An Appreciation of Anglicanorum Coetibus (Part II): Introduction by the Revd Brooke Lunn

3 07 2011

The Revd Brooke Lunn’s introduction to his paper An Appreciation of Anglicanorum coetibus has been published on the Catholic League website:

If you are someone of goodwill who wishes to do justice to the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, then read it diligently. It is a short document. I state the obvious, because of the shameful response in England to this Constitution, by the media, including the religious media; and by the very inadequate response by those in authority, particularly by those in ecclesial authority.

So, if you are someone of goodwill, adequately informed regarding the issues relating to the Constitution, and having read it diligently, I would expect, then, a fair judgement that this is a genuine pastoral response to a recognisably genuine need; even if this may well be not your own need. If, like me, you are an Anglican papalist, I would expect that this Constitution be recognised as meeting those key elements identified by Anglican papalists.

The dictionary defines a papalist as a supporter of the Pope or the papacy; a usage dating from the middle of the eighteenth century. Anglican papalism is thus a movement of members of the Church of England or any Church in communion with it in support of the Pope or the papacy. This movement is part of the work for Christian unity, particularly identifying the essential need for full communion with the Roman Apostolic See. Its key text is section 23 of the ARCIC Agreed Statement Authority in the Church I.

Anglican papalists have consistently worked for corporate reunion with the Roman Apostolic See. Anglicanorum coetibus is translated [CTS Do 826] ‘groups of Anglicans’. This represents a profound, substantial change of approach to the reception of Anglicans into full communion with Rome. The Constitution provides ‘for those Anglican faithful who desire to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church in a corporate manner’ [CTS Do 826 p.7]. That is a key text for Anglican papalists, for it recognises the need for corporate reunion with Rome; and also, in the two words Anglican faithful, it indicates a profound change from a hitherto negative attitude towards Anglicans (most specifically seen in the unacceptable use of the word convert) to a positive view that Anglicans entering into full communion with Rome bring with us an Anglican patrimony which is ‘a treasure to be shared’. [CTS Do 826 p.8]

The Ordinariate is therefore no place for ‘disaffected’ Anglicans. Thus the two key elements identified by Anglican papalists are brought together in one sentence in Anglicanorum coetibus. Both those elements remain areas for discussion.

1. Can the original key element of corporate reunion involving the Church of England entire now be reasonably modified in the light of present realities to mean ‘groups of Anglicans’?

2. How do we evaluate what is of good value in our Anglican Patrimony which constitutes ‘a treasure to be shared’?

My answer to the first of these two questions is – Yes. However, it is ‘yes’ with a very strong qualification. The possibility should be kept open of corporate reunion involving the Church of England entire, whereby, in establishing an ordinariate, all that is reasonably possible should be done to minimise the separation this entails from the rest of the Church of England, by keeping all possible avenues and relationships with it as open as is compatible with being in full communion with Rome.

Regarding the second of these two questions, I have written three Ordinariate Study Papers, the second being Anglican Patrimony. Our patrimony is so much, much more than a few little Anglican liturgical quirks such as Choral Evensong, or the Prayer of Humble Access. Both of these are to be valued, yet they are but a drop in all that is of good value in our patrimony.

There is a third key element identified by Anglican papalists. This is spelt out from the start of the Constitution: ‘Every division among the baptised in Jesus Christ wounds that which the Church is and that for which the Church exists; in fact, “such division openly contradicts the will of Christ, scandalizes the world, and damages that most holy cause of preaching the Gospel to every creature.”’ [CTS Do 826 p.5]

One of the powerful motivations of Anglican Papalism is the Christian mission to the people of England, of whatever racial, religious or cultural background. We perceive the present disunity among Christians in England as a scandal, a stumbling block to the mission of the Church in our land’ [The Messenger of The Catholic League, February 2006, p.24]. So, we need to ask ourselves: What is our primary motive in our interest in the Ordinariate? Is it the better to serve the people of England? Or are we motivated primarily to meet our own needs and interests? The classic writings of Anglicans papalists such as Spencer Jones or The Centenary Tractates are by Anglicans seeking to commend the full faith to their fellow Anglicans and Englishmen.

Anglicanorum coetibus spells out the principles. It would be possible to interpret these very narrowly, giving an Ordinariate providing a bolt hole for disaffected Anglicans until such time as they can shake off their past and acclimatise themselves to another culture. Such an interpretation would, indeed, be more than narrow. It would be a false interpretation. The Constitution calls for boldness in very consciously establishing an Ordinariate with a more long term view of contributing to the process of drawing the separated Christians of our land together, the more effectively to advance ‘that most holy cause of preaching the Gospel to every creature’.

But signs are not encouraging that a proposed English Ordinariate will effectively reflect the breadth and extent of Anglicanorum coetibus. At the time of writing this in December 2010, the very few odd little snippets in the public domain as to what an English Ordinariate might be like suggest a fragmentary assortment of grouplets. Unity for mission requires that we move forward as one united group.

I am an incurable optimist. I continue to hope against hope that this good and thoughtful initiative will not be stifled by our ingrained sectarianism. I cannot speak for the Anglican papaplists of yesteryear, but I like to think that Fr Fynes-Clinton, who was largely instrumental in my going forward for ordination, would be at least in general agreement with my assessment of Anglicanorum coetibus, which I summarise thus:

The Constitution makes good provision for:

1. Corporate reunion with the Roman Apostolic See – yes, while ensuring that we do not turn our back on the Church of England.

2. Anglican Patrimony – yes, the Constitution provides for the soundest way of remaining true and loyal to all that is of good value in our Anglican heritage.

3. Mission to England – yes, disunity is a major stumbling block here, so the Constitution provides for a coming together of those in England with different faith stories. This provides a significant step towards English Christians uniting in ‘preaching the Gospel to every creature’.

One cannot join an Apostolic Constitution. I judge that this Constitution meets the key elements of Anglican papalists. Whether an Ordinariate set up will do likewise remains to be seen. My response so far includes reading and studying the Constitution with goodwill, a reasonably well-informed knowledge of the related issues, and, I like to think, with some diligence. To help me in this, I have compiled three Study Papers – Towards an English Ordinariate, Anglican Patrimony, and Sacraments and the Ordinariate. I look forward to progress in implementing the Constitution.

Brooke Lunn, December 2010


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