Pope Paul VI to the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Michael Ramsey

"(B)y entering into our house, you are entering your own house, we are happy to open our door and heart to you." - Pope Paul VI to Dr Michael Ramsey, Archbishop of Canterbury.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Additional thoughts on Cardinal Wuerl's report to the USCCB

Last week, I posted about Cardinal Wuerl's report to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. I had some further thoughts, in random order:
  • From the comments it appears that many of the bishops are unaware of the details of Anglicanorum Coetibus, which is exactly what one would expect from busy bishops. Despite the history being made and the subsequent news stories, the Anglican Ordinariates will always be a small part of the world-wide Roman Catholic Church. At the beginning, and for perhaps the first few years, the number of Catholics in an American Ordinariate will likely be fewer than the largest of Catholic parishes. Indeed, some of these bishops are responsible for more Christians than all of Anglicanism in the United States, of all stripes – Anglican Communion, Anglican Continuing Churches, and all the others – combined.
  • There will be initially, roughly, 100 clergymen and 2,000 members of the American Anglican Ordinariate. That is a large number of priests and is probably due to Anglican congregations being much smaller than Catholic (a few dozen to a few hundred versus a few thousand) and to clergyman being further along in their discernment process. Religion is their full-time job. Many interested laymen may have taken a wait-and-see approach, not wanting to leave a church they value for a (current) hypothetical. Once there is a place to go on Sunday morning, that will change.
  • The historical importance of Anglicanorum Coetibus is out of proportion to its size, as is evidenced by the attention paid to it by the Vatican and the various bishops conferences.
  • Some of the questions asked were clearly part of ongoing conversations among the bishops, conversations that have been going on for years and in both formal and informal settings, that I am not familiar with.
  • The openness and transparency demonstrated by the live broadcast of speech and Q&A is wonderful and should be duplicated and expanded by conferences worldwide. Through the broadcast, we can see what bishops are discussing and how, and that strengthens the church by:
  • Having more of the universal church involved in the conversation;
  • Reducing the secrecy that plagues all such large bureaucracies, thereby increasing trust
  • Modeling open, transparent decision-making for other institutions–religious, governmental, voluntary, profit-making, etc.; and
  • Providing a teaching moment, a chance for them to be pastors, by allowing those interested to learn more about the Catholic Church.
  • I wonder if the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines also records and shares their meetings. If they don't, I hope that they will start soon. It would be a great opportunity for them to teach interested Catholics a bit more and to model transparency in a culture that needs more openness.

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