"The Preachers chiefly shall take heed that they teach nothing in their preaching, which they would have the people religiously to observe and believe, but that which is agreeable to the Doctrine of the Old Testament and the New, and that which the Catholick Fathers and Ancient Bishops have gathered out of that Doctrine." A proposed canon of Elizabeth I, 1571

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Location: Bedford, Texas, United States

I am a presbyter in the diocese of Fort Worth, Texas (Anglican Church in North America). I serve as Chaplain at St. Vincent's School and as a canon of St. Vincent's Cathedral Church in Bedford, Texas. In addition to my parish duties and teaching Religion classes in the school I am also the Middle School Social Studies teacher.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Major News from the Vatican about Anglican Use Expansion and Structure--UPDATED

There will no doubt be many of my brother priests here in Fort Worth who will rejoice mightily at this news. And I am happy that some of them may find it easier to accomplish what they have longed for--immediate and full reunion with the see of Rome.

Long-time readers of this blog will recall that I have frequently said, however, that my own convictions are thoroughly Anglican on the matters that have sadly divided us from our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters. Reunion with the bishop of Rome is not in the cards for me so long as papal infallibility is still the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. So my joy for those friends of mine who have been hoping for this is mixed with trepidation at what this might mean for the future of my own diocese and that of the ACNA. Time will tell. Let us all pray for wisdom.

The Vatican's clarifying statement may be read in its entirety here.

Here is the AP story out of Rome this morning:

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI has created a new church structure for Anglicans who want to join the Catholic Church, responding to the disillusionment of some Anglicans over the ordination of women and the election of openly gay bishops.

The new provision will allow Anglicans to join the Catholic Church while maintaining their Anglican identity and many of their liturgical traditions, Cardinal William Levada, the Vatican's chief doctrinal official, told a news conference.

The new church structure, called Personal Ordinariates, will be units of faithful within the local Catholic Church headed by former Anglican prelates who will provide spiritual care for Anglicans who wish to become Catholic.

"Those Anglicans who have approached the Holy See have made clear their desire for full, visible unity in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church," Levada said. "At the same time, they have told us of the importance of their Anglican traditions of spirituality and worship for their faith journey."

Levada said the new canonical structure is a response to the many requests that have come to the Vatican over the years from Anglicans who have become increasingly disillusioned with the ordination of women, the election of openly gay bishops and the blessing of same-sex unions in the 77-million strong Anglican Communion. He declined to give figures on the number of requests that have come to the Vatican, or on the anticipated number of Anglicans who might take advantage of the new structure.

The new canonical provision allows married Anglican priests to become ordained Catholic priests — much the same way that Eastern rite priests who are in communion with Rome are allowed to be married. However, married Anglicans couldn't become Catholic bishops.

The Vatican announcement immediately raised questions about how it would be received within the Anglican Communion and the prospects for continued ecumenical talks between the Vatican and Archbishop of Canterbury.

Noticeably, no one from the Vatican's office on relations with Anglicans and other Christians attended the news conference; Levada said he had invited representatives to attend but they said they were all away from Rome.

However, the Vatican's archbishop of Westminster and Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and spiritual head of the global Anglican church, issued a joint statement, saying the decision "brings an end to a period of uncertainty" for Anglicans wishing to join the Catholic Church. The statement said the decision in fact could not have happened had there not been such fruitful dialogue between the two.

"The ongoing official dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion provides the basis for our continuing cooperation," the joint statement said.

The announcement was kept under wraps until the last moment: The Vatican only announced Levada's briefing Monday night, and Levada only flew back to Rome after finalizing the details at midnight.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fr Foster - for this lay person and any others, perhaps you could explain what Papal Infallibility is and why many do not believe in it? Thank you.


8:42 AM  
Anonymous Ron Turner said...

Check out this explanation:

9:07 AM  
Blogger texanglican said...


Perhaps the best quick way to describe papal infallibility is to quote the Catechism of the Catholic Church. These paragraphs are relevant:

"889. In order to preserve the Church in the purity of the faith handed on by the apostles, Christ who is the Truth willed to confer on her a share in his own infallibility. By a "supernatural sense of faith" the People of God, under the guidance of the Church's living Magisterium, "unfailingly adheres to this faith."

