Monday, February 09, 2009

Pope 'wants personal prelature' for ex-Anglicans - Catholic Herald Online

From the Catholic Herald, though it is worth noting that recently the rumours about this happening were denied from some sources in Rome.

Still, we present it "for the record", particularly since the Pope is being drawn into it.

Pope ‘wants personal prelature’ for ex-Anglicans

By Ed West
6 February 2009

Plans to create a personal prelature for former Anglicans in the Catholic Church could lead to a flood of converts, according to a senior figure in the Anglo-Catholic wing of the Church of England.

The cleric, who asked not to be named, was speaking after an Australian magazine announced that the Vatican is progressing with plans to bring the 400,000-strong Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) into the Church.

The TAC was founded in 1991 from groups that had broken with the Anglican Communion over the issue of the ordination of women and other issues. It has been in discussions with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith since late 2007.

The TAC primate, Adelaide-based Archbishop John Hepworth, also told The Record that he wants to bring all the TAC's bishops to Rome for the proposed beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman.

According to the reports the Traditional Anglican Communion would be allowed to form a personal prelature, modelled on that of Opus Dei, to accommodate the clergy and lay members of the group.

According to a Vatican insider, Pope Benedict himself is the driving force behind the plan and has linked it to the Year of St Paul, which ends in June.

A personal prelature is a canonical structure that was proposed by the Second Vatican Council decree Presbyterorum Ordinis.

This states that "special personal dioceses or prelatures" should be established when necessary outside the Church's existing structures to deal with "particular pastoral works as are necessary in any region or nation anywhere on earth". John Paul II created the first personal prelature for Opus Dei in 1982. While the TAC is small in England, with fewer than a dozen churches, the formation of its prelature could lead to a substantial exodus from the Church of England.

The senior Anglican cleric told the Herald that such a move would make it far easier for Anglicans to move en masse when, as expected, the first Church of England women bishops are ordained. Currently, many are unwilling to lose their Anglican identity in the Catholic Church or place themselves under the authority of unsympathetic bishops.

An announcement is expected after Easter this year. A Vatican source said: "Supporters of the plan are unhappy that it has taken so long, that people's souls are at stake. The Pope is really behind it. The Pontifical Council for Christian Unity is against it, but if the Holy Father wants this to happen, it will."

It has been suggested that the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls, once the official church of the Knights of the Garter, could form the headquarters of the prelature.

One problem for the Holy See would be the fact that most of the TAC's bishops are married. Bishop Hepworth is twice married and a former Catholic. There is no question of married men being ordained as bishops under any new arrangement. In 2007 Archbishop Hepworth personally wrote to Pope Benedict indicating that the TAC planned a meeting of its world bishops where they would unanimously agree to sign the Catechism of the Catholic Church and to seek full union with the Catholic Church.

The meeting took place in October that year at the Marian shrine of Walsingham in Norfolk, where TAC bishops placed the Catechism on the altar of the Catholic shrine.

Source: Pope 'wants personal prelature for ex-Anglicans - Catholic Herald Online

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