Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The expression of faith

As many people who follow Catholic news know yesterday the Holy See released Anglicanorum Coetibus the Apostolic Constitution concerned with the reunification of Anglican individuals and groups with the Catholic Church. There are many interesting pastoral provisions in the document and its supporting Complimentary Norms document that will lead, one hopes, to the joining of many Anglo-Catholics to the barque of Peter.
One interesting point in the document, which may have consequences beyond the Anglican communion is in section I.5:
The Catechism of the Catholic Church is the authoritative expression of the Catholic faith professed by members of the Ordinariate.
The legal structure under which individuals, parishes and diocese of the Anglican Communion, and other Anglican groups not now associated with the Communion is the Ordinariate. An Ordinariate is a kind of non-territorial groups headed by an ordinary, probably a bishop. It is most often compared to the way Military diocese are organized, with its own priests and lay members, not under the jurisdiction of the local prelate.
So for members of the Anglican Community who desire to become members of this Ordinariate the standard is that they must believe all that is professed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This is not so extraordinary. Anyone who becomes a member of the Church through the process of RCIA is suppose to make this same profession.
So lets think about this... To become a Catholic one must profess belief in the tenets embodied in the Catechism. The Catechism is the authoritative expression of the Catholic Faith. This constitution actually elevates the status of the Catechism.
So how long before the question is ask: What about people who claim to be Catholic, but do not adhere to this authoritative document? Might their status as Catholics be questioned, or at least their self-description as Catholic? This goes for organizations as well as individuals.
As important as adherence to the Creed is, the beliefs of the Catholic Church engenders much more than is stated in those 214 words of the Nicene Creed. Maybe its time we started holding people to them.

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