Text of Bishop Lopes’ address at University of Vienna

The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter has posted the text of an address by Bishop Steven Lopes at the University of Vienna on March 28.  It concerns primarily the role of the Congregation of the Faith where Bishop Lopes worked for 10 years before being named our bishop.

Here’s an excerpt that concerns those of us who came in from the Anglican diaspora:

Generally speaking, by 1588, any matters concerning the faith and mores—often translated as “morals” but better understood as the manner in which the faith was practiced— came under the direct jurisdiction of the Congregation of the Holy Office. Its power extended not only to Rome and the Papal States, but, at least in theory, to 1 The Constitution Licet a diversis of Pope Julius III (15 February 1551) explicitly asserted the primacy of the Roman Inquisition in matters of faith over the claims of civil authorities, in this specific instance, the Republic of Venice. Page 4 of 18 every Catholic in every place. It had absolute jurisdiction in matters of heresy, schism, and apostasy.

This last reference is, of course, very important for our particular interest today in the question of corporate reunion of Anglicans and other groups with the Catholic Church. Responsibility for schism and apostasy has been the exclusive responsibility of the Congregation from the beginning and, to be clear, corporate reunion is the healing of of schism. There are other instances today at the Holy See for ecumenical dialogue and interreligious dialogue. In these dialogues, the full, visible unity of Christians in Eucharistic communion may be the ultimate goal, but it is a remote goal and a great deal of prior conversation and theological exchange is yet needed. But once that dialogue reaches the point of action, of asking explicitly for full communion, competence passes to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which exercises responsibility in not only declaring schism, but in overcoming it. In the case of Anglican communities, they were clear in saying that the various dialogues over the years had led them to the point of accepting the Catholic faith to the extent that doctrinal difficulties were not posed by those communities seeking full communion. Indeed, many cited the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church as a decisive moment, as this compendium of the Church’s faith not only articulated “the faith once delivered to the Saints” but also provided a measure against which one could gauge the Catholicity of their own Ecclesial Community. For Catholic-minded Anglicans, this was essential.

The talk then goes on to give many details on what happened at the Congregation prior to Pope Benedict’s Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus.

In 2007, the Congregation received a new cluster of letters from groups of Anglican clergy posing a different kind of question. Yes, they were writing to say that their own individual journeys of faith had led them to the point of seeking full communion with the Catholic Church. But they were also writing as pastors responsible for the care of souls. They were concerned for the faithful who were willing to follow them into the fullness of Catholic communion. What of them? Was the idea just to assimilate them into normal Catholic life? Would their faith and devotion, nurtured and developed in an Anglican context, survive that process of assimilation so that these faithful truly became Catholic? Could there not be some “space” opened up in the Catholic Church where the faith practices and devotional life of these faithful could continue to thrive? One such letter the Holy See could ignore. As it happened, within a span of 4 months, the Congregation received very similar letters from groups of Anglican clergy in England, from Texas in the United States, from Australia, and from the so-called continuing Anglican groups, notably the Traditional Anglican Communion. Some response on the part of the Catholic Church was required.

My Dear Web Elf, we need a special link to this document.  It is hugely important for our archives.

Another impressive intervention from our bishop!

I hope the POCSP will post an English text of his talk at Herzogenrath that our Anglicanorum Coetibus Society president David Murphy attended and posted on here.

13 thoughts on “Text of Bishop Lopes’ address at University of Vienna

  1. What a phenomenal lecture by Bishop Lopes. It is sad that so many efforts at reunion foundered between 1960 and 2005 (I remember the story in William Oddie’s The Roman Option of how Episcopalian Bishop Clarence Pope of Texas was in direct talks about reconciliation with the CDF, and met personally with Pope John Paul II who embraced him and pronounced them to be “in communion”, only to have his Catholic ordination blocked by the Diocese of Baton Rouge Presbyteral Council). It is wonderful that finally through the good offices of Cardinal Ratzinger / Pope Benedict, Cardinal Levada, and CDF “worker bees” like Mgr., now Bishop, Lopes, that these barriers were eventually overcome and a secure path for Anglicans seeking full communion with the Catholic Church was eventually found. Ad multos annos, Bishop Lopes!

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  2. The bishop’s lecture is phenomenally informative, in terms of the background that it provides. It would be interesting, from a historical perspective, to learn what’s in the sealed archives of which he speaks! More importantly, though, it’s very heartening to know that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith took the time to examine the failures of the past to glean the lessons that they offer, so it could proceed in a manner that is viable.

