Malines Conversations Group says that ‘where we once walked apart, we now walk together in friendship and love’Theologians call for Catholic recognition of Anglican ordinations – UCA News
Collegiate Church of Saint Peter in Westminster, London. (Photo: Wikipedia)
A group of Catholic and Anglican theologians have publicly called on the Vatican to review and overturn a papal document from 1896 that declared Anglican ordinations “absolutely null and utterly void.”
“Where we once walked apart, we now walk together in friendship and love,” wrote members of the Malines Conversations Group after tracing the history of ecumenical agreements between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion and, especially, reviewing examples of collaboration and gestures of recognition.
The judgment made by Pope Leo XIII in his apostolic letter Apostolicae Curae in 1896 “does not accord with the reality into which the Spirit has led us now,” said members of the group, which is an informal Catholic-Anglican dialogue that began in 2013.Donate to UCA News with a small contribution of your choice
Members of the group, who are not appointed to represent their churches but keep their respective ecumenical offices informed of their studies and discussions, presented their document Dec. 15 at Rome’s Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas.
The 27-page document is titled, “Sorores in Spe — Sisters in Hope of the Resurrection: A Fresh Response to the Condemnation of Anglican Orders.”
Bishop Brian Farrell, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, said that while his Vatican office does not sponsor the group’s dialogue, “we are very happy” that the question of Anglican orders is “being examined in the wholly different ecumenical context of today, when so much has been achieved in Anglican-Catholic relations.”
The fact that women can, in most Anglican provinces, now be ordained, does not in itself mean that the pope’s condemnation of 1896 must be applied to the present situation
“From the Catholic point of view, it is a question of finding the theological and canonical language that would better reflect what we do in practice, which is to acknowledge a genuine ministry in other churches,” he told Catholic News Service. “As the Second Vatican Council teaches, the Holy Spirit does indeed work through them for the salvation of their members.”
The context for “Sorores in Spe” is the theological and practical difference in Catholic-Anglican relations over the past 125 years and, especially, since the formal Anglican-Roman Catholic theological dialogue was established in 1967 by St. Paul VI and Anglican Archbishop Michael Ramsey of Canterbury.
The theological and canonical motivations for Pope Leo’s decision, as explained in the document, were “defects” of both form and intention in the Anglican ordination rites because, in the Vatican’s eyes, “it was not made clear that the priest received ‘the power of consecrating and of offering the true Body and Blood of the Lord'” and because the Anglican Communion had introduced a rite not approved by the church.
But the official agreed statements of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission since 1970, including statements on the Eucharist and on ministry, “testify to an intimate family likeness between our traditions, which reveals a communion already shared,” said “Sorores in Spe.”