Light of the World: Pope Benedict on Anglicanorum Coetibus

11 12 2010

In Peter Seewald’s collection of conversations with Pope Benedict XVI, he raises the issue of Anglicanorum Coetibus. Here is the question, and the Holy Father’s response:

In its ecumenical dialogue with ecclesial communities in the West, the Vatican concentrates on the Anglicans, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and the World Methodist Council. The gates of Rome are already open to Anglicans who are willing to swim the Tiber. You have promulgated an apostolic constitution for this purpose, which for the first time provides their own canonical and organizational structure for local churches. Prior to the constitution, the idea of reunion was associated with the image of a return home to the Latin Church. Is this a precedent for other groups that might want to follow in the footsteps of the Anglicans?

At any rate, it is an attempt to respond to a specific challenge. The initiative did not come from us, but from the Anglican bishops who entered into dialogue with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in order to explore possible forms of reunion. They said that they fully share the faith that is set forth in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, that this is exactly what they believe. And they asked us to examine to what extent they might be able to preserve their own traditions, their own inherited form of life, with all of the riches it contains.

Eventually, the process resulted in the offer of this framework. It remains to be seen how much use is made of it, how much fruit it will really bear, and what kinds of developments and variations might be involved in it. But it is at any rate a sign, you might say, of the flexibility of the Catholic Church. We don’t want to create new uniate churches, but we do want to offer ways for local church traditions, traditions that have evolved outside of the Roman Church, to be brought into communion with the Pope and thus into Catholic communion.

Benedict XVI, Light of the World: A Conversation with Peter Seewald, London, Catholic Truth Society, 2010. pp. 96-97