Clarification on Anglicans and married priests

Cardinal William J. Levada

Cardinal William J. Levada (CNS/Reuters)

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican has denied that the delay in publishing the apostolic constitution on Anglicans seeking admission to the Catholic Church has been caused by an internal Vatican debate over admitting married priests.

On Oct. 20, the Vatican announced that Pope Benedict XVI had established the new plan, which would establish “personal ordinariates” — similar to dioceses — to oversee the pastoral care of those who want to bring elements of their Anglican identity into the Catholic Church with them.

At that time, the Vatican said the apostolic constitution detailing the arrangement would be published soon. It said the document was being briefly delayed by translation and technical reasons.

Italian press reports in recent days, however, blamed the delay on problems regarding the celibacy issue, in particular whether married Anglicans could be trained as Catholic seminarians.

In announcing the plan, Vatican officials made it clear that Anglican priests who are married may be ordained Catholic priests, but that married Anglican bishops would not be allowed to function as Catholic bishops. They also indicated that married Anglican seminarians would be allowed to be ordained.

The Vatican clarification confirmed that married former Anglican ministers would be admitted to priestly ministry, on a case by case basis. It said the question of married seminarians would have to be worked out jointly by the personal ordinariate and the local bishops’ conference, and would be submitted for approval of the Vatican.

Here is the full text of the clarification issued today by the Vatican press office:


There has been widespread speculation, based on supposedly knowledgeable remarks by an Italian correspondent Andrea Tornielli, that the delay in publication of the Apostolic Constitution regarding Personal Ordinariates for Anglicans entering into full communion with the Catholic Church, announced on October 20, 2009, by Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is due to more than “technical” reasons. According to this speculation, there is a serious substantial issue at the basis of the delay, namely, disagreement about whether celibacy will be the norm for the future clergy of the Provision.

Cardinal Levada offered the following comments on this speculation: “Had I been asked I would happily have clarified any doubt about my remarks at the press conference. There is no substance to such speculation. No one at the Vatican has mentioned any such issue to me. The delay is purely technical in the sense of ensuring consistency in canonical language and references. The translation issues are secondary; the decision not to delay publication in order to wait for the ‘official’ Latin text to be published in Acta Apostolicae Sedis was made some time ago.

The drafts prepared by the working group, and submitted for study and approval through the usual process followed by the Congregation, have all included the following statement, currently Article VI of the Constitution:

§1 Those who ministered as Anglican deacons, priests, or bishops, and who fulfill the requisites established by canon law and are not impeded by irregularities or other impediments may be accepted by the Ordinary as candidates for Holy Orders in the Catholic Church. In the case of married ministers, the norms established in the Encyclical Letter of Pope Paul VI Sacerdotalis coelibatus, n. 42 and in the Statement “In June” are to be observed. Unmarried ministers must submit to the norm of clerical celibacy of CIC can. 277, §1.

§2. The Ordinary, in full observance of the discipline of celibate clergy in the Latin Church, as a rule (pro regula) will admit only celibate men to the order of presbyter. He may also petition the Roman Pontiff, as a derogation from can. 277, §1, for the admission of married men to the order of presbyter on a case by case basis, according to objective criteria approved by the Holy See.

This article is to be understood as consistent with the current practice of the Church, in which married former Anglican ministers may be admitted to priestly ministry in the Catholic Church on a case by case basis. With regard to future seminarians, it was considered purely speculative whether there might be some cases in which a dispensation from the celibacy rule might be petitioned. For this reason, objective criteria about any such possibilities (e.g. married seminarians already in preparation) are to be developed jointly by the Personal Ordinariate and the Episcopal Conference, and submitted for approval of the Holy See.”

Cardinal Levada said he anticipates the technical work on the Constitution and Norms will be completed by the end of the first week of November.

‘Foul ball,’ writes Archbishop Dolan — and he’s not talking about baseball

In an Oct. 29 posting on his new blog, Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan writes: “October is the month we relish the high point of our national pastime, especially when one of our own New York teams is in the World Series! Sadly, America has another national pastime, this one not pleasant at all: anti-Catholicism.”

The archbishop’s posting is a longer version of a piece he said he submitted to The New York Times as an op-ed article, but the newspaper “declined to publish it.” He points out several news stories from the last couple of weeks in the secular press as “evidence of this unfairness against the Catholic Church.”

Priest goes country, writes bluegrass Mass

“There was some Catholic toe tapping to the strains of banjo and fiddle” as the first bluegrass Mass was celebrated recently “exactly where it belonged: the ‘birthplace of country music,’ Bristol, Virginia,” according to a story written by Jean Denton in The Catholic Virginian, newspaper of the Diocese of Richmond, Va.

