.- In an extensive clarification released on Saturday by the Vatican press office, Fr. Federico Lombardi made clear, on behalf of the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Joseph Levada, that there is no âcelibacy issueâ delaying the publication of the Constitution that will establish the procedure for Anglicans to be received into the Catholic Church.
In a statement released in English âbreaking the common use of Italian- Fr. Lombardi explained that âthere has been widespread speculation, based on supposedly knowledgeable remarks by an Italian correspondent Andrea Tornielli.
The Vatican analyst suggested that the delay in the publication of the Apostolic Constitution on Personal Ordinariates for Anglicans entering into full communion with the Catholic Church is due to "more than âtechnicalâ reasons.â
âAccording to this speculation, there is a serious substantial issue at the root of the delay, namely, disagreement about whether celibacy will be the norm for the future clergy of the Provision,â Fr. Lombardiâs said.
Responding to other claims that the rule of celibacy for Latin rite clergy would be open to discussion, Fr. Lombardi offered the official comments of Cardinal Levada.
âHad I been asked I would happily have clarified any doubt about my remarks at the press conference. There is no substance to such speculation. No one at the Vatican has mentioned any such issue to me.â
According to Cardinal Levada, Pope Benedictâs Apostolic Constitution will be ready âby the end of the first week of Novemberâ and its delay âis purely technical in the sense of ensuring consistency in canonical language and references.â
The Prefect of the Congregation also explained that âthe drafts prepared by the working group, and submitted for study and approval through the usual process followed by his congregation, have all included the following statement, which is currently Article VI of the Constitution:
- 1. Those who ministered as Anglican deacons, priests, or bishops, and who fulfill the requisites established by canon law and are not impeded by irregularities or other impediments may be accepted by the Ordinary as candidates for Holy Orders in the Catholic Church. In the case of married ministers, the norms established in the Encyclical Letter of Pope Paul VI Sacerdotalis coelibatus, n. 42 and in the Statement "In June" are to be observed. Unmarried ministers must submit to the norm of clerical celibacy of Code of Canon Law 277, Â§1.
- 2. The Ordinary, in full observance of the discipline of celibate clergy in the Latin Church, as a rule (pro regula) will admit only celibate men to the order of presbyter. He may also petition the Roman Pontiff, as derogation from can. 277, Â§1, for the admission of married men to the order of presbyter on a case by case basis, according to objective criteria approved by the Holy See.â
Cardinal Levada further explains that âthis article is to be understood as consistent with the current practice of the Church, in which married former Anglican ministers may be admitted to priestly ministry in the Catholic Church on a case by case basis.â
With regard to future seminarians, the Cardinal explains that âit was considered purely speculative whether there might be some cases in which a dispensation from the celibacy rule might be petitioned.â
âObjective criteria about any such possibilities (e.g. married seminarians already in preparation) are to be developed jointly by the Personal Ordinariate and the Episcopal Conference, and submitted for approval of the Holy See,â Cardinal Levada said.