Patriarchy and Patrimony

There is an interesting thread on the Anglican Diaspora forum – Patriarchy and Patrimony. Join the forum if you want to add anything.

The subject is about episcopal oversight of clergy and Christian communities in extraordinary situations. The Roman Catholic Church invented the concept of the personal ordinariate to cater for Anglicans becoming Roman Catholics whilst keeping some aspects of their cultural patrimony. I am glad this question is being discussed. I quote my own contribution to that discussion:

This is an interesting thread. Properly, patrimony is all about money – the cleric’s benefice, what he’s going to live on. The Roman code of canon law says that no cleric is to be ordained or incardinated unless there is provision for his upkeep. Normally these days, it’s the diocese that pays from a central fund, so the title for ordination is the diocese. In the Anglican and pre-reformation tradition, the cleric is ordained or licensed for his benefice – a parish, a canon’s stall, ad patrimoniis suis. Some clerics can be ordained or licensed on the strength of their having a private income.

If that were applied in the Continuing Anglican Churches, it would be no money no priests. So, patrimony becomes spiritualised to mean a form of personal jurisdiction, whilst the cleric lives by his secular work or a pension. It’s a “personal” and extra-diocesan mode of episcopal oversight.

I believe Archbishop Haverland has a similar device with his Patrimony of the Metropolitan, to care for pastoral situations that cannot be catered for in the normal dioceses. In modern Roman terms, it might be more appropriate to call such a disposition an extraordinary personal episcopal jurisdiction / oversight, like the concept of the personal ordinariate. In the TAC as before 2011-12 and the ACC, Archbishop Hepworth then, as Archbishop Haverland now, have personal jurisdiction as well as their diocesan jurisdiction in their own geographical areas.

There can be many reasons for putting some clergy under personal jurisdictions instead of geographical diocesan jurisdiction. One is as in my own case – there not being a geographical diocese in the place where I live. There can be other special reasons such as the rite (oriental rite for example) or ethnical considerations like Polish people in the USA. Military ordinariates are also part of this category. Normally, the diocesan bishops accept the existence of these ordinariates or extraordinary means of providing oversight if the reasons are bona fide and sincere.

I would not apply the word patriarchy, as I have not come across it in canon law applied otherwise than to patriarchs – archbishops with primacy of honour. That is something else.

The Church has always had ways of taking pastoral care of clergy and faithful in all situations and adapting to needs. Such canonical innovations fulfil the old saying salus animarum suprema lex.

In the context of the ACA, things began to be more difficult as Archbishop Hepworth extended his patrimony to include members of the ACA who wanted to go to the ordinariate in spite of the opposition of the ACA bishops to the Anglicanorum coetibus plan. After the US Ordinariate was instituted by Rome, the bishops of the ACA wanted there to be no “half-way house”, but that clergy and laity should choose between the normal diocesan jurisdiction in the ACA or go to the Ordinariate, leaving some clergy in difficult situations. This subject has been hacked as clergy like Bishop Moyer have effectively disappeared. Not being American, I decline from expressing any position in this dispute.

What would seem to be best is that diocesan bishops agree on a policy for handling extraordinary pastoral needs and respond to them with an Apostolic spirit and Christian charity. For example, a national synod of bishops can nominate one of their number to take care of those with special needs and exercise personal jurisdiction, even if it overlaps with the territory of a bishop’s jurisdiction.

After all, a bishop is consecrated to serve and not to claim prerogatives at the expense of souls. We all have a lot to learn whether we are bishops or simple priests and Christian folk.

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