The M+G+R Foundation

About the "Union" Between Rome and the Conservative Anglicans

There is more than meets the eye


We have received three e-mails from a cooperator who for now will remain anonymous. He is well versed in Anglican "theo-politics" as well as in the ultimate plans of the Vatican. Therefore, with the Holy Spirit of God he was able to "connect the dots" right away.

Although this does not change the ultimate plans of the Vatican, being that you are sitting (through The M+G+R Foundation) on the front row seats of the End of These Days, we felt that it would be appropriate to share with you this particular "Act" of this particular "Play".

The Opus Dei/Cardinal Law context of the Vatican's outreach to Anglicans

Comments by contributor: Cardinal Law has his fingerprints all over the "Pastoral Provision" made to Anglo-Catholics in the US, a program that is the precedent for today's overture.
Here is the proof, from the official history of this Provision. The entire text of the page, with bold added by me:
History of the Pastoral Provision by Rev. William H. Stetson

The recent appointment of Archbishop John J. Myers, of Newark, as Ecclesiastical Delegate of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for what has come to be known as the “Pastoral Provision,” is a good time to examine this pastoral work.


 In July 1980 the President of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop John Quinn, received a letter from the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Franjo Seper, indicating that the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, responding to requests received from some priests and laity formerly or actually belonging to the Episcopal Church in the United States, had decided to make a special pastoral provision for their reception into full communion with the Catholic Church. In general terms the decision provided for the ordination of married, former priests coming from the Episcopal Church, and for the creation of personal worship communities which would be allowed to retain elements of the Anglican liturgy. Cardinal Seper’s letter asked the Conference of Bishops to propose a Bishop to the Congregation for appointment as its “Ecclesiastical Delegate” for this work.  Bishop Bernard Law, of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, later Cardinal Archbishop of Boston, was appointed to this position in 1981. Since moving to Rome he has been succeeded by Archbishop John Myers, of Newark.


The decision announced in 1980 was the result of requests addressed to the Holy See from two separate groups of members of the Episcopal Church in the United States:  The American Church Union, headed by the late Canon Albert Dubois; and the Society of the Holy Cross, a priestly fraternity whose superior in the United States was at the time Father James Parker. Canon Dubois represented a small group of Episcopal priests and lay people who had already separated themselves from the Episcopal Church following the 1976 decision of the Episcopal Church to ordain women. Even before the decision to ordain women the American Church Union had as its goal union with Rome for its members and the parishes (grouped in a body called the Pro-Diocese of St. Augustine of Canterbury) that they had created. They sought to retain the Anglican liturgical heritage. The more broadly based Society of the Holy Cross also had as one of its goals union with Rome.


 In 1977 Father Parker, on behalf of some members of the Society of the Holy Cross presented to Rome through the good offices of Bishop Law, then the chairman of the Bishops Committee Ecumenical and Inter-religious Affairs, and the Apostolic Delegate in the United States, Archbishop Jean Jadot, the petition to be allowed to be ordained to the Catholic priesthood with a dispensation from the law of celibacy following entry into full communion. They asked for special consideration regarding the studies required for ordination. In the same year Canon Dubois, accompanied by two other former Episcopal priests Father W.T. St. John Brown and Father John Barker, traveled to Rome where they met with Cardinal Franjo Seper, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (whose English secretary at the time was Msgr. William Levada).  They presented Cardinal Seper their request for ordination as Catholic priests and the establishment of their parishes with special liturgical practices deriving from the Anglican tradition.


The initial reaction of the Congregation, though rejecting the idea of any kind of “ritual diocese” was basically favorable.  Before reaching a definitive decision, however, Cardinal Seper requested the Conference of Catholic Bishops’ opinion regarding the question of allowing the ordination of married men. The Conference, at its May meeting in 1978 voted affirmatively and so informed the Holy See. There the matter stood when Paul VI died in August and later John Paul I in September.  Finally in 1980 the entire matter was presented to John Paul II and he gave his assent to the decision that was communicated to the president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishop in the United States.


