From Catholic World News: Cardinal Levada: ‘Union with the Catholic Church is the goal of ecumenism’ March 09, 2010
In a lengthy address delivered in Canada on March 6, Cardinal William Levada, prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, stated that the reception of communities of Anglicans into the Catholic Church is consistent with Anglican-Catholic ecumenical dialogue because “union with the Catholic Church is the goal of ecumenism.”
Tracing the history of Anglican-Catholic dialogue since the Second Vatican Council, Cardinal Levada noted that Anglican decisions to ordain women and countenance homosexual activity were not consistent with earlier statements agreed to by Anglican and Catholic theologians. “No wonder, then, that the ordination of a bishop in a homosexual partnership in New Hampshire, with subsequent approval by the General Convention of the Episcopal Church of the United States in 2003, and the authorization of rituals for the blessing of gay unions and marriages by the Anglican Church in Canada, have caused an enormous upheaval within the Anglican communion,” the cardinal observed.
Cardinal Levada then compared the reception of Anglican communities into the Catholic Church to the addition of an instrument to an orchestra. Professing the Catechism of the Catholic Church, these communities will play the same doctrinal notes, yet will enrich the orchestra with another sound.
“Let me add right away that when I say enrichment I am referring not to any addition of essential elements of sanctification and truth to the Catholic Church,” said Cardinal Levada. “Christ has endowed her with all the essential elements. I am referring to the addition of modes of expression of these essential elements, modes which enhance everyone’s appreciation of the inexhaustible treasures bestowed on the Church by her divine founder.”
“Turning to the Anglican Communion, we can see the many elements that impel toward full unity: regard for the unifying role of the episcopate, an esteem for the sacramental life, a similar sense of catholicity as a mark of the Church, and a vibrant missionary impulse, to name but a few,” he continued. “These are by no means absent from the Catholic Church, but the particular manner in which they are found in Anglicanism adds to the Catholic understanding of a common gift. These considerations help us appreciate the Catholic Church’s insistence that there is no opposition between ecumenical action and the preparation of people for full reception into Catholic communion.”
“ Moreover, among the distinctive elements of Anglican heritage should be included the spiritual and intellectual gifts of the Oxford movement in the 19th century, the then-Anglican cleric Newman together with his fellow Tractarians have left a legacy that still enriches a common Catholic patrimony,” he added.
It seems to me that the euphoria that existed in the late 1960's and through the 80's about ecumenism has come down to earth. While much has been gained in terms of Catholic, Orthodox and Protestants having mutual respect and love for each other, most Protestant denominations are drifting further and further away from "catholicity" and "orthodoxy" the latter with a little "o" and capital "o"!
It seems that the only way to complete Christian unity is the way that many Anglican parishes and communions are or may take. It is based upon what Cardinal Levada speaks above. They are being incorporated into the full communion of the Catholic Church but keeping their own tradition of prayer, spirituality and liturgy when these are compatible with the Deposit of Faith. Thus having Anglicans in our midst with their own "western rite" as it were, will be enriching to the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church. In a sense they will become "Anglican Rite" Roman Catholics but of the Western Rite of the Church.
The same could happen with many Orthodox Churches. They would simply be received into the full communion of the Catholic Church through a corresponding Eastern Rite to Orthodoxy.
I suspect even Lutherans could be accepted into their own rite, high Lutherans who have a liturgy and tradition of prayer similar to ours. Of course, as with all Anglican priests, their ministers would have to be re-confirmed and re-ordained. Both communions have invalid Holy Orders and thus an invalid Sacrament of the Most Holy Eucharist (Mass). But with some tweaking, as has already been accomplished with the Anglican Liturgy, even the Lutheran Liturgy could be brought to validity with a validly ordained priest.
Pope Benedict is the pope of Christian Unity. God bless his ministry!