The Apostolic Constitution, which Cardinal Levada said “provides a reasonable and even necessary response to a world-wide phenomenon”, will be a “single canonical model for the universal Church which is adaptable to various local situations and equitable to former Anglicans in its universal application.”
The new canonical structure will allow former Anglicans to enter into full communion with the Church while “preserving elements of distinctive Anglican spiritual patrimony,” said Cardinal Levada. He added: “The provision of this new structure is consistent with the commitment to ecumenical dialogue which continues to be a priority for the Catholic Church, particularly through the efforts of the Pontifical Council for Promotion of Christian Unity.”
One large group of breakaway Anglicans which has been requesting a formal structure to be corporately received into the Catholic Church has been the Traditional Anglican Communion, made up of an estimated 400,000 members worldwide.
Cardinal Levada explained that this initiative “has come from a number of different groups of Anglicans.” He went on to say: “They have declared that they share the common Catholic faith as it is expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and accept the Petrine ministry as something Christ willed for the Church. For them the time has come to express this implicit unity in the visible form of full communion.”
He said there has been a “tremendous shift” in the ecumenical movement and “these possibilities weren’t seen as they are now”. He rejected accusations that the new Anglicans be described as dissenters. “Rather they are assenting to the movement of the Holy Spirit to be in union with Peter, with the Catholic Church,” he said.