890 The mission of the Magisterium is linked to the definitive nature of the covenant established by God with his people in Christ. It is this Magisterium's task to preserve God's people from deviations and defections and to guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error. Thus, the pastoral duty of the Magisterium is aimed at seeing to it that the People of God abides in the truth that liberates. To fulfill this service, Christ endowed the Church's shepherds with the charism of infallibility in matters of faith and morals. The exercise of this charism takes several forms:

891 "The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful - who confirms his brethren in the faith he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals. . . . The infallibility promised to the Church is also present in the body of bishops when, together with Peter's successor, they exercise the supreme Magisterium," above all in an Ecumenical Council. When the Church through its supreme Magisterium proposes a doctrine "for belief as being divinely revealed," and as the teaching of Christ, the definitions "must be adhered to with the obedience of faith."This infallibility extends as far as the deposit of divine Revelation itself."

RWF resumes: The doctrine of papal infallibilty was formally promulgated as dogma by the RCC in 1871 based upon the holdings of the First Vatican Council (though claims for it had been very common for many centuries before that). The Eastern Orthodox Churches (Russian, Greece, Serbia, etc) have never accepted these claims by the popes, however, either in antiquity or today. Through my study of Church history I have become convinced that the Bishops of Rome developed their doctrine of infallibility during the collapse of the western Roman empire in the late antique period and that it did not reach its full stature until well into the Middle Ages. This late historical development of "infallibility" in the office of pope is, therefore, neither the teaching found in Scripture nor in the primitive Church, IMHO. Its late historical emergence, coupled with the East's steadfast refusal to recognize the Pope's claim to speack infallibly ex cathedra, means IMHO that papal infallibility is not and never has been the teaching of the Universal Church. Hence I sadly cannot submit to the Roman Pontiff in good conscience today.

9:18 AM  
Blogger ejwilson said...

Fr Foster,

It's sad to hear that you are setting terms for what it would take for you to enter into full communion with the Church. If only they would do one thing...

You know as well as anyone what happens when a Church doesn't have an earthly head. Would you want Rome to resemble your Anglican Communion in its poverty of leadership?

And your criterion for historical basis is a misunderstanding of tradition and limits the ability of the Holy Spirit to work within us.

9:44 AM  
Anonymous Brian Edward Miles said...

Greetings Father:

I found this explanation of infallibility from Mark Shea to be especially helpful. I realize that it does not address your historical concerns, but I feel he offers some insightful clarity on precisely what the Church means by infallibility, and what she does not. It is a dogma rooted in humilty rather than superiority as so many tend to characterize it. Hope you do not mind me sharing these "Romish" apologies here.

God Bless You,


"What we must realize is that the Church (like her Lord) is interested in freedom, not tyranny. She has a few things she insists her children agree on so that they may be free to argue their heads off about nearly everything else. Nor does infallibility mean never having to say you're sorry (which is why all Catholics do so in every penitential rite at every mass in the world). The Church is not infallible because everybody in the Church from the Pope to the dog catcher is perfect, but because nobody in the Church, Pope to dog catcher, is perfect. God holds the Church's hand every step of the way and makes sure she doesn't spill the wine of revelation, not because we are dexterous and holy, but because we are all such sinful klutzes that, without him, we'd have lost track of the gospel an hour after Pentecost. That's all "infallibility" means."

A link to Mark's longer article:


11:00 AM  
Blogger Gary said...

Why would Anglicans want full communion with Rome? The Episcopalians and Anglicans have own tradition. We don't need Rome.

11:33 AM  
Blogger Fr. Chad Nusbaum said...

In response to your comments above I would offer the following:

“Why would Anglicans want full communion with Rome?”

In short because communion with Rome is what Jesus prays for in John 17:20-23. His prayer is that “that they may all be one” as He and the Father are one.

