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Too much to ask, to provide non-territorial personal apostolic jurisdiction for Anglo-Catholics?

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Here follows another example from NCCL’s ‘TOP SECRET’ archives.

For more on the subject of Anglo-Catholic reunion with the Holy See, visit this page on NCCL’s website.

Certainly, since the Pope has provided non-territorial personal jurisdiction for the tradition-minded Anglo-Catholics and Episcopalians, he could do so for those who share similar legitimate aspirations for tradition in the Latin church and in the Eastern Catholic churches, as well as for those Orthodox who are faithful to tradition.

January 21, 2004

Rev. Fr. Richard S. Bradford, Chaplain
Congregation of St. Athanasius
192 Foster Street
Brighton, MA 02135-4620
617/787-0553

Reverend and dear Father Bradford,

Thank you very much for speaking last week. Please pardon the delay in writing. I enclose as promised the report on the canonical erection of the Personal Apostolic Administration of St. John Marie Vianney in Campos, Brazil.

I need to correct what I said about the Holy See being able to grant a similar juridic status to the Anglican-Use without territorial circumscription. In fact, the Holy See could do so, but (only) by way of exception. In his dissertation of 1912, La Personalità e la Territorialità delle Leggi, Pope Pius XII expounds on the different conceptions, East and West, of the bishop’s jurisdiction. The Eastern conception of jurisdiction is personal, as a father over/to his son. Such jurisdiction, of course, follows no matter where the son is or travels. The Western conception of jurisdiction is territorial, but I think you’d agree that the bishop is hardly espoused to the sidewalks or the trees! It may be asking the Curia too much (I’m not English, so I hope you won’t snicker too much at the attempted understatement) to see your problem from several degrees longitude farther East. This otherwise rather ‘tunnel-perspective’ (of the Curia) about jurisdictions could account for the rather ‘unique’ three-fold type of jurisdiction conferred on the Apostolic Administrator in Campos. (Cf. pp. 15-16 of the enclosed Report.)

After reading more of William Oddie’s Roman Option, I see that he and the other Anglo-Catholics in conference with Cardinal Hume in the early ‘90s had indeed considered the possibility of an Apostolic Administration. Doctor Oddie makes reference to discussion of canon 372, however, it seems without any reference to personal jurisdiction, which of course is logical, since the Code of Canon Law does not speak about personal Apostolic Administrations. The lesson to be learned from developments in Campos, and (Deo volente) applied for Anglicans, however, is that the Pope is extremely generous and always ready to help people, especially those who are in trouble. Still, to provide for a non-territorial personal apostolic jurisdiction may be too much to ask for. One could always ask, but there may only be one opportunity to make such a proposal.

After a bit more research, I see a personal prelature would still be, canonically speaking, the best bet or fit for the circumstances. Especially as more Anglo-Catholics and Episcopalians become marginalized within their church do they discover what really binds them. This provides an(other) excellent opportunity for Anglican-Use Catholics to provide for their legitimate aspirations and pastoral needs. Of course each soul, as you say, is responsible for conducting himself along the path(s) to unity, but that way is usually littered with obstacles — and corpses! — and ‘few are they who find it’. (I have friends who were told by Catholic priests as Episcopalians, not to join the Catholic Church. Some are still not yet Catholic.) Anyway I’ve heard of three Episcopal parishes in Pennsylvania which stand to gain from such a jurisdiction.

What someone needs to do is to go and sit down with Cardinal Law and explain to him that, in the words of the enclosed email from a Jacob Dell, this is his big ‘second chance’. (It’s very touching that he says he wishes to serve the nuns at a convent in Boston, but somehow I get the feeling that it wouldn’t hurt a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church to have something else to do, too!) Someone could suggest to him to go directly to the Pope to propose a personal prelature. The Anglicans might not reunite en bloc as is commonly thought in ecumenical climes these days. As Cardinal Hume is recorded in Oddie’s book to have said, a piecemeal reunion may indeed be God’s Will, quite unexpected by men. His ways, after all, are not ours. By taking the proposal directly to the Holy Father, the Cardinal can appeal to the heart of our Father, which certainly beats repeating the mistake of proposing it to bureaucracies of bishops which are part of the problem, if you’ll pardon me saying it. (Why do “double bypass” surgery when a little TLC will do the trick?) At any rate, one really needs quickly to prepare for the next pontificate, if you catch my drift…

Of course, someone could go (also) to Archbishop Chaput. (It wouldn’t hurt to send William Oddie’s book first.) One could remind him that the Cappuchins have always been very daring to help people in situations no one else will help. There are already six Western Rite Orthodox parishes in Denver, so one can only imagine he’s a little familiar with these pastoral needs. It could only help to explain to him and/or to Cardinal Law what the Orthodox have done for western Christians in the Western Rite Usage of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America. I enclose some information about this Rite, including a page or two from the Liturgies of Sts. Gregory and Tikhon.

I am willing to visit these hierarchs, (Cardinal Law and Archbishop Chaput, et al), but would like first to speak with you some more about it.

Thank you for your prayers for Douglas Fleming and The Lee’s. There are some hopeful developments in both cases. Permit me to explain when we next speak, which I hope will be soon. Please let me know what you think about all this.

Until then, I have the honor of being yours

in the union of prayers,

Gregory P. Lloyd

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