A final version of the apostolic constitution that would allow disaffected Anglicans to come into full communion with the Church has yet to be written, as canonists from around the world continue to iron out some key canonical concerns, the Register has learned.
Church lawyers are grappling with a whole new section of the Code of Canon Law, which will need to be added to ensure the new structures function as planned. The current code is without any reference to the “personal ordinariates,” and so the apostolic constitution is designed to ensure that they mesh with Church law.
The new norms need to set out, for instance, the nature of the relationship between the Anglican bishop in the new structure and the Catholic bishop. However, the promise made by Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, that the apostolic constitution will be published in the next two weeks, still stands.
Once the final text is finalized, one of its fruits may be a major contribution to the re-conversion of England.
Blogger Scott Richert of catholicism.about.com makes an interesting point about its timing. Richert writes:
“Pope Benedict XVI is very sensitive to the message that certain dates send. Summorum Pontificum for instance, was signed on June 29, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, when the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch sends representatives to Rome each year to take part in the celebration of the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul (and sometimes comes himself). The Orthodox have long been concerned about the decline of the liturgy in the Western Church, and the revival of the Traditional Latin Mass was seen as a major step in the right direction.
“Oct. 20 is the feast day of St. Paul of the Cross (1694-1775), the founder of the Passionists. Though St. Paul spent his life in Italy, The Catholic Encyclopedia notes that ‘For fifty years he prayed for the conversion of England, and left the devotion as a legacy to his [spiritual] sons.’ Almost 65 years after his death, the Passionists were first introduced into England, and The Catholic Encyclopedia declares that ‘they came in the spirit of apostles without gold or silver, without scrip or staff or shoes or two coats,’ yet they ‘soon revived without commotion several Catholic customs and practices which had died out since the Reformation. They were the first to adopt strict community life, to wear their habit in public, to give missions and retreats to the people, and to hold public religious processions.’
“All of this may simply be a coincidence. But considering Pope Benedict’s sensitivity to the symbolism of dates, I don’t think so. In any case, on this historic day, we can join St. Paul of the Cross in praying for the conversion of England.”
Backing up Richert’s theory: Monday’s press conference surprisingly went ahead despite the apostolic constitution not being fully ready. Cardinal Levada said the date for the announcement had been set some time ago, and we were told back in July that a date had been fixed, but few, even those closely involved in the process, knew exactly when it would be.