Statement from the Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada
The following is a statement from Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, in response to the Vatican’s announcement of an
Apostolic Constitution earlier this week.
I hereby acknowledge the announcement of the Apostolic Constitution (a formal papal decree) whereby Pope Benedict XVI makes provision for groups of Anglicans who, while retaining certain aspects of Anglican Tradition, wish to be received into communion with the See of Rome. I offer the following comments.
This is not an entirely new phenomenon. For a number of years, Rome has made provisions for individual Anglicans to be received. What is unique about this provision is that it responds to groups of Anglicans who have made special enquiries. Who these groups are has not been announced.
As Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said in a letter to the Bishops of the Church of England and to the Primates of the Anglican Communion, “It remains to be seen what use will be made of this provision since it is now up to those who have made requests to the Holy See to respond to the Apostolic Constitution.”
It is not clear how their desire to retain certain aspects of Anglican Tradition will be honoured. That may spelled out in more detail in the “code of practice” within the constitution.
From a Canadian perspective I do not foresee a groundswell of response to these provisions. I say this knowing that even among those who have separated themselves from the Anglican Church of Canada, there is an abiding desire to remain in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury, and to maintain a place within the family of churches we know as the Anglican Communion.
I believe that among the vast majority of Anglicans and Roman Catholics in Canada and in the world there is a genuine commitment to build on 40 years of formal dialogue between our Communions. We acknowledge substantial agreement on many matters of faith. We embrace the call to action articulated in the 2007 statement Growing Together in Unity and Mission produced by the International Anglican Roman Catholic Commission on Unity and Mission. That statement takes us into a new phase of common witness in the service of the Gospel – locally, nationally, and internationally.
While this announcement from the Vatican creates some shock waves, I do not believe them to be seismic. I believe the greater will of the whole church while acknowledging our “real but imperfect communion” is to continue steadfast in dialogue that will lead us more deeply into that unity for which The Lord prays, “That they all may be one.” (John 17:21)
Archbishop and Primate
October 21, 2009
Joint Statement from the Roman Catholic Bishop of Westminster and the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury
The October 20th announcement of the Apostolic Constitution is a response by Pope Benedict XVI to a number of requests over the past few years to the Holy See from groups of Anglicans who wish to enter into full visible communion with the Roman Catholic Church, and are willing to declare that they share a common Catholic faith and accept the Petrine ministry as willed by Christ for his Church.
Pope Benedict XVI has approved, within the Apostolic Constitution, a canonical structure that provides for Personal Ordinariates, which will allow former Anglicans to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of distinctive Anglican spiritual patrimony.
The announcement of this Apostolic Constitution brings to an end a period of uncertainty for such groups who have nurtured hopes of new ways of embracing unity with the Catholic Church. It will now be up to those who have made requests to the Holy See to respond to the Apostolic Constitution.
The Apostolic Constitution is further recognition of the substantial overlap in faith, doctrine and spirituality between the Catholic Church and the Anglican tradition. Without the dialogues of the past forty years, this recognition would not have been possible, nor would hopes for full visible unity have been nurtured. In this sense, this Apostolic Constitution is one consequence of ecumenical dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion.
The on-going official dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion provides the basis for our continuing cooperation. The Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) and International Anglican Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM) agreements make clear the path we will follow together.
With God's grace and prayer we are determined that our on-going mutual commitment and consultation on these and other matters should continue to be strengthened. Locally, in the spirit of IARCCUM, we look forward to building on the pattern of shared meetings between the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales and the Church of England's House of Bishops with a focus on our common mission. Joint days of reflection and prayer were begun in Leeds in 2006 and continued in Lambeth in 2008, and further meetings are in preparation. This close cooperation will continue as we grow together in unity and mission, in witness to the Gospel in our country, and in the Church at large.
+ Vincent + Rowan