Anglicanorum Coetibus: Pass the Groups.

The Apostolic Constitution on Anglicans wishing to become Roman Catholic has been published. There are lots of words on all this. Here are some more.

It is called, "APOSTOLIC CONSTITUTION ANGLICANORUM COETIBUS PROVIDING FOR PERSONAL ORDINARIATES FOR ANGLICANS ENTERING INTO FULL COMMUNION WITH THE CATHOLIC CHURCH." The phrase "Anglicanorum Coetibus" meaning rougly,"on the groups of Anglicans," a phrase also found in the first sentence of the document. The word "Coetibus" means groups in this context but other possibilities include the following,"meeting, encounter, (political or illegal) assembly; union; band, gang, crowd; social intercourse (w/hominium), society, company; sexual intercourse." The matter of "coeti.." apparently has to do with the idea of affiliation, as in people who affiliate with one another or with an brand, or more sexually, who are pelvic affiliates, and much in between.

What makes these groups Anglican? Apparently it is that they affiliate themselves with something like Anglican values, liturgy and so forth. It is not at all necessary for these groups to actually be related to the Anglican Communion, but rather to have some patina of Anglican folkways. The Apostolic Constitution affirms Fr. Tony Clavier's observation, published over on Covenant, in his article "Anglican?". It is worth quoting his remarks at some length:

"During the past year two events challenge this traditional use of the term “Anglican”. The first was the creation of the Anglican Church in North America. The second, this week was the announcement that the Roman Catholic Church is to create Anglican Ordinariates for those who in faith and conscience have either left Provinces or the Anglican Communion or contemplate so doing.

Involved in all this is a linguistic shift of some importance. When I was exercising the episcopate in what is termed now a “continuing church” it was often suggested to me that my ecclesial body could not use the term Anglican in self-description because it was not in communion with Canterbury. When I sought a ruling from +Robert Runcie, then Archbishop of Canterbury he replied that the relationship was “fluid”: a delightful and typically Anglican fudge.

Rome now seems to interpret the term to mean a tradition, an ethos, a way of doing liturgy and perhaps pastoral work, or a cultural-religious phenomenon. In affirming such an interpretation in formal canonical language it does Anglicanism no favor. While “Communion-Anglicans” are struggling with the matter of structural and ecclesial integrity, concerning the breadth and limits of autonomy, Rome issues a Constitution which logically suggests that Anglicanism has no ecclesial and structural integrity at its core, but is rather a “spiritual” and traditional phenomenon, the essence of which may be captured and preserved without reference to what it actually is.

Anglicans should be concerned that we are seen no longer as a Church of Churches, but rather a flavor!"

"Anglicans should be concerned that we are seen no longer as a Church of Churches, but rather as a flavor!"

Exactly so.

The most famous of the groups asking for a home in Rome is the Traditional Anglican Communion which is not at all part of the Anglican Communion. Some bishops, clergy and laity in Churches in the Anglican Communion are apparently interested. In any event the invitation is now out there. Looking at ANGLICANORUM COETIBUS it is easy to see why some consider this a graceful and open invitation. It goes a long way to giving these Anglican-like communities a place in the Roman Church. At the same time it degrades what Churches in the Anglican Communion claim - apostolic succession, valid priesthood, legitimate sacraments, a right to be ordered without the imperial hierarchy of Rome, freedom from the workings of dogmatic excess, and so forth. At the same time all those who have been working for a clearer Anglican sense of unity and self-definition are debunked by a system that will lead systematically to a return in a very few years to the end of this Anglican-like subset of Roman Catholic order.

Much has been said about how Anglican clergy who are married can be transferred over. Perhaps even some seminarians. Nothing has been said about the next generation of clergy, except that "§ 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."

By this I suggest that the Pope means to accept mostly those clergy who are married and come over, but that future clergy will conform to the discipline of celibate clergy. Bye bye married clergy.

