Saturday, February 26, 2011

Ambiguity in Anglicanorum Coetibus

A lot of the criticism of Anglicanorum coetibus (besides the basic criticism that it's a sheep stealing venture) has been directed towards the vagueness with which the constitution speaks of Anglican identity.  The following concern falls generally into this criticism of vagueness, although its implications strike me as more serious for the establishment of these personal ordinariates than other points that have been raised.

Who, exactly, is the pope intending to address in this document?

The opening line from which the title is taken speaks of "Anglicanorum coetibus"... "groups of Anglicans" in the English.  Yet in I. §4 we read that the ordinariates are made up of those "originally belonging to the Anglican Communion and now in full communion with the Catholic Church".   

Saying that membership in the ordinariate requires initial membership in the Anglican Communion is a good deal more specific than speaking of "groups of Anglicans" more generally.  And the distinction is relevant given that the petitioning Anglican groups referenced in the opening line of the constitution are, in large part,  the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC)- surely a group of Anglicans, but not Anglicans belonging to the Anglican Communion.

The only thing that seems to signal a solution to the problem is the phrase "originally belonging".  Insofar as traditionalist Anglican bodies originated in the Anglican Communion before breaking away to form their own groups, perhaps they are adequately included in the description of I. §4.  But even here, it's not clear who is being addressed.  I. §4 speaks on a rather individualist level... of laity, clerics, members of orders... is it appropriate to assume that the constitution is speaking of groups like TAC in their entirety as originally belonging to the Anglican Communion?  Or must every converting member to the ordinariate demonstrate such an individual pedigree?  

And even here the reference to original belonging isn't clear.  The actual text reads "qui olim ad Anglicanam Communionem pertinebant et nunc plena cum Ecclesia Catholica communione fruuntur"

Now, Latinists can correct me, but I gather that "olim" speaks of those belonging to the Anglican Communion at one time or previously, rather than "originally". Other translations seem to follow the English, though ("ursprünglich zur Anglikanischen Gemeinschaft gehörten"; "appartenaient à l'origine à la Communion anglicane"; "originariamente appartenenti alla Comunione Anglicana"; etc.).  These discrepancies may be less damaging for the intentions of constitution (indeed, the Latin version seems less restrictive than the translated versions).  But the ambiguity remains disconcerting.


1 comment:

  1. Some helpful discussion is going on at English Catholic in response to this post, for any who are interested.