    That said, there was one very important piece of news buried in a parenthetical remark on Page 16: “(In fact, two more texts have been prepared and currently are in Rome for approval: Divine Worship: Pastoral Care of the Sick and Dying, and a Divine Worship Daily Office Book).” News of the book for the divine office had come out previously, but I’m not aware of any prior mention of a rite for the sacrament of anointing of the sick — which certainly is an important element in the pastoral care of any congregation! I pray that the Vatican will authorize and promulgate both of these rites soon so that ordinariate communities can start to use them!

    I think that there are a few rites that the ordinariates still lack. I’m not aware of any Divine Worship rites for the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), reception of baptized Christians into full communion of the Catholic Church, baptism of children, confirmation, ordination, or religious profession. Some of these rites might not have valid counterparts in Anglican worship, so the appropriate solution might be to translate the respective rite of ordinary form into the same style of English as the Divine Worship liturgies and to make whatever minor adjustments the rubrics might require for compatibility with the Divine Worship missal when these rites occur within mass. The bishop’s remark that the Anglicanae traditiones commission officially disbanded without completing these rites is disappointing.



    • An interesting footnote on “Pastoral Care of the Sick and Dying.” I was curious about the origins of the Salvator Mundi canticle, which the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter ordo has in place of the Te Deum at Morning Prayer during passiontide. What is interesting is that while the current form of the prayer is a fairly recent creation, its origins are in the antiphon “Salvator mundi, salva nos, qui per crucem et sanguinem redemisti nos,” which was found in the Sarum Manuals for the Order for the Visitation of the Sick. This phrase was incorporated with only modest changes into the Prayer Book liturgy, appearing in the BCP as “O Saviour of the world, who by thy Cross and precious Blood hast redeemed us: Save us, and help us, we humbly beseech thee, O Lord” (the basis for the expansion into the Salvator Mundi canticle). What is significant about this is here we have a remnant of Sarum rite Catholic liturgy (the subject of a fine musical setting by Thomas Tallis), which was preserved in the Prayer Book liturgy, even though it is not found in the Roman Rite equivalent. So we have an aspect of genuine English Catholic tradition, which was preserved in Anglicanism, now handed back to the Catholic Church through the Ordinariates. To me this is a perfect illustration of what Anglican Catholic tradition means.

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    • It has more than what I recalled of the public statements at the time of its issue. However, I would like to examine a copy to see how complete it is. The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, for example, embodies a lot more than just baptism, confirmation, and first communion at the Easter Vigil. It also includes a rite of reception into the catechumenate, the Rite of Election (on the First Sunday of Lent), the scrutinies of the elect (on the third, fourth, and fifth Sundays of Lent), and rites for the presentations during Holy Week. The description in the ad does not mention any of these.



  3. Since these rites do not exist in any traditional Anglican service books the simplest solution would be to use the Latin Rite forms. The alternative would be Tudorizimg them, which seems rather precious.


    • It seems very unlikely that such rites really do not exist in any Anglican service book. The Tridentine form of the Roman Rite actually had two rites of baptism of adults — a “long form” that had substantially fallen into disuse and a “short form” that actually was the normative practice. What was then called the “long form” actually was what we now call the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), complete with all of the celebrations that mark admission to the catechumenate, election, scrutinies, etc., and thus was one of the sources for the development of the present RCIA as directed by the Second Vatican Council itself. Although the Book of Common Prayer does not contain such a rite, it seems likely that the Sarum liturgy would have supplied it and that one need only delve back far enough into the Anglican heritage to unearth it.

      But, that said, a translation of the respective elements of the ordinary form of the Roman Rite into the same style of English as the Divine Worship liturgical books would seem preferable to the stark change of linguistic style that would arise from use of the same translations as diocesan parishes within what is otherwise a Divine Worship liturgical celebration.



      • Looks like you are correct. The Sarum baptismal rite can be found in this text starting at p. 231, nicely translated into sacral English.


  4. Some of these rites are found in the Church of England proposed 1928 Prayer Book or the later Series 1 and 2 offerings of the Church of England liturgical commission. These were the bases for the Ordinariate Marriage and Funeral liturgies, so they could probably serve as a foundation for some of these other offices as well, amended with reference to Ordinary or Extraordinary Form Roman Rite equivalents as necessary. I think the C of E did produce an attempted equivalent to RCIA, but I would frankly not use an RCIA format for adult receptions / conversions. Instead, candidates should go through a program of catechesis such as the British Evangelium course and then be received through a rite of adult baptism, confirmation, or reception as appropriate. (I notice that Our Lady of the Atonement, which probably has more pastoral experience with receptions and conversions than any other Anglican Use / Ordinariate parish, does something like this.)