At his appointment as Ecclesiastical Delegate Bishop Law was directed to develop a proposal containing elements for the pastoral provision for submission to the Holy See, to oversee its implementation and to deal with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in questions pertaining to the admission of former Episcopalian clergy unto the Catholic Priesthood.  With the help of a number of consulters (among which were the then rector of Holy Trinity Seminary in Dallas, now Archbishop Michael Sheehan, of Santa Fe and myself) Bishop Law defined the process by which married, former Episcopal ministers could become priests sponsored by a diocesan bishop. The process includes the gathering of information by the candidate and his sponsoring bishop concerning his suitability for ordination. This information is then submitted to the Holy See through the Ecclesiastical Delegate. To this is added the academic assessment and certification of each candidate by a body of theologians established by the Ecclesiastical Delegate. This process (in which I have been involved from the beginning) was approved by the Congregation and has led to the ordination in the Catholic Church of over eighty former Episcopal clergymen. Presently, due to the confusion in the Episcopal Church the number of inquiries from Catholic bishops on behalf of Episcopal clergymen, has seen a considerable increase.


On the question of the liturgy, the 1980 decision specified that “the group may retain certain elements of the Anglican liturgy; these are to be determined by a commission of the Congregation set up for this purpose.”  Such a commission was set up in conjunction with the Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship in 1983. The work of this commission resulted in the approval of the Book of Divine Worship to be used in the parishes and worship communities of former Episcopalians. In 1983 a commission of canonists, including Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua established the guidelines for the creation by diocesan bishops of personal parishes and worship communities of former Episcopalians in which the special liturgy may be used. Seven such parishes/communities are presently functioning in different areas of the United States.


How might we assess the success of the Pastoral Provision after its 25 year History? The answer is quite well, according to a survey of Catholic Bishops and former Episcopal priests, done at the request of Cardinal Law two years ago.  Does that mean that its work could not be improved? Two anecdotes may help to see some of the problems inherent in the “cultural difference” between the two situations. When asked the difference between being an Episcopalian priest and a Catholic priest, one former Episcopalian priest answered, “about twenty thousand dollars.”  The financial arrangements for Catholic clergy are not suited to the needs of married men. This is a topic that needs further study and on which bishops sponsoring candidates need guidance.


Another difference brings additional challenges to the married priest in the Catholic Church, that is the size of the flock. The average parish in the Episcopal Church might have less than 200 families; in the Catholic Church parishes of over a thousand are common. Even though the married priest is prohibited from having the ordinary care of souls in a parochial setting nevertheless his work load as a Catholic priest will usually be much greater, whether as a hospital chaplain or campus minister. Indeed, helping in a parish on the weekend, as most of them do, can be very time intensive. This can, and has, led to serious repercussions on married life. The pastoral care of priests’ wives is a new topic for the Catholic diocesan bishop.


There are other “cultural” issues that have to be taken into consideration. Such might be the “integration” of the priest’s wife into his relationship with the diocesan presbyterate and his pastoral assignment; the “integration” of a personal parish using the Anglican tradition liturgy into the diocesan community; the length of term for the pastors of the “common identity” parishes (the phrase Anglican Use, though frequently employed is not an approved usage) These are some of the ones that occur to me from my years of experience.


We might end by asking where the “Pastoral Provision” is likely to go from where it is now. From the beginning the Holy See and the bishops of the United States view the “Pastoral Provision” as a pastoral response to the needs of a category of Christian faithful seeking full communion with the See of Peter. The ordination of married men is an exception granted on a case by case basis to former clergymen of the Episcopal Church (an exception now also extended to non-Episcopal ministers, although not through the “Pastoral Provision.) It is clear in everyone’s mind that this is not a proving ground for optional celibacy in the Catholic Church. In fact, the special challenges of a married clergy mentioned above and recently pointed out by bishops of the Eastern Catholic Churches show the value of the norm of celibacy for the sake of the kingdom in the Western Church. More importantly, the growing crisis of theological and moral authority both in the Episcopal Church and in other Protestant denominations is likely to result in a new wave of priests, ministers and lay people seeking the sure home of the Catholic Church. They will bring to the Catholic Church the sound Christian traditions that have sustained them since the Protestant Reformation: a love for Sacred Scripture; joy in singing to the Lord; eagerness to spread the Word of God; and from the Anglicans a long and rich history of English in the liturgy. Perhaps the Pastoral Provision has served till now as the harbinger of this new springtime for Christianity in the United States.



