flew" as the clearly verbal joke goes. no joke though. my whole group at work is out.

I finally went to an immediate care facility last week. I wanted to ask the PA working if she was old enough to be playing doctor and felt somehow uncomfortable in a room with no windows with (what seemed) a mere child...

Came away from the immediate care facility with a prescription for codeine. OK. yet today, a full week later I'm still at home, and my cough is as bad as I have ever had one; worse, I feel like I'm hacking up bits of the slime monster!

so I got in to see my family doc. He tested me before and after inhalation therapy, and since I blew 33% more, he sent me home with an Albuterol inhaler (no longer cheap and generic thanks to the EPA..gotta save the ozone layer you know). Since I'm at risk for pneumonia as one of "Jerry's Kids," he also gave me a Z-pack.

So I'm resting, hydrating, and doing all the right things with the right tools to ground that flying pig!

So there's my analysis of the pork in the health care system.


Yesterday was the anniversary of the first time I sought out a priest, and the reason was the reading from St. Augustine in the daily office; in memory of that momentous day in which I received not what I thought I wanted, but rather received what the Lord knew I needed, with undying gratitude:

we don't know what it is right to pray for.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

US support for the "upside down world"

Go figure

More on the Anglican opened door

The following is from the Dominican Friars of the Eastern Province:

The Power of Prayer
"That they may be one" (John 17:21)
by Fr. Brian Mulcahy, O.P. on October 20, 2009

On February 21, 2009, many Dominican priests, brothers, sisters and laity received an e-mail with an urgent prayer request requested by (then) Fr. Augustine DiNoia, O.P., Undersecretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, asking all Dominicans to pray the Litany of Dominican Saints from February 22 (the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter) through March 25 (the Solemnity of the Annunciation) for an at-the-time undisclosed intention. Today, we received an e-mail from Archbishop Augustine DiNoia, O.P., the Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, with the following announcement:

"Today there was announced -- at press conferences in Rome and London -- the forthcoming publication of an apostolic constitution in which the Holy Father allows for the creation of personal ordinariates for groups of Anglicans in different parts of the world who are seeking full communion with the Catholic Church. The canonical structure of the personal ordinariate will permit this corporate reunion while at the same time providing for retention of elements of Anglican liturgy and spirituality.

When I asked the Friars (and other OPs - Ed.) to pray the Dominican litany from 22 February to 25 March earlier this year, the intention was that this proposal would receive the approval of the cardinal members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which was necessary if the proposal of some structure allowing for corporate reunion was to go forward. Our prayers at that time were answered, and now that the proposal has become a reality we can tell everyone what we were praying for then.


+Abp. J Augustine DiNoia, O.P.

This momentous news has already hit both the secular and Catholic press, but Archbishop DiNoia wanted all of you to know that your prayers were very effective, and that he extends his most profound fraternal thanks.

Here is a link to the Vatican website that has the text of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's Note concerning this new, historic arrangement.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A new door opened to Anglican reunion!

Because this represents answers to prayer, I've included the full text of the Newsflash from Inside the Vatican editor Robert Moynihan.

Another Dramatic Move

The Vatican today made a dramatic announcement: Pope Benedict has authorized a bold new plan to bring Anglicans back into full union with Rome. But many questions remain unanswered

By Robert Moynihan, reporting from Rome

VATICAN CITY, October 20, 2009 -- Dramatic news today -- as dramatic as the decision earlier this year to "un-excommunicate" the four Lefebvrist bishops, as dramatic as the decision on July 7, 2007 (in the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum) to restore the old Mass.

Pope Benedict XVI is proposing a special Church structure for those Anglicans who wish to come into full communion with Rome without giving up many of the things they cherish as Anglicans.

The news, which came without prior warning this morning, was precisely coordinated between Rome and London. On a cool, sunny, crystal clear day here, at 11 this morning, Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Archbishop Joseph Augustine Di Noia, O.P.. Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, held a press conference to announce this unprecedented Roman initiative after almost 500 years of Anglican-Catholic division. In London, at precisely the same hour, a parallel press conference was held by Archbishop Vincent Nichols, the head of the Catholic Church in England, and Archbishop Rowan Williams, the head of the Anglican Church. "Rome is reabsorbing us, it's as simple as that," one prominent British journalist told me after the Vatican press conference, when I asked him what he thought this was all about. That is too simplistic. Rome is hoping to reunite with all those elements of the Anglican Church which still feel a deep connection with Rome and with the Catholic faith -- and is willing to take considerable pains to make those Anglicans feel comfortable when they "come over to Rome." That is what is happening. And quite a few people don't want that to happen -- and that explains some of the anomalies associated with today's anouncement...