We learn how Father Edward Richard, a bluegrass musician and a professor and vice rector of Kenrick Seminary in St. Louis, brought bluegrass musicians together at St. Anne’s Catholic Church to help him lead worship through the music he composed for the “Saint Anne Rhythm and Roots Heritage Mass.”

The Mass was the brainchild of St. Anne’s pastor, Father Timothy Keeney.

Mother Teresa’s ‘dark night’ inspires Long Island Catholics

For all of you out there who were astonished by the revelation that Blessed Mother Teresa experienced periods of spiritual “darkness,” read what one professor of moral theology says about what that meant for the woman who founded the Missionaries of Charity. The article — written by Mary Gorry — appears in The Long Island Catholic, newspaper of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, N.Y.

Outdoor Mass recalls 12 priests who arrived in Florida in 1539

Bishop Frank J. Dewane of the Diocese of Venice, Fla., combined a diocesan “Year of Celebration” and the international “Year for Priests” Oct. 22 in a Mass dedicated to all priests who have served in Florida, including the 12 priests and friars who accompanied the 1539 Hernado de Soto expedition to the area.

The Mass was concelebrated by 10 other priests at the Holy Eucharistic Memorial on the shores of the Manatee River at Riverview Pointe Preserve and the De Soto National Memorial in Bradenton, Fla.

The diocese has posted a news item about the event on its Web site. (Scroll down to the second item.)

The Holy Eucharist memorial  features an obelisk carved with symbols of the Holy Trinity.

Mass at DeSoto National Memorial

Photo courtesy of Venice Diocese

There is also a 60-foot memorial cross that was added to the site in ’95 in memory of the priests who accompanied de Soto — the Spanish explorer who led an expedition of  Florida — and in memomy of the Native Americans who inhabited the area.

Bishop Dewane was commemorating the Diocese of Venice’s 25th anniversary as a diocese, and tied in Pope Benedict XVI’s designation of the “Year for Priests,” which runs until June 19, 2010.

Commander Cibin, rest in peace

VATICAN CITY — Commander Camillo Cibin, the man known as the pope’s “guardian angel” for more than 40 years, died yesterday at the age of 83.

Camillo Cibin and Pope John Paul II

Commander Cibin (center) controls participants at World Youth Day 2000 in Rome as they reach out to Pope John Paul II. (CNS)

The funeral Mass for the former head of Vatican security and chief papal bodyguard will be celebrated tomorrow evening in St. Peter’s Basilica by Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, head of the office governing Vatican City State.

Cibin retired in 2006 just a couple days before his 80th birthday. And up until the minute he retired, he stood alongside the pope or ran alongside the popemobile protecting his boss.

He began his career at the Vatican in 1947 and worked his way up to being director of security services and civil protection for Vatican City State.

He was in charge of security during the Second Vatican Council and the conclaves that elected Popes John Paul I, John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. He was the chief papal bodyguard on all the foreign trips made by Pope Paul and Pope John Paul II and the first two made by Pope Benedict.

Retired Cardinal Roberto Tucci, who organized many of those 115 foreign trips, told Vatican Radio today: “His dedication, including his physical dedication, was total up until the very end. He maintained great physical and mental strength, was always aware, always available and, especially, very humble. He was not a man who put on airs. Ever.”

The cardinal said Cibin was an exemplary human being, someone to be remembered “with admiration and with the hope that the church will continue to find similar kinds of people.”

The commander was running alongside Pope John Paul’s popemobile in St. Peter’s Square May 13, 1981, when Mehmet Ali Agca shot the pope. While the director of the Italian police detail assigned to St. Peter’s Square jumped into the popemobile, Cibin apprehended the Turkish gunman.

The Vatican newspaper this evening said that as soon as Pope John Paul recovered from the shooting, Cibin offered to resign. But Pope John Paul refused to let him go and Cibin stayed for another 25 years.

Even in tough economic times, people give

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul — whose members are quite familiar with the effects of the world financial crisis on the poor — has some good news to report. Its second annual Friends of the Poor Walk raised more than $1.2 million, a more than 50 percent increase over the inaugural year. More than 16,000 people participated in 36 states.  Read the full report on the Catholic agency’s special day here.

Catholic journalist is more than embedded

Neil McCabe, a reporter for The Pilot newspaper in the Archdiocese of Boston, is experiencing the war in Iraq from the inside. But he’s not just embedded as a journalist; he’s a soldier. You can read about what he’s found in Iraq, including the challenge of receiving the sacraments, here.

Don’t stop the presses yet, says columnist

Writing for our friends UCA News in Asia, Maryknoll Father William Grimm writes about the future of Catholic journalism. In an editorial titled “Don’t stop the presses — yet,” Father Grimm writes that the electronic age is upon us, and “every editor’s desk should have on it a picture of a tombstone with the name of his or her publication on it.”