Secondly, your comment “We don’t need Rome” would seem to be in direct contradiction to Paul’s words in 1st Corinthians. In discussing the imagery of all Christians as members of the Body of Christ, Paul writes “As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’” (1 Corinthians 12:20-21)

All Christians of every stripe should hope, pray and work diligently towards full communion with every other Christian. I would hope that anyone serious about Christian unity would welcome this as at least a first step toward the goal “that [we] all may be one.”

I respect Fr. Foster’s reservations about accepting some of the dogmas and proclamations of the Roman Church. I hope, however, that we can all agree that full communion is what we should be working towards. Whether we see that in our lifetime remains to be seen, but this announcement should be celebrated as good news which at the very minimum works toward the goal of Christian unity.

12:40 PM  
Anonymous Julian said...

I hope this will take some pressure off of those who are this close to swimming the Tiber but for whatever reason have stuck with us Anglicans...and take some pressure off of the rest of us. If Rome can handle them, Rome can have 'em. Enjoy.


I'm not one of those who wants to go over - not at all - but I do think that we Anglicans as mostly Western Christians have a lot of tradition in common with Rome, and it isn't necessary to see ourselves as an entirely separate tradition, although we certainly have important points of disagreement.

12:40 PM  
Blogger Edwin Byford said...

The problem with Rome is not the authority of the Bishop of Rome. Whoever occupies that Office will have moral and theological authority by virtue of the Office and the mechanisms by which the office-holder is chosen. You just do not get to be Bishop of Rome if you are an also ran.

The problem with the Bishop of Rome is his jurisdiction. Those of us who want some real ownership of our own faith, call us Protestants if you want, may well be in strong agreement with what the Bishop of Rome promulgates but we will never subject ourselves to his jurisdiction.

It may not be easy and it may not be comfortable but my faith is my own.

5:09 PM  
Blogger Gary said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5:27 PM  
Blogger Gary said...

I don't like this one bit. To me it looks like a backdoor way for the Roman Catholic Church to convert the Anglo-Catholics within our Anglican/Episcopal Parishes to the Parishes of Roman Catholicism. We should have mutual respect, but lets keep our traditions and Communion distinct. We have our ways, and Rome has theirs.

5:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gary: "We should have mutual respect, but lets keep our traditions and Communion distinct. We have our ways, and Rome has theirs."

That is a bit selfish. So, just because someone like me DID become Catholic, I absolutely can't touch anything Anglican-like, even if it doesn't conflict with the teachings of my faith? I'd like to see you explain that one to the good folk down at St. Mary the Virgin in Arlington.

Remember, the Catholic Church most of us are familiar with is the Roman Rite. But it isn't the only rite. There are several, each with their own traditions, calendars, liturgy, but all in communion with the Holy See.

And within the Roman Rite itself, there are the few Anglican Use parishes like the aforementioned St. Mary the Virgin.

There actually is room for diversity. And there is much in Anglican tradition and culture that is compatible with Catholicism. Just because certain Catholics have Anglican roots doesn't mean that they we quit having a lot of that Anglicanism in them when we convert. Anglicanism made us the kind of Catholics we are, the kind of Christians we are. It's in our blood and always will be. We don't lose that just because we got ourselves wet crossing the Tiber. We bring it with us.

I started going to Episcopal churches in the mid 1990s. 15 years of my faith journey was taken as an Episcopalian. I am the kind of Christian I am because of that.

I spent four years as a member of St. Vincent's Cathedral. I also was confirmed there as an Episcopalian in 2001. (This is the parish where Fr. Foster is now, although since I had already left before he came, I've never actually met him face to face.)

While at St. V's, I developed a strong bond with the patron saint of the parish, Vincent of Saragossa. He became my personal patron saint when I left in 2004. When I became Catholic here in 2009, I was confirmed again of course, because my previous Anglican confirmation is not recognized as valid. I had the option of taking a confirmation name. I chose "Vicenta," mostly because of my devotion to Vincent, but also because I wanted to honor a bit of my Anglican faith journey and it was at St. Vincent's that my earlier confirmation took place. (Sorry to ramble, but this is one example of how I chose to link my past with my present.)