The clever solution of the bishop "thing" is to ordain married bishops who come over and give them priest in bishops clothing status, along with all the powers of the bishop as Ordinary, save the ones that set bishops apart from priests. That also is a stop-gap measure. In the end as these former bishops who have "come over" retire or die new "ordinaries" will be named who are part of the "Personal Ordinariates" who are celibate and who can then be full bishops, without the mumbo jumbo of calling up mitered priests.

So the Pope has extended an invitation to Anglican like groups. The more Anglican they are the less likely they will be to accepting the invitation. Either one believes that Anglicans have a legitimate hold on apostolic mission and ministry, on legitimate order and on sound faith, or not. If one believes Anglicans are indeed part of the catholic faith, then this invitation is unnecessary and unbecoming. If one does not believe Anglicans are legit, then the sooner one leaves off being an Anglican affiliate the better.

Fortunately, many of those who would leave for Rome under these conditions have already left, or never were part of, Churches in the Anglican Communion.

If I may say so, speaking simply as an Episcopalian sort of Anglican, we are not an Anglican group. We are an Anglican Church. We don't do that "coetibus" thing. Well, at least not in public.


  1. OK, perhaps I'm just too postmodern for my own good, but I chose to seek ordination as a priest in the Episcopal Church (rather than a Baptist minister or a Presbyterian pastor--my other two choices) because I like it's liturgical and sacramental tradition as well as its threefold focus on scripture, tradition, and reason. Period.

    I have called it a "flavor" of Christianity for most of my life, and I'm not really very concerned about the larger issues of catholicity, validity of Orders, etc... Most of the people my age aren't either. Call me and my colleagues shallow, I guess. I'm just more impressed with the tradition than with the institution. People change churches and barely notice the denominational label. Frankly, if folks want an Anglican-flavored Roman Catholicism, be my guest. I'm happy where I am, but I also recognize that once we pass through the veil into eternity, denominations will cease to exist.

  2. Wow, I know that most people tend to think you change churches without looking at the label. We require a couple of months of classes, and then the discernment period varies (plus there's always a wait for the bishops visit). I wasn't required to take the classes when I returned to TEC, but they sure did nudge me that way and I did take the classes several months after my membership was transferred (conveniently ignoring my transfer to the Methodists). And we are just mid-church.

    Many of us have discussed that the congregationalist attitude so many have in U.S. Anglican-land could be a result of a lax discernment and education process. Who know.

  3. Spot on. A root factor in the assortment of North American secessions is the determination of these people to grasp and to hang on to the cachet that comes with the Brand Name. Designer religion. Has the term AINO - Anglican In Name Only - been floated yet?

  4. These various breakaway churches have been calling themselves Anglican or Episcopal for decades now. That's their own view of themselves, and it seems to make sense to outsiders. It is sort of hard to blame the Pope for it.

    Now is it correct to call AMiA, TAC, etc. "churches" or should I be calling them "groups"? In Episcopalian institutional terminology, that is. I know the Pope wouldn't call them churches, he made that clear several years ago.

  5. Tom, I joined for the same reasons. Historic continuity was important to me but that was not about a narrow definition of apostolic succession; rather it was about a living tradition from the ancient past that continues to grow and develop into the future.

  6. By the very look of it, I knew that "coetibus" was a naughty word.

    Do the Anglicans who are leaning towards Rome realize that the Vatican may change the rules AFTER the Anglicans join the Roman game?

  7. Grandmere Mimi:

    As opposed to what the General Convention has done over the decades?

    Pick your poison, I guess.

    Blessings to those who leave, if that is where their conscience guides them.

    -miserable sinner

  8. Blessings to those who leave, if that is where their conscience guides them.

    Indeed, miserable sinner, I could not agree more. Peace to you.

  9. Mimi,

    No. A coetibus is that thing Khan put in Chekov's ear in the second Star Trek movie to control his mind.

    Makes perfect sense, when you think about Benny da Bavarian.


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