"New era begins"

In London, Damian Thompson, a religion writer for the Telegraph Media Group, wrote an excellent article today on this papal decision, headlined: "New era begins as Benedict throws open gates of Rome to disaffected Anglicans."

"This is astonishing news," Thompson continues. "Pope Benedict XVI has created an entirely new Church structure for disaffected Anglicans that will allow them to worship together – using elements of Anglican liturgy – under the pastoral supervision of their own specially appointed bishop or senior priest... "In theory, they can have their own married priests, parishes and bishops – and they will be free of liturgical interference by liberal Catholic bishops who are unsympathetic to their conservative stance. There is even the possibility that married Anglican laymen could be accepted for ordination on a case-by-case basis – a remarkable concession." Thompson goes on to report that both Archbishop Nichols and Archbishop Williams "are surprised by this dramatic move." He writes: "Cardinal Levada, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was in Lambeth Palace only yesterday to spell out to Dr Williams what it means. [Note: Levada flew back to Rome at midnight, and so, as one would expect, he was exhausted during this morning's press conference. The Pope evdiently feels a deep urgency to get this done, or he wouldn't be asking his cardinals to travel in this way.] This decision has, in effect, been taken over their heads – though there is no suggestion that Archbishop Nichols does not fully support this historic move." Thompson adds: "Incidentally, I suspect that Rome waited until Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor’s retirement before unveiling this plan: the cardinal is an old-style ecumenist who represents the old way of doing things. His allies in Rome, and many former participants in Anglican-Catholic dialogue, are dismayed by today’s news, which clears away the wreckage of the ARCIC process." He further adds: "The truth is that Rome has given up on the Anglican Communion. With one announcement, the Pope has given conservative Anglicans a protected route to union with Rome... Thousands of Anglicans who reject women bishops and priests and liberal teaching on homosexuality are certain to avail themselves of this provision." Will this really affect "thousands" of Anglicans? Cardinal Levada seemed to think the number will be fewer, just a few hundred.

"'Many' is, of course, a relative term," Levada said. "If I had to say the number of [Anglican] bishops [who may come over to Rome], I would say that is in the 20s or 30s. If I had to say individual [Anglican] lay people, I would say that would be in the hundreds." How will this work out, practically, in England? Anglicans will have to request their own “Personal Ordinariate." Thompson says he suspects that the "most pro-Roman Church of England bishop," the Right Reverend Andrew Burnham, Bishop of Ebbsfleet, could submit a request to Rome. He would then be ordained a Catholic priest (as Anglican orders are not recognized by Rome) and might himself be made “ordinary” (bishop in all but name) of ex-Anglican clergy and lay people who have been received into the Catholic Church together.

Thompson concludes: "This is a decision of supreme boldness and generosity by Pope Benedict XVI, comparable to his liberation of the Traditional Latin Mass... I suspect that this will be a day of rejoicing for conservative Anglo-Catholics and their Roman Catholic friends all over the world." (Source:

Strange proceedings

But I must say that today's press conference was among the strangest I have ever attended at the Vatican. Why? Because many things either didn't make sense, or were not explained. For example, the "missing person." Who was missing?

German Cardinal Walter Kasper, head of the Council for Christian Unity, the man who has been nominally in charge for many years now of the decades-long Catholic-Anglican dialogue. According to all usual protocol, Kasper should have been at this conference, but was not (he is in Cyprus for a few days carrying on a dialogue with the Orthodox). Cardinal Levada said: "I invited both Cardinal Kasper and Bishop Farrell (Kasper's second-in-command), and both looked at their calendars and said they were committed elsewhere." Levada added that the matter has increasingly come under his doctrinal congregation, and less under the ecumenism office headed by Kasper.

