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                                 business as usual?                                                 was finally issued in English on November 9. The document

                                 “I    am sorry that there has been no opportunity to alert you
                                       earlier to this,” the archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan
                                 Williams, wrote in an October 20 letter to fellow Anglican
                                                                                                    refers to the need “to maintain the liturgical, spiritual, and
                                                                                                    pastoral traditions of the Anglican Communion within the
                                                                                                    Catholic Church, as a precious gift nourishing the faith of the
                                 bishops. “I was informed of the planned announcement at a          members of the ordinariate and as a treasure to be shared.”
                                 very late stage.”                                                  Such generous praise for the “treasure” of non–Roman Catho-
                                    Williams was writing about the Vatican’s proposal, an-          lic Christianity would have been impossible without the past
                                 nounced that day, to allow groups of Anglicans to enter into       four decades of Vatican II–inspired dialogue. Yet the abrupt-
                                 full communion with Rome via newly created “ordinariates”          ness of the announcement, and the Vatican’s unwillingness
                                 that would resemble military dioceses. Williams’s letter briefed   to discuss its ecumenical impact, have sent a less positive
                                 Anglican leaders on his response “in the hope of avoiding any      message, especially to members of the Anglican Communion
                                 confusion or misrepresentation.” Yet the circumstances of the      who do not think they need to be rescued by Rome. At the
                                 Vatican’s announcement made confusion all but inevitable.          same time, despite the Vatican’s insistence that the apostol-
                                 At a press conference called on short notice, officials from       ic constitution “does not create a new structure within the
                                 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith were vague          current canonical norms,” the personal ordinariates it estab-
                                 about the details of the pope’s forthcoming                                              lishes are a distinct novelty with poten-
                                 apostolic constitution. With no document                                                 tially dramatic consequences. The result,
                                 yet in hand, neither they nor commenta-                                                  as theologian Nicholas Lash wrote in the
                                 tors in the media could answer questions                                                 London Tablet, is astonishment in many
                                 about how the proposed ordinariates would                                                quarters that “a major structural innova-
                                 operate, what would be required of mem-                                                  tion in Roman Catholicism is being in-
                                 bers, and which aspects of Anglican prac-                                                troduced without consulting the bishops
                                 tice might be retained.                                                                  of the Catholic Church.”
                                    The CDF’s announcement described                                                         Benedict XVI has spoken often about
                                 the move as “a reasonable and even nec-                                                  the need for strong Christian witness in
                                 essary response to a worldwide phenome-                                                  the midst of an increasingly secular cul-
                                 non.” The necessity was far from obvious,                                                ture. He may see the new ordinariates as a
                                 and the “phenomenon” of Anglo-Cath-        
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Description: Divisions within the Anglican Communion, on the other hand, are well known, and reporters predictably interpreted the news in that context: the New York Times labeled the move "an extraordinary bid to lure traditionalist Anglicans en masse," and a columnist for the Times of London declared, "Rome has parked its tanks on the archbishop of Canterbury's lawn."
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