Even if I am now a member of a regular suburban "Novus Ordo" parish, that doesn't mean I don't cherish my Anglican heritage. And if the Catholic Church chooses to allow a bit of Anglicanism to become a part of her where she can, for the sake of her children or future children, then I think it's great.

6:52 PM  
Blogger Gary said...

To have diversity, we have to have boundaries to preserve those differences.

The tagline of "cherish diversity" always seem to be shouted by those who wish to melt everything together.. That does nothing but to destroy diversity.

Keep the Anglican and RC communion separate.. It is not about being fair, but about cherishing diversity!

9:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Father Foster, I agree with you completely. While I do not have the knowledge and wisdom that you posses, it is my belief that you are on the nose with your statements about Rome. The Pope is a great man and I believe he was chosen by God to be Pope but he is still a man. Peter had his fallacies and so does the Pope. And in the end I can not "convert" as I already "am", I was marked by God as one of his own.


11:31 PM  
Anonymous Brian Edward Miles said...

Hi Rudy,

You stated in part: “Peter had his fallacies and so does the Pope.” Not sure what the rub is here for you. The Catholic Church holds that St. Peter, the present Holy Father, and every other Pope for that matter have had their fallacies. The dogma of papal infallibility does not propose that the pope is free from error in his every thought, word, and deed. Instead, it teaches that in the appropriate context and with respect to the appropriate subject matter, he has the *ability*—by virtue of his office and not his own merit—to proclaim and propagate an infallible teaching. As such, it is unfair to hold the dogma of papal infallibility to a standard that it has never claimed for itself. In short, the Pope can make mistakes, and even hold erroneous theological positions so long as he does not do so whilst “proclaiming a definitive act of doctrine pertaining to faith and morals.”

Yet with that said, some contend that even this position is untenable inasmuch as St. Paul, in his epistle to the Galatians, opposed and condemned St. Peter to his face with respect to the errors of the circumcision party (Gal 2:11-13). However, what is often overlooked, here, is that Paul was challenging Peter’s *actions* and not some formal declaration he had made. And to this end, Paul acknowledges that Peter was aware of the correct teaching, which is precisely why he calls Peter a hypocrite—Peter was not practicing what he knew to be true (Gal 2:14-16). This then is a matter Peter’s personal failing, but fortunately—as we have seen—this does not undermine Peter’s ability to infallibly “proclaim a definitive act of doctrine pertaining to faith and morals.” And as such, it is quite fitting that we see St. Peter do precisely this—and on the matter of circumcision no less—at the Council of Jerusalem.

11:26 AM  
Anonymous Brian Edward Miles said...

Greetings Father,

You objected to the dogma of papal infallibility in part because of what you perceive to be a paucity of evidence for such a teaching both in Scripture and the primitive Church. To this point, I would be interested in hearing your position on what I perceive to be a substantial foundation for this teaching in antiquity.

Beginning with Scripture, Jesus promises the apostles and their successors (i.e. The Magisterium): “He who hears you hears me” (Luke 10:16), and “Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven” (Matt 18:18). This, of course, demonstrates the fact that infallible teachings were a part of what Jesus intended for his Church which would be led by the Holy Spirit into all truth. But then Jesus goes on to commission St. Peter individually as the chief shepherd of his flock—the one given the primary responsibility of feeding and tending his sheep (John 21:15-17). And as Patrick Madrid notes, the Greek word poimanao “to tend” also carries the connotation of “to rule”, thus exemplifying a unique/supreme status of the Petrine office.

To this we can also add the testimony of St. Cyprian of Carthage, who in 256 rhetorically asked: “Would the heretics dare to come to the very seat of Peter whence apostolic faith is derived and whither no errors can come?”(Letters 59 [55], 14). And moreover, we have St. Augustine echoing this sentiment in his case against the Pelagian heretics: “Rome has spoken; the case is concluded” (Sermons 131, 10).

In light of these considerations, is it really the case that you cannot permit even the possibility that the dogma of papal infallibility could legitimately develop from such early attestations? I realize that you may still object to this teaching, but IMHO it is unfair to claim that it is found nowhere in antiquity, and that its late definition immediately places it outside the realm of possibility.
God Bless,


4:35 PM  

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