Reverend William H. Stetson, JCD

Secretary to the Ecclesiastical Delegate

for the Pastoral Provision

Source:  History


Comments by contributor:  So, Law and Levada were in at the creation of this Provision, decades ago. As for William H. Stetson, he is in good favor with Opus Dei... read on:

By decree of the Prelate, the following appointments have been made:

August 4, 2007 Adriana Veneri
Member of the Council of the Delegation of Rome;

September 11, 2007 Rev. William Hamsphire Stetson
Secretary Vicar of the Delegation of Texas;

Source: Opus Dei. Romana Bulletin - Appoinments (Prelate)

Comments by contributor:  Wikipedia gives more background on Stetson  - his career reads like the quintessential Opus Dei star's track record. I did not bold any of this, since I would end up putting almost all of it in bold. This man's career speaks for itself.

William H. Stetson is a Roman Catholic priest of the Prelature of Opus Dei ordained in 1962. He is an honorary prelate of the Pope with the title of Reverend Monsignor. He presently lives in Houston, TX.

Msgr. Stetson is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, during which time he became a numerary of the Prelature of Opus Dei. He later earned a doctorate in Canon Law from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) in Rome. He taught for several years on the faculty of Canon Law at the University of Navarre, where he also was involved in establishing the School of Liberal Arts. For seventeen years, Msgr. Stetson was the vicar of Opus Dei in Chicago , during which time priests of the Prelature of Opus Dei were entrusted with operating a parish of the Archdiocese of Chicago, St. Mary of the Angels, and renovating one of the Archdiocese's largest church buildings.

Msgr. Stetson was appointed Director of the Catholic Information Center in Washington, DC, by Theodore Cardinal McCarrick in 2004. He succeeded Fr. C. John McCloskey who had been director since 1998. The operation of the Center has been entrusted to priests of the Prelature of Opus Dei since 1993. In fall of 2007, Msgr. Stetson left as head of the Catholic Information Center. It is now under the direction of Fr. Arne A. Panula, S.T.D.

Since 1983 Monsignor Stetson has also served as consultant and later secretary to the Ecclesiastical Delegate of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for the Pastoral Provision[1] for former Episcopal priests, by means of which over a hundred men have been ordained for priestly service in the Roman Catholic Church. He maintains a Pastoral Provision Office at Our Lady of Walsingham parish, an Anglican Use congregation in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. He also assists at the Holy Cross Chapel in downtown Houston, and resides at Chaucer Drive Study Center in Rice Village.

Source: William H. Stetson - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Comments by contributor:  Conservative Anglicans need to look Rome's gift horse in the mouth, very closely.

SECOND E-MAIL - A left-wing Episcopal clergywoman comments on Vatican plan

Comments by contributor:  FYI, from the blog of Elizabeth Kaeton, a very left-wing Episcopal priest. Quote, with bold added by me:
There came in this morning's mail an announcement from Lambeth Palace concerning the "special and different" set up of the pseudo-Church that Pope Bennie has set up for "disaffected Anglicans.

This is, perhaps, yet another strategy for dealing with the shortage of Roman Catholic priests.

Seems that +Rowan and +Vincent have put their seal of approval on the deal. Read and weep - or, rejoice, as the case may be:

Pope Benedict XVI has approved, within the Apostolic Constitution, a canonical structure that provides for Personal Ordinariates, which will allow former Anglicans to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of distinctive Anglican spiritual patrimony.

The "close cooperation" is that married Anglican priests may now become Roman priests, but not bishops. They seem to be saving that particular office for closeted, gay, Anglo-Catholic men.

Comments by contributor:  NCR (National Catholic Reporter) is also carrying the story with this interesting note: "One apparent implication of today's announcement is that the current leader of the Traditional Anglican Communion, Australian Anglican Archbishop John Hepworth, could not be recognized as a bishop in a new personal ordinariate. Hepworth, a former Catholic priest, has been married twice and has three children."

Source: Telling Secrets

Comments by contributor:  Given what I know of Anglo-Catholicism and some of its leaders, the comment in red above is a good forecast of what will come, if this new venture gets off the ground.

THIRD E-MAIL- Evidence of unusual haste in the Vatican/Anglican initiative

Comments by contributor:   FYI, more on the Anglican initiative from Rome.  This is a column by Ruth Gledhill, a generally reliable reporter on Anglican affairs in the UK  and by Richard Owen, another experienced reporter on religion.
Here is the whole thing, with some bolding to emphasize the haste with which this seems to have been announced:

October 20, 2009

Vatican moves to poach traditional Anglicans

The Roman Catholic Church today moved to poach thousands of traditional Anglicans who are dismayed by growing acceptance of gays and women priests and bishops.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams admitted that he had been caught out after Pope Benedict XVI announced a new “Apostolic Constitution” to provide a legal framework for the many thousands of Anglicans and former Anglicans who wish “to enter into full visible communion with the Roman Catholic Church”.