Another oddity was the strange haste to hold this press conference. Why do I say "strange haste"? Because the normal time-frame for advising all journalists of an upcoming Vatican press conference was not respected. Normally, the Vatican gives a week's advance notice for a major press conference. (This was confirmed for me today at the press office.)

But today's conference was announced via a cell phone text message frrom Press Director Father Federico Lombardi, S.J, sent to journalists' cell phones at only 5 pm yesterday -- just 18 hours before the event, less than one day. Journalists at the conference said the short notice was unusual for a document, something that was not an obvious emergency, like a accident or an assassination.

Finally, it seemed quite odd that the text of the document that the press conference was held to present was... not presented! The document detailing all aspects of this new iniative was announced, but no copies were given out, and so no one knows yet what it really will say because... it isn't finished -- even though officials as recently as yesterday evening thought that it would be finished for today! Cardinal Levada told journalists that the document wasn't ready because "some questions of canon law need still to be clarified," without expalining what those questions are or how long it may take to clarify them. So these are mysteries.... What is going on?

Why the evident haste to make this announcement? Why go ahead and hold a press conference about a document before the document is finalized? Is someone is trying to "steal a march" on someone? It would seem so. But who is hurrying, and why? Is it the Pope himself? If so, why? I don't know. Does it have to do, perhaps,with the Pope's age, that he wants to move on these questions now, while he is vigorous, rather than waiting even a week or a month, or longer? Or is the question of married priests the difficulty? Are there perhaps potential "Trojan horses" for a married priesthood within the document that the Pope has only just noted, and has at the last minute decided to remove, even if it means delaying the document's publication? Or are there financial and political consequences of these ecclesial developments -- much very valuable ecclesial property could be involved in future Anglican conversion en masse to Catholicism -- which demand that "the thing be done quickly"? A journalist asked: "To what extent does this step weaken the Anglican Church?" "I wouldn’t even hazard a guess," Levada replied. "I think it would be inappropriate." Journalist Robert Mickens of the London Tablet said he was "flabbergasted" that no one from the Council for Christian Unity was present.

"This is all rather vague," Mickens said. "What type of numbers are we talking about here? And, who was involved?"

"If we have been vague, then so be it," Levada replied. A journalist from France asked what would happen if a maried bishop in the Anglican Church becomes a Catholic. "Could he become a married Catholic bishop?" she asked. "This does not provide for married bishops," Levada said, "respecting the long historical tradition of both the West and the East in which bishops were celibate. As for priests, many are asking, if these married Anglicans can be [Catholic] priests, what about us? The Church has now, over the past number of years, dispensed (in the case of married Anglican priests who became Catholics) from the discipline that only unmarried men can be Catholic priests. When the Church deals with these cases, it is an exception…" In sum, an announcement of such importance would ordinarily have been made with greater solemnity. The split between Rome and London since the time of King Henry VIII is one of the great fractures in the history of the Church, and its healing is one of the deep longings of all English Catholics and of many English Anglicans, who come out of the Roman tradition and consider themselves the heirs of that tradition. But the announcement was made in an almost off-hand way, at a last-minute press conference, announced without any description of its content, at 5 pm yesterday, allowing no time for journalists to prepare questions, and without the presence of any Anglicans who might have answered questions from their perspective, and with the text itself still unfinished.

Unease in England The haste I sensed in Rome seems to have been felt in England as well.

Thompson has just added another note on his blog, saying that the Anglican archbishop, Williams, has written a letter to the Anglican clergy of England to express his feelings about this annoucnement. Williams sounds "humiliated – and, I suspect, furious that the Vatican sprang the plans to welcome ex-Anglicans on him 'at a very late stage,'" Thompson writes.

Here is the text of the emotional Williams letter (with emphasis added): "The Vatican has announced today that PopeBenedict XVI has approved an ‘Apostolic Constitution’ (a formal papal decree) which will make some provision for groups of Anglicans (whether strictly members of continuing Anglican bodies or currently members of the Communion) who wish to be received into communion with the See of Rome in such a way that they can retain aspects of Anglican liturgical and spiritual tradition.

"I am sorry that there has been no opportunity to alert you earlier to this; I was informed of the planned announcement at a very late stage, and we await the text of the Apostolic Constitution itself and its code of practice in the coming weeks. But I thought I should let you know the main points of the response I am making in our local English context– in full consultation with Roman Catholic bishops in England and Wales – in the hope of avoiding any confusion or misrepresentation.