  5. There is already a BCP form for the Baptism of Those of Riper Years, and the BCP Confirmation Rite is usable for anyone. The Rite of Election and its follow-up through Lent has no recent Anglican analogue. But since unbaptized adults probably only come in by ones and twos in most Ordinariate parishes, and not annually, I think a special rite every Sunday in Lent would be overkill. Norm has often reminded us that the Rite of Election is not appropriate for previously baptized candidates, although it seems to be widely used this way.


    • Historically, the seasons of Lent and Easter have their foundation in the catechumenate — the season of Lent being the period of final preparation of the Elect for baptism in that year and the season of Easter being the period of mystagogia when the newly baptized are instructed in the deeper mysteries of the faith and fully incorporated into the life of the spiritual community. This is manifest even in the historical gospel readings of the season of Lent, retained in liturgical year A (which is this year), all of which speak of some aspect of baptism.

      >> First Sunday of Lent: The temptation of Jesus in the desert after forty days of fasting plays on the whole theme of hungering and thirsting for God; also, our Lord’s answers to the tempter speak of the baptismal commitment.

      >> Second Sunday of Lent: The Transfiguration provides a preview of “Jesus in his Easter Clothes” and the glory of the resurrection.

      >> Third Sunday of Lent: The woman at the well receives the living water.

      >> Fourth Sunday of Lent: The man born blind receives his sight when he is “washed” (Greek: baptiso) in the pool of “Siloam” (meaning “the One who is sent).

      >> Fifth Sunday of Lent: The resussitation of Lazarus foreshadows the resurrection; also a whole play on those who believe seeing the power of God.

      >> Sixth Sunday of Lent: First reading of the Passion of the Lord, into which we are baptized.

      The readings of the first, second, and sixth Sundays of Lent are from Matthew in this year (Year A), with parallel texts from Mark in Year B and from Luke in Year C. The current lectionary provides new readings for the third, fourth, and fifth Sundays of Lent in Year B and Year C, but the readings above are always used in parishes that celebrate the RCIA because the scrutinies for the respective Sundays relate to them.

      This focus got skewed in the fifth and sixth centuries, when the clergy started stressing the doctrine of original sin and the necessity of baptism at a time when many people became nominal Christians by enrolling in the catechumenate but did not progress toward baptism (Constantine was baptized and confirmed only when he was on his death bed, and many of his followers had followed his example). As the dynamic changed, the clergy soon found themselves confronting many people who were baptized but in whom the faith and the spiritual life had not really taken root. The clergy responded by emphasizing repentance to the baptized during the season of Lent. Centuries later, there were very few unbaptized so the original purpose of Lent and Easter disappeared completely from the popular experience of the faith.

      So, far from being overkill, the celebration of these rites is central to restoration of the proper liturgical and spiritual focus of the Lent and Easter seasons in the present day. This is true even in parishes that are baptizing only one or two catechumens, or even that don’t baptize adult converts every year.

      With respect to the Rite of Election, it’s important to understand the recent history. In the sacred constitution Sacrosanctum concillium on divine worship promulgated on 04 December 1963, the Second Vatican Council directed two reforms that are relevant to this discussion. Here are the relevant paragraphs.

      64. The catechumenate for adults, comprising several distinct steps, is to be restored and to be taken into use at the discretion of the local ordinary. By this, means the time of the catechumenate, which is intended as a period of suitable instruction, may be sanctified by sacred rites to be celebrated at successive intervals of time.


      69. In place of the rite called the “Order of supplying what was omitted in the baptism of an infant,” a new rite is to be drawn up. This should manifest more fittingly and clearly that the infant, baptized by the short rite, has already been received into the Church.
      And a new rite is to be drawn up for converts who have already been validly baptized; it should indicate that they are now admitted to communion with the Church.

      During the implementation of these directives, two additional issues came to light.

      >> 1. There are many adults who were baptized in the Catholic Church, but never catechized, who seek to complete the sacraments of initiation. These adults require a full program of catechetical formation that’s substantially identical to that of the catechumenate. It therefore seemed desirable to have a parallel set of rites to those that mark the stages of the catechumenate to mark the progress of these individuals in their program of formation. On the other hand, those who have some Christian formation but did not complete the sacraments of initiation require formation tailored to each of their individual situations.