The announcement paves the way for thousands of Anglicans worldwide to join the Roman Catholic church while maintaining elements of their own spiritual heritage.

Although Dr Williams knew that talks had been taking place in Rome, he was unaware until two weeks ago of the radical nature of the proposals being drawn up by Rome.

Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who hosted a simultaneous press conference in Rome this morning, visited London only last weekend to inform Dr Williams and the English Catholic bishops of what was being proposed.

Normally, talks between the two churches are conducted under the auspices of the Holy See’s Council for Christian Unity and it is significant that they have been left out of the new plans.

The constitution, a canonical structure, will provide “personal ordinariates” that will allow Anglicans to “set up church” within the Catholic church while retaining elements of their former ecclesiastical identity, such as Anglican liturgies and vestments.

Traditionalists, including up to six Church of England bishops, had visited and pleaded with Rome to provide some sort of structure inside the Catholic Church for their wing of the Church of England because of liberal moves towards women bishops and gay ordinations.

One aspect of the announcement by Rome is that it clears the way for women bishops in the Church of England.

The General Synod and Parliament are unlikely to approve a legal structure to “protect” Anglo-Catholics from being “tainted” by the hands of a woman, if Rome is showing them an open door.

By virtue of his presence at the press conference in London by the Catholic Church, Dr Williams, who had been enjoying a half-term holiday with his family, was in effect giving his blessing to the new plans.

Dr Williams, who will visit Rome in November, said that the announcement did not disrupt “business as usual” in relations between the two churches.

He said that it would be a “serious mistake” to view the development as a response to the difficulties within the Anglican Communion.

It was aimed at people who had reached a “conscientious conviction that visible unity with the Holy See was now what God was calling them to”, he said.

“It is not a secret that in this country the ordination of women as bishops is one of those test issues,” he added.

The proposals will also regularise the place of former Anglicans in the US who already worship under the auspices of the US Catholic bishops by bringing them also into the new, central canonical structure of the Apostolic Constitution.

Keith Porteus-Wood, of the National Secular Society, said: “This is a mortal blow to Anglicanism which will inevitably lead to disestablishment as the Church shrinks yet further and become increasingly irrelevant. Rowan Williams has failed dismally in his ambitions to avoid schism. His refusal to take a principled moral stand against bigotry has left his Church in tatters. Time for him to go.”

Cardinal Levada said that the forthcoming Apostolic Constitution would provide “a reasonable and even necessary response to a world-wide phenomenon” that would “balance in the one hand the concern to preserve the worthy Anglican liturgical and spiritual patrimony and on the other hand the concern that these groups and their clergy will be integrated into the Catholic Church.”

Asked if the move posed a threat to ecumenism, he replied: “Certainly not”.

He said: “The unity of the Church does nor require a uniformity that ignores cultural diversity, as the history of Christianity shows.” He said however that it would be “inappropriate” for him to comment on whether the move would weaken the Anglican church.

He added: “It is the hope of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, that the Anglican clergy and faithful who desire union with the Catholic Church will find in this canonical structure the opportunity to preserve those Anglican traditions precious to them and consistent with the Catholic faith.”

Archbishop Augustine DiNoia, former under-secretary at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said that although moves to mend the split between Anglicanism and Rome had begun nearly fifty years ago, “our prayers for unity are being answered in ways we did not anticipate, and the Holy See cannot not respond to this movement of the Holy Spirit for those who wish communion and whose tradition is to be valued.”

There were signs of haste at the Vatican press conference, which was only announced on Monday evening instead of several days ahead, as is the usual practice. Cardinal Levada apologised for not wearing full cardinal’s vestments but said that he had only returned to Rome at midnight after briefing the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales yesterday.

Source: Vatican moves to poach traditional Anglicans


Comments by Contributor: I wonder what the rush is? Does B16 expect something to happen imminently that requires that this be done NOW, regardless of normal protocol or little details like making Levada take a late night flight?
Maybe God is making the bad guys hurry, and in their haste, the OD camp will make unexpected blunders. 

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