At the center of the year 2021 of Pope Francis motu owner Traditional custodians is a call for liturgical unity among Latin Catholics, a sense that worship under common liturgical rubrics will foster greater spiritual communion among members of the same sui iuris Church.
To this end, the pontifical text declares that “the liturgical books promulgated by Saint Paul VI and Saint John Paul II, in accordance with the decrees of the Second Vatican Council, are the unique expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite.
The motu proprio was the reversal of a 2007 decision by Pope Benedict XVI, which Summorum ponficum extended extensive authorizations for priests to celebrate liturgies with the rubrics promulgated before the Second Vatican Council began a series of reforms. While the pre-conciliar rubrics only remained popular among a relatively small minority of practicing Catholics, their use grew considerably after Benedict XVI’s liberalization policies.
In light of Pope Francis’ significant restrictions on this front, some Catholics have asked if the pope might be aiming for another liturgical project of Benedict XVI – the popularization of “Anglican usage”, a liturgical variant first approved by the Pope Saint John Paul II, which developed considerably during the papacy of John Paul’s successor.
In short, as Francis puts the kibosh on liturgical variability in the Latin Catholic Church, could Anglican usage be next on the chopping block?
In 1980, Pope Saint John Paul II approved a plan that would allow former Anglican or Episcopalian priests to be ordained – even if married – and encourage the creation of personal parishes to convert Anglican or Episcopalian communities .
The plan, called the Pastoral Layout, also authorized a liturgical text, the Book of Divine Worship, which contained rubrics for a variation of the Roman liturgy, and incorporated the Anglican language Book of Common Prayer, as well as other elements of the Anglican liturgy and devotional tradition.
The use of this text was quite limited until 2009, when Pope Benedict XVI promulgated Anglicanorum coetibus, an apostolic constitution that allowed for the creation of personal ordinariates—effectively non-territorial dioceses—for Anglicans and Episcopalians entering into full communion with the Church.
These ordinariates – there are now three – could incardinate their own clerics, establish their own parishes, and function generally as Catholic particular churches, with liturgy, culture and devotion reflecting the spirituality and history of Anglican Christianity.
The liturgy used by Anglican Ordinariates developed in 2015, when a new text, entitled “Divine Worship: The Missal”, became the normative liturgical rubric for Anglican Personal Ordinariates.
When this text was promulgated, an official of the Anglican ordinariate declared that it was “the first time in the history of the Catholic Church that the liturgical texts of a separate Christian community were reintroduced into the life of the Church. ‘Church of Rome. This Missal is now recognized by the Church as standing side by side with the Roman Missal.
While this achievement was once widely celebrated in the Church, Pope Francis took a different perspective on the liturgy, calling for unity among all Catholics in the use of the current Ordinary iteration of the Roman Missal.
That is why some commentators asked if Anglicanorum coetibusand with it the missal of the “Divine Worship”, could be suppressed during the pontificate of Francis.
Holy Mass offered according to Anglican usage:
For his part, the pontiff has a somewhat mixed record on Anglican personal ordinariates – and some former Anglicans have long feared the pope wants to end the ecclesiastical experiment started by Benedict.
After Francis was elected in 2013, an Argentinian Anglican bishop told friends the pontiff was “an inspired choice” for the papacy.
“He called me to have breakfast with him one morning and made it very clear to me that the ordinariate was completely unnecessary and that the Church needs us as Anglicans,” Venables said. to some friends.
The anecdote led to speculation, almost immediately, that Pope Francis would abolish ordinariates and Anglican use. Of course, the pontiff did not. But for some, the promulgation in 2021 of Traditional custodians revived fear.
On the other hand, the pope’s major policy decision on Anglican ordinariates suggests that he is more accepting of their place in the Church than he once was.
Pope Francis in 2019 published norms that allowed those evangelized by ordinary Catholics to join the ordinariates themselves – even those who had been baptized Catholics in childhood. The pope also clarified that any priest could offer Anglican liturgies if there was a legitimate pastoral need.
In addition, the diocesan plans for the implementation of Traditional custodiansand the the pope’s own commentsall indicate this the pope restricted the extraordinary form of the Mass due to Vatican concerns – although legitimate – that traditionalist communities had become particularly saturated with dissent from Catholic doctrine, most notably for the rejection of the Second Vatican Council.
Anglican ordinariates generally do not carry this baggage – while their members and hierarchs skew Ratzingerian on theological issues, and their liturgy is steeped in sacred language and music, they are not particularly seen as combatants in conflict. liturgical and theological issues that have plagued the Church in recent years.
Regardless of what the pope actually thinks of Anglican ordinariates, there are practical reasons why Francis is not likely to “pull a Traditionis” on the Anglican ordinariates, or their liturgy.
First, unlike the liturgies of the extraordinary form restricted by Traditional custodiansAnglican usage takes place almost entirely within the framework of legal structures – the ordinariates themselves – which essentially exist to protect a liturgical heritage.
To suppress Anglican usage without suppressing ordinariates would not make sense; they would become personal ordinariates with no distinctive patrimony, and therefore nothing that effectively distinguishes them from territorial dioceses. And suppressing the ordinariates is not an easy thing – they have goods that should be dispersed and Catholics who should find new homes.
But above all, they have clerks.
Between the three ordinariates are nearly 200 diocesan priests, all of whom would need to find new places of incardination if Francis were to suppress their liturgical and juridical institutions. And these clerics are not easily incardinated in other dioceses – a hugely disproportionate number of them are married, with children, and obviously supporting them would be a much bigger undertaking than accepting a celibate priest. Even dioceses experiencing major vocation crises realize that the cost of incorporating married priests is not always bearable.
Ordinary married clergy do not, of course, get rich from parish ministry, and many of them are already in a position to find other types of jobs to make ends meet. But whatever challenges they currently face, the ordinariate is probably much better placed to welcome and support them than most American or British dioceses.
In addition, the Church has seen a number of high profile converts in recent years, particularly from Church of England. Anglican bishops and priests are now regularly received into the Church and incorporated into the ordinariate. It would, of course, be shocking to most of them to learn that the structure and arrangement promised to them by the Church – a structure that respected them enough to respect their liturgical customs and traditions – had been cancelled.
Ordinariate clerics said The pillar they believe the narrative among would-be Anglican converts would quickly become that the Church is untrustworthy and does not keep its promises.
But the consequences would not stop there. The real risk of doing away with the ordinariate lies in the area of ecumenism – an area of importance to Pope Francis – where a narrative that says the Church makes promises and triumphantly rescinds them when it chooses, would likely undermine a number of ongoing ecumenical dialogues and joint initiatives.
By some estimates, the abolition of the ordinariate would confirm the most difficult stereotypes for the ecumenical work of the Church – that Rome will say whatever it needs to bond, but ultimately intends to make every believer a variety of garden Latin Catholic.
Of course, it’s unclear whether Pope Francis linked Anglican usage to his thoughts on the existence of a “unique expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite.
And the pope’s most publicized exception to the norms of Traditional custodians is probably the most instructive indicator of what he might be doing. While at least one American bishop has taken a different approachFrancis chose to exempt an incardinating legal structure founded to protect a liturgical patrimony – the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter – from the dictates of Traditionis custodes.
This exemption is probably the best indicator that the pope has no designs on Anglican usage, or the ordinariates that offer it. And after a tumultuous meeting of the world’s Anglican bishops last weekthe Church may soon discover that more of these potential ordinariate members are looking for a familiar home across the Tiber.