“The demise of the Catholic press is inevitable,” he writes, “but, at least in Asia, it may still be a bit early to make funeral arrangements.”

However, he notes, “the role of Catholic journalism shall remain, even though the mode of delivery will change.” Read the full column here.

Year for Priests: Rome as evangelization machine

By Paulist Father Tom Holahan
One in a series

ROME — The recent announcement that the Vatican will allow Anglicans to continue their “traditional spiritual practices” in the Catholic Church has started people thinking: Catholicism now has a formal way to accommodate a married priesthood for a very specific group of people. What more might unfold? Whatever the long-term outcome, this announcement is a milestone in the Year for Priests.

It’s no coincidence that next year’s beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman, Gordon Brown’s invitation to the pope to visit Britain and easing the journey to Rome for interested Anglicans have all come about together. Work in many departments of the Vatican has converged, setting the stage for a spectacular new era in ecumenism.

On the far horizon is the speculation that Cardinal Newman could be named a doctor of the church, underscoring his contributions to “development of doctrine” and conscience. Whether Europe is ready or not, plans for its re-evangelization are on track.

Rome, in its way, is a 500-year-old evangelization machine. The buildings and art created as a response to the Protestant critique still call to people who are searching and create a mood of reflection. Just before I arrived in Rome, I met an industrial psychologist who was a Christian but now follows a Native American practice. He told me that, when he went to the Vatican, sunbeams from the dome of the church hit Michelangelo’s Pieta and brought tears to his eyes.

A week ago I heard from two nuns, dressed in habits, who were stopped on the street by a Japanese tourist. She wanted to know, could they possibly spare a few moments to explain Christianity to her? Yesterday a Syrian found his way to our English-speaking church (he knew no Italian) asking the same question. He told me he had no particular faith, but he had been impressed with the Syrian Orthodox while in his own country and now, before he had to leave the country because of a document problem, he wanted to find out more. He asked his questions urgently, “And, so, Jesus was the Son of God?” “He promised eternal life?” Searching Americans approach the faith issue differently. One recently told me he “gave up on God” when the Supreme Being did not cure his depression and taking a little pill did. I said there may come a time when something can’t be fixed, then what?

Rome Diary

Oct 3 – A wedding in a secret chapel of the Pantheon brings me within range of the seventh-century icon that is preserved there. The dark, rough plank has the serene Mary holding, with both hands, a child who looks out upon the world with wonder and apprehension. Later icon painters would have to follow strict rules on portrayal but here the artist was free to express exactly what came from his heart. The image has survived so much danger and destruction — what better image to have before two people ready to put their lives in each others’ care? When emperor Phocas agreed to give the church ownership of the Pantheon (609) it was a way both of saving the most complete remnant of the Roman Empire and also a dramatic statement of Christian triumph – the building formerly dedicated to the gods would now be dedicated to Mary and the Christian martyrs. As I leave, the sacristan reminds me it is the 1,400th anniversary of the Pantheon as a church and the pope has offered a plenary indulgence to all who attend Mass here during the month of October. The building is so old and well-loved, this seems the perfect anniversary gift – complete forgiveness of punishment for past sins.

Oct. 3 – Today at school the second grade is learning about the Eucharist. Some of them are, that is. The Muslim children are out of the room at another activity, except for one boy who carefully explains to me that he does not have to answer any of my questions because he is Muslim. My lesson is based on a picture of the sanctuary. I point to something and ask the class what it is. I go through one or two things and on my third question the Muslim boy can stand it no longer. “That’s the tabernacle!” he declares. And he is right.

Fresco (detail) of Santa Susanna

Fresco (detail) of Santa Susanna

Oct 8 — It’s been almost a year since a group of pilgrims from Sardinia visited the Church of Santa Susanna. This devotion goes back to the time when slaves of Susanna’s household fled to Sardinia to find a new life as workers in the island’s silver and salt mines. Today a group arrives from Torre Santa Susanna (near modern Brindisi), the town where the freedmen and guards of the same household took refuge 1,700 years ago. Sometimes, young Susanna seems an insignificant saint among the city’s so many other accomplished luminaries. These pilgrims bring me back to the fervor of unwavering devotion as I recall that our Sardinian visitors had even sung a hymn to Santa Susanna handed down to them over the centuries.

Father Thomas J. Holahan, CSP, was ordained for the Paulist Fathers in 1977. Since 2006 he has served as vice-rector at the Church of Santa Susanna in Rome. This church was designated for Americans in Rome by the Vatican in 1922. He is also chaplain to Marymount International School. Previously, he has worked in campus ministry at the University of Colorado (Boulder), the University of California (Berkeley) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has also served as communications director for the dioceses of Austin, Texas, and Columbus, Ohio.

Click here for more in this series.


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