The View from Australia My friend and colleague, Australian journalist Andrew Rabel, just filed this to me: "At joint conferences today in both London and Rome, provisions were announced that will permit Anglicans with a Catholic bent, to enter the Roman Catholic Church, maintaining elements of Anglican liturgy (based on the 1662 Book of Common Prayer derived from the Sarum Rite) and discipline, such as married priests.

"Archbishop John Hepworth, the worldwide head of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) received a special briefing beforehand, and it is likely that the new structures have been created, because of a recent request of theirs to formally join the Catholic Church in 2007, although they will be confined to this body and will encompass other conservative Anglican movements such as Forward in Faith, as well.

"This group consists of 16 member churches throughout the world with approximately 400,000 members, with a particularly large proportion from Africa, in nations like Zimbabwe and Tanzania. There are about 5,000 members in the USA, with about 1,500 members in Australia, the country of Archbishop Hepworth.

"An apostolic constitution was announced that will facilitate the integration of disaffected member of the Anglican Communion. But today's announcements indicate that this movement only in the embryonic stages, as it will be up to individual bishops conferences to implement the strictures of the constitution.

"At the conferences, reference was made to the Anglican-Catholic dialogues pursued over the last 40 years, beginning with the visit of Archbishop Ramsay to Pope John XXIII.

"This is also an interesting situation coming with the visit of Pope Benedict to Britain in 2010, and the beatification of John Henry Newman, one of the founders of the 19th Century Oxford Movement, that was pushing for a greater Catholic revival in the Church of England, because of the onset of liberal ideas.

"These ideas have further developed in 20th Century Anglicanism, with the ordination of women and homosexuals, denial of Christ's Resurrection, and a permissiveness regarding practices like abortion. Many Anglicans, both clergy and laity who previously had never had much sympathy towards Rome, fond themselves alarmed at the denomination they were in.

"Up until the present moment, procedures to incorporate disaffected Anglicans, have been largely temporary such as the Anglican Use in the USA, but the structures announced today will be permanent, though technical details are still to be worked out.

"One unexpected problem with this may be, with the movement towards married priests very much discouraged in the Latin Rite, an exception will appear to have been made to a group outside. How this will play out is unclear."


The Text Announcing the Decision

With the preparation of an Apostolic Constitution, the Catholic Church is responding to the many requests that have been submitted to the Holy See from groups of Anglican clergy and faithful in different parts of the world who wish to enter into full visible communion. In this Apostolic Constitution the Holy Father has introduced a canonical structure that provides for such corporate reunion by establishing Personal Ordinariates, which will allow former Anglicans to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony. Under the terms of the Apostolic Constitution, pastoral oversight and guidance will be provided for groups of former Anglicans through a Personal Ordinariate, whose Ordinary will usually be appointed from among former Anglican clergy.

The forthcoming Apostolic Constitution provides a reasonable and even necessary response to a world-wide phenomenon, by offering a single canonical model for the universal Church which is adaptable to various local situations and equitable to former Anglicans in its universal application. It provides for the ordination as Catholic priests of married former Anglican clergy. Historical and ecumenical reasons preclude the ordination of married men as bishops in both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. The Constitution therefore stipulates that the Ordinary can be either a priest or an unmarried bishop. The seminarians in the Ordinariate are to be prepared alongside other Catholic seminarians, though the Ordinariate may establish a house of formation to address the particular needs of formation in the Anglican patrimony. In this way, the Apostolic Constitution seeks to balance on the one hand the concern to preserve the worthy Anglican liturgical and spiritual patrimony and, on t he other hand, the concern that these groups and their clergy will be integrated into the Catholic Church.

Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which has prepared this provision, said: "We have been trying to meet the requests for full communion that have come to us from Anglicans in different parts of the world in recent years in a uniform and equitable way. With this proposal the Church wants to respond to the legitimate aspirations of these Anglican groups for full and visible unity with the Bishop of Rome, successor of St. Peter."

