It's NYT's lead story today, portrayed as a poaching expedition: "In an extraordinary bid to to lure traditionalist Anglicans en masse, the Vatican on Tuesday announced..." Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams begs to differ:
It would not occur to me to see this as an act of aggression or a
statement of no confidence, precisely because the routine relationships
that we enjoy as churches will continue
Yes, and have you checked if your wallet's still in your pocket, eminence?
Tom Reese sees the outreach as a way for Rome to solve its priest shortage problem:
More importantly, could married Roman Catholic men from the traditional
dioceses join the Anglican ordinariate and become seminarians and
priests? If so, we have just solved the priest shortage problem and
within a generation there will be more priests in the Anglican
ordinariates than in the traditional dioceses. The rest of the people
will soon follow and the Anglican ordinariate will hold a majority of
Well, maybe. But where in the Catholic world? Traditionalist Anglican types in America already have their own church. Will English traditionalists give up all those fab buildings just to protest the ordination of women? As for the Nigerians, in doctrine and practice they've got everything they could want already--plus a married episcopate, which they'd have to give up; and they're just as thick on the ground as the Catholics.
Update: Wait a minute--I missed the point. The idea would be for actual bona fide Catholic married men to become "Anglican Catholics" and get themselves turned into priests. I wonder if any Eastern Rite (Uniate) Catholic churches ever had Western Rite Catholics who tried this move. Something tells me the Vatican isn't going to like this loophole. Clever, though.
Further Update: Consulting with my expert on all things Orthodox (Andrew Walsh), I have determined that, at least so far as Andrew knows, there have been no Western Rite types who have tried for the married Catholic priesthood by enrolling in an Eastern Rite seminary. The reason, mainly, is that the Catholic Church doesn't let Eastern Rite seminaries in the U.S. ordain married men of any sort. The only married priests in that corner are those ordained in the Ukraine or thereabouts; they're not allowed in principle but in practice have made their way to these shores. Now the terms of the new Anglican Ordinariate look to be different. And--important to note--the Anglican rite is a whole lot closer to the Roman one than the Orthodox is. So there could well be married Catholic men tempted by this route. Whether the American Catholic hierarchy--or Rome, for that matter--would think this a nifty solution to the priest shortage is another thing entirely. My guess (and Andrew's) is that such a door, if a lot of people started passing through it, would be slammed shut.