      >> 2. Candidates for reception into full communion span a very broad spectrum, so there is no “one size fits all” package of formation. At one extreme, those who have completed a full program of formation and are living active lives of faith in the churches of the Orthodox Communion or of the Old Catholic Communion of that day, or in any of the ancient oriental churches, are already fully initiated and living substantially Catholic spiritual lives, so there’s virtually no need for additional formation (though they do need some period of discernment to ensure the certainty of the call to the full communion of the Catholic Church). At the other extreme, there are also those who were baptized in separated churches or other ecclesial communities, but never catechized, whose needs are substantially the same as those baptized but never catechized in the Catholic Church.

      Thus, the liturgical book for the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) has two parts and several appendices. Part I is the actual RCIA. Part II is “Rites for Particular Circumstances,” of which there are five (5): (1) “Christian Initiation of Children Who Have Reached Catechetical Age” (age-appropriate adaptation of the RCIA), (2) “Christian Initiation of Adults in Exceptional Circumstances” (an abbreviated process for adults who already have substantial spiritual formation), (3) “Christian Initiation of a Person in Danger of Death” (self-explanatory), (4) “Preparation of Uncatechized Adults for Confirmation and Eucharist” (optional rites parallel to the celebrations that mark progress through the RCIA), and (5) “Reception of Baptized Christians into the Full Communion of the Catholic Church” (self-explanatory; also published in a separate booklet suitable for liturgical use). The optional rites for the preparation of baptized Christians for confirmation and eucharist have the following correspondence with the rites that mark progress through the RCIA,

      >> Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens Welcoming the Candidates

      >> Sending of Catechumens for Election by the Bishop Sending of Candidates for Recognition and Call to Continuing Conversion by the Bishop

      >> Election of Catechumens Calling Candidates to Continuing Conversion

      >> Scrutinies Penitential Rite

      Here in the States, there was a sense that the diocesan bishop should have some role in the RCIA, but that the baptism of catechumens should take place in each parish because of its catechetical value. Thus, many diocesan bishops have decided to reserve the Rite of Election to themselves, with the Rite of Sending Candidates for Election by the Bishop taking the place of the Rite of Election in parish masses on the First Sunday of Lent and the actual Rite of Election occurring in a central location later in the day.

      Additionally, the first appendix contains four (4) “Additional (Combined) Rites” intended for use in exceptional circumstances. The first three rites in this appendix combine the first three respective analogous rites in the above list. The fourth rite in this appendix combines celebration of the sacraments of initiation for the Elect with reception of baptized Christians into full communion of the Catholic Church. Unfortunately, these rites have titles are ridiculously long, and thus that people instinctively will shorten in ways that fail to state their full meaning. When “Rite of Election of Catechumens and Call to Continuing Conversion of Candidates Who are Preparing for Confirmation and/or Eucharist or Reception into the Full Communion of the Catholic Church” becomes “Rite of Election” — which is very misleading! — in popular parlance, it causes more than a little confusion.

      I really don’t understand why so many parishes are using any of the combined rites of the first appendix, as it does not make sense for several reasons.

      >> 1. Canonically, “exceptional circumstances” is not what’s normative in parish life, and thus clearly envisioned in the rubrics.

      >> 2. The abuse of these rites blurs the profound distinction between the RCIA and baptism of converts and reception of those who are already baptized into full communion. Those who are being received into full communion ordinarily should share formation with those baptized in the Catholic Church who are preparing to complete the sacraments rather than with those who are converting to Christian faith from other religions or from an absence of belief, as the dynamic is very different. The separate celebration of these rites on different occasions would communicate more clearly that they are different.

      >> 3. In most cases, those baptized in the Catholic Church who are preparing for confirmation have to wait for confirmation by the bishop on the occasion of the bishop’s pastoral visit. Thus, the timing of their preparation normally will differ from that of the RCIA, which is always synchronized so the sacraments of initiation occur on the Easter Vigil.

      >> 4. The cautions against triumphalism and confusion between baptism and reception of baptized Christians into full communion in the rubrics for the Rite of Reception of Baptized Christians into the Full Communion of the Catholic Church also counsel very strongly against receiving baptized Christians into full communion at the Easter Vigil, as that is both the most triumphal liturgical celebration of the year and the normal time of baptism of adult converts.

      But, we’ll get it right eventually.



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