These Personal Ordinariates will be formed, as needed, in consultation with local Conferences of Bishops, and their structure will be similar in some ways to that of the Military Ordinariates which have been established in most countries to provide pastoral care for the members of the armed forces and their dependents throughout the world. "Those Anglicans who have approached the Holy See have made clear their desire for full, visible unity in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. At the same time, they have told us of the importance of their Anglican traditions of spirituality and worship for their faith journey," Cardinal Levada said.
The provision of this new structure is consistent with the commitment to ecumenical dialogue, which continues to be a priority for the Catholic Church, particularly through the efforts of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity. "The initiative has come from a number of different groups of Anglicans," Cardinal Levada went on to say: "They have declared that they share the common Catholic faith as it is expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and accept the Petrine ministry as something Christ willed for the Church. For them, the time has come to express this implicit unity in the visible form of full communion."

According to Levada: "It is the hope of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, that the Anglican clergy and faithful who desire union with the Catholic Church will find in this canonical structure the opportunity to preserve those Anglican traditions precious to them and consistent with the Catholic faith. Insofar as these traditions express in a distinctive way the faith that is held in common, they are a gift to be shared in the wider Church. The unity of the Church does not require a uniformity that ignores cultural diversity, as the history of Christianity shows. Moreover, the many diverse traditions present in the Catholic Church today are all rooted in the principle articulated by St. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians: ‘There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism’ (4:5). Our communion is therefore strengthened by such legitimate diversity, and so we are happy that these men and women bring with them their particular contributions to our common life of faith."

Background information

Since the sixteenth century, when King Henry VIII declared the Church in England independent of Papal Authority, the Church of England has created its own doctrinal confessions, liturgical books, and pastoral practices, often incorporating ideas from the Reformation on the European continent. The expansion of the British Empire, together with Anglican missionary work, eventually gave rise to a world-wide Anglican Communion.

Throughout the more than 450 years of its history the question of the reunification of Anglicans and Catholics has never been far from mind. In the mid-nineteenth century the Oxford Movement (in England) saw a rekindling of interest in the Catholic aspects of Anglicanism. In the early twentieth century Cardinal Mercier of Belgium entered into well publicized conversations with Anglicans to explore the possibility of union with the Catholic Church under the banner of an Anglicanism "reunited but not absorbed".

At the Second Vatican Council hope for union was further nourished when the Decree on Ecumenism (n. 13), referring to communions separated from the Catholic Church at the time of the Reformation, stated that: "Among those in which Catholic traditions and institutions in part continue to exist, the Anglican Communion occupies a special place."

Since the Council, Anglican-Roman Catholic relations have created a much improved climate of mutual understanding and cooperation. The Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) produced a series of doctrinal statements over the years in the hope of creating the basis for full and visible unity. For many in both communions, the ARCIC statements provided a vehicle in which a common expression of faith could be recognized. It is in this framework that this new provision should be seen.

In the years since the Council, some Anglicans have abandoned the tradition of conferring Holy Orders only on men by calling women to the priesthood and the episcopacy. More recently, some segments of the Anglican Communion have departed from the common biblical teaching on human sexuality—already clearly stated in the ARCIC document "Life in Christ"—by the ordination of openly homosexual clergy and the blessing of homosexual partnerships. At the same time, as the Anglican Communion faces these new and difficult challenges, the Catholic Church remains fully committed to continuing ecumenical engagement with the Anglican Communion, particularly through the efforts of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity.

In the meantime, many individual Anglicans have entered into full communion with the Catholic Church. Sometimes there have been groups of Anglicans who have entered while preserving some "corporate" structure. Examples of this include, the Anglican diocese of Amritsar in India, and some individual parishes in the United States which maintained an Anglican identity when entering the Catholic Church under a "pastoral provision" adopted by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and approved by Pope John Paul II in 1982. In these cases, the Catholic Church has frequently dispensed from the requirement of celibacy to allow those married Anglican clergy who desire to continue ministerial service as Catholic priests to be ordained in the Catholic Church.

In the light of these developments, the Personal Ordinariates established by the Apostolic Constitution can be seen as another step toward the realization the aspiration for full, visible union in the Church of Christ, one of the principal goals of the ecumenical movement.

“He that takes truth for his guide, and duty for his end, may safely trust to God's providence to lead him aright.” —Blaise Pascal (French mathematician, philosopher, physicist and writer, 1623-1662)