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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Pope Francis Imitates Pope Benedict

A lot of people who should really know better have been going nuts over the fact that Pope Francis called an Anglican pastor a "brother bishop". Everyone is invoking the fact that Anglican orders have been declared null and void, yada, yada, yada.

There are just two problems with this:

Problem #1: Anglican orders aren't necessarily as null and void as you would think.
Anglican orders were indeed declared null and void. The Anglicans began with valid orders when Henry VIII broke away, but for a period of about a century, the Anglican ordination rite specifically denied the sacrifice of the Mass. By the time they repaired their rite so that it did not do this, there were no validly ordained Anglicans left. Thus, the declaration was based on the fact that Anglican orders had died out.

But Old Catholic holy orders were never declared valid. Old Catholics are another schismatic branch of the Church, sort of the fore-runner of the SSPX and their spiritual brothers in the FSSP. Old Catholics broke off in the 1800s, and they have ALWAYS had valid orders.

The Anglicans have joint communion with the Old Catholics. Anglican ordinations frequently have Old Catholic bishops present at the ordination. If an Old Catholic bishop is present at an ordination, there is a very good possibility that the particular Anglican ordination IS, in fact, valid.

Problem #2: Pope Francis is following Benedict's example.
At the above statement, conservatives around the room are undoubtedly sputtering in amazement. "No, he did NOT! How can Kellmeyer get away with such blatant lies!" Etc.

But Pope Benedict essentially declared a whole raft of Anglican bishops "brother bishops" and in a Church document, no less.

You doubt me?! Hah! Consider the Anglican Ordinariate. Anglican orders are null and void. But in Anglicanorum Coetibus, the document establishing the Ordinariate, Benedict effectively raised the laymen who operate as Anglican priests and bishops to the level of Catholic bishops.
"And, with this virtually schismatic act by the bishop of Calgary, we now clearly see why the Holy Father released the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum CoetibusIf you read through this document, you see a very peculiar thing, which is now clearly explained by the action in Calgary.
AC specifically allows individual Anglican communions within the Catholic Church to be headed by an "ordinary" who is not necessarily an ordained bishop. This is, to say the least, unprecedented. Indeed, given that Anglican orders are not valid, the fact is that every Anglican "priest" and "bishop" is really just a layman who dresses funny.
Yet these laymen, who have baptism as their only valid sacrament, will be treated as retired bishops and ordinaries in their own right - they will be given episcopal powers. The laymen who are the Anglican "priests" and "bishops" will be given their own liturgical rite.
True, they will all have to be properly ordained, but the rite is theirs, promised to them, before the consecrated oils touch their hands or their heads.
Not since Ambrose have laymen been raised to such a high level of authority so quickly."
I don't know why conservative (not orthodox, merely conservative) Catholics are such haters of Pope Francis. The man is following precisely in Benedict's footsteps, but they refuse to see it. Instead of looking for the continuity, they always insist that there is a break with Tradition.  Rightly or wrongly, bishops associate these uncharitable attitudes with communion rails and Gregorian chant. Whether conservative Catholics like it or not, only bishops can accomplish what these lay people want to accomplish. You need bishops as friends. This constant negative attitude is not friendly.


Anonymous said...

Fine - presumably you would have no objection to Francis calling SSPX bishops, including bishop Williamson, "brother Bishops".

Steve Kellmeyer said...

Why not? There isn't any real difference between an Anglican and an SSPXer.

Andrew said...

Although the same person may be both a bishop and an ordinary, the two are not the same thing, and there have been many non-bishop ordinaries throughout Church history, namely, abbots. So the fact that Benedict XVI designated a non-bishop as an ordinary really doesn't really argue for calling non-bishops bishops.


Steve Kellmeyer said...

Indeed. But abbots tend to be ordained men, or they are certainly under religious vows.

With the Anglican Ordinariate, those men are technically neither. They really are just ordinary laymen dressed funny.

Flambeaux said...

Huh? Steve, the Ordinaries of the Anglican Ordinariates are ordained. So I'm confused as to what is being argued about.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

The ordinaries who head the ordinariates are NOW. It was my understanding that when the Pope first gave the Ordinariate force, however, there was a transitional period during which the leaders within the Anglican parishes were allowed to retain their leadership status even as laymen.

They were eventually validly ordained, but their leadership position was at no point eliminated during the transition.

Flambeaux said...

I was under the impression they were ordained before they were appointed. At their appointment they were created Monsignori, given the vestural privileges of a bishop, and invited to join their local bishops' conference.

The Ordinariates, as a potential canonical entity, came into being with Anglicanorum coetibus. But the individual Ordinariates were only created when there were validly ordained Ordinaries who could be appointed to head them.

Rome, very deliberately, did not choose as Ordinaries for the Ordinariates any men who were eligible for episcopal consecration.